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Bette Noreen Blore (nee Wilson)

February 16, 1937 — January 21, 2024


Bette Noreen Blore (nee Wilson)

Bette Noreen Blore (nee Wilson) died peacefully in her sleep on 21 January 2024, at the Ottawa General Hospital. She was three weeks shy of her 87th birthday.

Bette was born February 15, 1937 in a homestead farmhouse on the southern Manitoba prairie just outside of Elm Creek -- a town of 8 streets, two rinks (one hockey, one curling), a hotel, a bank, grocery, feed and hardware stores and the all-important combo of rail spur and shimmering silver grain elevator.

Her father, Ralph Wilson, farmed wheat and rye and flax and kept a pair of impressive Clydesdales. Her mother Jessie Wilson (nee Cousans) did the complicated and never-ending work of cooking, baking, keeping house and looking after Bette, her older sister Nona, and the ever-changing parade of hired men who came in every summer to help with the harvest.

Bette’s early memories (as recounted to her sons) included climbing too high on barn and silo, hunting rats in the barn with her dog Nap, and watching as her father hooked up the Clydesdales to an improvised wood cabin set on sleigh runners and then hopping inside to sit by the wood stove while the horses carried them over the snow into town to Elm Creek’s tiny school house.

During the war years, the classroom was dominated by a menacing poster of Adolph Hitler - girls in the school diligently saved up their pennies to pay for tack-on cardboard clothing used to cover over Herr Hitler’s leering visage; once fully covered, the old poster was taken down and replaced with a new Fuhrer, as yet uncovered.

After high school, Bette enrolled in the teacher training course at the Central Normal School in Winnipeg. It was there in Winnipeg – either at the Engineer’s annual dance or at the University of Manitoba’s student radio station where Bette was trying her hand at journalism (accounts vary here) – that Bette met University of Manitoba electronics engineering student William (Bill) Blore. The two celebrated a summer wedding in Elm Creek in 1960, then moved to Ottawa where double-E grad Bill had found work at the National Research Council.

Their first son William (Will) arrived in 1961. Bill then found work with the burgeoning U.S. national defence industry and the family packed up and moved to California, making a new home in a post-war bungalow planted among the fast-vanishing lemon groves in Goleta, a mostly suburban enclave on the Pacific coast just outside of Santa Barbara. Sons Ralph and Shawn followed on in 1962 and 1966.

Stubbornly, defiantly Canadian, Bette rejected each and every one of the Yankee behemoth’s many attempts at assimilation. She said ‘zed’ and ‘shedule’, ‘scribbler’ and ‘foolscap’; every summer she drove all three kids 4000 miles there and back to Elm Creek in a 1965 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser station wagon. Her kids had a high old time, hanging out with the dozen farm kids of Bette’s childhood friend Ella Knaggs, while discovering critical aspects of Canadian culture such as dirt clod fights and walking shoeless on corn stubble, prairie loam and oiled rural gravel.

After over a dozen years in American exile Bette finally convinced husband Bill to return to pure research in Canada. He took up a position with the National Research Council as chief engineer for the Algonquin Radio Observatory, and the family moved to a split-level house on a park in the Greenbelt-suburb of Blackburn Hamlet.

Her sons now in their teens, Bette enrolled at Carleton University where she gained a B.A. in English and an M.A. in Canadian Studies. Her research programme blended the radical, the agrarian and the feminist and culminated in her 1983 thesis entitled Women's liberation as portrayed through the writings of Nellie McClung and Francis Beynon: an agrarian reform perspective.

Her politics in this period swung left and nationalist, as she worked and socialized with Carleton professors including Robin Matthews and Larry MacDonald to overcome American domination of Canadian culture and publishing and U.S. control of the Canadian economy. Their efforts had mixed results, as with any radical reform movement. The Great Canadian Theatre Company, founded by Matthews and MacDonald in 1975 and attended only semi-willingly on numerous occasions by a plurality of Bette’s sons went on to become Ottawa’s premier stage for new Canadian theatre. Founded four years later in 1979, the National Party of Canada went on to win a total of 171 votes (0.39% of the total) in the Ottawa Centre riding in the 1980 election – this poor showing despite the candidate meet-n-greets in her living room and the 8-foot high, bright yellow hand-painted campaign sign erected in the middle of Bette’s front lawn.

Following graduation Bette returned to education, teaching advanced English and Canadian literature as a visiting teacher and at night school for nearly two decades. She brought the same academic rigour and post graduate work ethic to her leadership of the Orleans United Church book club; all readings were required, with few if any excuses accepted.

Post retirement, Bette’s attention turned to travel, her grandkids, and where possible travel to visit her grandkids. She spent many pleasant days playing with Bruce and Eric in Pacifica, California. She travelled often to see Alicia and Liam perform fiddle and stepdance at various competitions throughout small town Ontario and once as far away as Newfoundland. Bette took particular pride in watching Alicia and Liam perform together at Cirque de Soleil’s production of the Pan Am Games Opening Ceremony in Toronto in 2015.

Bette and Bill celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 2010 with a large party attended by much of her extended family and many of her friends and neighbours. Presented by her sons with carte blanche to travel anywhere they might desire, Bette and Bill set off on an extended safari through the game parks of East Africa.

Bette survived the 2020 Covid pandemic cocooned in her Blackburn home with husband Bill. By 2022, alas, some troubles with dementia and related health issues had left her confined to a wheelchair and forced to move into a nearby retirement home, where Bill continued to visit her faithfully every day.

Bette is pre-deceased by her sister Nona Brotchie (nee Wilson). She is survived by her husband of 64 years Bill Blore, her sons Will, Ralph and Shawn Blore, and her grandchildren Alicia, Liam, Bruce, Eric, Joaquin and Kailie Blore.

A Funeral Service will be held on Saturday, March 9 at 3 p.m. at Orleans United Church, 1111 Orleans Blvd. Ottawa.

To send flowers to the family in memory of Bette Noreen Blore (nee Wilson), please visit our flower store.

Past Services

Funeral Service

Saturday, March 9, 2024

3:00 - 4:00 pm (Eastern time)

Orleans United Church (Orleans Boulevard)

1111 Orléans Boulevard, Ottawa, ON K1C 7C8

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