Edna Mary Blake
18 September 1920 - 13 February 2020
Passed peacefully in her sleep at home in Guelph, Ontario in her 100th year, with her children at her side.
Edna Mary Reid was born on September 18th in Southport, England, to parents of Spanish and Scottish descent. After graduating from the Cheltenham Ladies College, she studied fashion design for a year in London before WW II interrupted her studies and led her to an administrative role in the Ministry of Food. In 1941 Edna joined the RAF, trained as a photographer, and spent the next three years teaching photography and interpreting the film brought back by the reconnaissance pilots who risked their lives flying over enemy territory.
During a leave at her family home in Hove, Edna met Dick Blake, a handsome young Canadian Officer who was serving with the Royal Navy. The pair were soon engaged and they married in 1943. In 1944, pregnant with Sue, their first child, Edna sailed to Canada on a troop transport.
When the war ended the young couple spent a year in Hamilton and then moved to Kingston, Ontario where they lived in a converted summer kitchen on a nearby farm while Dick studied Mechanical Engineering at Queen’s University. Their new home was quite a change for Edna as there was no insulation and no indoor plumbing; in the winter, water left on the table would freeze. Edna accepted her new life as a war-bride in a new land with the spirit, resoluteness, courage and positive attitude she would continue to demonstrate throughout her life.
On completion of his degree, Dick accepted a position with the Defence Research Board (DRB) which led to many postings both within Canada and abroad. From Kingston, where Bill was born, the family moved to Nova Scotia, where Jennifer arrived, and then to England, where the family was completed with the addition of Chrissie.
Upon their return to Canada, the Blakes settled in Quebec City where, in addition to raising her family, Edna co-founded the St. Foy Horticultural Society and was a frequent contributor on a local television gardening show. Following a short interval in Ottawa the family received diplomatic postings to the Canadian Embassy in Washington and then London. The couple approached their new roles as a partnership. To support their official duties, Edna honed her already considerable skills as a hostess. She also managed to find time to study painting and weaving and to sail with Dick on the Chesapeake.
In 1977 Dick took early retirement from DRB and, for the next 40 years the couple enjoyed an active lifestyle, moving between homes in Florida, and then Guelph, and their beloved cottage, which they built on an Island in Lake Skootamatta. Edna was a gardener, a naturalist and an environmentalist, long before environmentalism was a movement. Together she and Dick mastered and enjoyed a myriad of hobbies, including candle making, knitting, weaving, birding and sailing. Perhaps most significantly they collaborated on the creation of beautiful carved birds, with Dick doing the carving and Edna the painting. They had been married for 72 years when Dick passed at the age of 97.
More than anything else, Edna will be remembered for her irrepressible sense of fun, a playful sense of humour and a legendary laugh. She had committed scores of poems to heart and there were few occasions in life for which she did not have an apt verse to share.
Left to mourn Edna’s passing are children Sue (Andy Tamas), Bill (Karen Humphreys Blake), Jennifer (Denny De Petrillo) and Christine (Richard Watson). Lovingly remembered by her grandchildren: Peter and Sophie Tamas, Christopher and Caroline Blake, Allie De Petrillo and Jennifer, James and Jonathan Watson, and their partners; step grand-children, Dani De Petrillo and Santino De Petrillo and their families, and great-grandchildren Ty, Ren, Ruthie, Dora, Tahirih, Blake, Beatrix, Margot and Violet. Also survived by her much loved sister Eileen Marcil. Predeceased by her brothers Donald and Robert.
The family would like to thank Dr. Trudy MacLean and the staff at Arbour Trails for their care and compassion. In lieu of flowers contributions would be appreciated to The Arboretum at the University of Guelph, the Guelph General Hospital or a charity of your choice. A celebration of life will be held on March 7th at the Arboretum, 32 Bayberry Drive, Guelph, Ontario
| A tree will be planted in memory of Edna M. Blake in the Wall-Custance Memorial Forest, University of Guelph Arboretum. Dedication service, Sunday, September 20, 2020 at 2:30 pm.|