June 7, 1925 to May 24, 2019
It was near the end of the war when three medics from the Canadian Army stepped off a trolley in the village of Mouscron in Belgium. They spied some young local girls, and Bill, always the smooth one, greeted them with an anglicized "Bonsoir, Mademoiselles". Fearing even worse ruination of the French language, one of the girls announced that "I speak English". The group chatted further and that night the medic known as John told Bill that he intended to marry the girl called Simone.
The Canadians were billeted in Mouscron for 6 weeks and then they moved on into Holland. The war was ending and they were demobilized and shipped back to Canada. John and Simone wrote each other for two years, and when he had saved enough, John left Canada for Belgium and he and Simone were wed. It was June 2 of 1947. They honeymooned in the Ardennes and then returned to Toronto to take up married life.
Dad was apprenticing as a plumber and Mom quickly found work as a buyer in the Simpsons department store downtown. In the post-war years, people from around the globe were immigrating to Canada, and Mom’s linguistic skills were put to good use helping the newcomers acquire all the necessities of a fresh start.
In 1948, Mom joined with other Belgian expats to form The Belgo-Canadian Association. She was its first Secretary. Some four decades later, she was again the secretary when the Association was dissolved.
The children started appearing in 1950 with Rogette. Paul, Christine and Peter followed. Shortly after Rogette was born, Mom's parents, Alfred and Yvonne (our Mémé and Pépé)sold everything in Belgium and set sail to Canada to be with their only child. Our grandparents ventured into the restaurant business and Mom would often spend Fridays helping out at Freddies Fish & Chips on Gerrard St in Cabbagetown. And Pépé splurged on buying mom a used upright grand piano. We remember her filling the house with the wonderful music of Bizet, Liszt and Chopin.
As kids growing up, we recall the elaborate (and noisy!) dinners Mom prepared on birthdays and holidays. And the bags of gifts that Mémé and Pépé would spoil their grandkids with! Mom was always encouraging upon us the importance of education, something we owe her a great gratitude for. She herself was a strong academic. Although the War interrupted her post-secondary opportunities, she later attended University of Toronto at the same time Peter was there.
The tragic loss of Christine at the age of 20 was something Mom never got over. A little of her spark went out. Then Dad succumbed to cancer in 1987, just three years after retiring.
Fortunately, the two of them had returned to the old country, where the locals feted the returning Canadian soldier. Dad loved the attention!
Mom continued travelling, on large trips throughout Europe and short trips across North America. She never met a bus she didn't like. And she delved deeper into her art, creating wonders in both oils and watercolours. Finally, after 55 years in the house on Tower Drive, it was time for her next adventure.
She sold the house and moved into Place St Laurent in downtown Toronto. She could walk to the St
Lawrence Market, visit art galleries and restaurants and the Canadian Opera Company was just around the corner. And as her abilities aged, there was wonderful care by the Centres D’Accueil Heritage (CAH)staff. Shortly before her 91st birthday, she moved into Trent Valley Lodge, to be closer to Rogette in Cobourg and Paul in Belleville. It was there that she passed away on Friday, May 24th, just two weeks shy of her 94th birthday. Kudos to the TVL staff for their care of an old, occasionally crusty, Belgian lady.
Simone leaves her three children, six grandkids and five great-grandchildren. All those, she would oft remark in wonder, from an only child. She also leaves many fond relatives in the Moreels and Verhelle families in Belgium.
Cremation has taken place.
Memorial visitation at PAUL O’CONNOR FUNERAL HOME, 1939 Lawrence Ave. E. (between Warden and Pharmacy) on Thursday, June 6, 2019 from 2-4 and 6-8 pm. Memorial Mass at Precious Blood Catholic Church on Friday, June 7, 2019 at 9:30 am in Precious Blood Church (1737 Lawrence Ave E). Reception afterwards at Paul O’Connor Funeral Home
Internment at Pine Hills Cemetery on June 7
In lieu of flowers, please welcome an immigrant. That's what makes Canada what we are.
Messages of Condolence
My sincerest condolences on the passing of your mother. She was a very special person, and will be greatly missed. I was fortunate to have...
My sincerest condolences on the passing of your mother. She was a very special person, and will be greatly missed. I was fortunate to have known her. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.
Linas PriscusOttawaMay 31, 2019
Linas Priscus OttawaMay 31, 2019
A person that departs from this earth never truly leaves, for they are still alive in our hearts and minds, through us, they live on. Plea...
A person that departs from this earth never truly leaves, for they are still alive in our hearts and minds, through us, they live on. Please accept our condolences, Simone will not be forgotten.
Cecilia, Sarah and Michael PriscusOttawaMay 29, 2019
Cecilia, Sarah and Michael Priscus OttawaMay 29, 2019