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Living Reef Memorial

Obituary of Eleanor Anne BROWNLEE

On June 9, 2019, Eleanor Brownlee died with her family around her after having enjoyed a full and rich life.  She was born in Brandon, Manitoba and raised on the prairies where she spent her early and middle years raising her family and lending her skills to many volunteer organizations. She was predeceased by her mother, Helen Riesberry father, Donald Riesberry aunts, Margaret Goodman and Edith Fish and cousin, Karen Roman.


She was a great mother to her three children, Ross (Heidi), Kevin (Myra) and Meredith, a wonderful grandmother to her two grandchildren, Meghan  and Corbin, loving cousin to Kathy Warrington (Malcolm), Donald Dilley, Barb (Tom) Thibeault, David (Linda) Fish, Joan (Walter) Kaschor,  and lifelong friend of Bonnie Thompson. Her Pender community of friends was as dear to her as family. As a champion of volunteerism, Eleanor worked for the United Way and became a founding member of Winnipeg’s first hospice, Jocelyn House.  Later in life, she obtained her Master’s degree in Divinity and became a chaplain at St. Boniface Hospital in Winnipeg.


Eleanor came to Pender Island for the first time in 1994 and it became a perfect match!  Whether it was birds, cats, deer, goldfish or newts, she loved all feathered, finned and furry creatures, and looked out for them.  She loved herons but when one decided that Eleanor’s pond was his favourite snack stop, Eleanor asked a friend to pick up some strong fishing line at a fishing specialty store.  The proprietor’s eyes widened when seventy-pound test was requested.  “Wow, what kind of fish are you planning to catch?”  Eleanor strung the fishing line across her garden, above the pond, to discourage the hungry heron.  It worked. She gained much pleasure from her garden as she watched its beauty unfold under her loving care as an avid gardener.


Eleanor was a strong supporter of Indigenous rights and recognized the significance of the island to the local First Nations.  As a member of the Pender Truth and Reconciliation Circle, she believed in the importance of reconciliation and its legacy for future generations, a personal interest influenced by her two adopted Indigenous children and her grandchildren. 


Eleanor was keen on introducing the splendour and the tranquil beauty of Pender Island to her family who hail from the prairies.  It didn’t take long for her children, their spouses and grandchildren, to understand why she loved living on the island so much.  Fond memories will live on of hikes in the luscious forests and family picnics at her favourite spots, Gowland and Brooks Points, to watch a pod of orcas swim by and explore tidal pools. 


Eleanor’s most important focus was the natural world.  As a member of the Islands Protection Trust, the Pender Island Conservancy and many other groups she always urged care for all creation.  Her mantra was to “Preserve and Protect”, which she lived daily, including being caught carrying newts, one by one across a construction site to help with their migration! 


Although Eleanor was the picture of calm, kindness and generosity, she wasn’t afraid to “speak truth to power” in her letters to local, provincial and national governments.  She was instrumental in advocating for several environmental legislative measures with her many handwritten letters.  


Eleanor will be missed by many creatures, friends, and family.  Through her community involvement and her thoughtful words and actions, Eleanor made the world a better place for the rest of us.


Eleanor’s family is grateful for the local generosity and help and is comforted to know that she built such a strong and supportive community around her.  Everyone is welcome to attend a celebration of Eleanor’s life at 1:00pm on Saturday, August 3rd, 2019 at St. Peter’s Church on Pender Island. 


Eleanor graciously requests that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to environmental charities such as the Georgia Strait Alliance, Wilderness Committee, David Suzuki Foundation, World Wildlife Foundation, Nature Canada, Canadian Wildlife Federation and Eco Justice.  Click on donations menu on the left menu.


The Brownlee Family and Eleanor’s friends



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Celebration of Life

1:00 pm
Saturday, August 3, 2019
St. Peter's Church
4703 Canal Road
Pender Island, British Columbia, Canada
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