It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Catherine Jill Wade. Her passing was peaceful and thanks to the kindness and compassion of the medical staff at Vancouver General Hospital, her loving husband Don Sinclair was allowed to be with her. Jill will be greatly missed by Don and members of her, as well as of Don’s family. In her family, her passing is mourned by her brother John Wade (Marilyn), her sister Judy Wade, her stepsister Doreen Moore (Richard), her niece Marianne Wade (Davey) and her nephews Frank Wade (Carmela), William Falk (Leslie), Michael Falk and numerous great-nieces, great-nephews and cousins on both sides of her family. Jill was also very close to members of Don’s family and her passing is especially mourned by Don’s sisters Pat Rodger and Carole Trush (Larry) and their nephew James Cameron, as well as by many other nieces, nephews and great-nieces and great-nephews. Finally, Jill’s passing is also mourned by her many friends. The families and Don would like to express their everlasting gratitude to the close friends and family members who provided ongoing support to Jill and Don through a difficult and heart-breaking journey over the last several years.
Jill was a kind and generous soul who loved life, people and animals. She was also an intellectually gifted academic who contributed significantly to a variety of disciplines. She was born in Winnipeg of parents Amy Wade (Newton) and Francis Wade and grew up in Norwood, the English-speaking enclave of St. Boniface. Jill formed many childhood friendships which she nurtured and treasured throughout her entire life. She also had strong connections to her immediate family, but she was also connected to her extended family. She spent many happy times with the Newton clan in Roblin and for most of her life she maintained close contact with her aunts, uncles and many cousins, both maternal and paternal.
After her early education in Norwood, Jill completed a BA degree at United College (University of Manitoba) in 1963 and in 1964 she moved to Vancouver for graduate studies in Architectural History at the University of British Columbia (UBC). She obtained an MA degree in 1966 and a Batchelor’s degree in Library Science in 1967 and then worked for two years as a Fine Arts librarian at UBC.
After a sabbatical year, Jill returned to Winnipeg where she held the head librarian position in the School of Architecture at the University of Manitoba from 1970-1973. During this time, she met Don, her future partner and husband (although they didn’t know this at that moment). She returned to Vancouver in 1973 to resume her education. There she re-connected with Don and they formed a loving relationship that extended over 46 years. Then in 1974, Jill began a two-year position with the Vancouver Art Gallery, cataloguing the permanent collection. Jill and Don were married in 1976 and after spending a year in Davis California (Don’s postdoctoral research), they returned to Vancouver. For the next two years, Jill worked part-time as a librarian with the Vancouver Public Library and also undertook contract work, first with the Government of Canada, cataloguing private collections of Inuit art and later with the B.C. Government, involving a collaborative historical study of placer mining in the Cariboo.
Excited by her exposure to academic historical research, Jill went on to earn an MA degree in B.C. social history at UBC, under the guidance of Bob MacDonald (who became a close friend) and subsequently, a Doctorate in social history at Simon Fraser University. Jill’s graduate research resulted in the publication of many articles in history journals and, most notably, her epic book “Houses for All, The Struggle for Social Housing in Vancouver 1919-1950”. For this achievement, she received an award from the City of Vancouver and the book’s title has become a rallying cry for a new generation of housing activists. After receiving her Doctorate, Jill taught B.C. and Canadian history at a distance with Open Learning (more recently a component of Thompson Rivers University) for 22 years. For many years, she was an active member of the Society for the Study of Architecture in Canada (SSAC). She loved her involvement in SSAC, especially since she established many new friendships and also because it allowed her to travel to cities throughout Canada for annual meetings. As Jill used to say, “join the SSAC and you will get to see Canada”.
Through many wonderful vacations at the Alders, Jill and Don fell in love with the Comox Valley. They eventually acquired an acreage with a cabin in Merville, where they spent many happy days. Jill embarked on a new chapter of historical research centred on the area around Merville and she continued this research for a couple of years after her retirement.
Jill’s passionate love of music was legendary and her taste was highly eclectic and included classical (she held a VSO subscription for more than 30 years), folk music (e.g., the Vancouver Folk Festival and Rogue Folk Club) and rock and roll (especially the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and the Moody Blues). She also had an enduring connection to the Vancouver art scene. Jill loved her books and spent long hours reading everything from non-fiction books and novels to murder mysteries.
Jill loved all animals, but especially cats and their cabin in Merville became affectionately known as the Cat Ranch (a name bestowed by their nephew, James Cameron). (People often warned Jill that she was only one cat shy of “cat lady” status.)
Jill always had a passionate interest in politics. Her firm commitment to social justice meant that her natural political home was the New Democratic Party, certainly a major departure from her mother’s Tory heritage. She and Don worked diligently on many NDP election campaigns and on NDP activities between elections. Even though Jill wasn’t religious, her favourite quotation was the famous grace delivered by J.S. Woodsworth, the first leader of the CCF (the forerunner of the NDP) and the founding father of Canadian Social Democracy:
“We are thankful for these and all of the good things of life. We recognize that they are part of our common heritage and come to us through the efforts of our brothers and sisters the world over. What we desire for ourselves, we wish for all. To this end, may we take our share in the world’s work and the world’s struggles.”
We were indeed fortunate to have been able to share Jill’s life.
A celebration of Jill’s life will be held when COVID allows it. People who wish to honour Jill are asked to consider making donations to the Salvation Army, the Union Gospel Mission or the SPCA.
Our most sincere sympathies to the family and friends of Catherine Jill Wade December 17th 2020..
Death notice for the town of: Aldergrove, Province: Colombie britanique