March 24, 1936 – July 10, 2020. It is with profound sorrow that we announce the passing of our beloved mother Ruth at home in Victoria, surrounded by family, on Friday, July 10th, 2020, age 84. She was the heart and soul of our family and will be forever missed. Ruth was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS – a rare blood cancer) in late 2015 and against all odds, outlived her prognosis by 2 years.
Ruth is lovingly remembered by her son Scott (Wendi) and daughter Bonnie (Gordon), brother Bernard Pike, sister Patsy Youden, sister-in-law Alfreda Pike and several nieces, nephews and cousins in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Halifax, NS. She is also remembered by many friends from The Black Watch Association (Pacific Coast Branch).
She is predeceased by her parents Harold Pike (1954) and Marion Pike (1969), husband Major Glen Laird (1973), daughter Heather-Ann Laird (2019), brother Sidney Pike (2007), brother-in-law Walter Youden (1991) and sister-in-law Jean Pike (2019).
Ruth was born and raised in St. John’s, Newfoundland. She attended Curtis Academy in St. John’s and then continued on to high school at Halifax Ladies’ College (now called Armbrae Academy). She then trained to be a nurse at the Halifax Children’s Hospital School of Nursing for three years and graduated in 1958. Soon after, on a blind date, she met Glen Laird, a young Lieutenant in The Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment of Canada) stationed at Camp Aldershot NS. Glen was the love of her life. They married in Kentville, NS in October 1958 and were then posted immediately to Camp Borden, Ontario. The journey to Borden in a Volkswagen Beetle that lacked an interior heater in the dead of winter and in blustery snow storms served as their honeymoon! Becoming an army wife and raising a young family in the 1950’s and 1960’s was challenging and exciting; in November 1959 she and her newborn son travelled alone by ocean liner to Europe to meet Glen who had departed for the Germany posting a month earlier. Ruth embraced the military family community enthusiastically with postings to Borden ON, Germany, Gagetown NB, Kingston ON, Calgary AB and St. John’s NL.
Tragically, during a second posting to Europe in 1973, Glen died suddenly of a heart attack at the age of 38. Returning to St. John’s, NL as a young widow with her three children, Ruth spent the following years raising her family with courage and strength. In 1977 she decided to move the family west to Calgary to pursue better educational opportunities for her children and be near Glen’s mother. Ruth had a love of travel and in the summer of 1975 she set off on a month-long jaunt to Europe with her two daughters in tow. Further trips included California, Banff and many ski trips in the Calgary area. In 1981 she joined a tour group on a month-long trip to the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador.
Ruth fulfilled her dream of owning a small inn (she was tired of shovelling snow in Calgary!), so she moved to beautiful Victoria BC in 1984 to open “Laird House Bed and Breakfast”. She purchased and with her son’s help restored a 1912 heritage-style home which she successfully operated as a B&B for over 17 years. She received the Canadian Tourism Ambassador Award in 1986. Laird House B&B was recommended in both the LA Times and the NY Times and also was favourably reviewed in various B&B guide books. An excerpt from the Victoria’s Finest Bed & Breakfast Ltd. brochure about Laird House reads: “Imagine comfy-cozy feather beds, fresh flowers, cocoa by the fire, coffee on the verandah and scrumptious breakfasts.” She embraced change and with her late daughter, Heather-Ann, they loved to redesign the interior of Laird House to meet Ruth’s exacting high standards and attention to detail. She was a warm and gracious host providing hospitality to thousands of guests over the years from the USA, Australia, Europe, Asia and South America. All during this time, Ruth travelled and enjoyed garden tours of the UK before retiring in 2001.
After retirement, her love and passion for gardening and travel continued. She designed her own gardens for over 30 years and was considered a master gardener. Her desire to keep learning included workshops, books, and garden tours to England and Italy. Ruth travelled with family, friends, and tour groups, as well as on her own to Seattle, Toronto, England, Scotland, Greece, Paris, Portugal and, of course, her native Newfoundland. Not to ignore her own backyard she also travelled extensively throughout Vancouver Island. She continued to maintain close ties with her military friends by joining the local chapter of the Black Watch Association and participated in the monthly luncheons for many years.
A knowledge seeker, she was a life-long learner and voracious reader. Ruth taught herself to sew, knit, speak French, cook gourmet meals and maintain her home and car. Ruth volunteered for Meals on Wheels for 5 years. She enjoyed relaxing with a cup of tea and a cat on her lap, cross-word puzzles, reading a good mystery novel and the New York Times, or engrossed in her favourite British detective shows on PBS, The Knowledge Network and Netflix (Vera, Midsummer Murders, Inspector Morse, Father Brown, Heartbeat etc.). She was interested in and loved a good discussion about politics, books, movies, TV series and home life.
Our mother was a fiercely independent, wise woman with a warm heart full of kindness, laughter and love towards everyone she met, including all creatures great and small (James Herriot was one of her favourite authors). She adored our family dog Symon, a West Highland Terrier, and all the many stray cats that found their way to the family house. Despite many tragedies, she always carried on with life and saw the glass half full; she was an optimist by nature. Ruth enjoyed a good belly laugh and as in the song in one of her favourite movies, Monty Python’s Life of Brian, she “always looked on the bright side of life”. She was self-sufficient and self-reliant and fostered those traits in her children. She had an enormous influence on us all and we are incredibly fortunate to have had her as the heart of our family.
Private service to be held August 14, 2020 at Royal Oak Burial Park, Victoria, BC.
Thank-you to Dr. Daphne Fontaine, Dr. Michael Szeto, Nurses at the BC Cancer Agency, the Community Home Care Nurses and the Palliative Care Response Team from Victoria Hospice.
Donations in Ruth’s memory may be made to the United Way or a charity of your choice.
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Death notice for the town of: Victoria, Province: Colombie britanique