Sally Merchant

Obituary
6 entries
  • "Dear Sally, You were a true and valued friend of my Mother..."
    - Hugh J. Davis
  • "I am sorry because of Sally's death but thankful for her..."
    - Garry Burlingham
  • "Dear Adrian and Tony, My thoughts and prayers are with you..."
    - Isabelle Mushka Lott
  • "Sally Thank you for your many kindnesses to me in my youth..."
    - John O. Davis
  • "we had many pleasant memories of Sally interviewing Colonel..."
    - Joe (Madeleine) Young
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Sally Merchant - 1940 A life of five careers and eight cities; a pan Canadian life, a life of interest and accomplishment. After university, marriage, children, and the death of her husband, Sally became a pioneer of television in the 1950s and 60s, spanning a 10 year career as a syndicated television host of "Sally Time" and other programs in Northern Saskatchewan from CFQC in Saskatoon. In 1964, Sally was elected as the sole Liberal MLA from Saskatoon and served with distinction in the Government of Ross Thatcher. She was the only female Liberal MLA to serve in the 15th Legislature of Saskatchewan. Her father and son, in their own times, also served as MLAs from different parts of Saskatchewan. She chose not to run again in the 1967 election to pursue a new career at the University of Saskatchewan. In the late 1960s, at the invitation of External Affairs Minister Paul Martin Sr., Sally served as a Canadian diplomatic delegate to the United Nations in New York. When Prime Minister Lester Pearson established the new Department of Consumer and Corporate Affairs to be led by the Hon. John Turner, Sally was asked to play a pivotal role in establishing offices and protocols within the new Ministry; and from her various positions within the Department in Ottawa, then Winnipeg, and finally in Edmonton, she remained actively involved in developing Canadian public policy and consumer protection initiatives for more than a decade. In the academic field, she taught at three universities and served as Assistant Director of Development at the University of Saskatchewan. In 1983, Sally was appointed by Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau and the Hon. Francis Fox to serve as a member of the Canadian Radio and Television Commission, a position to which she brought great knowledge from her many careers, including her experience as a broadcasting pioneer. Maria Margharita Sally Merchant died peacefully at her residence in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan on Sunday, April 1, 2007. Sally is survived by her daughter Adrian Merchant (Donald) Macdonald and her children Timothy Lang (Jennifer) and son Matthew; Gregory Merchant Lang; Andrew Vincent Lang and fiancée Lisa Pasquin; Elisabeth Ann Lang (Paul Amirault) and children Katherine Maria, Jane Elisabeth and Clare Grace; Amanda Lang (Vince Borg) and children Madeleine and Julian Vincent; and Adrian C. Lang (Ashley Taylor) and children Gavin Lang and Victoria Lynne; her son Evatt Francis Anthony Merchant (Pana) and their sons Evatt Francis Anthony, John Eric Joshua and Matthew Vincent Reynolds; her brother Adrian G (Theresa) Smith and sister Marie-Therese McGuinness. She was predeceased by her parents Judge Vincent Reynolds Smith and Mrs. Martina Margharita Fitzgerald Smith; her husband Captain Evatt Francis Anthony Merchant, their infant son Michael Vincent Reynolds, granddaughter Maria Margharita Lang and her elder brother Gerald Smith. Sally was born in Yorkton Saskatchewan on October 1, 1919. She attended Victoria Public School in Yorkton and the Loretto Convent in Sedley Saskatchewan. She completed her secondary education at the Convents of the Sacred Heart in Halifax and Montréal, received her Bachelor of Arts from Dalhousie University (1940) and Bachelor of Education from the University of Saskatchewan (1955). Sally married Evatt Merchant of Halifax in 1941. Evatt, who attained the rank of Captain, served as a CanLoan Officer to the British Army. He was killed in action in 1944 serving with the 5th Cameron Highlanders, and is buried in Holland. Sally joined CFQC-TV in Saskatoon in 1955 and hosted a series of interview programmes over the next ten years generally known as "Sally Time". In 1964 Sally was elected as a Liberal Member of the Saskatchewan Legislature for Saskatoon. She was appointed to the Canadian Delegation to the U.N. in 1967 and served on the Senate of the University of Alberta (1974-1980). Sally was appointed to the newly formed Federal Department of Consumer and Corporate Affairs in 1969 and served as the Winnipeg Regional Consumer Services Manager 1969-1970, Ottawa Program Manager Consumer Affairs 1971, Alberta and NWT Consumer Services Manager 1971-1980 and Manitoba Consumer Services Manager 1980-1983. Sally was a Lecturer at the University of Alberta 1975-1977, University of Manitoba 1983, and University of Saskatchewan 1984. She served on the Canadian Radio and Television Commission (1983-1988). Sally was named a Life Member of both the Saskatoon Council of Women and the Liberal Party of Saskatchewan as well as an Honourary Member of Soroptimists International. She served on numerous community boards including Saskatchewan Chairman UNICEF; Board Member - Saskatoon John Howard Society, Saskatchewan Crippled Children & Adults (now Abilities Council), Saskatoon Social Planning Council, Saskatoon Council Christians & Jews, Salvation Army Red Shield Campaign, St. Paul's Hospital Building Fund, Alberta John Howard Society, and Goodwill Industries of Alberta. She was an active member of the Consumers' Association of Canada, the Association for the Mentally Retarded, the Canadian Institute of International Affairs, the Liberal Party of Canada, Canadian Women's Press Club, Canadian Media Club, and Catholic Women's League. In recent years, Sally was awarded the Queen's Jubilee Medal (2002) and the Saskatchewan Centennial Medal (2005). She was honoured to be presented with the Senator Sid Buckwold Award by the Hon. Stéphane Dion. Sally was proud of the accomplishments of her grandchildren, her children, and their spouses, one a former Federal Cabinet Minister and High Commissioner, and the other a serving Senator. Even at 88, Sally had no difficulty driving, shopping, and until just before her death, strong of voice, body, and mind, living independently as she always had. Sally was ever upbeat and joyful about her life. For the few weeks of need, she was cared for diligently by her daughter and family members and died just before midnight on April 1, 2007. She spoke fondly of the profound impact and admiration she felt for her many friends and colleagues, and received and appreciated kind notes, calls, and flowers from many people who had touched her life. It is ineffable to describe a person who hit a golf ball 275 yards, sewed a man's suit once to prove she could, when a full university load was 5 classes, took 7 in one year and got all A's, was still door knocking in 1997, writing policy in 2004, and at 87 being elected a delegate to the 2006 Liberal leadership convention. Sally knew what King followed Charles 1st, how many Progressives won in 1926, what each of the Beaver and Walrus covered last month and what Gordon Gibson wrote yesterday. She lived in every region of Canada, she worked in five careers, she loved Canada, loved people, and was loved in return. Hers was an abiding interest in societal change through ideas and acts. Unique in her time - extraordinary in any time. A Requiem Mass will be said on Monday, April 9, at 4 p.m. at St. Paul's Cathedral in Saskatoon with a reception to follow at the Saskatoon Club and a private interment on Tuesday.
Published in National Post on Apr. 5, 2007
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