Born May 18, 1921, in Warwick England. Died October 6, 2012 in her own home (which she helped build 66 years ago) in Longueuil, surrounded by her loving children: Linda (husband Jack) Thompson, Gloria and Fern (wife Sonya) Blais, and two of her grandchildren, Laura (Angel) and Brenden (wife Mary) Lapalme. Also survived by her grandsons John (fiancé Anne) Thompson, and Derek (fiancé Andrea) Blais; granddaughters Catherine Thompson, Jennifer (husband Dave) MacCormack, and Crystal Blais, great-grandchildren Angelina and Alexander Lapalme, Olivia Carranza, and many nieces, nephews and their families.
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The youngest of five children born to Mary and Herbert Mills, the family arrived in Halifax on The SS Doric on September 28, 1923, to settle in Longueuil, Quebec, where she lived for 89 years. Her father paid for the first telephone poles from Chambly road to their wood stove heated farmhouse on unpaved Gentilly road. Travel was by foot or by horse and cart. Coal, ice, dairy and bread were delivered by horse drawn vehicles. A trip to Montreal required a ferry in summer and an ice road over the St. Lawrence in winter until the Jacques Cartier bridge was completed in 1930, with family members forming part of the construction crew. This was a beautiful time in the history of Longueuil.
Mabel started working at age 12 for a dollar a week to help support the family as did her sisters, as her only brother died at age 12 of diphtheria soon after their arrival, and her father became incapacitated. One of Mabel's many tenets was "If you are handed a lemon, make lemonade". She made work a joy and threw herself into doing her best, moving on to Bond Clothes factory, Eaton's then Simpson's stores, Scott's Restaurant, Dinty Moore's, The Astor, The Queen Elizabeth Hotel Panorama Room. During the war years she was hired by Fairchild Aircraft where she earned great respect for her work ethic, and was sent to work in Halifax where the president escorted her down the aircraft production line as the first female riveter ( the Canadian "Rosie the Riveter"). Later she joined Canadian Vickers and finally, Pratt and Whitney Aircraft Company in Longueuil, retiring after 30 years as a highly respected employee of the company.
Mabel was a good Samaritan to many when their luck was down. She found them jobs, provided clothes and food and took them in under her roof. She spent countless hours on the telephone listening to anyone's problems and providing therapeutic advice. Her heart and home were always open yet she was a true lion heart, stood up for the common man and was fearless in taking a very firm stance against dishonesty or unkindness.
True to her nature Mabel bequeathed her remains to medical education. In lieu of a traditional funeral, it is her wish that the flowers, in their beauty, be left to grow in the fields. The family requests that you pass along her smile and do a good deed, in her name, for someone in need. "Momo's" signature farewell … "Toodley-Pips".
Published in National Post from Oct. 11 to Oct. 13, 2012