Dorothea (Babs) Millerd Ferguson March 9, 1921 - July 8, 2013 . Dorothea Marjory ( Babs) Stuart was born in Stettler Alberta in 1921 and raised in Calgary. As WWII wound down, she met Don Millerd of West Vancouver. They were married in 1945. They moved in to a cannery shack on the grounds of the Millerd family salmon cannery which sprawled over 5 acres on the shores of West Vancouver. In 1958 they moved from a cannery house to a larger house, but still adjacent to the cannery grounds. A move necessitated by a growing number of children. She remained headquartered there for the next 60 years. She raised 6 children who freely roamed the beaches and bushes of Caulfeild and Cypress Park. This busy brood was raised without the assistance of dishwashers, microwaves, colour TVs, or mini vans. She had 4 kids before she had a dryer. She had 6 kids before she had a car. Life revolved around the cannery, neighbours, Cypress Park, and St. Francis in the Wood Church. There were always Christmas eve carol sing-alongs and Easter egg hunts. In 1968 she and Don bought a farm in the then remote Pemberton Valley, and a new dimension was introduced to family life. After Don's death in 1977 the farm remained a centre for growing and nurturing her burgeoning crop of grandchildren. Her first grandchildren mispronounced "Gran" as Dan. She was forever after "Dan" to her grandchildren. In 1985 she married John Ferguson also of West Vancouver. This joyous union began a new phase of her life that featured new relationships, interesting dinners, and much travel. John brought family of his own into the mix with his two kids Jean and Ian along with their 3 children and grandchildren. Babs drafted a willing "Grandpa John" into a busy family life. It was a happy time. Along the way, she discovered that she had a heretofor hidden, but considerable, artistic talent as a painter and water colourist, leaving behind beautiful paintings of some of her favorite places; the farm and the church. But the focus of life remained her family. Along with Sunday dinners, and family outings, she hosted riding camps and art schools for her grandchildren at the Pemberton farm. Babs led an active life. Her home was a noisy, raucous place that welcomed all comers. As dinner neared she could often be heard to say "there is always room for one more plate." What she lacked in cooking skills she made up for in enthusiasm. A note on the fridge said, "When I was young I had 6 theories on raising children. Now I have 6 children and no theories." Babs bore 6 children who gave her 21 grandchildren who, at last count, had produced 10 great grandchildren. She was the matriarch of this clan in the grandest way. She taught her offspring the important things: work hard, love well, hold hands and look after each other. She was always active in her community, and in the life of St. Francis in the Woods Church. She ultimately received a lifetime achievement award from the Diocese of New Westminster. Life was characterized by her family, farm and fun. As she got old, Babs was heard to grudgingly say, "Old age is the shits!" But although she bore her aging years without enthusiasm, she did so with acceptance. She was greatly aided in this difficult enterprise by attentiveness of her daughters, and by the remarkably professional and wonderfully loving caregivers at Hollyburn House. Last weekend she had had visits from some of her many children and grandchildren and great grandchildren. The next morning, at age 92, she peacefully died…of old age. She will be missed. A Funeral will be held at St. Francis-in-the-Wood Anglican Church. 4773 Picadilly South, West Vancouver on Wednesday, July 31 at 2:00pm.
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Published in The North Shore News from July 14 to July 19, 2013