Mother, community activist, bridge player, traveller. Born Nov. 26, 1909, in Port Hood, N.S., died May 19, 2013, in Barrie, Ont., of natural causes, aged 103.
Born Mary Bernadette McEachern on Cape Breton Island, Bernie was fiercely proud of her Scottish heritage. She loved the sound of the Gaelic language and the beauty of the bagpipes, which she insisted be played at her funeral.
In 1922, she moved to St. Catharines, Ont., with her family, where she found work in a rug factory and saved up to buy herself a Ford roadster with a rumble seat. She married Dr. Maurice Murdock, an osteopath, in 1937.
When their first son, John, was born Bernie was told it would be dangerous to have more children. Nevertheless, she went on to have five more – Monica, Peter, Korleen, Kathleen and Michael.
When the children were in school full time she sat on the school board and stepped in to teach school with a letter of permission after one of the teachers quit unexpectedly. She taught for many years after that.
Bernie was a devout Catholic, attending church regularly and being active in church philanthropic and social organizations. She was proud to receive her 50-year pin from the Catholic Women’s League.
She was almost as fervent in her politics – a lifelong rabid Liberal Party supporter and huge fan of Jean Chrétien. She campaigned door to door well into her 80s. Even when her daughter Katie ran for the NDP in Bernie’s riding she supported her emotionally but would not vote for her.
When Bernie moved to a retirement home in her 90s she was known as “the Traveller.” While living there, she went on trips to Argentina, France, Costa Rica (where she did a jungle day trip on horseback at age 93, having never been on a horse before), Curacao at 97, Cape Breton and Nunavut.
The year she was born – 1909 – the Silver Dart completed the first powered flight in Canada, and 91 years later Bernie was in the cockpit of a Boeing 747 as it landed in Buenos Aires. That adventure truly symbolized all the changes she saw in her lifetime.
Bernie loved life – a glass of wine, a hot tub until the age of 99 – and she played a mean game of euchre and bridge. Hers really was a life well lived.
Bernie’s husband died in 1995 and her son Michael in 1999. She leaves five children, 13 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.
Peter Murdock is Bernie’s son; Brenda Keyser is her daughter-in-law.