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Patricia Love.Courtesy of family

Patricia Love: Pioneer. Volunteer. Puzzle wizard. Grape pie master. Born Sept. 9, 1927, in Toronto; died May 5, 2022, in Ottawa, of complications from dementia; aged 94.

Patricia Love didn’t back down from doing the right thing. She spent her life acting on her belief in standing up for the rights of others and she was a strong, kind-hearted role model.

She grew up in Toronto, the youngest of five children. In those early years, her father taught her that prejudice should never be tolerated against anyone. She never forgot these lessons.

Pat graduated from the University of Toronto, where she was influenced by the Dean of Women, who had her PhD, but was not allowed to call herself doctor and was not given a full professorship like the men.

While at U of T, she met a handsome man named Douglas Love and they rode the streetcar to Casa Loma for evenings of dance and music with friends. They married in 1950 at age 22 and within one month, she was pregnant with twins. In all, they had five daughters: Karen, Jennifer, Susan, Marthe and Cathy.

They lived in a remarkable neighbourhood with picnics in the park and potluck dinners.

Pat and Doug loved to host cocktail parties with martinis, laughter and jazz. Friends were always welcome to join the family for dinner, followed by a game of chandelier napkin basketball. Pat’s kitchen was a meeting place for advice, slices of Chunk O’ Cheese bread and her famous Concord grape pie. Our mother believed the things we say and do have consequences that last. “Never be impressed by the celebrity of a person. Find out what they’ve done to make the world a better place,” and, “Service to others is the rent we pay for our time here on Earth.”

Pat volunteered with the Canadian Cancer Society and helped bring refugee families to Canada. She was a fierce advocate for human rights and for six years – in rain, sun or snow – Pat led a weekly vigil at Ottawa’s Human Rights Monument to protest budget cuts to social programs. She sat on committees such as the United Nations’ Clean Energy initiative, the Canadian Association for the Prevention of Crime and the Family Violence Network. She worked as a probation/parole officer for 10 years, with a firm but supportive approach. She established the Elizabeth Fry Society in Peterborough because she saw a major gap in support for women. And at 60, Pat co-founded CoSA (Circles of Support and Accountability) in Ottawa. This past year, she was given the organization’s Award of Distinction for her work in restorative justice.

At home, we called her Pat Puzzle because she did The New York Times crossword in pen. Later in life, she went back to school to study economic history, criminal justice, public relations and Métis history. But Pat also sought adventure, often with her friend Betty. They once flew in a Spitfire and howled with laughter when the pilot flew it straight down toward the ground, then swooped up quickly.

At 74, she completed a 250-kilometre protest walk from Ottawa to Peterborough to raise awareness of Ontario’s housing crisis. One year later, she walked 50 kilometres along the El Camino de Santiago in Spain as a solo pilgrimage.

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Patricia, in the back, and her friend settle in for a Spitfire flight at Abbotsford airport, circa 1995.Courtesy of family

Pat’s indomitable spirit and strength of character continues to inspire her children and the example she has set of how to conduct oneself in the world has been passed down to her six grandsons.

“The greatest gift we gave to you as your parents is each other,” she told me.

During the isolation of the pandemic, Pat developed dementia. One of the family’s highlights were Zoom calls, when Pat would want to hear my dog Charli sing to her and she would smile before falling asleep. She had a smile that could brighten a room and light up the world.

Pat’s heroes were Eleanor Roosevelt and Desmond Tutu, but for her children, their greatest hero is their mother. Some days I may feel as if I’m committed to conquering the world in her honour and some days I will feel as if I’m lost in the heartache of her absence.

Marthe Love is Pat’s daughter.

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