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Publication: Toronto Star add link
Issue: September 22, 2007
Title: BEECROFT-STEWART, Eleanor Chambers (nee Norton)
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BEECROFT-STEWART, Eleanor Chambers (nee Norton)

ELEANOR CHAMBERS BEECROFT-STEWART (nee NORTON) The final curtain has come down, the theatre is dark, Eleanor has made her final exit. Actress, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and lifetime inspiration, Eleanor Beecroft-Stewart died on September 20, 2007 in her 102nd year. Born in London, Ontario on September 8, 1906, she was the only child of Andrew Christie Norton and Eleanor May McLaughlin. Fond memories of her remarkable and graceful life will be carried by daughters Jane Beecroft of Bancroft, Nor ma Beecroft (late Dr. Ronald Turner) of Bowmanville, son Stuart Beecroft (Barbara) of Toronto, Carolyn Allan (Doug) of Whitby, and Dierdre, widow of her late son Eric (who died 2004 in England), as well as grandchildren Julian Beecroft (Ulla), Matthew Beecroft (Kate Davis), Deborah Kernohan (Dale) and John Allan (Jennifer), Amy Beecroft and Trevor Beecroft. Eleanor was a proud great-grandmother to Taylor, Jordan, Amanda, Nicole, Michael, Greta, Sam and Lydia. At the age of 5, her family moved to the Parkdale area of Toronto where she attended Parkdale Collegiate. From 1924 to 1928, she studied Moder n Languages at the University of Toronto while exploring a new interest in live theatre. Upon graduation, she worked briefly with her father in the T. Eaton Company. In 1931, she married Julian Beecroft of Whitby and began raising her family. That marriage ended in 1947 and in her early 40's, she set out to start a new career. She re-entered the world of theatre with the U. of T. Alumni Dramatic Club where she first produced and directed, then performed as she honed her acting talents. Blessed with looks, talent and a great memory, Eleanor soon became a sought-after performer and over the next 5 decades co-starred with a virtual Who's Who of Canadian talent. She particularly encouraged and supported new talent and became a theatrical mentor. As television expanded into Canada, she found herself in many programs, both dramatic and documentary. She also performed in several Hollywood theatrical films and movies-of-the-week. In 1972, she married the late Mr. Justice Charles D. Stewart who was a great supporter of her career. Regrettably, this marriage ended 5 months later with Mr. Stewart's untimely death. With the immeasurable inner strength that had helped get her through a life that was often cruel, she picked herself up and carried on with her career. She was a regular contributor to and supporter of many causes that she believed in. She took particular pride in being one of the founding committee members of the Performing Arts Lodges (PAL), an organization devoted to providing subsidized accommodation to those people in the arts. In fact, she became one of PAL Toronto's first residents in 1993. Although parts in mainstream theatre and television for older women were becoming fewer and farther between, she continued with in-house performances at PAL and at the Toronto Heliconian Club of which she was a long time member and past president. Her last erformance, at the age of 93, was an Allan Bennett monologue entitled A Cream Cracker Under the Settee, a 40 minute solo tragicomedy about an old woman who had fallen and was faced with the spectre of dying alone on the floor. Throughout this period, because of her irrepressible humour and performer's sensibilities, she became the darling of the media who frequently featured her in programs about the elderly and about PAL. Strangely, it was a fall and broken hip that drove her out of her beloved PAL in late 2004. She found a new home at Kensington Gardens Nursing Home where she spent the rest of her days. It was only in the last 2 or 3 months that she began to lose ground and eventually succumbed to the ravages of old age. Eleanor will be sorely missed by her many friends and extended theatrical family. The family wishes to extend heartfelt gratitude for the affection and great medical and nursing care accorded her at Kensington Gardens Nursing Home. Friends may visit at the Rosar-Morrison Funeral Home & Chapel, 467 Sherbourne Street (south of Wellesley) on Friday, September 28, 2007 from 6-9 p.m. A funeral service will be held on Saturday, September 29, 2007 at 11 a.m. There will be a reception at Toronto Performing Arts Lodge, 110 The Esplanade following interment at Mount Pleasant Cemetery. Donations to the Performing Arts Lodges of Canada, 110 The Esplanade, Toronto, ON M5E 1X9 would be most appreciated by the family as your expression of sympathy.