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Publication: Globe anbd Mail, The add link
Issue: 9 October 2007, page L6
Title: AUDREY B. WAINWRIGHT (Lives Lived)
Web Link: link


Mother, grandmother, volunteer, bridge player, singer. Born Aug. 5, 1903, in Toronto. Died Sept. 17 of natural causes in Vancouver, aged 104.


October 9, 2007

In the end they were still there: that incredible sparkling smile in her bright blue eyes, and a song. At 104, my grandmother was singing and sparkling to the end.

Audrey Beatrice Jackson began her journey in 1903. Her mother, Elizabeth Graham, was fifth-generation Canadian. Her father, Herbert Jackson, an immigrant from the United Kingdom, worked at The Montreal Star.

His love of words helped foster her voracious reading habit. Her longevity can only be chalked up to stubbornness.

Although the family lived in Montreal, Audrey's summers were spent at Ontario's Sparrow Lake. Photographs show her and her pals on the running board of a Model T Ford and in a cedar strip canoe.

In the 1920s, she pushed the gender barrier while working as assistant to future supermarket mogul Theodore Pringle Loblaw. (Her future husband would command her to leave that job.)

Handsome British ex-pat Charlie Wainwright won her heart. In 1932, they were married and moved to Windsor, Ont., where Charlie worked at the Canada Life Assurance Company. They had three children; two boys and a girl.

Audrey could never sit still and volunteering became her passion. She played a major role in Toronto's Parent Teacher Association.

Raising three kids during the Great Depression and the Second World War was a great challenge but one she faced with determination and pride.

A special memory passed on to me was the VE Day celebration when Audrey took her children to the candy store and told them they could buy anything they wanted - a big extravagance marking the importance of the day.

In 1947, Charlie was transferred to Vancouver, and there Audrey found ways to feed her volunteer enthusiasm. In the late 1960s, now a widow, she became a Meals on Wheels volunteer and continued to do this well into her 80s.

When she moved into a retirement home, she continued to volunteer, helping new residents get settled.

Audrey played both lawn bowling and bridge with a fierce competitiveness. Her bridge club met every Tuesday for more than 50 years. Audrey cheated like a criminal.

Five years ago, Audrey was the matron of honour at my wedding. Escorted down the aisle by two of her eight grandchildren, she smiled at me as I said my vows and held my hand as I signed the register.

And in all these years she sang: Roll out the Barrel, Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree, Hey Good Lookin', words forgotten replaced by words made up.

The day before she died we sang together.

Deborah K. Wainwright is Audrey's granddaughter.