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Publication: Globe and Mail, The add link
Issue: 3 September 2008, page L6
Web Link: link


Devoted daughter, wife, mother, friend, community activist. Born Oct. 4, 1910, in Rivers, Man. Died April 17 in Thunder Bay of natural causes, aged 97.


September 3, 2008

Gladys's capacity to grow and learn remained with her throughout her life, nurtured by her love of reading - her attachment to Reader's Digest is a family saga - and her interest in the world around her.

Although her early years were difficult, her attitude was always positive, enthusiastic and determined. Forced by the Great Depression to leave school, she carved out a successful sales career with Chapples Ltd., a department store that at one time was a mainstay of downtown Fort William, Ont.

The eldest of eight children, Gladys possessed a great spirit of adventure. Unusual for women of her time, she acted upon it, leaving family and career to seek out a new life in England. Her stories speak of handsome young men and the glamour of her job with Harrods of London.

When family responsibilities called because of her mother's poor health, Gladys returned home. Shortly afterward, she ventured into the wilds of Northwestern Ontario to open a Chapples store in Geraldton, where she met Harry Hurtig, who would become her loving and devoted husband for more than 65 years.

From their marriage in 1937, Gladys's life was devoted to Harry and the home they made for their children Sheila, Terry and Bill. Good cooking, superb baking and beautiful gardens were the order of the day.

Gladys was devoted to her parents and committed to her community of Thunder Bay, in particular the Port Arthur General Hospital, where she built the gift shop into a thriving enterprise. She loved classical music and faithfully attended performances at the Thunder Bay Community Auditorium.

Although Gladys outlived most of those she cherished - Harry passed away in 2004 - friends were there for her to the end. She built friendships with neighbours who had children the same age. Later on came her bridge-playing friends. In recent years, her dear friend Janis Whiteman was a rock.

Gladys was an unselfish person of courage and compassion. She never spoke an unkind word, cared deeply about her family, gave to her community and, above all, was a loyal and loving wife. She treasured her memories of her husband, particularly their times "on the road." They must have covered every inch of Northwestern Ontario, Harry at the wheel and Gladys navigating.

She fulfilled a lifelong dream of travelling to New Zealand, and also touched down in Africa, the Caribbean, France, England and Scotland. Her interest in her world was deep and abiding. She will always be an inspiration.

Sheila Hurtig Robertson is Gladys's daughter.