Shirley Florence Barnes October 30, 1928 - February 26, 2021
Shirley Hall (nee Barnes) was born in Regina on October 30, 1928. In 1934 her mother, leaving an unhappy marriage, packed up Shirley and her two sisters and moved them to East Vancouver. Raised by a single mother, a rarity at that time, Shirley and her sisters were no strangers to hard work, be it in the vegetable garden, or in fish canning or fruit packing factories where they worked when they were too young to be legally employed.
Shirley’s upbringing led to a life of activism. Never one to stand quietly by, she was a staunch supporter of the NDP, and the CCF before it, served on the board of Amnesty International, was at the Peace Arch Crossing for Paul Robson’s famous concert, and took food and supplies to the Doukhobor prison camps in Agassiz (returning from there with her famous dill bean recipe). One of her favourite memories was of when the Sun- shine Coast Peace Group ran into David Suzuki at a Peace March. She treasured the photo taken of the two of them with their arms around each other. In the early 2000s, she joined Habitat for Humanity and helped recycle countless bottles and cans. With failing feet and knees, and arthritic, misshapen hands, she continued to volunteer until the only way she could help was to plunk herself down on a stool and unscrew the tops from donated bottles.
As a girl, she ran pretty wild in East Vancouver, roller-skating down the hill from 33rd Avenue to 16th on Knight Street, picking tar off the freshly paved roads, rounding up the neighbourhood strays; she always had a dog in tow. In her teenaged years, Shirley and her friends could be found jumping the freight trains and riding out to Chilliwack or Hope for fun. An enthusiastic cyclist in the day of single gear, fixed-wheel bicycles, Shirley raced on the track in East Vancouver, and won the Sid Mortimer Memorial 25 mile road race at the age of 19 in a stunning upset – beating all the men with her handicapped time of 63 minutes. She went on to win the Province Bicycle Race three times, the final time proving once again to be a notable upset: busy working as a grade four teacher in Maillardville, she had been talked into registering at the last minute and rode the whole race with only one toe-clip!
In her fifties, Shirley would take up cycling again, touring the Maritimes and Portugal, hopping on her bike on Sunday morning for a quick ride from Fort Langley to Mt. Baker, and commuting from Fort Langley to Len Shepherd in Surrey where she worked as a Teacher Librarian. One day, she was hit in an intersection by a driver running a stop sign and broke her back. Shirley spent six months in a body brace and was told she would never do any physical labour again. Those of you who played tennis with her, saw her work in the garden, or witnessed her chopping multiple cords of wood, will be chuckling at the very idea.
In her 20s, Shirley married Bill Galley and had two daughters, Kathleen and Janet. She and Bill had acreage in North Delta where she had a huge garden, and was a founding member of a group working to protect Burns Bog. Shirley worked full-time as a teacher librarian at K.B. Woodward, and in her spare time baked bread, canned salmon, pre- served fruits and vegetables, made homemade wine, and brewed ginger beer until the day it blew up in the cold-room and she gave up on that project.
In the late 70’s, Shirley and Bill travelled across Europe, the Middle East, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, through parts of the world that would be difficult to travel through today. Later, after she and Bill separated, she would travel alone through Egypt, Asia, Central and South America. A life-long learner and prolific reader, Shirley could speak knowl- edgeably of the places she visited, would know their histories, their politics, their mod- ern-day challenges. On a trip through Honduras, en-route to meet her first granddaugh- ter in Brazil, Shirley met Bill Hall. They corresponded and later met up on his small sail- boat off the cost of North Carolina. That was the beginning of a second marriage, and a new chapter sailing through the waterways of Europe, and later, across the Atlantic. De- spite being a novice sailor, she was always a good sport and never turned away from adventure. During these years, Shirley developed and cherished the friendships she made with Bill’s daughters and son-in-law, Kristine (Richard) Laverty and Karen Torjesen.
By the late 80’s, early 90’s Bill Hall and Shirley lived in a cabin outside of Egmont on the Sunshine Coast. There, Shirley spent many spring breaks and summers with her granddaughters Sylvia and Sally, swimming for hours at North Lake, picking berries, and playing tennis on the court in Egmont. She taught them how to bake, preserve, and play cards, several choice swear words, and how to kill slugs in the garden with a hatchet.
When Shirley and Bill got older, and living in a remote community became challenging, they moved to Sechelt where Shirley planted yet another amazing garden, joined the Spinner’s and Weaver’s Guild, enjoyed potlucks at the women’s group, was a regular at the aquatic centre, raved about lunches at the senior’s centre, and made many dear friends. One of her greatest pleasures was to give away the vast bounty of her garden.
For several years after Bill Hall’s death, Shirley continued adventuring, travelling to places like Cuba, Morocco, Churchill, and Mexico, where she volunteered at a school in Oaxaca and made lifelong friends. On one trip, her daughter was contacted by her Credit Union wanting to "authorize the transfer of a large sum of money to a hospital in Mexico.” After many attempts to get Shirley on the phone, her daughter learned that she’d had her gallbladder removed, and Shirley announced she would not be coming home early... “why would I? They are taking such good care of me here!”
In recent years, Shirley was joined in Sechelt by her daughter Kathleen (Kat); the two of them supporting each other in gardening and in life. In later years, Kathleen made it possible for Shirley to stay at home with her beloved cat Charlie Parker. It is a testament to Shirley’s spirit that people of all ages came to toast her on her 90th birthday.
This story would not be complete without a list of the dogs. Starting with Sheba the Irish Water Spaniel through Pepper, Pika, Sheehan, Tucker, Daisy, and Panda who died at Shirley’s feet, these dogs were her unfailing companions and she loved them.
Caring, compassionate, smart, kind, hardworking, generous, intelligent and open-heart- ed, Shirley will be missed by her daughters, her son-in law Jack Roocroft, her grand- daughters Sylvia Marques, Sally Fitzpatrick, and great-granddaughter Lilly. She will be missed by many, many more friends and neighbours. Come summer, we hope we will be able to toast her in the garden with all of you. Should you wish to make a memorial donation, the family suggests one of the many organizations Shirley supported: Amnesty International, Doctors without Borders, the Council of Canadians, the Canadi- an Centre for Policy Alternatives, WaterCan, the SPCA, Save the Children, the World Wildlife Federation, and Knowledge Network, an organization she supported even in the Egmont years when she had no television.