Dorothea Mary Burns (nee Sabourin) McGuire

A child of the Shuswap, Mary was born in Calgary, then raised in Sicamous and Salmon Arm. Her grandfather, Emery Sabourin, homesteaded on Mara Lake. Her parents, Clarence Sabourin and Dorothea (Dodo) Hutchinson, lived with their children Mary, Robert (Bob), Berkeley, and John on a houseboat, below the old CP Hotel, that later was moved onto land in Sicamous. Clarence worked the CPR mail run between Kamloops and Salmon Arm; Dodo was a nurse. Mary recalled working at the local soda/ice cream fountain, playing basketball in high school, dancing at nearby dance halls, swimming and boating in the lake.

She followed her mother into nursing, graduating as an RN from St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver (1940 – 1943). In February 1945 Mary married George McGuire of Salmon Arm and moved to Ontario where they began their military life. Four children were born over the next six years – Pat, Jane, Teresa (Tom), and Peter. During postings in Ottawa, Kingston, London, Washington DC, and finally, Colorado Springs, Colorado, Mary continued to nurse in hospitals, private duty and medical offices. Returning to Canada in 1970, Mary and George briefly lived in Kamloops, then moved to Victoria the following year.

Mary became a real estate agent for several years, played golf until back problems intervened, socialized with other retired military, and played bridge, a lifelong activity. She loved living on “the Hill’ in the Saanich peninsula, where she gardened and revelled in the birds and other wildlife there. She became active in politics for a while; was a companion volunteer with AIDS Vancouver Island; and then a volunteer coordinator for the James Bay Community summer Market.

At age 65 Mary became a grandmother to her only grandchild, Sarin, who brought a lot of joy into her life: she helped raise Sarin during the early years and supported her with subsequent riding and driving lessons; she attended all band and drama performances, and award ceremonies. She loved getting dressed up and going to both the Victoria and Vancouver operas, the local symphony, sailing around Vancouver Island and up the coast, staying informed with local and BC politics, and spending time at the Turner cottage at Canoe every summer until 2009.

The time spent at the cabin (high floods and all) was where mum was the happiest. She and Ronnie Turner were always playing crib or scrabble and enjoying those gin and tonics. Mary was a lifelong friend of June Gillis, Norah McDiarmid, Marg Booth, and Catriona and Syd Thompson.

Seventeen years ago Mary moved to the walkable neighbourhood of James Bay in Victoria, to a comfortable condo, close to the ocean, and near daughter and grandchild. The past two years she went to the local coffee shop every day, gathering with a circle of morning coffee friends for lively conversation, and when up to it, working out at the nearby gym.

Throughout her life Mary was always a warm, welcoming person, enjoyed cooking for crowds of family and friends, and learning about other people. She unfailingly supported her children and Sarin throughout their lives, setting a fine example of quiet strength, tenacity, style, graciousness, and a continuing interest in life around her. Old friends describe Mary as a loyal friend and fun to be with. She will be missed by the many whose lives she touched with her warmth, humour and acceptance. Three years ago Mary was blessed to meet and become close friends with Jacqueline, who provided exceptional care, supplemented by a wider circle of support people as time went on.

It was a long journey and Mary did it her her way right to the end, by staying at home. A gathering to remember her in Victoria was held January 9th. Mary’s ashes will come home to the Shuswap in August 2011 where an informal gathering will be held to celebrate her life. Contact: Pat McGuire, 250.385.0485.


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