Elizabeth Frances Gilbert (nee Wright)

August 4, 1922 – September 20, 2022
In loving memory ~
“Human life is but a series of footnotes to a vast obscure unfinished masterpiece”- Nabokov
It is with great sadness we announce the passing of our mother, Elizabeth Francis { Betty } Gilbert on the 20 September 2022 in Campbell River. She died at the age of 100 years and 47 days.
Elizabeth was born on the 4 August 1922 in the little coal mining town of Westville, Pictou County, Nova Scotia. She was the 9th child of 10 children born to Richard & Emily Wright. She grew up and was educated in Westville during the depression years. The summers of 1937-38 Elizabeth was employed at her Uncle Macleod’s Tea House in New Glasgow. From 1939 to 1940 she was working at the Canadian National Railway Hotel, The Nova Scotian in Halifax. In the spring of 1940 Betty was trained and qualified as a Rosie the Riveter and welder.
The summer of 1940-1941 Elizabeth was employed at the Pictou Lodge Resort. The Lodge was a few miles from Westville. Late summer of 1941 the Lodge had a very special guest Princess Juliana and her 2 children from Holland. They had been exiled to Canada during World War 2. By October 1941 Elizabeth was working at a lady’s clothing store in Truro.
While at a New Glasgow dance she met was courted and married a dashing young Canadian Army soldier, CSM Charles F. Gilbert, who was stationed at Camp Debert. They were married on the 20th April 1942 in Truro. My father brought his young wife to Vancouver in August 1942. He returned to Camp Debert Military staging area, then troop train to Halifax, boarded a troop ship and convoyed to England. He did not return to Vancouver to his wife Elizabeth and young son Charles until the end of the war.
As a qualified “Rosie the Riveter” and welder Elizabeth helped to build liberty ships in Vancouver. Homesick she returned to Westville, Nova Scotia with her son, Charles in the fall of 1943 to stay with her mother. She continued to work as a riveter and welder at Pictou Harbour shipyards for 2 months then moved to Dartmouth and stayed with her Uncle who was a policeman. While at Halifax shipyards Betty helped in the repair of Navy and Merchant Marine ships. A Navy destroyer limped into Halifax harbour escorted after being torpedoed by a German U-Boat. The Navy ship was dry docked and repaired and returned to duty after 3 months. Mom also helped repair a submarine. In early May 1944 she returned to Vancouver and stayed with my father’s parents, Charles and Ethel Gilbert. She continued her work at Vancouver shipyards until October.
Betty’s new job was working at the Brock Building at the University of British Columbia from October 1944 to the end of the war in Europe. Her husband, Charles returned home to Vancouver in late 1945.
Charles stayed in the Canadian Army for the rest of his military career. With 3 children Elizabeth followed her husband from military posting to military postings in Canada and NATO duty in West Germany with Canada’s NATO Brigade. 4 Canadian Infantry Brigade Group From 1955 to 1970 the Gilbert families would vacation on Quadra Island at the home of George and Estelle Rose. With our cousins and parents it was always a great summer.
My mother loved those summer holidays. In the summer of 1968 Elizabeth and her daughter Susan flew back to Nova Scotia from Vancouver to visit her mother Emily Wright and her brothers and sisters in Westville. My mother and sister stayed in Westville for a month. This visit was a very happy reunion for all her Wright family.
In 1970 after 35 years of military service my father retired from the Canadian Army. Through the Veterans Land Act Betty and Charles had their home built on Quadra Island beside George and Estelle Rose, my aunt and uncle. Betty and Charles lived happily for 35 years on Quadra Island. Their home was a focal point for family and friends for many years. After my father death in 2005 Betty made the decision to sell her beloved home and property. She could not manage the property anymore. Betty bought a condo in Campbell River in 2006. That same year while recovering from total knee replacement surgery Mom meet Millie at rehab in the hospital. They have been best of friends to this day.
For 65 years Elizabeth and Isabel Wright, my aunt wrote letters to each other. Mom wanted to keep in touch with family back in Westville and area. After Isabel died in 2011 Mom started writing to Isabel’s daughter Margaret to continue the connection with Nova Scotia.
Elizabeth’s love of life and family would continue for the rest of her life. She loved playing cribbage. Her son Robert would bring her to the Eagles, Community Centre and the Sportsplex three times a week. Fun and laughter playing crib made her day. As a devoted catholic she could no longer attend mass because of her lack of mobility. She would watch mass on TV each day. Betty remembered all family and friends birthdays and anniversaries.
Betty has been a member of the BC Mountaineer club since 1946. She has climbed the 7 Sisters, Mount Baker and many other coastal mountains in British Columbia with her husband Charles along with George and Estelle Rose.
Her husband Charlie, son Charles and son Robert’s daughter Melanie are buried at Quadra Island Cemetery.
At my mother’s request she wants a deck of cards and a cribbage board buried between her and her husband Charles so they can play crib for eternity. For the past 20 years Betty has given to the Heart & Stroke Foundation, Cancer Society of Canada, BC Sick Children, The Knights of Columbus, The Campbell River Hospital Foundation and the War Amputees of Canada. For most of her life she has volunteered and given to many worthy causes.
Elizabeth has outlived all her 5 brothers and 4 sisters, their husbands and wives from Westville. She is survived by her son Robert Gilbert of Campbell River, BC, daughter, Susan Cyr and her husband Larry of Creston B.C.. Elizabeth has 6 grandchildren, Christine, Charles, Alexandra, James, Abigal and Daniella and 13 great grandchildren. William, Acadia, Dylan, Tyler, Seamus, Noa, Neomi, Boaz, Alexandra, Hayden, Noah, Gilad and Nadav. Another great grandchild was born in 2016.
There will be no memorial service. She simply wants to be remembered as “Betty” A good friend to all. She also requests that any donations be given to the charity of your choice.
Elizabeth Gilbert’s obituary was written by son Robert Gilbert and daughter Susan Cyr


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