Cover photo for Ruth Brownlee's Obituary
Ruth Brownlee Profile Photo
1917 Ruth 2021

Ruth Brownlee

October 18, 1917 — April 19, 2021


Ruth Trivett Brownlee was born in Ottawa, where her missionary parents were staying while on furlough, but she spent the first years of her life in China.  At the age of five, her family returned to Canada, settling in Quebec.  She spent the rest of her childhood in several parishes where her father, as the minister, had his own glebe farm. She often credited her longevity to her childhood diet of fresh milk and vegetables.  She started work during the Depression, first as a baby nurse, then she took a job with Northern Telephone, later Nortel, in Montreal.  She would work there for thirty-five years, principally as the editor of the company newspaper.  During World War II, Ruth joined the Royal Canadian Navy hoping to be sent around the world but was sent to Ottawa instead. Her great love was the Canadian Girl Guides for which she volunteered for many years.  She once helped organize a jamboree in Iqaluit where she had to modify the requirements of all the badges since the southern standards of campcraft and woodcraft did not apply in the North.  In her fifties she won a free flight to anywhere in the world served by Air Canada.  To everyone’s surprise she chose Russia; at that time a mysterious and closed society behind the Iron Curtain.

Ruth lived with her parents for the last twenty years of their lives, caring for them as they aged. In the early Seventies, with her parents dead and her job gone, she moved to Toronto.  She was working for the Anglican Church Army, organizing a girl’s club, when she reconnected with her recently widowed first cousin, Ed Brownlee. She supported him through a family tragedy, and they grew very close.  Thus, Ruth at the age of 68 married for the first time and moved to Ed’s home in Hastings, Ontario.  She always felt that the nine years that they spent together were the happiest of her life. A few years after Ed’s death, she moved in with her nephew and his young family in Kilworthy, Ontario.  She later moved to Gravenhurst where she lived the last fifteen years of her life.  She was able to fill her days gardening, knitting and reading which she was able to continue doing after her hundredth birthday.  She was such a voracious reader that the Gravenhurst library could not stock all the books she wanted to read so she enlisted her nieces, nephews and grandnieces and grandnephews to provide books for her. The thing she did best and will be remembered for by so many was writing letters.  For many of us she was our best and only correspondent.  She was still sending out birthday cards to her family the last weeks of her life. Ruth will be remembered for her faith, her discipline and her love for her family.  She undertook to be the principal support for her nephew in Montreal who had fallen on difficult times after the death of his mother.  She had a list of sixty-two people she prayed for each night before sleep.

She was predeceased by her four siblings, Edward Benbow Trivett, Dorothy Jean Maher, Wilfred Leonard Samuel Trivett, and Catherine Ethel Sharp and her nephew Stephen Trivett Maher.  She is survived by three stepchildren and their families as well as twelve nieces and nephews, seventeen grandnephews and grandnieces and four great-grandnieces and great-grandnephews. Memorial donations can be made to the Toronto Mission, or the Girl Guides of Canada,

Due the current pandemic there will be no memorial service but an interment ceremony will take place in Ottawa when it is safe to gather again.


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