Norma Eleanor Wall
April 19, 1922-July 29, 2021
Norma Eleanor Wall was born in Toronto in 1922, the second daughter of Charles and Mary Edith Bottomley. Her sister, Margaret, pre-deceased her in 2019. Both remarkable women lived to the advanced age of 99. Eleanor completed her early education in Toronto and graduated from Harbord Collegiate after which she worked briefly at Gages Publishing Company in Toronto. Married January 29, 1942 to Ernest Allenby Wall who predeceased her in 1979, she moved to Ottawa where Alan (as he was called) was in the signal corps in the army. Eleanor was always proud of her work at the National Research Council where she developed highly classified war pictures as a member of a team of people with a high security clearance. Alan and Eleanor welcomed their first child, Suzanne into the world in Ottawa in December, 1943.
After the war they moved back to Toronto where they spent the next several years. In November, 1951 while the family was living in Orillia where Alan was a school principal, they welcomed their son, David into the family. Eventually the family moved back to Toronto when Alan became a school principal in North York.
To Eleanor, her family meant everything and she was devoted to her two children, supported them unfailingly and always celebrated their accomplishments. Eleanor had always wanted to be a teacher and after her son David was well into elementary school and old enough to be home alone after school, she completed teacher education at the Toronto Normal School and began a long and rewarding career. Her first full-time teaching job was as a Kindergarten to Grade 6 teacher in a 2-room school in Elder’s Mills, York Region. However, eventually she became a primary teacher at Charles Howett elementary school in the York Region District School Board where she worked the remainder of her career. As long as she taught, until her retirement, she always prepared her classes every night, always making sure all class work was corrected promptly, always refining her lessons to meet the needs of her pupils. She was a gifted teacher dedicated to her young charges, particularly concerned with introducing them to the joys of reading and writing among other basic skills. She was quite imaginative in her teaching and had her pupils perform plays that they wrote themselves adapted from fairy tales. She had one of the parents make costumes for the children from her old bridesmaid dresses. The plays were a great success!
Eleanor had not been able to attend university after high school, marriage and children and so gradually earned her BA degree from Wilfrid Laurier University, one course a year, taken every summer when she commuted from her cottage in Muskoka to Orillia or another local town where one of the required courses was offered.
The cottage at Pine Lake was a special place for Eleanor and indeed for the entire family. Eleanor had been coming to Muskoka since she was a young girl to help her aunt and mother who ran a holiday guest house, Wapaska, in the Muskoka area during the summers. She recalled canoeing or rowing on Lake Muskoka during the early years of the war, when she and her sister Margaret would nervously row past the German Prisoner of War Camp on the Lake. For them, this was a great adventure.
Once she was married and the war was over, she encouraged her husband to purchase property in Muskoka and so the cottage on Pine Lake came into being. The cottage has been central to our family our entire lives and is dearly loved by everyone in the family. Our summers at Pine Lake hold so many cherished memories for the entire family—swimming and boating, blueberry picking and working around the cottage.
Eleanor also liked to travel and first went to visit England, France and Germany with her husband and children in the late 50’s, then later to other countries in Europe through the teachers’ organization. She also accompanied her daughter Suzanne and her husband Ljubo to visit France, Croatia, Austria and Germany on two occasions. She loved reading and classical music and was a great fan of Bizet’s opera “Carmen”.
In her retirement, Eleanor was very active in the Retired Women Teachers Organization of Ontario and served on many committees as well as participating in the phone line to keep in touch with other retirees. However, family was always her main concern and she was especially delighted to become a grandmother of David and his wife Kathryn’s two daughters, Clare and Caitlin. She followed their progress through school with great interest and was proud to see them graduate and go on to make their own way in the world. She was able to live long enough to see her grand-daughter Clare complete her PhD in English from York University in early 2021. She was also proud of Caitlin who after graduating from the University of Toronto and Humber College, found a solid and rewarding career in Toronto with an insurance company where she is now a manager. Both grand-daughters have continued the family’s love of travel and have already taken numerous trips to various places in North America and Europe.
Eleanor was very fond of dogs and always counted the family German Shepherds as true members of the family from the first dog Dorian von Matterhorn (Dory), through Mitzi and others, and most recently Aurora, Ursa and Rusalka. In her final days she still would perk up at any mention of the activities of one of the family dogs.
Eleanor led a long and full life. In the near century that her life spanned she saw many changes taking place around her and did her best to make sense of the rapidly transforming world. However, first and foremost was always her family. She was the matriarch and centre of our family. We all loved her dearly and will sadly miss her constant presence in our lives.
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