So… what did your Grandma give to you?

Blue hair, cookies, knitted socks, a soft shoulder and unconditional love.
That’s what Grandmas give us, isn’t it? I mean, after all, they’re the
mothers of our mothers or our fathers, one generation removed from parental
discipline, easy going and completely devoted to us.


Not my Grandma. I was blessed with both my grandmothers well into my
30’s… strong influences but quite different. I’m quite sure they never
spent more than compulsory minutes in each other’s company, they were so

From my Grandma Douglas I received discipline, not self discipline, but
limits, controls, that sort of thing. A kitchen tyrant (in my mind) she
raised four kids in the 30’s in a tiny house on a tinier income. She was
strict and humourless. But, in her way, she cared a great deal. She gave
me a love of books, with the proviso that hands had to be washed and dried
before a book was seized. I always suspected that her life was never really
‘her’ life.

From my mother’s mother, Louise Hicks, I received absolute joie de vivre.
While I saw much less of her, I found ready, steady humour all the time.
She was a reknowned hunter, able to fell a moose with a single trigger pull.
I didn’t inherit her hunting interest, but I appreciate how unique she was
to be camping in the woods, one licence for her moose and one for Grandpa’s.
She had a driver’s licence long before most women drove; she helped my
grandfather deliver cars.

She also drove racing boats and was an active participant in every racing
boat my grandfather ever built. They named the boats after their daughters
and there was my Grandma, hair tied down, grin a mile wide, while they tore
up the waters of Lake Ontario, in the wake of the Harmsworth Trophy races.

She ran a cheese factory, she did the books, she stood with my Grandfather,
cutting cedar logs as the first infill of their first rural Ontario hunt
camp in the wilds north of Madoc. She was funny. She also raised four kids
in the 30’s in perilous times for business which is why that set of
grandparents had so many businesses.

I like to think I’m a bit of a blend of these two women.

What about you? The organizing team behind this year’s International
Women’s Day is reaching out to honour Grandmothers and Grandothers. This,
the fifth annual celebration for International Women’s Day, will take place
in the graciousness of the new Barrie Country Club on Friday, March 7. The
theme? A Shining Light in Your Life. Tell us about a grandmother or
grandother, a women in the grandma capacity, who’s had an influence on your
life. Nominate her for a Grandmother award. Has she been the foundation of
your family? Has she been the example of heroic efforts? Has she
demonstrated strength of character? What has she given to you?

Doris Doran says this year’s theme joins four others… Grow Where You’re
Planted in 2007; Diamonds in Your Community in 2006; Volunteers in the
Community in 2005. The very first celebration in 2004 was a simple
beginning of pulling together people to the City Hall Rotunda. This year
organizers expect 350 to attend.

Qualifications? You should live within an hour’s drive of Barrie. Write a
short paragraph about your grandmother-grandother and submit it to Doris
Doran, 44 Parkside Dr., Barrie, L4N 6W9 or drop it off at Encore
Telecommunications Centre, 18 Sophia St W during business hours. You can
also email your submission to Deadline?
Valentine’s Day, February 14.

Tickets to this event are $45 per person and can be ordered online at Business owners can sponsor table centrepieces at
$50, or donate a silent auction item to raise money for the Barrie
Grandmother-Grandothers project with the Stephen Lewis Foundation. If you
have an auction item to donate, please contact Joanne O’Shea, Grandmothers
Barrie, 728-1651.

This event promises to celebrate all generations of women and their
achievements… daughters, mothers, grandmothers, great-grandmothers. It’s
a wonderful thing to be part of.

Thanks so much to those women, many of them grandmothers themselves, who
organize this event, and give their time and creativity to make it happen.