Obituary of Jean Katherine Barr
Jean Katherine (MacLeod) Barr
August 24, 1942 – December 10, 2023
Jean Barr passed away on December 10, 2023 naturally and surrounded by her family in Victoria, B.C. Her thoughtfulness and lifelong care of others, pleasant smile and easy laughter, generosity, artistic talent, work ethic, integrity, elegance and strength will be warmly remembered by all whose lives she touched.
Jean will be lovingly remembered by her children Katherine, Cara and Jim Barr; her son-in-law Fraser Thomson and daughter-in-law Barbara Sochanski Barr; her five grandchildren Kaiden, Evelyn, Addison, Simon and Emerson; her sister Margaret and brothers Don, Jim and Dennis; and numerous sisters-in-law, nieces, nephews and their families. Jean was predeceased by her husband Kenneth Barr, her brother Bill and parents Peter and Mary MacLeod.
Jean grew up with Scottish roots on the Webster MacLeod farm by a creek near Camrose, Alberta where she enjoyed farm fresh milk, vegetables, berries and eggs, and her mother’s homemade tea biscuits, vanilla custard, and pies. She loved her pony, “May”, who she rode to school in 1st grade. From a young age she was expected to help with chores, which instilled an ethic of hard work and sharing. She also spent many days outside, wild and free, with her siblings – playing rodeo or house, having snowball fights, skating on ponds, and tobogganing on the hills. She loved running, sewing, and cooking. Music was woven through her life, and she enjoyed reading and simple solitary time to “think and dream”. The traditions of family meals, church on Sundays and working together on the farm all fostered her love of family. Her ambitions as she grew older were to live in a city, to travel and to someday be a wife and a mother.
An early travel memory was hopping on a train south of her family farmhouse and traveling to Edmonton with her mother. She spent summers with her family in the mountains or near lakes and learned how to swim at summer camp. She took glider flying lessons as a young adult.
Jean chose nursing as a career path because she wanted to travel, and an R.N. was required to become a flight attendant at that time. She received her R.N. from the University of Alberta in 1963 and worked for a while at the U. of A. Hospital. She traveled with three classmates to work at El Camino Hospital in Mountain View, California for a year, during which time she traveled with delight all over California and visited Hawaii.
She worked at East General Hospital in Toronto, Ontario for a year and was then granted a bursary from the Province of Alberta for her Diploma in Public Health, which she completed in 1968. While working at U. of A. in early 1969, she joined a ski trip to Austria via a friend from the Public Health program. Jean met Ken Barr on that ski trip and moved to Ontario that fall with a job at the local Health Unit in Perth, as a full-time Public Health nurse.
After Ken’s proposal of “Do you think you could live with me?”, Jean and Ken got married in the church her family had attended in Kelsey, Alberta in 1970 and honeymooned in San Francisco, California. That winter they stayed at the Barr Otty Lake cottage and in the summer of 1971, they moved to a 150-year-old Scottish stone home, with post and beam outbuildings, on a beautiful 200-acre farm on the Scotch Line outside Perth. Renovating and maintaining their “Oak Meadows” farm was a labour of love: tending cattle, horses, dogs and cats, raising their children, and hosting extravagant gatherings over 44 years. Jean loved those years at the farm.
While in Perth providing Home Care services and teaching pre-natal classes, Jean also quietly volunteered in the community over the years. She was awarded a Certificate of Appreciation from the Town of Perth in 1986 for her many contributions, including UCW, crafts at the Yuletide Fair, Meals on Wheels, leadership for various children’s clubs and costume making for local theatre shows. She was a nurse at Camp Lau-Ren, an active member of a local women’s book club and among other social groups, a certified Doodle Bug member. She spent many hours kindly supporting her mother-in-law, Elizabeth Barr, whom she loved dearly. She also completed a Certificate in Fine Arts with Distinction from St. Lawrence College in 2006.
Jean instilled a spirit of travel and adventure in her children, by example and through imaginative stories, travelogues and family trips across Canada, the U.S. and Barbados. Ski trips to Tremblant, Breckenridge and Killington were cherished. She inspired in her family a love of: beauty and art through her painting, sewing clothes and quilts, home décor, enjoyment of literature and live theatre; delicious meals from scratch and entertaining friends and family; helping neighbors; attunement to nature and health through her flower and vegetable garden, simple things as walks in the fields, cross country skiing and time by the water at Murphy’s Point Park or Ashby Lake fish camp; a sense of magic through fairy gardens and fairy doors in tree trunks, stories and surprise gifts; abundant possibilities in the world by encouraging us to challenge ourselves; music through her favourite artists Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton and singing campfire songs; and balancing hard work with laughter and play. Precious collections included antiques from their Sunday drives, Victorian era treasures, cards, dolls, teddy bears and hearts. She shared the magic of her inner child with family and friends.
After losing her husband of 53 years earlier this year, Jean had recently moved out to Vancouver Island to be closer to her children and their families in September 2023, which she described as “coming home to the west coast”. Her family is saddened that her wings were clipped far too early in her next chapter. We will cherish our many happy memories with her and will deeply miss her. Her many masterpieces live on.
In remembrance of Jean, those wishing to can please send donations to the Perth and Smiths Fall District Hospital (Perth, ON site); the Ottawa Hospital Cancer Centre; or the BC Cancer Agency at the Royal Jubilee Hospital in Victoria, BC.