Helen Elizabeth Montin (née Ritchie)
Born June 18, 1926, died Oct. 22, 2019
Helen Montin has died peacefully on October 22, 2019, in her 94th year, in the presence of her loving son, Leif, and devoted caregiver, Angela, having lived a rich life that revolved around family and friends, full of warm gatherings. She will be missed by all who knew her.
Born in Glace Bay, NS, to William Tolmie Ritchie and Helen Mary Hood, but transplanted at a young age to Cornwall, Ont., and then soon to Montreal, Helen delighted in travel. She loved her childhood summers with her grandparents in Shelburne and returned there often. As a young woman, she and two girlfriends drove from Montreal to Vancouver. As they left the island on the first day, they were forced to duck under the blade of a combine harvester. Quite a start to their adventure.
Unable to afford university, Helen attended the secretarial college at the Mother House. Several years later, feeling undervalued in private industry, she joined External Affairs and was posted to the Canadian legation in Stockholm. She spent three formative years there, enjoying many European cultural sights, meeting the Queen, making friends for life and marrying Sven-Bertil, a lieutenant in the Swedish army, in the English Church. After he died in 1977, Helen travelled all over Canada and the United States and visited various European countries often. She visited every continent except South America, from China to the Canadian Arctic, several more than once.
At different times, Helen was a keen birder and field naturalist, as well as bowler, line dancer and Scottish country dancer. Her community involvement goes back decades: volunteering in the school when her children were young and as an original member of the Montreal West fruit and vegetable co-op that introduced a generation to whole-grain bread, carob powder and bulk foods, cofounding a French conversation group. Later in life, she worked with Meals on Wheels and at many church book sales. She was also active in the NDG Club, the 50 Plus Club and the Red Hats. She held season tickets for the opera, the Saidye Bronfman Centre, and the Centaur Theatre and often organized group outings to museums, concerts and other events. A life-long learner with a wide range of interests, she proudly graduated from Concordia with her B.A. (no major) after over 20 years of night classes, all while running a household and raising three children. An avid reader from a very young age, Helen was also a talented writer. Her letters and essays on Swedish culture and her honeymoon in Lapland remain good reads.
Helen and Sven-Bertil bought the Poplar House well before their house in the city. By welcoming friends and family to their summer home on the Bay of Fundy, over time, they introduced hundreds of people to the beaches, trails, happy hour and fresh seafood in this lovely spot.
Mourned by her children, Karin (Jim), Louise (Stephen) and Leif; siblings, Bill (Lorna), Rosemary (Jack) and Jenipher (Peter); grandchildren, Gillian (Craig), Erik, Peter and Zoë (Komlan); nieces and nephews; extended family and long-time friends. Predeceased by Sven-Bertil, Jack and Lorna. Burial next summer in beloved Nova Scotia. Memorial gathering 2:00, November 16, Unitarian Church, 5035 De Maisonneuve West.
5035 De Maisonneuve West, Montreal, QC, CANADA, H4A 1Y5