Jean Morrison

Obituary of Jean Morrison

Obituary of Jean Morrison

Mrs. Jean Morrison passed away peacefully on Wednesday, March 13th, 2024 at the age of 101 and 7 months.

Loving wife of the late James Hamilton Morrison.

Beloved mother of James (Lynn), Bernice (James Cuttle), Ian (Tracey) and Bill (Cynthia). 

Proud grandmother of Natasha (Carl), James (Vanessa), John Ryan (Laura), Michael (Richard), Anthony (Susan), Andrew (Stephanie), Alexander, Lindsay (James), Joey, William and Jonathan, and proud great-grandmother of 8 grandchildren. Beloved Aunt to many neices and nephews.

She was predeceased by all her brothers and sisters. 

The family would like to thank the staff of The Heritage Lodge in Vankleek Hill for the amazing care they gave Jean during her stay and the great nurses and doctors at the Hawkesbury General Hospital.

A celebration of life will be held in the spring.

For those who wish a donation to the Greenwood Center for Living History  or the Vankleek Hill District Historical Society would be appreciated.

A Tree of Remembrance for Jean will be planted in the McAlpine Forever Forest in Vankleek Hill.

Jean was a proud graduate of McGill, Science, class of '43, and returned to school fifty years late - to Concordia - to complete her Master's Degree in history.

She grew up in Montreal and left during WWII for Newfoundland to marry Jim.  When they returned, they settled in Mount Royal eventually moving with their four children to a farm in Hudson.The travails of raising chickens, goats, and other assorted animals without any experience led to countless stories and lifelong friendships.

Jean's inquiring mind took her around the world as she met with politicians, advocates, community leaders, and historians in search of answers to her biggest questions. Her thirst for knowledge was unmatched. It didn't matter who you were; she believed you had a story worth telling. If she read a story about you in the paper, you could expect a phone call from her, as she often had follow-up questions about your interview.

A dedicated oral historian, her interests were many and diverse. She worked on political campaigns, sat with Premiers and Prime Ministers, and senior-ranking officials at the Vatican. Her passion for truth and justice was also the catalyst for life-changing legislation leading to the increased protection of youth in protective custody.

Simply put, she never let her age define her.

Her love of learning was evident leading to her extensive book collection, about history, biographies, science, and politics.  Later in life, when she moved to Winnipeg to be closer to her family, she sorted through thousands of books that she had collected and ensured most found deserving homes.  But she was still able to bring a few hundred with her to Manitoba. Even as her vision faded, she continued to see the beauty in everything and everyone.  With the help of a magnified reader, her love of books was undisturbed.  Her family will forever be grateful for the kind people who would call her regularly and read books to her over the phone or in person.

But to Jean, there was something more important than learning, and that was her family. As the mother of four, grandmother to eleven, and great-grandmother of eight, she never missed any of their graduations and would be the first to call after a professional accomplishment. She befriended their boyfriends and girlfriends, welcoming them as they became husbands and wives. She loved to visit with her grandchildren, sometimes over a pint of Guinness or Chinese food, and for really special occasions, a teddy bear picnic. Her grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren proudly carry on her love of travel, adventure, and curiosity for the world.

For her family, what made Jean so easy to love was her love of laughter. This likely explains her success as a stand-up comedian at 89, reaching the finals of the Free Press's Winnipeg's Gone Wacky Stand-up Showdown, and even performing at her friends' funerals. Only Jean could make people laugh at the saddest of times. And in the year before she turned 100, she brought joy to millions of people who saw the viral video of her dancing to the Super Bowl Halftime show, with A-list celebrities like Ice Cube, Snoop Dog and Mary J. Blige celebrating her dance moves. After her return to Vankleek Hill she was regularly featured on CJAD 800.

But it wasn't just her dance moves that often got people's attention. In Jean's words, "It's not the hat you choose but the way you wear it." Her hat collection, unmatched in the world of fashion, always made her easy to spot in a crowd.  She never left home without a hat. The bigger and more colourful, the better. Once, while visiting her sister in South Africa, she made a hat the size of a medium-sized dog before boarding the Queen Elizabeth II, which, to no one's surprise, led to her winning the ship's most fashionable hat competition.

Her curiosity and spirit left an indelible impression on everyone fortunate enough to meet her.  Through the years, if one of her caregivers spoke English as a second language, she would always be sure to learn how, in their native language, to say "hello" and "thank you." By the end, she could probably say it in a few dozen languages.

If you left her alone, even for a few moments, you'd no doubt come back to find someone talking to her.  One time, as she was waiting to be picked up, a nice couple walked over and gave her flowers, simply for being herself. People were drawn to her. To say the world is a better place because she was in it is an understatement, a sentiment repeated over and over again by so many. She was engaged and utterly engaging, and true to the cliché, lived life to its fullest.

She was cherished, respected, and loved, completely oblivious to the fact that she made everyone in her presence feel better about themselves. 

To sum up Jean Morrison's life into a brief obituary seems completely unjust for someone who accomplished so much and, at 101 years old, still had so much she wanted to do.  And we haven't even mentioned that she was also a professional puppeteer, representing Canada in a World Marionette competition in Poland, or that in 2014, she had a brief conversation with the (now) King Charles, offering him tea and homemade cookies. Or that in 2017, she was an official torchbearer at the Canada Summer Games and, later, would film a TV pilot for a potential television show.

Jean's family would like to thank everyone who took the time to talk with her, build friendships, and share their stories with her. We are so grateful for the care she received at Sterling House in Winnipeg, Levante Heritage Lodge in Vankleek Hill, Ontario as well as the Hawkesbury General Hospital.

So we will leave you with this: To know Jean was to love her, and we're so lucky that so many people around the world did just that.


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