Saying farewell to Louise Hall, a true Eastern Townships’ community pillar

By Louise Smith

Louise Hall, a long-time resident of Farnham, passed away on Feb. 10. Her funeral was on Saturday, Feb. 27. Next month she would have turned 98 In her 97 years on this planet, Louise made a huge difference in many people’s lives.

During the Second World War, Louise graduated from McGill University and she taught for a few years in Montreal before returning to Farnham to teach there. The last class she taught was in 1963. She then became a principal and went on to work for the Protestant Education Sector at the provincial level and then for the Quebec Ministry of Education. She was well revered in all her educational roles.

Leslie McCorkill was a teacher for many years at Massey-Vanier. He was once a student in one of Louise’s classes and he kept in touch with her over the years. He remembers her as a teacher, principal, gardener, and friend. To honour her, he wrote a poem, which he gave to Adelaide, Louise’s sister. It is entitled “An Outstanding Lady”.

An Outstanding Lady
Ambitious and involved from morning till night
Number One – like a shining star so bright
Observant and always ready to learn
Understanding of things that were of concern
Talented…Oh!! In so many ways
Sociable with all, throughout her days
Teacher, one of the very, very best
Always one step ahead of the rest
Neighbourly and loved by Farnham’s all
Dedicated to family and friends, that was Louise Hall
Interested in helping those in need
Never turning her back on doing a good deed
Gardening; a real passion in life,
Louise could identify Hostas, Rubekias, and even Loosestrife.
Love of family: her family was always number one
Able to accomplish whatever had to be done
Determined to do what she had to get
Yes! An Outstanding Lady, whom we will never, never forget.

In October 2019, Louise Hall, alongside her sister, Adelaide Lanktree, was the star of the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Farnham town library. Before the library came into existence, books circulated between towns in specially converted busses sponsored through a program supported by McGill University. Louise spearheaded the start of a permanent library in 1958 along with the parent committee of Farnham Elementary School. There was a campaign to gather books over several months and the town gave space to house the library. Eight years ago the town took over the operation of the library. It was then officially called the Louise Hall Library.

At the celebration, the mayor, Patrick Melchoir, spoke glowingly of Louise and Adelaide’s contributions to the town. A former student of Louise’s, Ross Lemke, spoke of how he came to Farnham many years ago, from Ontario, in Grade 6 and he stayed as Louise’s pupil for several years and he went from not speaking any French to being fluent in French. He grew up to be a teacher too. He thanked Louise for making such a profound difference in his life. Fay Cotton, a distant cousin, spoke about the generosity of her two Farnham cousins throughout her lifetime.

Louise has also been very active in the United Empire Loyalists. She brought in Michel Racicot, a local historian. Louise has worked hard over the years to foster love in local history. Michel spoke lovingly at her funeral. They not only worked together in the United Empire Loyalists, but on a team to put together the history museum in the Brome Missisquoi Perkins Hospital, and they taught local history together for several years in the Missisquoi Community School. Louise was a member in the Order of the Eastern Star for seventy-four years. She was a member of the White Rose Chapter and when it is amalgamated with Cowansville #17, she was very active in that chapter. Every April, White Rose Chapter is honoured. It will be different this year with Louise being gone.
For many years Louise volunteered at the boutique in the BMP Hospital. Louise also served on the BMP Foundation Committee. On behalf of several chapters in the Order of the Eastern Star, Louise and her sister Adelaide would give out Christmas gifts to every patient in the BMP Hospital on Christmas Day. In non-COVID times, this tradition has continued in their honour when they were no longer able to physically carry on the tradition.

During her life, Louise received several medals. She was given the Order of Scholastic Merit for Quebec from the Provincial Association of Protestant Teachers. Louise and Adelaide were both given the Caring Canadian Award from the Governor General of Canada. She also received a Golden Jubilee Medal during the Queen’s 50th Anniversary on the throne.

One of Louise’s favourite poets was Robert Frost. She would often quote him and the stanza “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”

Louise Hall was indeed a very special lady and she made a difference in the lives of many.

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