Who is Belle?

The sixth presentation in this series.

In the summer of 1937 the Thompson family is still on the farm, but they are busily packing up for a big move to temporary rental accommodation in Calgary.  Belle and Will are both determined that their two daughters, Doris and Marjorie, get good educations.  While Marjorie finishes her Grade 8 at the one-room country school, Doris takes as much of Grade 9 as is available by correspondence.

Will commutes back and forth as the farm work permits.  He also oversees the building of a new home.  

Crescent Road


Will & Belle Thompson

This turns out to be their home together until his death on February 13, 1956, days before his 70th birthday.  His marriage to his beloved Belle has seen 38 years.  She is 66 years old.

Belle is disoriented after Will’s death.  Sad, tired, and grieving she strives to go on.  As her strength returns and her spirits begin to climb, she realizes that only she can build her future.  Calling up all the reserve she can muster, she starts to plan.

Sheldon Gibson, her son-in-law, is the one she turns to for driving lessons.  When Will quit farming and retired to the city, she stopped driving.  Now she needs that skill again.  Slowly and steadily she gets on with the business of living.

Belle loves to travel.  In due course she decides to take a trip to Europe, England, Hawaii, and New Zealand.  Her family doesn’t hear from her for a while, but one day a telegram arrives from Hawaii.


Not having a sum like that lying around, Sheldon goes to his bank, borrows the money, and wires it off to his wandering mother-in-law.  After a while she returns, glad to be home and full of stories of her wonderful trip.  Belle promptly repays her obliging son-in-law!

BelleThe years pile up, but Belle remains young at heart.  When she is diagnosed with diabetes at eighty-three, she is shocked at first but recovers quickly.  The doctor insists that she wear a bracelet which indicates her condition.  Belle is not pleased but finally agrees.

Shortly afterward her daughter says, “Mom, you’re not wearing the bracelet.”

“I certainly am!”

“Where is it?  I must be blind.”

“Pinned to my corset.  If anything happens to me, the ambulance people will find it!”

The debate ends there.

Of course, no life can go on forever.  On June 12th 1975, at the age of 85 she dies, after a year-long struggle with cancer.


With Belle as a mother, and Will as a father, I was gifted with parents who enriched my life in every way.  The memories of them live on in my heart, and forever will.

In sharing some of these memories I have skipped along from one incident to another, revealing episodes which highlight her personality and the morals that guided her life.

A reader of these stories complained, “This woman is too good to be true.  Didn’t she have any faults?”

This remark caused me some amusement and head-scratching.  I scan my memories with that question in mind.

Belle was sure of herself, but she wasn’t conceited.  She had a well-defined need to be dignified and she was always careful not to look ridiculous, but she loved fun.

Her grandchildren delighted her.  As they grew up they formed their own relationships with her.  She was fun to know and be around, and they all felt and appreciated her interest and support.

On the other hand, I do think that her fear of tiny garter snakes, mice, or wee frogs was ridiculous in a full-grown woman!

In short, Belle wasn’t a noted public person, she was just a good woman leading a worthwhile life.



Filed under This & That

16 Responses to Who is Belle?

  1. Norma

    So nice to meet your parents. You were a lucky person to have had them to bring you up. You have written such a lovely tribute to them.

    • Marjorie

      Norma, writing these essays on Belle and Will, has been a joy to me. Hopefully future generations will get a glimpse of them as persons, not just names

  2. Eveline Goodall

    I have loved these stories, Marjorie. We , who had good parents are so richly blessed. I am see her in you. In your character and personality and fun.

    I love the telegram

    • Marjorie

      Eveline – Indeed, what a start in life for children who have good parents. The older we get ourselves, the easier it is to see this.

  3. Barry Jewell

    “I do think that her fear of tiny garter snakes, mice, or wee frogs was ridiculous in a full-grown woman!”

    She passed this on to her eldest.

    One spring, after an early snow had prevented picking up the grain, there was a multitude of field mice to be harvested. Babies, before their eyes are open, are quite cute and can easily fill a baking sheet.

    Doris (while climbing the kitchen counter in the corner) was adamant that she was not afraid of baby mice – but “get them out of my kitchen NOW!”

    Methinks she doth protest too much.

    • Marjorie

      Barry – You are right! An earlier blog of mine dealt with the time I suddenly realized that I could keep Belle (Mom) and Doris locked in the house, by refusing to let the garter snake I was playing with, go away. I kept it until Dad came home, and then paid my price.

  4. Ralph Gibson

    I remember that Calgary house, of course, but was surprised that the outdoor lounge chair in the photograph seemed very familiar. Couldn’t have told you they had it but it was recognizable instantly.

    • Marjorie

      Ralph – Yes, I’m not surprised that the lounge was familiar to you. Dad spent a lot of time in it, the last few years. This group of essays has been a trip down memory lane for me. Will and Belle, quite a pair.

  5. Susan McCalla

    I love your stories and this one is especially touching. What a lovely picture of Belle and Will on their lounge chair in the backyard. Their home is beautiful. I wonder what area of the city they lived in?

    Belle was an independent woman travelling to Europe and Hawaii. Loved the request for $500 🙂

    Thank you for these delightful stories, Marjorie

    • Marjorie

      Susan – Yes, she was independent, and open to new experiences. On her trips she took with her the practical nurse who had lived with them, and helped with the care of my father in his last months. It was appreciated by the nurse, who could not afford such a trip, and helped Belle as well as a travelling companion.
      Their home was on Crescent Road which ran along the brow of the North Hill, just west of Centre St.

  6. Alison

    I remember you mom – and her house in Calgary. I guess I would have been there when we were visiting MY grandma in Calgary? What I found interesting was that she was called “Belle” – I knew that Isabel’s name was in honour of her Grandma, but of course, I only ever heard her referred to as “Grandma Thompson” It was a generation of great courage and adventure! I feel my life pales in comparison. How wonderful that you have documented it for generations to come. Take care.

    • Marjorie

      Alison – I had forgotten that you might have met my mother. She was a dear, and a strong woman as well. As the essays piled up in my attempt to presente her as the person she was, I also began to think that the documentation could be of value to the family, and those to follow. Time will tell.

  7. Doreen

    I am so pleased that you are still writing, Marjorie. I miss you but am so glad you are enjoying yourself in Vancouver. Your stories are so enjoyable.
    Doreen Tischer

    • Marjorie

      Doreen – And I am so pleased you still enjoy my stories! I have yet to decide what comes next, but for sure, the Belle stories are over.