We are saddened to announce that Liz Valleau has passed away. She died of a heart attack while taking a swim in Lake Ontario near her cabin at Point Petre, Prince Edward County. She was doing something she loved to do in a place she loved to be.
Liz (nee Hollis) was born in Leicester, England and grew up in Little Bentley, Essex, on her father’s market-garden farm with her parents and two sisters, Joanna and Vicki. In England Liz met her first husband, John Valleau, a Canadian studying at Cambridge University. She had her first son, Nicholas, and they moved to Toronto via Ottawa. She had a second son, Simon, in Toronto. John and Liz separated in 1970, and remained friends for the rest of her life.
Later, she moved to Glenora, Prince Edward County where she operated a gourmet bed and breakfast called Stone Mills House Restaurant, in a 200-year old stone house on the shore of Lake Ontario. This was the culmination of her everlasting love of food and cooking. Liz loved ‘The County’ and loved swimming in the lake outside her home. The ferry operators loved her swimming near their route too! Stone Mills House was quickly recognized as a premier gourmet destination and was noted in Where to Eat in Canada. Tiring of the long hours, after a few short years she returned to Toronto where she continued to be active in all things food, operating a gourmet store, catering and writing reviews for Toronto Life magazine. Liz bought a small cabin in the County in 1985, and has enjoyed many periods there.
She also worked as a secretary for many years in Toronto, for the Steelworkers and for members of both the Ontario and BC NDP caucuses.
Liz married Brad Robinson in 1988 and they moved to the Comox Valley on Vancouver Island in 1992, where Liz resided for the last 20 years of her life. Liz felt she had come home to the valley. Liz volunteered and worked with devotion at the Comox Valley Art Gallery for many years. Liz found many deep and abiding friendships in the area; those she described as her ‘chosen family’. Opera nights, great food, lively discussions about art, politics, Trollope (and others, perhaps) enjoyed with her friends; these were her passions. Liz was unpretentious, mischievous, loved meeting people and always saw the good side. She loved to write notes both playful and instructive.
Liz will be lovingly remembered and missed by her sons, Nicholas and Simon (and Ellen), Leslie, her grandchildren, Jessica, Robin, Dylan, Daniel and Jeremy, the rest of her family and her many friends. Liz would have appreciated, as a gesture of condolence, a donation to the NDP or the Comox Valley Art Gallery (http://www.comoxvalleyartgallery.com/support.html). A memorial gathering will take place at the Comox Valley Art Gallery on September 22, 2012, from 2-5PM.