POISSON, HELEN (NEE FERGUSON)
February 14, 1911 – March 14, 2008
Helen died peacefully at home. She is loved and missed by daughters Renee and Therese, grandchildren Damien and Sarah, brother Douglas, extended family and friends. She is predeceased by Rodney, her beloved husband of 64 years.
Helen was born in North Bay, Ontario to the Rev TJS and Amy Ferguson. From her beginning she had a radiant energy, an enthusiasm, curiosity and zest for life. Growing up in North Bay, Lanark and Kingston Ontario, she played both the piano and the violin, often performing with her family. In 1925 the family moved to Vernon, BC, where Helen completed high school. She earned her university fees picking apples in Okanagan orchards and teaching swimming and diving in Nelson, BC. After completing her BA at UBC, Helen won a summer scholarship to England to study a new Swedish approach to natural movement, a method she was to use successfully during her years instructing physical
education in the BC school system. Returning to BC, Helen spent another year at U.B.C. to get her teacher’s certificate and taught high school physical education and art while completing her M.A. in history. In 1942 she married Rodney Poisson who became a professor of English Literature at Victoria College (now the University of Victoria). As the wife of a professor and the mother of two children Helen’s fascination with the scholarly approach led her to become an invaluable researcher and capable editor of Rodney’s academic writing. During the mid ’60’s, Helen was Dean of Women at Mount Allison University in Sackville, NB, where Rodney was teaching English Literature. Rodney and Helen’s final academic years were in London, Ontario, where Rodney was Huron College’s Dean of Arts . They retired to Comox, BC in 1979 to enjoy their grandchildren, their friends and sail their dinghy. Helen was an active member of Courtenay Youth Music Centre and the University Women’s Club. She was a patron of the Amy Ferguson Institute, a non-profit organization offering educational support to promising young singers from the Kootenay Valley. At the age of 90, combining her talents as a letter writer and archivist, Helen wrote and published “Sing as You Go,” a history of her mother Amy’s work as founder/director of the groundbreaking Nelson Boys’ Choir. Helen spent her last two years playing piano, engaging in stimulating conversations, picking
blackberries in her garden, archiving her papers and writing letters to her friends all over the world. As Helen’s daughters we would like to thank the homecare nurses, doctors, home support workers, hospice volunteers and friends for helping us take such good care of our mother.
Helen asked that we celebrate her life with a Tea Dance, which will be held at D’Esterre House, 1801 Beaufort Ave, Comox, on April 20, from 4 to 6 p.m. Everyone is welcome. She is hoping that we will all dance! In lieu of flowers we would appreciate donations be made to The Amy Ferguson Institute, 3949
Malina Road, Nelson, B.C. V1L 6X6.