Barbara Margaret Pibus Reid

Submitted by the Reid family

Born the 14th of October 1924, died the 18th, of January 2018 Aged 93 years

Passed away in Knowlton in her 93rd year. Barbara was predeceased by her husband Dr. E. A. Stewart Reid, infant son Duncan, and daughter Jane. Survived by her two sons Stewart “Tad” (Cheri), Dugald (Andrea), grandson Adam, and her sister Beverley Laurie and her children.

Her wedding picture

Those who knew Barbara knew she was never one who talked much about who she was or where she was from, but everyone knew that she was a true “Townshipper”.

In 1922 Barbara’s parents, Hugh Pibus and Eileen Brown, met at a hockey game in Cowansville, soon married and had two daughters. Barbara was born in the Sweetsburg Hospital in 1924 and 7 years later was followed by a younger sister Beverley. The family lived in Magog where Hugh had a garage that serviced bootlegger’s cars during Prohibition and Eileen ran a boarding house. At age 6 Barbara’s grandfather, Luther Pibus, who was the Knowlton postmaster and a forward-thinking man, insisted that she attend a French, Catholic Convent school. “The convent was such a nuisance,” she recounted. “At first, the Sisters made me go to Mass, but then when they were told I wasn’t Catholic I was excused and so I would go sliding instead!” She always loved the snow.

Her girlhood summers were spent either in Cowansville or Knowlton. When in Knowlton, she stayed above the post office with her grandfather, his wife Belle, and their son Harry. Barbara loved Knowlton because she chummed around with Uncle Harry, and recalls lots of teasing, laughter and fun. She fondly remembers being 10 years old and riding on top of a wagon of dirty laundry pulled by Harry down Victoria Street to a local washerwoman at house number 111. Uncle Harry may have been her first childhood crush. He was in the RCAF and sadly was lost in action after being shot down over the English Channel after a bombing raid in France. As Barbara aged, mentioning Harry’s name still brought tears to her eyes. 

Barbara’s mother was an avid bridge player. Many a time she would phone her eldest daughter late in the afternoon with instructions to “look after Bev and start supper as I will be a little late.” This resulted in a life-long aversion to card and other board games, but in becoming an accomplished cook.

Summers were also spent in Cowansville which was the home of her maternal grandparents, the Browns. Her grand-dad was the proprietor of “The Hub” store in the middle of town where her Aunt Ella, who had polio as a child and used crutches, worked. Every morning Barbara would walk Aunt Ella to the store and carry her lunch, meanwhile getting the latest news as, “Aunt Ella knew all the gossip in town”.

In 1942 at the age of 18 the Eastern Township girl enrolled in nursing school at the “old” Montreal General Hospital off St Lawrence Main, and lived in the nurse’s residence. Knowing French from her convent days came in handy while working on the wards in the East-end of Montreal. One evening when returning from an outing on St. Lawrence, the sister-in-charge of the residence enquired “so what kind of trouble did you get into?” to which Barbara replied, “oh, I don’t think anything you would be interested in” which no doubt got her grounded for some time!

In 1948, Barbara met Stewart Reid, a handsome medical intern, in the emergency room at the MGH. She recalls upon first seeing him that she “knew he was the man she would marry.” And so, in 1951, Barb, as Stewart called her, decided it was time for a proper church wedding. They were married by her father-in-law, the Reverend William D. Reid of Stanley Presbyterian Church in Westmount.

Children arrived soon after; first Duncan in 1952, who tragically died of a congenital heart abnormality at the age two months, followed by Jane in 1953. Jane and Barbara were a tight mother-daughter team and Jane’s tragic, accidental horse riding death when she was 48, was a blow that took Barbara many years to recover from. Stewart junior, also known as Tad, was born in 1955 and finally Dugald in 1958. The next years went by quickly; life was busy with 3 active kids, 6 dachshund puppies, a procession of pound pups and cats, horses, gardens, church and community work, skiing, travelling, designing, building, then spending summers at a cottage in the Laurentians, entertaining the Montreal General Hospital and McGill medical fraternity in Westmount, buying and restoring a dilapidated farm in Dunham in 1963 and finally, in retirement in 1985, moving back to Knowlton. It was there that after 60 happy years of marriage, Stewart passed away peacefully at the age of 88.

To the Reid family, Barbara was the foundation, always there, always caring, and always supportive. The ultimate planner with limitless energy, she kept Stewart, the children and all the animals organized and going in all directions. She was a “doer” and when she learned about something new she would say “Well, I better get busy!” She had multiple interests outside of the family and a curiosity for everything. She loved to ski, sail, ride horses, birdwatch, and garden. She also loved to travel, finding those special places that were off the beaten track. Later in life she took Elderhostel trips in the South Pacific, travelled to Scotland and Zanzibar, and went on safari in Zambia. She never lost her interest in travel and she would always start a phone conversation to family overseas with, “Now what are you people up to? Where are you travelling to now?

She also enjoyed collecting things, including paintings, glassware, pewter, and antiques.  Back in the early 60’s Barb became an enthusiast of Quebec pine furniture. In those days, her favourite shopping venue was the farmers’ barn, field, yard or porch where discarded ‘treasures’ could be found. While driving the country roads, she would shout “Stewart stop!” when she sighted a disused armoire, chest of drawers or other special item. Using her best Quebec French, she would bargain for each piece – ten dollars being an expensive purchase – take it home, scrape off the pink or blue paint, and redo the finish herself. She landed may unique pieces this way, and our basement was always full of her ‘projects.’ 

Barbara was also a very talented craftswoman and always had multiple projects on the go. She was an accomplished seamstress, and weaver who made her own clothes, a basket-maker, needle-pointer, and knitter who was always making sweaters, socks and gifts for friends or their children. She was well known by many in the Village of Knowlton for her church, garden club, historical society, community work, and for her love of animals. She would often bring her dog Max to the United Church on Sundays to sit beside her in the front pew. Barbara was always fun to be with: she liked to tease, had a self-deprecating sense of humour, was quick to laugh, and had a bright and wise wit. She was loved by many and will be sorely missed.

The Reid family would like to thank the staff at the Manoir Lac Brome and Dr. Dominique Desy for their excellent care, members of the community, and her loyal friends for the love and the support shown to her over the years, and especially during her last few days. A celebration of Barbara’s life will be held in the United Church in Knowlton at 4:00 pm on Saturday 28th April. In lieu of flowers, donations in Barbara’s memory can be made to the SPCA Montérégie.