Helen Brimmell
Helen Brimmell

Obituary of Helen Gertrude Brimmell

Helen Brimmell

1920 --- 2023


An art lover all her life and for 50 years a journalist, Helen Gertrude Bannerman-Brimmell was the only

child of Dr. James G. Bannerman and Clara Holland-Bannerman, late of Owen Sound, Ontario. She was

also predeceased by her beloved husband of 56 years, Richard (Dick) Brimmell, (2007). She is survived

by her cherished children: her son - Richard (Andrea) and their children Andrew (Marina) of Victoria, BC

and Marianne (Lee) of Vancouver, BC, and her daughter – Louise (Lynn) of Langley, BC.

She was born May 28, 1920 in Owen Sound and soon developed a love of painting and drawing and a

keen interest in the news which continued all her life and led her to a career in journalism. Enrolling in

English at University College, at the University of Toronto in 1939, she also joined the staff of the Varsity,

then the student daily newspaper. On graduation, with summer experience at the Owen Sound Sun-

Times, she joined the Toronto Bureau of The Canadian Press (CP) news service. CP sent her to Ottawa

where she was the third woman to be elected a full member of the Parliamentary Press Gallery.

Covering aspects of parliament and the war effort, she won an early news award for her account of

destroyers with renowned exploits in World War II being sent to the scrap yards at Sorel, Quebec, an

emotional time for our navy. After seeing service with CP in Montreal and New York and serving as city

editor in Toronto she took a contract with the Royal Gazette in Hamilton, Bermuda, where she met her

journalist husband.

After their return to Canada and their wedding in Owen Sound on April 14, 1951, they served on the

staff of the Oshawa Time-Gazette. Dick accepted an offer from The Guelph Mercury and, in a very short

time; they decided they liked Guelph so much they would move no more. Helen who had written art

reviews at all of her CP postings, instituted art reviews with The Mercury, when she found that they had

none. Her first was an interview was with a 22 – year-old Judith Nasby who had been named director of

the University of Guelph’s art collection. She became Women’s Editor in 1970, a period when it had

become politically incorrect to refer to women as such. After considerable arguing she agreed to be

Family Editor. She retired in 1985 but continued to write art reviews until 1990.

She was invited to join the Guelph Creative Arts Association when she arrived in 1955 and served in

many positions including president and honorary president. She was active in the Guelph Civic Museum

in its founding years. She served on the founding committee of the Guelph Arts Council in 1974 and was

president from 1980 to 1982. She was on the founding committee of Third Age Learning in 1985 and

served on its executive. She also became a busy volunteer at the Macdonald-Stewart Art Centre (Art

Gallery of Guelph), where she also sponsored two works in their sculpture park: The Bicyclist weather

vane that was on the east peak of the roof and the Before Flight - the tall column topped with a bronze



Helen joined the Victoria Guelph Chapter of the IODE, serving as Regent from 1992 – 1996 and

continued to serve on the executive board until her passing. She was a long-time member of the Guelph

Chapter of the Canadian Federation of University Women, the Guelph Historical Society and the Chancel

Guild of St. George’s Anglican Church. From 1967 – 1975 she was public relations officer of the South

Wellington Division of the Girl Guides for which she was honored with an award. From 1985-1991 she

was one of three Guelph members on the board of the Grand River Conservation Foundation.

The Macdonald Stewart Art Centre, The Guelph Civic Museum, The Victoria Guelph Chapter of the IODE

and the Guelph Creative Arts Association have all bestowed her with lifetime memberships. In 1999 she

was honored by being named the YMCA-YWCA Women of the Year Distinction for Art and Culture.

On June 1, 2016, she was very honoured to be acknowledged by the House of Commons in Ottawa for

having been a full member of the Parliamentary Press Gallery. The honour was followed by a high tea

service with the Speaker of the House. This was in connection with the celebration of the 150 th

anniversary of the founding of the Press Gallery in 1866, an event that brought her great joy.

Two years later, on June 1, 2018, she attended her 75 th reunion at the University of Toronto and

received her 75 th anniversary medal. Earlier this year she received a medal for her 80 th anniversary of


Early in 2020 she had a fall resulting in a broken hip which led to many changes in her life. Just shy of

her 100 th birthday she left her beloved home and the neighborhood that she adored, with all friends

there that had really become a second family to her. She moved into Arbour Trails where she happily

settled into condo life.

Her ongoing thirst for news of the world never waned and she was constantly on the search for

interesting mystery stories (and chocolates) that were generously supplied by her dear friend Bob.

Despite being slightly inconvenienced by COVID Helen turned her attention to utilizing computer skills

that included Zoom gatherings and discovering many programs on You Tube which enabled her to stay

in touch with her dear friends from her Mercury and Creative Arts days.

On August 15, 2023 Helen got her final wish, that being, peacefully going into the deepest sleep never to

wake. She can now rest knowing that she had a full life, that was well lived.

Her memorial service will be held at St. George’s Anglican Church, 99 Woolwich Street, Guelph on Saturday, October 14, 2023 at

11:00 a.m. followed by a reception. Interment will be held at Woodlawn Memorial Park, Guelph.

Flowers gratefully declined. Anyone wishing to honour Helen’s memory is invited to make a

contribution to St. George’s Anglican Church or Salvation Army.

Arrangements entrusted to Brombal Funeral Home, One Delhi Street, Guelph.

Share Your Memory of