A Celebration of mothers


Mother’s Day, on Sunday, May 12, is an opportunity to pause and celebrate the mother who is or was in our lives. As a child, we often don’t fully understand what Mom means to us, what she does for us, how she makes us feel about ourselves and the world around us. Our bodies and our minds are profoundly influenced by her. Our aptly named “mother tongue” is shaped by her. As fully formed adults, we can look back and see more clearly the full force of her presence in our lives. We may be dumbstruck by the sheer scope and scale of the impact she has had on us. We can appreciate anew her gifts to us. And perhaps, looking back, we can also see her as a person with a story of her own, dreams and ambitions that may or may not have been realized, talents we can now appreciate, troubles she may have endured, joys she found in life. And so, we celebrate and salute the mothers among us!


Christmas Day 1944 at 36 First Avenue

My mom Dorothy
By Derele Scharfe

Hi everyone! I am the wee baby in the lap of my great grandfather.

I don’t remember the occasion, but my mom Dorothy (Shaver) Armstrong was truly excited to be able to gather four generations of the Shaver family for Christmas dinner 1944. The eldest (seated) Edgar Daniel Shaver; his son Fred Maxwell Shaver; his daughter Dorothy (Shaver) Armstrong; and her daughter (me) Derele (Armstrong) Scharfe

My mom also arranged for her brother-in-law to record this special family occasion for the future.

My beginnings were at 36 First Avenue, and I have lived with pride in the Glebe for 59 years with my husband Leslie.

Derele Scharfe is a long-time Glebe resident who appreciates her mother.


Mom and me making holubtsi (cabbage rolls)

My mom Bohdana
By Sophie Shields

When I moved away from home, my mom, Bohdana Dutka, gave me a folder filled with recipes – Bohdana’s Chili, Bo’s brownies, my aunt’s crepes, leek and potato soup, sarma, etc. These and many more range from printed emails to scanned handwritten recipes to cookbook recipes with my mom’s notes all over, each with a story of its own. And cooking with her, gossiping at the counter as I ‘helped’ cook, was one of the first things I missed, and my texts showed it – “My strawberry crisp is too sweet – missing your recipe!” and “Why is your squash soup so much better than mine?!”

With her sometimes-loud aversion to cooking, my mom might be surprised to read that it is through her recipes that I now feel most connected to home, to the cozy and supportive environment she created for me growing up despite working full time. She always emphasized learning and remembering my heritage.

My mom loves to tell me her own story of learning to cook: leaving North-end Winnipeg on a Commonwealth scholarship to England to study international development, paying for expensive international phone calls to ask my grandmother, a semi-professional cook for Winnipeg Ukrainian gatherings, how to cook dishes she had helped make her whole childhood. This scraped-together knowledge was then passed down to me as I learned to love my Ukrainian heritage as a child through cooking, with our yearly tradition of a day off school to make Easter paska and our Christmas perogies and holubtsy.

My mom’s cooking is a metaphor for her years of guidance and the support she continues to give me. On those special days off school to make paska, we would always call my grandmother and involve her as we practised a family and cultural tradition. In this same way, my mom will forever be involved with each new recipe, whether in my thoughts or in urgent texts at the grocery store. From weekend afternoons of  Murchie’s tea and patisserie to my mother rushing home from her work as a public servant for kitchen gossip and Friday pizzas, these are defining moments in my relationship with my mother, a true role model for my life. Happy Mother’s Day, mama!

Sophie Shields is a Carleton graduate working on her MA in Comparative Literature at Dartmouth College in the U.S. She loves writing and learning languages, speaks French, Ukrainian and German, and appreciates her mother.


Louise Rachlis with some of her books

My mom Louise
By Josh Rachlis

A couple of months ago, I proudly handed my mom the Glebe Report so she could see my monthly cartoon in it. After congratulating me, she pointed out that her painting was on the cover. I had no idea! And that kind of sums her up – she’s always doing amazing things that I don’t even know about, which always make me want to achieve greater things so I can be like her. Another example is that I just saw her post a photo on Facebook of her posing with a box of books, with the caption: “When I edited seniors’ sections for the Citizen, I always told myself, “I’m not a senior, I’m just writing about them.” So, here’s a photo of my box of books that just arrived. I have a story on page 294 of Chicken Soup for the Soul Young at Heart, 101 Tales of Dynamic Aging. So, I say again, “I’m not a senior, I’m just writing about them.” 🙂 The book will be for sale May 21 on store shelves and available for purchase online.”

I didn’t even know she had submitted to the famous Chicken Soup for The Soul series, but suddenly here are the books! And this is just her latest literary accomplishment, as she’s written several books about how to live a healthy and fulfilling life. Her writing was also responsible for my early cartoon gigs – she was the first to hold the position of advertising features editor at the Ottawa Citizen, and when I was in Toronto for university, she would mail me articles she was writing, and I would draw cartoons for them and mail the cartoons back to her. And I guess I got the drawing bug from her, because when I was a kid taking gymnastics, while I was waiting for class to start, she would draw fun mazes for me to fill out.

At age 77, she’s still a freelance writer for Postmedia newspapers and other publications, and writing is just one of her many activities that inspire me and everyone who knows her. For instance, she started running at age 50 and has run many marathons. She’s at the YMCA every morning for 6 a.m. fitness classes. Swims in Meech Lake. Sells her paintings in Glebe art shows. Volunteers to help the needy. And she just showed me tons of photos she’s taken of a Giant Blue Heron she spots in the Glebe on her daily walks and jogs – so I guess we can add bird photographer to her résumé.

Josh Rachlis is a cartoonist, writer, actor and Glebe resident who appreciates his mother.


Jean Jeffery with her grandchildren
Photo: John Humphries

My mom Jean
Jean (Caskey) Jeffery, R.N., Mom, Gran

by Jennifer Humphries

My mom was front-page news in the Glebe Report’s May 3, 2002 edition, even though her name wasn’t in print. She was “the 80-year-old victim of a purse-snatching.”

Mom was on her way back from the corner store at Fifth and Gordon (the shop closed a few years ago), a regular shopping excursion during her many visits with us in the Glebe. While her moment of Glebe fame wasn’t exactly glorious, she acquitted herself well. As reported by Susan Brant, “The senior exercised good judgement on a number of fronts during the incident. First, she did not resist the attacker. ‘The one thing I’ve learned is that if they are going to take it, let them have it,’ she said. The senior was also glad to be carrying her bag in her hand, rather than around her neck or over her shoulder, which could have increased the likelihood of injury. The quick-thinking senior also tried to get the license of the fleeing car. ‘I tried to read the license number, but it looked like the license plate had been reversed.’”

That was classic Mom. She was a nurse, an R.N., one of the many unlauded mothers of the 1950s and 60s who worked outside the home while raising children. She was unflappable, used to dealing with tough calls including life-and-death situations. Mom wanted to be a doctor but that cost too much. She worked for three years after high school to earn nursing school fees and graduated in 1945. She eventually became a night supervisor, beloved by her team of “night owls” at Port Colborne General Hospital. I remember her in her crisp white uniform and cap heading out at 10:30 in the evening, cool and professional.

Mom’s Third Avenue visits were more than welcome. Her arrival was met with a sigh of relief from the adults in our household and joyous whoops from the kids. She was a truly helpful guest (dishes and laundry, yay!). My husband, John, called her Cinderella; she took the ribbing with good humour. Her grandkids asked her for stories and more stories. She loved reading to them.

Mom was quietly proud of her Northern Irish roots, her profession and her family. But mostly I remember her as modest, generous, sympathetic and loving. And practical too – a great problem-solver!


Jennifer (Jeffery) Humphries co-chair of the Glebe Report board and a Glebe resident who appreciates her mother.

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