Paulette Pelletier-Kelly

Obituary of Paulette Pelletier-Kelly

Paulette Pelletier-Kelly died peacefully at the Kensington Hospice on April 18. She was born in rural England during the Second World war. Her mother had been evacuated to the countryside to avoid the blitz but soon returned to London. “Better the bombs than the countryside,” she commented. Her father, Paul Pelletier, was a Sergeant in the Royal 22nd, the “Van Doos,” and the couple met when he was billeted in London with the Selby family. After the war they settled in Montreal. Their closest friends were couples like themselves, English war brides and French Canadian veterans.


Paulette grew up in Montreal. She married Jim Kelly and had three children. It was there that they began the practice of loading the kids in a van during their holidays, and touring Canada and the United States, camping on the way. In 1967, right after Expo 67, they moved to Toronto for Jim’s work. Soon they bought a small house and land in the community of West Hill.


In time Paulette’s marriage ended and she went back to work. She was always interested in the arts. One of her first jobs was with the Canadian Opera Company, where she organized the President’s Council. She worked with Walter Pitman at the Ontario Arts Council, and Walter became a mentor of hers. She studied part time at the University of Toronto as well as managing a family and household as a single mother.


With Walter’s encouragement, Paulette enrolled in the Arts Administration program at City University in London. This was a transformative experience for her. Not only did she broaden her education and make new friends, she traveled extensively in Europe, and reconnected with her mother’s family, the Selbys. While there she became the co-director of Arts Place Trust, a visual artists studio and residence in London.


Paulette came back to Canada in 1987 and soon was employed as the Executive Director of the Periodical Writers’ Association. There she met Bill Freeman, the writer, and in 1991 she moved to Toronto Island to live with him. Over time a blended family emerged with Paulette’s three children and Bill’s four children. The Island became her home where she participated in many social and political events. She loved the Island and its intense social life.


While on the Island, Paulette worked with a number of other arts organizations including the Ontario Craft Council, and the Canadian Royal Academy of Arts. She also continued her great love of traveling to places like Egypt, South America, Mexico, California, and of course Canada. One of her most memorable trips was to Africa with the Stephen Lewis Foundation, “Grandmother to Grandmother Campaign.”


Paulette leaves her partner Bill, “the love of her life,” sisters Yvonne Yirush Hughes and Jose Pelletier, brother Brian Yirush, her two daughters, Brenda Gregory and Kathleen Kelly, their partners, Peter Gregory and John Hobbs, granddaughter, Danielle Passmore, and her husband Jake, great granddaughters Norah and Eleanor Passmore, granddaughter Caitlin Gregory, step-children Erik, Peggy, Jessica and Nathan Freeman, Bill’s grandchildren Maddie Adair, and Josh and Sean Malone, who have known Paulette all of their lives. She was predeceased by her cherished son, Jim Kelly.


The Funeral Service will be held on Toronto (Centre) Island at St. Andrew by-the-Lake Anglican Church on Monday, April 22, at 11:00 am. Her burial will take place at St. John’s Norway Cemetery (256 Kingston Rd. at Woodbine) on Tuesday, April 23 at 1 p.m. Those attending her burial are asked to enter through the Kingston Road gates and assemble in the laneway facing north at 12:50 p.m.


The family encourages donations to the Stephen Lewis Foundation and Kensington Hospice in the name of Paulette Pelletier-Kelly.


Please use this memorial web page to share stories and photos, to make donations, for traveling information to the island church and for future celebrations of Paulette’s life.


Resources for Travel:

Please see options below for ferries to island. Please note that this Monday is not considered a holiday as per online schedules below. 

City ferry from Harbour Castle dock to Centre Island: 

Please be aware this is the shortest walking route of about 15 minutes to where the church which is located on Centre Island.  

9:15 am - arrives 9:30 am

9:30 am - arrives 9:450 am

10:00 am - arrives 10:15 am

10:30 am - arrives 10:45 am (last possible option to arrive just on time)

City ferry from Harbour Castle dock to Wards Island: 

Please be aware this will be the longest walk from Ward's to Centre Island, of about 20-25 minutes, to where the church which is located on Centre Island.  

8:30 am - arrives 8:45 am

9:30 am - arrives 9:45 am
10:30 am - arrives 10:45 am (this particular departure time probably best for joggers or cyclists)

Small QCYC tender from city, stops at  Algonquin Island:  
This smaller boat (called the tender) is for members and guests of the QCYC, and stops at Wards, and then crosses over to Algonquin 

Please be aware this is a slightly faster walk from Algonquin Island to Centre Island, of about 15-20 minutes, to where the church is located on Centre Island.  

8:15 am - arrives 8:30 am
9:15 am - arrives 9:30 am

10:15 am - arrives 10:30 am

Also at the foot of York Street and elsewhere along the waterfront are several WATER TAXI options to Centre Island:


We encourage you to plan your transporation responsibly by using the resources above to ensure a comfortable schedule of your day. 


Uniquely entrusted to eco Cremation & Burial Services Inc.

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