Gail Van Varseveld


Lynda Gail van Varseveld died in Toronto October 9, 2014 of congestive heart failure. Born in Nelson, BC, Gail graduated from L.V. Rogers Secondary School. At the University of British Columbia she was a brilliant student, avid film buff and hardworking Film Society member. After graduate studies in political science, Gail moved to London, England to write short stories and share a communal house with other political activists and graduate students. Returning to Vancouver, Gail was a founding editor of the women’s literary journal Room of One’s Own. She lived in Waterloo with friends and then settled in Toronto, designing education facilities for Educational Consulting Services before starting her own desktop publishing and web design business. She contributed her talents generously to many progressive organizations, including the Jesuit journal Compass and Across Boundaries Multifaith Institute. An ardent, compassionate supporter of women living with mental illness, Gail was a board member and chair of Margaret Frazer House for many years. She was also an active member of David B. Archer Housing Co-operative. Gail championed feminism, social diversity, freedom and equality. Emphatic in debate, she often hilariously criticized the world’s bumptious big cheeses.

Gail loved good fiction, movies and the music of Kurt Weill, Jacques Brel and Leonard Cohen. From her teens, she lived stoically and uncomplainingly with constant pain from severe rheumatoid arthritis. Never a morning person, Gail conducted her socializing (and work) during afternoons and evenings. She sustained an enduring family of friends through collective dinners, games nights and movie nights. She was a thoughtful gift giver and deeply supportive of family and friends, taking particular delight in children. Her respectful conversations with them sparkled with Gail’s happy laughter.

Gail is survived by her sister Cheryl and numerous members of the van Varseveld and Edgar extended families. Her ashes will be interred in the Nelson Memorial Cemetery alongside her parents, Martin John Varseveld and Martha Grant Cecilia Hutton, her grandparents and other family.

Thanks to the staff of the Intensive Care and Cardiology units at St. Michael’s Hospital for their compassionate care.

Donations in Gail’s memory may be made to Margaret Frazer House (

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