Our nation has lost a respected scholar and dedicated champion of heritage preservation. OHS is saddened by the unexpected death of Dr. (Frances) Jane Irwin on Thursday, February 7, 2013, following a stroke.
On behalf of the OHS, I had the great honour and privilege to work with Jane for over two decades. She was a life member of the OHS who volunteered her diverse skills to work tirelessly on behalf of community organizations, including two OHS affiliated societies: the Burlington Historical Society (BHS, incorporated 1983) and the Friends of Freeman Station (FOFS, incorporated 2011). Jane was a long-time active member of the BHS, recently serving as its archivist and director of its digital collections. Jane was also a founding member of the FOFS, working to preserve and restore Burlington’s 1906 Grand Trunk Railway Station.
Jane was always generous with her time and wisdom, serving as an expert advisor to and workshop partner with OHS on built heritage and cemetery issues. She had a deep understanding of the constant challenges and threats to Ontario’s history.
Jane was a donor to the OHS Cemetery Defence Fund and a strong supporter of our struggle for the public interest concerning the relocation of Ontario’s historic cemeteries. After five years of researching and writing about Canada’s historic cemeteries, she completed the definitive national book on this issue Old Canadian Cemeteries: Places of Memory (Firefly, 2007).
Jane is deeply missed and left us far too soon. We will remember her incredible integrity, warm smile, keen mind, clear insight and consistent friendship. She graciously offered us her encouragement and enthusiasm and always told the inconvenient truth on heritage preservation.
Jane dedicated her life to preservation of Ontario’s history and its cemeteries. OHS sends its condolences and best wishes to Jane’s family, including her husband Richard Bachmann, three children, and five granddaughters.
The Ontario Historical Society