May 5, 1929 - May 4, 2023
Ruth died peacefully in Vancouver, one day before her 94th birthday.
She was born in Toronto, Ontario to Norman Roy Macdonald and Gertrude Blanche Whitlock.
Over the years, Ruth devoted boundless energy to the causes she believed in, including the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) and its successor the New Democratic Party (NDP), Amnesty International, the United Church and, animal welfare and environmental causes.
Ruth graduated from Delta Collegiate in Hamilton, Ontario and attended McMaster and the University of Toronto. Later, when she was in her mid-forties, she returned to school part-time at Simon Fraser University, where she completed a BA and Masters in English literature.
She was inspired to join the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) by her father who deplored the conditions of the unemployed during the Great Depression. While a student at McMaster University in the late 1940’s, her interest in the CCF was furthered by meeting national party organizer David Lewis (future national NDP leader). In 1952, she met her future husband Paul Jerome (Jerry) Houle at a CCF youth group meeting at Woodsworth House in Toronto.
During the early 1950’s, Ruth participated in the Eaton Drive to unionize retail workers at Eaton’s stores in Ontario. She also worked as a school teacher and campaigned to be a school trustee in a civic election.
During the 1960’s, Ruth and Jerry worked in the anti-Vietnam War movement. During that time, she also lobbied for women’s rights and later, in the 1980s, was one of the founding board members of the Everywoman's Health Centre, the first stand alone abortion clinic in Vancouver.
Ruth and Jerry worked intensely to elect the first NDP provincial government in BC in 1972 under Premier Dave Barrett. Throughout the 1970’s and 1980’s, she worked in countless municipal, provincial and federal election campaigns. During the 1980’s and 1990’s she worked tirelessly for End the Arms Race, and attended logging protests at Clayoquot Sound during the War in the Woods.
Ruth resided on the Sunshine Coast, BC for 30 years where she remained politically active, founding a SC chapter for the Council of Canadians, and organizing the SC Council of Senior Citizens Organizations (COSCO).
During the last six months of her life, Ruth lived in a care home in East Vancouver where she attended the Trinity-Grace United Church every Sunday.
Ruth was predeceased by her parents, Norman and Gertrude Macdonald, her younger brother, Paul, and her husband, Jerry. She will be sadly missed by her three children, Eric, Laura and Paul, her son-in-law, Mark Hiltz, and her granddaughter, Megin. She is also missed by her nieces in Ontario: Corinne, Kathy and Tricia and their mother Patricia Macdonald, and many extended family members and friends in Quebec, Ontario, Alberta and BC.
In lieu of flowers, donations are encouraged in Ruth's memory to organizations she believed in: Doctors Without Borders, Amnesty International, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, the First United Church, and the BCSPCA.