Elizabeth Baldwin

Obituary of Elizabeth Grant Baldwin


Elizabeth Grant Baldwin


April 26th, 1945 - February 1st, 2021


Betsy was a loving mother, grandmother, wife and friend. Exuberant, witty and generous, she accepted people for who they are with kindness and an open heart. She was buoyant, fun and always ensured her children had sunshine in every sense: lots to do, lots to be interested by, lots of fresh air, good food and good spirits. Betsy is remembered by all for her smile, her laughter, her independent spirit, her happy nature, her sparkling intelligence, her loving heart and her hugs. 


Born to Thayer and Hilda Baldwin, Betsy grew up in Hull, Massachusetts, with her two older brothers, Seth and Ted, in a house looking out over Boston Light. She loved the ocean and enjoyed playing on Nantasket Beach and sailing in Boston Harbor. She had fond memories of seeing Mary Martin play Peter Pan on Broadway, and her passion for music stayed with her for her entire life. She loved playing classical music, showtunes, Christmas carols and other favorites on the piano, often with friends and family gathered around, singing.


As a young mother, Betsy moved to Waterloo, Ontario, where her vibrant personality brought her to the center of a creative and engaged community that remembers her in so many ways: leading rounds of song in the backseat of a car packed with children or walking down a city street; organizing picnics to Laurel Creek or outings to the theatre; making brownies, samosas or lemon meringue pies for birthdays or holiday gatherings;  leading kick lines at Christmas celebrations; bouncing children on her knee while singing “Ride a horse to Boston”.


In the midst of all that, Betsy earned a BA in sociology from the University of Waterloo, followed by an MA from McMaster University in Hamilton. Her thesis dealt with the development of the first community radio station in Canada, Wired World in Waterloo. From its inception and in its early years she was involved with the station in many roles, manifesting her deep commitment to social change through her skills in communication, organization and cooperation.


With three young children in tow and very little help, Betsy moved to Toronto in the late 1970s to start a new chapter of her life, studying law at the University of Toronto. She decided to treat law school and bar admission as a 9-to-5 job so that she could be the kind of mother she wanted to be, at home and present with her kids. Her home in Toronto and her cottage on Lake Huron were safe harbors - warm, open, fun and busy. Her classmates were charmed that she occasionally brought along a precocious and friendly preschooler who was transfixed by the pinball machines at U of T law. She made life-long friends at law school and succeeded spectacularly with both her family and her legal career.


Betsy began in private practice with a specialty in family law. Subsequently she was a greatly valued legislative counsel at Queen‘s Park from 1985 until 2001, when her health compelled her to retire. In her work with the Ontario government, Betsy combined a quick and keen mind with intuitive kindness. People who worked with her still remember her courage and directness, her generous mentoring and her wicked sense of humour. She was responsible for drafting many statutes and regulations in the health and social services sector and wrote the first version of what is now the statutory Bill of Rights for residents of long-term care homes — a fitting monument. Betsy was a splendid colleague and a true friend to all her co-workers.


Fellow lawyer, Martin Campbell, was instructed to work with ‘Ms. Baldwin’ on amendments to the Bill of Rights. Warned that she was ‘scary smart’, Martin found he was able to work well with her and eventually became her husband and devoted partner for the rest of her life. They took particular pleasure in traveling: Greece, Italy, France, South Africa, the upper Amazon, the Galapagos, Ecuador, Napa Valley, the Grand Canyon, Jasper and Banff, the outer banks of South Carolina among many destinations. Betsy enjoyed their travels, especially the South African game parks and Galapagos where she developed her interest in wildlife photography. During these years they enjoyed the exuberance of Daisy, their Jack Russell terrier, the satisfactions of working in their garden and the pleasure of many long walks together. 


When she could no longer continue her professional work, Betsy put her many other gifts and talents to good use. She gave generously of her time and energy to the life and works of St. Andrew’s United Church, visiting the sick, playing the piano for sing-alongs, participating in study groups, reading to shut-ins, herself growing in spirit and in grace.


In later years, Betsy faced Alzheimer’s disease with courage and dignity. She was eventually admitted to Baycrest Hospital and later to Thompson House for long-term care. Once there, Betsy and Martin were able to attend the nearby Church of the Ascension where they were warmly welcomed and where Betsy particularly enjoyed the music. During her final months, nothing gave Betsy more pleasure than the songs and piano-playing of her grandchildren during the virtual visits made necessary by the pandemic. Her last days were spent quietly, free from physical or emotional distress. Betsy died peacefully in her sleep in the early morning of Monday, February 1st at Thompson House.


Betsy was predeceased by her parents and brothers. Her life is celebrated by her children Julia Crapo (Leo), Laura Crapo, Peter Baldwin (Samantha), her grandchildren Sasha, Felix, Chloe, Xavier, Quincy, Odin and Milo, her husband Martin Campbell, her godson Patrick Horn, her extended family, and her many friends. 


We thank the staff of Thompson House for their skilled, compassionate care and also her personal caregiver, Marieta, who over the past years provided loving care and companionship and greatly enhanced Betsy's quality of life. 


Betsy was laid to rest on Friday, February 5, 2021 in an intimate ceremony at Mount Pleasant Cemetery, one of her favourite places to walk. Her grandson, Odin sang Never Never Land from Peter Pan, perhaps the dearest to her of all of the songs she shared with us. We will always hear her singing “I know a place where dreams are born…” as she did so lovingly throughout her life.


In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in support of Alzheimer's Disease or Lewy Body Dementia research, to St Andrew's United Church, 117 Bloor St. East, Toronto, M4W 1A9 or to the charitable or community organization of your choice.