Elizabeth S. Reagh, K.C. was born on October 28, 1936, in Summerside, PEI, the daughter of Lieutenant Colonel Ernest and Clara (Wilkinson) Strong. On the advice of her Summerside High School Latin teacher Elaine Harrison (now well-known in PEI for her cat paintings), but against the wishes of her father, Elizabeth applied for and won a scholarship from the University of King’s College, Halifax. After graduating from King’s, she entered Dalhousie University law school. At Dalhousie she met Theodore (Ted) Reagh, who had come from California, also to study law. In 1959, after Elizabeth’s parents did not approve of her choice, she went west by train to marry Ted.
Elizabeth and Ted started life together in Vancouver where she articled with the law firm that is now the Vancouver office of Norton Rose Fulbright LLP. Elizabeth was called to the British Columbia bar in 1960. Soon after, she and Ted moved to Salmon Arm, then a small town in the BC interior, which they knew of from some Vancouver friends who had prospected there. In the early Salmon Arm years, Elizabeth had a varied legal practice while Ted waited for his Canadian citizenship. Thereafter they practiced mostly real estate law together, first in Salmon Arm, where their children were born, and then in Charlottetown, PEI, where Elizabeth was one of the first women to be a practicing lawyer.
Once in PEI, Elizabeth became very involved in family mediation, beginning her work as a trained mediator in 1988. Some called her the “Mother of Mediation” in PEI for her pioneering efforts in the field. In response to her mother’s late-life dementia, Elizabeth became active in the PEI Alzheimer’s Society and supported the development of Elder Mediation on PEI. She was appointed Queen’s Counsel (now King’s Counsel) in 1999. In 2010 she received a leadership award during the Third World Summit and Symposium on Elder Care in Chicago.
Elizabeth and Ted were active members of St. Peter’s Cathedral, Charlottetown, and singing in the choir became a full family affair. They were on the founding board, with Pat Rogers, of Pat and the Elephant, which still offers transportation to people in wheelchairs, and which Elizabeth herself was able to use in her later days.
Elizabeth did not love cooking, but she loved her children, her cats, and her garden. After Ted died in 2000, Elizabeth stayed on in her house (which was also her office) where she continued to practice law on her own. She practiced law and mediation until she was almost 80 and spent her final years living at The Mount Continuing Care Community.
Elizabeth had a long and full life. She remembered growing up during the Second World War, and her father had fought in WW I, so Elizabeth was adamant that Remembrance Day be an important and respectful time. She was a supporter of many charities and charitable associations. She chaired the PEI Review Board from 1988 to 2012, helping to make tough decisions about people who suffered from mental illness. She supported the arts. She loved Christmas and would travel halfway around the world to spend the day with her grandchildren.
Elizabeth died on March 6, 2023. She was predeceased by her beloved Ted, her brother Edward Strong, her sisters-in-law Gloria Butler Strong and Rhoda (Reagh) Myers, and her infant son Edward. Left to miss her are Elizabeth’s children: Charles (Heather Donald-Reagh), Jane (Lawrence Bruce-Robertson) , Richard (Ellen Amin Reagh), and Maggie (Walter Brokx), and her grandchildren: Colin Reagh, Julia, Caroline and William Bruce-Robertson, and Louina Reagh Pålson. Her family are grateful to the many people who cared for Elizabeth in her later years, but especially to Joan Robinson, Susan Clancey, Marlene Jenkins, Sister Mary Deighan and the wonderful staff at The Mount Continuing Care Community.
Elizabeth loved flowers, and if St. Peter’s Cathedral were full of flowers when we celebrate her life on April 29th, that would be a grand thing. Donating to St. Peter’s Cathedral, or a charity of your choice would also be a fitting tribute.