Ella Mae was born at home, in Collingwood Township, on Wednesday, November 10th, 1926. She was welcomed by her parents, David “Clifford” and Minnie “Irene” (Heslip) Dinsmore, as well as older siblings, Lois, twins Jim and Don, and Tom. In time, Ella Mae and her family welcomed younger siblings Dorothy, Ivan, Jack, and Mary. The Dinsmores lived in the Thornbury area until Ella Mae was about six. Cliff then took a job managing a farm in Scarborough, whereby the family joined him, and this is where Ella Mae began her schooling. After five years, they returned to Grey County and the community of Leith where Ella Mae completed elementary school before attending high school in Owen Sound at O.S.C.V.I. In the early 1940’s the Dinsmore family relocated to Sullivan Township, near McCullough Lake.
In the early 1950’s Ella Mae was enjoying a night out at a dance in Desboro. It was here that she was introduced to a young man by the name of James “Eldon” Black. The two hit it off immediately and were wed on Friday, December 2, 1955, at the home of Ella Mae’s sister, Donnie, and Cliff Lee. Following their honeymoon, the newlyweds resided on the 4th concession of Elderslie Township. Ella Mae and her sister Dorothy owned and operated a children’s clothing store, Clothes for Tots, at the time in Chesley. In 1955, the women closed the business as they entered the next stage of their lives, motherhood. Ella Mae and Eldon welcomed their first child David in 1956. Deb (1957), Connie (1958), Don (1959), and Tom (1960) were welcomed in quick succession. They later welcomed Lori (1964) and Joan (1972).
Misfortune hit the Black family on Mother’s Day weekend in 1964 when an electrical fire destroyed their family home. The family lost most processions but thankfully mom and dad were able to get all of the young family out of the smoke-filled dark house. They subsequently moved into their new home, the Red School House north of Chesley. Life as a mother of seven, was busy for Ella Mae. During their youth, many memories were made on family car rides, often visiting the Newmans, Glassers or Zieglers. Longer trips included visits to Santa’s Village, the Toronto Exhibition, the Western Fair, and Algonquin Park. No one will forget when all nine Blacks piled into the family station wagon and drove to Alberta, camping along the way, making visits to Aunt Hattie and Ruth Black in Thunder Bay and Uncle Jack and Aunt Judy in Donalda, Alberta. After the kids were grown, Ella Mae and Eldon continued to enjoy road trips. Their travels took them down East, West and into the States. Cards were a favourite pastime of Ella Mae’s, and included Cribbage, Pass the Ace, and later Uno (with the grandkids). Over the years, Ella Mae enjoyed lawn bowling, curling and cross-country skiing. Ella Mae’s competitive spirit meant that often participating wasn’t enough, and like most of us, winning was preferred… 🙂 In fact, one of her proudest achievements was winning a silver medal at the Ontario Seniors’ Lawn bowling Championships. Her teammates were Doreen Robson and Marie Henkel. In later years, Ella Mae enjoyed travelling to Paisley to compete with friends at carpet bowling. Back at home, Ella Mae enjoyed jigsaw puzzles and a variety of crafts. She would often set up a booth at the local craft fairs, selling her latest creations which included plastic canvas crafts and a variety of knitting. She also entered her handiwork into the local fall fair winning many prizes. New babies in the family always came home from the hospital in a beautiful sweater, hat and booties made with love by Grandma. She was a fabulous cook and baker. The kids fondly remember Mom’s homemade bread, deviled eggs, potato salad, and her delicious desserts, to name a few. Birthdays always included a homemade cake which sometimes had hidden money. Ella Mae enjoyed reading a good book and was continually educating herself, always attempting Reader’s Digest’s “Word Power”, completing crosswords, and memorizing Trivial Pursuit answers.
Ella Mae also gave her time and talents within her community. Through the years she was an active member of the Gillies Hill Women’s Institute, Geneva Presbyterian Church Women, and Eastern Star, whereby she held the position of Worthy Matron on more than one occasion. She was a 4-H leader and later in life volunteered at Elderslie Central School teaching knitting and assisting with the breakfast program. Ella Mae loved spending time with her grandchildren. She was the first to offer to care for the kids when needed. The grandchildren enjoyed many sleepovers with their cousins at grandpa’s and grandma’s. Most visits included baking with grandma, a variety of games, and who could forget New Year’s Eve and the opportunity to bang on grandma’s pots and pans… Indeed, memories that will last a lifetime. Ella Mae also enjoyed attending her grandchildren’s activities, whether that be a sporting event or school activity. In more recent years, she loved the opportunity to see her great-grandchildren and learn of all the happenings in their busy lives.
In 2009, Ella Mae and Eldon moved into town and called Old School Rd. home. Here their ever-growing family continued to visit. Together, they were often seen exploring town on their scooters… even racing on occasion I am told. Sadly, in 2015 Eldon’s health declined and he passed away. With the support of family and friends, Ella Mae continued to make the best of each day and soon called the Lodge at Elgin Abbey home. She always treasured visits from family and made the best of every day. This past week, Ella Mae suffered a severe stroke and sadly passed away peacefully a few days later on Sunday, January 15, 2023, in her 97th year.
Devoted mother of Dave (Brenda), Debbie (Rick) Pegelo, Connie (Rod) McKinnon, Don (Pam), Tom (Lorrie), Lori (Steve) Cook, Joan (Jonathan) Nelson. Cherished Gramma of Heather, John, Jason, Steph (Mike), Richard (Jess), Ryan, Rachael, Rebecca (Mark), Quinton, Somerville, Jennifer, Courtney (Josh), Christian, Mandy (Norm), Britton (Anne), Jessica, William, and Beth. Great-grandmother of Gryphon, Emilie, Talia, Sophia, Finley, Callum, Casey, Cohen, Elliot, Hailey, Karli, and Sawyer. Ella Mae will be remembered by her brother Ivan (Unita) Dinsmore, brother-in-law Ross Ziegler and sister-in-law Judy Dinsmore. She was predeceased by her husband Eldon Black, parents, Cliff and Irene Dinsmore, siblings Lois Olmsted, Jim (Wilma) Dinsmore, Donnie (Cliff) Lee, Tom (Phyllis) Dinsmore, Dorothy (Carl) Glasser, Jack Dinsmore, Mary Ziegler as well as Eldon’s family, John (Lois) Black, Alice (Gordon) Alexander, Mary (Murray) Thomson and Isabelle (Dave) Newman.
Visitation will be held at Rhody Family Funeral Home, Chesley on Saturday, January 28, 2023, from 1 p.m. until the time of the memorial service at 2 p.m. Spring inurnment in Chesley Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations to Chesley Hospital Foundation would be appreciated as expressions of sympathy.
Special thanks to all the staff at Chesley Hospital and Elgin Abby for the excellent care they provided to Ella Mae and our family.