By Gordon Lambie
Lois Ogilvie Blanchette died on Sunday, Dec 18, at the age of 102, leaving behind a legacy of music, music leadership, and creativity in the Sherbrooke community that is hard to sum up in one go.
“Her life was music,” said Lois Deagle, who came to know and befriend Ogilvie Blanchette through the choir at Plymouth-Trinity United Church, “years and years ago.”
Speaking with The Record in 2015 in the midst of a biography project by then-Bishop’s Student Megan Buchkowski, Ogilvie Blanchette shared that although she was once a skilled coloratura soprano, she lost her singing voice after her vocal cords were briefly paralyzed in Florida in the 1970s. Both before and after that incident, however, the woman was well known for her music leadership and composition both in Sherbrooke and elsewhere in the world.
The first mention of her in the pages of The Sherbrooke Daily Record came in October of 1951, when she was a guest performer in the opening programming of the Schubert Club at the MacKinnon Memorial Building on Montreal Street. That was followed a week later by notice of an appearence as the guest soloist at a celebration of the 116th anniversary of Plymouth Church. Over the course of her decades in Sherbrooke, Ogilvie Blanchette was at the head of eight different choirs including The Singing Girls of Sherbrooke (La Chorale de l’Amitié), The Second Winds, the Sher-Lenn Choir, and The Marie-Claire Choir.