Early Years in the UK:
Mauveen Phyllis Wisener was born on July 23, 1931 in Canton Cardiff, Wales. She was the only child of Irene Thomas, a barmaid and Albert Hall, a train engineer. She spent her early years on Albert Street, surrounded by her Thomas cousins as Irene was the only girl and youngest of six. As WW2 began, with the train station and port so close, Canton became a bombing target. We grew up hearing about the terror of those years.
Around 1941, Albert, Irene and Mo moved to Oxford where they were not in immediate danger from the bombing raids. Mo enjoyed her time at the convent school in Oxford and was awarded a scholarship to continue her studies, but the cost of the books alone was prohibitive. Thus, Mo began her working career on the railway, and prided herself with extensive knowledge of the routes and fares for travel throughout Great Britain.
The 1950s were a time of immense austerity, and in 1955 Mo set sail for Canada. At that time new immigrants to Canada were being supported if they travelled on to Winnipeg, but Mo knew one person in Toronto and happily took her chances settling there for the next 53 years.
Career, Family and Life in Toronto, ON:
She was proud to be one of the very few female bond traders working on Bay Street in the late 50’s. This is where she met her future husband, Robert Wisener. They settled in their home at “82” Forest Hill road and spent a busy decade adding Susan and Joanne to Robert’s four children, Cynthia, Philip, Lee and Robin. It was a busy life with her step children visiting every other weekend, time spent at cottage at Sturgeon Point in the summers, trips to Caledon Hills for skiing in the winter, trips at march break and Christmas holidays with the whole family. Sunday was for family dinners, some sort of roast, lamb, beef, or ham for the whole family before the step kids headed back to Curtis. As children of the 70s, her daughters became expert mixologists at a young age, perfecting their parents afternoon martinis.
The life of a stay at home mother was not for Mo, and she finally convinced Robert that she needed a challenge outside the home. Along with business partners the Sorrenti’s, they opened Rent-a-Bug, renting VW Bettles for $5 a day and 5 cents a mile at an old gas station location at Yonge and Davisville. It was the start of many friendships and the challenges of a growing business kept her happily engaged for a number of years, until the exchange rate with Germany, the oil crisis, and a lack of profitability put an end to Rent-a-Bug.
In 1973 the entire family, including Robert’s longtime secretary Marg, embarked on a trip of a lifetime around the world, with stops in Australia, Timor, Singapore, Ceylon, the Seychelles, Malawi and a safari in Kenya and Tanzania. In 1976, and after much consolidation in the brokerage business, Robert moved to Calgary to start a new family and a new business in merchant banking.
Mo went on to volunteer at the Clark Institute of Psychiatry. She then took on a role as a medical administrator at Sick Kids in the Otolaryngology department where she worked for the next sixteen years. Mandatory retirement at 65 be dammed, Mo found work at another hospital and kept busy into her early 70’s. She had many friendships and greatly missed the community she was a part of.
In 2008, her eldest daughter Sue finally convinced her to move out West and join her and her family in West Vancouver. She would tell everyone who asked that she missed Toronto - but that didn’t last forever.
Retirement in Vancouver, BC:
Mo moved into the Pink Palace in West Vancouver and started her retirement. Her favourite spots included the library reading room, the Red Lion Pub, and the local ice rink which was only a block away and where she would go to watch her grandchildren play hockey. Her favourite game featured all of her grandchildren on the ice simultaneously with Thomas’s team playing and his sisters, Katie and Mikaela, officiating. Mo made many trips to the interior of BC, visiting her daughter Joanne in Revelstoke and the family cabin at Christina Lake.
A lifelong lover of animals, Mo missed her own dogs Blackie and Brandy, and was always happy to see her many four legged friends at the Pink Palace along with Sue’s and Jo’s dogs.
Mo was fiercely competitive and retained her status as the family card shark through her last trip at 91. Fiercely independent, occasionally stubborn, sensitive and caring, Mo Lived a long, full life of adventures and friendships. She spent her final days in Lions Gate Hospital with her daughters and grandchildren. She died on March 4th, 2023.
She leaves her daughters Sue and Jo, step children Cynthia, Philip, Lee and Robin, her grandchildren Mikaela, Katie and Thomas.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the BC Cancer Foundation