Sylvia Sanders
(nee Whittlesey)  
April 1, 1920 - Oct. 5, 2007

Sylvia Christine Sanders died peacefully on October 5, 2007, following a stroke. Sylvia celebrated 61 years of marriage with her loving  and devoted husband, C. Leroy Sanders, who was her primary caregiver at home since her first stroke five years ago.  She is greatly missed by Roy and their children Heather Wiffen (Graham), Richard Sanders (Susan Fisher) and Wendy Pyper (Ken) and grandchildren Ben and Emily Wiffen, Arthur and Erica Sanders, and Nicholas Pyper. She will be fondly remembered by friends and family.

Sylvia's first job in the family music shop in Birmingham sparked her lifelong love of music. During WWII, as a youth in the women's branch of the British Army, she was awakened  to the horrors of war. Her remarkably diverse early careers included munitions machinist, entertainer, clerk in the British Army's records office and hairdresser. As a post-war bride, Sylvia joined Roy in Canada and supported him through university.  She worked as a homemaker, but soon became a house and cottage designer and builder, real estate agent, land developer and financier. Sylvia's artistic flair was expressed in painting and pottery.  Her intense curiosity about other cultures, history, nature and genealogy, and her desire to promote peace and understanding, fed her enthusiasm for exploring the world.

Sylvia's main passion in life, besides her husband and family, was the peace movement. For 50 years, she worked tirelessly helping to organize countless events and campaigns to oppose war and injustice. Since the early days of building solidarity with the American civil rights movement, opposing the Vietnam War and nuclear weapons tests, she was very active in numerous peace organizations, including the Voice of Women and Operation Dismantle. Sylvia was a driving force in the Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade. She charmed and inspired volunteers, led by example, challenging activists and politicians alike. A longtime socialist and feminist, she supported the NDP, especially the "Waffle" movement, and continually strove to motivate others. Until the very end, she was still striving to contribute, still offering to help. Moments before her recent stroke, she was planning with Roy to distribute leaflets and signs.

In place of flowers, consider a donation to an appropriate organization and, as Sylvia would say:

"Be more active. Help protect the environment.
Protest. Stand up against war! 
I can't do it anymore, so carry on the struggle."


Guest Book

(Share your memories,
anecdotes and stories)

Some of
the many
in which
was active

Family and friends gathered at a
Memorial Service to
Celebrate Sylvia's Life 
on October 23, 2007, at the
First Unitarian Congregation of Ottawa.
(What speakers said at the Memorial Service)
(View the printed program for the Service)
Stay tuned! The event was video recorded and will be made available here at a later date.

Sylvia's memorial website
is a work in progress.
Please be a part of this ongoing process of remembering her. Thanks!

Contact Richard Sanders <>