Regular Search
❮ Go Back to Listings


Born: Oct 28, 1927

Date of Passing: Nov 04, 2019

Offer Condolences or Memory

Adjust Text Size: A+ A-

October 28, 1927 - November 4, 2019

Passed away in hospital on November 4, 2019, at age 92, due to complications from pneumonia.
Ian is survived by his wife of 62 years, Eleanor (nee Belyea), his son Eric (Yvonne), nieces, Charlotte (Valli) and Eileen of Montreal, several grandnieces and grandnephews, three step-grandchildren and three step-great-grandchildren.
Ian was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba on October 28, 1927 to Perry Harding Wees of West Virginia and Mary Kennedy Wees (Hooper) of Winnipeg. He spent his first five years in Elkins, West Virginia, his father's ancestral home, but upon his parents' separation moved to and grew up in Winnipeg. Ian was a graduate of the University of Manitoba; he received his B.A. in 1945 at the noteworthy age of 17, and proceeded to earn an M.A. in 1947. His M.A. thesis was entitled "Le comique chez Molière étudié d'après les théories de Bergson", which he always considered his best graduate scholarly work. His professor and thesis supervisor remarked at the time on his "outstanding intellectual ability" and that he was "one of Manitoba's most distinguished graduates in French". He was subsequently offered a French government scholarship to the Sorbonne (University of Paris); he studied French literature in Paris for two years and in 1949, at the age of 21, was granted the degree of Docteur de l'Université de Paris, his doctoral thesis entitled "Les idées de René Boylesve".
Ian subsequently chose the profession of librarian and earned a Bachelor of Library Science degree from McGill University, Montreal, in 1952. He worked briefly that year as a reference librarian at the Winnipeg Public Library before coming to Ottawa later that same year to work at the Canadian Bibliographic Centre (the forerunner to the National Library of Canada). Ian and a small group of other librarians and professionals, led by W. Kaye Lamb (at the time, Dominion Archivist of Canada), were pioneers who brought the National Library into being in 1953. That same year he met Eleanor Belyea, a fellow librarian and native of Fredericton, New Brunswick, who came to work at the newly established National Library; they would be married on June 18, 1957 and their son, Eric, was born in September, 1958.
Over the next 25 years at the National Library, Ian held various senior positions, helped to create several services and served on or chaired a variety of departmental and external committees, including chairing a national Task Group on Library Service to the Handicapped, whose report was published in 1976. Ian had strong skills as a writer and editor: he was the first editor of the National Library News from 1969 to 1972 and authored The National Library of Canada: Twenty-Five Years After: A Retrospective Overview in 1978. He was also the author of several periodical articles, mostly related to the National Library. In 1977 he was granted the Queen's Jubilee Medal.
Ian opted for an early retirement in 1978, and soon plunged into genealogy / family history, devoting much of the remainder of his life to building a comprehensive multi-part work dedicated to the various families that made up his and his wife's ancestry.
Always intellectually active and curious, his many interests included jazz (he attended every year of the Ottawa International Jazz Festival from its beginning until 2015); cinema; current affairs; reading literature and mystery novels; and remaining a faithful and practicing member of the Roman Catholic Church to which he had converted in 1951. Ian was a scholar and a gentleman. He will be remembered for his gentle manner and old-school propriety; his delightful and intelligent sense of humour and sometimes mischievous opinions; his generosity and openness of mind; his perseverance in all projects and endearing dedication to his personal habits; and, during his last years, his patience, stoicism and determined will to live.
Heartfelt thanks to the medical, nursing, and personal support staff at the Ottawa Hospital-Civic Campus, the Redwoods Retirement Residence, and CBI Home Health.
Cremation has taken place and, at Ian's request, there will be no visitation or service. Burial will occur at Forest Hill Cemetery, Fredericton, New Brunswick, at a later date.
In Ian's memory, the family would welcome donations in his name to the Ottawa Humane Society, The Salvation Army, or to a charity of one's choice.

As published in the Winnipeg Free Press on Nov 09, 2019

Email Alerts

Sign up for free email alerts of new obituaries for specific people, towns & more.

❮ Go Back to Listings