Hundreds of mourners pay their respects to Ruth Goldbloom
Keith Doucette, THE CANADIAN PRESS
Published Friday, August 31, 2012 3:29PM ADT
Last Updated Friday, August 31, 2012 7:01PM ADT
HALIFAX -- Hundreds of people attended a funeral on the Halifax waterfront Friday for the woman credited as the driving force behind the establishment of Canada's national immigration museum.
Ruth Goldbloom died Wednesday of cancer at the age of 88.
Born Ruth Schwartz in New Waterford, N.S., Goldbloom was a committed community leader and philanthropist who was known for her tireless work on behalf of several organizations.
But it's her work to establish Pier 21 as a national immigration museum that will likely be her lasting legacy.
It was a passion that was recognized during the funeral conducted just a short walk away from the former immigration shed that she helped transform.
"Pier 21 was Ruth's fourth child, eighth grandchild -- second husband?" Rabbi Ari Eisenberg said to light laughter.
"Pier 21 is the house that Ruth built. How fitting it is that we are here on the pier in plain view of the museum she worked tirelessly to develop."
As part of the eulogy by Goldbloom's three children, her son Alan said the museum project spoke to his mother's pride in her own immigrant roots, with her family settling in Cape Breton after fleeing Russia.
"She took pride in and never forget her own family's beginnings and she didn't want other Canadians to forget theirs, reminding people over and over again that we are all immigrants," he said.
Goldbloom spearheaded the lobbying effort to turn what was a derelict property on the Halifax waterfront into a lasting tribute to the one million immigrants who passed through its doors between 1928 and 1971.
She succeeded in co-founding the Pier 21 Society in 1990 and her efforts paid off in 2010 when Pier 21 was recognized as a museum by the federal government. Goldbloom was named the museum's director.
Among the mourners attending her funeral at the Cunard Centre were federal Liberal Leader Bob Rae, former Nova Scotia premier Gerald Regan, Nova Scotia Lt.-Gov. James Grant, Premier Darrell Dexter and the leaders of the province's two opposition parties.
Rae said he flew overnight from Vancouver to attend the funeral of a woman who was a close friend and supporter.
"When I lost the leadership in 2006, I treasure the letter that I got from Ruth because it was the most meaningful and the most funny," said Rae. "She was such a loyal person."
Regan said although Goldbloom affiliated herself with the Liberal party, she gained respect and friendship across political lines.
"She was not a partisan," Regan said. "More than anything, she was a citizen of this city, of this province and of this country and she loved all three of those like she loved her family."
Bestowed with six honorary degrees, Goldbloom also served on several boards. She was chairwoman of the board of Mount Saint Vincent University and was the first chairwoman of the annual United Way campaign in 1989.
She also gained recognition for her prolific fundraising efforts for the IWK Health Centre in Halifax, where her husband of 66 years, Richard Goldbloom, served as the chief of pediatrics for many years.
Goldbloom was appointed a member of the Order of Canada in 1992 and was later promoted to officer within the Order of Canada in April 2000.
The citation recognized her work as chancellor of the Technical University of Nova Scotia and in establishing Pier 21.
"Through her efforts, it was transformed from a humble gateway into a national symbol of hope for thousands of new Canadians," the citation reads.
Goldbloom also received the Order of Nova Scotia in 2008.
Goldbloom and her husband had three children, seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.