Shirley had an ability to easily connect with a large number of people. You are welcome to share your thoughts, stories, and photos of Shirley in this forum. Please see the help page for information on entering a tribute.


Her smile was so Big and Genuine

Carrie Alyman


My friend Shirley,

I first met Shirley in the dog park walking our dogs.  I always enjoyed our easy long conversations while we appreciated nature and the opportunity to play with and watch our dogs enjoy their freedom. Often with camera in hand Shirley would take beautiful pictures of our dog Gypsy and the world around us.  Being the generous and thoughtful person she was she would often send these pictures to me.

As our relationship developed Shirley would introduce me to other dog parks, her home, more of her life and now the pictures would include our baby girl. Eventually a second daughter graced our lives and Shirley's gift of putting her lovely pictures to music would become among our most treasured gifts. Eventually she did a photo session with all of my parents' children and grandchildren. The pictures were made into a photo book to give to my parents. It was one of my most favourite gifts to have ever given them. Shirley's photos will always have a presence in our home.

Shirley's creativity spilled over into many other avenues in her life and I enjoyed learning more about this side of her. I even felt like I was learning something (or at least hoping to) just by looking at all the photos she would post on her site and by watching and listening to her ideas on how she would decorate, create her cards, make jewellry or the many other artistic projects she would take on. I remember thinking how neat it was to see her get so excited about a certain type of bead she had found and ordered and how anxious she was to get making some necklaces. A beautiful necklace in a cute little bag was left in my mailbox one day. Shirley was always so generous with her time, effort and gifts.

I am so thankful that Shirley finally started to believe in how truly talented she was.  Not just her camera savy-ness but as so many others have recognized, her unique ability to see the beauty around us in our everyday lives. By starting to believe what many of us were telling her about her talent I was hoping Shirley could start to understand how much she was actually giving to others through her talents.

Shirley also had a great drive to keep active and fit. I appreciated the enthusiasm she had for the many things she got involved in. She inspired me to haul my lazy butt out of bed in the early hours of the morning for some pretty hard core bike rides. It was a feat to get me out of bed at that hour but an even bigger feat to keep up with her as I drafted behind her around the city.   

Shirley talents were a big part of her. Even more memorable for me is the part of her that was so honest and forthcoming about herself and her life both before and after her illness. I so respected her willingness to be open-minded about things, to say it like it was and to call herself on her own shortcomings when she would make a realization about such things.

Given all the challenges that came with her illness I was truly inspired by how she navigated through all of it. Honest with her fears and sadness but remarkably resilient both physically and mentally. She was so appreciative of Dan and her close friends. She would tell me these relationships were the most important thing to her. I was moved by her efforts to give and focus on others at a time when she was struggling with so much. A picture I took of Shirley while in rehab will always stick in my mind.  Her smile was so big and genuine. Moments later she blew a kiss for a second pic. She was busting with love. I wanted to add those photos here but they turned out too dark.

Shirley, I am sad you are gone. I miss you in my life. I am very thankful for the time we did have. You are a precious soul.

Love Carrie

A Beautiful Spirit

Andrée Verville

I met Shirley in October 2010, when she took photos of my then airedale terrier Maia. When Maia passed in May 2012 (4 years old), I told Shirley that her touching photos got me through a very rough period. To this day, I find solace and joy in those photos.

They have now taken on a new and special meaning since Nov 14. I did not know Shirley intimately, but enough to know what a caring person she was, and enough to realize how very loved she was. Her beautiful spirit will live on in her body of work, and in the hearts of those she loved and who loved her.

Blessed to have met you, dear Shirley.

All I could see was perfection.

Lisa Morel-Misener


I had the pleasure of working with Shirley at Cognos for many years.  She put the shine on all my work and always made it look better than it truly was. Her everyday life blog which I loved to visit so often brightened a crappy day.  It was however in her photography that her gift as an artist will live in my home.  Shirley took pictures of my daughter Anna when she was four, and then again of our family when we welcomed our son five years later. Our son Owen was a surprise to us, and I always say the grant of his sister's every birthday wish, tossed coin in a fountain and wish chip. Somehow Shirley captured the joy and wonder Owen brought to our house, and how he completed our family.

Shirley came to our home and took the pictures on a Saturday and I had the photos in my inbox on Monday. As I sat at my laptop crying with joy at seeing her work, her e-mail really only talked about different lenses she should have used and the different shots she felt she missed.  All I could see was perfection.

My plan was to take three of her shots and have them mounted on canvas in our staircase.  I spent hours and hours over the last four years but couldn't choose the right pictures - too many were perfect.  After Shirley passed away I sat down again, determined to choose.  I couldn't ... finally I chose eight ... and then two weeks later another two and had them printed and framed and hung. Anna chose one of Owen as you can see Shirley in his eyes, and that was very important to her. I finally have my wall of Shirley's photos - many many more are scattered throughout other rooms in our house. 


As I stood back with my husband, hammer in hand, so proud of finally hanging Shirley's work, Andy said,  "we really should get some more recent pictures too".  But I just looked at him and said "who can take them now?".  There is of course no one.

I only hope that Shirley truly heard my words of thanks over the years ... she was so talented, so gifted, so kind.  Thank you Shirley. I know you are in a place at deserves your beauty.

Rest in peace my dear Shirley

Rose Marie


My son, Dan introduced me to Shirley about 20 years ago and she was a special part of my life right up to the end of her short life.

Even though we lived miles apart, we were “friends”, either by Facebook, telephone or personal visits.  She always kept me up to date on happenings in their household or with Tika and Sam .  I always looked forward to her Facebook postings and photos.  She became the family photographer whenever we all got together and we always had a struggle to be sure she got into these photos.  Thanks to Shirley, we have permanent mementoes of her talents and skills through these photos, especially Mom’s 90th birthday celebration in Thunder Bay and Nicole and Justin’s wedding in Cuba.  

Shirley was generous to a fault.  She was always wanting to buy something for me whenever I visited.  I remember an occasion when she had a pair of shoes from Delilah’s and she thought I should have them.  They were really cute, however, were not available in half-sizes.  I think I was relieved because I thought they were too expensive.  

Our visits became more frequent after her diagnosis.  We spent quite a bit of time together during a very difficult period of her life.  Dan would always remind me that I was not to arrive with a sad face but that I should try to be upbeat.  I remember a time when I was asked to do the “Ellen Degeneres Dance” when I arrived to show my enthusiasm - I did my best.  

During that time I saw a strength and will to overcome her illness and she always talked about things she would do “once this is over”.  Shirley always  talked about having a ”party” to thank all of her friends and family for being a part of her difficult journey and to hopefully celebrate her recovery.  Sadly, this wasn’t meant to be.  

We spent many hours together, either at home or hospital.  Some days she would have cravings and would send me off to Starbuck’s to get a smoothie.  I would get explicit driving instructions on how to get there and I was happy to be able to drive in Ottawa to a few locations - sometimes driving the wrong way down one-way streets. 

As everyone knows, I love to cook, so I would spend time preparing some type of food to help in that area.  Because of the layout of Shirley & Dan’s home, I was always nearby even if I was cooking.  Shirley would be on the sofa watching episodes of Downton Abbey while I fried onions for perogies.  Needless to say, I’m  hooked on that program!  

Shirley loved all animals, especially their 2 dogs, Tika and Sam. Very soon after Shirley’s death, Tika followed.   I’m sure they are keeping each other company.  

I recall one of our many conversations during which she spoke about Dan and their relationship.  She talked about how “awesome” he had been along her difficult journey.  She said that they were closer then than they had ever been.  Dan’s love for Shirley was very evident throughout her illness… whether it was at the hospital, as he whipped her down the hallways with her arms outstretched in a wheelchair or making sure she could eat the food he cooked for her.  This was very heartwarming to me.

I will miss you Shirley and I hope you knew how much your were loved.

                            Rest in peace my dear Shirley      …….Rose Marie

Thank you for your friendship

Crystal Beshara

Shirley came into my life unexpectedly.


We were strangers when she messaged me - asking if she could take photos of me painting. Although amusingly enough, we never got around to that shoot, we had many others; filled with laughter, spontaneity and bonding over creativity.

It is a true and rare experience to find kindred spirits in this rushed and virtual world we live in, but we found each other and our friendship formed over respect, inspiration and artistry. We wrote each other almost every day for 2 years. Sometimes just to send a hug hello, or music we thought we’d like, outfits, videos or other photographic work. She was always asking me my opinion on design, effects, filters, outfits, home décor… and although I was flattered, I would just shake my head and smile. My response every time was always that of admiration – she always had it right. She had it all.  Beauty, taste, grace, clarity of vision, clarity of self… and a distinct aesthetic that made her work and everything she touched so identifiable.

Beyond her immeasurable talent, Shirley had this incredibly heightened sensitivity to light, sound, voices, gesture, and emotion which made her a wonderfully kind and gentle person to be around, a natural animal whisperer and a rare and compassionate soul that not surprisngly, touched so many lives (as seen in this video). To know her was a gift.
(The obove are a few photos I managed to take of her)


Missing You.


Crystal Beshara