Hants’ Faces Friday – Pat Gould-Thorpe

Published on March 10, 2017

Pat Gould-Thorpe said she’s helped dozens of organizations of the years, but now she’s ‘slowing down a bit’ and just focusing her attention on helping three non-profits in the community.

©Colin Chisholm

WINDSOR, N.S. — Faces Friday is our online feature highlighting members of our community: their strengths, challenges and humanity.

Say hello to Pat Gould-Thorpe, a Windsor resident and marathon volunteer. She’s been active in the community for many years, lending her expertise to dozens of volunteer organizations.

In this week's Faces Friday profile, Gould-Thorpe discusses growing up, living in France, moving to Windsor and of course her work with non-profit groups.

“I was born in 1945 and my father was away doing something with the war so my mother went down to her mother’s place, which was lower East Pubnico and her father, my grandfather, was the light keeper there. I was born in Yarmouth but the lighthouse was my home. That’s where I have my Acadian background. My father was in the air force so we moved around quite a bit and in 1960, he was transferred to France so we went over there and spent five years and that’s where I finished up high school. We lived in Metz, France in the northeast corner and then we moved to Fontainebleau, which was an hour outside of Paris by the train, so every chance I got I went. I was 15 when we went over there and it was quite different. We went to the Canadian school on the base, which was quite the same, but we lived out in the community and found it was a lot harder to get to know people as casually as it is here. When I decided I wanted to get to know some French girls, it was a major project. My father spoke to his secretary who was French and she had to chose a young lady who was the right station to be my friend before we could get together and go do things. Once they decided we were OK to be together it was fine, but she had to be chosen.”

A champion of community groups in the Windsor area, Pat Gould-Thorpe has had a major impact on projects across Hants County.

©Colin Chisholm

“I didn’t speak French at the time, but by the time I was finished there I was fluent. I finished up high school and and I went to university for a year there, which is where the fluency came in. I oddly enough took math, physics and chemistry to learn French. I had decided I was coming back to Canada to do an engineering degree. I had kind of lost contact with the people in Canada, but had heard all sorts of stories about Russian women who were scientists and things like this and it just didn’t occur to me that it wouldn’t be like that in Canada. So I came back and enrolled in engineering at Dalhousie and I was the only girl in a class of 100. It was pretty well like that going through. I guess it was a bit isolating. I had a few buddies there, but didn’t have a lot of dates. I was a buddy. When I went to dances, we’d all line up on one side. I’d be with the engineers and looking across the room at the nurses, so I was never getting anywhere. But I did finally find a good friend who was an engineer with me and we eventually got married.”

Pat Gould-Thorpe spent part of life in France, where she attended high school and her first year of university.

©Colin Chisholm

“I really liked being out in the country. We basically lived off of the stuff I produced. We had sheep and goats and I made cheese and I spun my wool and all sorts of things. We were real back to the landers, or I was. (My husband) kept working as an engineer. I didn’t really think I was going to like living in a town before coming to Windsor, but we found that there were always backyards, places to sit, green spaces, it was just a nice pleasant place from that point of view. People were friendly, there was lots to do and lots to get involved with. I’ve been a volunteer since I was a kid, knitting little booties for kids at the Red Cross, I just never stopped. At one point I was working with 40 community groups a year, and it was a lot of evening meetings, but it was really enjoyable and I got to know a lot of people in the community. I still go out to check out the things that I was involved in.”

Pat Gould-Thorpe trained as an engineer at Dalhousie University at a time when she was one of the only women in the program.

©Colin Chisholm

“I’ve been a proud Rotarian since the late 90s and in Windsor, the Rotary has been around since 1929. Since 1949 we’ve been running Camp Mockingee, which is a camp for youth down the Chester Road. The thing that stands out to me in what I do is that there are a lot of people who get together and know what they want to do. They’re often advised that you’ve got to do a business plan, but in fact if you go to a community organization, they have a real good idea what they want to do. It’s essentially a plan in their heads. If I get together with a group of people who want to do something, like literacy or the arts council, I’ll do what I can to make sure the group is successful. To get any funding at all you have to be registered with joint stocks. The hardest positions are the treasurer and the secretary, so with a lot of groups, I’ll start off that way until the group gets strong and they can get somebody to do it for themselves. Currently I’ve cut way back, working with Rotary, Communities in Bloom and the Bells Choir. ”

Pat Gould-Thorpe was also a West Hants councillor for 12 years.

©Colin Chisholm