ForeverMissed
Sarah McLoughlin, artist and master gardener whose legacy includes a regional park on Vancouver Island, died on February 10, 2021, at Mt. St. Joseph’s Hospital in Vancouver.

Born in Valletta, Malta, on November 17, 1937, Sarah was the third child of Helen McKean and Lieutenant Commander Hugh Francis Pullen, who was stationed in Malta with the Royal Canadian Navy. Growing up in a naval family, Sarah lived in Halifax, Ottawa, and Victoria, crisscrossing the country by train numerous times with her six siblings. 

Along with her four sisters, Sarah attended Halifax Ladies College, then Dalhousie, where she studied philosophy under George Grant, and UBC, graduating with honours in 1957 at 19. In that year, she married a dashing young lawyer, Brian McLoughlin. Brian and Sarah raised two children, Michael and Margo, in Kerrisdale, Vancouver.

A gifted painter of cityscapes and coastal scenes, Sarah exhibited her work in the Annuals of the Vancouver Art Gallery and the Federation of Canadian Artists in both 1965 and 1968. Other exhibits were at the Arts Club Theatre and the New Westminster Public Library. A catalogue representing some of her best work was published in 2017 on her 80th birthday.

Sarah and Brian took up hazelnut farming in 1974. For the next thirty-five years, they spent many months a year at the orchard near Courtenay on Vancouver Island. Besides mulching, pruning and weeding, Sarah designed a seaside garden by the house. The 11-acre property is now the Brian and Sarah McLoughlin Regional Park in Merville.

A lifetime member of the Vancouver Garden Club, she supported projects for greening the city. She valued order and organization and leaving the world a better place. 

Other passions of Sarah’s included family history research and making miniature antique furniture. Her collection numbers over 100 exquisite pieces representing the style of furniture in use by her ancestors.

Sarah was fond of quoting A. E. Housman, “Up, lad, up, ’tis late for lying:” If her teenaged children were sleeping in, Sarah did not hesitate to play Beethoven at full volume to stir them from their rest.

A favourite poem was John Masefield's "Sea Fever"

I must down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.

Sarah is predeceased by her husband Brian and her older brother Hugh Pullen. She is survived by a large family, including three sisters and one sister-in-law in Halifax - Tinker McKay (John), Frances Gregor (Ron), Margo Pullen Sly, and Gill Pullen (Hugh), and by one sister and one brother in Ottawa - Helen (Richard predeceased) Cathcart and William Pullen (Julia). 

Left to remember her wry sense of humour and appreciate her many gifts are her son Mike (Sue), daughter Margo, plus three grandchildren, Sam (Jennifer), Ben (Kelsey), and Stephanie Walker (Brandon) and two great-grandchildren, Finlay and Everly, and many nieces and nephews, cousins, and friends.

Sarah will be remembered for her creative energy, her appreciation for beauty as well as her ability to complete every project she set her mind to. Her motto was, “If a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well!” with the additional emphasis “Finish the job!”

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation (Vancity Foundation) to the McLoughlin Gardens at mcloughlingardens.org. Please register here for service notice details for later this year. 
Posted by Rachel Lewis on March 2, 2021
We are very sorry to hear of Sarah's passing. I am afraid that I did not know her but remember meeting her father on his visits to the UK. We have also been fascinated by the most impressive family tree that she researched. Thank you for posting such a lovely tribute. (Rachel Lewis - daughter of Jonathon Durant who is one of Sarah's cousins!)
Posted by Helen McDonald on February 28, 2021
My family was so saddened to hear about the loss of Sarah. She was one of the most thoughtful and interesting people I’ve ever known. As someone once said to me, “Sarah makes you think.”
We have wonderful memories with Sarah and Brian over the years. Sarah painted lovely portraits of my children many years ago and they still hang proudly in their various homes. We will miss her gentle presence very much.
Posted by stan stordy on February 22, 2021
What great fun Claire and I had with your mom and dad at the Alders. Those days were very special. Visits for tea and a tour of her wonderful garden are truly never to be forgotten. We have several pieces of her artistry which are much admired and treasured. Our sympathies go to you all
Posted by Diane Cruickshank on February 22, 2021
What a lovely tribute you have made for your Mom. I love the photographs and the stories you have shared. Rest in peace, Sarah and our thoughts are with you, Mike and Margot, as well as the rest of the family.
Posted by Debra Jensen on February 22, 2021
Mike, Margo and family:

Lee and I sorry to hear of Sarah's passing and send our deepest sympathies.
We feel blessed to have her and Brian in our lives and are forever grateful for the kindness and assistance towards us during the entire time we knew them. We are thinking of you all during this very difficult time.  

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Recent Tributes
Posted by Rachel Lewis on March 2, 2021
We are very sorry to hear of Sarah's passing. I am afraid that I did not know her but remember meeting her father on his visits to the UK. We have also been fascinated by the most impressive family tree that she researched. Thank you for posting such a lovely tribute. (Rachel Lewis - daughter of Jonathon Durant who is one of Sarah's cousins!)
Posted by Helen McDonald on February 28, 2021
My family was so saddened to hear about the loss of Sarah. She was one of the most thoughtful and interesting people I’ve ever known. As someone once said to me, “Sarah makes you think.”
We have wonderful memories with Sarah and Brian over the years. Sarah painted lovely portraits of my children many years ago and they still hang proudly in their various homes. We will miss her gentle presence very much.
Posted by stan stordy on February 22, 2021
What great fun Claire and I had with your mom and dad at the Alders. Those days were very special. Visits for tea and a tour of her wonderful garden are truly never to be forgotten. We have several pieces of her artistry which are much admired and treasured. Our sympathies go to you all
her Life

A mini Biography from Sarah's published catalog of paintings by Margo

Mary Allison Sarah Pullen was born on November 17, 1937, the third child of Lieutenant H. F. Pullen and his wife, Helen McKean Pullen. At the time of Sarah’s birth, the Pullens were stationed with the Canadian navy in Malta.

Sarah grew up in Halifax, Ottawa, and Esquimalt, frequently crossing the country by train with her mother and numerous siblings. Sarah’s early explorations in art took place at the Halifax Ladies College. Shortly after receiving a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy from UBC in the spring of 1957, she married Vancouver lawyer Brian McLoughlin.

While her children were young, Sarah attended Saturday morning classes at the Vancouver Art Gallery where she studied with many luminaries from the Vancouver art scene, including Toni Onley, Joe Plaskett, and Doris Shadbolt. In the 1950’s, Sarah began painting landscapes and cityscapes, producing a significant amount of work between 1960 and 1985. Her paintings were exhibited at galleries in the Lower Mainland, including the Faculty Club at UBC, the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, and the Burnaby Art Gallery.

Painting was only the beginning, however, of Sarah’s artistic life. In the logged-over landscape of the “farm” in Merville, Sarah created a deer-resistant, drought- tolerant, seaside garden. She also took up nut farming. Growing an orchard of filbert trees engaged both Sarah and Brian in creative problem solving, which ultimately led to their decision to gift the property to the Comox Valley Regional District.

During the winter months, when there was little to do in the way of pruning, mulching or harvesting, Sarah began making miniature furniture. Her father, Rear Admiral Pullen, created model sailing ships, based on Nova Scotia schooners. (Many of these finely crafted models are still on display at the Maritime Museum in Halifax.) Inspired by her father, Sarah took on the challenge of recreating, to scale, the kind of furniture that might have been part of the daily of life of various ancestors in New England, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia and across the Atlantic in England, Ireland, Wales, and France. Painting, gardening, farming, making miniature furniture, family history research, designing a house—in each endeavour, Sarah dedicated herself to learning her craft, exploring and pursuing her creative vision.



Recent stories

Sarah has what every mother needs (Article in Vancouver Sun, November 1970)

Shared by Mike McLoughlin on February 19, 2021
Sarah McLoughlin has to be the envy of all mothers. She has exactly what they need every once in a while-a place to hideout. Every Tuesday and Wednesday she takes the phone off the hook, puts a Do Not Disturb sign on the front door, goes up to the second floor, and pulls down a folding staircase that leads to her attic studio. Once up the stairs, she closes the trap door and concentrates on her painting. Sarah is an artist, and on these two days, she shuts herself off from the rest of the world and just paints. 

“I fight a losing battle with house, garden, children and the dog. and this is my way of keeping the world from crumbling down around my ears,” she said. Her weekly solitary confinement is productive - work was exhibited at the Vancouver Art Gallery Annual in 1965, the Federation of Canadian Artists’ Annual in 1965 and '68. she is represented in local and eastern collections. Currently, until Dec. 12. she is having showings at the Arts Club. 1181 Seymour. Club hours are noon to 2 p m. and 8 p.m. lo midnight. 

 One of seven children of retired Rear Admiral H. F. Pullen. Sarah was born in Malta and went to school in Halifax. Ottawa and Victoria. “We lived a mobile life/* she says, “but you adjust to it” A graduate of the University of British Columbia, she studied art at night while attending school by day. She has no formal art training. “It’s embarrassing," she says. “I think formal training counts a lot." She admits she went to art classes primarily to paint, not to learn, she describes her work as impressionistic. “If I do a painting of False Creek, you are not going to be able to pick out Johnston Terminals in the background. “Some people say my paintings are like Tony Onleys. I studied with him, but I hope I’m not derivative. I’d rather be my own individual. 

 “I’m accused of painting just greys, but that's what I sec. K I were in Mexico with all that colour, then I would paint colour, but I don't see that here." Sarah started painting in earnest a few years ago because "I was fracturing a lot of time.” "Until the children were in school 1 really couldn't go at it seriously. It was frustrating because I knew I could paint and that I had something to say. "For years I spent time looking at buildings, light in the sky. and I sketched. I painted from that. I look for landscapes when I'm driving - I'm composing paintings all the time." Sarah also does a few pastel children’s portraits - usually for friends. * I do the portraits from photographs, but so often the children don’t really look like their photo I have them for a sitting to correct the colouring, but even that little time is a strain for kids. The pastels take time, and I much prefer landscapes.” 

It takes organization to work at a career from home, and Sarah has her time pretty well spaced out for her weekly two-day paint-in. "On Mondays 1 do all the grizzly things that have to be done, such as grocery shopping. phone calls, laundry and the dentist.” Outside her front door is a box of gardening tools and equipment "Gardening is not grizzly." she claims. "It's sort of mind-cleansing. I enjoy pruning and carving out space - it’s creative. I try to get the utmost out of the space in my garden with continuing blooms.” 

Even about with asthma last spring did not keep her out of her garden. “Isn't that a dumb thing to get in the middle of your life?” She was 33 last Tuesday. At the moment she is being defeated by her young puppy. Parsley, which she hopes is a Collie. Sarah says that on weekends her family, which embraces lawyer husband Brian and children Michael and Margo, do their own thing. “My thing is not cooking. Oh. I'm an adequate cook, but 1 don't really like it. I don't mind paying money for time- savers. and we re regulars of Ernie's Kentucky Fried Chicken. “My husband’s a keen skier, so we take lessons up Grouse and we walk the dog. and of course, there's always the garden.” 

The McLoughlin living room is almost child-proof with attractive furniture covered in white plastic leather. “Not the rug though.” Sarah sighs, “the kids are always spilling something on it and then there's the puppy.” With everything else, she is busy making Christmas gifts now. “With six brothers and sisters and their families, you have to do some things yourself,” She says thoughtfully: “Wouldn’t it be just great if you didn't have anything to do - if everything that had to be done was done?” And then she adds brightly: None of the things I do are crucial or important, but they do take up time.” 

Sue's Gloves Poem for Sarah (Gran)

Shared by Mike McLoughlin on February 22, 2021
A glove enables a hand to do what it otherwise.

Would not...

pick up a snail
carry a pail
scrape the rust off the rail
catch a worm by the tail

pull a weed by the roots
plant tender lettuce shoots
brush the mud off my boots
Pick up squishy fruits.

All this feels better with a glove.

Gran has a big basket-cart full of gloves. 
I think that is because she really loves
Gloves of all sizes and all colours too
Plastic ones with flowers or cotton dungarees
Big ones with finger room, small ones so tight
Leather ones for grandpa
Ones for left and right.

Gloves we wear for gardening
Gloves we wear for play
Gloves we wear when garnering. 
The slugs along the way.

Gloves for gathering seaweed
To fertilize the trees. 
Gloves for carving Kelp heads
That scares you to your knees.

Gloves that keep our hands warm
Gloves that Keep them Clean
Gloves that Keep the slivers out
While chopping up Kindling.

Gran makes me put my gloves on
Then let s me be her crew. 
Doing things in my hands without the gloves. 
I would never want to do!
Shared by Mike McLoughlin on February 19, 2021
McLoughlin—Pullen
VICTORIA — Of wide interest was the wedding in St Paul's Naval and Garrison Church, Esquimalt, on Saturday when Sarah, daughter of Rear-Admiral and Mrs. Hugh E. Pullen, Admiral’s House, Esquimalt, became the bride of Brian McLoughlin of Vancouver, son of Mrs. Harry L. Robinson of Vancouver.
The church and Admiral’s House were beautifully decorated with flowers donated and arranged by friends.
Rev. A. Roberts performed the ceremony.
The bride wore a lovely gown of ivory organdie, fashioned with a bateau neckline, long sleeves and dropped waistline. The full skirt ended in a train matching the bridal veil of the net, embroidered at the crown and edged with lace. This veil, which had been the bride’s mother’s veil, was held by a circlet of orange blossoms and stephanotis.
The bride carried a cascade bouquet of cream-coloured gladioli and lilies of the valley.
Four sisters of the bride were among her attendants. Miss Tinker Pullen wore a gown of turquoise organza over Swiss cotton, its Empire waistline encircled by velvet band with bows at the back. The ballerina skirt featured butterfly pleats at the back.
Miss Margo Pullen wore a similarly styled gown of turquoise organza and yellow taffeta and junior attendants, twin sisters, Frances and Helen Pullen. wore yellow organza over yellow taffeta similar in style to the other gowns.
Wendy Pullen, the bride’s cousin wore a gown similar to Miss Tinker's.
Attendants wore velvet circlets with bows to match their gowns and carried spray bouquets of peach-toned gladioli.
Train bearers were William Pullen and John Phillips.
John McLoughlin was the best man and the ushers were Lt Hugh Pullen. Howard Eckman. William Robinson and James Helmcken.
A reception was held in the garden of Admiral’s house.
The couple left for a two- month honeymoon in Europe, the bride travelling in a yellow tweed costume with beige accessories. They will reside in Vancouver.