Thea was born in London, England to Anna May Shallberg, an Australian governess and Walter Mitchell, a Naval Captain. An only child, she lost her father at 2 years of age. Without any income her mother pleaded to a French order of nuns to place her in boarding school at age 4 so her mother could work. She called this ‘benign providence’ as her education over several years in a number of boarding schools was enlightened and she learned to speak French and German. At the beginning of the Second World War and while living in the Isle of Wight, Thea and her mother joined the WRENS (Royal Navy). She became heavily embroiled in the organization of the D-Day landing on the Normandy beaches. She also met and later married James Borlase, a Canadian army captain from Montréal.
In 1952, they moved to Moncton and raised four children. She became immersed in promoting artists and the arts in both languages and was proud of Moncton’s bilingualism. After her husband died, she learned to drive and went to work at the CBC as an arts critic. Later she worked as the Atlantic Officer for the Canada Council where she met and promoted many of Atlantic Canada’s artists. She won many awards for her volunteerism in the arts including the Ramon Hnatyshyn Award for Volunteerism in the Performing Arts, the Order of Canada and the Order of the City of Moncton. She was proud to do the voice over in French for Flora MacDonald in a recent film about Flora’s humanitarian efforts. Thea saw the arts as a conduit for social change especially among youth. Her mainstay was the volunteers at the Capitol Theatre and nothing gave her more pleasure than to brandish her life-long pass for her work there.
She is survived by three children, Tim (Kathleen) of Pointe-du-Chêne, Jill (Gary) of Chandler, Arizona and Hugh (Peggy) of Moncton. She has 9 grandchildren, Toma Dim (Matthew) of England, Lisa Gale (Tim), Cathy ter Bogt (Nathan), Susie Collins(Matthew) of Australia , Sally Moore(Harry) of Arizona, Rachael Borlase of Nigeria, Stephanie Campbell of New York, Harry Borlase (Sophie) of Labrador and Maghan Borlase of Alberta and 11 great grandchildren. She was predeceased by her husband Jim (1970) and her daughter Annabel (1997). All will greatly miss her wisdom and her sense of generosity. Her life remains a beacon of what we have hoped to achieve, both professionally and personally.
Thea had a public persona but a private life. Instead of a funeral, she asked for a sung Evensong at her church community – St. Andrew’s Anglican Church on Elmwood Drive. This private family service will be held on Monday. Continuing her passions, donations could be made to one of the following: Doctors without Borders for the refugee crisis, the Greater Moncton Music Festival Box 1457, Moncton NB E1C 8T6 or the Capitol School of Performing Arts, 811 Main Street, Moncton E1C 1G1 or a charity of your choice.
"When the final night falls on us, as it fell upon our parents, we shall return to our modest home."
"Earth sure, secure, that we have done our duty by our people."
Koofi Awooner, poet killed by terrorists at the Westgate Mall, Nairobi, Kenya 2013
Funeral arrangements under the professional care of
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