Sheila Kathleen Piercey
18 November , 1933 – 20 May , 2019
On May 20, 2019, at 86 years of age, Sheila received the call to make her singing debut in heaven. She had been preparing for the role since her birth on Nov. 18, 1933 in Halifax, NS.
This everlasting contract to perform with the angels reunites her with her parents, Lilian (MacKinnon) and Reginald Piercey, and sister Barbara Ploeg (Piercey). Her mother, no doubt, is accompanying her on the piano as she rehearses. She and her sister are likely caring for an animal menagerie and reminiscing about their wonderful childhood, summers in Kingsport, and their adventures galavanting about Halifax and the Valley.
Sheila leaves behind her niece Brenda Ploeg (Sylvain Huppe) and their daughter Evangeline as well as nephew David Ploeg (Michelle) and their children Colin and Lisa. She was devoted and loyal to her friends and extended family who will sorely miss her. Gwen, Shirley and Sheila had maintained their childhood friendship for over 80 years!
Sheila grew up in a lovely home built by her father on Dutch Village Road. She was an active, spirited, and vivacious child. She admitted on numerous occasions that she gave her parents a headache or two! These qualities and strength of will served her well for her entire life both on and off the stage.
She began singing at a very young age under the tutelage of her mother, but had varied interests and activities on her journey to Canadian opera icon. In her formative years, Sheila attended Halifax Ladies College, and toured with a ballet company and skating show. She attended Dalhousie University from 1951-1954 where she played on many sports teams, was a cheerleader and performed in multiple productions with the Dalhousie Glee and Dramatic Society and King’s College Dramatic and Choral Society.
This is when Sheila decided that her true calling was on the stage. After much success as a vocalist in Halifax studying with Leonard Mayoh, Sheila moved to Toronto in 1956 when she was offered a scholarship to study at the Royal Conservatory of Music and the University of Toronto opera program.
With Ernesto Vinci as her mentor she blossomed into a professional soprano on the National stage joining the Canadian Opera Company in 1958. This relationship spanned 22 mainstage roles and 16 COC tours over 13 years. Sheila was considered a member of a group of COC pioneers whose touring made opera more accessible to audiences. Sheila often told entertaining stories of touring to such places as Alaska and the NWT and of life on a tour bus. Her interest in photography made her the unofficial photographer and historian of all her COC tours. In addition to performances with the COC Sheila sang regularly on the CBC and at the Banff Centre, Stratford Festival, Rainbow Stage and Charlottetown Festival Sheila retired from the COC and moved home to Nova Scotia in 1971. From 1977 to 1982, she taught voice at Dalhousie University and this is when her transition from singer to philanthropist began. A passion for helping young singers unlock their artistic potential was ignited and she became an avid supporter of the Performing Arts in Nova Scotia and Canada for the rest of her life.
A funeral service and reception will be held at the Bethany United Church, 7171 Clinton Avenue, Halifax, on Sunday, May 26, at 2:00 p.m. The Rev. Kevin Little will be officiating. Burial will take place at the Fairview Cemetery with only family in attendance. In lieu of flowers please consider donations to: the Humane Society of Nova Scotia or Opera Nova Scotia. Thank you to the following for their care: QE II Hospital 8.4, the Berkeley Halifax Retirement Residence on Green Street, and Home Instead Senior Care. And a special thank you to Sally Ritcey and Mary Alice Ryan for their longterm friendship and support.
To leave an online condolence, please visit: www.jasnowfuneralhome.com
- Funeral Service Sunday, 26 May , 2019
- Reception Sunday, 26 May , 2019
Sheila Kathleen Piercey
have a memory or condolence to add?ADD A MEMORY
23 July 2019
To the family of Sheila Piercey
My name is Harry Pinchin. I am a retired professional musician living in Edmonton. During my early years as a trumpeter with various COC Orchestras I had the privilege of performing for Sheila. Her "Mimi" in La Boheme is memorable. As Conductor of the Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Company of Calgary, I was delighted when Sheila accepted our invitation to perform the role of "Elsie Maynard" in Yeomen of the Guard. Please accept my sincere condolences on Sheila's passing. I am enclosing a photo from that early 1960s production.
11 June 2019
I am so sorry for your family’s loss. I first met Sheila at the Banff School of Fine Arts and instantly had such respect for her and her singing. My husband John sang with her for many years with the COC.
We didn’t see each other much over the years but did keep in touch every year. When I started teaching voice lesson’s at St. Michael’s Choir school, Sheila so kindly send me a lot of information about teaching young voices. It was really helpful and gave me a lovely feeling of support.
She will be missed.
Blessings on her and your family.
28 May 2019
To the Piercey Family,
Please accept my deepest condolences, Sheila was a wonderful member of the Dalhousie family and she made such a difference to the Fountain School of Performing Arts. Her legacy will live on and we are all so grateful for her talent and passion for the arts.
Cynthia Robertson and Stanley Strug
26 May 2019
I was so sorry to read of the passing of my old friend Sheila.We went all through the Ladies College together...playing on the sports teams and dancing with the Halifax Gottshalks Ballet..Our paths in life led us in different directions but we would connect every so often and reminisce about our youth with such fond memories.I am away right now in Vancouver and won't be there for her service but but wanted to send my condolences to the family. Carolyn Doig
Pauline & Gerry Raven-Cudmore
26 May 2019
We will miss Sheila’s warm smiles, her compassion for others and passion for life. Everyone who met Sheila had the opportunity to listen and learn lessons of value, to see kindness in action. We will remember her with the incoming tides, on our beach walks and whenever we have the chance to befriend a stray animal. Our deepest condolences to Sheila’s family-your news was always something she loved to share.
26 May 2019
We are thinking of the family and close friends of Sheila at this time. I first met Sheila in August 1949 in Kingsport and many times after that there or in Berwick.
Gertrude Grimm and family
Carol von Syberg
25 May 2019
My condolences to Sheila's family, especially to Brenda. Sheila and I spent many hours talking about our precious cats. She truly loved her cats and dogs. Many vocal students at the Maritime Conservatory of Performing Arts appreciate Sheila for her "Sheila K. Piercey Collaborative Pianist Awards". Sheila also supported students of the Canadian Music Competition and the Nova Scotia Registered Music Teachers' Association. Sheila touched many lives and will be fondly remembered.
24 May 2019
Sorry for your loss, she will be deeply missed.
24 May 2019
Thank you for everything, my beloved voice teacher.
24 May 2019
My condolences to Sheila’s family, may she rest easy. The video brought back memories of many years ago, great pictures ; she actually sang at my wedding in 1971.
23 May 2019
Sending hugs and condolences to Brenda, Sylvain, Eva, David, Michelle, Colin & Lisa. Murray , Jesse, Madlyn and I had a special place in our hearts for Sheila. We looked forward to her visits to her cottage each summer and we will miss seeing her. I will miss her singing opera early Sunday mornings. Calling for the kitties at night time to make sure they were safe inside for the night (and calling me to make sure took mine were in too :) )Seeing her walk by with her towels headed to the beach for her swims, and watching her in her flower gardens. I always offered to help but I would get scolded if I trimmed the wrong ones, so it was better to just watch :) Fly high with the angels sweet lady, sing your opera loud enough that I can still hear you singing in the wind, come visit me with the cardinals, I will be watching for you....ps: give Barb a hug for me, I miss her so much.