Fiona Lau

Obituary of Fiona Jane Lawson Lau

September 20, 1948 – Woking, Surrey, England

June 23, 2024 – Calgary, Alberta


Fiona Jane Lawson Lau (née Duncan) of Calgary, AB, Canada, passed away peacefully at the age of 75 years on Sunday, June 23, 2024, after living for many years with posterior cortical atrophy, a rare form of dementia.


Fiona is survived by her husband, KT; daughter Meghan and her partner, Tom; daughter Bryony; and son Duncan and his wife, Andrea, and their children, Simon and Marcus. She is also survived by her beloved late sister Rosie's children, Paul, Sara, Anna, and Mark, and their families, as well as the extended Lau family.


Fiona was born on September 20, 1948, to Rosamund and William Duncan in Woking, Surrey, England. She was the youngest of two daughters. Fiona and her elder sister Rosie grew up in a house called Grove Cottage with a claustrophobic dog. As a Scot born south of the border, Fiona and her sister used to summer with relatives in Torridon, in the western highlands of Scotland.


Fiona’s love of languages can be traced to her school days when she had a pen pal in France. She went on to attend the nearby Guildford High School, a day school for girls. In typical English fashion, she wore a uniform, including a stiff-brimmed hat called a boater, which she later brought with her to Canada. Having excelled in the study of ancient Greek and Latin in high school, she went on to study classics at the University of Reading, receiving a bachelor’s degree.


Fiona spoke often of her travels from this time, recalling hitchhiking across Europe and camping on the beach in Greece in her orange sleeping bag. After university, she spent a year teaching English in Coimbra, Portugal, where her students included members of Salazar’s secret police, just before the dictatorship fell. She learned Portuguese and developed a lifelong love of sardines.


Upon returning to the UK, she worked for the Gulbenkian Foundation, a Lisbon-based organization founded by a Turkish-born British financier, industrialist, and philanthropist. Her work for the Gulbenkian Foundation involved travelling within the UK to award grants to innovative modern dancers. She also set up a program to help dancers transition to other careers when they retired. Fiona lived in London, where she drove around in a little Beetle. She sang in a madrigal choir, performing secular music from the Renaissance.


Always fearless, Fiona decided in the late 1970s to emigrate from the UK to Canada to take up a job with the Canada Council for the Arts. She arrived in Toronto in late December 1977. When Fiona was departing, she asked friends in London for contacts in Canada. One of these was KT, whose name was starred on the list of possible contacts as a highly eligible bachelor with a car. On one of their early dates, Fiona invited him back to her flat in Cabbagetown, where she cooked him liver and onions. They married in 1979 at the Banff Springs Hotel in Alberta, Canada. They had three children: Meghan, Bryony, and Duncan. To her children’s great horror, liver and onions appeared on the dinner table throughout their childhood, though they were never required to eat them.


Fiona and KT had a peripatetic existence at first, moving from Toronto to Calgary, to Edmonton, to Dartmouth, to Fort McMurray, and finally returning to Calgary in 1985, where they stayed for the remainder of their working lives. Fiona found a new footing in Canada with KT; they founded a computer business together that Fiona went on to run for over 25 years. She worked from home, juggling her business with raising three children. Fiona found time to sew elaborate, perfect costumes for Meghan and Bryony’s dance recitals, learning how to sew a tutu when required and making a particularly memorable black satin, sequined spider costume that allowed Meghan to scare Little Miss Muffett off her tuffet. Fiona not only coached Bryony for her role as Lady Macbeth in fifth grade but also lent her her nightdress, worn as Bryony proclaimed, "Out damned spot!" Duncan mercifully did not require costumes; she brought sliced oranges to his soccer practices and cheered him on. Fiona was also a tireless audience member for the annual backyard theatrical productions of Roald Dahl’s work, often guest-starring close friends Robert and Lillian Wong.


When Fiona and KT retired, they set up a home just outside Vancouver but were often on the road. They travelled the world, from New Zealand to Singapore to Peru, always stopping in to see their extended family around the world and their children, wherever they might be. Once Duncan and Andrea settled in Calgary and had their first child, the pull to Calgary was stronger. As Fiona’s illness developed, they returned to Calgary.


Fiona was warm, energetic, and outgoing. She loved meeting new people. Initially for her big sister, then for her husband, and then her children, Fiona always broke the ice. She managed to fit more in a day than most people fit in a week. She embraced her new life in Canada, learning to ski, ice skate, and love hockey, surpassing her Canadian-born children in her enthusiasm.


As Fiona’s illness progressed, her love for music, life, and her family was undimmed. She was the life of the party at her dementia choir, persuading even a rather serious nun to get up and dance. We suspect that Fiona danced more in her illness than she did in London in the 1960s and 1970s. And even as Fiona’s ability to speak diminished, she continued to sing. KT cared devotedly for Fiona at home until the very end. Fiona passed away peacefully, surrounded by her family and her loving caregivers.


Funeral Services will be held at Cathedral Church of the Redeemer, where Fiona was a parishioner (Corner of 7th Avenue & 1st Street S.E., Calgary, AB) on Tuesday, July 2, 2024, at 4:00 p.m. All are welcome.


If friends so desire, memorial tributes may be made directly to Rare Dementia Support Canada, Email:, Phone: 1-888-279-2232,


Condolences, memories, and photos may be shared and viewed with Fiona’s family here.


In living memory of Fiona Lau, a tree will be planted in the Ann & Sandy Cross Conservation Area by McInnis & Holloway Funeral Homes, Park Memorial, 5008 Elbow Drive SW, Calgary, AB T2S 2L5, Telephone: 403-243-8200.


Funeral Service

4:00 pm
Tuesday, July 2, 2024
Cathedral Church of the Redeemer
604 1 St SE
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
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