Born in Rossland, BC, Mary Lou spent her early days on Burrard Inlet where her father worked at the Lake Buntzen powerhouse. She graduated from Lord Byng High School and went on to receive her BA in geography/geology. She did graduate work at UBC and won the Leon and Thea Koerner Scholarship to the UBC School of Fine Arts to study with Jacques de Tonnacour. Mary Lou loved painting and had a long and distinguished career as an artist, painting landscapes in oils, acrylics, watercolours and Japanese sumi-e. To Mary Lou, happiness was a well-loaded paint brush. She attended the Vancouver School of Art, where she studied with Molly Lamb Bobak. In the 1960s, she studied Japanese brush painting with Kaz Hamasaki and Priest Tanahashi; her paintings were accepted by the Academy of Sumi-e in Osaka, Japan. Ultimately, she developed her own style using classical Japanese techniques of brush and paper with acrylic paint to create a new way of looking at Canadian landscapes. She said “a different vision of what is frequently seen liberates the eye and mind.”
Mary Lou travelled extensively, painting in the Rocky Mountains and west coast of Canada, as well as in Pakistan, New Zealand, Australia and Japan. In her later years, she turned to writing, publishing several books. She was an active member of the Canadian Federation of University Women, finding inspiration in CFUW writing groups.
She passed away on July 22, 2014, in Victoria. She is survived by her son, Malcolm; sister Laddie Hutchins; and cousins, nieces, and nephews. She was predeceased by her husband, Alistair Crerar, BA’48, MA’51, in 1998. A vivacious artist, photographer, storyteller, writer, and connoisseur of peaty single malts, she lived life to the fullest and encouraged others to do so.