In Memory: Rachna Gilmore (1953-2021)

Rachna Gilmore (October 11, 1953-February 1, 2021)

Rachna Gilmore (nee Kalra) passed away peacefully on February 1, 2021. A prolific writer of numerous picture books, early readers, and novels for young readers, Rachna will be remembered and missed by her older brother Deepak (Sue), her children Karen (Ian Paul) and Robin (Jonathan Coit), her grandchildren (Rian and Priya), and many friends and family members around the world.

Rachna was born in India, the second child of Surendranath and Shakuntala Kalra. When she was 14, the family moved to London, England, where Rachna spent her teenage and university years. Always an avid reader with a bold and adventurous spirit, as a young adult, Rachna followed her childhood fascination with the world of Anne of Green Gables and moved across the Atlantic to Prince Edward Island. In PEI, she met and married her beloved husband Ian Gilmore (1950-2012), had two daughters, and fulfilled her long-held dream of becoming a children’s author with the publication of her first book, My Mother Is Weird.

In 1990, Rachna and her family relocated to Ottawa, where Rachna continued to raise her family and build her writing career, publishing many acclaimed books for young readers over the next twenty-five years and a work of adult fiction under the pseudonym Rachna Mara. She survived two bouts of breast cancer in the 1990s and found solace and enjoyment in long walks, meditation, and tending her beautiful garden. In 1999, Rachna was deeply honoured when her book, A Screaming Kind of Day, was awarded the Governor General’s Award for Children’s Literature.

Despite the deeply felt loss of her husband, Ian, in 2012 and a diagnosis that brought many difficult side-effects in the last years of her life, Rachna never lost her enjoyment and appreciation of family and friends (including two grandchildren Rachna often remarked could “do no wrong”), her cheeky sense of humour, or her love of good stories, well-told.

Rachna brought a great deal of colour, beauty, and laughter to the world and will be remembered and missed by many. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, a private family visitation was held on February 4 and a celebration of life will be planned for a later date.

For those wishing to make in memoriam donations, contributions to Kiva, CODE (, or Plan Canada are greatly appreciated.