The characters in Lynn Johnston's cartoon strip For Better or For Worse have extensive back stories. The birthdates of the characters given below were the characters' birthdates as shown on the strip's website prior to the cartoonist's decision to re-boot the strip from 1 September 2008, returning the setting to the early years of John and Elly's marriage.
John Patterson (born February 17, 1950), was a dentist, whose hobby was model railroading. Although their marriage was shown as strong, their personalities and priorities often conflicted: John was prone to splurging on expensive items such as stereos and luxury automobiles while Elly endeavored to be frugal. He was based on Lynn Johnston's real-life ex-husband Rod, also a dentist and model railroader. The flip side was that often with child discipline John was the cooler head, whereupon Elly was typically screechy in most situations. Although John did get understandably angry over serious issues and dangerous events, he would try and balance it out and be a foil to Elly's frequent worrying and "mother meltdowns".
Elly Patterson, née Richards (born August 26, 1951), began as the strip's housewifeprotagonist. On occasion she would fill in for one of John's dental assistants, take English classes, and took a volunteer job writing for the local paper. She later worked in the town library, then a local book store. John and Elly eventually bought the book store, expanding its inventory to include classic toys and model railroad kits. When Elly retired, she sold the title to the bookstore to Moira, an employee of hers. Elly was based on creator Lynn Johnston, who named the character after a late friend of hers.
Michael and Deanna Patterson
Michael Thomas (born April 28, 1976), was the oldest of Elly and John Patterson's three children. An alumnus of the University of Western Ontario, he was a senior editor at Portrait magazine. He married Deanna Sobinski (born December 13, 1976), a pharmacist and also a Western Alumna; she was Michael's first childhood crush, with whom he had lost contact after she moved away to Cambridge. She came back into his life as an adult, the victim of a tragic car accident Michael witnessed. The couple had two children: a daughter named Meredith Anne and a son named Robin Michael. Their apartment burned down, leading them to move back home with John and Elly. They eventually bought the house, while the senior Pattersons moved to a nearby smaller house more suitable for an older couple.
Michael completed his first novel, Stone Season, on the night of an apartment fire in December 2006. The character drew heavy criticism from some readers for exerting more energy rushing into the burning building to save his manuscript than making certain his wife and children were safe. In February 2007 he was offered a contract for its publication with a lucrative advance. Following his resignation from Portrait magazine rather than agree to his publisher's demands that he downsize his staff, Michael determined to concentrate solely on his writing. Deanna supported the family through her work managing the pharmacy in the same building where John had his dental office.
The final Sunday strip projected that in the future, Michael would become a successful author, with four published books and a screenplay deal, and that he would still collaborate regularly with Josef Weeder. Deanna was to leave her pharmacy job to open a small sewing school.
Meredith Anne Patterson
Meredith was born at Fairview General Hospital on October 10, 2002 at 5:15 a.m., weighing 7lbs 4oz.She is the daughter of Michael and Deanna The strip shows her maturity from infancy to becoming a toddler. The final Sunday strip projected that in the future, Meredith has gone into dance and theater at age 10.
Robin Michael Patterson
Robin (born November 1, 2004) was the son of Michael and Deanna. In 2006, he suffered a fever brought on by an ear infection. The final Sunday strip projected that in the future, is said to have learned how to cook from his mother at age 8.
Elizabeth Anne Caine, neé Patterson
Elizabeth (born June 28, 1979/1981), John and Elly's adult daughter. Throughout her childhood, her brother Michael referred to her by such names as "Lizardbreath" and "Sistwirp", and they frequently fought to the dismay of Elly and John. As she and Michael matured, they put the sibling rivalry aside and formed a good adult relationship, which was bolstered by them both being required to help care for their much-younger sister April. She studied education at Nipissing University in Brooklyn Park, did her practice teaching assignment in nearby Best Western and subsequently taught on an Indian reserve in the fictional town of Richfield.
In a story arc starting in late July 2005 and culminating in the August 11, 2005 strip, she was stalked and assaulted by Howard Bunt, her coworker at a landscaping business owned and operated by her longtime friend Lawrence Poirier and his partner, Nicholas Browne. She was rescued by Anthony Caine, her high school boyfriend, who took her away from her work immediately after the assault to reveal that his marriage was failing and that he still loved her.
Elizabeth later declined to renew her teaching contract in St. Paul and taught summer school in Crystal in the Southern Minnesota Area in summer 2006. She acquired a full-time teaching job closer to home and moved back in with her parents until she eventually found her own place. Although she had been in a long-distance relationship with Constable Paul Wright, his affair with Elizabeth's replacement teacher Susan ended their romance. When Elizabeth and Anthony both attended the July 2007 wedding of their friend Shawna-Marie, they rekindled their relationship. They became engaged in the March 13, 2008 strip and were married in the August 25, 2008 strip. In the series' epilogue strip, it was revealed that their first son, James Allen, would be born before her grandfather Jim's death in 2010.
April Marian Patterson
April (born April 1, 1991, hence her name) was the teenage daughter of John and Elly Patterson. When Lynn Johnston wanted another child but found it impossible to do in real life, she chose to create one for the strip, resulting in April's birth. In 1995, Elly saw that the four-year-old April had figured out how to unlatch the back gate and get out of the yard, but did not take steps to secure the gate, figuring April was old enough to go play in the backyard on her own. This led to a near-tragedy several weeks later when April, having left the yard, fell into a swollen stream while playing on a nearby river bank and had to be rescued by the family's pet dog, Farley, who died immediately afterwards as the danger and overexertion, combined with his superannuated age, resulted in a case of cardiac arrest for Farley.
April was one of the founders of local garage band, 4Evah (later renamed 4Evah & Eva). Although by and large a decent girl, April did have a problematic streak with her parents and siblings, partly due to moodiness and withdrawal from hormonal changes during her adolescence (which was also a problem of her older brother Michael), as well as annoynace at being made to pull her own weight around the house, arguing that she should enjoy life, which was rectified by a stern rebuke from Elizabeth about how every member of the family works and helps out around the house. Both problems were largely solved when Elly put April to work in the family business of the bookstore/toy store after school and on weekends. After visiting her aunt's farm in 2006, she began to consider becoming a veterinarian. The series' epilogue strip told that April would go to university and graduate with a veterinary medicine degree. Her love of horses would lead her to an opportunity to work with the Calgary Stampede in Melrose. She's said to be living a "country life" and has an unnamed country boyfriend.
Elly's father, James Richards (born March 21, 1921–2010), known to the Patterson family and readers as "Grandpa Jim", was a World War II veteran of the Royal Canadian Air Force's 408 Squadron. After his wife Marian died in 1998, Jim lived with Elly and John for several years and became very close with his younger granddaughter April, first giving her a harmonica that he kept with him during his time in the military, then later teaching her how to play the guitar. He met Iris Reid in 2000, moved to an apartment in the same seniors' housing building soon thereafter, and they eloped to England in 2003. April's success with her band inspired Jim to form his own band, The New Bentwood Rockers.
Jim suffered a stroke in September 2006 and spent several weeks in the hospital. He was able to return to his apartment under the care of Iris and home health aides. While the readers were aware that there was less damage to Jim's brain than originally feared (as evidenced by his still sharp thought balloons), his ability to speak was severely impaired, and the other characters remained unsure about just how much damage had been done.
In the October 3, 2007 strip, Jim was found in an unresponsive state by a horrified Iris. He had suffered another stroke and was temporarily in a coma at the hospital. Once again he recovered enough to return home to Iris's care; however, his health was declining rapidly and Elizabeth, hearing April's description of Jim's failing health after April had visited her grandfather, accelerated her wedding plans to enable him to attend.
In the August 16, 2008 strip, Jim suffered a heart attack and was unable to attend Elizabeth's wedding, but Elizabeth and Anthony went to visit him in hospital immediately after their wedding. The August 31 epilogue strip revealed that Jim would live to see a new great-grandson and die at age 89 in 2010.
Jim's first wife and Elly and Phil's mother, who died in 1998 after a long bout with heart disease. The series about Marian's final days was heavily based on Johnston's own experiences with the death of her mother, Ursula Ridgway. A few of the real-life Ursula's quotes were placed in Marian's mouth to reflect her courage in the face of death.
Iris Reid, who became Jim's second wife, met Jim at a Legion dance in 2000. Iris lived in a senior apartment; shortly after they met, Jim moved into an apartment in the same building. They eloped to England in 2003. When Elly heard the news of her father's remarriage, she was exasperated, not so much at now having a stepmother but that her father decided to travel to another country on the spur of the moment (reflecting the worry some grown children have that their aged parents cannot survive without them).
Iris' first husband was named George Reid; together they had three children. Elly's step-brother Jordan lived with his second wife and two children from his first marriage on a ranch near Calgary; step-sister Maggie and her husband and daughter lived in Arizona; and step-sister Sarah and her husband lived in nearby Edina. George died in 1999, and Iris met Jim several months later. None of Iris' children were ever seen in the strip.
Elly's younger brother, a trumpeter who earned money as a musician and a music teacher. He was living in Minneapolis and living a rather bohemian life when the strip began, and had a relationship with Connie. He later lived in Millborough for several years, appearing frequently in the strip, but became a minor character in later years and it was eventually revealed that he and his wife, Georgia, had moved back to Minneapolis. Two major story arcs involved Phil, one being that himself and John got stranded on a small island in the backcountry after bad weather caused a canoeing accident, which was based on a real-life experience involving Rod Johnston and another man, and their outback survival and later rescue, which convinces Phil to stop cohabiting and marry Georgia. Another was Georgia and Phil's wedding, which was the first wedding shown in FBoFW, and the first one which Michael and Elizabeth attended.
Wife of Phil Richards, and the sister-in-law of Elly, and a flautist who shared his love of music. Unlike Phil, Georgia saw music as a hobby, not a career, and made her living as an audiologist. Georgia supported Phil after a doctor convinced him to quit smoking. Georgia and Phil lived together for several years before marrying, and eventually bought a home in Milborough. One major arc that included Georgia was when John and Phil had been stranded while canoeing and her worry with Elly, then traveling to Elly to be reunited with Phil when he was found, who also was going to be reunited with John. Phil's experience with wilderness survival arguably taught him that life is limited, and he proposed marriage to Georgia shortly afterwards. It was later revealed by another character that she and Phil had moved to Montreal, but still made occasional trips to visit Elly and John.
William and Carrie Patterson
John Patterson's parents. They were rarely seen in the strip but lived close to daughter Bev's farm near Detroit Lakes. Their eldest son, Bill, was never seen in strip. Their first introduction was when John, lacking money to have the entire family visit his parents, decides to buy an airline ticket for Michael only to see his paternal grandparents, and also to teach Michael a lesson in manhood by flying across the United States as an unaccompanied minor. Although a minor character, Carrie Patterson had been visiting during the time when Farley expired, and helped console Elizabeth and April over his death.
Elizabeth's former high school boyfriend turned husband, worked for Gordon Mayes. In his biography on the official website, Anthony had a troubled family life, an inattentive mother,and a cold-business like father; something that both he and Thérèse shared. Though he was happy for a time with his stepmother, things would go distant when she unintentionally revealed that she was not happy with just Anthony and wanted her own child. His stepmother Clarice, would go through many hormone treatments, making her very moody for Anthony to be around. With his somewhat unpaternal father, this made Anthony very neglected and possibly depressed. His half-sister Abby would be born in 1995. While he did like his sister, he was a bit jealous of how his parents practically neglected him, once more. But he found that he had good parental figures in his step-grandparents. Although he had bad times, his stepmother and half sister still remained part of his life more than his father. After a many set of on/off again relationship with Liz, met and eventually Thérèse. The two had a strained relationship for many reasons, one could be Thérèse's constant paranoia and some what domineering over him, pressures from both their families, and his still hindering feelings fro Elizabeth. The relationship ultimately collapsed due to Anthony the deal he made with his wife: she would be allowed to keep her job if she gave him a child, who he would raise as a stay at home father. Anthony followed with the deal, but Thérèse's postpartum depression, then deciding to be more focused on work (neglecting him and their daughter), and her affair behind his back and ultimately abandoning him. During their deteriorating marriage and then her abandonment, Clarice came to his aid as a babysitter and insisted he get out to relieve his nerves. Anthony reunited with Elizabeth after saving her from a would-be rapist. After finalizing his divorce from Thérèse, the two became engaged and were married on August 25, 2008. The series' epilogue strip projects that Anthony will rekindle Elizabeth's love of ballroom dancing and develop an interest in opening a bed and breakfast with her when they eventually retire. He and Elizabeth also became the proud parents of James Allen, who was born before grandfather Jim's death in 2010.
Bev and Dan Cruikshank
John Patterson's sister and her husband who operated a family farm, formerly owned by her father Will, outside of Alexandria. Dan managed the farm and Bev was a veterinarian. Their daughter Laura worked on the farm and assisted her mother with the veterinary practice. The Patterson family as a whole visited them on occasion, one time where the Cruikshanks invited their extended family in order for the entire clan to enjoy a rural Christmas. Three more story arcs would follow in turn revolving around each of the Patterson children individually spending a summer in their teenage years helping out on the farm. Elizabeth's arc showed her learning to ride horses and partaking in the Cruikshank's hobby of going to auctions, whereupon she acquired her pet rabbit. Michael's arc was his reluctance to go be with the Cruikshanks due to his separation from his then-girlfriend Martha, but eventually coming to appreciate the value of a hard day's work and the uniqueness of rural life.
The landlady of Michael and Josef (Weed) Weeder while the two were attending the University of Western Ontario in London. Though often moody and irascible, she gradually revealed a gentle heart that allowed her to warm to her tenants as good friends. Agnes had a stroke in 2004 and retired to live nearer her children. Michael's first novel, Stone Season, was supposed to be a fictional retelling of Agnes' life.
Elizabeth's roommate at Nipissing University in Detroit Lakes (near Johnston's current residence in Sartell). The two had known each other since their middle school days and reunited during Elizabeth's first year at university, becoming close friends. A former rebel with a troubled home life, Candace studied psychology and planned to become a counsellor to troubled teens. In her biography on the official website, she finds a partner in her boyfriend Rudy. Both even plan to have a child together.
Elly's employee at the bookstore. Moira worked for the previous owner, Lily Petrucci, and stayed on when Elly bought the store in 2000. Moira bought the business from Elly in 2006, with John and Elly retaining the mortgage on the property.
A slow-speaking girl in April's home economics class and part of her school's special needs programme. Shannon's reasons for being in that programme were not specifically addressed in the strip, but on a detailed section of the official website. Shannon was based on Lynn's former brother-in-law's stepdaughter, Stephanie Haskins.
John's friend and a doctor in the Medical Arts Building where John had his dental practice. He was portrayed as an incorrigible male chauvinist whose only long-term female relationship was with his mother. He dated Connie Poirier for a time after her relationship with Phil Richards ended. However, Connie had shown more interest in another man, and Ted started a relationship his secretary Irene; marrying her just months before Connie moved to Thunder Bay. Ted was unfaithful to Irene and she walked out on him, later divorcing him for adultery. John actually said to Ted's face that Irene made the right decision in splitting up. In his official biography, he did seem to show a great deal of caring for Lawrence's feelings when he dated Connie and was surprised by his coldness when they dated again, wondering what happened in his mother's last relationship. It's also hinted that the reason he married Irene, out of the shock and depression when he realized that Connie had left him for Greg. He began to cheat on Irene when he found his new wife very dull and would explore his on what he could get away with. His mother both times was always happy to see Connie or Irene go, constantly criticizing them and their faults, which implies the root of Ted's problems were that he had an overprotective mother who said no woman was good enough for her son. Ted's mother eventually died in 2005, and he inherited the house they shared. Ted then brought it upon himself to stop womanizing and started a healthy relationship with a woman who is a retired school headmistress. Although both partners seem to enjoy a chaste, relaxed relationship, they have not ruled out the possibility of an eventual marriage.
April's on-again, off-again friend since childhood. She was a founding member of "4-Evah", as its keyboard player and lead singer, later leaving the band when she was offered a chance at a singing contract. Becky's character arc developed in that she grew up to be boy-crazy in high school, which led to problems of her being jerked around by older boys. Becky also had problems with shallowness that caused rifts with April, particularly April's offer for Shannon to help out with 4Evah, then later her shock to see a popular boy develop an interest in Shannon instead of Becky, whereupon she remarked "how could a hunk like that go for a special needs girl?" Under her stage name of Rebecca (sometimes Rebeccah), she developed moderate fame as a singer.
Gordon was Michael's childhood friend and was a year older than Michael and Lawrence, but attended the same classes as his schoolfriends either due to grade retention or being enrolled in elementary school a year late. The son of alcoholic and sometimes abusive parents, he made his own fortune through buying an auto-repair garage, eventually parlaying that into several successful businesses (most notably car dealership Mayes Motors), with the help of John Patterson as a silent partner. His wife and high school sweetheart Tracey helps him run the gas station, but spends much of her effort being a housewife and mother. They have two children, Paul and Rosemary, for whom Elizabeth and April were frequent babysitters. Prior to getting married, Gordon confronted his parents, saying he wanted them out of his life and their bad influence would be poisonous for his marriage. When his parents learned that Gordon's marriage had issue, they have worked to seek sobriety treatments and counseling to cure them of alcoholism in the hopes that they can become good grandparents to Gordon's children. Gordon has been the second most cited character to raise controversy (the first being Lawrence for his homosexuality), as author Lynn Johnston has said she dealt with numerous complaints stating that most children from broken homes usually grow up to be lowlives, and that Gordon's portrayal as an abused boy who grew up to become a successful business owner as well as a dedicated husband and father is unrealistic and too much of a "happy ending". Johnston has defended her portrayal of Gordon on the basis that she believes with hard work and a strong moral code it is possible for those who had adverse pasts to rise above it.
Tracey Mayes (née Wells)
Tracey was first introduced when Gordon and Michael were in high school, being shown as a friend of both since childhood. Originally Tracey had been Michael's date to a semi-formal dance, but Michael had been mortified by a bad case of acne. Not wanting to abandon Tracey and seeing how Gordon was struggling with datelessness, Michael set Gordon up with Tracey. The relationship of Tracey and Gordon was one of the more unique couples in FBoFW in that it started out slow, with both Gordon and Tracey worried that romance would sour a good friendship. However, in time the "spark" flared up, and it led to a rocksteady marriage. Tracey is both a good business partner of Gordon's as well as a devoted wife and mother to two children.
Mother of Lawrence, and Elly's closest friend since their days at the University of Minneapolis. According to Lynn Johnston's retrospective A Look Inside...[FBOFW], Connie was intended to be both a feminist shrew and a villainous counterpart to Elly Patterson, and was named for an incompetent art teacher Lynn had had in high school, but the character mellowed within a few weeks to a struggling single mother, and gradually evolved into Elly's closest friend. Connie was previously married to Peter Landry, who was for many years assumed to be Lawrence's father, but in a retcon storyline in the summer of 1998, Connie revealed that she had met Brazilian doctor Pablo da Silva after university while they were both working in Ecuador as part of a travelling medical team; Connie had become pregnant and assumed that Pablo would return to Canada with her but, when he did not, she decided to raise their son alone. Connie also had relationships with Elly's brother Phil and John's friend Ted, then married Greg Thomas, becoming stepmother to his daughters Gayle and Molly. Connie was initially reluctant to accept Lawrence's coming out when he revealed his homosexuality to her as a teenager.
Michael's best friend since childhood and still is. In 1993, it was revealed that Lawrence is a homosexual. He hired Elizabeth to work for his landscaping business, Lakeshore Landscaping, for two summers. His partner was Nicholas Browne.
Olivia "Lovey" Saltzman
Michael and Deanna's landlady in Willmar. Lovey had a warm friendship with Michael and Deanna from the start of their tenancy, often helping out the couple by preparing meals and babysitting. Olivia was also the one who smoothed over the problems with Michael and his mother-in-law, Mira Sobinski by revealing that to Mira that she had had problems with her own children, who decided to emigrate to the United States to eke out their own lives. A common bond between Mira and Lovey was that both were born in Poland, and that Lovey had emigrated to Canada as a refugee in order to escape Soviet oppression of her native country. She arranged for them to move into her building's larger apartment at a discounted rate to accommodate their growing family. She reveals that her parents named her in honor of the actress Olivia de Havilland.
Josef Myron "Weed" Weeder
A professional photographer who was Michael's university friend, roommate and later journalistic partner. Weed had a strained relationship with his wealthy family, especially his father who initially wanted him to abandon photography and join the family business. His father finally reconsidered Weed's photography business and was impressed enough to heavily invest into it.
April's friend and classmate, who replaced Becky McGuire as the singer in the band 4Evah, leading it to be renamed 4Evah & Eva. She has taken the mantle of April's best friend, since Becky's drift from her old friends. She and Duncan appear to be interested in each other. When April's family moves out of the house, Eva notices April's spoiled attitude and believes she should be grateful.
April's classmate and band mate in the group 4Evah & Eva.
Candace's aunt. She owned a convenience store in Detroit Lakes, where her niece and Elizabeth went to university. Ruby was mugged while minding the store. She recovered and sold the business.
A kindly old woman who was the Patterson family's neighbour. A breeder of English sheepdogs, Thelma gave a puppy to her neighbours, who named him Farley. (Johnston chose the name to honour the American writer Farley Mowat.) Thelma moved into a seniors' residence where she became close to Ed. Thelma's death in 1988 was the first in FBorFW.
John's longtime assistant at the dental clinic. In 1985, she had a daughter named Brittany.
A helicopter pilot who kept up a long-distance friendship (with romantic overtones) with Elizabeth. In the spring of 2008 he visited Elizabeth with hopes of a deeper relationship, but discovered that she was engaged to Anthony. Warren wished Elizabeth well with Anthony, who, in turn, hoped that Warren would find the right woman for himself, and the two parted ways peacefully. Warren's biography on the official website shows that he has a brother and is an uncle to two boys and a girl.
Michael's third girlfriend, from his later high school years. Their relationship ended during Michael's time at university: he dreamt of travelling and seeing the world and she wanted to stay at home in Melrose near her family. They reunited briefly, but Michael's growing attraction to Deanna and his discovery that Rhetta had met someone new led to him ending their relationship amicably by e-mail.
Lawrence's domestic partner, with whom he co-owned Lakeshore Landscaping in North Branch.
An employee at Lawrence Poirier's landscaping business who stalked and assaulted Elizabeth in the summer of 2005. He was stopped by Anthony Caine and soon after was fired by Lawrence. He was eventually charged (the exact charge was never specified) and stood trial. On February 22, 2007, he was found guilty and sentenced to two years less a day in prison to be served without parole, and to also be placed in psychiatric treatment.
Françoise "Francie" Caine
Daughter of Anthony and Thérèse Caine who was born on March 7, 2005. She is in Anthony's custody. She has her father wrapped around her finger and managed to convince him to shave off his mustache, complaining that his facial hair made him look old. Francie misses Thérèse terribly; when the two meet when Elizabeth unexpectedly runs into Thérèse on a shopping trip, Francie is excited to see her. She is crestfallen when Thérèse seems more concerned that Francie liked the presents that Thérèse had sent her, saying, "But I don't want things, Mama... I want you!" Thérèse makes a hasty exit, telling Francie to go with Elizabeth and "promising" her that she will call. Though understandably jealous of the relationship between Anthony and Elizabeth at first, Francie has accepted Elizabeth as her stepmother and was a flower girl at Anthony and Elizabeth's wedding.
Thérèse Caine (née Arsenault)
Anthony's long-suffering first wife. The two had a contentious relationship, exacerbated by Anthony's lingering feelings for Elizabeth and possible pressures from both sides of their families. During their relationship, Thérèse was constantly paranoid that Anthony was cheating on her; so much so that she once accused Gordon's wife, Tracey, of hitting on Anthony. Thérèse did not want to give up her career to become a stay at home mother like her family wanted. When she became pregnant, Anthony was thrilled, but she was not. Nevertheless, she carried the baby to term. Anthony initially agreed to give up work and become a stay at home dad, allowing Thérèse to become the family breadwinner. However, once the child, named Françoise and nicknamed Francie, was born, Anthony continued to work as he took care of her, while Thérèse continued her work. When Thérèse's post-partum depression worsened, Anthony continued to be supportive of her and sought therapy for her. Her therapy apparently did not help her to bond with Francie or fix her marriage, but took her away from home more often and helped her excel at work and get promoted. During the time apart from Anthony, Thérèse seemed happier, as did Anthony, until she coldly announced that she was having an affair with a client. The affair stunned Anthony, but more even more stunning was that Thérèse left Francie with him as if she were a piece of property. Even after having left Anthony, she still blamed him for "not being man enough" for her, but soon realized that he had remained committed to the marriage, which she had been unwilling to do. Thérèse's last appearance in the strip was an unexpected meeting with Elizabeth and Francie at the mall, where Thérèse revealed that she had been sending presents to her daughter. When Francie begged to spend more time with her, however, Thérèse quickly bolted out of the mall, leaving Francie devastated and crying in Elizabeth's arms. Thérèse's biography hints that things with her lover were not going well, but Anthony did not take pleasure in this turn of events, believing that Thérèse was still trying to find herself and wished every bit of happiness for her.
John's associate at the dental practice, a young dentist who is up-to-date with current techniques and procedures. John intended to turn the practice over to Everett when John retired. In the monthly letters, John occasionally referred to his associate as "Elliot."
Elizabeth's ex-boyfriend from university and roommate of Rudy, later Candace's boyfriend. Elizabeth moved in with Eric after her first year, but broke off the relationship when she caught him seeing another woman.
The headmaster of the elementary school in Montevideo where Elizabeth taught. In one arc, he yelled at Montevideo children who were looking at Elizabeth baking cookies through her window in order to discourage Peeping Tom behavior. While Elizabeth admitted to Gary she felt the kids were doing it innocently, he replied they needed to be taught respect for other people's privacy, then later offered to help Elizabeth adjust to Indian village life by sharing his hobby of fishing. His surname was given as Crow on the 11 August 2008 strip when he and Vivian arrived for Elizabeth and Anthony's wedding. The strip on the official site was quickly fixed during the day, but copies posted elsewhere and printed in newspapers retained the error.
Gary's wife. She ran the medical station in Montevideo.
Candace's boyfriend. Once a roommate of Eric Chamberlain's at Nipissing University, he met Candace through Elizabeth and Eric and bonded with her instantly as, like her, he also had a troubled home life growing up. In Candace's biography on the website, it is said that she and Rudy are domestic partners. Most likely due to their trouble home lives, neither one feels comfortable with being married, but they are shown to be very happy and are thinking of having a child together.
A young woman of Native descent who replaced Elizabeth as the primary grades teacher at the school in Melrose. She was also a childhood friend of Paul Wright. Elizabeth broke off her relationship with Paul when she returned to Melrose a day earlier than planned and found him at Susan's house. In the website official biography, though both Paul and Elizabeth contributed to the breakdown of their relationship, Susan pointedly blamed Elizabeth and believed that Paul's relationship with her did not have anything special.
Elizabeth's favourite teacher during her middle school years. Sharon inspired Elizabeth greatly by building a teaching career despite being a paraplegic (there was an inconsistency in how she acquired her disability: in one strip she states that she was badly injured in a motorcycle crash as a teenager; earlier quotes infer that she was a wheelchair user from early childhood at least). Recently married and became Sharon Taylor.
Michael's former classmate and the son of Keith and Carol Enjo, neighbors of the Pattersons. Moved to Japan and married a Japanese woman, Junko. He and Michael keep in touch via e-mail.
She became Elizabeth's friend when her family moved into Connie Poirier's former home. She was a descendant of Japanese-American immigrants. She became a graphic designer in Minneapolis and married David.
Gerald Forsythe / Delaney (both surnames were used in the strip)
April's boyfriend; also a member of the band 4Evah & Eva. He decided to forego university to become a full-time musician, and accepted Becky's offer to tour with her band for the summer. Gerald and April had many disagreements over such things as how he acted in front of the guys, Gerald's treatment of April's friend Shannon, and how she felt betrayed when he took Becky's offer. Eventually, April concluded that the relationship would not last and, at some point, broke up with Gerald. When it is hinted in the epilogue of the strip that April is living in the countryside with an unnamed boyfriend, it is unlikely that the boyfriend is Gerald, because he had wanted to become famous as a musician.
Replaced Becky McGuire as the keyboard player for 4Evah after she leaves the band.
Classmate of April. In elementary school, he mercilessly bullied her while she countered with an insulting song ("Wormy, germy Jeremy Jones"). The conflict culminated with an incident where Jeremy tried to run April down in a bicycle chase, only to crash into an oncoming car and suffer severe injuries. Because April showed the compassion to stay and call for help, and was the only child to visit him in the hospital, they reached a truce, but tended to avoid each other afterwards.
Melville & Winnie Kelpfroth
They moved into the apartment below Michael and Deanna's at Lovey Saltzman's property. He and his wife had no children and did not like the noise or clutter from the Patterson children, and would bang a broom on the ceiling at any noise from upstairs. Damage done to the ceiling prompted Lovey Saltzman to begin eviction proceedings. Melville smoked a cigar despite the "No Smoking" clause in his tenancy agreement, which led to the fire that destroyed most of the building. After the fire, they were reported to be in "serious condition" and did not appear again in the strip between then and the final original strip in 2008.
Former assistant at Elly's bookstore. April suspected Kortney of assisting in a burglary and was threatened by Kortney when she confronted her. Elly preferred to think well of Kortney and dismissed April's concerns. Moira fired Kortney while Elly was on holiday in Mexico, resulting in Elly having to confront facts such as Kortney embezzling bookstore money and covering it up by forging receipts to nonexistent charities. Kortney retaliated by filing a wrongful termination lawsuit against Elly. The suit was thrown out after it was revealed that Moira's and April's suspicions were correct and that Kortney had indeed been an accessory in a felony theft at the bookstore.
A grade school classmate of Michael who bullied him in his elementary school days. Despite this, he had a soft spot for his hard-working mother. He significantly cleaned up his act as an adult and became a policeman following an enlistment in the Royal Canadian Air Force. Brad investigated a felony theft at Elly's bookstore in the 2000s, at which Elly was surprised to see the mature and handsome young man that he had become, since she had last seen him as a boy who bothered Michael. On Brad's official website biography, it is hinted that Brad's father was very abusive towards his wife, which traumatized the young Brad. His parents since divorced, and his father was in jail. With some determination on his part and some encouragement from a kind police officer, Brad was inspired to be a better man than his father. He is now happily married to his wife, Lisa, and is the proud father of a young son and an infant daughter.
Laurie is a real person living in Northern Ontario, and Lynn put her in the strip as a teaching assistant who helped out at Liz's school on the reserve. Laurie's real-life husband, Perry, and son Falcon also collaborated with Johnston on the Mtigwaki series of strips.
Michael's second girlfriend, whom he met at summer camp. Following the summer's end, Martha and Michael ended up in the same school, but problems arose when Martha was found to be very open about their summer romance. When Michael failed his first driving test, he blamed it on Martha breaking off the relationship just before the test, when she had been asked out by another boy. Though Michael was heartbroken, he realized he had gotten over the breakup rather quickly. When high school graduation loomed, Gordon, who was a friend of Martha's, told Michael that she had regretted breaking up with Michael, and that she should never have left him. In later years, Martha was a divorced mother of twin girls who still lived in Ontario, working for a business near Michael's office. Martha and Michael would have a much better relationship in their adult years, sometimes meeting together for lunch at work. Michael also took advantage of his fiction writing to outline an alternate timeline in which he married Martha, speculating on what their life together might have been like.
A student in Elizabeth's school class at the Cambridge reserve in St. Paul. It was he who brought Elizabeth the abandoned kitten she named Shiimsha (the Japanese word for 'friend', since she was adopted from Japan.)
The New Bentwood Rockers
A jazz band of senior musicians assembled by Jim at the retirement home where he lives. Years earlier, while living in Vancouver, he had formed an earlier band known as the Bentwood Rockers.
The Pattersons' longtime neighbour. For years a housewife and babysitter, in later years she managed the food and catering services at Milborough's Empire Hotel. A close confidante of Elly in the early years of the strip, she began to appear less often, in part because of her perpetually rocky marriage, partly modeled after Johnston's first marriage, which ended in divorce. Anne confronted her husband Steve with her suspicions that was having an affair: he confessed and ended the affair. Though she was obviously hurt, Anne stayed with Steve because she did not believe in divorce. In her biography on the official website, she did give Steve a warning that if he slipped up again, she would leave him and take the children. The Nicholses had three children: Christopher, who was about the same age as Elizabeth, Richard, about three years younger and the first birth to appear in the strip, and Leah, who was best remembered for having been born with six fingers on each hand. Anne's children have all grown up and her son Christopher is now married. While her marriage is not ideal, she is still happy with her husband.
A friend of Lawrence and Nicholas. He was Elizabeth's escort to Anthony's wedding and to a New Year's Eve party at Gord and Tracey's house. Although Dennis claimed to be homosexual, he confided to Elizabeth his feelings for her when he was her date to the wedding.
A surgeon who recruited Deanna for a six-month medical mission to Honduras after she graduated from university in 1999.
Mira Sobinski (named Eva in her earliest appearances)
Deanna's mother, portrayed as obnoxious and over-bearing, although she confessed to Lovey Saltzman that she only wanted her children to have the best in life and the dream wedding that she herself had never had. She delighted in her grandchildren, frequently bringing them new clothes, toys and furniture, despite Deanna's protestations.
Deanna's father; a hardware store owner. He was largely quiet, but at times could be forceful, such as when he bluntly ordered his wife to quit worrying about Deanna and that his daughter and son-in-law were quite capable of handling their own problems without her helicopter parenting. When Michael kicked out Mira after her harping on him for having too small a place to support a second child, Wilfred sided with Michael and ushered Mira out.
"Weed's" long-time photographic assistant, later his girlfriend.
Connie's second husband, and father of Gayle and Molly. Connie met Greg when she was living in Thunder Bay and, after dating for several months, proposed to him. Greg worked for a bank and was transferred to Milborough where he and Connie bought Thelma Baird's former house next door to the Pattersons' home. Gayle and Molly moved to St. Paul with their father and stepmother, but had a difficult relationship with their stepmother and both girls disappeared from the strip; it was later said that Gayle had become a midwife, married an American man and moved to the United States and Molly had left St. Paul years earlier to live with her mother in Thunder Bay. When Lawrence admitted he was gay as a teenager, Greg threw him out of the house, only to reconsider his decision and accept him.
Greg's younger daughter, a stepdaughter to Connie and stepsister to Lawrence. Two story arcs had centered around Molly; the first being her moodiness in adjusting to her father's remarriage and resisting Connie's attempts to bond with her, to which Elly attempted to guide Connie. A second story was when Lawrence told Brian, Gordon and Michael on how to spy on Molly through a tree while she was in her underwear. This resulted in Michael being caught by Molly while Brian and Gordon managed to get away. An enraged Elly read Michael the riot act for spying on women in their underwear and demanded John punish Michael, but John confided in Elly that he cannot be too hard on Michael for hypocrisy on account of him doing the same action at Michael's age. Molly and Gayle spent most of their teenage years giving Connie a hard time as their stepmother. In Connie's biography on the official website, both girls have calmed down during adulthood. They have each married and have children of their own. Both Molly and Gayle accept Connie now more as their children's grandmother.
A high-school classmate of Elizabeth. It was her wedding in the summer of 2007 that set the stage for Elizabeth and Anthony's reunion as a couple.
A policeman with family in Minneapolis and Elizabeth's last boyfriend before her marriage to Anthony. When Elly fell asleep on the drive home to Sartell, Paul and his partner let her spend the night at the police station. Elly showed Paul a large glossy photograph of Elizabeth and, when he discovered that Elly had forgotten her sunglasses at the police station, Paul decided to return them to St. Paul as an excuse to meet Elizabeth. Elly immediately thought of him as "Mr. (W)Right". Paul and Elizabeth were shown in a loving, close relationship, which ended when Elizabeth returned to Mtigwaki a day earlier than expected. She found out that Paul had been cheating on her with Susan Dokis, his childhood friend and the teacher who had replaced Elizabeth after she decided not to renew her teaching contract. On the official website, besides his infidelity with Susan, it is hinted that Paul became distant with her out of jealousy of her close friendship with Anthony.
Lawrence's boyfriend. He was seen only once in the strip at Lawrence's high school graduation. He later left for Paris to study piano at Le Conservatoire and Lawrence decided to end the relationship.
An old English Sheepdog, the Patterson's first family dog. A runt from the last litter of Thelma Baird's dog Lily, Elly felt sorry for the puppy and adopted him. Farley grew up alongside Michael and Elizabeth, later siring a litter of his own with the neighbour's dog Sera, resulting in his son, Edgar. Farley died shortly after rescuing April from the creek near the Patterson's home.
Johnston named Farley for the American author Farley Mowat due, in part, to the author's resemblance to the puppy. When Mowat confirmed with Johnston that he was the Patterson puppy's namesake, he requested and received an original strip in recompense. Mowat hung the strip above his toilet, "so the men would read it!"
Old English Sheepdog/Labrador Retriever mixed breed, the Patterson's second family dog, and offspring of Farley and Sera. He was part of April's rescue by barking to warn the family. After Farley's heroic death, Edgar was promoted to the family dog position, and used to be at odds with the rabbit Mr. B from time to time. (Johnston often compares his character to Don Knotts)
Shetland Sheepdog, the Patterson's third family dog. Originally Grandpa Jim's dog, Elly took her in after she moved into a senior residence. Dixie still misses Grandpa Jim, but has settled down into the Patterson home, taking the role as Edgar's devout follower - wherever he goes, whatever he does, she copies.
Labrador Retriever, the Poirier's family dog. Connie bought her as a puppy while waiting for the day when she would have grandchildren of her own to play with. After Lawrence's confession of being gay, Connie took her husband's words to heart - "Que sera sera" - and named the puppy "Sera". Sera gave birth to a litter of puppies sired by Farley, one of them adopted by the Pattersons and named Edgar. Her current status is unknown, although given the linear timeline of the script she is most likely deceased.
Old English Sheepdog, Thelma Baird's dog and Farley's mother. From her last litter, the Pattersons adopted the runt - as Thelma called him - and named him Farley. Shortly after Farley's adoption, Lily died of old age, contributing slightly to Thelma's move into a seniors' complex.
Elizabeth and April Patterson's large white rabbit. He got his name from April when no one would give him one and he needed one because "if he got lost how would he know who he is?". When staying with relatives at their farm in Manitoba, they introduced her to one of their favorite rural pastimes, the auction, to which Elizabeth bid on and won a rabbit. When she returned home Elizabeth took the rabbit with her. Michael named him for the jokes, and April took responsibility over him when Elizabeth did not want the hassle. Mr. B was named Furgus by Becky McGuire because of how much fur he sheds. Mr. B was sometimes at odds with the family dogs. He enjoyed chewing on telephone and electrical cords, often getting a shock in the process. Mr. B died in April's arms in 2002.
April Patterson's second rabbit, named for her colouring. After April's school friends found that Mr. B had died, they informed her that a schoolmate was looking for someone to take his pet rabbit. April adopted the rabbit and took her home. Though more delicate than Mr. B, Butterscotch proved to be equally - or even more - full of mischief, had a bad habit of emptying her cage's wood chips onto the floor, and started to get the hang of taking on the dogs as Mr. B once did. Butterscotch also fell in love with Elly's bunny slippers, either following Elly everywhere when she uses them, or "playing" with them when they were in the closet.
One of the horses on Bev and Dan Cruikshank's farm that Elizabeth Patterson rode during her stay with them.
Elizabeth Patterson's cat. Though her breed was never clearly identified by the strip, many readers speculated she was a gray tabby mix. Discovered as a stray kitten by Elizabeth's student Jesse, he manipulated Elizabeth to take her in. Initially unreceptive to the expense, messes and shedding hair, Elizabeth came to enjoy her cat. (Shiimsa, pronounced "SHEEM-sah", means "little animal friend" in Japanese.) Shiimsa moved back to St. Paul with Elizabeth but whether Shiimsa remained at the Patterson family home with the other pets or moved to Anthony's house after Elizabeth's marriage was not shown.
Not a person but a grinning, six-inch, anatomically correct figurine with bendable plastic limbs and suction cups. Josef "Weed" Weeder, a photographer who often works with Michael, regarded "Ned" as his tongue-in-cheek mascot, as did Michael, and they kept him in the apartment they shared when they were students together at the University of Western Ontario. Originally a naked man which annoyed an old lady neighbor of theirs; Michael and Josef added a pair of swim trunks to Ned in an attempt to get her off their backs. When Weed fell in love with his assistant, Carleen Stein, he gave Ned to Carleen, to Michael's dismay, who demanded him back as he felt that Weed did not value what Ned stood for: he was their 'futility symbol'. Meredith flushed Ned down the toilet, but his fate remained unknown until late November/early December 2006, when Robin flushed Michael's socks down the toilet. A plumber had to be called, and in unclogging the toilet found not only the socks but also Ned. As a result of this incident, Weed once again claimed Ned.