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Publication: Globe and Mail, The add link
Issue: 14 November 2007, page L6
Web Link: link



November 14, 2007

Homemaker, wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, social worker, church and community volunteer, friend. Born Dec. 15, 1907, in Wabigoon, Ont. Died May 10 in Toronto of natural causes, aged 99.

In Ottawa in the 1940s, whenever our mother felt strongly about an issue, she would head for the stack of postage-paid postcards inside her desk drawer and quickly send off a word of praise or a suggestion to a particular person, organization or government official.

As a child in Winnipeg, where her father owned a successful lumber business, Marguerite soon became aware of a troubled world; in later years, she still had vivid memories of the General Strike of 1919. Her own sense of community was developed largely through her church.

When only 17, she met Frank Fidler at a church skating party. Frank abandoned a career in engineering to become a United Church minister. Marguerite obtained an MA in sociology from McGill University and became a social worker.

In 1934, they began married life together in Toronto, where Frank was associate minister at Bloor Street United Church. The war years were spent at Glebe United Church in Ottawa, where Marguerite provided hospitality to many soldiers and visitors. In 1949, they moved back to Toronto.

Marguerite managed a household of four children (Joan, Richard, Anne, Burtt) and hosted foreign students, church dignitaries and friends of the children. She encouraged lively discussions, and while she had very definite opinions, she responded to individuals and committees alike with affirmation, encouragement, compassion and wise counsel. She and Frank were part of the early years of the Vanier Institute of the Family and the Canadian wing of Planned Parenthood. They travelled widely, including a year studying marriage and family life around the world.

Marguerite also volunteered in a variety of church and community organizations. At 91, she decided to step down from her remaining committee responsibilities. She felt that she had been "privileged to have had so many opportunities and adventures in life."

When Frank died and she entered a seniors' residence, Marguerite's new experiences continued - such as keeping in touch with Jasmin, a young Iranian student from a local school who had returned home. When recently asked what she thought of aging she chuckled: "I approve of it! You have to be yourself and keep on growing. Have lots to think about, lots of interests. Stick with the young."

She did just that and she continued writing those letters, urging her MP to do something.

Joan Fidler Burrows is one of Marguerite's daughters; she wrote this with family collaboration.