Mary Ward Morgan Darling 1921 – 2011

My mom.  This get’s a bit harder now to write.  Her death is more recent and I have such an abundance of material and personal memories to choose from…

Marie Ward (Feb 22, 1921 – Sept 13, 2011) was the first child of Sydney and Mary Ward.  Her brother Charles was born a year later and Sydney (Bud) 6 years later, all in Montreal. She was baptized on April 14 at Chalmers Presbyterian Church in Verdun.

Mary Ward circa 1935

In 1921 Canada’s population was 8,787,949, a litre of gas cost $0.08, William Lyon Mackenzie King becomes Prime Minister and the Ottawa Senators beat Vancouver in the Stanley Cup (yea!).  Rocket Richard was born this year and it is also George Washington’s birthday.

She was a happy child it seems.  She had two younger brothers to care for and loving parents. They had a black terrier called Tarbush. Notre Dame de Grace was a growing English suburb of Montreal to live in.  She had lot’s of friends.  She went to a local grade school and Kensington First Presbyterian Church.  The family would sit around the radio at night listening to Buster Keaton.  On Sunday, Pop would take them all for a drive and then it would be roast beef for dinner.
Her Ward grandparents were frequent visitors and she must have gone to their place often too. Not sure about where Grandma Finnie lived then, but I am sure she was in young Mary’s life too.

Appears to be Mary and Charles circa 1927 around the time Bud was born.

Circa 1929

Life was not always perfect though. One day Mary did a handstand in the living room, toppled over and put her feet through the lampshade!  Her parents were furious! She spent Christmas 1928 in the hospital recovering from treatment for Ménière`s disease, an inner ear disorder that causes vertigo. In 1937 she had been selected at school to go to the Coronation of George VI in London:
When she told Pop, he felt Charles should go instead, not her.  Charles went and she didn’t.  She must have felt deflated and hurt over this.  During summer the family would usually go to Cape Cod (Mrs. Crotchet’s Cottages, Pine Lodge on the Ottawa R. near Bristol, PQ or to the Laurentians for a family vacation.

Mary circa 1937

In June 1938 she graduated with her Eleventh Year Certificate in the Academic and General stream from West Hill High School.  In 1939 she was a chorus member in the school production of The Pirates of Penzance and received her Twelfth Year Certificate   However, she had to go to summer school that year to upgrade her math to passing grade.  She then spent one year in Arts at McGill. She had always been interested in art – painting.  At that point I believe she contemplated a career as a commercial artist and enrolled in art school for 6 months.  I have paintings dated from 1939 an earlier as well as oodles of sketch books and raw unfinished paintings if anyone is interested. Not exactly sure what happened but she subsequently decided on a career in nursing.  It may be that she was merely waiting to get into the school in April 1940.  In Feb 1943 she graduated from the Montreal General Hospital winning the Webster prize for the highest aggregate standing in Special Services over three years.  In April she passed fifth out of 120 in the her R.N. exam for the Province of Quebec.

Mary, 2nd last row, 5th from right
Nurse Mary
At Cafe Esquire with Al Davis RNCVR and friends Sept 1942

After working as an R.N. in the MGH’s OR, she joined the Navy in May 1944.  The war years brought turmoil, adventure, love and tragedy – and lot’s of great parties.  Mary was sent to Shelburne, NS to work in the naval hospital tending to the wounded. It was while there that she met Alfred Morgan, RCNR (my dad) who was stationed at Fort Pepperrel in St. John’s, Nfld. in Signals.  Not sure how or where they met, likely at one of those great parties.  Mom was also dating an Al Davis.  She received a post card one day saying “See you on Saturday……A.”  She did not know if it was Alfred or Alan and was of afraid to mention it to either one in case it was the other A. LOL!  I forget which A it was but my vote is for Alf.  I remember her telling me how great the parties were!!  On the other hand, she had a scrap book of newspaper clippings about many friends who never came back from the war.

Official Opening of RCN Hospital HMCS Shelburne April 1945 (Mary 3rd from right)
Alfred David Morgan circa 1944

She married Alfred of Ottawa on December 29, 1945 at Kensington Presbyterian Church in Montreal.  Margaret Dewar was Maid of Honour and Howard Jones, Best Man.  They went to NYC for their honeymoon at the Waldorf -Astoria Hotel (I think).  They then moved to Toronto so Alf could study law at Osgoode Hall.  Mary worked as a store nurse for Simpson’s and possibly as a stenographer to pay the bills.  They lived at 142 Wellesley St. E., Apt. 59.  After graduation and articling they moved to Ottawa where Alf got a job with the Bank of Canada. The Division he worked for closed down shortly after but he got a job with the Ottawa Legal Department through Don Diplock a buddy from McGill.

Left to right, Rev., Sydney, Grandma Morgan, Burt Morgan, Margaret Dewar, Howard Jones, Charles, Mary, Alfred, Nana, Bud, Rev. Grandpa Morgan
Marries Alfred Morgan, Montreal 1945

David Ward Morgan is born April 23, 1950 when they lived on Mayfair Ave in Ottawa.  Kimberley Anne is born on November 8, 1953 after they had moved further west in town to 905 Mountainview Ave., in spring of 1952:

905 Mountain View Ave Spring 1953

David and Mary Sept 1950
Mary, Kim and David, 1954

In 1952, they had a modest bungalow built at 905 Mountain View Ave in Ottawa’s growing west end.
I can remember it well.  Mary was the proverbial stay at home mother and we were well cared for by her and dad.

Growing Family

In 1958, we all moved to a new house built especially for us at 2300 Georgina Dr. on a section of our sub-divided lot around the corner. In 1963, our house and Mom were the subject of an article in the Ottawa Journal Your Home weekend section.  It was quite a splash.  Mom had apparently planned the layout (split level with 3 bedrooms), did all the painting and wall papering, filled it with paintings and proudly showed it all off. Kim and I got to revisit the house when it was up for sale in about 2007.  It still looked great.  Below, 2300 Georgina Dr., Oct 1957.

2300 Georgina Drive, Oct 57

Mom in the 2300 Georgina Dr. Exposé (I still have the painting over the fireplace and the table next to the TV)

Below, view out back of 2300 Georgina Drive, May 1959.Backyard view 2300 Georgina Dr, May 1959

Mary was a founding member of St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church.    The church started off in D. Roy Kennedy Public School in 1955 with a dozen families and 20 children in Sunday School.  In 1958 Rev Bill Duffy takes over and energizes the congregation.  On Jan 6 1960, they opened their own church building next door to the school.  The construction costs were $115,000 and made used of evolutionary double T-bar pre-cast concrete beams so that there was no need for view obstructing columns inside.  I remember Mom teaching Sunday school and bringing the collection home to be counted for years.  She later worked as the church secretary, became a Trustee and wrote a history of the church in 1996.  In 2002 they added a second floor for increased Sunday school use purposes. She stayed in touch with the Duffys after they moved to Kingston in 1977 and later retired.  She was an avid “weight watcher” and attended slim and trim classes over many years.

Tragically Alfred died of cancer at age 44 in 1965.  We were all devastated.  Mary had to learn to live alone again, get a real paying job and get her driving license.  She left her church secretary job and went to Ottawa Teachers College in Sept 1966.  One year later on May 1967 she signed a contract to teach Home Economics for the Ottawa School Board being paid $4500 per year on probation. She taught full time at W.E Gowling School for 3 years while continuing to upgrade her skills during summers in Toronto.  She loved home economics but I remember her telling me that some of the students didn’t, making her life difficult.  We survived.

On August 22, 1970 she married Howard Jackson Darling, a widower a few years her senior.  Howard had 3 teenagers at the time: Alan (18), Francie (16) and Kevin (13).  Kim (17) was in grade 12 and I (20) was at U of Waterloo. They went to B.C and California on honeymoon.  Returning they each sold their family houses and all moved into 2130 Strathmore Blvd. in Ottawa’s west end.  Mom sold 2300 Georgina Dr. for $32,500 which had been originally mortgaged for $13,200 in December 1961.  Howard was a highly educated man having graduated from U of Toronto in 1936 with a B.Comm.. He was a consultant in transportation economics having just left the Federal Gov. Department of Transport.  Mom reduced her teaching to one day a week to look after the blended family.

(Photo to come)

Christmas 1971 was the first modern Ward family reunion with the Darlings, Claudia, Susan, Alison, Francia, Bud, Joan, Alan, Anne, Nana, Joan and Mrs Vincent all coming to Ottawa.  In 1972, Uncle Ed brought Nana to Ottawa and regaled everyone with family stories. It was a hectic time taking care of all those teenage kids!  Mary and Howard traveled extensively to Europe, the United states and all over Canada to help keep their spirits high.

Right to left: Sydney (Uncle Bud) Ward, Susan Ward, Joan Vincent (Aunt Joan) Ward, Alan Ward, Kim Morgan (Darling), Mary Ward Darling, David Morgan (Darling), Claudia Ward, Mary (Nana) Ward, Howard Jackson Darling, Anne Ward, Mrs. Vincent (Joan’s mother), Kevin Darling, Alison Ward, (missing Francine Darling, Allan Darling who likely took photo)
Retake with Alan Darling in upper left and Aunt Francis Ward 2nd from right.
With Howard circa 1975 Vancouver

Unfortunately Howard died suddenly too, in his case of a heart attack in February 1977.  Mary’s life was thrust into turmoil again.  However being the strong woman she had become, she recovered, sold the Stathmore Blvd house and moved into state of the art Ambleside Drive apartment2011 on the 20th floor overlooking the Ottawa R..  There she spent some 20 happy productive years.

View from 2011-1171 Ambleside Dr.

Mary became President of the Ottawa Civic Hospital Auxiliary in 1982  That year their Million Dollar Fund went over the top and there were more than 1000 volunteers!  Main Street, a unique concept for a shopping mall situated in a hospital, was opened in Nov 1983. Mayor Marion Dewar gave the ceremonial opening remarks and Mom gave the closing ones. The money needed to construct and equip it had been raised by the Auxiliary and Foundation through fundraisers such as Rich Little and Frank Sinatra coming to town and activities below.  She received a warm letter of congratulations and appreciation from Peter Carruthers, President. He stated that in completing the $1 million pledge and opening s hopping mall in a hospital, they had done what no other Auxiliary had done to his knowledge in Canada or the U.S..

Fundraising in 1981
Heavy Hitter Benefit Concert

She was also a volunteer art instructor for the Ottawa Handicapped Association for many years, helped the Alzheimer Association and in 1963 was residential district team leader for the Community Chest, precursor of the Ottawa United Way.

Perley Tea Mom

Receiving an Award 1984
Easter Celebration with friend Mary Campbell 1990s

She hosted a Canadian Family Get Together reunion in Ottawa July 1995 at which there was sight seeing on the Hill, some golf I think, whitewater rafting and a famous 3 foot long sub-sandwich picnic.  Hosted a Leap Year Tea in 2004 for Ottawa area family.  Caroline and Steve hosted a great family reunion in Reno, NV in June 2000. Claudia and Aunt Francis did the same on Vancouver Island in 2005.  However, Mary was not as mobile as she used to be and was unable to attend.
But she had continued to travel in the 1980s and 90s.

At Anne Ward and Dan Surette s wedding 1991
On Alaskan Cruise

In 2000 she was diagnosed with colon cancer.  She had surgery and was able to return to a normal life.  It did take a toll on her though. She sold Ambleside Dr. for $167k in August 2002 after having moved into the Stillwater Creek Retirement Home.  There she spent 10 happy years leading the spelling bee, current events and duplicate bridge club.  She welcomed the family many times to dinners and special events.  Sadly she passed away in 2011 at age 90 of cancer that was perhaps related to her earlier battle with it.  Many tributes poured in at her funeral at St. Paul’s.  She is interred with Alf in Pinecrest Cemetery.  She was never a burden and carried herself proudly to the end.  Thank you Mom for all your love and all your example for us over so many many years

90th Birthday
Final Celebration
Left to right Kyle Morgan, Marie Morgan, David Morgan, Kim Morgan Henderson, Nicholas Henderson, Cindy, Allan Darling, Kevin Darling, Cyndy Darling, Michelle Moore Farncombe, Ann Ward Surette, Rev. , Fr Jack Lau, OMI

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

One response to “Mary Ward Morgan Darling 1921 – 2011

  1. Pingback: Montreal Visit – Day 1 | mattersofthemoment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s