In Memory of

Margaret

Mary

Shearer

(Barclay)

Obituary for Margaret Mary Shearer (Barclay)

February 15, 1938 – April 6, 2023

Margaret (Peggy) Mary Shearer (née MacKenzie Barclay) died as she lived: facing uncertainty with unwavering strength and determination.

Recently diagnosed with a cardiac aortic aneurysm; Margaret chose surgery rather than engaging in what she dubbed “a never-ending game of Russian Roulette”. She fully intended to continue to live life to the fullest and filled with laughter, more often than not the result of her quick wit and sarcastic quips. Mum’s life was made enjoyable by her love of reading, completing a novel a day at minimum. Mum loved her weekly trips “into town” to be “coiffed” by hairdresser extraordinaire - followed by lunch with a group of cherished friends. Our household rule was that the daily newspaper was strictly off limits until the crossword puzzle had been removed. Each month Mum looked forward to the arrival of Majesty magazine which was immediately read cover to cover. While reading, any attempt at conversation would immediately be shushed. Peggy was also famous for her culinary skills: otherwise known as “making reservations”, a talent at which she excelled.

Margaret died peacefully with her daughters and son-in-law by her side; the room filled with the sound of an aria that she found beautifully poignant “La Mamma Morta” sung by her beloved Maria Callas.

Margaret is survived by her husband William (Bill), daughters Elizabeth and Faith, son-in-law Michael, sisters Lorraine and Harle, David and Kim - cousins she held very close to her heart, and many members of her large family; some of whom are actually speaking to one another.

Margaret was predeceased by her infant son Benjamin, parents Lance and Ethel, adored Aunts Margaret “Perkie” and Helen, Uncle Arthur “Fergie”, brother Vaughn, brothers-in-law Andy and Howard, nephews Del and Ritchie, other much-loved relatives from both the Barclay and Shearer clans, and friends who had become family; most notably Derek, Barbara and Ken.

Born and raised in Galt, (she flatly refused to acknowledge her hometown’s change of name) as a school-girl Peggy studied a map of Europe and decided that one day she would live in Germany. She then proceeded to learn to speak German, put herself through Teacher’s College, and applied to teach on the Royal Canadian Air Force Bases in Lahr and Baden Baden. In 1963, a small-town girl left all that was familiar and sailed to Europe, with debilitating seasickness that lasted the entire voyage.

It was in Deutschland that Peggy met debonair, Porsche driving, ski loving Bill who she married in 1968. Bill and Peggy returned to Canada in 1972 with their daughter Beth. Immediately after their homecoming, a summer cottage on Lake Couchiching became their first home. Unique due to the field stone waterfront, Peggy first spotted the property while leading a group of campers canoeing on the lake while working as a counsellor at Camp Wahanowin. That it would belong to her family was nothing short of a dream come true. Summers spent at the cottage are filled with memories that can only be described as magical by an endless stream of visiting friends and relatives.

While working on a military base, fellow personnel quickly became family. This mindset became second nature. Margaret’s friendships were her strength and stay. She enjoyed reminiscing about times gone by with childhood friend Mary, countless hours solving the world’s problems over bottles of red wine with “third daughter” Kerry, hours-long telephone chats with Allen, the close-knit circle of friends met after retiring to the Blue Mountains, not to mention the many friendships forged during decades teaching for the Scarborough Board of Education.

A career that began in a one room schoolhouse touched the lives of innumerable students with whom she shared her love of learning and unquenchable quest for knowledge. A voracious reader, Margaret could converse with ease about virtually any subject, most notably her extensive travels, opera, classical music, not to mention a seemingly encyclopedic knowledge of literature. Attempting to one up Margaret while discussing authors and their works was an exercise in futility.

A staunch monarchist that vividly remembered the school principal announcing the King’s death - telling the assembled students that in all likelihood it would be the last time they would sing God Save the King in their lifetime, a prophecy that did not come to fruition; Mum harboured deep love and admiration for Her Late Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II; and was considerably less than thrilled about the prospect of King Charles III ascending the throne. Perhaps leaving this mortal coil mere weeks before the coronation may be viewed as her ultimate protest.

It is impossible to sum up a life that was so richly lived in mere paragraphs. The shocking news of Mum’s death was met with disbelief by all who knew her. Margaret was never particularly fond of cats; yet seemingly had nine lives. Virtually bionic with her various “spare parts” she also had countless other surgeries, which resulted in frequent flier status at hospitals throughout Southern Ontario. All who knew her shared the belief that although serious, this was just another surgery that she would sail through. The news of her death seems unfathomable. Quite simply, Margaret’s presence will be missed beyond all measure by all who knew and loved her.

Ever pragmatic, Mum believed in the simple eloquence of these words written by Michael Landon with all of her heart:

"Remember me with smiles and laughter, for that's the way I'll remember you all. If you can only remember me with tears, then don't remember me at all."

While initially it will invariably be laughter through tears – we will do our best.

By request (strict orders) there will be no visitation or funeral. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to Southlake Medical Centre, the Heart and Stroke Foundation, your local library or literacy foundation be made in her name.