It is with heavy hearts that we announce the peaceful passing of our mother Cecile on Wednesday, July 22nd, 2020, in Peterborough at the age of 93. She had a life full of love, music and laughter. Cecile had a long successful marriage of 62 years to her husband George (predeceased). Together they had 6 children, 12 grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren.
Loving mother of Dale (Merilyn); George (Nancy); Lori (Jim); and the late Colleen Goods, Darlene, and Darrell. Dear mother in law of Richard (Karin). Dear Grandma of Leigh-Ann (Steve), Andrea (Eric), Kim (Greg), Sharon (Byron), Kevin, Matthew (Rebecca), Jocelyn (Jordan), Adam (Aran), Nicole, Natalie, Ian and Ben. Great Grandma of Morgan, Meghan, Jack, Ren, Riley, Andrew, Tanner, Ayla, Autumn, and Tessa. Cecile is survived by her two sisters (Agnes and Teresa), both in their 90s, and was a beloved Aunt to many nieces and nephews.
Cecile was unfailingly positive and known for her beautiful and constant smile.
Born in Sudbury, Cecile grew up in the bush, at a CN rail stop called Bayswater just north of the French River. With no school in the little community, she, along with 4 siblings, travelled starting at the age of 8 to Sudbury for their education. They were closely knit, living in an orphanage far from home and schooled by nuns. This experience highlighted her talent and interest in music. Cecile always talked about singing every weekend on CKSO radio.
Returning to Bayswater to care for her ill mother, Cecile met her future husband, George. He was a shy bachelor – 10 years her senior. Her French “joie de vivre” and lively family were a counter point to his staid Irish/English upbringing. They married shortly after the war, in 1947, taking the train to honeymoon in Toronto. He would do anything for his “princess”. Each Christmas he would search out a beautiful fancy new dress for her and always told her how beautiful she was. She’d had 5 children, losing one (Darlene) at 10 months, by the time she was 25. Thrilled to finally leave the small log home in Bayswater, when George’s job took them to Sudbury, she’d had enough of raising 3 babies with no running water or electricity.
The old train station in Coniston became a cozy home. With Cecile’s 4 siblings and their 18 children nearby, it was a lively, happy time. Her social network blossomed with church, children, school activities, and selling Avon. She was skilled in make-up and conversation and became a sought-after companion by many women for beauty advice and “coffee-talk”. George was the main breadwinner, but she managed all of the family’s financial affairs very successfully.
Summers were spent back in Bayswater. Cecile would organize the now 5 children and supplies and take the “Mix – a short train – ½ freight and ½ passengers back to “the camp” as soon as school was out, returning to Coniston near the end of August. Solo during the week (albeit with a close-knit summer community including her parents and other family and friends), she managed child care, wood chopping, cooking and cleaning. Water was heated on the woodstove to fill the one tin bathtub; pity the last child in who got the dirtiest water. Laundry was done at the lake. Running water was now sending the nearest child running to the well with a pail. She loved to pick blueberries. Her pies - baked in a McLaren wood cookstove were deliciously perfect. And she was the “go to” person for fish cleaning - sometimes up to 10 bass and “barbottes” (catfish) each night.
Moving to Parry Sound in 1967, Cecile missed her family and found few francophones, but her giving nature led her into many social circles. She was a lifelong volunteer with the CWL, the Hospital Auxiliary, her St. Joe’s music group - performing with friends for long-term care residents. She was also was involved in supporting young mothers. She was a self-taught musician and among her proudest accomplishments was her decades spent as church organist. She espoused, “buy local” before it was mainstream, always supporting downtown Parry Sound businesses, saying, “if you don’t support them regularly, they won’t be there when you need them”.
A reader, knitter and seamstress – Cecile’s embroidery was finely done. She was able to remake hand-me-down coats to last another winter and also create beautiful new dresses, bonnets and even doll’s clothes. Cecile is remembered for quickly making several full-length heritage dresses for wear in a community centennial parade in 1967.
No special days went uncelebrated: birthdays, anniversaries, St. Patrick’s Day (cake with green icing!) and Valentine’s Day (cake with pink icing!!). She orchestrated gatherings and celebrations to knit her family and friends together.
Cecile cherished her children and grandchildren and was heartbroken to lose two more children before their time (Colleen and Darrell). Each summer she accommodated many grandchildren for weeks on end, joyfully feeding them, playing cards and games (Cribbage, Trouble, Crokinole), and walking each evening around town to various playgrounds. Summer memories for all - ice cream cones included! She always reflected: “it’s a good kind of tired”!
Extremely resilient and optimistic, Cecile was talkative (in French and English), and intuitive. A treasured friend, who always saw the best in everyone, she was the family matriarch in every sense of the word. She stayed in touch via her “lifeline” – with legendary phone bills and almost daily newsy letters. Her sense of family, community, her successful marriage and volunteerism all instilled strong values in her immediate and extended family.
We will always remember her saying, “if you are having a bad day, know that tomorrow will always be better”.
She would want us to talk, laugh and sing. And that’s what we will do.
Visitation will take place at the Logan Funeral Home (705-746-5855), 81 James Street, Parry Sound. Funeral Mass will take place at St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Parry Sound, 52 Church Street, Parry Sound, followed by interment at Sylvan Acres Cemetery.
COVID Restrictions require us to limit attendance at the funeral mass for social distancing and to have a list in advance of all attendees. If you have not already been contacted by the family, please let Logan’s staff know and they will confirm space for you to attend.
Donations in honour of Cecile, would be most appreciated to the following organizations:
Juvenile Diabetes Foundation https://www.jdrf.ca
Alzheimers Society https://alzheimer.ca/en/Home
Fairhaven Long Term Care https://www.fairhavenltc.com/fairhaven-foundation/
My deepest condolences are sent to Cecile’s family and friends during this difficult time. It was a pleasure getting to know Cecile and sharing many smiles, songs and laughs together over the past few years. I will certainly miss her lovely smile.
May she rest peacefully.
Very sorry for you loss. She was an exceptional lady.-Betsy H
To Lori and Jim and family So sorry to hear of your mother’s passing My thoughts are with you in this time of loss.-Kelly Stevenson
Dear Lori and family , my sincere condolences. I thought of your mother often always with a smile on my face. Maybe I can see you at the visitation. My thoughts and prayers are with you. Merri-Anne-Merri-Anne Agnello
Thinking of you and your family at this sad time.-Susan purves
Dear Lori,Jim,Ian and Ben sorry to hear of your loss. Beautiful written details of your mother’s life she was unique, talented and amazing woman. May your memories of her help you at this time.-Brenda Degreef
No one is more precious than a mother. I share your sense of loss.
Lori, so sorry for your loss and at the same time we should all be so lucky to have a long life like her as well as your lifetime enjoying it with her.
Reading through she puts all of us to shame with the breadth of her full life accomplishments from the get go...
I never knew this dear lady but what a wonderful account of her long and interesting life. I really enjoyed reading this account immensely. Blessings on you all as you mourn her loss.-Patricia Poole
Dear Lori and Family,
Such a full and happy life your Mom had! Always helping and supporting others. Cecile and I shared office space while she was supporting young Moms - I always looked forward to our interesting conversations- an inspiration to all!
My most sincere condolences.
Cec (O’Callaghan) Barks