Animals all over the region are less fortunate today, because this is the weekend we said goodbye to Edie Madigan.
Edith Payne was only nine when her parents moved to Canada from Britain, to start a new life here. The vivacious young woman, giggling at work with her other female cohorts… was teased about the young fella who kept hanging around. The ‘young fella’ also worked at Dominion Store in Toronto and just as World War Two began, the kibbitzing turned to love and they got married.
Leo and Edie Madigan had their first of three children born in Toronto and then Leo took a job with Westons Bakery and followed Edie’s parents to Barrie where her father had found work.
And that move, first to an apartment at 32 Frances St., resulted in their buying their lifelong family home at #10 Perry St and initiating fourth child, Michael, into the world. From Perry St, Leo and Edie ran their lives… and it’s only now with Edie’s passing this week that her children are getting a full sense of her contributions to this part of the world. Stable. Solid. Leo walked the half block to the General Electric plant to work. Edie tried to keep her eyes and hands on four kids all running different directions… when Ron and David weren’t in the school yard next to GE, they were finding treasures, building forts, and frollicking in the wild woods of Audrey Milligan’s ponds that ran from Perry St across the back of industrial buildings, and ultimately under Innisfil St. to the back of the GE building that is now Barrie by the Bay.
It was an innocent time when kids came home when the streetlights came on and parents didn’t worry about where they were.
All four Madigan kids–Patricia, Ron, David, Michael–attended Prince of Wales, then St Mary’s School and then on to Central Collegiate for their higher learning.
In 1954 when Edie and Leo went to Toronto for a once-in-a-blue-moon concert, they were prevented from returning because Hurricane Hazel had flooded roadways.
After the kids got a little more independent, Edie branched out and in 1957 took over running the food concession booth at the Barrie arena, instant part time jobs for the Madigan kids! Edie was that anchor at the rink, there to hand out sponge toffee to all the skaters, there to hand hot coffee to hockey moms. Edith Madigan raised her kids and started to give to her community.
With a soft, gravelly voice, she commandeered responsibility up the street at Royal Victoria Hospital where her talents found ready hands in the newly formed RVH Auxiliary. She worked diligently with Jean Gable and a crew of eager beavers who bettered life for everyone at RVH, staff and patients alike. When Del Pugh and Jean Gable and young Andrea Cohen were planning the Auxiliary dinner, Edie was right there, making table decorations, raising money, coming up with new ways to assist the hospital.
Even though Barrie has quadrupled in size, RVH still remains community driven, and it’s to Edie’s credit, and those of her ilk that this heart and soul of health care has remained locally focussed.
The Madigan’s fenced back yard was a den of animals. You’d stop in the driveway and all the dogs would come bounding towards the side gate. Dogs. Dogs. Cats. Cats. Edie’s four kids, their partners, seven grandchildren and nine great grandchildren were reminiscing on Thursday, trying to name each of the dozens of pets the kids grew up with! “I never heard my mom say a bad thing about an animal,” commented Ron on Thursday morning.
It was natural that Edie would be drawn to the energy of Marion Fell and her loving commitment to abandoned pets in Barrie. Through their energy (and that of other committed board members) the Animal Shelter took shape on Patterson Rd. Brick by brick, board members sold raffle tickets, held bake sales, and Edie stood out in all kinds of weather selling tags. She worked hard for the Humane Society and received a 22 year plaque for her efforts.
When Leo died from cancer in 1997, life for Edith Madigan took a different spin. And while she remained bright and cheerful, it was a big, lonely house. Her kids were relieved when she moved up the street to Simcoe Terrace, right across the road from the first family home on Frances St. And then in 2000, as her health began to let go, she moved into the loving arms of the folks at the IOOF Home.
Last week, Edie’s self got weak. Her heart beat slower. Her arms felt heavy. Her kids, all of them–sons, daughter, grandchildren, greatgrandchildren, gathered in the circle of love that she always had for everyone. They said goodbye. And as the light flickered in Edie Madigan, it grew stronger across the community of people who knew her. What does she represent? A commitment to the place she chose to call home.
It’s that simple.