Margot’s legacy will give forever

When Margot Oswald met Wayne Anderson, they were both in the beginning of their teaching careers. She was at Banting Memorial High School in Alliston, Phys Ed and Art. Wayne was teaching Phys Ed and History at North Collegiate in Barrie.

They met at a track and field meet where he was at the starter’s gate for long distance running and she was officiating at the high jumping arena.

They married in 1971 and Margaret was delighted to take Wayne’s name. Since Lee Harvey Oswald was convicted of killing American President John F. Kennedy, Margaret’s surname had been a burden to her. Her family grew up in Toronto, at Avenue Rd and St Clements AV. Margot was one of five girls, two sets of twins. Her oldest sister Jean lives in Montreal. Her twin sister Mary lives in Nanaimo. The youngest set of Oswald twins, Bonnie and Beth, pursued careers in art and education.

So Margot Anderson, graduate of the Ontario College of Art, continued her art and teaching career, and in the process produced literally hundreds of canvasses, ink drawings, collages… works that in their own right have recorded our community’s past and present. She inspired four generations of students at Banting and Eastview S.S. in Barrie to pursue careers in creativity. She produced paintings which ultimately went onto the walls of every Journey’s End hotel in this part of the world.

In the four year sabbatical she took from teaching, Margot devoted herself to her own art. Her love of old buildings found its way into pen and ink drawings that now form a valuable record of Barrie buildings loved and gone. The old Court House. The Jail. Original RVH. Barrie’s original Market Building which later became City Hall. Our Train Station (not the one in Allandale). And the Allandale Station. Our original Post Office. Houses of historic note. 13 pieces in all.

And on and on.

Last November (2002) Margot drew her last art piece, a drawing on a card which she made for Mary Ellen Love. The oncology nurse had been kind in assisting Margot with a new ileostomy bag, the result of surgery for malignant bowel blockages. Margot was grateful. And in her sunny way she gave to Mary Ellen what was to be her final work of art.

Margot died days later, felled by undetected ovarian cancer. She had battled illness, dealt with exploratory surgery which revealed cancerous blockages in the upper and lower bowel, nodules that were unaffected by chemotherapy. This non-smoking, non-drinking, newly retired art teacher was not to see her 61st birthday. Felled.

But not her spirit. Her husband Wayne expressed his amazement at her spirit, her positive nature, her determination, her gentle acceptance of her last and final days. He granted her final wish to avoid sombre funeral proceedings and threw open the Shrine Centre for a party, a celebration that embodied Margot’s life, not her death. Hundreds of her friends and former students caught her spirit in style.

Next weekend, May 24, the second celebration of Margot’s life begins when her works of art go on sale, almost all proceeds going to oncology, and cancer treatment needs at RVH.

Since Margot’s death in November, John Bearcroft and his wife, Judy, have been working to catalogue her art work, sorting, numbering, recording, auditing all the pieces that, framed and unframed, will be offered for sale. They’ve been helped by Margot’s colleagues from Barrie Art Club.

Her historic prints will be offered in sets and will complement the work of the Barrie Historical Society. A calendar will be offered for 2004 with proceeds going to BHS.

Her pictures, her water colours, her collage work will be sold with all funds going to RVH.

Framed. Unframed. These works will be available through the picture framing studio opened recently by Margot’s friend, Barb Campbell. Carriage House Picture Framing Studio at 110 Anne St S (at Brock St) will be the location for her larger works, and sets of her historical work. Kathy Van Drie, an artist with a regular booth at Barrie’s Farmers Market at City Hall, will carry Margot’s historical prints for sale as well.

Her whimsical pieces of beluga whales, puffins, giraffes etc, printed on sweatshirts and T-shirts, will be donated to Thelma Cockburn’s Rainbows Program for its fundraising use.

As Wayne Anderson sifts through the life work of a prolific woman, he’s at a loss about how to deal with it. “So much of her work we did together,” he remembers.

“Margot was dyslexic. She had mirror vision. I did the perspectives of her drawings for her; so many of these we worked on together. The paintings aren’t mine; they’re Margot’s, but it’s a constant reminder that we did this together.”

As Wayne looks at the tremendous legacy left by his wife’s creativity, he is awed by its sheer volume, and its capacity to help other cancer patients in our community. In many ways, this catalogue of pieces represents Margot’s spirit in its true sense…

“She had the capacity to celebrate what she did have,” he remembers.

And in that process of generosity, Margot’s final wish is spreading its joy to all of us.

Thanks, Margot.

One Comment

  1. I didn’t have the obvious honour of knowing Margot, but I did know Wayne Anderson. he was my Phys Ed teacher for almost all of High School years. “Ace” Anderson, as we referred to him, was an original. He drove a little Alfa Romeo and was more of a buddy than a teacher.
    I respect him the most of all of my teachers, and still foggily remember some of the antics the students would get into.
    Wayne was a role model for me, and I hope all is well with him.

    I stumbled upon this website by accident and if Wayne is still around, hopefully someone might get some word to him as a result of this post.

    Wayne… howdy… its bin a long time. Just wanted to say hi…

    John Roxborough,
    Cobourg, ON

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