Patricia Marilyn MacKay


May 26, 1924 - September 25, 2019.


Our mother, known as Pat to a wide circle of friends of all ages and backgrounds, believed in the love of family, the importance of friendship, and the power of connecting people and ideas. She began every day with an optimism for a fairer world and a belief in each person's responsibility to make it a reality.  This was attributable in no small part to her parents, George and Willena Cunningham, and her upbringing in Depression era Vancouver. Her father, the founder of the Cunningham Drug Store chain, instilled in her a respect for hard work, integrity, and civic responsibility. Married to Stuart MacKay (d.1986), his work brought her to Toronto in 1949, where she remained for the rest of her life.


Her compassion and practicality stood her in good stead as President of the Junior League, Chair of the Canadian Council on Children and Youth, President of the Easter Seal Society, Trustee and board member of the Hospital for Sick Children, board member of the Princess Margaret Hospital and The Addiction Research Foundation, and founding Director of the Women's Television Network. She also contributed her talent and energy to a wide spectrum of local organizations, including Dixon Hall, the Toronto Foundation, the Jane-Finch Community Centre, Dufferin Grove Park, and Innis College, U of T (Later Life Learning; University in the Community). Most recently, she was a fervent supporter of Water Aid Canada and the G.T. Cunningham School. She was awarded the Order of Canada in 1984. 


Though she had a passionate interest in strengthening communities, and was a mentor to many, her love of family took precedence over all. She took pride in being the matriarch of an ever-growing clan: her children, Jed MacKay (Frances), Joanne MacKay-Bennett (André) and Barbara MacKay Ward (Chris d.1994;Ted); grandchildren, Jessica (James), Liam (Jenna) and Gavin (Helen) Ward; Claire, Jake and Patrick (Jessica) Bennett; Elyssa and Elke Kiva; great-grandchildren, Keira, Lily, Jack, and Taylor; and generations of nephews and nieces and their families. 


She considered her friends, friends' children, and numerous acquaintances as extended family members. This included those she met on her many travels and through her many interests.  (It was especially true of the staff at The Benvenuto, where she lived for the last 25 years).  And somehow, she never forgot a birthday!  Her sights were firmly set on the future. She was always excited to learn new things, and pursue new hobbies: birdwatching, ballroom dancing, pottery, weaving, drumming – her enthusiasm never waned.


A celebration of Pat’s life will be held on Sunday, November 10, 2019, 2:00 pm at Scaramouche restaurant. Please RSVP to .  In her memory, the family asks that you do something to make the world a better place: donate to your favourite charity, enjoy the beauty of nature, call a friend, or simply tell someone you love them.  Condolences may be forwarded through