Patricia Hancock


Pat Hancock was the eldest of four children born into a typical Steel Town family – her dad working shifts at Stelco in Hamilton, her mom staying home taking care of everyone and everything. Pat absolutely loved school, reading, and riding her bike, and even back then, writing stories. She never dreamed she would end up doing just that for a living.


Pat saved enough that she was able to head off to university right after Grade 13. She completed two years of the Household Science program at Guelph before deciding her financial situation might look a little brighter if she went to teacher’s college and got a job. She began teaching science at her old high school, Cathedral Girls’ High, and while working there she completed a BA at McMaster University, adding English, Physics and Biology to her teaching repertoire. 


In 1970, Ron a.k.a. “Hank” literally swept “Trish” off her feet at a St. Patrick’s day party, taking her away from her short English dance partner to dance with a tall Kiwi rugby player from that day on. They were married in December, temporarily moving to New Zealand, and then settling in Toronto where Pat then taught at De La Salle. She retired from teaching in 1973 to become a full-time parent with all the vigour she had applied to being a teacher, becoming closely involved with her children’s elementary school, St. Monica’s, and forging friendships that lasted decades.


Reading to her children sparked her interest in writing for children, and taking a course at the YWCA got her started. Several of Pat’s short stories and articles were published in language arts readers, social studies texts, and magazines. In 1988, she became a contributing editor for Scholastic Canada's teachers' magazine, Classroom, and published her first book, a sticker book about unicorns inspired by her younger daughter’s fascination with them. Her regular Writing Group meetings were a source of critical support and encouragement, and lifelong friendships. She taught “Writing for Children” continuing education courses at both the University of Toronto and Ryerson. Pat was an active member of CANSCAIP (Canadian Society of Children's Authors, Illustrators and Performers) and served as its President from 1991 to 1993.


She continued to write many nonfiction and fiction children’s books. She turned her love for research, learning and Canadian history into her well-known collections of Crazy Canadian Trivia books, the Haunted Canada series, The Kids Book of Canadian Prime Ministers, The Penguin Book of Canadian Biography for Young Readers: Early Canada and her contributions to the Brain Quest Canada series. Haunted Canada: True Ghost Stories garnered the Saskatchewan Silver Willow Award in 2004.


Pat lived in the same house for 48 years, and loved her street and loved her neighbours. She was an adopted mother and then later grandmother to the local children, and friend and handy-man dispatcher to any neighbour in need. She loved the news, debating politics, watching rugby and F1 racing, cooking and baking for others, and sharing the dinner table at 23 Oswald or The Shack with anyone who was up for spirited conversation. Even her fight against COPD and pulmonary fibrosis was an opportunity to build community with her fellow rehab warriors at Westpark Healthcare Centre.


Her last day was spent in hospital surrounded by her family, telling stories and laughing. She was happy, at peace and loved. At 8:03pm on August 21, her 27,917th day, she breathed her last and became a complex collection of memories.


She is survived by her husband Ronald Hancock; children Katharine Hancock (Chris Macgowan), Jennifer Hancock (John Markell) and Michael Hancock (Mireille de Réland); sister Michelle Joy; and grandchildren Owen Macgowan, Leah and Keira Markell. She was predeceased by siblings Peter Kelly and Sister Kathleen Kelly.


Special thanks to the incredible staff at the Sunnybrook D4 ICU. The dignity and agency they accorded her in her last week meant everything to her and her family.

There will be a casual memorial luncheon on September 17 from 12:00pm to 2:30pm at The Granite Brewery, Toronto. For COVID safety and in memory of her determination and sacrifices made to protect herself from COVID, we request that attendees wear a mask. In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to The Children’s Book Bank or Fighting Blindness Canada.


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