Molly Anne Macdonald

Obituary of Molly Anne Macdonald

Molly Anne Macdonald


B.A., B.S.W., M.S.W.

November 9, 1928 -

January 26, 2020


It is with deep sadness that we announce the death of Molly Anne Macdonald on Sunday, January 26, 2020. She died peacefully at home surrounded by family and caregivers.


Molly Anne will be greatly missed by her adoring husband and soul mate of 68 years, Bill, by her daughter Susan (Nestor Golets) and sons David (Sarah McDougall), Dougal (Barbara Kern) and Alex (Angela Lam), and by her nine grandchildren Sophie, Devin, Lachlan, Annabelle, Rory, Georgiana, Katrina, Charlie and Katie. She was predeceased by her brothers Frank and Bill and her granddaughter Alexandra.


Molly Anne was born in Ottawa to Anne Christine Elgie and Wray Ralph Patterson. She attended Glebe Collegiate and earned her B.A in English at Victoria College, University of Toronto (1951), where she also served as President of the Annesley Student Government Association. While studying at Victoria College, Molly Anne met her life partner Bill Macdonald. Bill moved quickly and they were engaged within six months and married 12 months later, shortly after they graduated.


Shortly after marriage, Molly Anne introduced Bill to her family’s beloved Wildgoose Island on Georgian Bay. After several summers of one-month family camping trips, Georgian Bay would become the most important Macdonald gathering place with the acquisition of Cameron Island in 1969. She relished the adventures they shared as a family, whether in an open boat in driving rain and high rolling waves, animated debates around the dinner table, hotly contested games of bridge and charades or the occasional rattlesnake or bear along the path. She also welcomed the peace and solitude that island life offered, allowing her to pursue her lifelong passion for reading and quiet conversation. Some of the same qualities of focused family time were shared on winter weekends together at the family’s Caledon property.


In the 1960’s, Molly Anne was a copy editor at Pagurian Press. She also wrote several books, including Growing Up: A Handbook to Assist Girls 13 to 15 in Making a Successful Transition from Childhood to Poised Young Womanhood, which she co-authored with Joan Nankivell in 1972, During this time she also served on the Board of Directors of the YWCA. These experiences led her to return to university during her children’s teenage years, where she earned her Bachelor and Masters degrees in social work. Molly Anne went on to enjoy a career as a social worker at Catholic Children’s Aid and the CNIB, and as a family therapist at Thistletown Regional Centre and Oolagen Community Services.


After retiring from social work, Molly Anne started her next career as a dedicated long serving volunteer at the Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art. This spawned her deep passion for studying and collecting Japanese 17th C Kakiemon-style porcelain and 18th C European interpretations of the same designs. Bill soon shared Molly Anne’s passion and together they travelled the world building their collection and cultivating many new friendships with others who had similar interests. Today, it is considered the leading public collection of its kind and it is commemorated in a book titled: Dragons, Tigers and Bamboo: Japanese Porcelain and its Impact in Europe. Molly Anne recently published a second volume on their collection titled: Ko-Kutani + Nabeshima – Japanese Porcelain from the Macdonald Collection. The Macdonald collection will forever reside at the Gardiner Museum.


In 2016, the Governor General of Canada awarded Molly Anne the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers for her contributions to the Gardiner Museum, including as Treasurer, Placement Committee Chair, Docent Committee Chair, Publications Committee Chair and as a member of the Board of Trustees. In October 2019, Molly Anne was made a Victoria University Chancellor’s Council Permanent Member in recognition and appreciation of her long-time commitment to the life of Victoria University. She has endowed three scholarships for students in need in three different Vic programs.


Molly Anne greatly enjoyed her monthly Brown Bag Book Club that she co-founded more than 30 years ago. She also was a vigorous participant in the York Club’s Tuesday Ladies Bridge Club. Molly Anne has been a member of the congregation at St John’s Presbyterian Church for more than 20 years. Attending church and enjoying the fellowship of the congregants enriched her life, especially since her stroke in June 2018.


As a wife and mother, Molly Anne shaped our family life with her imagination and intellectual curiosity, sense of adventure and love of the outdoors, family travel, exacting skills as a cook and entertainer, her commitment to public service and her high standards and integrity. She will be dearly missed for these qualities, as well as her generosity of spirit, companionship, wit and wonderful smile. Bill will also miss the cheese soufflé she served him on every birthday, which he said the best restaurants couldn’t match.


Molly Anne deeply believed in the words of Erik Erickson: “Being adult is asserting oneself in ways that enhance the ability of others to assert themselves”. She lived this maxim every day.


Molly Anne was blessed to be looked after by many supportive caregivers since her stroke, including: Erlinda, Gina, Jemma, Liza, Marianne, Rochelle and Russell. Our family expresses our special thanks and gratitude to each of them. The family held a private funeral earlier this week. A celebration of Molly Anne’s life will take place on March 23rd from 3:30 pm to 6:00 pm at The York Club, located at 135 St George Street on the North East corner of Bloor Street and St. George Street. Please note The York Club’s dress code: Jacket and tie for men, suitable attire for woman and no jeans. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in Molly Anne’s name to Doctors Without Borders (MSF) at

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