May 26, 1924 – September 8, 2020
Margaret Georgena Torrance was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba on May 26, 1924, the first child of six in the family of Mary Emily Murray and Frank Carl Smith. She was, from the outset, the steady, mindful matriarch of the children, and the powerful family bonds established in childhood remained central throughout her long life.
Margaret’s school years were spent in Edmonton, where she graduated from Commercial High School and then took a job as a legal secretary. In 1945 she married Robert Torrance whose post graduate studies and life’s work in the field of international relations took the couple to Toronto and from there, to destinations around the globe for more than two decades. Margaret’s intense interest in world affairs, history, and each individual’s rich and unique life was fuelled by her extensive travels and by the enduring friendships she established with people of all ages from distant countries and from her own neighbourhood. In 1974 Margaret and Bob built a house in Queenston, Ontario, on the Niagara escarpment, where Margaret devoted her energies to the life of the community through the church, as a volunteer in the library, as a passionate Tai Chi practitioner, and as a driving force behind the monument commemorating the crucial role played by The Mohawk Six Nations in the War of 1812. Margaret was passionately interested in Canadian history and the vast number of books on the subject that she and Bob collected eventually became an extensive and comprehensive library.
Margaret loved handcrafted objects: ceramics, weaving, furniture, paintings and sculpture. She was a familiar visitor in the studio of many artists and crafts people, and every practical object in her home – rugs, upholstery, window coverings, lamps, dishes – was unique and carried the mark of the maker. She took pleasure in her garden and on walks through the village, but she was, above all, a voracious non-fiction reader and an enthusiastic conversationalist who appreciated the deep joy of learning and of insights that emerge through exchange. She ardently loved her many nieces and nephews, their partners and children, and was always up to the minute on everyone’s exploits on both the Torrance and the Smith sides of her family.
Margaret lived a full life of service to family and to community, giving wherever she served. She died peacefully in a small hospital near her Queenston home on September 8, 2020. She is survived by her sisters Shirley Carpenter of Springfield Mass. and Norma Smith of West Vancouver, B.C.; and was predeceased by her husband Robert Joseph Torrance (2006); her sister Frances Albinati (2020); and her brothers Murray F.R. Smith (2018) and Frank Smith (2013). Her loss is mourned by her many friends and family.
In lieu of flowers, the family urges you to make a contribution to an arts or social justice organization that champions Canada’s Indigenous peoples.