50 Years


Margaret Sorensen

Death Notice

Margaret Winnifred Sorensen passed away last Friday, September 26, 2014 at the age of 96. Raised in Manitoba by Ed and Allie Howe, Margaret Howe was a scholar and a teacher. In Toronto she turned to business. She and her husband Kurt Sorensen, who died in Niagara-on-the-Lake in 1995, raised two sons primarily in Port Colborne, Ontario where Margaret ran an antique and gift shop for close to 30 years. She retired in London Ontario where she continued to study. Kind and generous, wise and funny, she was a student of antiques and such a good mom. She will be sadly missed by her sons, Gordon and Eric, her grandchildren Krista, Kurt, Dana and Maggie, her daughter-in-law Pamela, and her extended family and her dear friends. Thank you to Dr. Lo and to all her caregivers. Arrangements will be private, as the family gathers for remembrance and recollections with the smiles she bestowed upon us all. ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Additional reflections from Eric: I don’t expect many to find their way to the death notice for Margaret Sorensen - at 96 one outlives many friends. But for those who do come here, I’ll add a few words. Margaret Howe was raised in tiny Makaroff, Manitoba. I don’t believe it’s on the map anymore. Her parents were Ed and Allie Howe. Allie was born in Missouri. (Collings on her dad’s side, the other side descended from the famous Calverts of Maryland, I am told). They settled in Manitoba, where Allie met Ed, who came from central Ontario. They married and had one child, Margaret Winnifred, my mom. Her family lived simple lives in the 1920’s, running the general store. One day, her dad brought home a windmill from a trip to Chicago. It attached to battery jars with a blue-ish liquid, creating, I believe, the first electrified light in Makaroff. Margaret said the batteries glowed brightly and the house lit up when it was windy, then would get darker again when the winds died down. During the Great Depression many customers did not have much money so the store often traded in goods - eggs for biscuits, that kind of thing. The store was a gathering place for visitors who would come and talk late into the night. Margaret, a child would listen in. She recalled the time two religious leaders, a minister and a deacon were over, debating and disagreeing over whether Hell was a real place. It was a revelation. “They don’t know!" she thought. She was a skeptic about religion, though not judgmental. Indeed, a young girl growing up in rural Canada, she concluded that her doubts simply meant she was “odd", as she put it. Not until she read Bertrand Russell did she discover that others had unconventional views. She attended the University of Manitoba at age 17, and excelled. She remembered gathering with her dormitory roommates around the radio to listen to King Edward announce his abdication from the British Throne for “the woman I love"?. The teenagers swooned. She said “It was just so romantic!" Upon graduation, she taught at the high school in Dauphin, Manitoba. She was fluently bilingual in French - don’t ask me how - and organized a class presentation and trip to Quebec for which she won awards. She was soon offered a teaching position at the University. But she was painfully shy and uncomfortable at the front of a classroom and so, gave up teaching. She moved to Toronto and began work in the freight-forwarding business. She was a wiz at that job too. When she quit, the employer asked her to sign a waiver promising she would not work for any competitor for some years. They paid her a small sum for that promise and she was delighted. Along the way she married a Dane, was divorced and married another Dane, Kurt Sorensen. Kurt had come to Canada after the second World War. They raised two children, my older brother Gordon and myself, Eric. They eventually settled in Port Colborne, Ontario, getting a small business off the ground selling antiques and Danish Christmas plates. Margaret became a student of antiques, even taught courses at Niagara College. She never stopped learning and thinking. She was quietly ahead of her time -- anti-nuclear power, pro-organic food and a feminist decades before these became causes in society. She had a brilliant and beautiful mind. She was, as one friend described her, discerning. If you google ‘discerning’ up pops a succession of maybe 20 synonyms. All of them together, that was Margaret Sorensen. To Gordon and me she was, of course, a wonderful, wonderful mother. It’s why her departure from this world hurts so much.