Mary Margaret Bennett passed away June 6th, 2020 after battling breast & liver cancer. The following is an excerpt written by accomplished writer, Muskoka historian, and dear family friend Ted Currie:
"A dear friend of our family, former colleague at Bracebridge and Muskoka Lakes Secondary School, keen nature photographer, and celebrant of the good life here in Muskoka, Mary Bennett, the loving wife of Randy, and cherished mother of son Martin, passed away late Saturday afternoon. Peacefully, with family at her side, in the embrace of the natural surroundings she so loved to photograph, as a longtime hobby, comforted by the peacefulness of her countryside home, near the Village of Utterson, Mary slipped gently into a deep sleep bringing an end to the suffering she had been experiencing in the last weeks of her life.
Mary and I were longstanding admirers of the art work and mysterious life of Canadian artist, Tom Thomson, and she gave me a brand new copy of the Tom Thomson Mystery, written by John Little, which was a continuation of the work of his father Judge William Little, in the early 1970’s, expounding on the likelihood that the artist had been murdered in that Canoe Lake community, of Mowat, in the heart of Algonquin Park. On that occasion we talked for hours about the circumstances known and unknown that had led up to the fateful evening in July 1917 when Thomson went missing, only to be found nearly a week later floating in Canoe Lake between Little and Big Wapameo Islands. I have researched Thomson’s death, and written about it since the mid 1990’s, and Mary had been fascinated by the mystery even longer, and profoundly moved by Thomson’s art work of Algonquin, Muskoka and Georgian Bay. It most likely influenced the framing of her photographs, which were so artistically presented and thoughtfully shared with her many hobbyist associates, friends and family over the years via Instagram and of course her greeting cards specially adorned with some of her most compelling images, most snapped at her Utterson farmstead, particularly of the birds that visited the beautifully treed property shared with husband Randy and son Martin.
I got to know Mary during the six months I worked on the manuscript for the history of Bracebridge and Muskoka Lakes Secondary School, back in the spring of 1999, preparing for its publication in 2000, being released on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of its founding on the top of Tanbark Hill, across the road from the Presbyterian Church. I had to clear my entrance into the school through Mary, who also had to answer about a billion and a half of my questions, as she was, after all, the pivotal individual in that school operation, of which she was in so many ways, the active, in-real-time historian of what was going on in that great old building; of which we were both once students. I don’t think the book would have been published without Mary’s assistance, because she facilitated so many of the requests for information and bookings for regular meetings with teachers having to sneak time for me, in between classes, and other academic meetings. I did thank Mary for her many kindnesses to a frazzled historian trying to make deadline. She was known for her kindnesses by the way, and she was greatly missed when she retired some years back, many teachers feeling the place would never be the same without her efficiencies and appreciated kindnesses shown to staff and students who got to know her over the decades.
Our family knew Mary had taken ill earlier this spring, and was faring poorly as time went on, confining her to home when in heart and soul, she wanted to be moving about and enjoying the life and times of a retiree with a great deal of ambition and energy to expend. She had lots of plans and was never reluctant to push to get what she wanted, and visit the places she most enjoyed, and that included connecting with family and friends which made her days fulfilling and always fun. She was a bright spirit and had a positive outlook even when things seemed bleak to others. But she imprinted on life and will not be soon forgotten as a kind soul and a fighter for family and homestead, and promoter of the good life here in this beautiful region of Ontario."
Mary is survived by her husband Randy of 42 years, their son Martin, her brothers & sisters including Libby, Colleen, Carmen, Joe, John, Brian, and Ed, and their mother Mary Charron.
A celebration of life will be held at a later date. The family wishes in lieu of flowers that memorial donations can be made to the Canadian Nurses Foundation, to honour the hard work, dedication, comfort and support they give to struggling patients & families across the country. https://www.imakeanonlinedonation.org/cnf-fiic/IMG/