Margaret Catherine was born in Wimbleton, England on Friday, June 24, 1927 to parents Robert and Dorothy (Scruby) Ingram. She was the second oldest of four children with brothers Peter, Christopher and Geoffrey. The Ingram family home was in a neighbouring community called Claygate. Margaret’s parents and extended family were well-educated and therefore it was instilled in her from an early age that education was very important. She attended St. Catherine’s boarding school for girls in Bude, near Cornwall on the coast of England, close to the family’s summer house. Summers would find the family visiting the beaches of Cornwall or travelling to visit relatives in Cambridge England, Scotland and Ireland. Winter holidays would find Margaret, her family and friends skiing in Switzerland. World War II was at the forefront at this time and the Ingram family rented their family home in Claygate to the Bank of India, and resided in their Cambridge home for the duration of the war. Margaret went on to surgical and maternity nurses training at St. Thomas’ Hospital in London; a teaching hospital established by Florence Nightingale. After graduating as a registered nurse, Margaret went on to training in midwifery and worked as a midwife in Plymouth, completing home visits and working at Mothercraft clinics.
In the early 1950s, Margaret and her nursing friend, Valerie Blasko, ventured across the Atlantic to explore Canada and work in nursing. They travelled by ship to Montreal, then by train to Toronto where both young women worked at Toronto General Hospital. Days off would find them adventuring around southern Ontario sightseeing. Work soon took them to the North Bay Civic Hospital, and Valerie helped set Margaret up on a blind date with a young man by the name of Reginald William Pratt, a corporal with the Royal Canadian Air Force. The two hit it off immediately, however love had to wait as Reg needed to complete his assignment at the North Bay Air Base and Margaret and Valerie travelled to Victoria BC and worked at a hospital for children with disabilities.
Margaret and Reg were married in Claygate, England on Saturday, December 4, 1954. Reg was to be stationed in Germany and the newlyweds lived in housing off the Base in Zweibrucken Germany. Although Margaret did not work during their time in Germany from 1954-1957, she enjoyed travelling throughout Europe with Reg and other RCAF friends. In 1957, the Air Force then took them to Comox, BC where Margaret returned to nursing on Vancouver Island. In 1960 they were transferred again to Chatham, New Brunswick. Margaret soon was back nursing in the local hospital’s maternity ward. Hazel and Edward were born in New Brunswick and to avoid moving their family around every few years, Reg decided to leave the air force. In 1965, Reg and Margaret purchased a farm on the 12th of Bentinck near his parents’ farm, moved the family to Ontario, where Reg fulfilled his life-long dream of dairy farming. To say this move was a culture shock for Margaret would be an understatement but Margaret looked at farming as another adventure and took on the milking of the cows and any other chores that needed to be done, in addition to caring for their young family which now included Janet. Once Janet began attending elementary school all day, Margaret returned to the workforce and worked as a part-time Registered Nurse at the Chesley Nursing Home (now called Elgin Abbey) until her retirement in the early 1980s.
Life slowed down a little bit with the sale of the farm and building their house down the road on the 12th concession. Although Margaret led a busy life, she made time for pastimes that brought her pleasure and a sense of community. She enjoyed baking and was known for her Nanaimo bars and homemade buns. Her macaroni and cheese as well as her roast beef dinners with Yorkshire pudding were also family favourites. Margaret had a sweet tooth for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Lemon Meringue Pie, and a favourite meal was Fish and Chips from Janet’s restaurant in Elmwood. Margaret was also an avid gardener, enjoying her flower beds and large vegetable garden. She was an active and life member of Louise Women’s Institute and attended Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Chesley. Margaret led a quiet, faith-filled life and was active in her church. She was the treasurer of the Church Board and enjoyed going to Bible studies. She and Reg were members of the Saugeen Naturalists and took in many hikes around the area. Margaret was known to give of her time and often canvassed for the Canadian Cancer Society and helped with catering with the Louise Women’s Institute.
Even in her retirement, she volunteered her time at the nursing home that Hazel worked at. Other favourite pastimes included walks in nature, cross-country skiing, anything trivia, and British television series, namely Downton Abbey, Doc Martin and Call the Midwife. She was a voracious reader, enjoying the daily crossword of the Owen Sound Sun Times and reading a variety of spiritual, historical and family books. When it came to music, Margaret preferred hymns and enjoyed going to local concerts and recitals, and plays at the Stratford Festival. Although Margaret travelled more in her youth, she enjoyed several trips with the children back to England to visit family as well as a trip to Portugal to visit her brother Peter and his family. At age 88, Margaret travelled to Cuba with Janet, Hazel and Hazel’s husband Robin, on another adventure. Margaret also went go-carting at Sauble, riding in a canoe on the Saugeen River and got a 3-wheel bike for her 85th birthday.
Many Friday afternoons, Margaret spent the afternoon helping to make pie shells and other tasks, when Janet owned Schultz’s Bakery. Margaret led by example and was a knowledgeable, hardworking woman who always put the needs of others first. She was a modest, generous woman who was always there to support those around her, particularly her family. With education being an important value in Margaret’s life, she always encouraged and supported her family to pursue post-secondary skills and education, including helping Ed get settled into his accommodations in Scarborough to attend Centennial College.
In 2017, Margaret decided to move to The Village in Hanover as her requirement for care increased and her mobility decreased. She enjoyed the social programs of the Home and had many friends there. She remained there until 2020, when the isolation of the pandemic proved too much and Margaret wanted to return to her home. She was able to enjoy the natural surroundings of her rural property and have outdoor visits from family and friends. Her children fulfilled her wishes and brought her home under their care and support, and were thankful for the 10 months together until her passing on Wednesday, May 26, 2021 at the age of 93.
Loving mother of Hazel Pratt-Paige, Edward Pratt, and Janet Pratt (Jerry Beitz). Margaret will be dearly missed by her cherished grandchildren Kim Martin (Jeff Patterson), Kris (Sheila) Martin, Kyle Schuknecht (Allie Van Valkenburg), Kerri Schuknecht (Matt Stangler) and great-grandchildren Kalvin, Abijah, Jared, Finch, Leo, Kadience, Eden and Linda. She will be fondly remembered by her sister-in-law Elspeth Ingram and many friends. Margaret was predeceased by her husband Reginald, son-in-law Robin Paige and brothers, Peter, Christopher and Geoffrey Ingram.
A public visitation will be held at Rhody Family Funeral Home, Chesley on Friday, June 11, 2021 from 7 – 9 p.m. In order to attend, all guests must call the funeral home and register – please call (519 363-2525) to register. A private graveside service honouring Margaret’s life will be held at the Chesley Cemetery on Saturday, June 12, 2021.
Memorial donations to the Chesley Hospital Foundation or Residential Hospice of Grey Bruce (South Build) would be appreciated as expressions of sympathy.