Martha Jane was born in Ottawa on Wednesday, December 4, 1935, to parents Arthur “Art” Brownson and Mabel “Mabs” Bobier (Hill) Horwood. She joined her older brother, Robert “Bert” (1932), completing the family. After spending her early years in the city, Martie’s family later moved to Sault Saint Marie and then Pembroke. It was as a young child that Martie was first introduced to classical and sacred music. She was a devoted piano student and quickly excelled obtaining her diploma in piano performance and teaching from the Royal Conservatory of Toronto (ARCT) in 1954, at the age of 19.
Her strong faith which began in her youth, played an important role throughout her life. The Horwood family regularly attended the United Church of Canada throughout Martie’s childhood. This passion and interest led Martie to attend the London Bible College in the United Kingdom in 1956, before returning to Canada the following year. Upon her return, she enrolled in the Ontario Teachers’ College program, which was better known as Normal School back then. She also spent two years at the Ontario Bible College in Toronto. While teaching she completed her Bachelor of Arts Degree in music from the University of Western Ontario. Her first teaching job was with the Department of Indian Affairs, whereby she spent most of her time at Grassy Narrows First Nation, in northern Ontario. She also taught at Day Schools in Kettle Point and a fly-in reserve above James Bay. Following this opportunity, Martie returned to Toronto, settling in Scarborough, and began working for the Toronto Board of Education, teaching elementary school. After marrying Gerry, she resigned from classroom teaching and chose to teach private piano lessons in their home.
Martie loved babies and young children. She always looked to educate and expand their horizons while having fun together. During the summers as a young woman, Martie regularly volunteered at a variety of summer camps. Here, she often ran the arts and craft programming and always took great pride in being able to engage her audience. As an older adult, Martie supported a variety of international students as they transitioned to life in Canada by teaching English as a Second Language at the local church. She was also very supportive of missionary work and gave to a variety of causes to support these efforts. Martie continued to generously donate to many charitable causes right up to her death.
In the early 80’s Martie’s life forever changed, when she was introduced to a widower by the name of Walter Gerret “Gerry” Dorland at Bridlewood Presbyterian Church, in Scarborough. Their connection was immediate, and after a short courtship, the new couple was wed on Saturday, July 11, 1981, at Bridlewood. It was at this point in her life, that Martie left classroom teaching and instead concentrated her efforts more on her piano offerings. She often played the organ or piano in church to help out. She continued her piano teaching until formally retiring in 2016.
Martie and Gerry both enjoyed the outdoors and travelling. Together, they experienced countless adventures, which included much of Europe, the Yukon, and Ecuador, just to name a few. Back at home, Martie was an avid birder and enjoyed remaining active. She loved nature walks, hikes, swimming, and canoeing. She and Gerry had a cottage which they thoroughly enjoyed for many years. In the winter months, she turned her attention to cross-country skiing and skating outdoors whenever the opportunity presented itself. Thankfully, these experiences lived on through storytelling as Martie always enjoyed the opportunity to reminisce about these adventures. It should be no surprise that Martie also enjoyed classical music and the arts, and she took full advantage of her living location. Together with Gerry, they enjoyed a variety of concerts, live performances, and theatre through the years, with Tafelmusik and Stratford being favourites. Martie and Gerry would often meet her brother Bert and his wife Lyn, in the city, for dinner and a concert.
In her downtime, Martie could often be found taking in a new documentary or watching a faith-based program. She was also an avid reader and could never seem to get enough of C.S. Lewis. Reading from her Bible also provided Martie with much peace and satisfaction. Martie also enjoyed entertaining, and the opportunity to host friends and family alike. She, herself, was fond of a nice cup of tea, in the appropriate cup and saucer of course, which was often accompanied by a biscuit. When hosting, she loved to go all out and prepare all the traditional meals with all the fixings, however, I am told she had a soft spot for a nice slice of pizza as well.
Martie loved her family and friends dearly and treasured these relationships. Although separated by distance, Martie loved the opportunity to catch up with her brother, Bert, when the opportunity presented itself. Likewise, Martie was always supportive and kind to her niece Jane’s family. Any visit from Aunt Martie usually included a nature walk and activities whereby she always took great pleasure in engaging the children. The fact that Martie was also a good listener, organized, curious, and inquisitive herself, didn’t hurt matters either.
In 2016, Martie and Gerry moved north, to Chesley, to be further supported by family. Sadly, Gerry’s health declined further in the months following and he soon moved into long-term care. Martie quickly settled into her new community and found a new church family at the Chesley Community Church. She made several new friends and enjoyed a slower pace of life. Here too, she enjoyed entertaining, and nights out with friends for BBQ or a simple soup and sandwich night! These evenings often included a game or two, with cards or shuffleboard being regulars. There was much fun and laughter during these evenings out, however, I am told that Martie could be a tad bit competitive at times… 🙂 Sadly, Martie lost the love of her life, Gerry, in 2018 and continued to make the best of each day surrounded by family and friends. Unfortunately, due to her own health challenges, Martie called The Village in Hanover, home in January of 2022. She passed away at South Bruce Grey Health Centre, Chesley on Thursday, June 29, 2023, in her 88th year.
Martie will be dearly missed by her brother Robert “Bert” Horwood of Picton, niece Jane (Robert) McGall of Prince Edward County, as well as their family Kevin (Tara), Scott (Aimee), Sarah (Michael), and Diane (Steven). She will be lovingly remembered by her stepdaughters Nancy (Lorne) Rogers of Chesley and Marni MacDougall of Duntroon as well as their children David (Evelyn), Andrew (Chantel), Sarah Kate (Daniel), Heidi (Michael), Beth, Katie (Jon), Sandy Jr., Margaret, Rebecca and T.J., and their families. Dear cousin of Kathy (Stan) Smyth of Walkerton and their children, Aiden, and Annette. Martie was predeceased by her husband Walter Gerret “Gerry” (2018), step-son-in-law Sandy MacDougall, sister-in-law Marilyn “Lyn” Horwood, and her parents Arthur “Art” and Mabel “Mabs” (Hill) Horwood.
Visitation will be held at the Chesley Community Church on Friday, July 7, 2023, from 1 p.m. until the time of the funeral service at 2 p.m. Cremation will follow with inurnment in Pine Hills Cemetery, Scarborough.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations to the Canadian Bible Society, Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship of Canada (IVCF) or the charity of your choice would be appreciated as expressions of sympathy.
Martie‘s family would like to acknowledge and thank the caring staff at The Village in Hanover, as well as the wonderful staff at South Bruce Grey Health Centre in Chesley. Your care and compassion will always be remembered.