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MacGregor, Anna Laura


Teacher to many, example to all.

Anna MacGregor, a third generation Albertan and Calgarian, schoolteacher, principal, artist, municipal councilor and tireless family stalwart, passed away on October 2, 2012 at age 91.

Anna grew up in Calgary where her father, Frank Patton, ran a garage near McDougall School, and her mother Hazel took in boarders at their house on Twelfth Avenue. Her grandparents, Daniel and Burd Patton, had come to the Calgary area in 1902 and established a farm near Red Deer Lake.

Anna and her sister Kay attended Western Canada High School, walking there twice a day – they returned home for lunch. They also helped their mother look after the ‘housekeeping rooms’ of the boarders, as well as cleaning and painting.

“Mother made most of our clothes from hand-me-downs. We never had any spending money,” Anna said of her childhood. “Yet we never felt that we were living in hard times or were short of money. It was a happy family.”

There were almost no opportunities for a single girl to find employment in the 1930s in Calgary, and “mother insisted we finish grade twelve,” Anna said. While the high school offered commercial (mostly secretarial) courses for girls, the Pattons took only academic courses.

After completing high school Anna took the eight month teacher preparation program at The Calgary Normal School, located near today’s SAIT.

After she graduated she found her first teaching position in a one-room school near Kinsella.

Teaching in a one-room country school was an adventure, as Anna recalled. “We had everything to contend with. A child once brought his horse into the class room for me to see!”

After years of teaching she realized she wouldn’t ever become a Principal without a degree. She enrolled at the University of Calgary when she was 49 and finally, after eight years of night and summer school, she got her degree, all while working full time and looking after her family.

The next year she was made a Principal and under her leadership Rosemount School thrived. She had strong ideas about education and as Principal was able to prove that people who worked together cooperatively could produce exceptional results. The staff who worked with her at Rosemont remain close friends. Anna retired in 1983 at age 62, after 35 and one half years of teaching.

She was elected councilor for the Municipal District of Big Horn in 1984 and served four years.

Anna married Jack MacGregor on February 25, 1948. She met him while he was recovering during the war at the Colonel Belcher Hospital in Calgary where she was showing the almost 300 injured servicemen there how to make things in the rehabilitation department.

After her first meeting with Jack, when she helped him start weaving a MacGregor tartan for a kilt, she found herself invited out to dinner, and soon married.

Although Jack never finished his kilt, Anna was able to make a dress and a jacket from the 10 yards of material. A piece of the tartan material they wove together won first prize at both the Calgary Stampede and the Canadian National Exhibition in 1948.

Anna and Jack had one son, Ian, born in 1949. Just as her mother had insisted that she finish grade 12, Anna insisted that Ian finish University. Ian went to the bank with her when she borrowed his first year’s tuition so that he could attend. Jack worked for Barber Machinery in Calgary for 30 years, and then continued in the oilfield industry helping Ian with his small and struggling welding shop.

In 1979, Jack and Anna bought land west of Cochrane on Jamieson Road for their retirement. Here they made many close, supportive, friends.

Anna never knew how to take life easy. She was always busy. She didn’t seem to need to rest.

She was creative and enjoyed making things: weaving, pottery, sewing and, most importantly, she was an accomplished painter. Anna was a lifetime member of the Cochrane Art Club and made many good friends there who stayed with her all her life. Painting remained a source of enjoyment throughout Anna’s life as evidenced by her motto stuck on the wall of her art room: “Paint only on the days that you eat.”

For all those who knew her, Anna set an example of doing everything well through relentless, hard work. She got along with everyone, she made and kept many friends, and proved that you could do what you set your mind to.

Anna Laura MacGregor is survived by her husband Jack, her son Ian and his wife Sharon, and her grandchildren Kate and Alex, as well as her sister Kay, brother Franklin and her nieces Brenda and Margie.

In accordance with Anna’s wishes no funeral is planned. A gathering will be held at a later date. Donations to the Cochrane Art Club, Box 683, Cochrane AB, T4C1A8, are preferred in lieu of flowers.

In living memory of Anna MacGregor, a tree will be planted at Big Hill Springs Park Cochrane by McINNIS & HOLLOWAY FUNERAL HOMES, Cochrane Funeral Home, 369 RAILWAY STREET, COCHRANE. Telephone: (403) 932-4740.

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Condolence Messages

  1. Dear Jack & Ian,
    Just a wee note to send my condolences to you both.
    Although I only spent a few days in Anna’s company, I will never forget the drive back from Canmore on the Sunday morning in September. The colours of the trees & grass were beautiful.
    Anna described the colours of oils she would have used to paint the image of the scenery we passed.
    Thinking of you both,
    Mary (Ritchie, Souris, Manitoba)

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  2. Kathryn Lahoda :

    My sympathies on your loss. She was a wonderful teacher.

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