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McDONALD, Catherine Mary

July 5, 1955 – Tunbridge Wells, England
June 18, 2013 – Calgary, Alberta

Updated 06/22/13 9:00am – Services will proceed as scheduled below:

Catherine Mary McDonald of Calgary, passed away peacefully with her children by her side.

The vivacious Catherine Mary Young was born in 1955 to Marjorie and Douglas Young. Chatty Cathy, as she was known fondly, was a joy to everyone and was always getting into mischief, often with her brother Keith in tow – though it was always done with good intentions, such as painting her parents’ garage bright yellow to “freshen it up” while they were out one day.

Though her teachers noted that “Catherine spent more time looking out of the window at the sixth form boys and would do well to focus more on her maths,” she excelled in many subjects. She was born a gifted artist and created beautiful artwork throughout her life. She had a deep connection with horses, tigers and elephants, and frequently painted these graceful animals. This creative talent led to a successful career as a graphic design artist.

Not only beautiful and talented, Catherine was also an accomplished sports woman, competing in track and field, horse show jumping and clay trap shooting, winning several women’s trophies over the years. Throughout her twenties and thirties, weekends were spent in the rolling hills of the English countryside on shooting weekends with friends, which always involved much laughter and celebrating life over food and pints of beer at old country pubs. Often she would take friends out on a side trip (or two) to explore village curiosities and antique shops. Catherine always balanced hard work and great success in her career with her young family and passion for travel. While working as a successful buyer at American Express and then as a software company director, she enjoyed many weekends away in continental Europe, including ski trips to the powdery mountain slopes of Austria.

Catherine radiated love and she welcomed everybody into her life with open arms. Her movie star looks, bright lipsticks, fashionable style and laughter that bounced off the walls drew people in from far and wide. Her children Carina and Leigh fondly recall her group of outgoing, and fun-loving friends who surrounded them as they grew up. As her children grew older, Catherine embarked on new adventures, excited for what life would bring. With the purchase of the Bristol Software Hot Air Balloon, there were many weekends flying across the countryside as the sun came up, and social gatherings at her home Three Acre Wood. It was at this stunning country home that Catherine was able to expand her family to include a menagerie of madcap animals that seemed to take after their mother when it came to being full of personality, with a predilection for breaking the rules and being mischievous. Pixie, Dixie and Bracken the goats, Cindy, Clay and Trap the cats, Jess the dog, an entire family of eccentric ducks and more chickens than anybody could ever count, filled Catherine’s heart in her thirties. Her sister Heather always knew that coming to look after Carina and Leigh on the weekends also meant managing all creatures great and small. If you knew Catherine, you knew that each of her animals would be slightly mad. Spending time in her beautifully designed kitchens over the years involved spending time with a completely eccentric animal – whether it was the chickens drinking your tea, Lucky the duck sitting in your lap, or one of the cats trying to snatch food from your hand.

In 1993, and approaching her forties, Catherine embarked on her next great adventure – moving to Canada with a young family in tow and settling in Lake Bonavista. Though this was a big adjustment from life in the UK, no challenge was a match for Catherine’s positive attitude – and in no time she had settled in and made lifelong friends. Her home once again became a hive of activity and laughter. Many of you reading this will have been at one of her garden parties or gourmet Sunday roast dinners. Completely selfless, Catherine’s priority was always making sure friends and family were loved and taken care of. As one of her best friends said recently, “Cathy is love itself.”

As Carina and Leigh grew up and entered their late teens and early twenties, Catherine “adopted” their friends – who knew that they were always welcomed into her home with open arms. She was their “other Mum.” There were many cooked breakfasts and fresh coffees for friends who were a bit worse for wear after late nights out, pep talks for them when they were stressed over university exams, and poignant advice for those going through the trials and tribulations of young love and adulthood.

Catherine relished approaching her fiftieth birthday, as life was always to be celebrated and enjoyed. As her children left the home (assisted by her exemplary skills as a real estate agent) and started successful careers of their own, she resumed her greatest passion of all – international travel. Over the past six years Catherine has traveled the world with loved ones, who returned her love tenfold. It was this decade, the final decade of her life that was the happiest and most radiant for her. Catherine had spent her entire life caring for others, and now it was her time to be taken care of, to sit back, relax and simply enjoy the fruits of her hard work and selflessness. There are many, many photos of Catherine in exotic locations around the world – many of us know the incredible (and frequently hilarious) stories that go along with these photos. Though each location is different, there is one common thread in each photo… a smile that could light up the heavens.

We all have different memories of Catherine, but one thing we all share is that we were the lucky recipients of her love and radiant happiness. Her positive attitude was contagious. It is with a big smile and happy memories that we will celebrate her and continue her legacy of enthusiasm for life and everlasting positivity.
Her final message, which will always transcend the physical, was – to all of you – “I love you.”

Though Catherine may no longer be here in body, she has promised to continue to grace our lives in spirit. Deeply spiritual, she believed that the hawk was a special messenger and a guide, appearing at special moments in her life and always watching over her. We would like to share this excerpt, which she kept among her most treasured quotes.

Native Americans believe that the hawk is the messenger of the gods or the Great Spirit. The teachings of the Hawk guide us to be observant, to be aware of our surroundings and recognize the obvious in everything because life is sending us signals. The Hawk’s call breaks through the state of unawareness and asks us to seek the truth. The Hawk sees the overall picture and views life from a higher perspective with a keen eye and a bold heart.

“Hawk…messenger of the sky, circle my dreams and teach me the message as we fly.”

A Celebration of Life will be held at McINNIS & HOLLOWAY’S Fish Creek Chapel (14441 Bannister Road S.E.) on Monday, June 24, 2013 at 10:00 a.m. Forward condolences through Memorial contributions may be made directly to Rosedale Hospice where she was cared for. Please address donations to Hospice Calgary (Rosedale), 1245 – 70 Avenue S.E. Calgary, AB T2H 2X8.

In living memory of Catherine McDonald, a tree will be planted at Fish Creek Provincial Park by McINNIS & HOLLOWAY FUNERAL HOMES, Fish Creek Chapel, 14441 BANNISTER ROAD S.E. Telephone: (403) 256-9575.

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Condolence Messages

  1. Firstly, ‘hats off’ to family for the apt and well crafted Obituary. You’ve captured Catherine’s zest for life and love of family and friends to a tee.

    Carina & Leigh, Heather, Marjorie, Keith and all our family… while my heart breaks for your (and our) loss, know that our love, support and friendship will always be with you.

    Catherine will live on in my joyous memories and I will strive to follow her example as a wonderful example of how the make the most of life.

    I love you all. Dana (Auntie D) xxxx

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  2. Tammie Dowd :

    I’m still in dis-beleif to find such a wonderful collegue & friend taken from us. So grateful to have known you Catherine, I remember your great laugh at the Sutton office and as a friend. You had a contagious laughter and you will be missed hugely.

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  3. Carolyn and Alan Joels :

    I was fortunate to know Cathy’s love and to be a witness to her sense of humor and positive attitude. I shared many wonderful experiences with her and am terribly saddened by her passing.
    I wish you Carina and Leigh, strength in the coming days and hope that your precious memories will comfort you.
    With deepest sympathy for your loss,
    Carolyn and Alan Joels

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  4. Lynn, Dave, Chelsea & Bryce Luker :

    My fondest memories of Calgary are of you my dear friend Cathy. I cherish each and every moment we spent together. Laughing, loving, screaming at hockey games, tasting your amazing culinary creations and listening to your interior design dreams & airplane experiences. You put the word “LIFE” on the map. Our heartfelt sorrow & condolences to your beautiful family.

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  5. Judi Webb (Desjarlais) :

    I will always treasure my memories of Catherine and her friendship.
    We spent many wonderful excursions to various places and always had smiles and laughter. Carina and Leigh – I know I haven’t seen you for a long time but you are in my thoughts – will always cherish my memories and time I spent with you – take care love Judi

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  6. Cathy
    You were so bright, beautiful and caring plus had a sparkling personality. So sad to see you leave us so soon. You will be sorely missed by your Lake Bonavista “peeps”

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  7. As I sit here in Sydney, Australia, I wonder where the time has gone since those fantastic days we all spent in Bristol in the 80’s. I can see your smiling face, hear your laugh, and I swear I’m still recovering from the parties and late nights playing cards for match sticks.
    I’m going to miss you Cathy. But I’ll see you again, I know I will.


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  8. Sutton Group - Canwest :

    Our thoughts and prayers are with Catherine and her family and friends. We express our deepest condolences.

    Your Friends and Fellow Associates at Sutton Group – Canwest.

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  9. Gordon Trosper :

    We are so very sorry to hear of Cathy’s passing. You have our heartfelt condolences. We have many fond ballooning memories with Cathy. Chateau d’Oex, Montego Bay, Albuquerque, to name a few.

    Gordon & Bridget

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  11. Marlene Wing :

    Wish I’d have wholly, as much loving energy, as you had in your little pinky.
    Nothing but wonderful memories of you “Caffrins”. Until we meet again, I’ll be looking for the hawk, as signs of your sweet presents. To you, Carina and Leigh, be comforted that you had a most amazing Mum, sister, Heather & Keith, and daughter, Marjorie!

    Love always, Auntie Mardie
    Uncle Rick, Seth, Riley,
    and Jocelyn from
    Sault Ste. Marie, ON

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  12. Jan Panting :

    Us Three girlies, looked upon you Cathy as our glamorous, courageous, gorgeous, go getting , mountain never too big cousin- you always have been, always will be, locked in our hearts forever Catherine xxx….. & you certainly taught how to party in Brizzzzel!!!!!! A pleasure to share the gene pool me darlin always! Love you Big Cuz XXX
    We are heart broken & thinking of you all. XXX Debs , Jane & Jan XXX Mum & Dad XXX

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  13. Last night I dreamed again of the beautiful Eagle silhouetted against the silver face of the full moon.

    When I awoke early this morning, the moon was still visible low above the sea cliffs to the East of Frenchman’s Cove, whilst to the West a pair of Sparrow Hawks were beginning their lazy spiral skywards from the bay

    It was then that I knew that your indomitable spirit, caring heart and loving soul are with us still and will forever light our way.

    Till Kingdom come.


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  15. Martin Allan :

    Seems like yesterday, the perfect hostess, the fab balloon parties at 3 Acre Wood in Bristol, thank you Cathy, now it is your time to rest in peace, Martin

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  16. Chris Pooley :

    The fire that lit up the S4B Squadron of the 80’s has gone out, but the great memories of such a warm and fun loving person will remain. Squadron weekends, Sundays down ‘the Kicker’, the alternative Fiesta parties and temporary closure of the local airport were great times.

    Thank you Cathy – we’ll miss you.

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  17. Martin Curtis :

    I have known Catherine and the Young family since I was eighteen and in Petts Wood, England, and have vey happy memories especially visiting Calgary for her 50th birthday, she will be sadly missed.
    My deepest sympathies are with her family and friends.


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  18. Judi Douville :

    Her smile and laughter is one of the many qualities she had that made her so special. She will truly be missed by all of us who knew her.

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  19. Carolina Moreno Certad & Humberto Certad :

    Carina, Leigh and all Catherine’s relatives & closest friends;

    Our most sincere condolences. Cathy was a wonderful person with such a kind heart. We appreciated her friendship and awesome personality. Catherine was just one of a kind and we will always remember her with joy because we are sure that’s how she would have always wanted to be remembered.

    Siempre te recordaremos con mucho cariño Catherine!

    Carolina & Humberto

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  20. Tracy Booth :

    Our sincere condolences to Leigh and Carina, your mother was a gem. To all the Booth Family who loved her so dearly – a treasured auntie and friend, we are so sorry for your loss.

    Tracy and Geoff Booth and family

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  21. I knew Cathy for only a short time when we worked together at the Pearl Assurance in the early 70s. She was a striking, beautiful and friendly women and I adored her. The comments made by others at this sad time show she had not lost her great qualities and her positive attitude. She can only be an inspiration to us all. I am sorry that you have lost her so early. Condolences to all the family and God bless you.


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  22. Keith Young :

    Catherine(Caffrins to me)was one in a million. A big heart & so generous wherever I met her. So difficult to know she has gone. But but peace after this terrible illness. She will always be in our hearts with lots of affection. Has taken a while to do this.

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  23. Susan McKinnon :

    Goodbye my beautiful friend. You were beauty and grace and love itself.
    I will miss you forever.

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  24. Thommie Johansson :

    Bye Cathy…it’s unbeliveable how unfair
    life is sometimes. The very best are taken away from us too early !!
    Yes, I will as so many else out there, remember your smile and kindness !!

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  25. Kathie (for Bob and Jeff) Booth :

    Where has the time gone? Trying to sleep on the floor in Brighton, armed with a spray bottle against maurading kitties.. watching you ascend in a silent, impossibly high balloon – amazed at your daring… laughing over enough cups of tea to fill the English Channel and Lake Bonavista… holding your hand after various accidents, knowing that whatever the injury, you’d learn from it, but it wouldn’t slow you down or cramp your style… so many “moments”, so many memories. Oh my dear, dear friend. Thank you for putting so much love, good food, adventure and laughter in our lives. ‘Til our spirits reconnect.

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