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ANDERSON, Margaret (Mabel) (nee Merchant)

October 1, 1945 – Prince Albert, Alberta
December 11, 2018 – Calgary, Alberta

Margaret slipped away early Tuesday morning, listening to Leonard Cohen and holding Hal’s hand. She wrestled cancer for the last five years, but her body finally gave out. Thanks to everyone at the Tom Baker, smiling faces to the end, Doctor Wally Temple (Margaret’s favorite), Dr. Scot Dowden (Margaret’s second favorite), and all the Nurse’s Aides, Nurses and Doctors in Unit 47, the Intensive Palliative Care Unit. Your care was wonderful.

She much preferred Margaret and probably wouldn’t even look up for a Mabel. On her last driver’s license, she dropped the Mabel altogether. Margaret is survived by husband Hal, daughters Tamara, and Alana, son-in-law Michael, and grandchildren Bodie, Wyatt, Lauren, Cailynn and Sloane. Her mantra during the cancer fight was BOWYLACASLO, from the grand kids’ names. She is also survived by sister-in-law Belva of Creston, stepsister Joan and her husband Larry of Huntsville, Texas. Margaret was predeceased by father, Arnold, mother, Mabel, stepfather Frank and brother, Bill.

Margaret was born in Victoria hospital, Prince Albert, weighing 6 lbs. 2 ¼ oz. According to her mother, she was “short, tiny and fat”. She slept through the night at 13 weeks, said dadda and mamma at 9 months and walked at a year. Early days were spent around Shell Lake. Most of her childhood, her family chased Arnold, her father, around heavy construction sites in western Canada — Trail, Holberg, Courtney, Cassiar, Grand Rapids. One year, Arnold took time off heavy construction and bought a hotel in Hammond. Margaret, her brother Bill, her mother Mabel, grandmother Sybil all helped Arnold keep the hotel running smoothly. But it wasn’t long before construction sites lured Arnold away and the family was back moving again. Margaret completed grades 10 and 11 by correspondence, and grade 12 at Viscount Bennet High School in Calgary.

She went on to business training at Henderson. Immediately after graduating and based on neighbor Ray Levesque’s recommendation, she started work at the fur trappers, more properly known as Hudson’s Bay Oil and Gas. Margaret worked her way up to what we used to call secretary now administrative assistant to the Calgary District Superintendent. Her job, in addition to letters, memos, AFEs, rig reports, personnel, salaries, etc. was to know where everyone was, all the time. If a rig, completion, plant or partner had a problem, Margaret knew where to track down her boss or the engineers or whomever to fix it. Black Knight, Toby Jug, Empress, Guv’nors Grill, Beachcomber, Owl’s Nest, Caravan, 400 Club, Pete Club. Wherever. She could sort it out and HBOG ran smoothly.

In June 1969, she married Hal. That June was a particularly rainy period in Calgary. They were sandbagging the Elbow outside the apartment window. Her hair suffered. Her guests had to walk a plank to get to the washrooms at the reception, but it was a fruitful union. Daughter Tamara was born at Foothills the day after Grey Cup and Alana was born in Edmonton on the longest day.

Margaret was always interested in cooking and baking, subscribing to Time Life Foods of the World in the 60’s. She cooked Paella long before there was a restaurant of that name, prepared Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourguignon and Coq au Vin before westerners could pronounce them, and haunted the aisles of Woodward’s Food Court. She collected cookbooks, no collected is not the right word she bought, and had and used cookbooks, every day. During renovations to her kitchen, she added a book case above the desk. It was filled within days. Recently, when Margaret’s diet consisted of ice chips, Mike brought her a couple of holiday cooking magazines. To some it might be torture. But to Marg it was joy. She pored over them many times. “You know any other magazine or newspaper, you read it once and you’re done. But these you could read over and over.” She watched the cooking shows right till the end.

Her husband dragged her and Tamara to Edmonton for his work. She put up with it as an adventure, but they were frequent travelers on Number 2. Edmonton wasn’t too bad. The summer days were longer and evening’s warmer. You could sit out after eight. Also, Alana was born, another bonus. When the family moved back to Oakridge in 1980, Margaret decided it was time to learn to swim. So, she signed up for Scared Stiff swimming lessons at the Haddon Road “Y”. Eleanor was among the other equally scared participants. Was it the white knuckled grip they both used to hang on to the edge or other factors that brought them together? It doesn’t matter. They have remained lifelong friends and more than swimming buddies ever since.

Hal submitted Margaret and the family to another adventure, this time to Ahmedabad, India. Margaret managed the household, the kids, the schools, the shopping, the servants, and all in fourty degree heat. As an adventure. Servants weren’t all they are cracked up to be. It would have been easier for Margaret to do the dishes than explain no we don’t want them rubbed in sand, yes, we want the water hot, yes, we want to use soap. During one trip to Gir Forest to see the Asian Lions, when food, accommodation, everything was a disaster, she encouraged everyone with “Come on you guys, this is an adventure.” After a year, the family returned to Canada. It was not unusual to go to the grocery store and just look. There were just so many choices.

When the first grandchild was born sixteen years ago, Margaret developed a special bond with Bodie. And as Wyatt and Lauren and Cailynn and Sloane joined the family she had special bonds with all of them. Every one of them, for all these years, has pestered their parents, “Can we go to Gramma’s house?” It may have been for the macaroni, cheese and tomatoes, or the sweaters and toques she knit, or to use her “sew-er” machine to fix a cuff or a seam, or to hear the Hat or Worrywarts stories. But mostly it was for the love she gave them. Gramma couldn’t go to the Civic Symphony Christmas concert this year. But she heard all about it from five excited grandkids Sunday evening. Then Margaret said goodbye.

Margaret, now you are on the greatest adventure of all. And we are all wishing you on.

Like she told Alana the other day, “If you run into a cooker and a baker, think of me.”

Services will be held at St. Peters Anglican Church, 903 – 75th Avenue SW, on Saturday, December 22 at 1:00 p.m. with reception to follow in the hall.

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Condolence Messages

  1. Mike laBerge & Jerry-Lynn Fossenier

    Hal and family, my sincere condolences for your loss at this time. The beauty of Margaret is seen through her gifts to the world, in the quality husband she chose, the children and grand children she blessed the universe with and shared with all for eternity. Our prayers are with you.

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  2. Bob and Kathy Hulbert

    Hal, Bob and I are so sorry to hear of Marg’s passing . Our condolences and thoughts are with you and your family. Love, Bob and Kathy

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  3. Hal, I’m very sorry to hear of Margaret’s passing. My prayers are with you.

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  4. Mr Anderson and family, my deepest sympathies to you for your loss. Mrs Anderson was a wonderful person. May the many amazing memories of her and your adventures bring you all comfort during this time and through the Christmas season❤️❤️ With Love Michelle

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  5. Hal, my condolences to you and all the family on the loss of Margaret.
    I remember her as a warm and wonderful lady with a great sense of humour.
    My thoughts and prayers are with you.

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