Mary Gray, was born in Sheenboro Quebec on April 14th, 1919. Mary was the third youngest of eight siblings. She was a beautiful caring woman of faith and courage throughout her entire earthly journey. She married our father, Douglas Bonell shortly after World War Two ended. (Dad was a WWII officer with both the RAF and the RCAF in Britain under Air Transport command Squadron 525.) In 1951 they moved their then little family, from Pembroke to a small farm near Burritts Rapids Ontario. Together, our Mother and Dad raised seven children.
Dad farmed and also ran a saw mill that he built, while Mom cared for us and our home. At that time Mom was a traditional 40’’s, 50’s, 60’s, homemaker. We didn’t have indoor plumbing or much in the way of electricity. The laundry was done in a big metal wash tub using a scrub board. The clothes dryer was the clothes line. Ironing was done using two irons that were heated in the fireplace. Everything was homemade. Mom was a good cook and every Saturday, weather permitting, my sister and brother and I would walk into the village to deliver Mom’s baking to other families. Some of the families paid for her baking however there were a couple of families who were less fortunate so Mom would bake bread and pies and cookies and rail road buns for them to help out.
Mom and Dad wanted to own the farm that they had worked so hard to maintain however it wasn’t meant to be as the owner was not a man of his word.
In 1959 Mom and Dad moved our family to a small home located between Kemptville and Spencerville Ontario. They found jobs working in accounting at a construction company near Brockville Ontario and when that company closed unexpectedly they started their own fruit and vegetable business. We sold apples door to door in various villages and towns and on the weekends we sold our fruit and vegetables at our own vegetable stand. I travelled by there not too long ago and was amazed to see that the fruit stand and cold storage building that our Dad had built were still on the property.
The journey wasn’t always easy for either of our parents, and there were many trying times, however Mom persevered and she never gave up! She was an amazing inspiration to all of us and she taught us to hold onto our values and never give up hope and to always look ahead and not behind. She taught us to be independent and resilient and fight for our rights and our dreams.
Mom was very sociable and easy to talk to. She shared her stories which made it easy for people to open up to her. Money and the lack thereof was always a topic of discussion then, as it still is today.
Mom passed away September 2, 1995 leaving a rich legacy for each of us to embrace and pass on to our children and grandchildren. The Mary’s Place Housing Program is in memory of her beautiful spirit and soul and all that she gave to so many throughout her journey here on earth.
Jennifer D Phillips-Renwick
If We All Help A Little, We Will All Help A Lot!