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About Mary Bonell

Portrait of Mary Gray approximately 1938Mary Bonell, (neé Gray) was born in Sheenboro, Quebec on April 14th, 1919. She was the third youngest of eight siblings. She was a beautiful, caring woman of faith and courage throughout her entire earthly-journey. Mom married our father, Douglas Bonell, shortly after World War II 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, Ontario, to a small farm near Burritt’s Rapids, Ontario. Together, our Mother and Father raised seven children. Dad farmed and also ran a sawmill 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 did not have indoor plumbing or much in the way of electricity. The laundry was done in a large 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 great cook and every Saturday, weather permitting, my sisters, brothers 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 provide free baked goods for them: bread, pies, cookies and railroad buns.

Mom and Dad wanted to own the farm that they had worked so hard to maintain; however, it was not 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. When the company closed unexpectedly, they started their own fruit and vegetable business. We sold apples door to door in various villages and towns. On weekends, we sold our fruit and vegetables at our own vegetable stand. I travelled there not too long ago and was amazed to see that the fruit stand and cold storage building that our Dad had built are 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 never gave up! She was an amazing and unique inspiration to all of us, and, she taught us to hold onto our values and never give up hope; 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.

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.

“If We All Help A Little, We All Will Have Helped A Lot”

Learn about the Mary’s Place Housing Program.