(October 26,1929 – August 22, 2019)
After a lifetime of fighting through many challenges, Doreen was graced with passing away peacefully at Miramichi Lodge in Pembroke, on August 22, 2019, in her 90th year.
Doreen Marie McKay was born on October 26, 1929 in Fernie, British Columbia, three days before the stock market crash that started the Great Depression. Like so many who lived through that time, Doreen at an early age became resourceful, practical, and very, very determined.
Her character was enhanced by qualities inherited from her family. She admired her dad, Walter, immensely. He had a keen intellect and a wry sense of humour, and Doreen adapted these attributes to her own life as she became a dedicated elementary school teacher, captivated by the nuances of words, and able to roll with the many punches that life threw her way.
Doreen was intensely proud of her big brother, Harry, who saw active service in WWII and distinguished the family by becoming a judge on the BC Supreme Court. Doreen believed that growing up in the small coal mining town of Michel, as she and her brother did, was “a privilege,” one that forged remarkable people out of a unique environment.
In high school, Doreen constantly earned the lead in school plays, and she was proud of the awards won in competition. This spilled over into a love of all artistic pursuits – poetry, writing, sewing, knitting, music, painting, gardening.
Always up for adventure, Doreen went to Germany in 1962 to teach, returning to Canada in 1965 with husband Michael Haza and daughter Catherine. Settling in Aurora, Doreen made strong friendships there, especially with Ada Johnson, who gave Mom tremendous support and strength throughout her life. The Hazas moved to Pembroke in 1968. At the age of 41, Mom learned to drive, taking lessons and passing her test all within 5 days. She was fearless.
Doreen loved travelling, breathing in the varied cultures of Europe, the Middle East, China, the United States, and Canada. Despite being attracted to the countries of the world, Doreen was a fiercely patriotic Canadian. A copious letter-writer, one of her “hobbies” was to write well-crafted, opinionated letters to the long-standing MPP for Renfrew-Nippissing-Pembroke, which he always received graciously.
Always generous with friends, Doreen was in her element when hosting a party. She loved trying new recipes and made countless jars of jam and preserves. Numerous volunteer positions benefitted from her vision and commitment – the library, figure skating club, Baden DND radio station. Mom always proudly honoured the November 11 Remembrance Day ceremonies.
In 2004, Doreen and Michael became grandparents of the lovely Sarah. “Gamma” found Sarah “enchanting,” and saw herself in her granddaughter – the same unconventional sense of humour, energy, artistic flair, athletic skill, love of words, enthusiasm for trying anything new, and passion for politics.
Fiercely independent, a disabling stroke was not on Mom’s agenda. But her inner strength persisted, and she continued to dream big and make plans.
There will be no funeral. Friends and family will gather at a later date. It was Doreen’s wish to be returned to her beloved BC. Her ashes will be scattered near Michel Creek, nestled in the Crowsnest Pass, the place she always thought of as “home.”
The family wish to thank Romeo and Heather Levasseur, Dr. Brian Baxter, and the staff of Miramichi–3B, all for their compassion and tireless commitment to Mom’s well-being throughout the years.
In memory of Doreen, donations may be made to either of the causes close to her heart: The Royal Canadian Legion, Pembroke Branch – Poppy Fund (Poster, Essay and Poetry Contest) or the Pembroke Public Library.
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I --
I took the one less travelled by
And that has made all the difference.”