Marg Meikle and Noel MacDonald*

Marg Meikle

Porridge for Parkinson’s: Just one of her many, many legacies

Marg Meikle

Founding patron, friend and inspiration, Marg Meikle, passed away on December 21, 2013. Of the many tributes to Marg, broadcaster Bill Richardson recorded a personal reflection on her life and legacy. (Dec 16 2013)

A remembrance by Marg’s dear friend, Sheila Knox, 2011

In my mind’s eye, Marg is doing five things at once. She is drinking tea, knitting, reading a magazine, fielding a phone call and oh!, visiting with me. Always generous, she has probably come bearing a perfect gift.

I grew up in Kerrisdale and went to Maple Grove and Magee a year ahead of Marg. We got to know each other in high school. I remember her showing me her resume in her late teens. It was already three pages long.

As adults, we have rarely lived in the same city but kept in faithful touch. I left Vancouver for Ontario, eventually settling in Toronto. She often stayed with us when passing through, bearing generous and often eccentric gifts. I recall a bundle of interesting stationery supplies around the time of her You-send-it business, and always, a copy of her latest book. We lived briefly at the same time in Ottawa, the only time one of her many careers overlapped with mine. She was working as a conservator on the Museumobile, and I worked at Parks Canada, and what is now the Canadian Museum of Civilization. The nature of her Museumobile job meant that I saw Marg a lot less than I had expected.

Marg and I share a love of crafts, and she was instrumental in encouraging some of my most epic projects. She gave me a book about Seminole patchwork that had inspired her to a flurry of quilt making. Sure enough, for the next couple of years my friends and relations were the recipients of Seminole patchwork quilts. I even made a few Christmas decorations that more truly reflected the miniature intricacies of this amazing craft.

I think of Marg every Christmas, because so many of my decorations are gifts from her.  There are turkeys, sheep, and yes, a Mountie, among them.

One of my most treasured possessions is an afghan Marg made as a wedding gift. It’s impeccably knitted in the Irish Aran style, and the wool is warm enough to warm an easterner’s heart – and toes! Another is the Cowichan sweater she had one of her favourite knitters make for me. A third and fourth – the two sweaters I knit for my first-born from Knitwear Architects patterns.

When Mac was five, I spent an amazing nine days in Paris as one of the oldest au pairs ever. On one outing, I took him for the best hot chocolate at the iconic Angelina’s, and to the carousels and remote sailboats at the Tuileries. What a privilege to see Paris through the eyes of a precocious five-year-old.

In more recent years, Marg has inspired me to take on Porridge for Parkinson’s with a vengeance. At Marg’s request, my neighbour Donna Walsh and I ‘test drove’ her concept in 2002 using tools on the website. We came back to it in 2007. At this writing, our biannual version, complete with celebrity chefs and a team of incredibly dedicated and smart people, has raised nearly $200,000 for Parkinson’s research during three Sunday morning events. I cannot describe the influence this experience has had on my life-developing skills, growing as a person and meeting amazing people. That’s the biggest and best gift I’ve received from Marg.

Just one of her many, many legacies.

*Photo of Marg and Noel (top) by Dina Goldstein, courtesy of Canadian Living.