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Margaret Norrie McCain 1951

First Female Lieutenant Governor of New Brunswick and Officer of the Order of Canada

A tireless advocate for women and children in Canada, Margaret is a valued member of the Havergal community and one of the brightest examples of Havergal Old Girls “making a difference for good” in our world.

The Honourable Margaret Norrie McCain, O.C. is a name well known at Havergal College. Margaret McCain enjoys not only a distinguished public profile in Canada, particularly through her focus on women and children, but also a distinguished history in the Havergal community.

Having attended Havergal herself, she has served on its Board of Governors and has seen six of her grandchildren attend the school. As well, she and her family have been generous donors to Havergal’s endowment and to the school building campaign. Indeed, the Junior School is named after her. Recently another wonderful connection between Margaret and Havergal has arisen. The former Havergal Ladies College on Jarvis Street, built in 1898, has been renovated as part of the recently completed National Ballet School complex. In recognition of the McCains’ generosity to the Ballet School, the former Havergal building has been named the Margaret McCain Academic Building.

In addition to her promotion of music and the arts at both provincial and national levels, Margaret has been tireless in her efforts to improve the lives of women and children in Canada. She is a founding member of the Muriel McQueen Fergusson Foundation in New Brunswick; its mission is to eliminate family violence through public education and research. Her current affiliations also attest to this commitment: The Learning Partnership, Canada’s National Ballet School, The Canadian Women’s Foundation and the Atkinson Centre for Society and Child Development. Margaret brings compassion and an intense sense of purpose to her work in supporting education and the welfare of Canada’s young people.

In 1999, with Dr. Fraser Mustard, she published Early Years Study: Reversing the Real Brain Drain. This work, which was developed for the Ontario government, elaborates on new findings in neuroscience and what they tell us about the critical importance of nurturing the child in its first six years. Dr. Mustard, a great admirer, says, “Margaret has used her intelligence, energy and resources to assist and improve the lives of women and young children. In all this work, it is clear that she is extremely dedicated to building and sustaining an equitable society in which the important role of women is understood and respected. She has made a profound impact on all members of our society who have interacted with her.”

To meet Margaret McCain is to encounter a strong but humble woman, a woman who is determined, persistent and loyal to her family, her friends and her causes. First female Lieutenant Governor of New Brunswick, member of the Order of Canada, and recently named as one of the “100 Most Powerful Canadian Women”: Ms. McCain surely leads the way in ‘making a difference’.

One might imagine Ellen Knox walking the school grounds on a bright May morning. Her silver hair gleams in the early light as she ambles along in her full, Victorian dress and white lace collar. Generation after generation of Havergal students file past her. Miss Knox, eager to know the history of the school she led more than a century ago, says to each woman, “Tell me, what have you done?” She and the educators who followed her expected Old Girls to improve the social fabric of their communities. On that imaginary May morning, few will impress Ellen Knox more than Margaret McCain whose life of service and generosity has set a standard for us all.

Written by Rosemary Corbett