Mary Ann Armstrong
1961 - 2020
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Peacefully after an illness, on Friday, Oct. 16, age 59 at Peterborough Hospice. Loving mother of Grace Armstrong. Beloved sister of Samuel Armstrong, (Kristine Delkus) Jerrold (Joe) Armstrong, (Laurie Bruvall), Jane Armstrong, Patricia Armstrong Egan (Tim Egan). Beloved aunt of Lauren, Joseph, Jake, Lilja and David Armstrong, and Mary Jane, Barbara, Charlotte, Elinor and Brigid Egan. Daughter of Gordon Bill Armstrong. Predeceased by her mother, Elizabeth Mary O'Connell. Mary Ann was born in Regina, Saskatchewan in 1961, and spent her childhood in various towns and cities across Canada, including the Saskatchewan towns of Swift Current and Melfort, as well as Ottawa, Yellowknife, N.W.T. and Vancouver. In 1975, her mother Elizabeth settled the family in Peterborough, Ont. Mary Ann studied English as an undergraduate at Trent University, and later earned a Master of English from the University of Toronto. In between, she travelled to Ecuador, where she tutored students in English. She loved the country and returned twice to travel and work. She was taken with Ecuador's mild climate and natural environment, which was so different from what she had known in Canada, as well as the music and vibrant family and community life. After graduating U of T, she launched her career at Trent University's Academic Skills Centre. Mary Ann spent 20 years at Trent, teaching writing to undergraduates. She was a rigorous grammarian; her nieces and nephews were known to refer to summer holidays with her as "Camp Grammar." A gifted teacher, she was able to make clear the complexities of the English language. Mary Ann was an avid reader all her life, devouring books from the time she first learned to read. As a child, she read wherever she could find a quiet spot; under the covers, in the bathroom, on the school bus; she always had a book -- or books -- on hand. She brought books to her chemotherapy treatments in Oshawa. Her tastes were varied and eclectic. She loved the Brontes, Austen, as well as well-crafted mysteries, early 20th-century women writers, and, for some reason never fully understood by those closest to her, biographies of Princess Diana. She scoured libraries, second-hand bookstores and online for titles, and was uncannily accurate in making recommendations to friends and families. Having come to her love of reading early in life, she had a wonderful memory for the best children's books and a collection that allowed her to share her love of books with her daughter, nieces and nephews. Mary Ann lived a rich life of the mind. She loved beauty -- in music, dance, literature, and nature -- and appreciated the time, quiet, and solitude to enjoy it. She had only a limited interest in the practical things of life -- she refused to learn how to cook -- but was rigorously logical and very loyal to those whom she loved. She was a great person in a crisis. With her daughter Grace, she enjoyed watching old movies such as Gone with the Wind and Jane Eyre. And she often helped Grace with her English papers. She was a devout and thoughtful Catholic, who believed in and practised her faith with intelligence and charity. Her closest friends in Peterborough were Debby Keating and Johanna Corkery, whom she met as a student. She shared her intelligence, knowledge, and humour with her friends; she was profoundly grateful for their many kindnesses, especially in her final illness, and for the pleasure of their company over many years. Many thanks to the staff at Hospice Peterborough for their loving care of Mary Ann and their sensitivity with family and friends. Funeral mass at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Chains, Peterborough, Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020, at 10 a.m. Interment St. Peter's Cemetery, Peterborough. Visitation is at Highland Park Funeral Centre at 7-9 p.m., 2510 Bensfort Road, on Monday, Oct. 19, 2020. In memory of Mary Ann, the family would be grateful for donations to the Canadian Cancer Society, Hospice Peterborough, or a charity of your choice.

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Published in The Peterborough Examiner on Oct. 21, 2020.
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Memories & Condolences
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3 entries
October 22, 2020
I was a graduate student with Mary Ann at UofT, and then we discovered that we both lived on Gilmour St. in Peterborough. We studied 18th century poetry together. Whenever she spoke in seminars, I always knew I would learn something interesting and meaningful. After that I used to see her on Gilmour St. with Grace--what a beautiful name she gave her daughter. I'm so sorry to learn of her death.
Sharon Ragaz
October 22, 2020
Working at Trent I saw first hand how many students Mary Ann touched. She left a lasting impression with those that benefitted from her wisdom.
Craig Cameron
Craig Cameron
October 21, 2020
I worked with Mary Ann at Trent. I so much appreciated her professionalism, her care, her intelligence and thoughtfulness in all matters. She leaves a rich legacy among students and instructors who benefitted from her knowledge and kindness.
Rita Bode
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