Photography

Joan Marilyn (Douglas) Ward

November 14, 1938 ~ March 30, 2022 (age 83)

Obituary

Ward, Joan Marylin (nee Douglas) – died peacefully on March 30th, 2022, at Andy’s House Hospice in Port Carling, Ontario. She was born on November 14th, 1938, in St. Mary’s Ontario, where she attended elementary and high school. Her parents owned a garage there, and later a trailer park in Grand Bend called Wondergrove. In her early teens, Joan, with her mother’s blessing, fibbed about her age and moved away to be a waitress at Milford Bay Manor in Muskoka. She had chutzpah and she loved an adventure – just like her mom.   

Joan graduated from Ryerson Polytechnical Institute in Toronto with a diploma in Interior Design. She was one of only three women in Canada at the time to become a member of the National Society of Interior Designers. While attending Ryerson, she caught the eye of a promising footballer and part-time caterer, Arthur Ward, who was enrolled in the hospitality program.

Whilst working together at Cleveland's House, Muskoka, in the summer of 1958, they became ‘smitten’ - with each other as well as the resort lifestyle. They married soon after graduating in 1960 and began working various assignments in Hamilton and Brockville. Joan’s acumen for style and design fit nicely with hospitality and in 1967 they soon settled in as Innkeepers of the Wigamog Inn in beautiful Haliburton. This was the canvas to which Joan applied her creative talents for 27 years and raised her three ‘wild ferrets’, Kimberley, Lisa, and Christopher. These were the 70s and 80s and ‘Joannie’ embodied everything social and colourful about these times. She was a fiercely independent woman and respected for her keen sense of fashion and her acerbic tongue. When trying to make a point she would often say - “I like to call a spade a f#%&$# shovel when I see one”.  

After retiring, Joan purchased Country Rose Garden Center from dear friend (and previous head waitress of Wigamog) - Brenda Ripley.  It still flourishes today. She also opened Antiques and Neat Stuff beside “The Rose” and toiled about in her little piece of paradise there until 2017 – talking the ear off complete strangers and entertaining them with her incredible ability to find that six or seven degrees of separation where she inevitably knew something about someone in your family. 

Joan was a huge fan of the arts, of antique stores, of counting cards at her epic bridge nights, telling jokes and being a confidant to countless staff and friends over the years. She was known as “The Dragon Lady”.  We are not sure why, but it likely had something to do with industrial chain-smoking combined with tired exasperation when she let people know where they stood after crossing her. She was someone who rarely knew where her kids were, but always knew that they were safe … ish.

Joan is predeceased by her husband Art (Dec ’21) and her brothers Gary and Bob Douglas. She is survived by daughters Kimberley and Lisa, son Christopher and 10 grandchildren. As per Joan’s wishes, there will be no service. Cremation took take place in Toronto with her final resting place at the Ingoldsby United Cemetery near her beloved town of Haliburton, beside husband Art, mother Mayme, and father Murray. If you listen closely … you will likely still hear them arguing. Dragons are like that.

Charitable donations can be made to your local cancer agency as her second-hand smoke has affected many.  Her humour will be missed, her style sense will forever be remembered, and her poker pot remains hidden.  Thank you for everything mom, we love and miss you dearly – despite the times you docked our pay for taking lunch breaks when we worked through. Set ‘em straight up there and say hello to Caesar for us.  

To send flowers to Joan's family, please visit our floral store.


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