Elizabeth Joan MacMillan

Elizabeth Joan MacMillan (MacSweyn)

Saturday, August 28th, 1937 - Sunday, November 15th, 2020
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With love in our hearts, we celebrate the life of Elizabeth Joan (MacSweyn) MacMillan who passed away peacefully on Sunday, November 15, 2020.

Wife for 60 years to John Myles and loving mother to Leanne (David), Kerri (Stephen) and Cindy. Her four “grand-girls”, Natasha, Cailin (Brett), Kirsten (Jon) and Kacie (Brad), have many memories of their beloved Nanny from sugar cookies to Barbies.

Joan was born near Dalkeith on August 28, 1937, the daughter of Donald and Ella MacSweyn. She attended teachers’ college in Ottawa and returned to teach at the Pine Grove one room schoolhouse where some of the students may have been almost her age, and many were certainly taller.

Joan and Myles married on July 9, 1960 and moved to Ottawa where they would spend their working lives. She returned to teaching after the births of her daughters and had a successful and rewarding career primarily teaching Grade 1 at Queen of the Angels and Prince of Peace Elementary Schools. She loved the Dr. Seuss and Mr. Mugs books. Joan enjoyed teaching where her compassion and strength was well needed and used. Her good works were many but always quiet and unassuming. Although she loved watching young children play, learn and grow, her eyes could “stop a train” and many a Grade 1 student was quieted by merely a glance.

While Myles worked away for many months in the early years, Joan completed a Bachelor of Arts at Carleton University while raising three daughters and working full time, demonstrating her quiet but fierce determination.

Along with Myles, Joan was an active volunteer and a founding member of the Glengarry Club of Ottawa helping to organize social events, concerts, dinners and dances. Throughout her life, she was a strong supporter of local Glengarry talent.

Upon retirement, Joan and her dancing partner, Myles, returned to Glengarry where they rarely missed a social event. They especially enjoyed listening and dancing to the Brigadoons. Sunday afternoon gatherings at “The Lake” were legendary for both the MacSweyn and MacMillan families and friends.

While living at Loch Garry, Joan volunteered with Meals on Wheels, Laggan Public School and the Sports Hall of Fame. Her organizational skills were remarkable, sorting and maintaining historical documents, photos and memories from many groups.

Joan and Myles made one final move to Alexandria where Joan fell in love with the sunroom on St. George Street. Many hours were spent coordinating her photo albums, scrap books and updating the various family “trees” and histories. Her work will be treasured for generations.

Every person became part of the family after one visit with Joan. Each of her homes had an open-door policy and she provided judgement free safe havens and a warm welcome. Children somehow always knew how to find the boxes of toys, including her legendary Barbie box. After every visit, Joan would stand at the window to make sure you were safely on your way. Her only request was you should come back soon.

Whether in Ottawa or Halifax, “Nanny” made sure sugar cookies were received for distribution to classmates. Joan celebrated every birthday, holiday, graduation or “just because” occasion with a card that included her signature calligraphy and smiley faces.

Joan and Myles loved to travel across Canada, annually to Florida, occasionally to Europe and enjoyed cruises in the Caribbean and the North. The Halifax grand-girls looked forward to the extended visits from Nanny and Grandpa and as a result they never felt too far away. Joan continued to watch the “Live at 5” Halifax News every evening.

Summers at Loch Garry are well remembered, as are visits to Oceanside 99 in Florida, back to school shopping trips and baking where Joan would pretend not to notice how much dough was eaten.

Joan was a sharp-witted sports fan who loved everything from curling to hockey. She also took pride in dressing well, demonstrating a keen fashion sense her whole life. Her matching jewellery, shoes and purses were a source of wonder and delight.

Joan was a woman of faith and was a strong presence at Holy Cross Parish, St. Peter’s Parish and St. Finnan’s Cathedral.

Joan will be remembered as an eternal optimist who could always find something to be thankful for and who made sure those around her knew that she loved and appreciated them. Even when her own challenges seemed insurmountable, she continued to surpass them with grace and strength. Later in life Joan welcomed health care providers into her home who became part of her family. She loved and cared for everyone she met, and worried for their safety, especially in these difficult times.

Her brothers and sisters (“in-laws” and “out-laws”) nieces and nephews, grand nieces and nephews and great-grandsons will miss her deeply.

All who knew Joan will strive to match the wonderful example she set for a long life, well lived and well loved.

In lieu of flowers, if you would like to make a donation in memory of Joan MacMillan, please consider Maison Interlude House in Alexandria which provides, shelter, programs and services for women survivors of domestic violence and their children:

To honour Joan’s wishes, there was no visitation. A private burial of Joan’s cremated ashes took place on Friday November 20, 2020 at St. Finnan’s Cemetery. A memorial mass will be held in 2021 when things are safer.
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Service Details

  • Service

    A Private Mass of Christian Burial was held


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Private Condolence

Bruce and Lynn MacGillivray

Posted at 09:17am
To the MacMillan and MacSweyn families,
Our deepest sympathy to you in the loss of Joan. We are thinking of all of you.
Sincerely, Bruce and Lynn MacGillivray

Directors of The Sports Hall of Fame

Posted at 07:09am
The Glengarry Sports Hall of Fame would like to offer its deepest sympathy to the MacMillan and MacSweyn families. She was a great supporter and will be greatly missed. Joan's years of hard work & dedication is evident throughout The Hall and she is fondly remembered often at meetings and Induction dinners.

Byron Lemmex

Posted at 09:28am
My condolences to the family. It was a pleasure to know both Myles and Joan.

Sylvia Fraser

Posted at 01:22pm
My deepest sympathies to the MacSweyn and MacMillan families.

Rita scott

Posted at 12:51pm
I was saddened to hear of Joan's passing. Please accept my condolences.

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