Cherry Blossoms

Grace Margaret Mary Cowan

May 6, 1949 ~ March 21, 2024 (age 74) 74 Years Old
Obituary Image

Grace Cowan Obituary

Grace Margaret Mary Cowan – Born: May 6, 1949 (Toronto, ON) – Died: March 21, 2024 (Qualicum Beach, BC). 

Grace (Gracie) died peacefully in the company of her family at the Trillium Lodge Hospice. Predeceased by mother Anne (“Annie”), and father James (“Jim”); brothers James (“Jimmy”) and Peter, sister-in-law Juta and bother-in-law Mallory; nieces Melody-Rose and Julieanne (“Julie”), and nephew Peter. Survived by siblings Catherine (“Cathie”), Michael (“Mike”), Margaret (“Margie”), Anne, Mary, Rosemary (“Rosey”), Joseph (“Joey”), and the Cowan’s “11th child,” Jackie Eldridge; many sisters- and brothers-in-law; her beloved nieces and nephews Karleen, Dahlia, Ray, Bryce, Roberta, Amy, Sarah, Theresa, Jamie, Sheila, Joe, Marita, Thomas, Paul, Jacinta, Stefan, Dave, Kevin, Phil, Matt, Katie, Torrey, Dion, Liam and Ziggy, and 46 great-nieces and nephews.

Grace was a vibrant and central part of all of our lives and will continue to be a dynamic figure who will live on in our memories and the many fabulous “Gracie stories” we share across the generations. 

Gracie was a treasured daughter, sister, aunt, great-aunt, cousin, and dear friend and colleague to many. She was one-of-a-kind. Grace struck a wonderful paradoxical balance in her daily existence: she at once lived life fiercely and exuberantly on her own terms, and was a constant helper and care-giver to everyone in this large extended family and well beyond. Grace was a force of nature!  Incredibly thoughtful, kind, and generous with her time, energy, and money, Grace loved her family and friends unconditionally.  She accepted and delighted in everyone for who they wanted to be and what they stood for, and supported her siblings, friends and many nieces and nephews to follow their dreams and be free to be and express themselves for who they were and what they stood for. Equally, Grace will fondly be remembered as never one to hold back on her opinions, and as an ardently joyous believer in the practice of never letting the truth get in the way of a good story, about herself or others! 

Grace was born in Toronto on May 6th, 1949. The 6th of 10 children to Annie and Jim Cowan, Grace attended St. Joseph’s elementary and Notre Dame high school and Centennial College in Toronto’s East End. Following college, Grace lived in the Yukon (mainly in Whitehorse) and Vancouver, BC, where she had an early career as a manager of hotels, bars, and restaurants, loved to adventure, and made many lifelong friends. During these years on the West Coast, she also loved to spend time in Hawai’i. She returned to Ontario in 1988, when she moved with her sister Margie and brother-in-law Dick Abbott and their family, and she lived with them in Cochrane for one year. Gracie then moved to Toronto in 1989, where she spent many years caring for her parents, along with her Toronto-based siblings. After her dad Jim’s death in 1993, she moved into and maintained the much-loved family home on Jones Ave (and cottage in Torrance), where she stayed with her mom, Annie, until Annie’s death in 2006, keeping her mother company for the last 12 years of her life, and making it possible for her to stay (and die) at home. 

During this time, Gracie also kept the Jones Ave house running as a comforting and welcoming home-base for the wandering Cowan clan, as we all had a key to the house and would stay there for short and long periods of time, as we needed. As nephew Stefan puts it, Gracie was the one who kept the Jones Ave house ready to host all those travelers, revelers, and neighbours, and the reason there was always tea and cookies in the cupboard. After her mother died, Gracie took her own apartment in the East End, and always kept a spare bedroom ready and a veggie lasagne in the freezer for the wandering Cowans, a new home-central. 

Gracie’s began her second career in 1990 at the Toronto District School Board, where she was Secretary and unofficial VP at Central Tech(nical) School, helping many students to thrive in difficult circumstances, especially many students whose families had recently arrived in Canada. 

After retirement in 2014, Gracie followed her heart back out West, to Vancouver Island. She lived her last decade in Qualicum Beach, close to sisters Mary and Rosey and brother-in-law Tom, nephew Jamie, as well as several beloved Mallany cousins, many good friends old and new, and most recently, great-niece Cora, who spent a lot of time with Gracie in the last few months of her life. During her retirement years, Gracie welcomed many visitors and, as always, she kept a spare room and an open door. Gracie was very much in her happy place living on the West coast and she loved to take long walks, especially with Mary’s two dogs, Ben and Lucy. She especially loved the early spring blossoms, Cathedral Grove, and the Pacific Ocean. 

Grace did not wish to have a formal memorial service or celebration of life. Her wishes were to be cremated and her ashes spread into her favorite creek near her home, which flows into the Pacific Ocean. In her death, Grace wished to travel the seas, visiting her many family members and friends around the world along the way. Following these wishes, Grace’s ashes will be spread on May 6th, 2024 - on what would have been her 75th birthday. On this day, friends and family are encouraged to raise a glass (preferably of Southern Comfort!) wherever you are in the world, in honor of Grace. 

Family and friends are encouraged to share their memories and “Gracie stories” in the comments section of the Yates Memorial website. 

Gracie believed passionately in the right of every child to live in a safe environment and to reach their potential, and would speak out about this at every opportunity. Therefore, in lieu of flowers, please send donations to: War Child Canada ( or Quilts for Survivors (, initiatives that were near and dear to her heart. 

Finally, we would like to thank Barb, Pauline and Julie for their care and kindness to Grace. The entire Cowan family is so grateful.





















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