In memory of
Margaret Kesslering Weiers
November 29, 1928 -
December 17, 2018
Margaret Kesslering Weiers was born in 1928 and raised on a farm near Viceroy, Saskatchewan. She graduated from the University of Saskatchewan in 1949 with a BA in English and for the next five years she worked as a reporter at newspapers in Regina, including The Regina Leader-Post.
Margaret joined the Canadian Department of External Affairs as a Foreign Service Officer in 1955. She served in New York as a vice-consul at the Canadian Consulate General and as press officer to the Canadian Delegation to the United Nations General Assembly. The press office was a busy place as Lester B. Pearson navigated his way through the 1956 Suez Crisis and eventually won the Nobel Peace Prize.
Margaret married Robert Weiers in 1957, a happy occasion that also marked the end of her foreign service career because at that time the Department of External Affairs required women to resign after they married.
She left External and accompanied Bob on a 15-month foreign aid assignment in Ghana. While Bob helped set up a business school at the University of Accra, Margaret worked as a freelance writer for radio and television.
From 1963 until 1991, Margaret worked at The Toronto Star as a reporter, feature writer and a leading member of the newspaper’s editorial board.
Margaret wrote on a variety of subjects: health, social policy, women’s rights, human rights, indigenous issues, municipal and provincial politics, and international affairs.
In 1969, she won the Canadian Women’s Press Club Memorial Award for best news story and in 1979 she was the first journalist to receive a special award for "outstanding socially responsible journalism” from the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.
Upon her retirement, she was feted by colleagues as a "social reformer" who brought a feminist viewpoint to the editorial board in 1972.
“I wrote about equality for women, equality of opportunity and the ability to make choices about what women wanted to do with their lives. I supported public policies that encouraged that choice,” Margaret told the University of Saskatchewan alumni magazine.
“Throughout her quarter-century career at The Star, Margaret has been a pioneer, breaking down barriers that deserved to be broken”, said former Star publisher John Honderich upon her retirement in 1992. “Margaret always brought a wisdom, an abiding faith in liberal and democratic traditions, and an unshakable nationalism to the discussions.”
In retirement, Margaret researched and wrote a book: Envoys Extraordinary: Women of the Canadian Foreign Service. It was published by Dundurn Press, Toronto, in November 1995.
From 1998 to 2001, Margaret was a member of the Toronto District Health Council, a body that advises the Ontario government on health care needs and priorities in Toronto.
In June 2010, Margaret was awarded an honourary Doctor of Letters degree from her alma mater, the University of Saskatchewan.
Margaret was a strong supporter of the arts and had an avid interest in opera, ballet and theatre.
For more than 30 years she was a member and served on the executive committee of the Toronto Heliconian Club. The Heliconian mission is "to create an environment of mutual support, communication and engagement for women in the arts professions and those with a long-term interest in/support for the arts”.
She and her husband Bob also held season's tickets to the Toronto Blue Jays games and rarely missed a televised game of their "hometown" team, the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
Predeceased by her husband in 2002, she is survived by her son, Robert Weiers Jr. (Hedy Korbee) in Toronto and two siblings in Saskatchewan: Loretta Luster (Dan) in Montmartre, SK and Carl Kesslering (Carole) in Viceroy, SK, as well as many nieces and nephews in the Weiers and Kesslering famiies.
A Celebration of Life Mass will be held on Saturday, Dec. 22 at 10:30am at Transfiguration Of Our Lord Church, 45 Ludstone Drive, Etobicoke. Reception to follow.