A Legacy of Love
Remembering Muriel Duckworth, Her Later Years, 1996-2009
Anyone who doubts if one person can make a difference in the world may become a believer after reading A Legacy of Love, a remembrance of activist Muriel Duckworth who died on August 22, 2009, at the age of 100.
Marion Douglas Kerans–the author of Muriel Duckworth: A Very Active Pacifist–has compiled people’s memories of Muriel during her last twelve years, memories that touch on “her views on education, religion, death, war and love.”
Muriel Helena Ball was born in Austin, Quebec, in 1908. She had a wonderful first role model in her mother who, she admits, “did remarkable things”. Among those things, “she emptied our china cabinet and put books in it and made a little lending library. She read Nellie McClung [an early women’s rights pioneer], fed hungry people off the train, welcomed homeless young girls, [and] raised money to start a seniors’ home.”
At McGill University, Muriel became active in the Student Christian Movement, and cited that as “the most important part of her university education.” She married Jack Duckworth in 1929, and they moved their family to Halifax in 1947, when he took up the position of general secretary of the YMCA.
The book offers glimpses of many of the highlights of her long and extraordinary peace and political activism. She was the national president of the Voice of Women (a peace organization), and she helped found seventeen provincial and national groups. She was awarded twelve honourary doctorates, the Order of Canada and the Pearson Peace Medal, among others. A Legacy of Love is a lovely tribute to Muriel Duckworth by family and friends from many walks of life. Some share small remembrances but all combine to create a picture of a woman who believed that the world could be a better place for all.
In her entry, author Heather Menzies remembers Muriel “being so present in the moment with everyone she encountered that whoever she was talking with not only felt as important as anyone else, but also believed that what they shared in that moment really mattered.” –Sharon Hunt, Atlantic Books Today December 2010