Mary Christine Karn

Karn, Mary

Chris often said, “I’m the luckiest person alive”.  No matter what part of her life she reflected upon, memories brought smiles.  She never said no to an invitation to travel, to the theatre, to a party.  She embraced life - her vibrant and positive outlook were inspirational.

It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of Chris Karn.  Chris died peacefully in Huntsville ON, surrounded by family on August 8, 2019 at the age of 96.


Growing up on Cluny Drive in Toronto, Chris and her sister Pam Biggs attended Branksome Hall from kindergarten to graduation.  She went on to attend McDonald College at McGill and graduated with a B.Sc. in 1945. She worked briefly as a dietitian at the Halifax General Hospital and taught adult night school home economics classes for the Montreal School Board. She later completed a B.A. in Library Science at Concordia University and worked part-time running a library program for the Montreal School Board. 

Chris met Gordon Karn, the love of her life, while at university. She and Gordon married in June 1945 and shared 36 wonderful years together in Montreal until his death in 1981.  Gordon was a graduate and faculty member at McGill University and paediatric surgeon at the Montreal Children’s Hospital.  He was a paediatric leader of his time.  In 1967, he convinced the newly formed Canadian Association of Paediatric Surgeons (CAPS) to adopt the Montreal Children’s Hospital motto – Ambroise Pare’s “Je le pensay; Dieu le guarit” (I treated him, God healed him) – as the Association’s motto, which stands to this day.

Above all, Chris was the ultimate wife and mother, homemaker and family manager.  She was a committed volunteer with the Montreal Junior League and managed the Opportunity Shop for many years.  She was also Chair of the Anglican Church Home in Montreal.  She was a brilliant bridge player and Life Master, skier, lifelong learner, active community member, avid reader, excellent cook, skilled seamstress, quilter, knitter and gardener.


Chris was the beloved matriarch and mentor for her three children, Jinty (Jim Stewart), Kathy (Michael Pearce) and Ian (Sue Barker).  She was fiercely proud of her family and loved her sons-in-law and daughter-in-law like her own.  She delighted in and took full credit for her extended family which includes 6 grandchildren Andrew Stewart (Susanna), Robin Allison (Zach), Roger Leavens (Claudia) Sarah Leavens (Bryce), David Pearce (Rachelle) and Michelle Pearce; and 10 great grandchildren who were thrilled to have such a special ‘GG’.  


Montreal and Stuart Florida were both favourite spots that held countless fond memories, but Treetops -- her childhood cottage on Glenmount Road on Lake of Bays -- was Chris’ special happy place.  She introduced Gordon to the lake on their honeymoon and has since shared Treetops with the next three generations.  Nothing made her happier than knowing family and friends were enjoying the cottage. 


An army of people will remember Chris for her thoughtfulness, wisdom, generosity and kindness.  She was a small person who made a big impact.  To her children and family, she leaves a legacy of the value of hard work, an open mind and the power of kindness.  She had a great wit and many sayings that the family has integrated into the lexicon of “Grammy Wisdom”: “Get on with it”, “You’ll be okay,” “Things always work out in the end.”  The family is fiercely proud of her and trust that her enduring spirit will comfort them in this time of their very deep loss. 


Chris enjoyed 8 years at Chartwell Traditions in Huntsville.  She loved the community and was very grateful for the wonderful care and attention she received from the entire staff there, particularly over the past several months. 


Many thanks to the doctors and nurses at Huntsville Memorial District Hospital, for their kind and compassionate care in Chris’ final days.  Special thanks to Dr. Mathies, her family doctor, to Dr. Bryan Knappett her naturopath and counsellor, and to Dr. Small and the entire palliative team who provided such exceptional personal and professional care.


A Memorial Service will be held at 2:00 p.m. Wednesday August 28, at Mitchell Funeral Home, 15 High St, Huntsville ON P1H 1N9.  There will be a reception following until 4 p.m. 

Donations may be made in honour of Chris to The Lake of Bays Heritage Foundation or to the charity of your choice.

Larry Mitchell2 Comments