Lise and John Ferguson are very sad to announce the death of our beloved and amazing mother, Carol Ferguson, after a brief illness, in her 80th year. Her spirit now soars with granddaughters Katherine and Susannah Ferguson-Davies, and dear brother Garry King. There will be no funeral but everyone is welcome and encouraged to remember and celebrate her as you wish..... as a mother, grandmother, dear friend, daughter, sister, wife, cousin, aunt, colleague, mentor, teacher, and anything she means to you, as we are - with memories, affection, love and gratefulness.
Carol Anne King was born in Humboldt, Saskatchewan, to Annie Goodwin Findlay (Nan) and Percy John William King (Jack). Our Nana was a nurse, and Pa was a John Deere dealer as well as a musician and bandleader, and a world traveller. Mom was very close to her only brother, Garry Robert John “Sky” King - a Brig-Gen and pilot in the RCAF (died in 2009).
Growing up as a small town prairie girl with roots in Scotland and England, family was important, with many holidays spent on family farms with grandparents, aunts and uncles and about a dozen cousins.
After graduating from the University of Winnipeg with a Bachelor of Science, Mom moved to Toronto and held several positions related to her Home Economics degree.
While working on recipe development for Canada Packers, Mom met their sales manager, Howard Ferguson (died 2005), son of Scotland-born Annie McDonald and James Anderson Ferguson. Our Grandma worked in hospitality at the Weston Golf Club where she met our grandfather, who was the golf pro. We - Lise and John - came along and had a truly happy and peaceful childhood full of loving and solid parenting, family get-togethers, a lot of travelling, music, pets, fun, and such stability and support. Look at pictures of us as children and we are always smiling.
Mom did a lot freelance work in jobs such as recipe development, food photography styling, nutrition, ad agencies, and more. Carol Ferguson was the one who developed the original “No fail” pastry recipe that appears on lard & shortening packages! When we were babies, Mom taught sewing and tailoring at night school.
1975 arrived, and Mom was part of a small group of talented professionals who decided Canada needed a modern magazine. Canadian Living was born, and Mom was its first food editor. The magazine recently had its 40th anniversary.
The first test kitchen for Canadian Living was our own family kitchen in the suburbs of Toronto and Mom’s office had been John’s baby room. It was always funny that our schoolmates imagined we ate chateaubriand and pheasant under glass for dinner every night, when more often it was what we affectionately called “testing” - various rejected versions of that day’s recipe development.
Over the years, Mom wrote and edited - alone or with team - more than a dozen cookbooks. The Canadian Living series started in 1988 with The Canadian Living Cookbook - the biggest-selling first printing at the time. One of her solo books was Really Cookin’ in 1994, for students.
Mom was especially proud of her contribution to Northern Bounty (1995) as it reflected her pride in Canadian cuisine with its Indigenous roots, regional specialties, and multicultural contributions.
A very special award-winning cook/history book came out in 1992, A Century of Canadian Home Cooking: 1900 Through the ‘90s. Mom’s last big-seller cookbook was The New Canadian Basics Cookbook in 1999, which became the bible in thousands of kitchens. Lise was the managing editor and I have done quite a lot of writing and editing because of her.
Mom also established and was editor-in-chief of an off-shoot magazine from CL called FOOD, and later served as food editor of Homemaker’s from 1996-2000. Subsequent projects included various publications and contracts as a contributor, speaker and consultant.
One of Mom’s most rewarding jobs was later, when she was a course developer and instructor in Food Writing at George Brown College from 2001-2008. She was a natural and passionate teacher who earned rave reviews from her students.
Over the years Mom won a number of awards, including: Cuisine Canada & the University of Guelph’s Culinary Hall of Fame Award, University of Manitoba’s 100 Outstanding Graduates of the Last 100 Years Award, Elizabeth Chant Robertson Award for Nutrition Education, and more.
Mom and I were talking just recently about how many Christmas and Thanksgiving turkeys she must have prepared in her life, not to mention hundreds of birthday cakes. She took care of her mother, aunts and uncles as they became elderly. She loved showing John her prairie roots on a trip they took to Saskatchewan. She was a great traveller (Paris was where she was happiest, but loved Rome with Lise, plus Australia, Jamaica…..), a voracious reader, and a lover of music, art, cats, and flowers.
Mom was very well all her life. She never even had a cold that I can remember. A few years ago she was hiking and had a terrible fall and broke her shoulder. I used to tease her that she was a “bad patient” because she didn’t know how to be a sick person…… she would downplay how sick she felt, hated sitting still to recover and valued her independence and ability to do everything herself. So I moved in with her to help out as much as she’d let me. I have always admired my mother’s stubbornness, need for privacy, and independence which I inherited……. never passive, complaining, or “poor me”. Over the past couple of years she had some other health issues and operations and most recently was having difficulty getting around due to progressive bone loss in her back. A few weeks ago I took her to the hospital for pain management. She had been undergoing tests for investigation of some anomalies that were found on various scans - likely past problems had returned and that would not be good news. Eventually, it was noticed late in the evening that her breathing was slightly laboured. And her heart simply stopped. Nothing could be done. It was peaceful and John as I are grateful for the care she received.
If desired, you can make a donation to the Etobicoke Humane Society (https://etobicokehumanesociety.com/donate) or other (preferably small) charity of your choice. Family contact is firstname.lastname@example.org
Mom lived most of her life in Toronto and travelled extensively, but the Canadian Prairies were in her heart and soul. I leave you with an example of Mom’s beautiful and passionate writing from her Canadian Living 1988 article entitled “Once Upon a Prairie Childhood”:
“Who do you think you are?” is a common Canadian attitude that often gets in the way when we try to define ourselves. We seem to prefer the neutral, the understated approach. Prairie people, especially, have no patience with people who put on airs. But they are, at the same time, some of the world’s greatest romantics (when romanticism is defined as freedom of spirit and feeling). Their environment breeds a soul-attachment to the land, a special kind of love. And they know that identity seekers, like lovers, sooner or later need silence. There are no words, will never be the right words, to define ourselves. Quietly, quietly, we know who we are.