Alumni Profile: Margaret Shaw

[By Wendy Campbell]      As a small girl growing up in Wallaceburg Ontario, Margaret McQueen thought of being a nurse, one of the few options open to girls in those days. When a local librarian introduced her to the book Betty Blake OT, Marg was intrigued and enrolled in the program at University of Toronto in 1946.  That year the start of classes was delayed until November when construction of the HUTS (now the site of Massey College) was completed.  She still treasures memories of late afternoon classes lit with Coleman lamps during power cuts and Isobel Robinson teaching weaving with pictures because there were no looms.   The program was increased to three years during her time and Marg graduated with a diploma, in 1949.

A placement at the Hospital for Sick Children with Muriel Driver after first year fostered a love for pediatrics. Her first position was in London at a new centre opening in connection with London Children’s Hospital and devoted to children’s rehabilitation…job interviews at that time involved hats and white gloves!  It was an exciting time in the field with many innovative initiatives going on and Marg was at the centre. Her involvement in mobile clinics travelling the province to assess and treat children in remote areas was particularly satisfying.

In 1963 it was time for a change, and a move to Toronto.  Starting out as Head of OT at the newly opened Ontario Crippled Children’s Centre, Marg progressed to Coordinator of Therapies (OT, PT and Speech).  Again it was a time of progress and change – therapists were in the classrooms, wearing culottes and coloured blouses rather than white uniforms and caps. PT’s and OT’s were working together on teams with diagnostic groups. The Ministry of Education was implementing a Bill to mandate that all schools be made accessible to all children. And, during her time at OCCC, Marg McQueen married and became Marg Shaw.

Leaving the Centre in 1983, Marg’s expertise was put to good use in the development of the Assistive Devices Program administered by the Ministry of Health.  In 1985, another move took her to Sunnybrooke Health Centre to develop a resource centre for patients and their families. Ever the practical problem solver, Marg dealt with funding issues by running the centre as a store and the six months she’d intended to be there stretched to ten years.

In the early nineties, Marg became involved in setting up the Canadian Occupational Therapy Foundation, a body that funds scholarships and research grants to further the goals of the profession.  She also joined the executive of the P/OT Alumnae Association, and was president for five years, and past president for another five, retiring in 2017. She served a four year term representing our Alumnae Association on the University’s College of Electors which is responsible for the important tasks of electing a Chancellor and representatives to the Board of Governors. Although her official roles are over, Marg retains a keen interest in the alumnae and the profession and remains an active colleague and supporter.

During the time I was preparing this piece, I happened upon Patti Fleury, a classmate of mine, whose career intersected Marg’s, both in pediatrics and alumnae activities…watch for more about her in the future.