Cover photo for Doreen Elsie Margaret Forsythe's Obituary
Doreen Elsie Margaret Forsythe Profile Photo
1926 Doreen Forsythe 2023

Doreen Elsie Margaret Forsythe

April 16, 1926 — August 15, 2023


It is with great sadness, and deep admiration for her strength and beauty, that we announce the death of our loving mum, gramma, nana, gram, great and great great gramma, Doreen Elsie Margaret Forsythe (Burkin). She was surrounded by her family on Tuesday, August 15th in her home in Gravenhurst, where she raised and enjoyed her family from April 1948 until 2023. 


Doreen was born in Caterham, Surrey, England on April 16, 1926, the only daughter of Albert (Bert) and Ethel (Het) Margaret Burkin nee Hoyle. Doreen was born in the small cottage her parents resided in on the estate where her father worked as gardener. They later moved to Wood Lane in Caterham, not too far from her father’s work. This would be her home throughout WWII and until she set off as a War Bride to Canada in 1946. She spoke of this home as the place her life would change forever and fond memories here with her parents, Sunday roasts, walks to the pub, streets full of kids and the lasting friendships she made there and kept close throughout her life.


Doreen recalled memories of growing up in the midst of war, including finishing school and joining the Women’s Junior Air Corps as a young lady. One remarkable memory is the night she met her future husband Albert Hugh Forsythe (September 29, 1924 - October 13, 1985), a Canadian, and driver in the motor vehicle pool, at a dance in Old Coulsdon hosted by the Royal Canadian Engineers (Canadian Armed Forces) which he belonged to at the time. They talked the night away and in less than a year Doreen became Hugh’s wife. Reflected in the time, they were “just a couple of kids taking what they could today because tomorrow might not come”. Doreen and Hugh were married on May 27th 1944 at St. Mary’s Church in Caterham. Shortly after, Hugh was stationed elsewhere in Europe and they were reunited again in September 1945. Hugh returned home to Severn Bridge in October of 1945 with Doreen to follow in February 1946. On March 3, 1946 Doreen arrived in Toronto and her life in Canada began. After making the 5-day journey to Halifax from London, England onboard the ship “Aquitania”, the second leg of her journey took 3 days by train to Union Station in Toronto. Hugh “in his civvies”, his mum (Helen), his dad (Albert) and younger brother (Grant) were awaiting her arrival. Their final destination was Severn Bridge, Ontario where the drive up north included stopping for a feast and to meet new relatives, Uncle Joe and Aunt Dora Forsythe along the way, and the snow was unlike anything she had seen before. They settled in Severn Bridge for 2 years.


There Hugh’s family became Doreen’s and she was particularly close with Aunt Dora, her best friend at that time. The Forsythe’s grew in Severn Bridge with Keith and Wayne. In 1948 Hugh and Doreen purchased their lifelong home on Crescent Drive in Gravenhurst, the wartime housing neighbourhood, where their family continued to grow and they raised their 10 children. The home on Crescent Drive has always been the heart of the Forsythe family, where the revolving doors of neighborhood kids with her own evolved into family gatherings that filled every room in the house, weekly visits, holiday dinners and special celebrations over the years. A “Hi Luv” was a sure welcome at the door and some type of baking, jams, jellies or handmade treats could be counted upon. Doreen was a wonderful baker and enjoyed the company. Her door was always open to friends and family. Tom and Leslie Montgomery were particularly close with Doreen and popped in often for a visit.


Doreen became a member of the Ladies Auxiliary Legion Branch 302 in 1964 where she served as the Sergeant-at-Arms, shared her talents in the kitchen with the community and provided community service in various capacities with the Legion, her “second home”, for 59 years. Doreen’s participation in social activities at the Legion developed into meaningful friendships with women of like interests. Gay Coon, Edith Page, Connie Taylor, Helen Dalby, Faye Montgomery, Helen King, Helen Young, Aileen Passmore, Edna Allen, Smiley Busek were among those friends. Over the years she became a highly respected, lifelong member within that community. 


Doreen loved to dance, she loved music, sharing her homemade goodies, her garden, darts, knitting, crocheting and travelling whenever she could (to England, Holland, France, Switzerland, Morocco, Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii, Guadeloupe and across Canada). Primroses, Blue Bells, Violets, Cowslips reminded her of her childhood overseas. She was social, skilled, kind and generous. She never shied away from expressing her love or how proud she was of her family as it grew and changed through the years. She never forgot birthdays, the buttertarts, scotch eggs or Christmas trifle, and loved gifting things she made by hand at Christmas. Remarkably, in the last few years every member of the family received a handmade blanket or pillow from her. There was always a ball of wool and knitting needles or a crochet hook close by where she sat in the front room.


As one of the last wartime originals Doreen leaves us with her legacy of love; her family – 10 children Keith (Pat), Wayne predeceased (Ann Powesland), Neil (Margie Peters), Roy (Karen), Linda (Stuart) Barnes, Mike (Wendy), Gail Forsythe Parsons, Jackie (Ian) Wyton, Carol Forsythe Gallagher (Steve Gladstone), Colleen (Denis) Lauriol, 17 grandchildren Tammy (Ron), Casey (Rob), Mandy, Cherie, Sean (Tricia), Stephanie (Jake), Brian, Todd (Nikki), Jennifer (Devon), Becky (Teitur), Tom (Aryn), Wyntter (Jason), Travis, Jordan (Emily), Lindsay, Julia and Jesse, 23 great grandchildren Dylan, Ashley (Aless), Keaton, Makena, Savanah, Emma, Sadie, Max, Arlie, Dylan, Brayden, Colton, Caitlyn (Darrin), Gage, Mya, Dillynn, Rafael, Úlfur, Kaedyn, Kallee, Aylin, Evie, Tate and great great grandchild TJ, Emerson and Everleigh. Doreen will also be remembered by Cousin Linda and family in England, brother in law Grant (predeceased), sister in law Peggy, Mark and Cat, Paul and families, sister in law Shirley (predeceased), Laura and family, Paul Archer & family.


We are all very proud to have had such a strong, independent and adventurous spirit at the head of our family. Her love and generosity was unending, and travelled great distances. On the eve of her 70th birthday Doreen wrote her story on an old typewriter and gifted it to her family as their story too. An incredible gift. Her recollections of childhood in Caterham, England, adolescence during WWII, her destiny in Canada, raising a large and close-knit family and all that was to happen in between revealed a wonderful life full of memories that she continued to add to in her ninety-seven lived years. Those memories, and our own of her, will live on in our hearts and memories forever. 


We love and miss you more than words can say.


Kisses and hugs xxoo


“We’ll meet again

Don’t know where, don’t know when

But I know we’ll meet again some sunny day”

Vera Lynn


As a family, we thank Dr. Jones and Dr. Hammell, Della, Terra, Christine and Amanda who cared for mum at home during the last days of her life. 


Together we would also like to acknowledge and express our love and gratitude to our sister and aunt, Gail, for her generous and selfless acts of love and care for mum during the later part of her life. You supported her, and in turn all of us, in ways that are immeasurable.


As she requested, a celebration of Doreen’s life will take place on October 21, 2023, at the Royal Canadian Legion from 1 to 4 p.m. In lieu of flowers we request that donations be made to the Royal Canadian Legion Ladies Auxiliary Branch 302 in memory of Doreen. 

Service Schedule

Past Services

Celebration of Life

Saturday, October 21, 2023

1:00 - 4:00 pm

Royal Canadian Legion Branch 302

, Gravenhurst, ON P1P 1K2

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