Joan Margaret Dennison


Joan Margaret Dennison passed away peacefully with family at her side on Thursday, March 20, 2014, at Woodland Villa, Long Sault. She was in her 94th year.

Joan lived a long and very productive life met with many challenges. She was born on August 15, 1920, in Scarborough, England, to her parents Annie and Charles Hanwell.  

She grew up in Britain during World War 2, and was a teacher there.  Many times she would teach during the day and help with the children and adults in the air raid shelters at night. 

Her sister, Zena Hanwell met and married Canadian soldier, Bryce Swerdfeger and together they moved to Canada, to the Ingleside area. In 1947, Joan and her parents immigrated to Canada to be near Zena and her growing family. They settled in Aultsville, until the Seaway was developed, and they moved to Morrisburg.  

Joan met and married a dairy farmer, Cecil Dennison in 1949, and started learning the ways of farming and living in the country.

Joan and Cecil started a family, just mere miles from her sister and her family. They lived in the rural Colquhoun area and raised four children of their own, Cheryl, Linda, Neil and Dale.

In 1964, tragedy struck the family when Zena and Bryce Swerdfeger and their 15 year old son, Garth were killed in a car accident. Their remaining two children, Lynn (Dillabough) and Lester Swerdfeger were openly welcomed into the hearts and souls of the Dennison household and were raised with the other four children. 

Joan’s parents soon lived on the farm in a trailer with them, and she also looked after them in their ailing years. Her father Charles Hanwell passed away from cancer, and her mother Annie Hanwell passed away at the age of 91.  

Joan also looked after her father-in-law who was bedridden for an extended period of time while the children were small.

Joan learned the routine of farming and helped out with the haying season and driving tractors as needed.. 

Joan and Cecil were very dedicated to their church and community and very involved with several activities, including UCW, and church stewardship roles. No matter how busy they were always supportive of needs in the community and would always help neighbours in need. 

Joan taught 4-H for years, and taught her daughters to knit, sew, do crafts and be good homemakers.

She and Cecil passed on the gift of compassion, and how to carry on with grace in the face of adversity to all their children..  

Joan believed in keeping active and learning new things.She decided at the age of 80 to learn how to use computers and also how to paint. She became a very skilled painter doing oils and watercolours and designing her own pictures and Christmas cards which the family will forever treasure. Unfortunately failing eyesight brought this to an end. 

Joan was predeceased by her parents, Annie and Charles Hanwell; her sister, Zena and Bryce Swerdfeger and their son, Garth (1964), by her husband, Cecil (1994) and her son, Neil (2008).  

After Cecil’s death, Joan moved to Williamsburg Seniors Villa where she lived and was very happy for 18 years. She lived at the Hartford Retirement Home in Morrisburg for 1.5 years and spent the last two years at Woodland Villa Nursing Home in Long Sault where she peacefully passed away.  The care and compassion she received there was wonderful and she was happy.

Joan leaves behind her remaining children:  Lester Swerdfeger and family of Ottawa, Cheryl Neild and family of Napanee, Linda of Hamilton, Lynn Dillabough and family of Iroquois, and Dale of Cornwall.

Her funeral was held March 22, 2014, with plans for a spring interment in Colquhoun Cemetery.  Donations were given to Woodland Villa and charities of choice. 

May she rest in well deserved peace.

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