Window goes from illuminating parishioners to welcoming patients

Margaret MacFie Watson and son Andrew, 1920

For Catherine Watson and her cousin Doug McGregor, a visit to Knox-Metropolitan United Church always included time to admire the stained glass window their grandfather and parents donated to the church to commemorate the passing of their grandmother, Margaret MacFie Watson, in 1974.

On their last visit together they learned that the congregation was moving and the church building would be torn down. The minister told them they could relocate the window. Catherine and Doug knew their families would want to preserve it.

The window, entitled Mother and Child, was designed by renowned local contemporary glass artist Brenda Malkinson. The piece of art incorporates green, yellow and purple with a stylized mother, baby and cross. Brenda went on to create nine more windows for the church. 

“Our objective was to find good homes for all of the stained glass windows where they could continue to be appreciated as memorial items and works of art,” says Susan Bramm, Vice-chair of the Knox-Metropolitan congregation.

“Visiting the window started the ball rolling to find it a new home," says Catherine. “When my cousin passed away eight months later, I knew I had to make it happen.”.

Looking at the theme of the window, Susan thought the Grey Nuns Hospital, with its busy maternity ward, could be a good fit.

"Mother and Child" stained glass window (Photo: Rick Bramm)

“My family has a strong connection to the hospital. My mom loved the hospital because they took such good care of her in the palliative unit at the end of her battle with cancer. It felt like the right place to have it go,” Catherine says.

The hospital was excited to receive this unique donation. A lot of thought went into where to put this work of art. Initially Susan suggested the maternity or palliative unit. After internal discussions, the facilities management team sensed it wasn’t the right place.

“We wanted everyone who came into the hospital to see it. We felt it should have a prominent location,” explains Rob Kinsman, Facilities Management Manager.

The team decided the best location was in the front entrance of the hospital.

“We hope that everyone who comes into our hospital and sees the window will feel welcome and comforted,” says Karen Macmillan, Senior Operating Officer, Grey Nuns Hospital.

The Knox-Metropolitan United congregation is grateful this piece of its church will live on in such a public place. The window will be rededicated at the Grey Nuns in April.

“The irony of it for me is that the last window we found a home for is probably going to be seen and appreciated by the most people,” notes Susan. 

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