Eganville – Whether serving customers in the restaurants she operated for 16 years, helping launch programs in her community or volunteering for many of the causes she championed, it was obvious Maggie Lavigne loved her community.
She passed away at her Alice Street home on Wednesday morning at the age of 73 with her husband, Bill Jukes, at her side.
Her daughter, Kelly Lavigne, said it was exactly the way her mother would have wanted to leave this world, very peacefully and not having been confined to a hospital bed for any length of time.
She shared her mother had been diagnosed with dementia about four years ago, but was still in her home, in the community where she lived, worked and volunteered for all but the last few years of her life.
Maggie was the youngest of three children of the late Herbert and Lydia Granzie and grew up on the family farm in Donegal. She completed her elementary education and high school, to Grade 10, in Eganville and then found work at the former Bo-peep Restaurant under owner Erna Schroeder.
“Mom started waitressing and she had a talent for people and for cooking and baking. From there, it just expanded and she always liked to learn.”
She also worked at the former Playtex and Blue Bell manufacturing plants in Renfrew. This worked out well not only for her career, but also personally, as it resulted in Mrs. Lavigne meeting her first husband, Ron, a Pembroke native, who was employed at the former CFS Foymount radar station.
“She travelled by bus back and forth to work and that’s how she met my dad,” she explained. “The military bus and her bus travelled together, so she saw my dad on the bus and said, ‘I want you’.”
Her father was a chef at Foymount and the couple married in 1967. Their union was blessed with two children, Jeffrey and Kelly.
The Lavignes launched first business venture together around 1980 when they purchased the now defunct Forest Glen Restaurant on Highway 41 near the McGrath Road intersection from then owners, Tony and Carolyn Zomers.
“As a child, I helped mom serve and did other things around the restaurant,” Kelly recalled. “We lived in the house and the restaurant was out front.”
Her parents operated the business for six years, then relocated to Eganville where her mother started cooking and serving at the former Country Rose Restaurant in what is now the office for dentist, Dr. Jody Kingston. Kelly joined her on the staff there and the two worked together until they launched their own successful business, Magelly’s Restaurant in May 2000.
“I approached her and asked if she was tired of working for other people and wanted to run a business on our own again. She asked what I was thinking and I said downtown and she said ‘let’s do it’.”
At the time, Kelly was married to her first husband, Kevin Reinert, and she credited him and his family for helping renovate the former M.W. Miller Building Centre and current Employment Services location, into their new restaurant.
“We had meeting rooms and party rooms and we hosted many events for people — birthdays, anniversaries, you name it,” Kelly recalled. “We were typically open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., but Magelly’s was unofficially open from 4 a.m. until as late as you wanted to stay.”
She said one of the main reasons she opened earlier was to cater to the many employees, from hydro to the forest sector to emergency services, who were out on the job early.
Kelly shared a story Bonnechere Valley Township Fire Chief Dave Murphy had recounted how the department had been out all night at a fire and they arrived at the restaurant before the actual opening, dirty and covered in grime, yet Mrs. Lavigne treated them like royalty.
“And if a bus came through, Mom would say absolutely, stop by. We seated 85 people in the main hall and on a Sunday we ran that full 85 from 6 a.m. until 2 p.m.”
The staff included five in the kitchen and five servers, and she and her mom both served. Her mother also worked in the kitchen. Magelly’s was the longtime host of the weekly Rotary Club meetings, the local Weight Watcher’s Club and more. Mr. Lavigne passed away in 2003 and Kelly and her mother continued in the restaurant until 2010.She married Mr. Jukes in 2009.
Despite her busy schedule, Mrs. Lavigne was an active member of the Ladies Auxiliary at Branch 353 Eganville of the Royal Canadian Legion. She was also the cook for several different priests at St. James parish and was a strong advocate for the local food bank and the annual OPP Stuff the Cruiser events.
“Mom initiated Neighborhood Watch and Cottage Watch and all the signs you see were from that project. She was also instrumental and very active in the food bank here in town.
“She canvassed for the Cancer Society and worked at all the elections in Eganville,” she added.
Love of Community
Kelly said her late mother truly loved her community and did everything she could to make it a better place for everyone to live, work and play.
“Renfrew County was mom’s home and it’s where she lived, raised her family, served her community and she loved every single individual that lived here. It was very difficult for mom to go home after Magelly’s closed.”
She said after giving of herself for so many years, Mrs. Lavigne really missed the regular contact with the public she so loved.
Kelly said she saw the dementia progress rapidly in the past few months.
“Her last day was spent with her best friend, me, and we went for blood work,” Kelly recalled. “We went to Tim Horton’s to get hash browns and an ice cappuccino, and she woke up from her nap and wanted ice cream.
“She was cold all the time lately and I drove to Wendy’s and she nibbled that all the way home,” she added.
Kelly said her mother was incredibly strong for everyone and had the ability to multi-task and knew there was always someone there to help, when help was needed.
“Mom taught me that a well-baked recipe was made with love and stirred perfectly. And idle hands will cause trouble and hard-working hands will get stuff done and make people proud of you.”
Her mother also told her that “sh— happens” and you cannot control everything in your life.
She said her mom’s passing at home was exactly the way she would have wanted it.
“It looked like an angel had laid her in the bed,” she said. “She went to bed, said, ‘Jesus, I’m ready to come home’, and He took her.”
The late Mrs. Lavigne is survived by her second husband, Bill Jukes, daughter, Kelly (John Rose) Lavigne, her son Jeffrey (Shery Hill-Lavigne) and four grandchildren, Morgan, Jersey, Akaysha and Brie. She was predeceased by her parents, brothers Mervin and Dawson, and her first husband, Ron Lavigne.
The late Mrs. Lavigne rested at the Zohr Family Funeral Home in Eganville on Sunday with the funeral Mass on Monday at St. James the Less Church followed by cremation.