Dr Margaret Hansen des Groseilliers

Jan. 21, 1944 – June 11, 2020

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Born in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan to Clifford P. Hansen and Agnes Laurie McLean, Margaret grew up with her siblings Herman, Maren and Janet in a farming community in northern Manitoba. There, having learned to drive tractors, she decided she had the means to chase boys who had fast cars, played basketball, hockey and curled. Already with an eye on her future, early in her schooling she also took on extra classes in French and British history.

After declaring – we’re pretty sure not seriously – that she wanted a job where she “did not have to work”, she moved to Toronto to study Optometry. Four years later, she had received the Gold Medal for General Proficiency as well as several other academic and clinical awards, not exactly the achievements of work avoidance. She next set herself a longer term life goal: to marry the handsome, charming and debonair Roland (who may have written this part).

Initially, the newlyweds settled in Cornwall, but in short order moved to Ottawa, then east of the capital to Rockland and then back to Ottawa, developing not only their shared optometric practice, but also their family with the addition of three wonderful daughters. As the children grew, so too did the practice and, at the same time, her involvement in the community they now called home.

Margaret always had a travel bug, though, and early in her professional career she travelled to the James Bay region to supervise a vision clinic. At the same time, she was active in local politics and related issues, including work in the growing movements advocating equal pay for equal work, and the rights of indigenous women. As a result of her efforts, the first community clinic for mental health was established in Prescott Russell.

Not surprisingly, she was also extremely active in the political side of her chosen profession. With Roland’s encouragement, she was named as the Ontario Association of Optometrists (OAO)’s Councillor on the national Council of the Canadian Association of Optometrists (CAO). In that role, she eventually went on to become CAO’s first ever woman president. “I loved the challenge and felt fortunate to serve,” she explained.

She also urged other CAO members from coast to coast to get actively involved outside the confines of their examining rooms and dispensaries, to serve their profession and their communities.

But her role on CAO’s Council was not the end of her Association activities. For many years, she was an active member on the Board and the Awards Committee of the Canadian Optometric Education Trust Fund (COETF), the body through which a great many Optometry students, instructors and post-secondary candidates have been able to further their education and research. Eventually, after she retired from active practice, the COETF thanked her with the honour of a scholarship program in her name.

Margaret loved her patients, especially the challenging cases. But eventually, after 42 years, she decided it was time to retire, explaining – no doubt tongue in cheek – “It was interfering with my life.” What began as a second story walk up practice in a local strip mall had by now evolved into The Ottawa Optometric Clinic, now called “EyeDocs”, with six clinics across the capital region. As a farewell gift her former partners established in her and Roland’s names an award for Humanitarian Service that is given annually to a student at the University of Waterloo School of Optometry. Margaret always maintained they could not have received a more wonderful gift.

Other accolades earned during her long career included a further joint honour with life partner Roland: the Dr James Cobean award for service to the Ontario Association of Optometrists, as well as the CAO President’s Award, and an Outstanding Alumni Award from the University of Waterloo.

Retirement opened again for her the door labelled “travel” and she set out to take full advantage of – as she put it – Roland’s coat tails during his service with the World Council of Optometry (WCO) for whom he eventually became President. These times, she always said, were “an absolute delight”.

Roland, however, correctly sensed that her itch for community service was still something that needed to be scratched, and so he “strongly” suggested she consider membership in a local Rotary Club. Not one to do anything by halves, Margaret joined the Rotary Club of Ottawa, the Capital’s first ever service club, established in 1916.

While Margaret simply calls that service “rewarding”, family, friends and colleagues probably wished she just would have gone quietly into full retirement because suddenly they found themselves having their arms twisted (gently, but never taking no for an answer) for everything from billeting visitors from all over the country who came to the capital under the Club’s annual Adventures in Citizenship program, which she chaired, or international high schoolers in the Rotary Youth Exchange Program, or simply lending support to countless Rotary projects all around the world.

Following her familiar life pattern, Margaret became the first ever woman president of the Rotary Club of Ottawa, and Chairman of the Board of the Club-built Rotary Home. As a result of these many avenues of service, the entire des Groseilliers family to this day has a worldwide web of lifelong friends they first met as energetic teenagers and who have now grown into marrying and having families of their own.

For many years, the family centre during spring, summer and fall was Margaret and Roland’s condo at Presqu’ile Island on the Ottawa River, where they regularly hosted family, friends and Rotary events at the Lodge. In winter, the life of a “snowbird” called and they travelled across the US and Canada with their newly acquired dogs to their winter home in Tubac, Arizona. There, Margaret learned to cook “southwest”, drink margaritas, go cycling, hiking, take frequent day trips to Mexico for lunch and haircuts, and launch more substantial travel adventures with Roland to India, Costa Rica and southwest Asia. While in Tubac, she also found the time for courses offered by the University of Arizona on subjects as diverse as American Foreign Policy seminars, the films of Stanley Kubrick, Geology, Water Use in the state and US Dialects, where she said she brought a Canadian’s perspective… eh?

And – big surprise – she became a regular “Visiting Rotarian” in the local Club, which Roland also joined as a member. In short order, she was an active participant in an “End Polio Now” campaign in Hermosillo, Mexico. Then, when friends were establishing a Produce Pantry to distribute free produce to people in the local area, she lent a hand (as well as, to Roland’s surprise, his truck), a project that was a great success and lots of fun.

Eventually, she was forced by health issues to slow down, a time during which she was always tirelessly supported by family, friends and her medical team.

When Margaret received the diagnosis of the cancer that ultimately took her, she accepted it in the same way she had lived her entire life – with an inner strength, a determined resolve to stay cheerful and an unmatched grace.

Margaret is survived by her husband, Dr Roland des Groseilliers and their three daughters: Dr Danielle Staresinic (Charles, their children Amelia, Alex, and twins Juliet & Edward), Manon (Hope Celani and their son Henry) and Jennifer (her children Thomas, twins Connor & Kegan and Abigail Laurie Rose).

Her final message to family, friends and colleagues is a simple request: “Please don’t dwell on my leaving. Instead, think about the happy times we shared; plant a tree in my memory; enjoy a Three Rivers Cocktail; serve your community in the best way you can and, if you are fortunate enough to do so, choose your own final adventure at the end of this long and wonderful road called life.”

Memorial Donations can be made to the Canadian Optometric Education Trust Fund (COETF); The Ottawa Rotary Home Foundation; The Rotary Club of Ottawa Children’s Foundation; the University of Waterloo Alumni Fund or (said with a smile) why not all of them?

Funeral arrangements entrusted to Lamarre & Son Funeral Home, 453 St. Philippe Street, Alfred, Ontario, (613) 679-2802.

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    • Tammie Dagg-Madore Posted 2020-07-21 9:01 pm

      Roland & family….I was so shocked to hear of Marg’s passing – I just found out or would have written sooner. I have fond memories of my time working for you both at Westboro Optometric Clinic and will be eternally grateful for such a great opportunity This was a wonderful tribute to a lovely lady and I hope that your memories help you through the tough times. Thinking of you all…

    • Suzanne Besner Posted 2020-07-13 9:44 pm

      Roland, Martine et moi nous t’offrons nos condoléances ainsi qu’a tes trois filles. Bon courage en cette période difficile.

    • nicole Payer Posted 2020-07-11 3:13 pm

      Mes plus sinceres sympathies a vous Dr. Desgroseilliers, a Danielle, a Manon et Jennifer. Je garde juste de bons souvenirs de vous deux.

    • Donald & Heather Krull Posted 2020-06-29 1:00 pm

      Dear Roland and family
      Both Heather and I have fond memories of Margaret, both as clients of hers and for my work with her as members of The Rotary Club of Ottawa, including years of working together on the Rotary Home Foundation. It seemed like Margaret always had a smile for everyone she met, and her energy and enthusiasm appeared unlimited. She was always a joy to be around and we were deeply saddened to read of her passing. Our sincere condolences to you and the family. A donation to the Rotary Home Foundation has been made in her name.

    • Helene Abouzeid Posted 2020-06-28 2:03 pm

      Dear Dr. Roland Des Groseilliers and family,
      I was so saddened and heart broken to learn about the passing of Dr. Hansen Des Groseilliers. I was a patient of hers for so many years. She always provided excellent quality care with so much professionalism, compassion, dedication and warmth. I will be forever grateful to have known such an amazing woman, optometrist and friend. I will miss her so dearly and will never forget her. Please accept my very sincere condolences.

    • Tiiu and Juri Wallner Posted 2020-06-26 4:00 pm

      We remember Margaret with great affection, a truly remarkable and inspiring woman and a trailblazing president of the Rotary Club of Ottawa.
      Our deepest sympathy to Roland, daughters and the entire extended family.
      Juri and Tiiu Wallner

    • Mylene Poulsen Posted 2020-06-26 11:51 am

      Dearest Roland and Family,

      I was so sad when I heard of Marg’s passing from Gaetano. She has always been such a positive energy and will truly be missed. She was and will always be an inspiration. My thoughts and prayers are with you all during this very sad time.

      Yours truly,


    • Huguette Bercier- Lalonde Posted 2020-06-25 5:54 pm

      Dr. Des groseilles et la famille, je vous souhaite mes sympathies. Je garde de bons souvenirs des années ou vous m’aviez comme patiente. Mes pensées sont avec vous. Bon courage.

    • Dan and Liz DeMos Posted 2020-06-25 7:04 am

      Margaret was a very special person. The wonderful times we shared will remain with us always. Our most sincere condolences to the family.

    • Susan Gates Posted 2020-06-24 10:44 pm

      I was also a patient of Dr Hansen des Groseilliers. I was well pleased with her professional care, I was also taken by her lovely spirit and her sense of style. I was never aware of her interest in social justice issues, but learning this does not surprise me. Makes me wish we’d had some conversations. Extending my sincere condolences to her family and colleagues. She was an unforgettable woman.

    • Suzanne Fredette Lavigne Posted 2020-06-24 7:16 pm

      Nos plus sincères condoléances à toi Roland et ta famille pour Margaret elle était spéciale pour notre famille, bon courage
      Suzanne Fredette Paul André Lavigne

    • Lorraine de Champlain Posted 2020-06-22 6:14 pm

      Dear Roland and Family
      It’s with a sad heart that I heard about Margaret passing. She was indeed a remarkable woman with a kind heart. May the joy she spread so generously help comfort you in your sorrow.

    • Hy and Ruth Braiter Posted 2020-06-22 7:50 am

      Margaret was a lovely lady and it was always a pleasure to interact with her while we lived on the island. We will always remember the “Olympics” she organized for all the grandchildren. Our condolences to the family on your loss.

    • Art and Marsha Saper Posted 2020-06-22 5:38 am

      Please accept our sincerest condolences. Margaret was so special in so many ways. We served together in Rotary for many years – there was never a job too big or a task so small for which Margaret was always the first to step up and show the rest of us ‘how it was done’. Her infectious smile and positive energy lit up everywhere she went! May her memory be a blessing.

    • Colette Morin-Wade Posted 2020-06-20 7:40 pm

      My sincères condolences to the family.
      I worked with Dr. Hansen-Des Groseilliers early in my career. She was a strong and charismatic leader and was nothing short of inspiring as a woman. She was kind and light-hearted, professional and always so stylish and graceful. Her support and encouragement were much appreciated and she was a true role model for all. Bravo! She will surely be missed.
      Sincerely, Colette Morin-Wade

    • Joan Johnston Posted 2020-06-20 7:30 pm

      Roland and family: My sincere condolences – my fond memories of Margaret focus on her welcoming smile – she loved life, enjoyed her family, her profession and her community. The Rotary Home is across the street from the nursery – our Lions Club furnished a room there and I work with this wonderful facility – started by the dedication of Ottawa Rotary – I know the director and we will get a tree planted there.
      Take good care – with great admiration for the DesGroseilliers – Joan

    • Pierre LeVasseur Posted 2020-06-20 3:55 pm

      Dear Roland and family, it is with great sadness that I heard of Marg’s passing. I pass along to you my sincere condolences for the loss of this very special person. When I arrived in Ottawa as a new optometrist you two were most welcoming, and Marg was always such a strong and thoughtful presence in our optometric community. She was a natural leader who was always there to help in any possible way. I will remember her as a role model who had a gift in communication skills with everyone she met. Goodbye Margaret

    • Louise et Jean-Pierre DesGroseilliers Posted 2020-06-20 10:05 am

      Sincères condoléances à Roland et la famille

    • Cecile Fredette Posted 2020-06-18 5:36 pm

      M. Desgroseillers Je vous offre mes plus sinceres condoleances , a vous et a votre famille. Comme le dit votre Margaret, il faut penser aux doux souvenirs, aux rires partages.. Mes pensees et mes prieres vous accompagnent durant ce temps de tristesse. Cecile

    • Rachelle Fredette Posted 2020-06-18 12:17 pm

      Mes plus sincères condoléances, à toi Dr. Roland ainsi qu’à toute ta famille.

    • Pauline FredetteLedoux-Ledoux Posted 2020-06-18 10:48 am

      Dr. Roland Desgrosseillers et la famille, toute mes condoléances. Bon courage et mes prières vous accompagnent durant ces moments difficiles. Pauline

    • Jacinthe Bercier Posted 2020-06-17 8:26 pm

      Mes sincères condoléances à toute la famille.

    • Dr. Thomas-A. Noël Posted 2020-06-16 7:54 pm

      Mes sincères condoléances à la famille. Vous serez dans nos prières. Bon courage Jennifer.

    • Katherine Hall Posted 2020-06-16 6:13 pm

      My thoughts and heart are with you.

    • Claude Hutton Posted 2020-06-16 11:31 am

      I was deeply saddened to learn of Margaret’s passing. Margaret had personality, energy and dedication to her chosen causes that was bigger than life. She always had my continuing admiration. Roland and family, please accept my sincerest sympathies.

    • Gaétane et André Vinette Posted 2020-06-15 7:23 pm

      Dr Roland, Danielle, Manon et Jennifer,

      Nos plus sincères condoléances à tous les membres de la famille.. Je garderai toujours un beau souvenir des années que j’ai travaillé
      avec vous deux au bureau de Rockland. Dr Margaret était une femme d’exception que je nai jamais oublié.

    • Vern and Judy Prentice Posted 2020-06-14 3:11 pm

      Dear Roland, Danielle, Manon, Jennifer and families.
      What a wonderful life Margaret had! Such an accomplished person in all walks of life.
      So many years ago Roland, you and Marg provided an opportunity for a young man to grow under your kind tutelage. I especially remember Marg’s compassion at a difficult time for me. Her words gave me the courage to make an important decision and I will always be grateful to both of you for all you did for me in the early 1980s.
      The leadership and direction you’ve both always generously offered to our Optometry profession will be remembered for a very long time.
      Fondly and with our sincerest condolences
      Vern and Judy Prentice

    • Jean & Rachel Laviolette Posted 2020-06-14 2:03 pm

      We would love to offer our condolences to Dr. Hansen-Desgroseilliers’ family. We loved her very much as our optometrist. May she rest in peace!

    • Dolores Sauvé Posted 2020-06-14 8:05 am

      I never had the honour of meeting this wonderful Canadian woman but reading her descriptive obituary-biography I am truly impressed and wish I had had the honour of meeting her. Thank you for sharing her story with us. What a woman!

    • Jean-Guy et Rachel Boucher Posted 2020-06-13 7:45 pm

      Nos sinçères condoléances à toute la famille.

    • Serge Charbonneau Posted 2020-06-13 5:12 pm

      I’m a former patient of Dr. Desgroseillers and I have been one of her patient for many years first in Rockland then in Ottawa. She’s always been an excellent optometrist and I recall her being very patient with me when I started with my contact lenses. I will never forget that. RIP Dr. Desgroseillers