Joyce Ballagh

Joyce (Martin) Ballagh, in her 80th year, passed away peacefully in London, Ontario at Parkwood Hospital’s Palliative Care Unit on August 21, 2020.  While not one to give in to a challenge, Joyce conceded with dignity to an aggressive cancer that quickly swept through her body.

Joyce was predeceased by her husband Dr Robert George Ballagh and her parents Nellie and Robert Martin.  She is survived by her children Robert Ballagh (Margot), Shannon Ballagh (Jeff Climenhage), Nancy Howes (Jamie), her brother Bill Martin (Joan) and her sister Wanda Fortney (Pat).

She is lovingly remembered as a strong, intelligent, adventurous and often feisty soul by her 8 grandchildren Alexander and Cameron Ballagh, Lucas, Morgan and Sean Climenhage and Joshua, Grace and Jordan Howes.

Joyce was from a large extended family.  Throughout her diagnosis and final days she communicated with, and was thoughtfully supported by, almost 60 first cousins and their families.  Their emails, calls and cards gave her strength and inspiration as she faced the reality of her diagnosis.

Joyce was a graduate of Hanover District High School (1958) and a proud alumnus of the University of Toronto (1962).  She formed incredible bonds during her school days with friends she connected with regularly in life and who played nurturing roles in her final days.  She was an active member of Grace United Church in Hanover, Ontario where she and Rob married in 1963.  Joyce lived in Hanover for more than 60 years where she worked as a teacher and as an insurance broker. 

Joyce “grew up and moved away from home” in 2008 when she moved from Hanover to Collingwood, Ontario where she would be closer to her beloved ski hill and other active pursuits like hiking, biking and snowshoeing.  She was proud to share with people that she skied right up until March 12, when Blue Mountain was shut down this year.  She joined the First Presbyterian Church in Collingwood and was always elevated by the music and fellowship of that congregation. 

Joyce set regular goals for herself and was inspired by friends to hike the entirety of the Bruce Trail.  As in life, the trail terrain was sometimes challenging, and she found guidance and support from people she met along the way.  She celebrated the completion of the trail’s “End-to-End” with her family who joined her on the trail for a champagne toast.  Always looking for a challenge, she then set a new goal to walk the El Camino de Santiago, in northern Spain, for her 75th birthday.  With the help of her dear friend Ruth, she trained and completed the 800km trek, having made lasting connections with people she met on her journey from all over the world.

Joyce will also be remembered for her talents in sewing and quilting, and her love for traveling, playing bridge and socializing with friends and family.

The family would like to express their thanks to all of Joyce’s extended family and friends for their calls, visits and messages of support.  Joyce received excellent medical attention and the family would like to thank Dr Shaver (Barrie), Dr Marotta (London), Dr Welch, Dr Singh, Dr Gurland and Bonnie Martin at the London Regional Cancer Program.  Highest praise goes to nurses Aucsah and Deshy from St Elizabeth Healthcare and Breton, Kelsey and Linda from the Palliative Care Unit in Parkwood Hospital.

A private graveside burial with immediate family will be held in Hanover.  A Celebration of Life will be planned in the coming weeks in the Collingwood area.

Memorial donations to the Bruce Trail Conservancy in memory of Joyce can be made online at