McDONALD, Maria Marie
Passed away Sunday, February 6, 2022 at Caressant Care McLaughlin, Lindsay, Ontario. Infamously known as the "Lobster Queen".
Mass of Christian Burial will take place on Friday, February 11 at 1:00 P.M. at St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church, 31 Russell Street East, Lindsay, Ontario. Interment to follow at St. Mary's Roman Catholic Cemetery, 233 Lindsay Street South, Lindsay, Ontario.
COVID protocols in place. Masks or face coverings must be worn at Mass and Cemetery.
From lobsters to puppets
Former Lobster Queen knits up thousands of finger puppets to brighten children's lives
COMMUNITY Jan 30, 2012 Peterborough This Week
(LINDSAY) Talk about being able to put a 'finger' on a hobby.
When Marie (Michaud) McDonald's granddaughter Lindsay, a local teacher, asked her to knit some finger puppets for her students, she didn't hesitate to begin experimenting with yarn and needles to create a variety of characters, complete with faces and hair.
That was back in 2003 and Mrs. McDonald hasn't looked back.
In fact, it inspired the mother of five - as well as three step-children - to keep creating, donating her finger puppets to hospitals such as Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children, McMaster's Children's Hospital in Hamilton, the Peterborough Regional Health Centre and Tottenham Health Centre to name a few. The finger puppets are used by doctors and nurses to help distract children from having needles and other medical procedures. The ones presented to schools are used by teachers for rewards, role playing and interacting.
It's earned Mrs. McDonald the title Gramma Puppet; a moniker she is honoured to bear.
Over the years, Mrs. McDonald has created more than 16,000 tiny masterpieces, each one unique and different.
"You won't find these made in China," she quipped.
Mrs. McDonald has turned one of her bedrooms at Adelaide Place, where she has resided with Jack, her husband of 35 years, for the past year, into her workroom, spending a few hours each day putting the finishing touches on each 'creation'. When she's watching television or just enjoying some quiet time, there's often a set of knitting needles in her hands.
After finding a system that worked, Mrs. McDonald moved on to 'seasonal' finger puppets; Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus, snowmen, Valentine, Easter and TV character puppets and even Halloween inspired ones.
"I'm addicted to it," she notes.
While some might find the drive to produce dozens of finger puppets every week a bit overwhelming, it's nothing Mrs. McDonald, now 85, can't handle.
She is the 'Lobster Queen' after all.
Mrs. McDonald was born in New Brunswick into a poor French Canadian family. Her father passed away before she was born, leading to her being raised by her mother's parents. She suffered a number of hardships in her younger years, including being sent to a convent in Montreal and experiencing abuse. She later found herself raising five children on her own. That required money and so Mrs. McDonald put her cooking skills to work and took a leap of faith, opening a seafood and steak restaurant in Port Dalhousie.
By the time she was 27, Mrs. McDonald had a liquor license and a thriving business - complete with lobster tank - to her credit; something few women could boast about back in those days.
"I was working 15 hours a day and raising five kids in my kitchen," said Mrs. McDonald. "I had no education. I couldn't read. I couldn't write. But I had a business mind. I was born with a gift. I was making my own decisions."
Marie's Seafood was also 'the' place to be, attracting a clientel that included movie stars, politicians, high ranking business executives and hockey players, Elvis Presley and former Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau to name a few.
When Mrs. McDonald retired at 65 and sold the business she had 27 employees and had helped send four of her children to university.
In 2001, as a way to share her life experiences with her children and grandchildren, Mrs. McDonald penned Marie - The Lobster Queen: Memories of A True Success Story. The book not helped her raise funds and awareness for Women's Resources, but also captured the attention of Lloyd Robertson.
In 2002 she accepted an invitation to appear on Canada AM.
Mrs. McDonald is humbled by the attention and points out she had to "fight for my life", but notes it was all worth it when she looks at her children, grandchildren and, now, great-grandchild.
But she adds it's the smiles on the little one's faces when they get a finger puppet that makes her the happiest.
"I love to do things for the kids," she said. "And I'll keep doing it for as long as I can."
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