Cover photo for Madeleine Main's Obituary
Madeleine Main Profile Photo
1917 Madeleine 2020

Madeleine Main

May 18, 1917 — February 7, 2020


of Sundridge

Peacefully at the Huntsville District Memorial Hospital on Friday February 7, 2020 in her 103rd year.
Madeleine Main, beloved wife of late James D. Main.
Loving mother of James (Judy), Robert (Joan Gallagher-Main), Elizabeth (Fred Yagi), Christine (David Skeffington) and Andy (Anna).
Proud grandma of Jim, Steven, Catherine, Michael, Betony, Brendan, Jonathan, Robert, Christopher, Alyssa, Michelle, Chris and 13 great-grandchildren.
Cherished sister of Monique Tanguay and predeceased by siblings Thérèse, Marguerite, Maurice and Paul.

Fondly remembered by her nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends.
She was born Madeleine Alexina Tanguay on May 18th, 1917 in the little town of Bedford, Quebec, the eldest child of six children born to Dr. Armand Tanguay and Elisabeth Labrie.  Her father was a doctor and pharmacist and even served a few terms as the town mayor. As the eldest child, Madeleine often accompanied her father on his house calls; first on horse and carriage, then later driving his big Buick, assisting him when needed.
Her education was interrupted for a year due to her mother’s illness, a difficult pregnancy.  When she did return to school, she had to convince her superiors to allow her to continue with her peer group so that she would not be in the same class as her sister, Thérèse.  She was allowed to do this and in fact followed that up by completing two years in one. Madeleine attended the Pensionnat des Saints-Anges in St.-Jérome run by the Sisters of Ste-Anne-de-Lachine.  The school had an affiliation with the Université de Montréal. The excellent teachers there provided her with the beginning of her superb musical education. At the convent, she also liked to talk about playing duets on two pianos with her sister, Thérèse, and that their tempo was always together. On another occasion there were twelve pianists on stage playing on six pianos.
Madeleine achieved many successes early in her music career. At age 13, she was at the elite level “ Cours supérieue A” and passed with “grande distinction”.  When she was 16, she was awarded the Prix d’Honneur for the highest marks at the level of “Cours Lauréat”.  She also accompanied the school choir for many years.  Madeleine remembered when she first got to play the big Casavant organ at church in Bedford.  It was at a special Mass to celebrate her parent’s 15th wedding anniversary.  In 1943 she performed concerts in Montreal, including one particular concert of note.  It was the night that Sergei Rachmaninoff had died, so in his honour she played the massive Prelude in C-sharp Minor, an extremely difficult piece.   She loved to interpret the works of the major Romantic composers such as Chopin, Tchaikovsky, Debussy, Mendelssohn and Rachmaninoff. When she was working in Montreal, she was intent on winning the prestigious “prix d’Europe” – a grant to pay for musical studies in Europe.  She had an excellent chance to win this award, but as this was just before the war, in 1939, her father forbade her from pursuing this dream.  Of interest, is that the winner of the award was in Paris when it was overrun by the Nazis and he spent 3 years a German concentration camp!
Growing up in an age where there were not many career opportunities, Madeleine did in fact have her share of jobs.  As a teen-ager she worked for her father in the pharmacy which often meant giving first aid and advice to those walking through the door.  She also worked at the County registry office when her father was head registrar.  Following was a stint as a legal secretary, in the Laurentians.  She was only paid $25 a month, but the time there led to skiing in Lac-des-Sables and Mont-Tremblant. The next career move was working at the Banque de Commerce in Bedford.  She then set her sights higher than working in a small town, so asked to be transferred to Montreal where she became the secretary for the bank manager.  During her time in Montreal, Madeleine would attend musical concerts and recitals whenever she could; especially listening to pianists with a repertoire of the Romantic masters.
Music was not her only interest.  She learned to play tennis on the court that her father had built on their property.  In her younger years, she cross-country skied in the Laurentians, and later taught James to cross-country ski in the Almaguin area.  Other interests included bridge, painting, art, sewing and gardening. History was also a passion for her with many books and articles on genealogy, Canada, art, travel and the local community.  In her later years, she joined James on the golf course and continued this activity until she was 88 years of age.
In May 1944 in Montreal, she married Flying Officer James Main, just before he was posted overseas with the RCAF.  After the war they raised five children; Jim and Bob were born in Verdun in 1946.  After a promotion with CIL, the young family moved to a new life in North Bay where Elizabeth and Christine were born.  From there, James bought a business in Sundridge where the youngest, Andy was born.  Madeleine would quote to her children that she was the originator of recycling and repurposing; as during the depression she would turn cuffs and collars and salvage buttons and zippers for another use.
Madeleine began teaching piano shortly after the move to Sundridge in 1954.  Many of her early students were her children’s classmates.  As she taught her children music, she wanted them to have shared interests by teaching their friends – even though the boys’ pursuits often turned more to hockey and golf! A highlight of the music year for the village was the annual music recital which usually took place in the Main living room until the numbers grew and the event moved to the Community Centre. This musical interest which was instilled at an early age followed all her children as adults, who continued with playing the piano and also learned other instruments and played in Pipe and Drum bands.
However, teaching her children wasn’t enough!  Madeleine taught piano and theory to the community during all those years.  Then followed the grandchildren who were within a reasonable distance from the town.  She taught many of her students up to a very high standard with the Royal Conservatory of Music.     Not to stop there, in recent years she taught and encouraged many of her great grandchildren whenever they were able to visit Sundridge. Even last summer at age 102, she held a recital for many of her great-grandchildren who were visiting from out of town. At the end of listening to the children she then impressed everyone by playing a piece on the piano for the little ones.  She taught piano until the very end, as she was still teaching piano to the daughter of one of her former students.
Madeleine, as well as being President of the Catholic Women’s League for many years, was also the organist at St. Augustine’s church in South River for over 40 years.  During this period, Madeleine played for many weddings and events.  She was highly devoted to her faith and believed in a sense of duty and Christian charity.  She also enjoyed the company of other musicians and was able to provide accompaniment to many talented violinists that visited the area, as well as to students who needed accompaniment to take their Conservatory exams in another instrument or to participate in the Kiwanis Music Festival. She also performed in many local concerts.
Her devotion to music was exemplified by her yearly attendance at the Festival of the Sound, an annual classical music festival established in 1979 by Anton Kuerti in Parry Sound. The festival features both Canadian and international musicians and lasts about three weeks during the summer. She encouraged other people to attend as well (with the added benefit that she would get a ride with them!), and was proud to have attended this festival every year since the beginning.  The last few years were more difficult in her walker but she was able to make it to her favourite seat in the front of the hall, with friends and family accompanying her.
Madeleine and James both loved to travel, and took many special trips together. In later years, their winters were spent in the Lake Chapala district of Mexico enjoying the sun and meeting many lifelong friends.  She traveled well into her 90’s, notably to the Vatican to visit her cousin Fernand who was the Canadian ambassador to the Vatican at the time, and a musical trip to Perugia to attend a series of concerts by Angela Hewitt. She took subsequent brief trips in her mid 90’s with Christine to Florida and Mexico.
The passion of travel continued even when she was no longer able to board a plane.  She would follow with interest the itineraries of all her children and grandchildren once they announced they were taking a trip and she would always ask them to send her some photos by email during their travels (she checked her computer daily for messages from the family).
She had a career as a high school French teacher, first at Burk’s Falls High School then later, at Almaguin Highlands.  At both schools she started French clubs for those who wanted to perfect their French and supervised school trips to Quebec City and Toronto.  Following her retirement from teaching, she joined the local Retired Women’s Teachers of Ontario, attending many of their meetings.  She received the “Uncommon Woman” award from the association and a special presentation from the RWTO was made to her on the occasion of her 100th birthday; which pleased her greatly.
Madeleine wanted to live at home until the end, and this she did with the assistance of many loving and caring caregivers.  She followed the lives of her children, grandchildren and great- grandchildren with much interest.  To her last day, she continued her life-long passion of music.  A truly remarkable life!
A funeral Mass will be celebrated at St. Augustine's Roman Catholic Church in South River on Saturday February 29, 2020 at 11:00 A.M.
Everyone is invited  to a celebration of Madeleine's life at Caswell Resort in Sundridge from 12:30 P.M. - 3:00 P.M. on Saturday February 29, 2020.
Spring interment at the Strong Cemetery in Sundridge.
If desired, memorial donations to the Festival of the Sound Music Festival in Parry Sound would be sincerely appreciated by the family.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Funeral Mass

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Starts at 11:00 am (Eastern time)

St. Augustine's Roman Catholic Church

23 Isabella St, South River, ON P0A 1X0

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Celebration of Life

Saturday, February 29, 2020

12:30 - 3:00 pm (Eastern time)

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