Mary Thornhill

Obituary of Mary Elizabeth Thornhill

Born May 7, 1923, Mary Elizabeth Thornhill, MD, of Toronto, passed peacefully in Norwood, ON, on March 15, 2019 at age 95. Daughter of Reginald and Evelyn, predeceased by brothers Philip (Mia) and Richard (Ida). Dearly loved by six nieces and nephews, Frankie (Arthur), Jan (Fred), Bruce (Lisa), Donna, Bob and Pat (Bill), cousins, and the Garcia family.

Mary graduated from the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto in 1948, gaining admittance with the help of a recommendation from Charles Best of Banting and Best, who discovered insulin in the 1920s. After a year honing her obstetrics skills in London, U.K., she hung up her shingle in Unity, SK, for several years. In the early 1950s she returned to Toronto and opened her family practice on the Danforth, retiring in her seventies. She delivered hundreds of babies, and spent so much time on each of her patients that no one ever complained she always ran late. For years she was also a doctor for the residents of SCOC (St. Clair O’Connor Community). 

Mary put everyone else’s needs before her own. She was kind, soft-spoken and gentle, but bold when necessary, especially in the defence of others. She never married, but loved and was loved by interesting men throughout her life. Mary applied herself with zest to all of life’s challenges. She played goalie on the women’s hockey team in med school, skied, travelled with friends, rode horseback, explored every corner of the ROM and rescued dogs and cats. When her scoliosis made walking difficult in her later years, instead of using her car to get around her neighbourhood (she was a self-admitted terrible driver – as her frightened passengers will confirm), she rode her bicycle instead. 

Above all, Mary helped people in myriad ways and was generous to a fault: in fact, Revenue Canada came after her because it seemed obvious from her tax returns that she was hiding income. A deep audit, however, confirmed that she was simply not charging her patients for most of her services. She will be forever loved and missed. 

As per her wishes, cremation has taken place. A Celebration of Life will be planned at a later date. Many thanks to the staff at Pleasant Meadow Manor for their compassionate care. Family can be contacted through

In memory of our Auntie Mary, please do something kind today.