company blog

The ‘Isabel Heels Memorial Bursary’

In 1913 a family bible was presented to Bessie Arbour, in Waubaushene and used at her wedding to Morley Heels 7 years later. It was Waubushene, where on ‘Robbie Burns Day’, January 25th 1924, the doctor stayed over on a bitter, stormy night to deliver Isabel Dorothy Heels at her grandfathers home. Her father was employed by Imperial Oil and transferred in 1927 to Gravenhurst.  They rented for a year and then bought a home at 390 Wagner Street. For the next 50 years her father delivered oil to the homes about Town. A horse drawn wagon was used to deliver the oil and he kept the horses in a stable at the back of the house until they bought a truck in the 1930’s.
Isabel went to the North Ward Public School at the corner of John Street and Winewood Ave where an apartment building is now. She went to Gravenhurst High School and during the summers worked as a waitress on the boats in the bay. Not many people could afford to go to college or university in Toronto in those days, but she did attend ‘Mrs. Avery’s Secretarial School’ in town for one year and found her first job as a typist the next year.
Like her father, she was loyal to her first employer, the Dominion Bank. It became the Toronto Dominion Bank in 1953 and for 44 years she worked steadily and garnered the respect of all her fellow employees and several managers of the bank in Gravenhurst before retiring as the Senior Accounting Officer. It was mandatory for women to retire at age 63 and so the day before her birthday January 24th 1987 Isabel retired.
Isabel was an only child and although she never married she had a great love of children and in the 1950’s she was a Girl Guide leader.
She loved curling and the social life at the Gravenhurst Curling Club. If she was not curling in the winter she was following another passion, bowling. Trophies adorned her home. She loved the Gravenhurst Indians Jr. ‘C’ hockey games and followed them faithfully. She loved a party and she loved to dance. She could put on her fine jewelry and strut her stuff with one of many hats she was known to wear. These activities kept her busy during the cold winters.
Her friends and neighbours all agreed, you could count on Isabel to lend a helping hand whether it was preparing for a social event at the church, the curling club or volunteering for the Heart and Stroke Association or the Cancer Society. With a banking background she was well equipped to act as the local Treasurer of both of those national causes as well as the long time Treasurer of the Muskoka Concert Association.
During the summer her attention to the gardens around her home was obvious, with petunias, poppies, geraniums and a large vegetable garden too. Even the boulevard was in bloom. Each year people would stop to take pictures of the home and large red maple her father had planted years earlier.
Her father had died in 1977 at age 77, and her mom died in 1990. She lived alone in the home.
Sundays were often spent at the United Church with lifelong friends. On a cold icy day, November 25th 1993, she returned home with items for the church bazaar, slipped on the steps and broke her hip.
She did not have a husband to help her manage, nor did she have any children to keep an eye on her, so she moved out of her house and into the Martin Manor on the main street of Gravenhurst to receive nursing care. Isabel’s hip never healed well and several years later another operation was in order. Isabel was confined to a room again for months of healing but this time the onset of Alzheimer’s would take its toll.
Her closest relatives in Midland thought it best to move her closer to them and so she was moved to the Villa Care Nursing Home in Midland.

Isabel died peacefully, Tuesday December 6th 2011.

Isabel’s love of Gravenhurst and her promotion of the Town and the benefits of living here were not to be taken lightly. This became very evident after her death when her ‘will’ revealed she was leaving a significant portion of her estate to local charities including  South Muskoka Memorial Hospital and Lion’s Club of Gravenhurst. She left a significant portion to the charities she helped including the Heart and Stroke Association of Ontario, the Cancer Society and the Diabetes Society.  The family bible presented to her mother on her marriage was always and important part of her life as was the Trinity United Church and so they too benefitted from her generous estate.
The Rotary Club of Gravenhurst received over $80,000.00 and in her memory the Rotary Club placed a portion into the  ‘Rotary Bursary Endowment Fund’ for a ‘Stand Alone’ bursary to be known as the ‘Isabel Heels Memorial Bursary’.

You have been chosen to be the recipient this year of her generosity and good will and we hope that someday in the future you will give back to your community as Isabel Heels did in Gravenhurst.

Isabel Heels

Isabel Heels