Ian Anderson was born in Glasgow, Scotland. He immigrated to Canada in 1953 where he met Margaret. They married in 1955 and their son, Stuart, was born in 1959.
A chemist by profession, Ian joined Canada Packers and worked in the laboratory in the Soap Division for several years before moving into Sales and ultimately into the Marketing Division.
In 1972 Ian was offered a partnership with Alkaril Chemicals in Mississauga where he worked as V.P. of Sales and Marketing for the next 15 years until he was diagnosed with colon cancer. Ian died at home in the care of his wife and son in November 1990. He was 59 years old.
Because of her experience of caring for Ian in the last few months of his life, the physical and emotional toll, the sense of isolation and the feeling of fear and uncertainty, Margaret decided to create a residential hospice in memory of her husband so that families in a situation like hers could be cared for and supported.
As a first step Margaret and her son Stuart set up The Ian Anderson House Foundation with their donation of $1 million to establish the hospice. Initially, they chose Mississauga, where they lived and where Ian worked, as the favoured location to build Ian Anderson House. There were however many unexpected obstacles to be faced including a lack of understanding of politicians, bureaucrats and the medical profession, concerning the philosophy of hospice and the service they provide to the terminally ill. More importantly, funding and education on palliative end-of-life care was almost totally neglected both by governments and the medical professionals.
Seven years later, in 1997, Ian Anderson House, Ontario’s first cancer hospice was finally opened, on the anniversary of Ian Anderson’s death. Seventeen years later more than 2000 residents and their families have been cared for and supported.
Margaret Anderson has remained in the “House” as a volunteer Executive Director and Board Member and as a strong advocate for the residential hospice movement and for the necessity of providing the necessary care and support which each one of us deserves at the end of our lives. Because of the obvious lack of education of both medical and social professionals, in 2004, she donated $1 million to fund a chair at the University of Toronto to create the Ian Anderson Continuing Education Program in End-Of-Life Care.
Since IAH was established more than 15 in-resident hospices have been built and there are a number of others in planning stages. Clearly, the Ontario Ministry of Health has finally recognized the important role that hospices play in providing palliative end-of-life care that is not always available in hospitals. Margaret Anderson’s tireless efforts have been a catalyst for this necessary change finally coming about. Indeed, for almost 20 years, her dogged determination and single-mindedness have helped to shape and remold the attitudes towards caring for the dying among physicians, legislators, media and the public.