Dr. Major Marguerite (Peggy) Downes

Honouring the legacy of Dr. Major Marguerite (Peggy) Downes – 1938 – 2009

Aide-de-Camp / Administrative Officer, Canadian Forces Army Reserve, Toronto, ON. Born: Dartmouth, NS.

Major Marguerite (Peggy) Downes joined the Royal Canadian Army Service Corps Militia in Halifax in 1955, then transferred to the Toronto Reserves in 1956.

Over the course of her career, she became the highest ranking Black female officer in the Canadian Forces Army Reserves in Ontario. She retired as Officer-in-Command, Charlie Squadron and was with the Queen’s York Rangers Army Cadets. She was also a Commissaire with the Superior Court of Justice, and served as Aide-de-Camp to Lieutenant-Governors John Black Aird, Lincoln Alexander, Hal Jackman, Hilary Weston, and James K. Bartleman.

Affiliations: Member, Royal Canadian Military Institute; Toronto Signals Officers’ Club; Honourary Life Member, Canadian Women’s Army Corps, and Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders; member of the Toronto Negro Colour Guard (previously a men’s only veterans’ group); member, Empire Club and the Royal Commonwealth Society.

Community: Musical Director, Toronto First Baptist Church and Founder, Voices of Joy Gospel Choir; Beverly Mascoll Charitable Foundation; Kay Livingstone Visible Minority Association; fundraised for James Robinson Johnston Chair in Black Canadian Studies, Dalhousie University; fundraised for the Sickle Cell Foundation’s Camp Jumoke; volunteered with Out of the Cold Program.

Honours: Several, including inductee, WP Oliver Wall of Fame (2006); inclusion in Who’s Who in Black Canada 2 (2006); Lifetime Achievement Award, ACAA (2002); Vice-Regal commendation & Lieutenant Governor’s Volunteer Award (2001); Honourary Doctor of Humanities (2001), named one of the “100 Most Influential East Enders” (2000); North Carolina Theological Institute; Order of Military Merit (1988); Canadian Forces Medal, three bars; Governor General 125th (1992).

Reviewed in: WWIC; Some Black Women (1993); and in community newspapers.