Born 17 March 1939 in Indian Head Saskatchewan, passed away peacefully on 19 November 2022 in Victoria, British Columbia with family at her side.

Mary-Wynne Ashford, MD, PhD., retired Family and Palliative Care Physician in Victoria, BC, and retired Associate Professor at the University of Victoria, was adamant that the physician’s role went far beyond their caring for individual patients. She believed that advocating for peace and the elimination of nuclear weapons was part of a doctor’s “duty of care”.

For 37 years Mary-Wynne wrote about and spoke internationally about peace and disarmament. She was Co-President of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) from 1998-2002, which won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1985, and President of the Canadian Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War from 1988-1990. She led two IPPNW delegations to North Korea in 1999 and 2000. Her award-winning book, Enough Blood Shed: 101 Solutions to Violence, Terror, and War, has been translated into Japanese and Korean. She won many awards including the Queen’s Medal on two occasions, the Gandhi Prize in 1997, the Award of Excellence from Doctors of BC in 2019 and, with Dr. Jonathan Down, the 2019 Distinguished Achievement Award from the Canadians for a Nuclear Weapons Convention. She recognized the vital role of women as peace activists and in 2018 joined twelve hundred women from around the world to walk across the Reunification Bridge to a peace park in the DMZ between North and South Korea. In 2021 she developed and taught an online course, Global Solutions for Peace, Equality, and Sustainability sponsored by Next Gen U and IPPNW Canada. She nurtured an extensive network of international connections and her ability to form strong relationships was a hallmark feature of her character.

Born the third of four children to Jack Moar (a bush pilot, inventor, and entrepreneur) and Kitty Moar (a writer, teacher, artist and community organizer), Mary-Wynne inherited a sense of boundless energy, optimism and the belief that she had no limits. She was clever, confident, and connected with people in a deep and meaningful way. At the University of Alberta, she earned a BSc in Home Economics and a B.Ed. In 1981 she graduated from the University of Calgary as a Doctor of Medicine and in 1997 she earned her PhD in Education from Simon Fraser University.

She married the late Dr David Ashford and was the mother of three (Karen, Graham and Patrick). As a volunteer with the Calgary Zoo, she was foster mother to two baby orangutangs and a polar bear cub, capturing the activity of those years in a regular column for the Calgary Herald titled “Out of My Tree”. Before enrolling in medical school, she studied music theory, singing, French language, creative writing, and Shakespearean Theatre. After completing her medical training and moving to Victoria, she married Dr Russell Davidson, adding four stepchildren (Katyann, Victoria, Gillian, and Emma) to the warm circle of family. She was grandmother to ten grandchildren.

A passion for the arts infused her life. She performed in many drama and theatre productions and her involvement in the Gettin’ Higher Choir and the Community Choir Leadership Training program continued until her death. She was renowned for her sewing skills, especially her hand-crafted puppets. Recently she created puppets representing famous female social activists for the University of Victoria Faculty of Education and several special therapy puppets used to assist Syrian refugee children to be able to tell their stories and settle more easily in Canada.

For decades, Mary Wynne collaborated with members of the Baháʼí Faith on issues of global peace and prosperity and the advancement of women. In 2008 she formally joined the Baháʼí Faith and was an active member of the community, serving on institutions and promoting the teachings, particularly those which elaborated on aspects of world peace and global governance.

Mary-Wynne never lost hope that the world would one day be nuclear weapons-free. She was one of the most inspirational and influential leaders of our time.

A small funeral service will be held on November 25th and a celebration of Mary-Wynne’s life will be held on December 5th at the McPherson Playhouse in Victoria, BC. Details to follow at marywynneashford.ca, where condolences may also be shared. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that friends contribute to a noble cause in her honour.

McCall Gardens

  • Risa Greenwood

    I write to you, Mary-Wynne’s family, on behalf of Carlos Pazos and his wife Lettie, from Havana Cuba, and on my own behalf. Carlos and Lettie are so very sad to hear of Mary-Wynne’s passing. Because of the great difficulties of connecting with the rest of the world from Cuba, Carlos asked me to send a note of their great love for Mary-Wynne. I know Carlos would have much to say about the deep friendship they shared through their collaboration of many years with the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War. Mary-Wynne was the reason I met Carlos and Lettie. She was assisting him to get the cancer treatment medication he needed – I was the person who carried it for her to him. And we became great friends in Havana. I only feel sad now that I did not get to know Mary-Wynne here in Victoria, but only learned about her from Carlos, my mum (who shared the Gettin’ Higher Choir with her) and now this inspiring story of her life. The ripples, upon ripples she created… Much love to you all. Risa Greenwood

  • Terrance Watling

    Thank you Mary-Wynne, you were a fantastic person, and caring doctor who guided us and delivered three of our four children. Bless your heart, we will always be grateful.
    Terry Watling & family

  • Elfi Gleusteen

    To Karen, Graham and Patrick,
    Even if you do not remember me, I want to tell you that your Mom, as you well know, was a remarkable whirlwind. How she could do all she did is beyond belief. She lived the life of at least four people. To think that when I first met her, way back in our Calgary days when you guys took the school bus to school, she used to promote the Suzuki method to enrich education through music. I wonder if you are still playing the piano but if you are not, as most of my former students have done, they have insisted on having their children get involved in music.
    I lost track of your Mom in Victoria as we both got busier in different directions, yet I never forgot her and occasionally ran into her as she came to the conservatory for choir practice. She was admirable, charming, full of energy that transpired through her great smile and love of humanity. She gave me her book when it was first published. I read it with an attitude of respect for this incredible mind. I shall never forget you. My sincere condolences. Your Mom will be missed and remembered.

  • Mandy Leith

    Mary-Wynne was a role model for me and many others. Her warmth and fierce belief in hope and humanity was inspiring and infectious. She was a beloved and regular speaker at OPEN CINEMA 2003-2016, always finding time to give her time, despite multiple other important projects and commitments. I will cherish the wisdom and warmth she shared. You will never be forgotten Mary-Wynne, your legacy lives on.

  • Georgine Wonnacott

    May Wynn was a key note speaker at our seminar entitled Creating Compassionate Community. She also signed one of her newly published books dealing with
    Global Peace. The audience sat riveted to their seats when she spoke.
    Her energy was tireless and her commitment to educating people to be vehicles of Peace is our responsibility. Her projects will live on in our hearts.

  • Nooshafarin Saberi

    Mary-Wynn was beautiful inside and out . She was full of life and enthusiasm . She was kind and service oriented . I was so lucky to have one to one conversations with her for two years for she used to pick me up and we used to go together to the getting higher choir . She loved peace and believed in humanity . One day she told me if something happens to me, remember that I love you . I will cherish her love in my heart for ever . My deepest condolences to her loved ones . Till we meet again my precious friend . Nooshafarin Saberi

  • Kathy Kelly

    Mary-Wynne blended wisdom, love and courage, so beautifully. May we be guided by her pursuit of peace and her resistance to war.

  • Karen Lenz

    Dearest Mary-Wynne, Your warmth and loving care and genuine interest, will always be a wonderful memory of how you walked each day and left love in your footprints. Thank you for being such a brilliant star dear Mary-Wynne !

    Sincere condolences to Mary-Wynne’s family.

    With love and prayers for you all,

    Karen Lenz

  • Patti Willis

    I first met Mary-Wynne in the 1980s when we served on a committee of formidable women to plan a conference, “Women Negotiating Alternatives For Peace.” She was fairly new to peace work at the time, but she certainly “ran with the ball” for the rest of her life. Our paths crossed in many efforts for peace over the years, especially when we shepherded our mentor, Murray Thomson, when he came to the island. And too, we had a mutual interest in the aspiration of a nuclear weapon-free Korean Peninsula.

    She and I both loved to sing with others and she participated in Denman Sings with Dennis Donnelly. I was overjoyed to walk into the Denman Community Hall to find Mary-Wynne having migrated from Victoria for a week of singing. Most recently, I stayed at Mary-Wynne’s cozy home when I was in Victoria to facilitate a peace meeting. She was always full of such good humour and optimism. She was smart and inventive in her peace work with an expansive and compassionate heart.

    Imagine –“You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us and the world will be as one.” Thank you Mary-Wynne. ❤️

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