Cover photo for Irene Buckiewicz's Obituary
Irene Buckiewicz Profile Photo

Irene Buckiewicz

July 3, 1946 — December 9, 2023


Irene Buckiewicz

Irene Buckiewicz died on Saturday, December 9th at 77 years:  a number, she would point out, which is the product of two nice primes.

She was born in Edinburgh where father was flying in the Polish Squadron of the wartime RAF.   After leaving the UK, her parents settled on a farm near Ottawa with extended family where she started school and began to learn English. But farming was as foreign to the family as was their new country and they started to move to the cities, some to Montreal, others to Ottawa.

Then in the year of hurricane Hazel, Aja (as she was then known), her brother and parents moved to what she later dubbed “the armpit of the province”, Barrie, Ontario where she was schooled until graduating at 18, just months after the Kennedy assassination. Within a month she was on the bus to Toronto.

After two years as long-distance operator (because a grade 13 diploma doesn’t prepare young women for more), she enrolled in the Journalism program at Ryerson while working part time at nearby car dealership and various sources of rent money, sharing an apartment with 2 others, and enjoying the Yonge St music scene. 

A boring New Year’s Eve party was where she met the man she would marry, before leaving their house in Brighton with a mortgage they could ill afford, and with a baby daughter she knew she could afford: the prize for 6 years of marriage. Back in Toronto with Kate and armed with feminist vigour, she worked for a construction company where she learned estimating and took some courses at a local college. After 6 years honing those skills and satisfying her feminist ambitions - as often happens - she recognized that these were not really her goals.

So back to school. Eight years later with a Masters degree in physics, a host of lifelong friends, and a ticket to teach school in Ontario she began her teaching career, retiring 23 years later.  In years that her finances were stable enough to support some travel;  DisneyWorld with Kate, solo jaunts to Alaska, Cuba, London, and Paris, then Edinburgh and the Scottish Highlands with Kate, then Hawaii with Brenda, a ferry cruise of Norwegian fiords, and finally Warsawa, Krakow, and Lwow, to introduce Kate to her roots in Poland and Ukraine.

Irene is survived by her daughter, her sister, cousins, and innumerable caring friends.

A Celebration of Life will be held on Saturday, December 30th at the Granite Brewery (245 Eglinton Ave. East) from 1 – 4 pm.  Note: the entrance is on Mount Pleasant and there is underground parking.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Toronto Wildlife Centre in her name per her wishes.


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