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Support Mary Pemberton and children

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Will Pemberton, a dear husband, father, son, brother, and friend, died peacefully of cancer on the morning of Aug. 20. He leaves behind his wife, Mary, and their six young children. The youngest, Eleanor, was born in December 2019, just days before Will's diagnosis.

In Will's last e-mail to me, two weeks before he died, he asked me to do what I could to help ease the way for Mary and the children, who face many difficult days and practical challenges ahead.

As those who know the Pembertons are no doubt aware, the family's needs right now are very significant.

Four years ago the family took a big risk, leaving their home in Ontario, and moving to two hundred acres of rugged, uncleared land near the coast of Cape Breton, with the dream of starting up a market farm.

The first few years in Cape Breton were dedicated to putting basic infrastructure in place and acquiring a small herd of cattle. Will's cancer diagnosis came right when the farm was just beginning to turn the corner, and to approach the point of being able to generate income. At that point, everything was put on hold.

Thanks to the generosity of so many friends and family, Will and Mary were able to spend the past year back in Ontario, while Will pursued various avenues to try to heal. However, most of what was raised has been used for living expenses and health care, and anything remaining will be used up by funeral costs.

My understanding is that Will only had a small life insurance policy, which can help pay for basic living expenses for a little while, but with no buffer for other necessary or unexpected expenses.

The Pembertons have always lived in extreme simplicity. The house in which the family is currently living is a small, three bedroom, one bathroom century farmhouse, which is in need of significant repairs.

With six children at home, including a toddler, it is impossible to imagine Mary being able to work right now, while keeping the household running. The difficulties are compounded by the fact that in the rural location where they are located, there is very little  available in the way of work.

In one of my last conversations with Will, he said that one of his constant prayers was simply a prayer of trust, placing the future wellbeing of his family in God's hands.

I know that so many people have been so generous with the Pembertons already. But my dearest hope, and something I promised Will I would try to help make happen, is that many hands will come together and answer Will's prayer, helping carry the enormous burden that Mary is carrying on her shoulders right now. If all goes well, perhaps we can give her the gift of the breathing room that she needs to be able to really think about and plan for the future, and to make the decisions that are best for her and her family, without financial need putting up roadblocks every step of the way.

Will was such a dear, dear friend to me. Dearer than words can express. I know so many others felt the same way. Nothing can possibly make up for his loss. But perhaps we can help fill the void in the lives of Mary and their children by surrounding them with our love.

On behalf of Mary and the children, and Will (who so often expressed to me his gratitude for the way so many rallied around the family in the past year and a half), thank you so much for the support you have provided, and thank you for all the support that you will continue to provide the family as they go through this most difficult period in their lives.

Note: If you would prefer to send a cheque directly to the Pembertons, please send me a message using the contact form on GoFundMe, and I can give you their mailing address (if you don't already have it).




  • Anonymous
    • $1,050 
    • 9 mos
  • Anonymous
    • $250 
    • 2 yrs
  • Benjamin Blaauw
    • $1,000 
    • 2 yrs
  • David Tysoe
    • $500 
    • 2 yrs
  • Anonymous
    • $100 
    • 2 yrs

Organizer and beneficiary

John Jalsevac
Millbrook, ON
Mary Pemberton

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