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A Legacy of Compassion and Care: Connie Swinton

After a revered career in international public health, the late Connie Swinton bequeathed $10,000 to Hospice Peterborough.

Connie Swinton
Remembering Connie Swinton: internationally esteemed public health nurse and recipient of the Order of Canada.

The late Connie Swinton was an internationally esteemed public health nurse and recipient of the Order of Canada.

She was also a great supporter of Hospice Peterborough. She volunteered in client care with Hospice for 25 years, fundraised to support the capital campaign and hosted the launch of her memoir ‘From Tofield to the Top of the World’ at our previous Hospice location.

Ms. Swinton is known for her phenomenal 45-year international career in public health nursing that included serving poverty-stricken areas in rural Alberta, working in a Pakistan refugee camp, feeding refugee children in Sudan and making days-long hikes in Nepal to offer healthcare to people in remote mountainous regions. Connie worked closely with esteemed organizations such as the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and the World Health Organization (WHO), while, notably, her work also afforded her the opportunity to once meet with Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip while working in Kathmandu.

From a young age, Ms. Swinton was encouraged to always follow her dreams while being raised in an intellectual, forward-thinking and hardworking family during the Depression.

After graduating from nursing school, Ms. Swinton joined the Victorian Order of Nurses (VON) in 1947, starting her career in public health as a community nurse and leader. She lived across Canada and her work took her overseas to Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, Nepal, Pakistan and North Africa working in refugee camps, hospitals, clinics and health departments.

After 25 years with VON, Ms. Swinton moved on from the organization in 1972 to work with Health Canada and also teach nursing at the University of Toronto where she promoted then-radical ideas of safer sex and birth control.

In retirement her life was no less busy. She returned to her beloved Peterborough area and began volunteering at Hospice Peterborough, as stated in her memoir – her “most rewarding” volunteer experience was supporting Hospice’s mission of caring for those living with a life-threatening illness and grief. In addition she continued her education earning a Master of Divinity from the University of Toronto.

Ms. Swinton was a much-loved volunteer at Hospice, primarily she focused her energy in palliative care work and providing respite to caregivers. She also devoted herself to fundraising for the new end-of-life residence, dedicating a portion of the proceeds from her memoir ‘From Tofield to the Top of the World’ to the capital campaign after the memoir launch in January 2019.

Connie’s final wish was to spend her last days in the Hospice Peterborough residence, the place she had helped create. In December of 2020, at the age of 95, Connie required palliative care and was given the best room in the place – as she put it. She died peacefully after saying her goodbyes.

“Like in life, her death was on her own terms,” says Connie’s niece, Valerie. “Hospice Peterborough was her final home – fitting as this place captured her heart and soul.” says Valerie.

Valerie says Ms. Swinton was not a wealthy woman but was financially astute and able to leave money to her family and her favourite charity Hospice Peterborough was very dear to her heart and it makes sense that her final legacy gift is one of service because her entire life was about service,” says Valerie Swinton.

“Connie’s amazing legacy lives through her generous gift, which will make a meaningful impact for many years to come. This legacy is simply an extension of her lifelong passion and dedication of caring for others.” says Hospice Peterborough executive director Hajni Hős.


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