A pioneer business women, civil leader and philanthropist - Marguerite ‘Grete’ Ann (Morrison) Hale

Marguerite ‘Grete’ Ann (Morrison) Hale

Section 39, Lot 17

Born May 11, 1929, in Ottawa, Marguerite Morrison was the second of three daughters born to Margaret Cotter and Cecil Morrison. Growing up in Bayne House, one of the oldest houses in Ottawa, Morrison graduated Journalism from Carleton University (at the time called Carleton College) in 1954.

While simultaneously attending university, Morrison volunteered for Moral Re-Armament — a Christian-based philosophy where practitioners believe change in the world begins with change in oneself — and working at Guardsman’s Restaurant, one of her family’s establishments. This allowed her to pay for schooling herself. She then joined her father's business full time in the Morrison Lamothe Bakery, one of Ottawa's oldest businesses that started out in 1933.

Briefly in the late 1940s, Morrison embarked to Geneva, Switzerland, to learn French at a convent across from the United Nationals Building. She lived there for just over two months learning the language. In 1957, Grete married Reginald Hale, a fellow member of Moral Rearmement, and took his last name, becoming Marguerite ‘Grete’ Hale. For several years they travelled around the world for her husband’s job visiting various Moral Rearmement offices until he became ill. He suffered from a rare war-time disease called Waterhouse-Friderichsen Syndrome and was only one of seven to ever recover from it.

At Canada's 100th birthday party on Parliament Hill in 1967, she was responsible for the 20-foot cake that was cut by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. While the interior of the cake was fake, the 700-pound icing was very real, a choice officials were against in case of weather. During the ceremony Prince Philip broke off a piece and ate it. Had it not been real, it could have poisoned him.

100 canada cake

The Morrison Lamothe Bakery hit hard times in the late 1960s. Attributed to instore bakeries and women continuing in the workforce, no one was home to collect bread deliveries. As Director of consumer services and under the leadership of her sister Jean Pigott, they made tough decisions in order to not declare bankruptcy.

Hale was offered a position as President for the Bakery Council of Canada, the first woman to have the role. When Jean Pigott stepped down to take a role within Parliament, Hale served as President of Morrison Lamothe from 1978 to 1989 and Board Chair from 1989 to 2005. During her presidency, she made the decision to close the bakery section of the Morrison Lamothe Company and focus solely on the frozen food distribution.

Grete with blanket

Hale was also one of the 38 parts of the North American Free Trade Agreement, which included food, wine and agriculture policies. Hale served on dozens of corporate and community boards including serving as President of Beechwood Cemetery and Foundation, where she fought for its very existence for all Canadians.  Hale also petitioned to get Beechwood the National Cemetery of Canada designation.

Grete speaking

Hale was also the founder of the Friends of the National Library of Canada, an Honorary Life Member of the boards of CANHAVE Children's Centre and the Community Foundation of Ottawa and heavily involved with the Ottawa Community Foundation. Hale served as the first-ever female Honorary Colonel of the Governor General's Foot Guards from 2011 to 2013. In 1998, Hale was recognized with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards. She was named to the Order of Canada in 2006. Grete Hale passed away on October 28, 2022.