Lois Hancey

Lois Faye Hancey

Sunday, January 30th, 1927 - Sunday, May 2nd, 2021
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Hancey, Lois (retired Regional Councilor, Town of Richmond Hill).

Peacefully at her home on Sunday, May 2, 2021 in her 95th year.
Mother of George and Arthur.

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No funeral details available.


Donations are being accepted for: NATURE CANADA / CANADA NATURE.


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Private Condolence

Ed Sackfield

Posted at 12:41pm
My deepest sympathy to the family. I first met Lois in the thirty's as a student at McMurrick School and didn't see her again until I met her in Richmond Hill in the "60s .

In knowing Lois , she was always friendly and compassionate and did her best for the people of Richmond Hill. As a resident , and all residents of Richmond Hill, we owe her our thanks for a job beyond expectations.
Your Friend
Ed Sackfield

John Hnatchuk

Posted at 10:06am
An Amazing Lady
A real asset to The Town Of Richmond Hill.
Thank you for the work you did so lovingly for the Town, The pool the bridge on Major Mackenzie and the wonderful other things you did for the Town.
You were a neighbour on Sussex Ave for well over fifty years.
I remember working for you digging out your gardens and you allowed me to swim in your backyard pool. You served me lunch and told me where to find any cold drinks I wanted.
Thank you, for your service Rest In Peace.
John Hnatchuk

Brenda Hogg

Posted at 10:34pm
Lois Hancey, I always called her the ‘Queen of Richmond Hill’. The title was earned. Lois, typically the only woman elected to Council, successfully fought for Richmond Hill to build its first swimming pool: Centennial Pool. As the proud Mother of two young boys, she wanted them to protect themselves by learning to swim and she wanted all children to have access to recreational facilities. Her work was honoured when the ‘Lois Hancey Centre’ was built. Lois gave young girls and women hope that their voices could make a difference; that they could be elected and help others in their community. Thank you Lois for being such a strong, compassionate, stubborn politician. You will be missed but never forgotten.

Marney Beck Robinson

Posted at 12:13pm
Richmond Hill’s longest-serving female councillor knew that the title of a 2014 tribute video — Lois Hancey: A Stubborn Politician — was a compliment, but she chafed a little against it.
“I’m not stubborn,” insisted Lois Hancey, first elected to council in 1964 and serving as a political leader for the next quarter century, and only the second woman to ever earn voters’ trust. “I just think persistence pays off.”
Her personal accomplishments and political career are testimony to her persistence, along with courage and outspokenness. Hancey’s approach to life — and politics — has been simple: “I base my decisions on facts; I can’t be intimidated or convinced, unless the facts are there.”
She was born in Toronto, and politics was the backdrop of her early life. “The only subject my father ever discussed at the dinner table was politics. He’d say ‘it isn’t what you ask of your country, but what you do for your country’.”
She moved to Richmond Hill in 1958 when she and her husband, Lionel, bought a home on Sussex Avenue south of Major Mackenzie Drive East (then called Markham Road).
When she became a new mom with the first of two sons, she faced the same challenges of other families in Richmond Hill, where many major roads were still gravel and unpaved.
“The only stores were on Yonge Street, there was nothing on Markham Road… many trucks used the road, and I was pushing a baby carriage and there were no sidewalks. Often, I’d have to push the carriage in the ditch and jump out of the way (of vehicles). It frightened me.”
She learned to swim at age 5, and felt strongly that it was an important skill for personal safety. She made sure her own sons, George and Arthur, learned to swim in their back yard pool, along with many neighbourhood children.
She had taken a first aid course through the Red Cross in Toronto, and the organization called in 1963, inviting her to take on a water safety position in the town. It was a volunteer position, and as Richmond Hill had no pool, she decided to arrange to have children bused twice a week to a Thornhill pool for swim lessons.
She set up registration days at Allencourt and Richmond Heights plazas, but got a call even before the official start times and was told “you’d better get over here,” as there were long lineups. A total of 300 eager swimmers were registered for out-of town lessons.
“Everyone was happy, but we started lobbying council for our own pool.”
She headed a delegation to council that same year, armed with an architect’s sketch and school board permission to build a pool near Bayview Secondary School.
However, Hancey wasn’t happy with the group’s reception, or council’s lack of action. She and her husband took to attending council meetings, finding them “entertaining”. She kept pressing for a pool, only to be told there was no money to build it, with some suggesting that she should run for council. “Don’t be silly” she remembers as her reaction.
When the local Lions Club brought a new fundraising plan for a pool to council, she backed the project, but decided to put her name forward for a council seat.
“To run an election campaign is not easy,” she recalled in 2017. “You have to have money, helpers, literature, and I ran two campaigns without signs. I held beef-on-a-bun and meet-the-candidate events — I got to every door in my ward, and the boys delivered my one campaign letter. To my surprise, I got elected (in 1964).”
As a working mother who found daytime meetings of council often ran overtime, she would have dinner prepared, with detailed notes for her sons as to when to put something in the oven. She often walked from her home to town hall (then at Yonge and Wright streets). “I got it down to 18 minutes, sometimes in high heels!”
Even though she was now working on fellow councillors from within, she still couldn’t persuade them to build a pool. However, timing was in her favour as Canada’s 1967 Centennial year approached, as there was funding available from federal and provincial governments for special projects. With additional support from Rotarians and the YWCA, council finally voted for a pool.
Centennial Pool (then an outdoor facility) was built at Newkirk and Crosby, opening in June of 1965 and becoming the “first Centennial project in the country” to be in use.
Hancey was re-elected in nearly every campaign thereafter, including when York regional government came in 1971. In 1973 she was elected as regional and local councillor, a position she continued to hold until 1978. She lost one election and wasn’t on the 1979-’80 council, but returned as local and regional councillor for the years 1981 through 1988.
Through many of those working years, she was a single mother, her husband having left the family in 1975 and died in 1982.
In all her years on council, and more than two decades serving on the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, she never feared offering her opinion on any issue.
When a state-of-the-art aquatic centre, then Canada’s largest indoor wave pool, was opened in in Richmond Hill in 1991, Hancey was shocked and pleased to learn it would bear her name: The Lois Hancey Aquatic Centre. The name was bestowed in honour of 26 years of public service to her community and in recognition of her hard work and tenacity to see the town’s first pool built.
She was also feted during Richmond Hill’s 2014 celebration of International Woman’s Day, where she took centre stage to great applause, was honoured by then-premier Kathleen Wynne and many others, and the video Lois Hancey: A Stubborn Politician was shown to the appreciative audience of 600.
Even in retirement, she continued to raise her voice to protect or inform Richmond Hill residents. She wrote numerous letters to the editor of the Richmond Hill Liberal about a variety of issues.
In 2015, she was one of many seniors targeted in a bogus tax evasion phone scam. As always, her instinct was to fight back and help others, prompting her to call not just York Regional Police, but the RCMP, Canada Revenue Agency and the Liberal newsroom, insisting a story be written to warn others of the scam.
Hancey’s advice to anyone seeking a political seat is “you need the hide of a rhinoceros to deal with some of your colleagues, you need staying power and courage”. She advises not to be discouraged if you don't win, but to try another campaign and “some day you’ll win”!

- by Marney Beck, retired editor of The Richmond Hill Liberal

Allan Duffy

Posted at 08:45am
I had the Pleasure and Honour of servingwith My favourite Councillor “Lois Hancey” Richmond Hill Councillor and Regional Councillor, for the Regional municipality of York.
Lois was one of those Councillor's that understood all aspects of Council, and was an active participant in discussions on all issues. Her research on all Council discussions and debates were well researched and her understanding of the rules of Council kept us all in line. She was a veteran of Council and had total recall of past decisions.
We became friends and I heard a lot about her two favourite subjects, her sons George and Arthur and her other family, all residents of Richmond Hill.
We will all miss Mrs Richmond Hill, Lois Hancey!

Al Duffy

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