In Memory of






Obituary for Dr. Rosemary Ruth Gagan (nee Ball)


In Winnipeg, Manitoba, with all four of her children by her side, our brilliant and beautiful mother peacefully and quietly ended her life’s work. Rosemary was the much-beloved daughter of Henry Ball and Eleanor Duncan, and stepdaughter of Mary Ball. She was cherished and admired beyond words by her late husband Dr. David Paul Gagan (2021) and by her four children, Sarah (George), James (Halcyon), Rebecca (Blair), and Abigail (David). She was also deeply loved by her grandchildren Madeleine, Alexandra, Henry, Charlie, Sam, Leo, Van and Gus; her sister-in-law Andrea (Roger), and by her many close friends with whom she shared decades-long friendships.

Rosemary grew up in London, ON and attended Western University (BA) and McMaster University (M.A. and Ph.D.). She was a gifted and respected teacher who taught Women's History and Gender Studies at universities across Canada, including McMaster University, the University of Toronto, and the University of Winnipeg. Her ground-breaking scholarly research and publications in Canadian women's religious and labour history made visible the understudied and often neglected lives and histories of women in Canada.

In recent years, she did important advocacy work with the Burlington, Ontario chapter of the Canadian Federation of University Women (CFUW). She met with MLAs to advocate for better childcare supports, raised funds to support refugees, and advocated for women and children wherever she could. Rosemary is the author of A Sensitive Independence: Canadian Methodist Women Missionaries in Canada and the Orient, 1881-1925 (1992) and with Dr. David Gagan, the award-winning For Patients of Moderate Means: A Social History of The Voluntary Public General Hospital in Canada (2002). In the early 1980s, Rosemary went back to school and completed her PhD while raising four children. She was a remarkable woman who modeled the importance of keeping alive and being attentive to one’s own passions, dreams, and professional pursuits in the midst of nurturing and caring for others.

"But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts." –George Eliot, Middlemarch

A private service will be held at a later date. If you wish to make a donation in Rosemary’s name, the family would appreciate a gift to Covenant House or a charity of your choice.