Skip to content

BARR, Joan (nee Rowsell)


Barr Joan MM

Born in 1937 in North Sydney, Cape Breton, to Newfoundlander parents Samuel and Mildred Rowsell, Joan spent her next 8 yrs in PEI before moving to Renfrew, ON where she first met her future husband Jack.  A few school classes, and a couple of high school dates had an undeniable impact on both because after only three dates many years later, when both lived in Europe, they became engaged and married in June of 1962. 

After Jack left the airforce they settled in Guelph in 1964 and here they remained on Forest Street for nearly 60 years surrounded by their amazing neighbours.  With Jack at school Joan raised Sean and joined the brand-new University of Guelph’s Personnel Dept.  Leaving work to raise Joel, Joan returned to the University, where from 1978 to 2005 she moved through jobs eventually becoming the Protocol Officer for a number of Presidents and eventually the long-time personal assistant to the Honourable Lincoln Alexander, then Chancellor of the University.  Joan’s other lasting connection to Guelph was her beloved St James the Apostle Anglican Church.  A stalwart member for nearly sixty years, Joan’s work with the Altar Guild and Mother’s Union, and a sheer devotion to the Choir, were cornerstones to her life; her work and commitment were recognized by the Bishop in 2018 with The Order of Niagara.

Joan is predeceased by her brother Robert Rowsell, sisters Elizabeth Macaulay and Jean Russell, and most recently by her son Sean.  She leaves behind Jack, Joel and Diane, and her much loved grandchildren Kiersten and Brendan.  We would like to thank her many dear friends and family who have supported her through her many years of battling cancer… the power of your friendship and love to lift her spirits was indeed the best medicine.

Service will be held at the Church of the Apostles, 86 Glasgow St. N, Guelph on Wednesday, June 1, at 1pm followed by a celebration of life at the University of Guelph Arboretum Centre.  Currently masks are required at both locations. Donations, if desired, can be made to the Church of the Apostles or the University of Guelph Arboretum. Arrangements entrusted to the WALL-CUSTANCE FUNERAL HOME & CHAPEL 519-822-0051 /

A tree will be planted in memory of Joan Barr in the Wall-Custance Memorial Forest.