Saint John hospitality community mourns Margret Begner

SAINT JOHN, NB—Margret Begner, co-owner of the Dufferin Inn, passed away of cancer in early January, leaving behind a legacy of extensive involvement in both the hospitality and the broader Saint John communities.

Margret Begner. (Willa Mavis Photo)

Margret Begner. (Willa Mavis Photo)

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SAINT JOHN, NB—Margret Begner, co-owner of the Dufferin Inn, passed away of cancer in early January, leaving behind a legacy of extensive involvement in both the hospitality and the broader Saint John communities.

Margret and her husband, Axel, came to Canada after working in the German hospitality industry for a decade. They owned and operated the Opera Bistro and the Dufferin Inn. Margret was the founding organizer of the Fundy Food Festival and organizer of the Out of the Cold men’s shelter providing meals to the homeless. She was also a member of the immigration board and Tourism New Brunswick.

When the pair first came to Saint John, Ross and Willa Mavis, owners of Inn on the Cove and Spa, a competing inn and eatery, brought bottles of jams to welcome them. “We said, ‘we have just gone through what you’re going through,’” Willa Mavis told CBC radio.

Ross Mavis recalls that Begner always had a can-do attitude, whether they were bringing a food-fest to Saint John or raising money for the local Boys and Girls Club, the hospice or the homeless shelter. Writing in Trinity Today, Herb Duncan recalls the Opera Oscars, an annual evening of food and wine where the Begners paid tribute to their Opera Bistro patrons with humourous awards delivered in Margret’s trademark accent.

“They introduced fine dining at that level to Saint John,” Ross Mavis told CBC.

“We lost a lovely spirit, someone who really added something to the community,” said Willa Mavis.