Elspeth Heyworth was born Elspeth Fiddian Moulton in 1939 in the city of Bangalore, India. She was the daughter of Rev. Harold Moulton and his wife, Marjorie, two British missionaries stationed in southwest India. Her family returned to England in 1947, where she attended school. She married Peter Heyworth in 1960. She moved to Canada with her husband in 1962. They settled in Toronto where she raised their three children.
Elspeth’s passion for social justice motivated her career path choices. She graduated from York University in 1979 with a bachelor’s degree in social work. She became a social work professor at York University in the same year and received her master’s degree in social work at the University of Toronto in 1980. She launched outreach programs for new immigrants while teaching at York, including an outreach service for South Asian women in the Jane-Finch community.
Elspeth served as a director at the Metropolitan Toronto Housing Authority and chaired a community planning committee on Ataratiri, a proposed affordable housing project for downtown Toronto. In 1985, she became the executive director of Dixon Hall, a downtown Toronto social services centre, and pioneered a wide number of services for the underprivileged, including an adult literacy program and a computer skills training program.
Her life ended tragically on the morning of May 28, 1990, at the age of 51. While on vacation at a beach resort in Goa, India, she swam alone in a sea current undertow and drowned. Buried in England, her social legacy in Canada continues.