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Margaret Andrews



Andrews, Margaret (nee Steele)

September 13, 1911 - January 19, 2018

On January 19, 2018, Mrs. Margaret Andrews of Edmonton passed away peacefully at the age of 106 years.

Margaret will be remembered as a person devoted to family and friends. She will be sadly missed and lovingly remembered by all who knew her.

Margaret will be truly missed by her nephew, Graham Kelly (Lorena) of Medicine Hat, Larry Wood of Regina, Doug Wood (Margo) of Steinbach, Jim Wood (Yvonne) of Calmar, Ken Steele (Janet) of England, Ron Steele (Tene) of England and Leon Moen (Janet) of Zhoda, with whom she shared so many family experiences. She will also be remembered by many other great nephews and nieces of two generations for enjoyable family visits and wonderful holidays.

Margaret was predeceased by her parents Andrew and Margaret Steele, husband Syd Andrews, sisters Jessie Patterson, Winnifred Kelly (Win), Dorothy (Dot) McKinnon, brother Ken Steele, sister-in-law Mary Steele, brothers-in-law Ted Wood, Alex Kelly, John McKinnon, Cecil Patterson, nephews Shelley Wood, Dr. Alex Kelly, Donald (Hugh) Patterson, nieces Moira Kelly and Anna Moen.

Special thanks are extended to the volunteer Good Samaritan Medicare Responders Lynn and Bob Anderson, Sheila Cholowski and Millie Knight, as well as good friends Jake and Louise Wielinga and Karen Hansen who through all their care, visits and support enabled Margaret to remain in her own home until she was almost 103. Deep gratitude to all the Millwoods Shepherd's Care who cared for her the past 3 years.

Margaret received her elementary and high school education in her hometown of Cupar, SK, her teacher training at Regina Normal School (1930/31) and her Bachelor of Education degree from the University of Alberta in 1965. Her teaching career spanned 42 years - 19 in Saskatchewan and 23 in Edmonton. She had an amazing memory for the names of all her principals, colleagues, and students, and loved to tell wonderful stories about them.

A celebration of Margaret's life will be held on February 1st, 2018, at 2 p.m. in the Chapel of Robertson-Wesley United Church, 10209 - 123 Street, Edmonton, AB.

In lieu of flowers, Memorial Tributes may be made to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, 100, 119-14 Street NW Calgary, AB T2N 1Z6.

Margaret's Eulogy, by Nephew Graham

Good afternoon. My name is Graham Kelly. My wife Lorena and I are from Medicine Hat and our son David is from Redcliff. It is our privilege to present the eulogy for our Aunt Margaret Elizabeth Steele Andrews.

Always thoroughly prepared, Aunt Margaret wrote most of this eulogy several years ago. We added in our own observations and subtracted some details.

106 years four months, six days! Margaret was born in 1911. Saskatchewan and Alberta had only been provinces for six years. World War I was still three years away. The automobile and aviation industries were in their infancy and penicillin, to say nothing of DNA had yet to be discovered.

Aunt Marnie was a witness to the greatest advances in the history of mankind. She was vitally interested in all of them.

Margaret Elizabeth Steele was born on September 13, 1911 at the Forestry Farm at Indian Head, Saskatchewan. You can still see the farm buildings up on the hill from the Trans-Canada highway 70 kilometres east of Regina.

Her parents, Andrew Mcgillveray Steele and Margaret Jane Drummond Wylie were from the lowlands of Scotland who met and married in Minnedosa, Manitoba in the early 1900s. My grandfather was a veteran of the Boer war having served in the cavalry. After his discharge, he remained in Africa working on the Kitchener-Khartoum railway. When he returned home to Scotland, he made plans to emigrate to Canada and farm. He came alone.

My grandmother was born in Dumfrier and grew up near Lockerbie, scene of the Air India disaster in the 1980s. She lived on a dairy farm of Ayrshire cattle. Marnie and Syd visited her mother’s beautiful home in its lovely countryside setting and wondered how anyone could leave it for “unknown territory”. Her mom came with her parents and her youngest siblings Betty and Alex. Shortly after Margaret’s birth, the family....now two daughters, Jessie been born in Deloraine, Manitoba in 1909, moved to Gunton, Manitoba where brother Ken came into the world. While there, her dad successfully applied for the position of foreman at Lake Riding Ranch 90 miles north of Regina. My mother Winnifred was born there. Their dad found a farm for sale three and a half miles east of Cupar. On March 17, 1918, in a sleigh, the family moved to the spot the Steele family was proud and happy to call home. On July 24th of that year, the family was completed when sister Dorothy was born, a lovely gift for a new home.

All the Steele children attended Cupar consolidated school. They went to school with their classmates in a horse drawn school van, made comfortable in winter with sheepskins, foot warmers and buffalo rugs. Usually on the way home, they sang, played seated games, exchanged news and had the odd argument.

The family had settled in a wonderful, caring neighbourhood where folks always helped one another, typical of the spirit of cooperation on the prairies. The Steele home was one where neighbours came to sing around the piano, to celebrate Robbie Burns day and listen to Margaret’s dad play Scottish jigs and reels on the accordion. “We were a happy family”, she remembered.

Little did the family know what sadness lay ahead of them. On Feb. 2, 1928 while they were at school, their dad took a fatal heart attack, leaving them devastated. The obituary in the Cupar Herald said he was closely associated with the Dellwood congregation of the United Church of Canada and he was president of the local branch of the United Farmers of Canada. The newspaper indicated that the church was filled to capacity for his funeral. He was survived by his widow, Margaret and children Jesse, 18, Margaret 16, Ken 13, Win 11, and, Dorothy 9. With her dad gone, Margaret, her mom, 3 sisters and Ken ran the family farm and kept it going throughout the dirty thirties.

Although Aunt Margaret had always enjoyed school, in grade eleven she was determined to quit! Her mother, in Margaret’s words, “used some kind of psychology” to get her back in the classroom. But, back she went to complete her grade XII. In September 1930, she went to Regina Normal School, a year she truly enjoyed. Graduating in 1931, she began her distinguished teaching career at the onset of the depression but, she said, “in spite of the Russian thistle, the dust and reduced salaries”, she was happy being the 7th young person boarding at the Isaac Lougheed home, northwest of Moose Jaw. Years passed at Lancer, Hawarden, Melfort, Saskatoon, and of course, Edmonton.

In Saskatoon, she applied for exchange teaching in the Maritimes and was placed in Moncton, New Brunswick. She found Maritime folk to be really friendly, welcoming her into their homes and taking her to many interesting places, such as the land of Evangeline and the Sackville cemetery where many united empire loyalists were buried. She even took a trip to New York City at Easter, including Radio City Music Hall.

When she returned to Saskatoon to Victoria school with super students and a wonderful staff, she said she just couldn’t settle, her year on exchange full of travel and activity having spoiled her. In 1949 while spending Christmas in Edmonton with Jessie and Hugh at the Macdonald hotel, the suggestion was made that she apply to teach in Edmonton and live with them as a family. In September of 1950, she began her Alberta career teaching a Grade V class at Garneau School.

In December of 1950, Margaret was invited to attend the Exchange Teachers’ Christmas party at the Corona hotel. From that evening came lifelong friendships, meeting Winnie Brown and Rita Speers Wilk, who invited her to join the club, a decision she never regretted. The mid-fifties were not all about books and teaching or essays for education classes at the U of A. Our Aunt found time for romance, too. She had been introduced by two good friends to Sydney Jessie Andrews. They were married July 9, 1960 by Reverend Bruce Macdonald in the chapel of McDougall United Church with relatives and friends looking on. Aunt Margaret’s years with Syd were the happiest of her life because they were truly soul mates in every sense of the word. If ever two people were meant for each other, it was Marg and Syd. When he passed away, a void was left, which could never be filled. Uncle Syd was a great guy with a wonderful sense of humour. He was a tremendous addition to our family. While Margaret taught just about everything at the elementary level, the last few years of her teaching career were spent in the field of special education----in adaptation classes. Then she was asked to become a special education consultant, the first one in the Edmonton Public School system. Lorena was one of the first in Medicine Hat. In 1973, when she retired from Kildare Elementary she had taught 42 years including 19 in Saskatchewan.

Flowers were a big part of Marnie’s life. She had fond memories of the tiger lilies that grew on their farm, the lovely yellow lady slippers and lilies of the valley. She also recalled the many lovely roses Syd and she grew in their borders. Syd had been a talented gardener for the air force. Horticulture was one of the many interests they had in common.

From the time of Syd’s death in 1984, Margaret lived at home alone. She was connected to the Good Samaritan telecare and its team of four volunteer neighbourhood responders without whose help and caring she could never have managed to stay in her own home. They are Bob and Lynn Anderson, Sheila Cholowski and Millie Knight. Then there were wonderful friends such as Ruby Johnson who phoned her every Sunday night, Lily Seutter who took her berry picking and on other outings and phoned often. Syd’s niece Anna Moen phoned from Winnipeg every second Sunday. Karen Hansen brought her home communion from Robertson United Church, mailed letters and shopped for groceries for her and came for nice chatty visits. Karen played a major role in the planning of today’s funeral. She and Aunt Margaret worked on it for years. So did Louise and Jake Wielinga who visited her at least twice a week, arranged for the sale of her house and the disposition of her possessions and kept everyone informed.

Margaret also wanted to acknowledge with deep appreciation Donna Krucik and Evelyn Beveridge. She also treasured her friendship with Jean Varcoe from Robertson-Wesley. In fact, in my Aunt’s writings, she often mentioned how wonderful her friends were and how grateful she was to them.

As a youngster, I always looked forward to visits from Aunt Marnie. During two summers right after the war, my parents asked her to look after my older brother Alex, my sister Moira and me when they went on holidays. Margaret recalled several times how I came into the house one afternoon with the suggestion, “Aunty Marnie, let’s have a picnic”, which meant lemonade and cookies out in the backyard. We had several afternoons like that, making memories I have always cherished. In the ‘50s after attending summer school, she joined us for a week of holidays at Lake Waskesiu, north of Prince Albert. She then spent a few days in Regina with us before visiting sister Dot, Ted and their boys at Cupar.

Margaret loved to travel. She and sister Dot went to England to see Ken and Mary and the two travelled to the States to the Black Hills and down to Nashville. They took two Caribbean cruises. Margaret came to Regina on many occasions.

Syd also loved to travel. They made trips to Britain, Hawaii, Spain and Guernsey in the Channel Islands.

In later years, Margaret rode the bus on that long, long trip from Edmonton to the Queen City. She usually stopped over in Saskatoon and visited friends she knew when she taught in that area. Over the years, Margaret and my mom would talk on the phone every Sunday night. After dad passed away in 1990, those calls became an even more important part of my mother’s life.

At the age of 93, Margaret and I drove from Edmonton to Fort Qu’Appelle so she could visit Dot. My air conditioner stopped working at North Battleford and we endured terrible August heat the rest of the way. She was a trooper, though, and laughed about it later.

I always had a special relationship with my Aunt Margaret. We were both teachers. I taught 35 years, Margaret 42. We both went to Regina Normal School. We both began our careers in one-room schools in Saskatchewan and we both moved on to Alberta. I loved the conversations we had about teaching. Although I was never privileged to watch her at work in the classroom, I just know she was a marvellous teacher. Marnie and Lorena had a treasured relationship and shared many happy moments talking about teaching and family.

She and I also shared a great interest in sports, especially football. They say that once a Roughrider fan, always a Roughrider fan. That wasn’t true of Aunt Margaret. When she moved to Edmonton, she became an Edmontonian and an Eskimo fan through and through. She and her good friend Ruby Johnson, joined later by Syd, attended the Eskimo games for over 25 years in all types of weather. She knew the game and thoroughly enjoyed her team’s great success.

Margaret was a special Aunt to all her nephews and nieces. She took a genuine interest in the lives of all her siblings’ children, their children and grandchildren. She was especially devoted to our cousin Hugh who was with Margaret in Edmonton since the 1950's. Margaret was an important part of his life. Last September, she was able to take part in his memorial service at Millwoods Shepherd’s Care.

She also enjoyed a special relationship with our son David. Both were interested in exploring the family tree and she and David swapped lots of interesting information. Just last October, she had mentioned a dresser to him that my late brother’s widow had in Regina. There were letters in it that weren’t to be opened until Margaret’s death. Marnie was worried about what would happen to the dresser that her grandmother had brought from Scotland early in the last century. David went to Regina and brought the dresser back to his home in Redcliff where several family heirlooms are stored. When I saw Margaret last fall, she was delighted the dresser was safe. She estimated the dresser was at least 200 years old.

Lorena and I were blessed to attend her last few birthdays. Our last visit came January 6th and 7th. Marnie was always upbeat, she enjoyed and lived life to the fullest. To her, the glass was always half full. She was always positive. I never heard her speak a mean word about anyone.

In 2007, Margaret Elizabeth Steele wrote,

One of these days ‘ere long,

God will be calling me home.

And rightly so.

He has been so generous in giving me

Not only three score years and ten

But two score and (left blank) seven

Extra years to enjoy this beautiful

Earth and enjoy my family and friends.

Thank you Lord.

And thank you Lord for Aunt Margaret.

In Loving Memory of
Margaret Andrews
(Maiden: Steele)
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Funeral Service:
Celebration of Life
Thursday, February 1, 2018
2:00 PM
Robertson-Wesley United Church
10209 - 123 Street
Edmonton, AB
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