Laura Isabel: The Final Chapter – 5 of 5

Written by Harold McNeill on October 19th, 2010. Posted in Biographies


Laura Isabel: The Final Chapter 5 of 5

In 2000, after 35 years on the farm, Laura and Wilfred bade a tearful farewell and moved to a home in Cold Lake just a few blocks from Frank and Louise. The move was initially difficult for Wilfred as he had lived on the farm for over 60 years. However, once in their new home, the couple again worked hard on the lawns and gardens and created a neighbourhood gem.

Having become accustomed to the large deck that Frank and Wilfred built on the farm house after it was moved to the new farm site, Wilfred, Harold, Kari (McNeill) and Ashley (Yochim) constructed a large deck on their new home, a deck that continued to provide years of enjoyment for family and friends. Sadly, in 2002, after a lingering illness, Wilfred passed away in the Cold Lake hospital and is much missed by his family and friends. We shall always treasure those years on the farm.

Photo: Laura had a lifelong love affair with flowers. From the very earliest years on the homestead until the day she passed away in 2008, her house was always surrounded by flowers every summer.

While the passing of Wilfred brought to a close another chapter in the extraordinary life of Laura, true to her pioneer spirit, she continued her winning ways with a “warm welcome” for anyone who might chance to pop by for a coffee or home made pie or pastries.  While Laura scaled back in some areas she continued to maintain a wonderful array of flowers and always had fresh baked bread and pastries for her family and friends. As she is fond of saying: “I love my Bosch” and she used it almost everyday to whip up a little something. Who can ever forget a big helping of her homemade bread and gravy or those buns that have became legend within the family?

In July 2008 the entire family and dozens of friends gathered to celebrate Laura’s 90th Birthday at the Cold Lake Community Centre. One highlight of many at the celebration was a “Parade of Quilts” in which twenty-five children and grandchildren paraded into the hall carrying baby quilts that had been lovingly designed and sew by Grandma over a twenty year period.

In attendance at the party were mom’s three surviving siblings, Marcia, Helen and Shirley along with the sole surviving sibling on the McNeill side, Patricia Humphrey.  There were also dozens of family members from Wilfred’s side of the family, many of whom still live in the Cold Lake area.

At the time of Laura’s death in December 2008, she had two partially completed quilts for babies that would soon be joining the family.  Following her death, Louise and Lynn completed the quilts using Grandma’s original designs.

Laura was a true Canadian pioneer who made the world a much better place and who served as a role model for her children, grand children, great grandchildren and everyone in her community.  We loved her to bits and we shall all remember that grand chapter in our lives.

Photo: Everlasting image of Laura Isabel Skarsen in her mid eighties taken about 2002 while visiting her son and family in Victoria.

Love

Harold, Lynn, Louise, Frank, Dianne, Michel and all of your Grandchildren, Great Grandchildren, Great-Great Grandchildren, extended family, friends and neighbours.

July 2008  Laura surrounded by flowers that she carefully planted and cared for over the spring and early summer.

October 2010

Link to part 2 The Early Years

Link to Part 3 The Young Woman

Link to Part 4 A New Beginning

Link to Part 5 The Final Chapter

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Comments

  • Harold McNeill

    February 28, 2022 |

    Hi Robert, I do remember some of those folks from my early years in Cold Lake (Hazel was my aunt and our family spent many fond times with Uncle Melvin, Aunt Hazel and Family. I knew Lawrence and Adrian. Having read a half dozen accounts it is clear their were many false narratives and, perhaps, a few truths along the way. I tried my best to provide an even account from what I read. Cheers, Harold. (email: Harold@mcneillifestories.com)

  • Robert Martineau

    February 25, 2022 |

    Its been a long time since any post here, but its worth a shot. My Grandfather was Hazel Wheelers brother Lawrence, and son to Maggie and Adrien. Maggie Martineau (nee Delaney) is my great grandmother. The books and articles to date are based on the white mans viewpoint and the real story as passed down by the Elders in my family is much more nefarious. Some of the white men were providing food for the Indians in exchange for sexual favors performed by the Squaws. Maggie was the product of one of those encounters. Although I am extremely proud of my family and family name, I am ashamed about this part of it.

  • Julue

    January 28, 2022 |

    Good morning Harold!
    Gosh darn it, you are such a good writer. I hope you have been writing a book about your life. It could be turned into a movie.
    Thanks for this edition to your blog.
    I pray that Canadians will keep their cool this weekend and next week in Ottawa. How do you see our PM handling it? He has to do something and quick!
    Xo Julie

  • Herb Craig

    December 14, 2021 |

    As always awesome job Harold. It seems whatever you do in life the end result is always the same professional, accurate, inclusive and entertaining. You have always been a class act and a great fellow policeman to work with. We had some awesome times together my friend. I will always hold you close as a true friend. Keep up the good work. Hope to see you this summer.
    Warm regards
    Herb Craig

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Hi Dorthy, So glad you found those stories and, yes, they hold many fond memories. Thanks to social media and the blog, I’ve been able to get in touch with many friends from back in the day. Cheers, Harold

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Well, well. Pleased to see your name pop up. I’m in regular contact via FB with many ‘kids’ from back in our HS days (Guy, Dawna, Shirley and others). Also, a lot of Cold Lake friends through FB. Cheers, Harold

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Oh, that is many years back and glad you found the story. I don’t have any recall of others in my class other than the Murphy sisters on whose farm my Dad and Mom worked.

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Pleased to hear from you Howie and trust all is going well. As with you, I have a couple of sad stories of times in my police career when I crossed paths with Ross Barrington Elworthy. Just haven’t had the time to write those stories.

  • Howie Siegel

    November 25, 2021 |

    My only fight at Pagliacci’s was a late Sunday night in 1980 (?) He ripped the towel machine off the bathroom wall which brought me running. He came after me, I grabbed a chair and cracked him on the head which split his skull and dropped him. I worried about the police finding him on the floor. I had just arrived from Lasqueti Island and wasn’t convinced the police were my friends. I dragged him out to Broad and Fort and left him on the sidewalk, called the cops. They picked him up and he never saw freedom again (as far as I know). I found out it was Ross Elworthy.

  • Herbert Plain

    November 24, 2021 |

    Just read you article on Pibroch excellent. My Dad was Searle Grain company agent we move there in 1942/3 live in town by the hall for 5 years than moved one mile east to the farm on the corner where the Pibroch road meets Hwy 44. Brother Don still lives there. I went to school with you and Louise.