Finding tales in headstones

Haney Heritage Village’s curator Deborah Chapman is digging up stories again and offering her cemetery tour Sunday, Oct. 9 on the prettiest knoll in Salmon Arm. The old section of the Mt. Ida Cemetery is where Chapman likes best to talk about Salmon Arm’s early characters.

Stories of the past: Winnifred Ehlers moved to Salmon Arm in 1907.

Looking for entertainment on Thanksgiving weekend? Do you have relatives in town and want to do something special with them while the turkey is in the oven?

Haney Heritage Village’s curator Deborah Chapman is digging up stories again and offering her cemetery tour Sunday, Oct. 9 on the prettiest knoll in Salmon Arm. The old section of the Mt. Ida Cemetery is where Chapman likes best to talk about Salmon Arm’s early characters.

One stop on the tour is the plot of Winnifred Ehlers, daughter of Charles and Charlotte Ehlers. Born at Rapid City, Winnie moved to Salmon Arm with her parents in 1907. According to author Denis Marshall, Lottie’s health had begun to fail and, when Charlie’s sister, Ida Lingford, sent an invitation from Salmon Arm, the Ehlers packed up and moved north.

Winnie studied nursing at Royal Jubilee Hospital in Victoria, but returned to the area to work. In 1921 she was appointed the district public health nurse for the Celista District. Two years later, Winnie promised to marry Harold Keighley, born in India and a war vet, who had property at Eagle Bay.

From the Salmon Arm Observer, “the bride was showered with gifts on the eve of her marriage. The procession approached the scene carrying bug lights and laden down with gifts of every description. Clothes baskets were commandeered to carry the gifts, while everyone sang, “For They are Jolly Good Fellows.” Dancing and music rounded out the evening.”

The wedding made the news in April, as the bride wore crepe-de-chine, a bridal veil with orange blossoms, and carried a bouquet of Easter lilies. Rev. Grice Hutchinson delivered a special address, praising the work of the bride as a nurse and teacher of health.

Hutchinson might not have known that Winnie began her career before she was trained. When she was 22, Winnie was called to nurse her mother through cancer in 1913. The family was struck by tragedy 22 years later, when she was called to nurse her terminally ill stepmother Blanche.

Winnie’s memory was kept alive by other family members. Many years ago, Winnie’s brother Hugh Ehlers told curators that, “Winnie was the finest human being and she’d give you the shirt off her back if she thought you needed it.” High praise for a sister.

Join Chapman for other stories at 1 p.m. at Mt. Ida Cemetery Sunday, Oct. 9. Space is limited. To pre-register call Haney Heritage Village at 250-832-5243. Cost per person is $7.50.

 

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