Mum was born near the small farming community of Ogema Saskatchewan, to Norman and Jean Dunn, providing a beloved sister to her three older brothers. Mum grew up through the depression and the 1930`s drought, which had a life long impact on her view of life, including an ongoing dislike for the wind. Mum learned to drive before her legs could reach the pedals. Her much loved Uncle Joe would take her on his knee and she would steer the fuel truck as he made his deliveries. While the early roads of British Columbia were a terror to many from the prairies, she traveled the gravel and mud the way we travel the 4-lane freeway.
The confines of a small prairie-farming town were not to Mum’s liking and with World War II raging, she wasted no time in undertaking a post secondary nursing education. After a short time in Regina, a vacation to Vancouver quickly convinced her that BC was where she wanted to be. She applied to the BC government and was soon assigned as a Public Health nurse in Kamloops. After a short stay there, she was re assigned to New Denver. Mum shared many stories about the condition of the area roads in the early 1950`s. Gravel, generally single lane, no guardrails, and in the winter ice build ups sloping towards the exposed precipices.
It was in New Denver that she met the love of her life, “Freddie Marsh” an electrician at the Van Roi mine. This led to a wedding on May 8, 1953 in Nelson. Both Mum and Dad never lost their connection to New Denver, purchasing a small summer home there in the 1960`s and maintaining friends and the cabin for the next 50 plus years. Mine closures resulted in Dad taking a job with the BC Power Commission at the Whatshan Generating station on the Arrow Lakes, near Needles. At the time this was about as remote as it got. It was here they purchased the power plant construction cookhouse, and with a Craftsman electric saw, hammer, drill, shovel, wheelbarrow and paint, they converted it into a house to raise a family in, complete with a hand-dug basement. The location meant an end to her formal Public Health role, but she was the “go to” person whenever someone needed some minor repairs, advice, or stiches removed.
In the late 1950`s son Brian and daughter Jean filled the renovated cookhouse. Brian and Jean enjoyed a very rural childhood, which by today`s standards seems very distant. In 1968 with the construction of the High Arrow (Hugh Keenleyside) Dam, Mum and family relocated to Robson, a home she proudly maintained over the next 48 years.
While in Needles a local resident, Nancy Knight, introduced Mum to weaving, and with the move to the larger Castlegar area, this introduction developed into a passion that would last for the next 51 years. She was the founding President of the Selkirk Weavers Guild, and a member for the next 45 years. She could be frequently found at weaving sales and proudly weaving or spinning away at the annual Sheep to Shawl competitions or the Pass Creek fall fair.
Mum was also a very capable seamstress, providing hand-sewn clothing for her children and grandchildren alike, we suspect first out of necessity then later for enjoyment. Some of the grandchildren’s early words were “Gramma fix”.
As well as weaving, sewing and knitting, Mum found time to bowl, to garden and preserve foods, and was a long time member of the local Canadian Cancer Society branch and for a number of years served as President.
Mum maintained her home and only recently, reluctantly left to take up residence at Castleview Care Centre. While living in Castleview she received excellent, compassionate care, and often said that the staff treated her with respect. She also noted that they took time to sit and talk with her, and that she really enjoyed that. Mum was very open that she had enjoyed a very good life, was very proud of her family, but her best before date had come and gone and she was not afraid of what lay ahead and was eager to go.
She died peacefully April 13, 2017.
Mum was predeceased by husband Fred in 2008 and is survived by son Brian (Corinne Muto), grandchildren Kristen Marsh, Justin Blondeau, Jacob Blondeau, daughter Jean Charman, (Tim Charman), grandchildren Erin and Greg.
No service will be held. The family will gather privately at a later date to share a toast to Ruby/Mum/Gramma and to a life well lived.
Donations can be made in Ruby’s memory to the Canadian Cancer Society.