Irma Kemp

Long time Cariboo resident Irma Maud Kemp passed away suddenly Aug. 3, 2006 at the age of 87.

Irma leaves behind four daughters – Lynn Stevens (Bill) and her daughter Alexa; Gail Dallyn and her children Tracy and Tab; Dianne Herrett (Jim) and her sons Kevin and Jay Carrier; and Sheri Carrier and her daughters Janine and Crystal as well as 10 great-grandchildren plus many friends.

Irma was predeceased by her husband (Bill) William Howard Kemp in 1978 as well as her grandson Todd Dallyn in 1978 and son-in-law Lorne Dallyn in 2005.

Irma’s parents came from Exeter, Ontario in 1905.

Her father Roland Fenwick and his father filed for a homestead in Webb, Saskatchewan and built a barn and house and then sent for his bride Serena Maud.

Thus began the Fenwick family of three boys and two girls, of which Irma was the youngest, born March 7, 1919.

At 17 Irma left the Prairies for Victoria, B.C. to stay with her oldest brother Gordon and his wife.

Irma was employed as a maid (with the uniform) for a wealthy Victoria family. She loved to dance and it was at a dance at the Crystal Gardens that she met Bill Kemp.

Their favorite dance song was “Stardust.” Years later she named her Arabian horse “Starduster.” Bill was in training with the provincial police and they both occasionally worked at the Empress Hotel, of which his uncle Jim Kemp was the maitre’d. Bill and Irma were married June 17, 1940.

Irma recalled Bill being drawn to a little community in the Cariboo and he thought it would be an interesting place to live.

So in 1943, with a baby and a two-year-old, they transferred to Williams Lake.

There were only about three-or-four dirt streets and boardwalk sidewalks but everyone knew each other.

On one occasion Irma remembered walking up main street in her stylish blue walking suit with red fox trim on the bottom, when she heard growling and barking behind her – she turned around to find a pack of dogs following her!

Bill and Irma established Kemp’s Taxi and coffee shop – the first taxi in Williams Lake.

They had three cars and drivers with fares from Vancouver to Bella Coola, all on dirt roads. Although a new driver, Irma sometimes had to fill in and take a fare.

In 1960 they purchased 160 acres on Fox Mountain.

There were only two families there at the time – Margaret and Jim Groom and Harold Robinson and his parents. Life was challenging with a narrow dirt road and no water or power, but they loved the Mountain.

Irma had an easy going, patient demeanor, ready smile, she enjoyed a good laugh – yet at times was feisty with a quiet determination – which helped her especially after Bill passed away.

She was able to fulfill their dream of building a log home, which she contracted and designed herself.

She was youthful in looks and manner and was often asked “which one is the mother?”

Irma enjoyed life – her gardening, sewing, and horseback riding. In later years, when she no longer drove her car, she enjoyed visits from family and friends, the animals and birds that visited her yard each day, and the cloud formations that always intrigued her.

With help from family, friends, Meals on Wheels, and homemakers she was able to fulfill her wish to remain in her home.

Irma had a strong belief in her creator and for 53 years was a dedicated member at the local congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses and loved to speak of her beliefs of the meaning of life to others.

Irma Kemp will be sadly missed and lovingly remembered.


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