Winnie Bennie was born July 21, 1926 at Mrs. Eva’s Nursing Home in Vanderhoof BC. Winnie’s father was Alexander Kynoch an accountant for the Hudson’s Bay Company in Fort St. James. Her mother was Annie Amelia Bird whose Metis Ancestors had come to New Caledonia with the North West Company from 1806 onward.
Winnie’s grandfather Alexander Campbell Murray served the Hudson’s Bay Fur Trading Company in New Caledonia for 35 years as Chief Factor.
Win spent her early childhood along with with her parents and sisters living on her grandfather’s farm on the banks of the Stuart River in Fort St. James. She was the youngest of three girls and enjoyed riding her horse Nellie to school. She had many fond memories of this era that formed her attachment to the land and nature.
As a teenager Win met and married her late husband, Fred. They moved to the Williams Lake area in the early 50s where they built the family home on Yorston Street above the Stampede Grounds called “Tipi Hill” in those days.
She was involved for many years with the Order of The Royal Purple, St. Andrew’s United Church, was presented with a Lifetime Membership to the NDP. She was a founding member of the Williams Lake Field Naturalists; helped to preserve Scout Island and the Nature House; and was a long time supporter of the SPCA.
Win was given the Conservation Champion Award by the Nature Trust of BC in 2006 to recognize her contributions at the Scout Island Nature Centre.
She is also being recognized by the Biodiversity Centre for Wildlife studies of BC for providing a significant number of observation records on the nesting of loons since the early 60s.
She loved to take on a task, roll up her sleeves and get on with the job. Anyone who knew her well was soon aware that she was a strong willed person and that if challenged she could and often would be a formidable adversary.
Her love of nature was passed on to her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren with the gift of books, magazines and donations in our names to the Nature Land Conservancy and the SPCA.
She lived a simple life in tune with the seasons. An avid birder, Win loved to garden, quilt and did pottery and cross country skiing in the earlier years.
I remember arriving at the house one bitter cold day and she was hanging out the clothes on the line! Hands frozen.
My sister encouraged her to get a new washer and dryer and she did but the dryer was only used to store the cat and dog food! She loved the fresh smell of clothes being hung on the line.
Mom passed from life to eternity peacefully at Deni House, Jan. 21, 2007.
She was predeceased by her Husband Fred; parents, Alexander and Annie; her sisters Jean and Kathleen. She is survived by daughter Barrie (Doug) Brown-John, Lac La Hache; son Mike (Debbi) Bennie, Nanaimo; daughter Sally (Reg) Buchignani, Vancouver: grandchildren Shane Miller, Saturna Island; Rob Bennie, White Rock; Tara (Jason) Hooker, Chilliwack; Michael (Trish) Bennie, Maple Ridge; Leslie James, Victoria: step-grandchildren, Michele Buchignani, Toronto; Karen Newberry, Delta; Dean Buchignani, Surrey; Allison Buchignani, Victoria: great-grandchildren, Bryce, Loralei and Morgan Hooker; Little Mikey and James Bennie: step-great-grandchildren Nick and Holly Newberry: nephew Terry (Judy) King; great-niece and nephew Karla and Tyler King; and brother-in-law Harry King.
She touched many lives and her presence will be missed.
A Life’s work well done. Rest in peace mother.
A celebration of life will be held for Win Bennie, at St. Andrew’s United Church Friday Feb. 9, 2007 starting at 2 p.m.
A tea will follow. In lieu of flowers please make donations to Local SPCA or Scout Island Nature Centre.