Edna Irene Chimilar
November 18, 1930 – October 3, 2003
Known by all in
Fort St. James as “Toots”
Irene was born at Squirrel Cove, a little community of approximately 70 people at that time, on Cortez Island in the Straight of Georgia, daughter to Valentine and Alberta Nichols and sister to 10 siblings.
She was predeceased by her mother and father, brothers Charlie, Bud and Dick, her husband Peter, her sister Bernice, her son Brian, her granddaughter, Wendy, and two nephews. She is survived by, sisters Elsie, Marge, Muriel, Ruth, Ellen and Jessie. She is also survived by daughters Margaret, Heather, Victoria, Kathleen, Debbie, sons John and Jeff, 19 grandchildren and 9 great grandchildren.
Irene spent her childhood in Squirrel Cove, where she attended a one room school, doing the janitorial work at the school after class to raise extra money.
From the beginning she was known to everyone as “Toots”. No one had any recollection of why, but “Toots” it was.
She was married in Vancouver, lived in Hope and on Texada Island near Powell River. She moved to Fort St. James and onto the Cassiar Ranch in 1951. She would often tell the story of it taking them 5 days to get from Vancouver to Fort St. James, and Cassiar Ranch was ‘16 miles of hell north of Fort St. James.” There they ranched, raising cattle and hay.
In the mid 50’s she moved into Fort St. James where she spent 15 years working at the “Hudson’s Bay” store.
In late 1966 she moved to Sidney on Vancouver Island, then north again to live in Chetwynd, Hudson Hope, Fort St. John and then Grand Prairie.
She worked for years at the Hudson’s Bay in Fort St. James and in Fort St. John as well. She spent many years cooking at different establishment from camps to restaurants and managing motel complexes.
In 1986 she had finally had enough of the north sold everything she owned except her clothes, dishes and car and drove to the sunny Okanagan.
She tried Osoyoos and the Penticton, where she settled. She spent many hours socializing and doing volunteer work with the Eagles. She is well remembered for her pie baking, bread baking and home-made soup.
She was very independent and everyone will attest to that, especially in her last year when she fought very heard to maintain independent living along with her right to drive.
A memorial service was held for “Toots” on October 8, 2003 at the Fraternal Order of Eagles Hall.
The burial of Irene’s ashes will be held at the Fort St. James Cemetery on June 26, 2004 at 11 am. The family would like to invite all those that knew her, to the home of John and Joyce Helweg at 5841 Necoslie Road, for an afternoon of visiting and reminiscing after the service.