Elsie Smailes


Elsie Smailes, formerly of Orkney, passed away peacefully on November 5, 2021, at Willow Creek Manor in Swift Current. Elsie was born June 15, 1921, to pioneers Julia and Rupert East on the East farm south of Orkney, the third of seven children. Her education began at Thorne School, a one room country school 3.5 miles from her home. She travelled to school, summer and winter, by buggy, horseback and walking often having to cross a swollen creek, pastures with bulls, and on one occasion became lost in a blizzard relying on her horse to deliver her home. She completed grades 11 and 12 in Orkney. Elsie was very athletic, and sports minded while in school often winning the most points at the yearly field day so that Thorne School would win the Shield for that year. She was also instrumental in the school winning the silver cup for Physical Drill. Throughout her school years she won bronze medals for placing first in many track events. Being born in 1921 meant that she grew up during the drought and depression of the 1930s. Times were very hard, and she had to do her share of the farm work by milking 2 cows morning and night, gathering the "chips" to burn in the stove, herding cattle to water, and babysitting. The work ethic she possessed all her life stemmed from these years. There was hardship and sadness during this time but also fun times such as getting together on a Sunday with neighbours to play baseball and eat homemade ice cream. The 1930s in many ways shaped the person she became and her view of life in general. To get ahead in life your worked hard, completed your tasks, treasured family, and because material things were so hard to come by, everything was used to its fullest and nothing was thrown away that could be repurposed. After high school she worked at the General Store and later at the Post Office and Drug Store in Orkney. A few years later she had the opportunity to travel to Vancouver, a big decision for a prairie girl. She found work as a housekeeper with a very good family that treated her like their own daughter and showed her the ways of urban life. She also worked at Jersey Farms, and because World War II was on, she later obtained a position at Boeing Aircraft supervising the operating manual for the PBY Aircraft for the American Army. During this time, she attended night school taking courses in typing, shorthand, St. John Ambulance, Home Nursing, First Aid and Industrial First Aid. Elsie married Sid Smailes at Shaunavon, SK on September 1, 1942, on his embarkation leave. She did not see him again until Sid's discharge from the army and return to Canada in December 1945. Elsie and Sid settled into farming on the Smailes farm south of Orkney in the Monchy District in 1947. Farming was not easy, there was drought, hard winters, hailstorms and low prices, but they persevered and made a good life for themselves. A daughter Charlene and son Syd were born and raised on this farm. Elsie had a green thumb - everything she planted grew and flourished. Her love for flowers was evident in the varieties planted in the garden and around the house. She always had a big garden, growing one for 60 continuous years on the farm to provide for her family and many times sharing the bounty with neighbours. Elsie was a very community minded person, a member of St. Mary's Anglican Church and the Anglican Women's League in Orkney, the Orkney Ladies Club, and the Val Marie Seniors Club. She was secretary for the Orkney Rural Telephone Company and round and square danced for many years. In winter she curled, she loved the sport. She skipped many rinks, travelling to all the local bonspiels winning many trophies and curled "behind the glass or in front of the TV" when she could no longer actively be on the ice. Widowed at age 56 she carried on farming with her son Syd and maintained an interest in farming all her life. Once retired she was always interested in the weather, how the crops were, how the cattle were doing and if there was enough grass, water and winter feed. Once semi retired she was able to travel and enjoy such destinations as Expo in both Montreal and Vancouver, Hawaii, Memphis, Nashville, Alaska, Arizona, California, Oregon as well as trips to Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton and Fort Benton to visit brothers and sisters. In 2013, after 66 years on the farm she moved to Prairie View Lodge in Swift Current where she enjoyed making new friends and participating in many senior's activities. Failing health caused her to move to Riverview Village Estates in 2019 and finally to Willow Creek Manor in 2020 where she celebrated her 100th birthday with family and friends. Elsie was predeceased by her husband Sid, parents Julia and Rupert East, sisters Violet Coupe and Velma Hansen, brothers Bob East, Leonard East, and Edwin East, as well as brothers-in-law Frank Coupe, Claude Hansen, and Arnold Engel, sisters-in-law Joan East and Lydia East. Elsie is lovingly remembered by sister, Matilda Engel, daughter Charlene Hendry (Brette) and son Syd; grandchildren Derrick and Heather; great grandchildren Chris, Tyler, Karla, Daniel, and Sophie; sister-in-law Barbara East; as well as numerous nieces and nephews. Her family would like to acknowledge and give thanks for the care she received from Val Marie District Ambulance, Swift Current Ambulance, Hutch Ambulance Service and Cypress Regional Hospital. A special thanks to the caring staff at Riverview Village Estates and to the staff at Willow Creek Manor for the care and compassion they provided during the last year of her life. In lieu of flowers a donation may be made to Val Marie District Ambulance, Box 117, Val Marie SK S0N 2T0, or to the Dr. Noble Irwin Regional Healthcare Foundation Inc. 2051 Saskatchewan Drive, Swift Current SK S9H 0X6. Arrangements entrusted to Warren's Funeral Home. For further information please call 1-306-773-8831 or 1-800-267-6606 or visit our website at and express your sympathy to family members on the tribute wall.

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Graveside Service
November 10, 2021

11:00 AM
Orkney Cemetery
S.W. 29-02-14 W3
Orkney, SK S0N 2T0


Val Marie Ambulance Service
Box 117, Val Marie SK S0N 2T0

Dr. Noble Irwin Health Care Foundation
2051 Saskatchewan Drive, Swift Current SK S9H 0X6
Tel: 1-306-778-3314

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