Honoured by Louise Sunstrum
Goldie Peever (nee Minniken) was born on a farm in Barrie in 1896 and grew up the youngest of 8
children. She moved to North Bay in her teens to be a local seamstress.
Her quiet dignity and calm composure are the characteristics I most admired.
I have fond memories of rushing into her house and heading to the cookie jar full of her homemade oatmeal and date cookies. This always made her smile.
My grandmother was happiest when she was creating a box full of doll clothes for her grandchildren. I remember her tending her vegetables and raspberry bushes and encouraging us to taste the fruits of her labour. This is how she passed on her love of sewing and gardening to the next generations.
Once, she reminisced about the Depression, when she fed hoboes who stopped at her door on Laurier Avenue while keeping her own family fed. A lifelong trait of hers was to have empathy and help those less fortunate.
Bingo was her passion and I remember going with her often as a child to the Orange Hall. We shared the excitement of the game and I beamed with joy at the outfit I bought with my winnings. My brother and I often gathered around the card table learning the intricacies of games from her and to this day I can sense her when I pick up a deck of cards.
She was a product of her era, a homemaker self-reliant, even in widowhood, helping her neighbours, family, St. John’s Church and the Rebecca Lodge. By example, she nurtured life skills of determination, level headedness, hard work and flexibility to another generation of daughters prepared to meet life’s complex challenges.
The period of change in her lifetime from the 1890s was formidable. The struggles of the Great Depression and two world wars, the hardship of disease and epidemics before medicare and modern medicine, the physical hardship before electricity and the modern automated world, take survivor skills unmatched today. She survived with a tenacious character, a stoic determination and a quiet gentleness.
I wish we had spoken more of her early trials and tribulations in North Bay, but she was always interested in the present life of her family. She was one of the quiet, unsung heroines of this nation who built a foundation of tolerance, community service and family for which Canadians are known.
She died in the grips of Alzheimer’s disease, robbed of speech but still viewed by me with love and admiration of her qualities and virtues to the end. I was named after my grandmother and have always felt a soulful connection to her and I hope that I am a continuation of her spirit and make her proud.