Sylvia Ann PAISH
Avid and talented teacher, adventurer, passionate
gardener, music lover, spirited traveler, wonderful mum, amazing Nana and Great-Nana and a real character, Mum died on September 11th after 83 action packed years.
She is survived by Cathryn, Susan (Brad), Martin (Crystal) and Gillian (Mike). Born in Ewhurst, England, mum arrived in Pearl Saskatchewan in 1954 with husband Howard (2011), to start their teaching careers and plant the first family roots in Canada.
They arrived at Junor, a railway whistle stop, climbed into a horse and cart and were taken to the Pearl school. The school had no electricity or plumbing, but ever the pioneer, Mum fearlessly brought her passionate teaching style and British ‘stiff upper lip’ to her first Canadian students.
In 1955 mum and dad arrived in the Kootenays where she inspired students in some of BC’s smallest rural communities. The family moved to the lower mainland in 1966 where mum enjoyed 30 more years of teaching in Coquitlam, mostly at Charles Best, where high school students – and fellow teachers – both feared and loved her.
Always one for a challenge, mum led or chaperoned many trips for her students, to France and other parts of the globe, sharing with them her love of travel, the French language and her often mischievous sense of adventure.
Although always closely connected to England, mum loved BC’s great outdoors. At first mum followed dad on hunting and fishing excursions and then she led them herself, including bagging a Boone & Crocket mule deer in 1961, while pregnant with Martin: not bad for a little English gal!
Mum’s love of the outdoors led her and dad to buy an outfitting territory in the Spatsizi Plateau where they worked with First Nations communities developing sustainable tourism for sports fishermen and hunters. Together mum and dad taught us to love and appreciate the natural wonders of this country.
Mum’s love of nature and determination to succeed blossomed most in her gardens. She could often be found in gumboots with a wheelbarrow and spade in hand ‘fighting the bloody weeds’ or harvesting the massive bounty of flowers and vegetables. Often accompanied by her Walkman, mum’s love of music was endless. Whether singing Handel’s Messiah, playing the piano and singing carols with her children and grandchildren, or enjoying recitals with her Nanoose choirs, music and mum were inseparable.
While mum’s love of teaching, nature, gardening and music are legendary, her deepest love was always for her children and grandchildren Colin, Rachel, Diana, Kyla, Alexei, Nadia, Simon and Jenna, and great grandson, Theo. Her inspiration and pride in her children and grandchildren knew no bounds. And so we say goodbye to a real character. Mum inspired thousands of students, she completed a Masters’ degree while raising four children and teaching full time, she climbed the Grouse Grind and then China’s Great Wall at 81, and she explored every corner of the world until her final months. Nana’s curiosity, drive, wit, and unbridled determination touched us all. The gardens have lost a friend but there is no doubt that those of us lucky enough to have known and loved Topsy are better for it.
A celebration of Sylvia’s life for family and close friends will take place on September 20th at the family’s seaside home. Donations in mum’s name gratefully accepted at the SPCA or KCTS television station.
YATES FUNERAL SERVICE & CREMATORIUM (250-248-5859) in care of arrangements.