Memories of our Friends

 Francine Nantais 


Our dear friend, Francine Nantais, passed away in October, 2023. Francine planned her own celebration of her life and she wanted the Glacier Grannies to have an important part in it.

On November 4th about 100 friends of Francine, including about 20 Grannies gathered at d’Esterre House to celebrate Francine’s amazing life, and say goodbye to her.

Linda M. spoke on behalf of the Grannies:

Hello, My name is Linda Munro. I have been asked by the Comox Valley Glacier Grannies to say a few words about Francine.

Glacier Grannies is one of many Groups across Canada who, under the umbrella of the Stephen Lewis Foundation Grandmother to Grandmother Campaign, raises money that is sent to support African Grandmother groups in Sub-Saharan Africa. It is very much grass root organizations supporting grass root organizations in Africa.

Francine had taught school in the African country of Benin as a young woman. She felt a deep connection with the people there. The heartbreaking effects of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa moved her to action, and the opportunity to start the local Glacier Grannies came about in 2007.

It wasn’t an abstract notion for her, but very personal and drove her passion for this cause.

Francine was always a very energetic and enthusiastic member.

One of her ideas for a fundraising activity involved bay leaves. A friend who lived on Lasqueti Island had a bay leaf tree. When returning from sailing trips, a stop to visit the friend was required. Francine collected bay leaves by the bag full, and, together with Ardith and Virginia, packaged the leaves in zip lock bags to sell at craft fairs. Many a soup has been made with those bay leaves. Virginia tells how, when Francine’s friends were leaving Lasqueti, they gave her branches of bay leaves. Francine gave them all to Virginia, suggesting she made a donation to the Grannies and kept the lot. She now has a life time supply, and will always think of Francine as she adds a bay leaf to a stew or soup.

My favourite memory of Francine was at the Car Boot sale held last May at the Comox United Church parking lot.

We bring our treasures, our plants, our crafts, and our baking and spend the morning persuading customers to buy. Actually the Grannies are often the best customers!!

Francine loved selling!! She smiled, she teased, she laughed and she got people to buy! By the way, there is a very beautiful three tiered cake plate, at the back table that Francine was really trying to sell. If you are interested, talk to a Granny. (note: it was bought by a neighbour of Francine’s)

Francine was also very involved in the making and selling of Christmas swags.

What is a swag? Well, it is greenery wired together with big bows and decorations that you hang on your door announcing the Christmas season. Every door needs one!

November is the time of year when she would start tramping through the woods to gather greenery. Our member Jane S. asked her husband if the Grannies could use his workshop in November to make the Christmas swags. Francine was there every day, creating, teaching and encouraging others in making swags. Another year, she joined Lynn R. and made swags in Lynn’s garage. Each year, many days were spent laughing, creating, and becoming good friends.

Francine was a really good salesperson, taking orders from her dentist, her hairdresser, her clothing store, her neighbours and so many others. Her smile and her enthusiasm were so hard to resist!

Linda F. was a new swag maker last year who experienced the magic of Francine’s “joie de vivre” first hand.

Francine learned that Linda was new to the valley and quickly took her under her wing. By the end of the Christmas season in the workshop Francine had become a cherished friend.

Over the following months she encouraged and welcomed Linda into the Granny fold, her book club, and her larger circle of friends. Linda said “Her ability to care for people, foster connections and share her enthusiasm was quite remarkable.”

Jane said that before Francine arrived to make swags, she would have stopped to give food, blankets, and money to people living on the streets and she would have taken the time to chat with them.

When Jane went to visit Francine in Hospice, it was Francine who cheered up Jane. She told Jane about the wonderful life she had led.

Jane organized some of the Grannies to go outside the Hospice and give Francine a wave a few days before she passed.

We miss her cheerfulness, hard work and beautiful French style.

It’s hard to lose a friend.

 Lynn Robinson 


In September 2022 we lost a much-loved member of the Glacier Grannies, Lynn Robinson. She touched so many of our lives, both as a very active member and as a wonderful friend.

Lynn’s involvement with the Grannies started in 2008 and her energy and enthusiasm meant she was involved in many projects. In her large home and property on Headquarters Road she cared for overwintering cuttings for our plant sales, hosted swag-making workshops, and was an early host for Beds without Breakfast. She was also famous for her beautiful smocked dresses and her other crafts. Lynn was active in making AIDS Angels, helped out at craft fairs and the African Dinners, and she even took on a dishwashing assignment for a bridge dinner to raise funds.

As the years passed, Lynn moved into a smaller house in Comox, and later her health began slowly to decline. However, this did not stop her from being involved – she continued to make swags (even hosting a socially-distanced workshop in her garage in 2020, as Covid raged), smock her gorgeous dresses and nightgowns, and make AIDS Angels. During this period she delighted in visits and outings with her Granny friends, and they enjoyed spending time with her.

Many Grannies wanted to share personal memories of Lynn, as well as photos of the activities they shared:

I do miss the feeling that Lynn is not here. My friendship began when moving here and making swags at her home on Headquarters Road. Since then there have been many volunteer hours at the Sid Williams, walks through McDonald Park down to the ocean, her enjoyment at John's band performances here and at Anderton Gardens and continuing with swag making at my home. She loved the comforting music of the Threshold Choir and eagerly attended rehearsals. We enjoyed times together sitting on her sun deck chatting and knitting in later years, and so much more. I'm so glad that she was able to be in her own home until the short hospital stay.

My happy memories of her will be dropping in to her Comox home, seeing her smocking the dresses and sitting at the desk in her picture window making angels. She was so fulfilled. - Jane S.

I met Lynn years ago when we were both working as Speech-language pathologists. Lynn lived on Gabriola Island and I remember she had a beautiful flower garden. Later we reconnected when she was working for the on-reserve school for Cowichan Tribes in Duncan. I worked at the daycare. We talked about students that were transitioning from the daycare to school. She provided a very unique immersive language experience for the children. One day she brought her kayak into the school for show and tell, another time tadpoles. I learned a lot from Lynn about creativity, gentleness and acceptance.

I met Lynn a third time at the Glacier Grannies when I joined in 2008. Again she brought her unique personality and creativity to meetings and worked generously and with passion to create crafts and promote the Granny movement. I spent time with Lynn 9 days before she died. She was resting in hospital. She recognized me and we looked at one of the textile art books. She read some of the text and shared memories when looking at the pictures. I massaged her hands and arms with cream and she seemed calm and peaceful. Rest in peace, Lynn. - Claire D.

My strongest, most lasting impression of Lynn, aside from her sociability, is that she needed to feel USEFUL. All her crafting worked towards that end for the Glacier Grannies. Busywork and leisure hobbies just perplexed her; "but what's it FOR?" She needed and sought purpose to the very end of her life. - Kathy N.

I enjoyed Lynn’s friendship since she joined the Glacier Grannies in 2008. We made many Christmas swags together over the years and I admired her skills in making angels, embroidery and dresses. She loved to sit in her sunroom where she could show me all her beautiful flowers in her garden. I loved her sense of humour, the spring in her steps when walking together, her energy. I will miss her a lot.- Francine N.

Lynn was a wonderful friend she was always on the go to help anyone. I am missing all her calls. When she could no longer drive she would call and I would go over and pick her up to go to meetings and take her to the Angel’s meetings. I would go over and we would go for a walk. - Gail E.

When I joined the Grannies, Lynn was very welcoming. She was always friendly and cheerful and I will remember Lynn for her great enthusiasm for the Glacier Grannies, her kindness and her beautiful smile. - Pat P.

Some years ago there were some keen gardeners in our group who thought a plant sale would be a good idea. Like most of our 'good ideas' for fundraisers it became rather labour intensive in a hurry. However, we pressed on and decided that we - Lynn, Lorraine, Wilma and myself - could collect our root divisions, cuttings etc. in the preceding fall ready for sale in the spring. If only we had a large winter proof greenhouse to house them........ Lynn managed to persuade her neighbour to lend us his and we packed it to bursting with our pots of plants. Lynn undertook to water and watch over them until the spring and the sale was a huge success.

Remembering Lynn and her unbounded enthusiasm for this and so many projects over the years.- Gillian F.

It’s hard to lose a friend.

Jenny shared many activities with Lynn, including creating AIDS Angels, making lavender bags, working at craft fairs, visiting Costa Rica, and, in later years, spending time with Lynn working on jigsaw puzzles.

She took photos of the many activities she shared with Lynn. (Hover over each photo for to read a descripton)

Jenny G.

I knew Lynn when we spent time together last winter (2021) making swags. She was a delight. She was such a sweet person. Carol K.

Lynn Robinson was a very passionate person about so many things. When I first met Lynn through a Newcomers Garden Club, she was passionate about her wonderful massive garden in the home she shared with Derek. She had wonderful plants and was willing to share cuttings and pieces of her garden with others who enjoyed gardening. When their shingle roof needed replacing she let me take away as many of the old shingles as I wished for kindling for our wood fireplace. That stack lasted for years and years.

Having become a Glacier Granny, she was so excited to have the Christmas swags made in the basement of her home, which she hosted for many years, always participating and organizing groups to come and create with the huge drop-off donations of greenery and baubles. She loved baking and often had tea and goodies available for just dropping in or for the groups that she welcomed there.

She was always passionate about the little smocked dresses, being very fussy about the fabric chosen and the designs, but available to teach others this craft as long as she was able. When in her smaller home on Balmoral, she was passionate about her jigsaws and continued to do her best to produce angels, sometimes requiring help but loving whatever she could do rather than be idle. She wasn't shy about calling her friends on the phone as connection to others was always on her mind.

She was a driving force in our group, always willing to participate in craft fairs, the African dinners, the craft making and whatever else was going on even when it became quite a challenge for her in the latter couple of years. She so very much enjoyed her 80th birthday gathering with Kate and many friends to celebrate with her. She will be terribly missed and always remembered for her energy, her big smile and blue eyes. - Dianne W.

When I joined the Glacier Grannies in November 2013, the first project I got involved with was making swags. Lynn was the driving force behind this fundraiser, and she dedicated the lower level of her home (then near Vanier School) to greenery, ribbons and Christmas bling. She made me very welcome, and quickly and competently had me making swags which she stored ready for our sale.

Lynn participated in so many of our group’s activities as evidenced by the number of times her face appears in our photos archive. Everything she did, she did with enthusiasm and heart.I will always remember her dedication to making beautiful smocked dresses. She also made angels.

When Bette A. and I were co-chairs, we heard that Lynn was in hospital. We went to visit her, and were scolded for not coming sooner! (We had only just heard the news.) Luckily Lynn recovered from that stint in hospital.

I will miss Lynn. She was a cherished member of the Grannies. - Joanne R.

I worked with Lynn late summer/early fall to prepare a slide show of her trips to South Africa in 2011 and 2012. This was shown at the Sept 23, 2012 African Dinner “One Meal One Future”.

While preparing the slideshow, I enjoyed getting to know Lynn better, learning of her background in South Africa and her dedication to helping Africans have a better life. I thought to myself “here is a woman who knows what’s important in this world and is making a real effort to make things better”. I was inspired by Lynn, and feel she exemplified the core values of the Stephen Lewis Foundation Grandmothers to Grandmothers to campaign. Lynn Robinson touched my heart, and I was lucky to experience some of her spirit and kindness. - Heather M.

So sorry to hear that Lynn has died. I must say that the photo of her holding the smocks has always been one of my favourites – she looks so happy and kind, and enjoying what she is doing. - Raymond S.

The lives of so many of us were touched by Lynn’s fierce commitment to the Grandmothers of Africa, her hard work and enthusiasm on so many projects, and her many talents. However, we will, most importantly, remember her for her kindness, her energy, her sense of fun and her courage in facing her health issues at the end of her life.

 Ardith Chambers 


In January we lost our good friend, Ardith Chambers. She had been living with ALS for many months, but was still managing to be very much part of our activities.

Ardith had been a member of the Glacier Grannies for many years. Her first major project was creating two beautiful fabric art pieces for the 2010 – 2011 travelling exhibition, “Turning the Tide”.

Her artist’s statement reads:

perspective“After many years of quilting with traditional and innovative patterns, Ardith realized, that the results that pleased her most were open-ended, not precise instruction but general guidelines that had room for creativity. From there, it was a short walk over to textile art. There are really no rules in this genre. It's whatever works!

“Ardith spends at least an hour, most days, at her sewing machine making clothes or a quilt or textile art. It is her way of being creative. She loves colour, the feel of fabrics and the mental stimulation of planning yet another project.

Ardith continued to use her imagination, skills, and sense of colour to produce items for sale at our craft fairs. Her famous “fish bags” for storing plastic bags, cases for eyeglasses, and tissues and many other items were popular with Grannies and customers.

In addition to creating crafts, Ardith was also craft-coordinator with Dianne W. who writes:

“It was always so easy and pleasant to be working with Ardith on any project. As we had previously been co-chairs together we knew each other’s strengths and styles.?

“She was so utterly dependable and diligent in getting things done with as little fuss as possible. Ardith could be counted on to arrange bookings well ahead of time for all our craft fairs. Since one of us was sometimes away, we’d decide who would arrange volunteer shifts for those events, sometimes for a few hours, sometimes for 3 day fairs. Together, we’d work out how to get all the crafts, tables, cash box, tent, etc. where needed. Although in the past she was deeply involved with sewing many of her own inventions, when that became difficult to do she kept as involved as she could on the steering committee. She will be greatly missed.”

In the lead-up to Art From the Attic (which had to be postponed due to the pandemic), Ardith joined the publicity committee, and worked on provenance for the art works. The committee enjoyed meeting in her cosy bed-sitting room, and appreciated her imaginative ideas for spreading the word about the event.

Ardith also participated in The Red Scarf Campaign. She joined others gathered for knitting bees who were having fun knitting up a red scarf storm, in support of AIDS Vancouver Island's Red Scarf Campaign.

More recently, Ardith joined Pat P. in posting to the Glacier Grannies Facebook page. Pat writes:

“In between our Glacier Grannies’ events, Ardith would read posts on various Facebook pages, and if they were interesting she would “share” them to our Glacier Grannies Facebook page.

“She would share posts from the Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign, Stephen Lewis Foundation and various Granny Groups, usually the ones on the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island, but also from some of the Facebook pages created by Community Based Organizations in Africa.”

Pat stressed how important this job is, in sharing the wonderful work done in both Africa and Canada. It is also a big commitment as it is necessary to post at least once a week in order to keep the page active.

coll2Ardith’s last major project was organizing the 2020 Virtual Walk Across Africa. She encouraged many of us into forming a local team, kept us up to the mark and kept track of our distances weekly, reporting them to Raymond to add to our map. Although by this time she was wheelchair-bound, she added to our kilometers herself, on her trusty scooter. Through Ardith’s hard work, $8,565 was raised for the Foundation.

Right to the end Ardith was an active member of the Grannies, attending meetings and our book club through Zoom, and coming up with ideas for fundraising.

However, a list of Ardith’s achievements misses her real essence. As Grannies shared their memories of Ardith, all spoke of her kind and gentle personality, which was coupled with a steely determination to support the Grandmothers of Africa. Everyone remembered her gorgeous, wacky, colourful outfits, and her bicycling to meetings and events – no matter the weather or the distance to be covered.

In her goodbye message to us all Ardith said: “I've loved being a Glacier Granny, it gave me a purpose and many friendships in this last segment of my life, thanks for your open heartedness, your generosity.”

Ardith, the privilege was ours. You enriched all our lives and we will never forget you.

View a few photos and a short video starring the Ardith we knew.

Click on the images to enlarge. Close by clicking on "X" in the top right hand corner.



Video by Ardith's granddaughter: Sienna.


 Lorraine Waring 

In December we sadly said goodbye to our friend and long-time Granny, Lorraine Waring

? For those of us who have been with the Grannies for a long time, our first memory of Lorraine is the occasion when she graciously offered her home to entertain two visiting grandmothers from Africa. It was a frigid day, and a frozen group from Letz Sing welcomed the shivering African grandmothers in the driveway. But Lorraine cossetted the grandmothers – sat them close to the fire, and provided cosy blankets – and they soon felt right at home. We had all brought food and it was a wonderfully convivial afternoon   please read on

Lorraine had such vision, and this, coupled with her organizational skills and attention to detail made her invaluable in helping to put on our early Kazuri jewelry sales, the plant sales, and later her famous car boot sales. For the jewelry sales, Gillian F. made us all “fascinators” to wear (little frothy hats, favoured by the British royal family). As you can image, Lorraine wore hers with great style! Her Master Gardener skills were invaluable for our plant sales.

Most of all, we were in awe of Lorraine’s marketing skills. Whether she was selling jewelry, our crafts, or the contents of our car trunks, Lorraine could always sense what a buyer wanted or needed, often before they realized it themselves. However, they went away happy with their purchase and the Grannies had earned more dollars to donate to the Grandmothers Campaign. If anything was left after a sale, Lorraine would be sure to come up with an original idea of how to sell it.

For several years Lorraine hired a couple of Grannies to clear and wash the dishes at the annual Christmas Bridge Club dinner. It was a win-win. The Bridge Club got cheerful, efficient help, and the Grannies got a generous cheque for the Campaign.

For some of us, our last time with Lorraine as a group was at a meeting of our book club. It was lovely to see her, and although she was already ill, she was as cheerful and beautifully groomed as usual. Most of us had just read the book – Lorraine had prepared interesting detailed background material and challenged us to think deeply about what we had read.

We shall all miss Lorraine so much. It will feel so strange and sad holding a meeting without her there, bubbling over with ideas, making sure that we push ourselves just that little bit harder, and reminding us to make monthly donations to the Stephen Lewis Foundation


  Marg Hogan  

Remembering our friend, Angeler Marg Hogan

?At our Christmas party in 2020 we took time to remember one of our group who had recently passed away: Marg Hogan, who was a wonderful friend and a devoted Angeler. She had been a member of our group for many years, and will be sadly missed.

Marg enjoys a joke with her friend Francine

 Nadine’s Celebration of Life 

? At the Comox United Church on February 22nd, a Celebration of Life was held for our esteemed Grannie, Nadine Towell. It was a very beautiful afternoon with heart-warming and funny stories about Nadine. There was serenity and comradery throughout the hall, as we enjoyed wonderful socializing and delicious food. Nadine’s dear friend, Julia had made photo boards that everyone enjoyed, showing pictures of Nadine at different stages of her life. She had also prepared a display of beautiful crafts made by Nadine.    please read on

Ardith spoke on behalf of the Glacier Grannies and shared memories of the 8 years that Nadine was with us, many of those years as Treasurer.

Karin, a Grannie and close friend, sent a loving tribute to be read, as she was away at the time.

Nadine’s friends from places she had worked and volunteered over the years brought us to laughter and tears with their stories.

Her dear friends spoke so lovingly and showed us different sides of our Grannie – Nadine.

Nadine’s friend, Barbara organized the delicious food, much of it prepared by many Grannies, who also helped with set up and display.

Live music was provided by her friend, Paul – who was also her pedicurist.

Nadine was a very active community volunteer, sharing her skills and time between the Glacier Grannies, the Community Justice Centre, the Sid William Theatre, L’Arch and the Newcomers Club.

She will be so missed but always remember by her many Valley friends. Close


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