October 09, 1920 - September 08, 2015
October 09, 1920 - September 08, 2015
Philomene Lapensee was born Saturday, October 9, 1920 at Brochet, Manitoba to Adolphe and Catherine (nee Cook) Lapensee.
In 1938 at the age of 18 her family moved to her father’s hometown of Plantagenet, Ontario. She recalled how difficult it was to leave her friends, half sisters and brothers, cousins and other relatives. She would not stay in Ontario very long. She moved to The Pas with her younger sister Victoria in the early 40’s, finding employment at the St. Anthony’s Hospital as a nurse’s aide. It was there after the war in 1945 that she met Albert Umphervillle, who had returned from army service overseas. They married on September 21, 1946. The North beckoned and after the birth of 2 children, Adrienne and Philip, they moved to her home village of Brochet. Philomene had returned home to her beloved North.
Subsequently they welcomed 3 more children Tina, Clifford and Denise. In the years to come they worked at other communities; Wollaston Lake, SK and Kinoosao, SK, but they always returned to Brochet, where their children grew up among their many relatives. Brochet would be her home for the rest of her life. Over the years, she travelled to Ontario several times to visit her parents and siblings. She enjoyed travelling, attending Expo 67 in Montreal and the Calgary Stampede. She also loved attending The Pas Trappers Festival. In 1981 she flew to Germany to visit her son Philip and toured Paris, Strasbourg and other places. Later she visited her son again in Goose Bay, Labrador and later attended her granddaughter’s wedding in Courtney on Vancouver Island. “Phyllis”, as she was known to some friends, was renowned in the art of traditional native beading, making numerous beautiful mukluks, slippers, gauntlets and other items. All were richly decorated in colorful beadwork. Examples of her handiwork are in the National Museum in Ottawa and she even made a pair of slippers for the Pope. For many years beadwork was her passion until the challenges of age intervened.
She loved her kitchen. In earlier years, the most rudimentary conditions consisted of a cast iron woodstove and a table. Yet she prided herself in turning out delicious meals of caribou, moose meat, fish and other traditional foods. She loved to bake. Often the aroma of fresh bread, pies, cinnamon buns and bannock wafted throughout the house. She would spend hours harvesting several varieties of wild berries, often battling swarms of mosquitoes and blackflies. She preserved jams and jellies; she made pies which she shared with visitors over a cup of tea. She was a caring person who visited the sick and elderly, often delivering a tasty meal or other treats to them. She would share prayers with the distraught.
Philomene often shared many fond memories of her childhood. She had a large collection of photographs which she would bring out to visitors and explain who was who and how they were related or what they did. As a youngster they lived further North at a trading post that her father ran at Sandy Hills, up on the Cochrane River. There she played with her many Dene friends; friendships she nurtured all her life. In fact she had a good knowledge of their language. She was fluent in Cree and also spoke English and French.
A tremendously hard worker, she often stated that laziness is a sin. Far from wearing her down, her strong work ethic made her strong, surprising people many years younger than her with her smart step and stamina, even in her early 90’s. Her overall mindset was positive and she had a great sense of humour, enjoying funny stories and jokes. Her laughter was infectious.
A devout Roman Catholic, she observed the sacraments throughout her life and she believed in the sacred teachings of her Christian faith.
She lived to see her great grandchildren, and was the eldest resident of Brochet for several years. Even as her health failed she wanted to live out her years there. Fate would grant her wish until her last few days. Her spirit flew to the heavens Tuesday, September 8, 2015 one month short of her 95th birthday.
Philomene was predeceased by her husband Albert (2000); parents Adolphe and Catherine; daughter Adrienne (August 2015); brothers Rene, Ernest, Wilfred, Ferdinand, Bernard; sisters Maryanne and Victoria.
She is survived by her children Philip (Bonnie), Tina (Dale), Clifford (Sandra), Denise (Dave); grandchildren Tamara (Ed), Katherine (Danny), Dennis (Sue), Christine, Carmen (Gail), Eric; brother Yves (Madeline); sisters Flora, Therese (Raymond), and Laurette; 8 great grandchildren and numerous nephews and nieces.
“And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”
Mass of Christian Burial was held Saturday, September 12, 2015, 1:00 pm, at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Cathedral, The Pas, Manitoba with Fr. Vijay Deivanayagam, OMI, presiding. Music Ministry was provided by Rochelle Rydberg. Memories of the Heart was shared by Philip Umpherville.
Interment followed at Lakeside Cemetery, The Pas, close to her husband, Albert, whose monument stands nearby among his fellow veterans.
A reception was held for family and friends at the Guy Hall.
Pallbearers were her sons Philip and Clifford, grandsons Carmen and Eric, son-in-law Dale Cowan and her granddaughter’s husband Danny Sullivan are honoured to be pallbearers.
Honorary Pallbearers were Doris Bighetty, Suzette Merasty, Lizette Bighetty, Helen Cook, Philip Bighetty, David Lapensee, Michelle Tracy, Linda Linklater, Mary Jane McCallum.
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