Emily Kathleen Ansley (nee Helliwell)

Born April 17, 1911, in Seacombe, England. Passed on September 9, 2012 at Eagleview, St. Joseph’s General Hospital, where she had resided for nearly seven years. Emily will be keenly missed by her family and friends.

Emily was born into a family of singers, actors, and comedians who traveled and performed widely throughout England. That heritage stretched back many generations on her mother’s side, and her father also listed his profession as “Actor” on her birth certificate. She herself played lead roles in many high school and Little Theater performances during her young adult years in Medicine Hat.

Emily arrived in Canada in 1914 after crossing the ocean with her mother and younger sister during the first year of the Great War – sailing without lights in order to evade U-Boats. They joined Emily’s father, who had gone on ahead, in Saskatoon. Her father later enlisted in the 72nd Seaforth Highlanders Regiment, Canadian division, was sent to France, and died in the trenches in 1918, shortly after the birth of Emily’s youngest sister. Emily grew up in a series of Prairie towns including Saskatoon, Olds, Red Deer, Duchess, and Bassano before finally graduating from high school in Medicine Hat. Most of her early homes had no heat but for the kitchen stove, and the winters were bitterly cold. Many of the homes also lacked any water, which therefore had to be either delivered weekly in barrels or obtained in buckets from farmers with wells.

After high school Emily attended business school, taught English at night school, worked in multiple roles at Eaton’s, and later found steady employment at Lake of the Woods Milling Co. (Five Roses Flour)

In 1938 Emily married her high school sweetheart, Frank Ansley, in Vancouver. They settled in Alberta, where Frank was a teacher. The early years of their marriage were spent in various teacherages in small communities (Maleb, Conquerville, Turin, Sundial, Taber) near Medicine Hat, where their first child, Clive, was born. When World War II started, Frank joined the Air Force and spent the last three years of the war in England. While Frank was overseas, Emily moved to New Westminster, where her second child, Doris, was born, and where she helped care for her stepfather, Frank Glaze. Emily faced those years of caring for two small children and an ailing parent with the same strength and determination with which she faced all challenges in her life. She continued to live in New Westminster for over sixty years – working in her mother’s small “corner” store for fifteen years and then serving as bookkeeper and general manager of Empire Music for approximately eighteen years.

Emily was a faithful member of the Christian Science Church all her life and was very active in church affairs and on church committees. Over the years, she and Frank enjoyed bowling and square dancing and their cottage at Crescent Beach. In all those years, Emily never lost her love for music, dance and theatre. She and Frank loved to travel, and in later years they had opportunities to re-visit England, tour Europe, spend time in Maui, and explore China and Japan. They often reminisced about their favourite trip, to Egypt. Although Emily lost Frank at too young an age, she continued to travel the globe – with trips to Australia, Thailand, Taiwan and China, as well as frequent visits with family in Connecticut.

Emily was a generous and giving soul, opening her home to others. When Sharon Wang first moved to Canada, she had not yet learned English and had no family here. She lived with Emily for many years, first receiving help with learning the language and local customs, and later returning the kindness, becoming Emily’s adopted daughter and helping her with daily needs.

When Emily reached an age at which she was no longer able to live alone, she first moved to an assisted living facility and then resided in the ECU at St. Joseph’s. She was fortunate to develop special friendships with Flo and with her roommate Jean. She was blessed to be visited daily by loving caregivers Caroline and Wanda for a number of years. And she still had music to look forward to, with the twice weekly visits of singer and guitarist Don Deese relating tales of the Comox Valley and leading the residents in song. Emily’s family feels deep gratitude for the many devoted staff members and volunteers who so enriched Emily’s last years at Eagleview. Space doesn’t allow us to thank you all by name.

Emily never lost her sense of humour or her consideration for others. When rain dictated that the annual barbecue at Eagleview be held indoors, someone (knowing that she was deeply religious) asked why she could not have arranged sunshine. Emily’s rejoinder was “You should have asked me sooner!” When a critic of her son recently asked, “Where did you get him?”, she instantly responded “I can’t remember where I got him, but I’ve had him a long time!”

Emily was predeceased by her parents Hubert Helliwell and Ada Glaze, her stepfather Frank Glaze, her younger sisters Annis and Violet “Dickie”, and by her husband, Frank. She will be sadly missed by her children, Clive Ansley and Doris Munger; her adopted daughter, Sharon Wang; her son-in-law, Richard Munger; her daughter-in law, Wing See Ouyang; her grandchildren, Kendra Munger, Geoffrey Munger, Susan (Tim) Everett, Melanie Ansley (Sam); her great grandson Dexter Everett; and her nieces and nephews, Cory Stickley (Don), Glenith Ansley, Frank Eden (Vicki), and Robert Eden. Frank was like a son to Emily throughout her life and right up to the end.

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