1902 – 2004
A pioneer, artist, author, and founding member of the Historical Society has passed away. Rene Harding died peacefully February 25 at Laurel Lodge with family members present. Rene was a life member of the Comox Legion Ladies Auxiliary and recipient of the Heritage Canada Foundation Award.
Irene Doris Howes born in Reading, England in 1902 moved to Brandon, Manitoba along with her family in 1906. The bitterly cold winters drove them on to Victoria a brief three years later where she received her education and developed her life long interest in writing, painting, and dance. Rene’s writing blossomed early, and as a young girl of 12 had a poem published in the Victoria paper.
Following years of reading her brother’s “Boys Own Annual” Rene was thrilled to relocate to Sayward along with her family in 1920. It was exactly what Rene dreamed about — pioneering. A few years later, she met Jack Duncan and married. Unfortunately just prior to the birth of their second child, Jack died.
School became a necessity so Rene and the two girls moved to Campbell River briefly in 1935 before moving on to Comox where she met her future husband Bob Harding. Her parents sold the chicken farm in Sayward and joined Rene in 1936. Both families built homes on Wallace Avenue in Comox where Rene remained for 61 years.
In the early years Rene taught dancing and during WW11 worked at the Old Bay Store on Comox Avenue. She also returned to her love of writing and wrote for the Green sheet and many other publications for years to come. To this busy life Rene added oil painting, appearances on “Hunt for History” on our local TV, and gardening. She also served as curator of the Courtenay museum for twenty years developing a particular interest in First Nation’s legends.
Mrs. Harding is pre-deceased by her husband C.Bob Harding (1996), her daughter Gwen (1997). She is survived by her daughter, Jackie (John) Holmes, Comox, her granddaughter Glenda (Dave) Mosher, Royston, and her extended family Emma and John White of Comox, and their daughters. At Rene’s request there will be no formal service. Her ashes will be returned to Sayward for final resting. Donations to the charity of your choice. Cremation entrusted to Piercy’s Funeral Home.
A memorial tea will be held from 2:00-4:30 pm, Saturday the 6th of March at the D’Esterre Seniors Centre on Beaufort Avenue in Comox.