Isabel Butler

Gently, on March 29, 2012, Isabel Butler slipped away and came to the end of a long and full life. Born in Nelson on September 5, 1921, Isabel spent her entire life in her beloved Kootenays. In 1904, her father William (Tim) Lane and paternal grandparents left England and settled in Nelson. Her mother, Mabel Margaret Wilson, also from England, arrived in Nelson a few years later. In 1914 Tim and Mabel were married in Nelson and in 1917 they moved to Ainsworth, spending their first seven years in a rustic cabin on the beach, from which they operated their livery stable business.

A few years after Isabel was born, her parents moved to their permanent ranch home on a bench above Ainsworth, which was known as the “Good Luck Claim”. The Lane ranch, cut out of virgin wilderness, was complete with flower gardens, orchards, hay fields, a dairy herd, and market garden, which augmented the family’s dwindling cartage business. For a time during the depression, the Lane family operated the Silver Ledge Hotel in Ainsworth, where Isabel claimed she learned to be the fabulous pie maker she became.

In 1941, Isabel married Walter Butler, whose family had settled in Kaslo in 1900. Like her own family, Walt’s family were dedicated gardeners, and Walter and Isabel created beautiful gardens together, even in the inhospitable landscape of Zincton, where the family lived for 10 years while Walt was the mine assayer and Isabel had her first four children, Barry, Janice, Marguerite and Carol. The family moved to Kaslo in 1952, to a property across the lane from Walter’s family home, where Isabel had two more children, Paula and Dean. She also grew and preserved a huge fruit and vegetable garden and for many years won top honours in Kaslo flower shows.

In later life Isabel worked in the Kaslo Post Office and became very active in community life. She served as an alderwoman on Kaslo Village Council for four years and as Mayor for another two, was a founder of the Kaslo home support services, and a key contributor to the efforts to restore the SS Moyie, serving as the Chair of the Moyie Restoration Committee over several years. During those busy years, Isabel also helped to launch the fundraising to build the Abby Manor and served as a local marriage commissioner, holding many happy weddings in her own home and garden. She loved and took much pride in her community, her family, her home and her fishing boat, in which she spent many hours on the lake she so loved.

Isabel is survived by her loving sister Mabel Stainton of Nelson, daughters Janice, Carol and Paula, daughter-in-law Lesley and sons-in law Keith, Rick and Christian, grandchildren Michael, Rebecca, Theressa, Robert, Paul, Megan, Lise and Jennifer, and great grandchildren Jacob, Erika, Sofia, Brendan, Jasmine and tiny Estelle, whose proud parents Paul and Josh had hoped to introduce to great-grandmother Isabel this spring. Over many years, Isabel’s life was enriched by a large extended family, and many wonderful nieces and nephews. Her family is deeply grateful for the compassionate care she received in her final years from home support workers and staff at the Victorian Primary Health Centre. A memorial service and celebration of Isabel’s life will be held in Kaslo on May 12, 2012.

In honour of Isabel, an early planting of annuals would be a lovely gesture. She especially loved sweet peas, which she would pick when she went out into her garden at the crack of dawn to harvest the best of the day, the coffee brewing, the lake sparkling in the distance and an early morning north wind promising clear skies and a perfect summer day.

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