October 20, 2021
Shawn Ferris Lamb was born in Victoria, B.C. in 1938 to Violet and Wilfred Harold. When Shawn was two years old her dad was transferred with Great Northern Railway to Nelson, B.C. where the family lived until Shawn was 18. Shawn was a keen swimmer and was known to swim across Kootenay Lake before her lifeguarding shifts at Lakeside and catch the ferry back. Through her school years, beginning with preschool at Mrs. Lambert’s, catching the street car at age three-and-a-half, Kindergarten at St. Joseph’s, Hume School, Nelson Junior High School (now Trafalgar), and Nelson High School (now LVR), graduating in 1955, and her many extra-curricular activities, Shawn made many friends with whom she remained in contact throughout her life.
Shawn attended first year university at Notre Dame in Nelson and when her dad was transferred to Vancouver she was able to attend the University of British Columbia studying arts and history, earning a Bachelor’s degree. While attending UBC, Shawn met Kenneth Lamb and when Shawn was twenty-one, they married on July 1, 1959.
Shawn was hired to teach in Alert Bay, and then Ken taught in Ocean Falls, followed by Terrace. The call of Nelson was strong for Shawn and in 1964, with two children in tow and expecting a third, they moved to Nelson, and remained there until the end of their days. Shawn admitted later that teaching was not her calling, but she did provide substitute teaching at St. Joseph’s School on and off while her younger children attended the school. She remained interested in her children’s education and spent many hours invested at the dining room table helping them study. Both Shawn and Ken encouraged their children to pursue music, theatre, dance and the arts.
Shawn’s real passion was for the arts and local history. She was a gifted actor and singer, and performed at many local events, led the Cathedral choir for many years, as well as being an accomplished artist in pen and ink. She joined the Nelson and District Arts Council, eventually becoming its president and later, the regional representative to the BC Arts Council. Shawn would often involve her children in her volunteer activities, organizing envelope stuffing and stamping evenings, inviting them to hand out programs at concerts or help at gallery openings.
In the 1980s, while still with the arts council, Shawn began working part-time at the Nelson and District Museum on Anderson Street. There her gift of writing grant applications shone. Shawn was able to make many improvements to the museum displays, create an art gallery in the basement, and hire students, artists and craftspersons for special projects. She began interviewing old timers and recording their stories of Nelson’s past. The more Shawn worked as curator, the more she began to focus on the importance of preserving archives. She attended archives conferences, workshops, took courses, learned how to use a computer, and wrote a regular history column for the Nelson Daily News. She also appeared on a local television station in her capacity as local historian. Her dream, and the dream of the museum’s board of directors, was to create a new, larger, state of the art museum such as Nelson deserved with its rich past. Her dream came true after much hard work, and Touchstones Nelson was opened in October 2006 in the original Nelson city hall. The position of curator was offered to Shawn, but she declined, choosing instead to head up the archives, which were named in her honour. Shawn told her family she turned down the curator position because a new, modern museum should have a younger, more dynamic curator. That was Shawn’s way.
In 1994 she was named Nelson’s Citizen of the Year and in 2009 was presented with the Freedom of the City.
Shawn was predeceased by her husband Ken in 2014, her infant son Michael, daughter-in-law Lea Cousineau and son-in-law Peter Hartley. She leaves behind her children Monica Lamb-Yorski (Matthew), Francis Lamb, Clare Littlejohn (Brent), Pauline Lamb, Stephen Lamb (Heather) and Rebecca Schram (Vern), 23 grandchildren and four great grandchildren, brother Deane Harold (Gail), sister Dale Allen (John), brother-in-law Richard Lamb, and longtime friend Marianne Tremblay.
The family would like to thank Marianne Tremblay for caring faithfully for Shawn over the last four years, the doctors and nursing staff at KLGH for providing excellent care for her final days, Broader Horizons Adult Day Centre, Marg Dietrich of the Stroke Support Group and the community of Nelson for its outpouring of love upon hearing of Shawn’s passing.
Prayers were held for Shawn at the Cathedral of Mary Immaculate on Monday, Oct. 25 at 7 p.m., followed by a funeral mass on Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021 with numbers limited due to the COVID-19 pandemic. After burial at the Nelson cemetery, an open house was held at Touchstones.
The funeral was also livestreamed through www.catholiccathedralnelson.ca or Facebook Nelson Cathedral.
Donations in Shawn’s memory can be made to Touchstones if desired.
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