Ila MacMillan of Ste. Rose du Lac passed away on Monday, February 3, 2020 at the age of 98 years.
Ila Marie MacMillan was born June 28, 1921 at Mowbray, Manitoba, south of Manitou near the U.S. border. She was one of six children born to Gilbert and Sadie May (nee Scott) Jackson. Ila was the fourth of seven children including Verna, Earl, Margaret, Mearle, Phyllis and Doreen.
Her father came over with his parents from England and settled in “the valley.” He told Ila how they had no lumber to build a home their first winter in Canada and how they dug a room into the bank of the Pembina River and topped it with sod. They completed it with a window, door and camp stove. The Jackson boys populated “the valley.” They had a school and a hall, both of which are gone now, but the Jackson cemetery still functions welcoming former residents to rest.
Ila walked a mile and a half to school during the early years and later in Methley three and a half miles each way! She loved getting together with her cousins and sliding with homemade sleighs down long hills. Ila often reminisced that you had to make your own fun to keep your spirits up. They would use her uncle’s granary for music and dancing. She used to pick crocuses in the pastures and it was a family event to pick saskatoons and wild strawberries. They even had a pet Shetland pony named Tiny.
In the fall of 1933 the family moved to Methley, Manitoba. Ila was 14 at the time. Her father drove ahead in the car, while Ila drove a team of horses 250 miles north, loaded with all the furniture, food and chickens. Her brother and cousins drove the cows, horses and sheep along beside them. When Tiny the pony developed a sore foot on the way, he was packed up in the back of the car to ride the rest of the journey.
There was one rack for the chickens and pigs while another rack had a mattress for sleeping. Ila helped drive the cattle and sheep as well as help her mother cook the meals on a camp stove.
When Ila was finished school, she worked in the district as a farmer’s wife’s helper, assisting with chores, the kitchen work and minding the children. She also worked for a summer as a seasonal worker at Clear Lake at Johnson’s Cabins.
She met Elmer MacMillan at a dance and on September 1, 1942 she married the young man from “across the lake.”
Elmer and Ila farmed in the Turtle River area where they raised Agnes, Gordon, Eric, and Wayne. One son Ronald died in infancy. It was a busy life caring for animals, sowing and harvesting crops, putting up hay and hauling firewood. In addition, Ila always tended a large garden, and made sure to put aside food for the family. She loved flowers and her garden was always rimmed with bachelor buttons, gladiolus, and snapdragons.
Farming was a community affair. Not everyone owned a threshing machine so the whole crew would move from farm to farm harvesting one field after another and eating wonderful meals and homemade pies made by the farmer’s wife. At times meals were taken to the field so that no time was lost. This arrangement bonded the families as they freely gave and received labour. There wasn’t a lot of cash but all of them were rich in the knowledge they could count on their community.
Entertainment centered around the Turtle River country school where picnics, square dances and box socials were attended by young and old.
Ila was known for her hospitality. You never went to her house without being offered food. Cooking was one of her passions. Bread, buns, fruitcake, canned crab apples and homemade pies were some of her specialties. She was a master at turning nothing into the most amazing meals.
In addition to work on the farm, Ila worked at the Ste. Rose Hospital for 11 years where she held various positions and made many lasting friendships.
In 1974 Ila and Elmer built and moved into a new home at 470 Memorial Drive in Ste. Rose. It was the last street in Ste. Rose at the time. It then became the focus of family gatherings. In retirement Ila and Elmer enjoyed their freedom and travelled together to both coasts of Canada which brought them many pleasant memories. They joined the Jolly Club and added many more to their circle of friends.
Ila enjoyed making beautiful quilts that are still loved and cherished by family members. Family was very close to her heart. She had great affection for her many nieces, nephews and grandchildren.
Ila and Elmer enjoyed 60 years of marriage before Elmer passed in December of 2002.
In early 2019 Ila became a resident of the Gendreau Home. She enjoyed activities, bus outings, and socializing with friends old and new. She received exceptional care and her family wishes to acknowledge the contribution of each of the staff. You made her stay there special and for this we are forever grateful.
Ila will be sadly missed by her daughter, Agnes Love (partner Alex Dmitruk); son, Gordon (Kathy); son, Eric (Gladys and her daughters Carrie (Al) and Jen (partner Colin); son, Wayne; grandchildren, Lynda Tityk (Tony), Gordon Love, Jim MacMillan (Kim), Melanie Beasse (Ernest), Krista MacMillan (Scott Hill), Trevor (Jamie), Brody and Troy MacMillan. Great-grandchildren, Mitchell (Camille) and Connor Tityk, Jesse (Natasha) and Keah MacMillan (Nick), Liam, Quinn, Cruz and Reid MacMillan and Grady Hill and great-great-grandchildren, Skylar and Rose; sisters, Mearle and Doreen. Ila was predeceased by her husband, Elmer; brother, Earl; sister, Verna, Margaret and Phyllis; son, Ronald and grandsons, Derek and Christopher.
In the garden of remembrance
There’s a little sheltered spot
Fragrant with the bloom and beauty
Of the sweet Forget-Me-Not,
And no flowers in the garden
Fairer, brighter ever grew,
Than the little flower that whispers
“ALWAYS, WE’LL REMEMBER YOU.”
Celebration of Life was held on Saturday, February 8, 2020 at 2:00 pm from Ste. Rose Community Centre in Ste. Rose du Lac, MB with Ryan Raffray officiating.
Should friends so desire, donations may be made in memory of Ila to the Dr. Gendreau Personal Care Home, Box 420, Ste. Rose du Lac, MB, R0L 1S0
To send flowers to Ila's family, please visit our floral section.