Lyn Gardner passed away peacefully at home on the farm in Lister B.C. on March 12, 2021, surrounded by family, at the end of her year-long battle with cancer.
Lyn was born in Creston, B.C. to James Cedric (Jimmy) and May Helme, and was raised at the base of the Skimmerhorns on the Helme family farm with her brother Ted and sister Amy. She described her childhood as an idyllic time; constantly playing outdoors, building dams on Rykerts creek, tobogganing on the local hills, and climbing in and around the farm equipment and old log cabin. Lyn claimed she didn’t have many chores as a kid, but her intrinsic work ethic that was apparent to all would suggest she had a different definition of chores. Her childhood instilled a great love of all things outdoors, gardening, and farming that would shape the rest of her life.
After graduating from P.C.S.S. in Creston, Lyn attended the University of Victoria where she earned a teaching certificate. She began her teaching career in Kamloops, B.C., while completing her B.Ed via summer school at U.B.C.
She met her husband Mel through the Kamloops Canoe Club where they became paddling and lifelong partners, making many extended trips on northern rivers and the West Coast ocean. Lyn was renown for her meticulous trip and meal plans, and for making sure tea time and/or happy hour occurred asap after landing at shore. Lyn and Mel paddled the Pelly River in the Yukon for the first time in 1976, and repeated again 40 years later in 2016 with more experienced arms and minds, but the same enthusiasm. On their most famous paddling adventure, Lyn and Mel went to the Nahanni River in the N.W.T. in 2008. Their trip partners cancelled shortly beforehand, so they proceeded alone in the wilderness. Fate would have their canoe tip them out in some rapids, the canoe and all their gear racing away downstream while Lyn and Mel swam for shore. They spent 96 hours on a rock next to the Nahanni, with the ever-prepared Lyn having one emergency granola bar in her life jacket that kept them going until some surprised rafters found them. A helicopter picked up the haggard couple and they found the canoe beached downriver. Ever the stoics, Lyn and Mel dried out their gear and completed the trip, only revealing afterwards how dire their situation had been.
Lyn and Mel married in 1977, and moved to a farm property near Pincher Creek, Alberta where they continued to teach school and their children were born. In 1982 Lyn, Mel, and Lyn’s brother Ted, purchased a ranch and cows in Lister near where she had grown up, and the young family moved out to the ranch permanently in 1987. Lyn spent the next years raising children, cattle, and a large garden, and put in many rewarding years as a teacher and librarian in local schools. On retirement, Lyn would say “paddle in the summer, ski in the winter, and dance all night.”
Compassionate, thoughtful, deliberate, patient, energetic, and vibrant. Lyn embodied these characteristics and so much more. She was a voracious reader, and her careful appraisals were appreciated by those who wanted a book recommendation (or non-recommendation!). She always had time for family and friends, whether it be a cup of tea, dinner parties, an outdoor excursion, or piece of conscientious advice. A passionate community member, Lyn was involved in a variety of organizations including the Trinity United Church in Creston, the Trinity United Church Rock Lake Camp Society, the All Saints Anglican Cemetery in Lister, the editor and publisher of the Columbia Canoe and Kayak club newsletter, a past member of the Creston Public Library Board, and most recently a curator of Lister History. Always a busy and active person, it has been remarked many times that if you need something done, “Ask Lyn.”
Lyn is survived by her adoring husband Mel Gardner; children Scott Gardner (Catherine), Michael Gardner (Leah), and Alison Gardner (Danilo Terra); her treasured grandchildren William and Adelyn Gardner, and Alena and Sable Terra; brother Ted Helme; sister Amy Meyer (Neal Meyer); and many fond nieces, nephews, extended family, and her loyal and attentive friends.
She was predeceased by her parents Jimmy and May Helme, and young son Curtis Ross Gardner.
Thank you to Dr. Karen Persad, EKRH Oncology, and all the health professionals and staff who cared for Lyn during a challenging year. Thank you to the network of friends who brightened Lyn’s days with letters, phone calls, care packages, and backyard visits.
Lyn is at rest at All Saints Anglican Cemetery in Lister, B.C.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the BC Cancer Foundation (bccancerfoundation.com), 150 – 686 West Broadway, Vancouver, BC V5Z 1G1 or to the Creston Valley Gleaners Food Bank, 807 Canyon Street, Creston, BC V0B 1G3.