When the founders and developers of the Order of the Diocese of New Westminster were meeting in 2008, to establish the eligibility criteria, rules and the Regulation that would govern the Order they were likely inspired by a number of the faithful, those current day saints in the diocese with whom they had connected over the years. And there is no better example then Gwen Lamacraft. Gwen was invested into the Order in its inaugural year of 2009. The Citation, read at her investiture November 3, 2009 is as follows:
Gwen’s service and leadership has extended to all levels of our Anglican Church. Through difficult times Gwen has remained a faithful member of Holy Cross, most recently serving as a Bishop’s Warden since 2006.
The Citation is brief with a slight air of melancholy in the second sentence but it says much about this remarkable person who touched the lives of so many in our diocese. In that first sentence, just 13 words, we read "service", "leadership" and "all levels." And in the second sentence we hear that although things may have been difficult, Gwen remained because of her commitment to her faith, her parish family and to the Church.
Gwen was a tremendous supporter of the concept of the extended diocesan family. She aided, encouraged and inspired all of us who serve the Mission of God through Jesus Christ as our vocation.
I could go on and share my personal memories of Gwen, but so could literally hundreds of others, probably best to read the heartfelt words written by members of her family (who with much affection refer to her as Aunty Gwen) and published in the June 19, 2020 issue of the Vancouver Sun.
Gwen passed away peacefully in her 90th year on June 10, 2020, in Vancouver, BC. She was surrounded by family, friends, and her priest. Gwen was predeceased by her only sibling, brother Harry Lamacraft (Doreen) in 2014. Survived by her immediate family, nieces Karel Gemmell (Gord), Wendy Dodd (Barry), and nephew Brian Lamacraft (Lisa), her grandnephew and nieces Daniel Gemmell, Katie Gemmell, Michael Dodd (Amanda), Andrea Lee (Keith), and great-grandniece Mary-Jane Dodd. Gwen was born on a farm near Bangor, Saskatchewan, second child of Arthur and Charlotte Lamacraft. Gwen lived her early youth in Bangor and in Waterhen, Manitoba. Her teen years were spent living in Summerland, BC. Gwen graduated from Summerland High School in 1948, and immediately started her career with the Bank of Montreal until transferring to Vancouver in 1950. Gwen resigned from the Bank in 1952, to join the Women’s Division of the Royal Canadian Air Force.
Gwen returned to the Bank of Montreal in 1955, and commenced a long career, including work in senior positions across branches in Vancouver until her retirement in 1986. She resumed working for the Bank again in 1988, working part time at Vancouver Main Office until retiring a second time in 2009. Gwen was also a current member of the Bank of Montreal Pensioners Association (BOMPA), sat on the Board of Directors, and was instrumental in organizing various fundraising ventures and social activities.
Gwen started going to church in 1960, after her father passed away. Her experience with St. Peter’s Anglican Church, now Holy Cross Anglican Church filled a need in her life. Gwen became more involved in the choir and selecting hymns; she felt that you don’t just sing the words, you convey the message they give. The Church became an essential part of Gwen’s life; she said it’s what kept her going and where she found peace in her heart. We always remember Aunty Gwen baking dozens of pies and making hundreds of pounds of pickles for the church bazaars. She was also a committed supporter of Camp Artaban. Gwen became ever more involved in the Church locally, provincially and on a national basis. She sat on numerous committees and held important positions. All of her work with the Anglican Church led to her being awarded the Order of the Diocese of NewWestminster which was presented to her at Christ Church Cathedral. This was a cherished moment in her life.
Gwen was an active member of the Richmond Seniors Centre and a member of their Glee Club.
Gwen was a member of the Royal Canadian Legion and in earlier years made an effort to help sell poppies for November 11.
As a recipient of a total hip replacement, Gwen spent 12 years on the Volunteer Committee of the fundraising arm of the Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation and participated in the Hip Hip Hooray annual walk, being the top fundraiser for 10 of those years.
Gwen was a bachelorette throughout her lifetime. She was always attentive to her immediate family, her Church family, her Bank family, and her many personal friends. She was supportive to those in need and spent a great deal of time and effort tending to their personal, medical, or financial affairs, and was a dedicated estate executor for many of those friends.
Gwen was the glue in the Lamacraft family. She organized family trips to meet and stay connected to our extended family across the Prairies and in Great Britain. Her home was the "Lamacraft Hotel" where any family member or friend was welcome to stay. Gwen was a beauty in her younger years, she was a Can-Can dancer with her sister-in-law Doreen, she loved jokes and toasts, was a fabulous cook and baker, loved her Reno bus trips, her family get togethers, and always the "Happy Birthday" song was sung in person, on the phone, or left on the voicemail for every single birthday, every year. Gwen will be greatly missed by all those who knew and loved her.
A date for the celebration of Gwen’s life will be communicated once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. In lieu of flowers, donations are gratefully accepted to the Vancouver Children’s Hospital Foundation.
For more information, call Karel at 604-483-4014 or Wendy at 250-335-1363 and mail to 7765 Ships Point Road, Fanny Bay, BC V0R 1W0. You may also contact Holy Cross Anglican Church through the parish's website.
Give rest, O Christ,
to thy servant with thy saints,
where sorrow and pain are no more;
neither sighing, but life everlasting.
PHOTO: Gwen Lamacraft immediately following her Investiture into the Order of the Diocese of New Westminster, 2009
Photo by: Wayne Chose
Many thanks to the Classified Department of Post Media for supplying diocesan communications with the text of the obituary.