Walter Holway: Anytime Thanksgiving Fun

One of Walter Holway’s favourite activities was participating in Edna’s “Anytime Thanksgiving” suppers.

The couple didn’t wait until the actual Thanksgiving holiday to host a feast. Any time during the year, Edna would plan and prepare a big Thanksgiving meal and invite friends and family to join the festivities.

Holway loved his family and friends and especially enjoyed being surrounded by them on such occasions.

Everyone loved Holway—he was kind and generous to all he met. He had a positive attitude towards life and could always find something to laugh about. He was also a tease and loved a good joke.

Edna, his wife of 54 years, shared memories with me on a recent visit. There are certificates of service from the Government of Canada. Holway worked for the Public Service of Canada for 35 years. He received a beautiful medallion at 35 years of service and a lovely silver plate after 25 years.

Holway was born at the Red Cross outpost at Grande Haven, near Fort St. John, B.C. on June 28, 1930. Edna has a picture of a special quilt created by nurse, Anne Young. It is a name quilt—each square showing the birth details of 99 of the 300 to 400 babies Young helped bring into the world.

Today, the quilt hangs in the Fort St. John museum.

Holway grew up on the family farm near Fort St. John. One of his first jobs was working with his dad as a butcher. But the North called and he came to the Yukon in the early ’50s as a surveyor.

Holway worked on the Mayo and Atlin roads and drove a truck for Laurent Cyr for some time before starting his government career.

He met Edna Nielsen in Whitehorse, and they married on September 17, 1955, starting a family soon after.

The family lived in Valleyview for many years, a time Edna remembers fondly. It was a great community to raise their seven children. When the children were small, there were many family picnics along the Yukon River.

After Walter’s retirement in 1991, the couple moved to “the little log house on Green Street” in Atlin, where they lived for 14 years.

After Walter’s death, friends and family chipped in to purchase the memorial bench along the Millenium Trail. It was placed near the family’s long-ago picnic spot.

The Holway bench is one of the first rest spots along the trail on the Robert Service Way end. The day I visited, there was a depression in the snow covering the bench. Perhaps someone had recently sat there to contemplate life, gazing out on the frozen river, imagining happy times.

Edna now lives in Whitehorse again, enjoying time with her family and friends. She visits the bench along the Millenium Trail often. Sitting on that bench overlooking the Yukon River brings back pleasant memories.

It’s easy to take for granted the roads and services provided to us by government departments and personnel. The Public Works Canada crew Walter worked with was a close knit “family”—many retiring about the same time as Walter.

He is remembered fondly by colleagues and friends, children and his wife.

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