Sylvia MacIntosh: Respected Lawyer, Mother, Friend

“I liken her to a fizzy drink—refreshing, invigorating and fun.”

“She was a hummingbird with high energy.”

Those colourful terms are how two very good friends, Debra Fendrick and Pamela Muir, remember Sylvia MacIntosh. Her colleagues, friends and former husband all describe her with warmth and admiration.

MacIntosh was born in Sidney, Nova Scotia in April, 1959. She passed away 47 years later after a brief battle with brain cancer. Her death was, and still, is devastating to those who knew her.

Fendrick has wonderful memories of her friend, including an incident that occurred after the birth of Fendrick’s daughter.

MacIntosh, along with her young son Louis, visited the hospital. Louis was too young for visiting but… well, rules are meant to be massaged.

Along with Louis, MacIntosh brought a huge stuffed bunny for the newborn. The bunny is still a much loved toy in the Fendrick household.

MacIntosh was a respected lawyer, carefully making her way through life and making the world a better place as she went. She practised private law in Vancouver and Whitehorse and worked for Preston Willis Leach in Whitehorse prior to moving into the public sector.

She came into her own as part of the negotiating team for the Yukon Government in First Nations land claims and self-government negotiations. She had a great ability to focus on what was before her and displayed an encyclopedic knowledge of law.

MacIntosh’s written opinions are still referred to six years after her death. Her career with the government included land claims negotiations, litigation and contract work.

Pamela Muir shared some particular memories.

MacIntosh was active in a loose-knit group of women lawyers. At a time when most of the lawyers in Whitehorse were male, the female group provided support, friendship, laughter.

Muir was new to Whitehorse, articling with the Yukon Government. MacIntosh invited her to the group and the two women became fast friends.

Muir, also from Nova Scotia, respected MacIntosh both at work and in her private life. MacIntosh was active—she skied, ran, camped.

Fendrick remembers MacIntosh inviting her to one of the pot-lucks as well. They became friends, supporting each other in career and private life.

Dave Kedziora (former husband) and Muir both spoke of MacIntosh’s love of interior design. Her office was an art gallery, and Muir loved visiting the office.

Kedziora mentioned that their house also was tastefully decorated and reflected MacIntosh’s respect and love of art and design.

Her sons, Henry, Charlie and Louis, were the loves of her life. MacIntosh was a dedicated mother, sharing her love of nature, sport and Maritime “down-to-earthiness”!

As a mother herself, Fendrick also cherishes MacIntosh’s advice: when you become a mother you just fall in love with your babies.

Fendrick and Monica Leask (another friend and colleague) regularly walk by the memorial bench placed on the Millennium Trail to honour their friend. It helps them deal with the unbelievable: that MacIntosh is not here anymore.

The inscription on the bench offers a true glimpse of the woman they called friend:

Sylvia MacIntosh

Was intelligence, beauty, laughter, energy & love

We are women, lawyers, friends and colleagues

Her spirit endures, it soars, it inspires

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