Melitta Ida Brewster
In Loving Memory
March 25, 1908 – January 19, 2015
Melitta Taube was born, the seventh of nine children, in the beautiful pastoral Silesian area of Germany just north of the RiesenGebirge Mountains on the Czechoslovakian border (now Poland). Her father was a farmer and veterinarian. She grew up in the shadow of a 900 year old monastery and cathedral complex at Grizow, now a UN World Heritage site, built by the same artisans that created the great cathedrals of Prague and Vienna. In a community where social, sacred and natural worlds were totally integrated, she developed a joyous,open-hearted Catholicism and deep appreciation of art, music and dancing. She had a great talent for remembering lengthy poems and songs.
At sixteen Melitta decided that she did not want to work in the noisy linen mills nearby as her sisters did, but went to Berlin to work as a housemaid. There was a deep depression at the time and unemployed homeless men were everywhere. Gangs of Nazi Brownshirts had begun their intimidation attacks. When Melitta heard about Canada, she saw a way out and a hopeful future.
In October of 1927 at the age of nineteen, she sailed from Bremen, landed in Quebec City, and arrived on a small farm in northern Alberta. The winter was very cold and long, and the work hard for a petite girl, so in the spring she moved to Edmonton where she lived and worked in the CPR’s MacDonald Hotel. Her room was steam-heated and high up under the copper roof looking out over the city. She “felt like a princess”. The skating rink below fascinated her. She learned to skate and took English language classes in her spare time.
When she had earned her first block of holidays, she took the train to Vancouver. She loved it so much she never went back to Edmonton. Curious and adventurous, she changed jobs a number of times, spending a couple of years in Portland, Oregon and in Trail, B.C., where she brought her younger brother, Ernest, to his first job in Canada.
Melitta married Norman Brewster in Vancouver in 1937. In 1940 Norman got his first steady job as a CPR telegraph-operator in Glacier (Rogers Pass) six-days-a-week. Their three children were born in the next four years, learning to ski almost as soon as they could walk. During the post-war years Melitta sent many large packages of food and clothing to her surviving relatives in Germany who were refugees. In 1948 the family moved to Invermere and two years later to South Slocan.
In the summer of 1950, Melitta brought the children to South Slocan to join her husband, who was to be the CPR agent there for the next twenty-five years. Melitta and Norman were both very active in community affairs there. Norman helped organize the creation and maintenance of the water system and served as school-trustee for many years. They both gave special support to many newly-arrived immigrant families. Melitta was an active member of the Women’s Institute, the congregation of the Sacred Heart Church, and the Catholic Women’s League. Providing flowers for the church was one of her many labours of love.
Melitta gradually turned the rocky and trash-filled area surrounding their house near the CPR station in South Slocan into a lovely park-like garden. Many passers-by would take a detour to spend a few refreshing minutes relaxing there, getting a cool drink or a handful of raspberries, while admiring the dazzling array of blooms and enjoying the heady scent of lilacs or phlox while chatting with Melitta.
She read voraciously and particularly enjoyed Canadian business-news, politics, geography and history. During election times Melitta made it her mission to encourage people who had never done so, to register and go to the polls to vote.
After the children had graduated from Mt. Sentinel High School and left home, Norman and Melitta began to make regular holiday trips to the Napa Valley area of California. Norman continued to serve on many local committees and boards including the RDCK. Melitta continued to expand her garden and her horticultural skills, taking several courses and acquiring rare plants from the professional gardener at the Blaylock Estate.
Norman retired in 1974 and the couple began spending more time with daughter Ann in White Rock. In 1980 they moved to White Rock where they lived for the next 25 years. During that time, she made two trips to Germany and a trip to Hawaii with Ann, and joined a church group for a memorable lengthy pilgrimage to churches and cathedrals in eastern Canada. Melitta continued gardening until she was 90 years old.
Norman died in White Rock in April 2003. By 2004 Melitta had undergone a series of eye operations and lost the sight of her left eye. Her recent memories were fading, but her memories of her years in the Kootenays remained strong, so her family brought her back to Nelson. She spent two years in Mountains Lakes and seven years in Jubilee Manor, where she passed away peacefully on January 19, 2015 at the age of 106.
A more devoted wife, mother and grandmother will never be found. Her wonderfully cheerful and loving spirit and amazing energy will be carried forever in the hearts of all her family, friends, and those who were close to her in Jubilee Manor in recent years.
Melitta is survived by her three children: Ann Irving, Stephen, and Michael (Joan Harvey): five grand-children; Michael’s daughters, Monica and Margaux, and Stephen’s children, Michael, David (Mary), and Lara; nephew Ernest Taube (Doreen) of Calgary and niece Bridget Nairn (Robert) of Coquitlam, who Melitta brought to Canada at age 19, and many nieces and nephews still in Germany.
A Funeral Mass will be held Saturday, January 24, 2015 at 10:00 am from The Cathedral of Mary Immaculate, 813 Ward Street, Nelson, BC with Father Conrado Belaso as celebrant. Interment will take place at Nelson Memorial Park Cemetery. A reception will follow at The Hume Hotel.
As an expression of sympathy family and friends may make donation to Nelson Jubilee Manor, 500 Beasley West, Nelson, BC.
Funeral arrangements are under the direction of Thompson Funeral Service.
Online condolence may be expressed at www.thompsonfs.ca