Merle McGowan

27 janvier 193128 mai 2021

Merle McGowan January 27th 1931 – May 28th 2021 Merle McGowan, first born child of Sargent and Muriel McGowan, came into this world “long and lean” in the description of great Grandma McGowan. Her beloved sister Patricia arrived the next year and Patricia always said that Merle was a leader “second to none” while Merle countered that Patricia added “excitement” to their lives via many mishaps, stitches and hospital visits. The McGowan family abandoned the grasshopper-filled dust bowl of Weyburn in 1934 and relocated to the forest fringe farm located between Northside and Paddockwood. Merle and Pat were joined by sister Phyllis and brother Sargent and the family’s “own live little doll” baby sister Ruth. Merle attended school at Elk Range, where her clearest memories were not of school but of the dawdling and interesting diversions on the trek back and forth, on foot, bicycle, and horse. Merle entered school as a reader, taught by her mother Muriel, and was immediately put into grade two, all by herself. Great Grandpa McGowan offered a dollar for anyone who came first in their class and Merle, with modesty, suggested that she’d won that prize a few times. Books were always a mainstay in her life, a love she fostered in her thirteen nieces and nephews. Upon finishing grade 8 Merle went to Weyburn for grades 9 and 10 and then returned home, where she and Pat cycled the five miles to Paddockwood to finish out their schooling. Merle entered the family profession (teaching) attending Normal School in Saskatoon. She taught at Howard Creek and Emma Lake school, where she also took advantage of the art school operated by the University of Saskatchewan. Life on the farm held vivid memories. Churning butter wasn’t the dull chore many others thought, as Merle always had a book in hand. Berry and vegetable picking, canning, and learning to cook on the old cookstove started Merle on her path of culinary adventure and expertise. The community was filled with extended family that helped form lifelong close-knit family bonds. Merle’s childhood was centred by faith and that faith entwined and grew within Merle’s thoughtful, spiritual, soul. She entered the Presbyterian Missionary and Deaconess Training School in Toronto. Some of her most enduring friendships began within those walls, and set her on a lifelong path of faith and service and a new home base, Toronto. As a Deaconess she served in the Presbyterian mission in British Guyana. She returned from British Guyana to Toronto and began setting children on the road to a love of reading; teaching grade two and then moving into the much-loved role of school librarian, where she made her mark until retirement. It’s clear from “The Important Book” created by the school’s students for her retirement that Merle was adored. The book focused on the Most Important Thing about Merle and each class noted something different: “she is an excellent librarian; she cares about us; she is always there when we need her; she helps us find the best books; she reads exciting books to us; she is a great storyteller; she can reach the high shelves; she is always smiling; she loves to read us books; she is patient and never yells; she is respectful of all cultures; she likes people; she likes kids; she does special things for every student; she has the loveliest voice that you ever heard; she can read us like a book; she’s like our mom, we like her and love her and she likes us, and we will miss her”. That adoration from the schoolchildren for Merle’s wonderful qualities was mirrored by her thirteen nieces and nephews who regarded her as Mom Two. The nieces and nephews all received special attention, books, love, good advice, love, laughter, food, wine, and the companionship and guidance of a keen, intelligent mind and gentle spirit. Merle traveled widely. The traveling bug from her missionary foray in South America took her around the world, from Australia to China to Egypt, Greece, the middle East, to Britain and the Nordic countries, through most of the islands in the Caribbean, and across the United States and Canada. Various companions, from friends to her mother Muriel to assorted nieces and nephews got to tag along. Her traveling advice was simple: take half as much stuff, and twice as much money, as you think you will need. Merle retired to Saskatoon and built a set of church, spiritual, and close friendships including at Calvin Goforth Presbyterian church, the Prairie Ecumenical Society, Native Circle Ministries, and The Palisades, to name just a few. Merle’s family is grateful for the many years of good care at The Palisades and recently at Diamond House. “Since our collective births, there has been a standard set for grace. Our Auntie Merle defined perfection and set the reference point for excellence unbelievably high, but with the certain conviction that it is achievable. We have seen and experienced it with our own eyes. The world …. was more easily manageable knowing that Auntie Merle existed within it. We all had a mental absolute that we were worthwhile, because she loved us. If she, who was excellent, loves us, any other assessment of us is less relevant.” Forever in our hearts, all our love, blessed by your presence, awed by your grace. Merle is remembered and cherished by: sister Patricia (Ben) Kading; sister Ruth (Larry) Fawcett; nieces and nephews Brenda (Gordon) Aisman; Terry (Keely) Kading; Kerry (Melanie) McGowan; Brant (Connie) Kirychuk; Lauren (Darrin) Kirychuk; Lianne Kading; Shelley Kirychuk, Darren (Annie) Battersby; James (Jodie) McGowan; Patrick (Kasia) Kirychuk; Tami (Duane) Battersby; Merle (Garth) Massie, plus numerous grand-nieces and nephews and extended family who were all much-loved. She was predeceased by her parents, Muriel and Sargent H. McGowan, brother Sargent E. and sister in law Mary McGowan, sister Phyllis and brother in law Don Kirychuk, and nephews David McGowan and Jerald Thiessen. Service will be held at a later date due to Covid restrictions. Donations in Merle’s memory may be made to Native Circle Ministry in Saskatoon (450 20th St W Saskatoon, SK S7M 0X4) or the Take the Reins fund of Saskatoon Community Foundation (https://saskatooncommunityfoundation.ca/funds/take-the-reins-fund-jerald-thiessen-legacy-fund/)

On Friday June 25th at 11am A Celebration of Life Will be held jointly for Sisters Phyllis Kirychuk October 10, 1934 – December 16, 2020 And Merle McGowan January 27, 1931 – May 28, 2021

Reception to follow COVID protocols in place and masking required.

Acadia Funeral Home 915 Acadia Drive Saskatoon, Sask 306-955-1600

Internments: Phyllis Kirychuk will be laid to rest alongside her husband Donald Kirychuk in Hillcrest Cemetery, 210 Wess Rd, Saskatoon, SK at 2pm on Friday June 25th.

Merle McGowan will be laid to rest alongside her mother and father, Muriel and Sargent McGowan at Memorial Gardens, Prince Albert Saskatchewan on Saturday, June 26th at 1 pm.

Livestream We understand if you cannot join us in person. Livestream viewing is available for the celebration of life service at https://www.faithproductions.ca/livestreams Click on the link, click on “June 2021”, click on “McGowan/Kirychuk Service”


  • A Celebration of Life

    vendredi, 25 juin , 2021


Merle McGowan


Laura Van Loon

27 juin , 2021

You were remembered in the St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church service in Saskatoon this morning during our prayers. Such a beautiful serene, knowledgeable Christian missionary! We are missing you.

Betty Hicks

26 juin , 2021

Merle was an excellent classroom teacher. Merle was a delightful friend. I had the opportunity to meet Merle in my first year of teaching, with the East York Board of Education. There were four of us, Dorothy Murray, Donna Traynor, Merle and myself who worked together. We also enjoyed evenings out together, whether it be a special dinner or a night at the theatre. Good times spent together. Merle moved back to Saskatchewan and we stayed in touch for quite a while. Thank you Merle for wonderful memories. Condolences to her family. She always spoke so highly of you.

Margaret Wilson

5 juin , 2021

As a representative of the Women's Missionary Society, Merle travelled many miles around the province with me when I was the Presbyterian Synod Educational Consultant. She was a great friend, listener and support. Such a gentle soul with many words of wisdom and a great chuckle.
We also shared experiences with a group of women who got together several times a year to share different faith perspectives from books and online sources. Of course we also shared wine over lunch and lots of laughter. I will miss her. Rest in peace Merle!
My condolences to Merle's family - you were so special to her.

Allyn (Jerry) Bentz

3 juin , 2021

I have very fond memories of Merle. She was kind , gentle, knowledgeable and always with a smile. She was a someone whom younger cousins could respect and look up to. We had many memorable family gatherings.
My mother-in- law Anne McDougald (Isayew) had much respect and was so grateful to Merle. She took Anne under her wing when she started school at Elk Range. Anne knew one word of English (horse). Merle was so instrumental in helping to make her fit in and be engaged with others.
Rest in Peace Merle and say hi to Anne for us.
Allyn(Jerry) and Sharon Bentz

Margaret Munro

2 juin , 2021

I first knew Merle in the late 1940s at Parkview Presbyterian Church. Life took us on different paths. They started to cross again 15years later at Calvin -G and St. Andrews. I moved to the Pallisades in 2014. Guess who lived across the hall from me- Merle- still the same gracious person. We ate supper together quite often and I gave a little farewell speech when she moved to Diamond House. She is one of the "good people" who influenced my life by examples of loyalty, dignity and service.(However she was the buyer for the wine at the Palisades for monthly parties and for several years kept the box under her bed) Did I mention she was a very practical person also!

Audrey Wiberg

2 juin , 2021

A cousin too. Going to miss the thought of visiting We had done good wine times at Phyl and Dons and so much laughter. Lots of family history has now been laid to rest Will miss and love this cousin 🥰