May 12, 1938 – July 13, 2020
Maxine Anne McRae, long-time resident of Gabriola Island, British Columbia, passed away on July 13, 2020 at the age of 82 years.
Maxine was born on May 12, 1938 in Vernon, BC as the first daughter to Dora and Edward Quamme. Two years later baby Sharon arrived and right from the start Maxine loved her role as the ‘big sister.’ Sadly at age of four, her father lost his life in WWII; killed in action during the Battle of Cesena in Italy. Later Dora married Arthur Tansem, who was a kind and caring second father to Maxine. Along with a new father came a new home and it was a whole province away. The family moved to Wanham, Alberta and settled on a homestead southeast of town.
Here her dad built the family a beautiful new log house. Dora and the girls would go berry picking day and night; it was recorded that one year berries were so plentiful, they filled six gallons a day.
Maxine & Sharon trudged more than two miles to and from school each day (uphill both ways, to be sure). A high school chum, Lynn, remembers Maxine as “a very bright but quiet student—but she was definitely a nonconformist and had a wicked sense of humour. Yet she was so laid back and cool…I think she was a hippie before it was a ‘thing’ and she lived by those principles her whole life.”
After graduation, Maxine moved to the big city of Grande Prairie, just an hour away. She worked at the CIBC bank but often returned home on the weekends. Her sister married and started a family; ‘Auntie Mac’ became a favourite aunt that would participate in birthdays and many other family events. Even as she moved further away from family, she’d send gifts and cards from afar. Great-niece, Harmony remembers always getting wonderful books from Auntie Mac at Christmastime.
Maxine found her career path as an accountant and she eventually made her way back to BC, this time on beautiful Vancouver Island.
She met and, in 1971, married Stan McRae. They had a long and happy marriage of almost 50 years. Originally they lived in Nanaimo but eventually bought property on Gabriola Island where they lived for decades. Maxine rode the ferry to Nanaimo for many years working as an accountant for a local MLA.
She later worked at Gabriola Home Support. Corrine shares how Maxine was “just so lovely to work with and we had a lot of fun together”.
Maxine and Stan were active volunteers in their community in countless capacities. They were active politically; their house was action-central during election times as they were both staunch supporters of the NDP. Maxine often took on the role of financial agent as well a variety of other tasks.
They were on the board of the Agriculture Hall for many years, which eventually morphed into the Farmer’s Market. Maxine took on the role of the treasurer for the hall as well as the Historical and Museum Society, for many years. Together, she and Stan, made significant land donations to the McRae Conservation Covenant— twenty acres of trees, meadows and hiking trails. It is an integral part of the island that will be protected forever.
Sarah shared how these trails have benefited their family directly. “Our young son learned to ride his bike there as it was one of the safest places to ride. We love it in the meadows!” They also donated the land for the Gabriola Museum, and subsequent to that Maxine participated in many fundraising events for the museum building itself.
Maxine was a voracious painter and there was nothing she wouldn’t attempt; watercolor, acrylic, oil or mixed media. She belonged to the Gabriola Palette People and Cora describes Maxine’s creations as “such beautiful work; we especially admired her color choices and combinations”.
She sold her homemade cards and paintings at the Farmer’s Market with Stan who was an accomplished wood turner. Maxine also showed her work at the Rollo Centre’s exhibitions.
Many friends and family benefitted from her beautiful work at Christmastime in particular, when her lovely hand-painted cards would arrive via post. They were often displayed in homes long after the festive season, framed for safekeeping as niece, Tara, will attest.
Maxine was a kind and caring person. She was a gentle soul that loved her animals; Angus, Fergus, and Jock. She also raised many different kinds of birds and gave names to many. Once when Trudy was visiting, she met Maxine’s duck named Amelia. In subsequent Christmas cards, Maxine would always give her an ‘Amelia update.’ Through the years, Maxine made regular trips back to Wanham to see her family and numerous old school friends. It was always a social event when Auntie Mac came to town! Sharon hosted meals & much lively visiting took place.
During these trips, she always made time to paint with her mom; it was a love that they both shared.
Her niece Heather tells of her visits to Edmonton, ‘though we didn’t get to have her here often, our three sons always enjoyed Auntie Mac as she was so engaged and loved to hear all about their lives.’ In return, Maxine & Stan entertained many Albertans at their island home through the summer.
From all reports, they were wonderful hosts! Her friend, Lorraine, remembers a scrumptious meal in particular, of baked salmon and delicious cauliflower salad. She raved so much about the meal that Maxine gave her the cookbook that held the recipes. They are family favorites that Lorraine still uses today.
‘They always remind me of Maxine!’ Maxine & Stan had many friends on the island, too numerous to list. But Bruce and Betty graciously included the McRaes in many holiday celebrations.
Joyce and Graham were very special neighbors who were always there for them, which was even more important in Maxine’s later years.
The last few years were not kind to Maxine or to Stan. Maxine developed dementia and Stan was afflicted with cancer. Dementia robs you of so much; I hope this recap of Maxine’s life helps you remember the wonderful, generous person she was. Stan passed away on June 14, 2020 after a long and courageous battle. Maxine’s passing was unfortunately only a month later due to a heart episode.
They have definitely left their legacy on Gabriola Island and will long be remembered. Gisele says: “They were the kind of people who gave so freely, and literally without expecting or getting anything in return.”
Chris describes them as “a couple who helped set the tone of the island in the earlier years; one of generosity and real community, this wonderful tone continues to this day!”
Maxine was predeceased by her husband, Stan; her mother, Dora; her father, Edward; her step-father, Art; her only sibling, Sharon (Sept 2019); and brother-in-law, Taras. She is survived by her sister-in-law, Helen; step brother-in-law, Harvey; nieces and nephews, Tara, Heather, Doug, David, Terry and Anne, Ellen, Hope, Stuart and Phillip. She is also survived by many great and great-great nieces and nephews.
Due to Covid-19 no service will be held. Memorial donations may be made in Maxine’s name to one of her favourite causes, the Nature Conservancy of Canada, or the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
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