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Born: Dec 28, 1929

Date of Passing: Feb 25, 2021

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(née DAWSON)

Florence Eva Swail passed away peacefully on February 25, 2021. Mom was simply 91 years of age and passed away having lived every ounce that life had to offer. A special thank you to the staff at Victoria Hospital for making Mom's final days as comfortable as possible. Her passing brings to mind a quote by Hunter S. Thompson,

"Life should not be a journey to the grave
with the intention of arriving safely in a
pretty and well preserved body, but rather
to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke,
thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and
loudly proclaiming "Wow! What a Ride!"

Perhaps this isn't a purely accurate depiction of our mother, but it sounds good to us.
"Flo" was born on December 28, 1929 in Shoal Lake, Manitoba, a town of about 700 people back then as it is today. We can attest that she got jilted on a lot of birthday presents due to proximity to Christmas. Shoal Lake missed out on any growth spike post war or at any time, but her dad (Frank) worked at the celebrated Shoal Lake Creamery and her mother (Jane) took care of the household. Both parents immigrated from Britain, and her dad was a machine gunner in the Second World War for the Fort Garry Horse Battalion. Mom was the last surviving child, predeceased by her sister Dorothy and three brothers, Fred, Delmar, and Gerald.
Upon high school graduation, Florence Dawson made her way to Birtle and then Winnipeg. Working at the Royal Bank, she met Gordon, whom she married and stayed devoted to until her passing. They enjoyed over 65 years of marriage that was every bit a love story. They had three wonderful, if not exquisite, children: Glen (Calgary), Bruce (Chicago), and Scott (Virginia Beach). For some reason, all three kids moved far, far away from their parents. They say it was purely career driven, but was it? (it was Dad).
I think it is fair to say that none of us met anyone who did not love our mother. She was a "good natured" mom, with the exception of when she wielded the heralded wooden spoon. She enjoyed talking with our friends and people in general and was kind and warm-hearted. Except when that spoon came out.
We all were privileged to grow up in a great Fort Garry community with wonderful people around us. Mom was loved by all. The young Swail Family first lived in Wildwood Park and then moved down the street to the infamous corner of Point Road and Oakenwald.
Mom was a competitor and sportsperson. She loved baseball, softball, curling, badminton, and golf. She enjoyed Jets hockey and Bombers football and wore her colours proudly, primarily because we had run out of gift ideas for Christmas. And perhaps because of the Birthday jilt. Mom and Dad went to their share of Grey Cups and we vividly remember some of their Grey Cup parties. We were told that she took up golfing when someone said, "if you want to keep close with your husband and he's a golfer, become a golfer." So she did, and for years they were members of the Wildwood Club where they both golfed and curled. Mom did both into her 80s. Unfortunately, a little fall inside the 12 foot in Osoyoos ended her prolific amateur career. It is our general opinion that neither sport has ever fully recovered.
Mom was competitive. She liked to win and enjoyed rooting her teams on to victory. She was an avid cribbage player and some of us have the scars to prove it. As one of her grandchildren exclaimed the other day, "I'm never gonna get double skunked in crib again. Or lose dozens of pennies and nickels in a casual-but-merciless game of poker quite like that."
For over 30 years, Mom and Dad did the summer and weekend pilgrimage to the trailer at Caddy Lake. Mom was quite the angler and won a Manitoba Master Angler award one year snagging a massive bass (Sorry, Dad - Mom was better). They both enjoyed the company and camaraderie of the campsite. The people there became great friends.
In Winnipeg, Mom and Dad were part of the infamous "Up the River Gang," most of whom hailed from Wildwood Park. As a group, they celebrated Grey Cups, New Years, and annual boating trips around the Whiteshell. The group's antics were legendary, and we have the requisite photos to prove it. Usually it is the kids that embarrass their children. They turned the tables on us.
Perhaps the proudest thing we can remember about our mother was that she was a recovering alcoholic. This might sound strange, but her recovery was nothing short of courageous. By the end, she had assembled 50 years of sobriety. Her resiliency and restraint, reinforced by our father's determination and support, speaks volumes about the two of them. Once Mom gained sobriety, she paid it forward by dedicating herself to years of mentoring countless others to find it as well. She was tireless in her devotion to her family and to others. She remains, in many ways, our hero.
We miss Mom already. And while we can't have her back, we have fabulous memories that truly form the fabric of our lives. The nights cackling while watching the Tonight Show on the couch, the family gatherings for birthdays, complete with her homemade angel food cake (don't choke on the coins inside!), and the waiting hot plate in the stove after our late Fort Garry Lions practices. All normal things, but Mom made them better because she cared enough to do so. We'll miss those things, but it gave us a great foundation to create our own special things, which hopefully we've passed on to our children.
Mom is survived by her much-loved husband Gordon, and their children, Glen (Rhonda), Bruce (Sue), and Scott (Kim). She enjoyed all eight of her grandchildren, Heather, Stephanie, Amy, Avery, Katie, Watson, Pearse, and Luke.

Mom died as she lived. Peacefully.

Over all hilltops
It is quiet now,
In all the treetops
You sense
Hardly a breath;
The little birds in the forest are silent:
Wait, soon
You shall rest too.


Condolences may be sent to

As published in Winnipeg Free Press on Mar 06, 2021

Condolences & Memories (10 entries)

  • My condolences to you and your family Glen. - Posted by: Julie Meisner (Former co-worker of Glen) on: Apr 03, 2021

  • Dear Glen, Bruce, Scott and Mr. Swail, Just letting you know that a long time Fort Garry Lions family member is thinking of you. It's been 3 years now since Bob died but I know he would want to connect with you. My sincerest sympathies, Lee Rye - Posted by: Lee Rye (Friend) on: Mar 16, 2021

  • Gord, We are so sorry for your loss. Through your many years at Green Bay, you were a great part of our life. Our memories include you two walking down to your green fishing boat, always smiling. Our deepest sympathies. Sandy & Grant - Posted by: Sandy & Grant Fisette (Friend) on: Mar 10, 2021

  • Gord, we were saddened to hear of Flo's passing. We remember her fondly and the good times we had around a fire or playing cards at Caddy Lake. Our condolences to you and you family. - Posted by: Jian and Russ Kubara (Friends) on: Mar 09, 2021

  • Gord, We are so sorry for your loss. We have so many wonderful memories. Florence was caring and kind, a very special person. Dave and Carol - Posted by: Dave & Carol Grant ("Up the River Friends") on: Mar 06, 2021

  • I was fortunate to be included in a few family events and Mrs. Swail always made me feel so very welcome. She presided over a lively household with grace and good humour, both qualities that were tested occasionally (MASH Party comes to mind). She would not have wanted it any other way. - Posted by: Paul Keirstead (Friend) on: Mar 06, 2021

  • Rob and I would like to offer our sincere condolences on the passing of Florence! We enjoyed many family gatherings at their home over the years. Hopefully after COVID is over we can have a chance to visit Gordon! Barb - Posted by: Barb and Rob Tisdale (Cousin of Gorden) on: Mar 06, 2021

  • My deepest condolences to Gord and the Swail family. I have fond memories of Florence (& Gord of course!) as a young teenager going to Caddy Lake with my parents. Cherish, as I will, all the wonderful memories.. they last a lifetime. Thinking of all of you at this difficult time. - Posted by: Cam Moskal (Family Friend) on: Mar 06, 2021

  • So very sorry for your loss. Our hearts are heavy and thinking of you and your family during this difficult time. - Posted by: Larry and Linda Shelest (Friend) on: Mar 06, 2021

  • Fond memories of a smiling Mrs. Swail as we gathered at Point and Oakenwald for pre-parties back in the day. Also, always a smile as I packed her groceries at Safeway. - Posted by: Gary Bergal (Friend) on: Mar 06, 2021

Thomson In the Park Funeral Home and Cemetery

Thomson In the Park Funeral Home and Cemetery

1291 McGillivary Blvd. (Map)
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