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Born: Feb 15, 1919

Date of Passing: Jun 09, 2021

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Lillian May Cameron delayed her departure from our world just as long as she could before passing, at home, on June 9, 2021, at about 8:45 a.m. She was 102 years, and nearly four months, old.
Lillian was the eldest, born to Walter and Violet (nee White) Downs, near Endeavour, Saskatchewan, on February 15, 1919. Life on the homestead was tough and Lillian particularly recognized this as she helped with younger siblings as they arrived. Her family, recognizing her brightness, arranged to build a small addition on the homestead house to board the teacher who would then get Lill to school. This started her academic career where her brightness was evident to all. When Lill was well into her 90s she visited an old friend in Preeceville, SK who told Diane just how smart her mother was in school. Lill, being humble, reminded this friend that her best friend Mary Duke and she took turns standing first and second.
The Downs family left the homestead and moved into Preeceville about 1927, where the last three children were born. The family had an easier time in town, no longer homesteading on the inhospitable land.
Lillian was predeceased by siblings, Mayme, Lorne, Gordon, and Leslie. The youngest of the family, Vietta (Downs) Gill, (Sacramento, California) passed away just 25 days after Lillian. Dr. Allan Downs of Winnipeg is the sole surviving sibling.
Lill moved to Winnipeg in the early 1940s, setting her sights on the city and its bigger scope of opportunities. She first worked as a domestic and then as soon as she could, wrote her civil service exams and got work at the depot for the war effort. Lill moved to the Unemployment Insurance office where she met George Loggie Cameron who was enamoured with her but thought that Lill was "out of his league." He walked her home from an office party and from then on saw Lill every night, except Thursday, when he stayed home to darn his socks!
Dad accompanied Mom home to Preeceville at Christmas, 1944 and after meeting all the Downses mustered the nerve to ask W.H. Downs for Lill's hand in marriage. The family had been waiting for this question but it only happened at the end of the visit, while Lill and George stood on the steps of the rail car as the train pulled out. It must be said that Dad although initially afraid of WH, loved and admired him completely and wrote poems about the exploits of Lill's dad and family. George could not bring himself to write poetry after Walter's death.
Mom continued caring for her family as she and George welcomed her youngest brother Allan, then sister Vietta and then nieces, Marilyn and Valerie into their home, as each arrived to further their studies in Winnipeg. They hosted many more planned and surprise visits of relatives. Midnight lunches and more were provided to keep students fueled for late-night studies. Dr. Downs credits his sister with the love and support that made a difference to his career. The house on Royal Avenue has always been welcoming to family and friends and one Christmas housed 14 with only one bathroom! This was so niece Marilyn would have her family close by for her first Christmas in nursing school.
The arrival of Diane, Jock and Allan within four years was not easy for Lill. She baked, cooked and canned much of the food for the household. She also sewed the majority of the children's clothes as well as her own. And even a Cameron tartan housecoat for George.
Lill relied on temporary contracts after her marriage made her ineligible for a permanent job with the federal civil service, a circumstance imposed on married women by the dictates of the day. The prized Singer featherweight sewing machine was earned courtesy of those temp jobs.
Lill was active in the Kildonan United Church by the time her children reached preschool age. Through the years, until she was well into her senior years, Lill was very active in the church's Women's Association and later she was a founding member of the United Church Women, organizing many fundraising dinners and bake sales, always cooking for them, too. Lill also served the wider church in positions and on committees of the Winnipeg Presbytery. She enjoyed her work with Kildonan's Ministry and Personnel committee, including search committees for many ministers. Lill always availed herself of opportunities to learn. Her daughter remembers Lill coming home frustrated from some meeting and declaring the most dangerous words in the world were: "We've always done it this way before!"
Lill eventually returned to the federal government, working for Statistics Canada, which gave her opportunities to travel the province. Mom also travelled to Ottawa and Saskatoon with Dad when he had temporary postings and set up hotel rooms like home, accompanied by the sewing machine.
Mom and Dad took trips overseas to celebrate their 25th Anniversary, Jock and Francoise's wedding in France and then again to visit Jock and family during their year in England. It did their hearts and minds good to visit the 'auld' country where both their heritages began. This led to more exploration in North America, some of it with George's sister Barbara and her husband Jack Bradley. Of course the more usual summer vacation was to Preeceville, and the beloved Nelson Lake cottage of Mary and Gordon Downs.
Lill lost her life's partner in October of 2000, and was diagnosed as blind within the month. She had macular degeneration and had been legally blind for some time. Ever the pragmatist, Mom had given up her driver's licence before the doctor had a chance to tell her to do so. She had to give up reading and sewing but she continued to bake and take part in church activities. Mom remained the center of the family, welcoming and being a most important person for her grandchildren, Genevieve Cameron Sprenger, Alara Humniski Hedebring, William Cameron, and Akaysha Humniski. The six great-grandchildren were the icing on the cake: Luke and Mina Sprenger, Timothy and Louis Cameron and Rory and Alrik Hedebring celebrated her 100th birthday with her in 2019.
Lillian was predeceased by Francoise Cameron, Mayme and Clem Mattison, Lorne and Marie Downs, Gordon and Mary Downs, Leslie and Helen Downs, Joan Downs, Roy Gill, Barbara and Jack Bradley and her parents, Walter and Violet Downs.
Lill leaves to mourn her brother Allan (Janet) Downs, many nieces and nephews, her large extended family, and of course her children, Allan (Aprill) Cameron, Gordon Jock Cameron and Diane Cameron.
A celebration of the life of our wonderful mother will be held at Little Britain United Church on Saturday, October 9, at 11:00 a.m. All present (except children under 12) must be double vaxxed. Masks are essential. For information please contact The service will conclude at the church with luncheon to follow.
Donations, in lieu of flowers, would be welcomed by the Seven Oaks Educational Fund, memo P0W W0W scholarships; 830 Powers St., Winnipeg, MB R2V 4E7.
Publish Date: Oct 2, 2021

1919 - 2021

Diane, Jock (Gordon) and Allan Cameron, the children of Lillian May Cameron, have sadly accepted the fact that Lill passed away June 9, 2021. After a life of more than 102 years, it almost seemed like this would never happen and she would continue with her love, hard work, advice, leadership and worry that encompassed her whole family.
The widow of George Loggie Cameron, who predeceased her in 2000, Lill passed away in her own home, that Jack Cameron, George's dad built for them in 1947. This family home, with Lill as the central figure hosted and cared for relatives and friends over the years with many folks telling us what a positive difference she made in their lives as she went about with strength, understanding and honesty, serving as a role model to successive generations. She and George supported Kildonan United Church in all ways, serving faithfully as hard workers, understanding leaders and creators of true Christian fellowship. Lill's career took second place to the care and nurturing of her family, but she was efficient and effective in her roles from the days in the U.I.C. office to her time with Statistics Canada.
The family has planned a celebration of Lillian's life for 11:00 a.m., Saturday, October 9, 2021 at LITTLE BRITAIN UNITED CHURCH, 5879, P.T. Hwy. 9 (Main Street). Lockport. Lunch to follow. Interment October 10.
If you are FULLY VACCINATED and wishing to attend please notify, Unvaccinated children under 12 accompanied by vaccinated adults are welcome. Masks are mandatory inside the church. All current COVID rules will be respected.
A longer obituary will appear on Saturday, October 2.
Publish Date: Sep 11, 2021

As published in Winnipeg Free Press on Sep 11, 2021, Oct 02, 2021

Condolences & Memories (2 entries)

  • So sorry for your loss. She sounds like she was a wonderful woman - Posted by: Sheila Halper (Friend) on: Oct 03, 2021

  • Gord and family, so sorry for your loss. Take care - Posted by: Sharon Sibbald (Colleague ) on: Sep 11, 2021

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