Emma (Chawner) McKechnie

1924 ~ 2022 (age 97)


Emma McKechnie (née Chawner) September 28, 1924 to May 15, 2022

In the earliest hours of Sunday, May 15th, with her daughters at her side, Emma McKechnie, age 97, peacefully took her leave and went off to be reunited with her dear husband John.

Emma was an inspiration to her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Her gentleness, kindness, sense of humour and generosity were her trademarks, and they warmed you the moment you crossed her threshold. With a hot cuppa tea and a biscuit, she restored us all.

And while fussing or fretting about our own lives, we’ve all reflected on Emma and marvelled at her optimism and cheerful outlook despite the suffering and hardships she’d been through as a young girl growing up in Glasgow, Scotland.  At the tender age of 15, and as the war targeted ship building sites in Glasgow, Emma lost her much beloved mother Annie Chawner (née Purdon), father (William Chawner) and grandmother (Jane Walker) within the span of a few weeks. Her mother was terribly ill and couldn’t make the trek to the bomb shelters so the family would sit with their mom through the night to listen to the sirens wail.  Throughout her life, Emma who was just a young lass when her mother passed, staunchly maintained she had the best mom in the world.

Emma met John McKechnie while working in Glasgow at the Criterion Café, a thriving Italian ice cream shop. John was home on army leave from North Africa. John, bundled up in his army great coat, famously ordered a “hot Bovril” from Emma, who thought the request completely “daft” on account of it being such a hot day. When John left the café, he said to his mate “that’s the girl I’m going to marry.”  And so it was, a beautiful marriage that spanned 67 years. Not a day of their married life passed that we didn’t hear the exchange of “I love you”.

They later travelled to Sudbury, Ontario where they found friendship among the Scottish community. After retirement, Emma and John travelled to Scotland many times to visit family, and they loved cruising and visiting sunny shores including Cuba, Spain, and Hawaii. Emma’s favourite places in Scotland were Glasgow and Rothesay on the Isle of Bute, where she had many fond memories of family vacations as a young girl. Emma visited Scotland twice in her 90’s and was a wonderful tour guide and was planning to go back again soon.

Despite her sweetness, however, know that Emma loved a “good wee murder” whether it be “Murder She Wrote,” “Columbo” or “Perry Mason.”  Also, much to her husband’s chagrin, Emma loved her “Judge Judy.”  Emma was an expert shopper and liked nothing better than going to a good sale with best friends Jewell Wilson, Ellen Campbell, and Jean McGuire. They were crestfallen when the old Eaton’s closed its doors. Well into her 90’s, Emma more than enjoyed her weekly pilgrimage to a thrift shop on seniors’ day.

We asked the great-grandkids about their memories of their Nana and they shared the following:

Nana loved to play games with them especially cards (Golf) and Dominos;
She so enjoyed and generously doled out chocolates, sweeties, and pokey hats (ice cream cones);
Nana loved to sing and would remember every word (“I belong to Glasgow” – a favourite);
With Granda, she was an avid walker which kept them both in the best of health;
She was the best baker of shortbread this side of Scotland;
She loved all cats and dogs especially “Wee Sporran” her childhood Scottish Terrier;
Nana loved all things Scottish (in her brief stay in the ER, she finally gave up to staff her family recipe for “mince and tatties”); and most importantly
She was always smiling and happy and that made them feel happy and very loved.

Emma will be dearly missed by her daughters Joan Giroux (Jim predeceased) and Jean McKechnie (Flemming Jensen); her grandchildren Michael Giroux (Sherry), Stephanie Giroux (Geoffrey Rayburn) and Jenny Giroux-McKechnie (Mark Kernan); and her great-grandchildren James and Eleanor Giroux, and Angus and Fiona Rayburn.

Emma was the loving sister to Willie and John Watt, and Jean and Tommy Chawner (all predeceased); and proud Auntie to Harry, Billy, and wee Emma (Brown) Prentice; and to Thomas, Jean (predeceased) and William Chawner -- all of Scotland.

The family has the privilege to thank nurse Jamie in the Health Sciences North Emergency Department for going above and beyond in his care for Emma.  Jamie was kind, respectful and incredibly effective and efficient. He is a wonderful example of nursing excellence and human decency. Thank you, Jamie. We also have the privilege to thank Dr. Mary Olsten. Emma couldn’t have a better advocate for her care and her comfort.  Mary’s warm presence at the bedside meant so much to all of us. In turn, Mary embodies all the best of family medicine, so we thank her. A very special thank you to Dr. Ohle and to the entire ER team for their care and compassion.

In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to The Northern Cancer Foundation or to S.A.I.N.T.S. Dog Rescue. Cremation services provided by Simple Wishes of the North, Sudbury.

In closing, remember to hold your loved ones tight while you can and never miss the opportunity to tell them how very dear they are. So, raise a cuppa tea, a glass of wine or a wee dram of Scotch -- to Emma, a life very well lived.

In the words of a famous Scottish poet:

Will ye no come back again?

Will ye no come back again?

Better loved ye’ canna be.

Will ye no come back again?


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