Mary Elizabeth (Howes) McNaughton
Life and Work
On April 20th, 1907 Mary Elizabeth Howes was born on the family homestead southwest of Millet, Alberta. Beth, as she was more commonly known, was born to Micajah and Flora Howes. Beth had five older siblings Horace, Thomas, Mildred, Nathan, and Roger. She enjoyed being out-doors and tending to the farm animals. After attending Hillside school through grade nine she then took grades ten and eleven in Millet where she worked for her room and board at the Leonard Grays’ and at Mrs. Doane’s. Grade twelve was completed in Wetaskiwin where she again worked for her room and board, this time at the Chalmers’. After high school Beth travelled to Camrose and attended Camrose Normal School where she earned a teaching certificate. Beth taught at Porto Bello, west of Millet for 2 years from 1927- 1929 and then for three years at Roseland, east of Wetaskiwin, from 1929-1932.
Beth began to develop a personal faith in Christ through the influence of her brother Roger, when she was seventeen. She started directing her life towards Christian ministry and used her faith with her teaching where she taught Sunday school at both Porto Bello and Roseland. Beth then trained for Christian ministry at the Prairie Bible Institute in Three Hills from 1932- 1935.
Beth served for two summers in the Peace River country doing mission work where she met a young man named Walter McNaughton. In the spring of 1939, Beth and Walter became engaged and a little over a month later they were married, on June 7th 1939. They had four children: Malcom, 1940, Evangeline, 1943, Ruth, 1945, and David 1946, all born in Sexsmith, Alberta.
The new family of six lived in many different places over the years and from 1975 to 1998, Beth and Walter, who had retired, lived in Millet, Alberta. With Millet being Beth’s home town it was enjoyable for her to be near her brother, Thomas, and his wife Ruth. Beth was active in the Women’s Institute. Both she and Walter took part in the Millet Historical Society. They helped establish the Evangelical Free Church in Millet, where Beth continued to teach Sunday school. She also led women’s Bible studies and prayed for, supported and corresponded with many missionaries.
Beth and Walter finished their retirement in Grande Prairie, close to where they had been married and had served for many years. In June of 2004 they celebrated their 65th anniversary, and on April 11th 2005, nine days after her 98th birthday, Beth passed away after a short illness. Walter died similarly nine months later on January 11th, 2006, less than three months before his 96th birthday.