Norma (Chiddy) MacEachern




Life and Work

Norma was born in Calgary on October 28, 1909. She was the only child of Alma Hanson, a Swedish immigrant, and Frank Chiddy, an English baker by trade, who worked for the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR). Norma's parents had previously lived in Wetaskiwin and they returned with Norma in 1911 where her father continued his work as an engineer for the CPR.

Norma attended Alexandra School in Wetaskiwin where she excelled in scholastics and athletics. She developed a lifetime interest in sports, participating in basketball, badminton, hockey, curling and golf. It was track and field, however, where Norma truly triumphed. She garnered a number of first, second and third place ribbons in Wetaskiwin School Sports (1920 - 1922) and although her school days of sports and academics would end on graduation from Alexandra School, her interests and abilities in track events continued to blossom.

She displayed her track and field prowess provincially in Medicine Hat, Banff, Red Deer and Wetaskiwin. Many newspaper articles show Norma equalling or breaking provincial records in the 50 yard sprint, the 220 yard sprint, the broad jump and the running high jump. Some of these performances were close to eclipsing Canadian records.

In 1929 Norma received a silver goblet from the Canadian Olympic Association recognizing her as the Dominion's track and field aggregate champion, and she also earned a spot on the Canadian Team for the British Empire Games to be held in Vancouver in 1930. An injury, unfortunately, prevented her from competing in those games. She recovered from that injury to reign as the Provincial Track and Field Champion from 1931 to 1933. After her competitive track and field career ended, Norma continued her avid interest in sports throughout the rest of her life, with golfing and curling becoming her main pursuits.

From 1928 to 1939 Norma worked at the Imperial Bank of Commerce in Wetaskiwin. On June 25, 1939 she married John Andrew MacEachern, the youngest son of Duncan and Jennie MacEachern. Norma and John moved into the family house (now a tea house) on 50 Street. John would continue to operate the MacEachern Milling Company (a family business started in 1899) until 1957. Over the years Norma would support John's various business interests (miller, gentleman farmer and investment broker) but it was her family who became her main interest and joy.

Norma and John would raise four children; Allan Ross, Patricia Ann, Norman Roger and John Stanley. Ross and Stan continue to live in Wetaskiwin while Pat and Roger live in Edmonton. Throughout her lifetime Norma was a strong supporter of family and family values. This would always be evident in her role as wife, mother, grandmother and friend.

Norma also developed cooking, baking and gardening talents which she shared with her children and grandchildren, especially the ceremony of afternoon tea. She continued her interest in the Immanuel Anglican Church where she had been confirmed and had also been a Sunday School teacher. Norma was a member of the evening group of the Dorcas Grey Woman's Auxiliary. In addition, she worked with a catering group at the First United Church where husband John and the children were members.

Apart from the church, Norma would serve her community as a member of the Order of the Eastern Star. She was initiated into the organization in 1931, was Worthy Matron in 1939 and Grand Representative to Oklahoma in 1949. Norma also canvassed for various charities annually.

Norma was an original chauffeuring mom, driving her children and their friends to various sporting, church, school, scouting and guiding activities. She also delivered papers when her sons were too busy to do their routes and squired her mother and her mother's friends about. In addition, she loved bridge and played for over 50 years with the same group. She was also an avid reader and crossword puzzle fan. Knitting was also a productive pastime which saw sweaters, toques, mitts and other outfits made for family members and friends. Norma and her husband would also travel extensively in Canada, the United States and Europe but it was the family cottage at Crystal Springs, Pigeon Lake which was Norma's favourite spot.

Norma continued to reside in Wetaskiwin until 1993 when she moved to Edmonton. She passed away in Edmonton on March 28, 1995.


Letter of Appreciation by Norma's Children and Grandchildren

Dear Mom and Grandmother,

To write a letter of appreciation is to put words often thought and sometimes spoken into a permanent record for many to see. It is a difficult task made easier when one reflects upon the many gifts that you gave family and friends during your lifetime. For all those many gifts we are appreciative, particularly for those which made us the individuals and family unit we are today.

Your love of life and the firm belief that every day is a gift encouraged us daily and still does. You loved and supported family and friends in a gentle, wise manner. Teaching us the value of family and friends through example and the belief in a team effort in any relationship helped strengthen our individual characters. You were a true partner with Dad and Grandfather, in life, as well as business pursuits. Your athletic abilities, love of sports, sense of fair play and competitive spirit, especially competition with self to be better, encouraged all of us to excel at what we undertook.

Essentially, you were a quiet being who valued solitude, keeping many thoughts private but you were always a steady presence for each of us. You were there as a listener and encourager that tomorrow was another day. Your sense of humour, quick smile and wit supported us through the highs and lows of daily living.

Thank you for the openness, interest and honesty you displayed in welcoming our many pursuits, both individually and with others. Our friends were always welcome and many times you probably wondered just how big your family really was. You were interested in people and the world in general. You believed that education in the broadest sense was the path to betterment of self, family and society.

Although you are no longer with us your presence and influence is still here in the legacy you left ... to never underestimate the value and importance of family and friends. You were a quiet, gracious lady and we thank you for your treasured gifts.

Your children and grandchildren