Eve E. (Allan) Keates
Life and Work
Eve Keates, nee Allan, was born at home September 22, 1929 on Tanglefoot Lake Farm north of Alix, Alberta to James Rennie Nicol Allan and Olive Elizabeth Allan (nee McDonnell), just weeks before two major events of world importance. The Person’s Case of October 18, 1929 - which her great-aunt Irene Parlby and four other prairie women made possible, and the Wall Street Crash of October 29, 1929 - which began the Great Depression - shaped her life and the lives of many others of her generation. Another event also impacted greatly on Eve’s life: when her father joined the army to fight in World War II, she and her brother, Jim helped their mother to look after the farm. Her indomitable spirit was likely shaped in large part by all of these experiences.
All of Eve’s childhood was spent on the farm and she studied at Hickling and Alix Schools. As a young person, she always loved learning and had a spirit of adventure, no doubt partly inspired by the many visitors to Tanglefoot Lake Farm, who brought stories of travels to many parts of the world.
She also loved music and played the ukulele, which she took up again at age 83 following a trip to the Hawaiian Islands, a place she has loved for many years.
As a farm child, obtaining an education was very challenging, and involved Eve travelling long distances on horseback or bicycle in inclement weather and occasionally boarding in town with strangers. She furthered her formal education, working as a student waitress and obtaining scholarships so that she could earn a diploma in Home Economics from Olds Agricultural College. She also studied in Calgary at Garbutt’s Business College while working as a short order cook nights and weekends. In later years of her career, she earned a Local Government Administrator’s Certificate.
In keeping with her spirit of adventure and sense of curiosity, Eve travelled alone by ship to Great Britain in 1949, where she stayed for 9 months. She also lived and worked in Toronto, Calgary, and Banff and Yoho National Parks, and Vancouver working in many different fields including the hotel industry, hospital dietetics, and administration; her experience working in administration spanned many different industries - transportation, pulp and paper, automotive, banking, customs brokerage, publishing and manufacturing.
While working in Vancouver, Eve met Keith Keates while skiing on Seymour Mountain; they married in 1954 and had two children, Rennie (1958) and Dale (1962). She spent the early years of marriage working to support Keith’s university studies and his career as a teacher in communities in BC and Alberta. She was later a full-time homemaker while her children were growing up, and cared for her mother who had moved to live with Eve and her family after her husband’s death. As a family, they enjoyed many years of downhill skiing and hiking. With her family and her mother, she returned to the Alix area permanently in 1971, moving back to the family farm north of Alix.
Eve and Keith ran a country farm vacations operation for several years and she held a position on the Board of Directors of the David Thompson Country Tourist Association.
In the late 1970s, she assumed the role of Municipal Administrator of the Village of Alix, from which she retired in 1986. During her years working with the Village, Eve was instrumental in the development of many of Alix’s assets, including the nature trail around Alix Lake. She also oversaw a building boom during which time the population of Alix increased from 585 to 902. Following retirement, she also worked with the Alix Agricultural Society and the Alix Economic Development Committee. Eve has always been actively involved as a volunteer in the communities in which she has lived, committing her time to endeavours such as 4-H, Save the Children, the Boys Club, IODE and the United Church, including CGIT.
In 1980, she was also appointed for three years as a rural Central Alberta representative to the Senate of the University of Lethbridge.
Since her retirement, she has continued to be a very active community leader, artist and volunteer, especially with the Alix Wagon Wheel Museum, Alix Food Bank, Parlby Creek Brusketeers, and the United Church. She has also continued the work she began when she was the Municipal Administrator by participating on the Board of the Alix Nature Trail Society, and she was the Co-Chair of the Alix Centennial Planning Committee. In 2008, Eve was recognized with a Caring Canadian award by the Honourable Michaëlle Jean, Governor General of Canada, who presented the award at a ceremony in Calgary.
Since her husband’s passing in 2007 - following a lengthy illness during which time she was full-time caregiver - she has continued to be deeply involved in her community. Any endeavour that enhances and supports human welfare, preservation of and education about local history, the arts, education, and nature and the environment garners her keen interest and support, and she helps out in numerous informal ways with people young and old.
Over the years, Eve has also enjoyed travelling – no doubt inspired by her adventuresome spirit and by her first trip abroad. She has travelled in many parts of Canada and the US including the Hawaiian Islands, California and Arizona, and to Great Britain, Ireland, France, Spain, Morocco, Zanzibar and Kenya, where she visited her daughter for several months in the 1980s. As a young adult, she also travelled extensively in the United States.
Eve has four grand-children and has enjoyed being actively involved in their and their parents’ lives; she is also very appreciative of her extended family and has worked hard to maintain family bonds and appreciation of family history, evidenced by having written a book about her family’s history in the Alix area and abroad. She also has numerous friendships, some that span more than seven decades; she especially enjoys developing friendships with people of all ages and working with young people and has volunteered with activities for children and youth, such as providing art lessons for them, helping out at the Alix MAC School, and creating community through a letter writing project between seniors and children in the special needs class.
Her great-nephew calls Eve “a giver to people of all ages.” She is loved, cherished and respected by family, friends and her community.
October 6, 2013