Colleen Gerwing was born on April 10, 1953 to Julie (Kowalyshyn) and Gerhard Gerwing. She grew up on the family farm near Lake Lenore, a creative and adventurous child with a wonderful imagination. She was Annie Oakley, she was an NHL hockey player, she trained crows and told scary stories. Her first job was at Waskesiu and began a life long love of Prince Albert National Park. She studied recreation technology at Kelsey and worked at Rosetown, Hafford and then at the Saskatoon Boys and Girls Club for some years.
Canoeing, cross country skiing, horseback riding, winter camping, she loved being out in the natural world, often by herself. In the 1970’s she had a small company called Wilderness Trips for Women. She was a guide at Algonquin Park in Ontario.
She began her work with Parks Canada at Fort Walsh near Cypress Hills and at Riding Mountain National Park in Manitoba but mostly at her favourite place, Prince Albert National Park. You can see her there as you read the signs along Boundary Bog and watch the otters at the Narrows. You can imagine her canoe slipping down the Waskesiu River in the evening. But most of all, think of her canoeing and walking the path into Ajawaan Lake where Grey Owl’s cabin still stands. Grey Owl, the naturalist, was one of her heros with all his flaws and she became friends with his wife Anahareo and their daughter Dawn.
And when the park was asleep in the winter Colleen was off learning French in Quebec or German in Germany and Cree in Saskatoon. She was a wonderful painter and many people have her paddles and rocks and canvases.
She leaves behind her partner of 26 years, MaryAnn Roettger who she loved with all her heart. They shared a love of nature, travels to many interesting places and a joy in all the small pleasures of life.
She also leaves her mother, Julie Gerwing, her sisters, Connie Gerwing (Cyril Laforge), Vicki Gerwing (Charlie Matt), Jacki Gerwing (Don Brown) and her brothers Jim (Karen) Gerwing and Ted (Kim) Gerwing. There are many nieces and nephews who will remember their goddess mother, winter camping trips and canoe trips and Christmas and Hallowe’en displays by the Auntie with bells on. She loved Christmas and Hallowe’en and the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
After surviving a first round with cancer it came roaring back and took her quickly. She died peacefully at home after giving us all some time with her. Just before she became really sick she finished a novel she worked hard on for a long time. The Haunted River will be published soon.
Don’t take me to church
Unless you’re really in a lurch
Rather, be outside
Don’t indoors hide.
Snow, wind or rain
(Don’t let it be a pain)
It’s part of Nature that doesn’t die
Now so am I.
Colleen Gerwing, March 5, 2018
The family wishes to thank Dr. Reem Abdul Hadi, Felicity, OT at the Community Clinic, and Home Care. Dr. Vicki Martin and the Cancer Center and RUH staff were very supportive. Thanks also to all the friends and family who helped and offered support through this difficult time.
Please, no flowers. Just make a donation to an environmental charity of your choice or to one of Colleen’s favourite charities, Amnesty International and the SPCA.
Following Covid gathering protocol a Private Graveside Service will take place on Saturday, May 1,2021 at 2:00 pm. The Service will be lived streamed and all are invited to view and participate by connecting to the link on Colleen’s Tribute/Obituary page at www.saskatoonfuneralhome.com where a Memorial Video Tribute may also be viewed at the time of the Service . Arrangements have been entrusted to Saskatoon Funeral Home.
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