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Lives Well Lived: Remembering Natalie Horel

By Cher Thomas (Natalie’s daughter)

Natalie Horel’s life began and ended at Lady Minto Hospital, but in between, her adventures took her across the country, through careers in medicine and transportation, and into parenthood and a role as a beloved caregiver to many in the community.

Born in 1923 in the original Lady Minto Hospital, Natalie grew up during the Great Depression, attending the old Divide School in the Cranberry and graduating from high school in Ganges. After graduation she trained as a nurse at St Joseph’s Hospital in Victoria, later going on to obtain a specialty in Surgical Nursing at St Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver. Looking for adventure after the war, she joined TransCanada Airlines as a stewardess, based in Toronto.

In Ontario she met Chuck Horel and they were married in September 1949 at Niagara Falls. They lived in various places in Alberta and BC before returning to Salt Spring in 1956 and settling permanently.

Described by her family as the “ultimate mother, grandmother and friend,” Natalie’s greatest joy was spending time with her family and hosting the many gatherings of family and friends. She was loved by all who knew her, opening her heart and home to all, first on the farm at Cusheon Lake and later at Beaver Point. She helped many a pensioner who lived in cabins along Cusheon Lake Road to maintain their independence as long as possible.

Natalie was an avid gardener and her homes were graced with beautiful flower and vegetable gardens. She was also an accomplished seamstress and knitter and the family benefited greatly from her skills. She wasn’t afraid to try her hand at demolition, carpentry, furniture repair or anything else that was needed by her or others. She was a beautiful soul.

Natalie passed away late last year in Lady Minto Hospital’s Extended Care Unit just a few months away from her 100th birthday, leaving behind four daughters, a son, 9 grandchildren, 9 great-grandchildren, and her sister Bernice. Donations in her name may be made to Lady Minto Hospital Foundation for the Extended Care Unit, or to the charity of your choice.

Lady Minto Hospital Foundation thanks the Horel Family for allowing us to share their mother’s story.