By Jennifer CroninFree Press Staff
Carolynne (nee Lowe) was born in Fernie, another of Dr. East’s babies. Her father Robert worked as a mechanic for MF&M (Morrissey, Fernie & Michel) railway shop, and later worked for Bud Dicken. His mother Jane was of Scottish descent, and was Fernie’s first woman telegrapher, a position she held in the early 1900s. Father John Pilsworth Lowe hailed from Ontario.
Carolynne’s mother was Alta (nee Mellor). The Mellor family were pioneers from Pincher Creek, making their way to Fernie in a horse and wagon with a cow in tow. Alta’s parents Margaret and Charles settled in Fernie where Charles worked in the mining industry. Alta was a pioneer in her own right, starting her own travel and insurance agency, Lowe’s Travel. Carolynne describes her mother as a “feisty redhead,” and continues, “she was tough, my Mom.”
An only child, Carolynne was admittedly shy. She recalls her childhood in saying, “It was the best, I just had a wonderful time.” With lots of good friends, time would be spent bike riding, having picnics in the bush up Cokato or Coal Creek, and swimming which she loved. “I had an old second hand silver bike and I rode it until it died,” she laughs.
Graduating high school, Carolynne went to Yellowknife, NWT in 1966, to pursue her career as an LPN. In 1967 she began working in Edmonton at the Charles Camsell hospital where she met her husband-to-be, Rob Lecavalier. At this time, Rob was working as an orderly while waiting for acceptance to the RCMP. After a five year courtship, Carolynne and Rob were married at the Catholic Church in Fernie.
After living in Kamloops and Williams Lake, where Rob was stationed with the RCMP, the family returned to Fernie and to Carolynne’s roots. With two young children, Carolynne retired from nursing in 1975 to be a stay at home mom. “The kids were more important than anything else, we put them in any activity we could,” she said.
Rob retired from the RCMP in 1973/74 and took over Lowe’s Travel. Perhaps this is what sparked Carolynne’s love of travel. “I have been to a lot of places,” notably Cuba, St. Lucia, Aruba, Hong Kong and China, but she concedes her favourite trip was to the Cook Islands. “I love it. It is my idea of paradise,” she admits.
Carolynne remembers the time when the family had their own plane with fondness. “We did lots of flying with our friends and had a lot of fun with our planes,” she shared. She recounts a story of following another couple in their plane, “Our plane was faster. When the plane in front lost sight of us, he (the pilot) radioed for our position and was told ‘don’t slow down!’” Rob has taken flying a step further, now employed as a flight instructor as well as a flight test examiner.
In her West Fernie home, where she has lived for over 25 years (which once belonged to her great uncle), you will find examples of Carolynne’s amazing photography. Inspired by moonscapes, she has the ability to capture details down to the smallest crater.
Carolynne’s love of gardening is revealed in her backyard oasis, which is bordered by every, and any variety of plant and tree. Well-manicured and pristine, the passion she puts into it is evident. On the deck leading out to her garden is a small vase, in which she puts peanuts for the squirrels. “I am a crazy person, I love animals and everything,” she shares.
In speaking of Fernie, Carolynne shares, “This is my valley. I don’t like change, I liked Fernie the way it was!”
Researching her family genealogy with daughter, Tara, time spent with her son Todd and her two grandchildren, and socializing with friends top Carolynne’s list of priorities these days. “Good friends are for life,” she notes.
With artistic talent, and a love a life, Carolynne is a talented and caring “face of the Valley.”