Catherine “Sandy” Mina (Merry) Bijou

Catherine "Sandy" Mina (Merry) Bijou

“Flying may not be all plain sailing, but the fun of it is worth the price.”- Amelia Earhart.

Catherine (Sandy) Bijou passed away peacefully on April 24, 2015 from the effects of vascular dementia. Her family will miss her greatly, but are grateful that she is now at peace.

Sandy was born in Rossland, BC in 1925, the second of four children born to D. Bilson & Catherine Eva (Mitchell) Merry. Bilson was in the lumber business and Sandy spent her early years at their isolated mill at Paulson, BC. Her wild recollections of life there provided constant delight to her grandchildren; her sister chopping off her finger, flagging down the train and learning to speak Doukhobor and develop a love of their food from the camp cook. Sandy’s family moved to the Annabel area of Trail, BC in about 1930 when Sandy was five. Growing up, Sandy had a special bond with her dad that carried her through her life. He taught her to drive at 12 and she was his enthusiastic chauffeur ever after.

Sandy went all through school in Trail. After high school, Sandy went to normal school (teacher’s college) in Victoria. Her first teaching job was at a one-room schoolhouse in Brilliant, BC. The experiences there caused her to have an about-face on teaching, and she headed back to Vancouver to work. Sandy loved her years in Vancouver…dinners and dancing at the Commodore Club were fun memories and she made friends that she would have for life.

Sandy was lucky to have a myriad of opportunities growing up in wartime Trail. She loved swimming at Sandy Island in the Columbia River, hiking up to Old Glory, waterskiing at Christina Lake and skiing at Red Mountain. She was an original member of the Rossland Ski Club and was involved in the early years of development of Red. Her many albums of ski pictures, from all over North America, are amazing and show her in the golden age of skiing. Sandy’s other passion was aviation. She was one of the first women in the Kootenays to get her pilot’s license and loved to fly. Up in the skies she always said she felt truly free.

In 1950, a dashing young engineer named Robert (Bob) Bijou came to work at Cominco. In an effort to get her attention, Bob knocked Sandy over on the ski hill at Red. It worked. They were married November 24, 1951 in the family house at Annabel. They started their married life in Rossland and their first daughter Catherine Danielle was born there in 1952. In 1954, Bob’s work took them to Kitimat, BC and it was there that their second daughter, Lauren Elizabeth was born in 1957. Sandy was an active curler, an avid bridge player and was very involved in the United Church. The family stayed in Kitimat until 1966, then moved to Calgary and then Victoria by 1974. Upon retirement, Bob and Sandy relocated to Southern Alberta to be closer to family. They enjoyed the next 30 years of their life in Pincher Creek. They loved to ski at Westcastle and Sandy enjoyed her bridge club. Bob passed away in 2009 and Sandy continued volunteering with the UCW Women and spending time with her family.

Family was everything to Sandy. She loved her daughters, Dani and Lauren, and her granddaughters, Aynsley, Kelley and Keenyn. She was an extremely devoted and active grandmother. All three grandchildren spent a lot of time with their grandparents; going on vacations, skiing and playing cards at the kitchen table. She was thrilled to be able to meet her great-grandchildren, Arthur and Philippa (Pippa). Arthur loved his “GG” and spent many happy afternoons with her.

Sandy is predeceased by her husband Bob, her parents Bilson and Eva, her brother George, sister-in-law Janet, wsister Doolee and brothers-in-law Bas & Tello. She is survived by her daughters Danielle Bijou (Creston, BC) and Lauren Baker (Brian) (Waterton Park), granddaughters Aynsley Baker (Carey Tetzlaff), Kelley Baker and Keenyn Bijou (Ken Kaminski-Raab), and great-grandchildren Arthur and Philippa Tetzlaff. Also left to honour her memory is her older sister Patti Nocente of Vancouver, BC and her family, her sister Doolee McDonnells’ family, and her brother George’s family: David and Melanie Merry of Christina Lake, Billy and Allison Merry of Rossland, Betty Anne and Frank Marino of Warfield, and Lynnie and Brian Miller of Annabel and all of their children.

Sandy was extremely pragmatic with a touch of whimsy. She was very clear on the idea that death was only the beginning of a grand adventure. She truly had a full, memory filled life. We, her family, are truly happy that she is able to fly free now…we will miss her everyday but have a lifetime of memories to comfort us. We would like to thank the caring and compassionate team at the cottages of Good Samaritan’s Vista Village, Pincher Creek as well as the medical staff at the PC Health Centre. A private family celebration is being held at her childhood home in Annabel. If so desired, donations in Sandy’s memory can be made to a charity of your choice.

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