Lorraine McClelland gives all year round

She learned her craft at her mother's knee and now shares her handiwork with the community

Lorraine McClelland puts her hands to good use

Lorraine McClelland puts her hands to good use

Crocheted Christmas tree ornaments of various sizes and descriptions and little gifts on every flat surface is the scene in Lorraine McClelland’s Quesnel home in preparation for dispatch prior to the festive season. It truly looked like she is one of Santa’s helpers as small umbrellas, tiny angels and bright coloured balls are being assembled to be sold at the craft sale to raise money for lawn bowling and for the Hospital Auxiliary’s gift shop as well as baby sweaters and baby afghans. She now has five or six afghan blankets to go to Good Cheer made out of odds and ends of wool.

Lorraine cannot sit and do nothing and always has something on the go. There is the set of three patterns using filet crotchet she did for her sister Gloria on the Sunshine Coast – a real accomplishment. Between the two of them they have made 66 afghans in three years for palliative care. Last year, she gave eight afghans to Covenant House in Vancouver. In response to an ad for wool, she was most grateful for donations. Garage sales and thrift shops are also checked out for yarn. Even granny squares can be made up from bits and pieces of wool. Lorraine’s mother taught her and her sister to knit and do embroidery. She tried to teach Lorraine to tat but never got very far.

On the family homestead they had pet racoons and a young moose that became quite tame. Her dad raised mink. He would set a net in a hole in the ice on the lake for fish where she and her young brother Gordon would help.

They had four milk cows and Loraine would start milking two of the cows, Midget and Cherry, when she was five years old as her dad was milking the other two. Then he finished the two she had started. The family left the homestead when Loraine was seven.

It was 4.5 miles to school and Lorraine recalls that when she started riding a horse to school she had someone to ride with her. One time when her mother was ill her dad was supposed to meet her at a designated corner after school. When he wasn’t there she started riding home but her horse wanted to get to the neighbours’ horses. She fought to keep the horse on the road. Fortunately her dad came up behind and took the reins.

One of her jobs was to take the cows to the lake for water and one time Gordon asked if he could come along. She had to use a stump to get on and off the horse and warned him that if he came he would have to stay on the horse because his legs were too short to get back on the horse again. However the horse slipped on the icy lake surface and went down but stayed until Gordon got off. He never asked to go to the lake again. Another time when she was 10 years old, Lorraine was put bareback on a horse that was used to chariot racing. Her dad warned her not to let go of the reins but she didn’t heed and the horse took off. After struggling to control the horse and trying to get her to lope, Lorraine’s knees felt like rubber. She was so scared.

They moved to Enderby in the Okanagan because of her mother’s health. They bought a filling station and Lorraine pumped gas before and after school as well as weekends when gas was rationed during the war. It was at that time, when Lorraine was still in school, she knit her first sweater at 15. Her dad got a job doing carpentry work on the floating bridge in Kelowna. He raised ring neck silver, platinum, and silver foxes and had a sawmill in the bush coming home Wednesdays and weekends. Lorraine recalls squatting down and cautiously making friends with a pregnant fox. They eat their young if they suspect danger. Much later she ended up with her ring neck fox as a fur fox collar.

It was about that time that she got her first guitar. Although she had never heard her dad play he showed her some of the chords. Her mother taught her to sing at an early age and she was asked to sing in church occasionally.

“We used to sing when we were riding in the cutter,” she recalled. A couple of years ago Lorraine joined the Quesnel Windy Reeds.

Music has been a big part of who she is throughout her life. After moving to Enderby, she participated in the Baptist church choir. She transferred with the Bank of Montreal from Penticton to Quesnel in 1976.

In more recent years, many will remember Lorraine in her gift shop in a kiosk in West Park Mall for a couple of years where she took things on consignment. She worked at the Bank of Nova Scotia, signed on and sold Electrolux vacuum cleaners, doing her first sale on her birthday in April 1985.

Now from her comfortable home in West Quesnel, she can quietly assess the quirky twists and turns of her life, if she takes the time, while she continues to touch a great many people’s lives in the community and elsewhere.

– submitted by

Ruth Scoullar