July 21, 1920 – January 4, 2019
Edith was born in Hardisty, Alberta to Lelia May and Collins Silas Sumner. She was the 7th of 10 children. The family lived on farm in the Hardisty area, where Edith remembers the hard work, but also the fun times like playing softball and riding horses. When she was 20, Edith made a trip to Yellowknife where her brother, Harvey, was working. She found a job waitressing in the Wildcat Cafe, and it was there she met Alfred Edwin (Babe) Feldman. They were married June 23, 1942. Four of their children, Dorothy, Patty-Jo, Ed and Dick, were born while they were living in the Yellowknife – Mills Lake area.
Edith left Yellowknife on the last boat out in the fall of 1950. Babe left in the spring when his winter job ended. After stopping in Hines Creek, Alberta to meet his youngest daughter, Linda, Babe made his way north looking for work. His search led him to Atlin where he found a job in John Olson’s sawmill across Atlin Lake. Babe sent the bus fare down to Edith, and she arrived with their five children in January 1952. Babe died in 1959. In the spring of 1964, Edith sent a message to William Hugh (Bill) Nelson who was working in Tulsequah as watchman for the Polaris Taku mine that closed in 1957. The message was attached to a ‘little brown jug of Mountain Dew’ saying that she would trade it for some Taku River salmon. Bill
delivered the salmon in person. They were married on June 28th, and when school was out Edith moved to Tulsequah with the three kids that were still home. Edith and Bill were in Tulsequah for 3 years, then decided to move back to Atlin where they lived on their trapline north of Atlin for a few years. They then moved around a bit as Bill found work in a few different places – Dease Lake, Telegraph Creek, (where Edith operated a small cafe and was postmaster), and the Stikine River ferry crossing. They eventually moved back to Atlin where Edith was also postmaster for a few years. Bill died in 1994. After Bill died, Edith moved to Powell River where her daughter, Dorothy, was living. Then she moved back to Alberta and checked herself into senior care homes, living in Hines Creek, Hardisty, Manning and Slave Lake. She also spent a year in Hudson’s Hope, BC thinking that was where she wanted to live. But no place could hold her for long. She loved to move. Maybe she had some gypsy blood Atlin in 2004, then into Whitehorse where she was a resident at McCauley Lodge, Birch Lodge, back to McCauley and then to the Thomson Centre. She was looking forward to moving into Whistlebend in the new year.
Edith’s #1 passion was poetry. She was memorizing poems from the time she was a little girl. Robert Service was her favourite poet and she could recite a lot of his ballads. And she would recite whenever and wherever anyone asked her to. She just loved it! Edith also wrote poetry, and was so proud, along with her family, when she won first prize, $500, in a Poetry Institute of Canada contest for her poem, Northern Lights. Edith’s family would like to thank Alex Jegier for getting some of Edith’s poems into book form, Northern Memories. And also, thanks to Marilyn Law for compiling a CD of Edith reciting. They are wonderful family keepsakes.
The family would also like to thank the staff at the Thomson Center for the incredible care they gave Edith during her final days. She died peacefully in her sleep, probably dreaming that she was reciting, “The Cremation of Sam McGee.”
Edith was predeceased by her two husbands, and her youngest son, Dick Feldman. She is survived by her daughters Dorothy Brunner, Patty-Jo Feldman and Linda Reed (John); and her son, Ed Feldman. Also many grandchildren, great- grandchildren and great-great grandchildren.