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Catherine A. Pringle


Catherine Pringle

(“Cathie”) Abigail Pringle (nee Kettyls) was born on August 26, 1928 (NOT in 1932 as she always claimed), in Edmonton, Alberta to Rev. George A. Kettyls and his wife Catherine E. (Ross) Kettyls. Her parents met in Edinburgh Scotland where wounded Canadian soldier George had been sent to recuperate from his battlefield injuries. Soldier George and his Scottish War Bride married in 1919 and settled in Alberta. When Cathie was born, the family was living in Canmore, where George was Minister at the Ralph Connor United Church.

Cathie was an artistic kid and loved to paint and sketch, also to read. She enrolled in the University of Alberta’s nursing program in 1945 and, because of the war, ended up attending University with her 2 older (veteran) brothers, Ross and Don. When the trio graduated in 1950, it was front page news in Edmonton, because their father had been in the very first graduating class of the University of Alberta. Oldest sister, Alva, who had gone straight into the workforce before the war to help her younger siblings, would graduate from the University once “the kids” were all through, thus completing the family dream of University degrees for all of that 2nd generation. At U of A Cathie was a member of the Varsity speed skating and curling teams. Though very proud of their Nursing degrees, she and lifelong friend Sheilagh loved to tell everyone they had majored in “animal husbandry”, an inside joke only they seemed to find amusing.

Cathie pursued post-graduate training in the emerging nursing specialty of neonatal critical care at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, and remains a shadowy un-named figure on the unsolved coniferous crimes list there. Now it can be told: the late-night Christmas tree harvest caper was indeed the work of “Peewee” Kettyls and best pal (and fellow U of A nursing grad) “Shifty” Sheilagh Gwartney. The pair followed up on their spree by going on a graduation “dream road trip” through the USA where, amongst numerous other adventures, they charmed their way into impossible-to-get tickets to see Mary Martin in “South Pacific” on Broadway, something they would both giggle about for years.

In 1954 Cathie married Don (“Harry”) Pringle a (then at least) slim and handsome RCMP constable who she had met the year before under somewhat sketchy circumstances. Some versions of the story have the couple locking eyes over an ER trauma/car accident. Less romantic versions have nurse Cathie stealing Constable Pringle’s flashlight, so that he would be forced to return to the hospital where she would beguile him into asking for a date. Regardless, they married March 20, 1954 and in the first month of their marriage Don casually offered to have his first 2 nephews, 9 year old Rob and 7 year old Don come for a 2 week visit. Cathie was never sure if the point of this was to welcome her into the Pringles or to warn her not to have children (thankfully she chose the first).

Cathie and Don lived all over Alberta as Don moved from posting to posting. In 1967 they were transferred to Banff, where Don was made detachment chief. Cathie was thrilled to return to the Rockies, where she had grown up. Long before it was cool, she was talking about the environment and harvesting wild mushrooms and herbs with which she threatened her family (they were always delicious). She once accidentally (or so she always claimed) misidentified a famous (and now decriminalized) herb, added it to a salad and thereby inadvertently became the hostess of the now legendary “best RCMP staff party ever”.

She also spent time sketching and painting her beloved Rockies and, to her enormous delight, selling her oil paintings to tourists in a small gift shop called “The Calico Cat” which she had opened in Kirby Lane while Don was still in the RCMP. The tiny business would struggle for a few years but, eventually, aided by Cathie’s creation of a line of hand-made dolls and Don’s natural gregariousness, the business would thrive and grow into a multi-shop enterprise.

Cathie was known for her quick wit and dry sense of humour. She loved her 9 nieces and nephews and each one is to this day convinced they were Aunt Cathie’s favourite.

The Banff Pringles “fake-retired” in about 1990 and moved to White Rock, BC (fake because they continued to run 3 shops there). Don died in 2000 and Cathie stayed on in BC for a few years but her heart remained in the Rockies and she returned to Canmore in 2015.

In her final years, Cathie delighted in her grandchildren Jessica, Dustin and Kelsey as well as her great grandchildren, Ava, Oliver and Declan.

Proud of her love and knowledge of poetry, Cathie always said she had no intention of “going gently into that good night”, and indeed in grand Celtic Tradition, she proved to “rage against the dying of the light”. She died surrounded by her loving family on the afternoon of March 6, 2020.

Survived by her son Ross (Sharon), daughter Beth (Robyn), grandchildren Jessica (Uri), Dustin (Mel), Kelsey, and great grandchildren Ava, Ollie and Declan, sisters in law Mary and May, as well as several nephews and a favourite niece.

She was predeceased by her husband Don (“Harry”), son Bert, sisters Alva and Inez, and brothers Ross and Don.

A special thanks to Dr. Morin and all the staff of “Origins at Spring Creek”. Friends wishing to remember Cathie are encouraged to donate to the University of Alberta's Faculty of Nursing or a charity of your choice.

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