Folks at First – Eva McMillan

An interview with Eva McMillan

When I first approached Eva about sharing her story in this newsletter she was reluctant. But I pressed her by telling her how much other people would enjoy reading this, and she conceded with the words “I try to do what other people want.”

Eva, you grew up on a farm near Carmichael, which is not far from Gull Lake, in the 1930’s. What was your childhood like?

Well, I was the oldest of five children, and my father died when I was ten. There was no church close to us, though in the summer there were church services in Tompkins where the pastor had a three-point charge. He did Carmichael and Grassy Hill when the weather was good. Then a lady from the Bible Society came and gave us leaflets with Bible verses.

My mother was a Baptist from New Brunswick, and was strict in her observance. We never worked on Sundays, and even now I never knit on Sundays. Knitting is work!

How did your mother manage after your father died?

We struggled. She never complained. And we all helped. We had a garden, and a cow . . . The soil was too dry for any more animals.

Then you came to Regina in 1941. Tell us about those years.

My mother, who was starved for a Baptist church told me when I came to Regina to find a Baptist church and get into it. I came to First Baptist the first Sunday I was in Regina and have basically been here ever since. First Baptist has always been my home church.

I went to Balfour Collegiate, and learned secretarial skills. I had no house and no money and needed a job. They needed people in the army, so I joined the army and worked there as a secretary until the war was over. Then I got a job with the Federal Government.

My mother came to live with me. For a while we were in light housekeeping rooms. Then In 1954 I bought a house on Robinson street just north of Dewdney. When my mother needed more care I retired to be home with her. Cameron Memorial Church (now Westhill) was only 2 blocks away and she could still walk that far. Rather than just stay home it only made sense to me to attend Cameron Memorial. I still went to First for the 9 o’clock service we had in those days and then went to the 11 o’clock at Cameron. I went to both the Sunday after she died. I continued to attend both services for a while so I could help out with the children at Cameron. Cameron were very good to us. But after a year I went back to First full time.

I think what most people who knew you in the past remember about you is how much you used to visit seniors and shut-ins all around the city. And you didn’t have a car, so most of the time you walked.

I was always a walker. It started with one person in a care home and grew from there. Even now I miss walking,

Were you involved in other activities in the church?

They needed someone to give leadership to the Explorers, a midweek meeting for 9-11 yr. old girls, so I agreed to do that. I was there every Tuesday. Sometimes the weather was bad, but I had no way to get in touch with them, so I always went. Brenda and Barbara Ziolkowski and Louise Krueger were part of that group, and also a number of street kids. We had sleepover parties at my house. I remember one occasion when there were 19 girls. They all slept on the floor. And they loved it.

But you find other things to do for people now . . .

I started knitting toques and sweaters for children and Vera Radford would take them to the schools. Other people were doing this too. Then after Vera died I started knitting caps for babies in the neonatal unit at the hospital. I still do that. (Eva showed me two bags of the cutest tiny pink and blue caps.)

Anything else?

I write notes to people. People love getting a card in the mail.

You were in First Baptist Place for a while, weren’t you?

I loved First Baptist Place, but my sister felt I needed to be somewhere where meals were provided, so I moved here to Mutchmor Lodge. I still miss First Baptist Place. But I try to do what other people want.

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