One of the longest summer South Beach residents, Maxine H. Carter Ward, died on April 26, 2016 in Winnipeg. She spent almost every summer of her life in South Beach.
Born to Percy and Winifred Carter (nee Harris), Maxine grew up in the north end of Winnipeg with her sister, Sylva. They attended Tabernacle Baptist Church, all of them singing in the choir. Maxine had a beautiful soprano voice and did vocal and piano duets with her sister, performed lead roles in Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, competed in music festivals and sang with The Triphonic Singers girls choir.
At Baptist youth camp, Maxine’s attractive smile and beautiful voice caught the attention of a young chemist who had recently arrived from Toronto, Bill Ward. They were married in 1949 and soon after followed Doug, Don and Evelyn.
She was the consummate stay-at- home mom. If she wasn’t at the kitchen counter preparing meals and baking, then she was at her sewing machine making clothes for herself and her kids. One of the ways she expressed her love was by baking, especially her apples pies & the famous Ward ‘Googly Buns’. Her interests included decorating, millinery and knitting; she created many afghans, beautiful sweaters for her grandkids, and until very recently, scarves for Siloam Mission. She had a childhood pen pal in England with whom she faithfully corresponded for 50 years. As a teen she enjoyed tennis and later she was a ‘good sport’ at golf, though her sons would call her a duffer. She enjoyed walking for exercise. In midlife she discovered reading and spent many hours devouring devotional material, becoming a student of the Bible.
One beautiful thread that ran through the fabric of her entire life was the dearly-loved family cottage in South Beach, Gimli.
Maxine started coming to Gimli as a child because her uncle, Percy D. Harris was one of the first summer residents, having already built Whippoorwill Cottage at 34 South Colonization Road (ref. Gimli Saga). In 1938 her father, Percy Carter, built his cottage close by on Benedict Ave, three lots west of the lake.
Maxine and Sylva’s lemonade stand in South Beach in support of the Red Cross, 1940.
Women and children would pack up after the final school bell in June and move to the lake until Labour Day. The fathers would join them on the weekend, bringing what few provisions were not available in the well-equipped town of Gimli. Maxine remembers her mother baking pies on Fridays in the wood stove, to be ready for Percy’s arrival from the city. Water was carried by pail from the numerous artesian wells dotted throughout South Beach.
Carter and Couture kids
The Carter/Ward, Strachan, Stephen/Pennycook, and Couture kids all played together in the water and sand. Their progeny have been fixtures of South Beach for the last 80 years.
South Beach gang ca. 1938
Maxine’s much older cousin was the teacher Florence Harris, who inherited Whippoorwill Cottage and never married and had no children. Along with her teaching ability, she had a generous heart and regularly invited all the children from the neighbourhood over to play. She had the most interesting and unique toys; a huge farm set out on the grass, Betsy McCall doll and clothes. She developed treasure hunts, crafts, games and served KoolAid in plastic cups carried in a wire rack. The invitation to come to Whippoorwill were the days when Miss Harris would fly a Union Jack flag on the front of her cottage. She was not a well woman, so days when she was not up to having kids around, no flag would be present. Even until the early 1960s the Union Jack would fly on the odd day.
Craft time at Whippoorwill Cottage
During World War II, Maxine and her sister hung out with British airmen training at the Gimli Air Base, some of whom were billeted in South Beach.
After the war, on that same beach, Bill proposed to Maxine.
In some kind of prophetic vision, Percy bought a half acre lot at the corner of Hansson and South Colonization Rd in 1954 and moved his cottage from Benedict before the lake level rose. He died in South Beach in May 1967 while raking the lawn right in front of the Carter cottage (now Ward de Roo, 6 Hansson St.) His body was found by Mrs. Evans, the owner of Evans Store just a few lots away (corner Anna and Hansson).
Percy W. Carter
Maxine inherited the cottage and it was here that she and Bill lovingly hosted family and dear friends, enjoying many happy hours, long beach walks, deep theological reflection, laughter, games of Scrabble, Password and Dominoes around the Franklin stove. It was here that she got to spend the most time with her eight grandchildren. They will remember her as the most gentle, caring gramma any kid could ever wish for. She had that rare ability to genuinely listen to anything they wanted to tell her, and also to keep it just between them, a memory they each will cherish.
50th Anniversary of the cottage
Maxine’s life was deeply impacted by her Christian faith. Every Sunday found her in the choir loft at Broadway-First Baptist Church. In later years, she was music coordinator and elder at Willowlake Baptist Church. Even though she didn’t consider herself to be a public speaker, her willingness to share her faith in Christ opened doors to leadership and speaking engagements with Christian Women’s Club and many personal growth retreats with Faith At Work.
She was very active in volunteer service including Parr Street Mission, P.E.O. Sisterhood, Seniors Centre at First Presbyterian Church, Camp Shanti, Covenant Home, Inter-Varsity International Christmas, Baptist Women of Western Canada, letter-writing to missionaries and hosting them on furlough. As a double breast cancer survivor she shared her gift of mercy in volunteering for Reach for Recovery to help other women living with this disease.