Photography

Irene Lahja (Kujala) Smith

April 5, 1931 ~ December 9, 2021 (age 90)

Obituary


Our beloved Irene Lahja Smith passed away peacefully on Thursday December 9th at the age of 90 with niece Kathy by her side.  

Irene Lahja Kujala, whose name “Irene” comes from the name of a Greek Goddess meaning peace, was born to Anni Alenes Mustajarvi and Kustaa Jovseppi Kujala on April 5, 1931 at home in Sprucedale, Ontario.

Irene was the eldest of 5 siblings all born on the homestead in Sprucedale.  Irene is predeceased by her parents Anni and Kustaa, her brother Kauko Henry, sisters Helen Doherty (Gord) and Mimi Brown (Cliff) and beloved husband of 60 years Raymond Jerome Smith.

Left to mourn Irene is her brother Peter Kujala (Lorraine) and sister-in-law MaryLynne Black (Phil) and her nieces Diane Thoms (Dave) Kathy Kujala (Bill) Karen Lewis (Paul) Kristy Lynne Hodgson (Glen) Angela Doucette (Carl) Beverley Virtue and nephews Dean Doherty (Susan) Kevin Kujala (Angela) Kenny Kujala (Julie) Doug Brown (Brb) and Paul Brown (Cindy) plus great nieces and nephews and great-great nieces and nephews.  All will miss Irene greatly. 

Her love of life was evident in the way she lived and to the lives she touched.  

Irene met Ray, a local truck driver (and the milk man) and they were married on July 31, 1953. The couple lived in Toronto for one winter, where Ray worked driving truck and Irene worked as a domestic. Then they moved north for Ray to find work in construction near Wawa and Elliott Lake.  In 1962 the couple would return to Sprucedale were they lived for 42 years. The couple also helped to manage a home for special care for the mentally challenged for five years. Later in life when Irene wasn’t busy volunteering her time, she worked part-time at Lillie Kup Kamp, again doing domestic duties as needed. Probably her proudest success was managing her own flower and gift shop called the Forget-Me-Not.
 
Home was where her heart was. Irene was a wonderful crafter, knitter, photographer, cook and baker.  She shared those skills with her many nieces teaching crocheting and knitting and macramé.  If you couldn’t find Irene she was probably out on her daily walk with her camera around her neck enjoying nature and all its beauty. Of course one of her beloved dogs would be by her side, Birch, Tinkerbell or Taffy.

In you had a chance to visit the Smith’s you know how special that experience was.  Being in awe by the profound beauty of her gardens.  Each perennial, biennial or annual placed expertly to ensure there were plants blossoming all season.  Hummingbirds (8-10) loved the yard and one would often be startled by the fast and furious flying birds as they shot around the yard from feeder to flower and so on.  Irene also love to feed the winter birds and take pride to share her knowledge with visitors.  Finally the vegetable garden was impressive, you name it they grew it. While Ray certainly had a hand in that garden, Irene was right by his side making sure the produce would be very plentiful and it always was.


The couple loved to travel and they made 3 different trips to the Canadian artic, to the east and west coast of Canada, trips to Arizona and Florida and numerous camping trips throughout Ontario.  Irene also travelled to Finland with her sisters and to Italy as a chaperone on a school trip.  The couple have their name of a brick installed at the Canadian Olympic Gardens in Toronto and they purchased 2 meters of the Trans Canada Trail with their names on a plaque in Magnetawan. 

In 2005 Irene was awarded “Rural Woman of the Year” Why? This next bit is taken from the award speech that Irene shared with us…”Irene is innovative, creative, empathetic, ambitious and a very caring and loving. Her community and people are important to her and she never hesitates to help. Irene was the first woman councillor in McMurrich Township in the mid 1980’s. She has done volunteer work for East Parry Sound Community, she donated knitting and gifts under the Guardian Angels Program, making preemie garments for the maternity ward at the hospital. She was a Pastoral Care visitor at Huntsville and District hospital for the Sprucedale united Church.  Irene was a Trustee for Sprucedale United Church and served on many committees within the church sending cards, gifts or flowers to people in need or distress.  She was also a Life Member of the Sprucedale and District Horticultural Club.  With her excellent floral design she taught this skill to the society. A President's Award of Recognition was presented to Irene for her outstanding contributions and dedication in sharing her expertise in floral design. She made several presentations to the Visual Arts Days. She is an excellent photographer and has taken many photos of flora and fauna of the area having her photos appear in a number of publications and winning awards. Irene has donated her time in presenting her gardens. The Recreation Club of Sprucedale asked Irene to put in a garden near the children's playground which she happily did and maintained it until she moved from the area. She has been owner and manager of a Flower and Gift Shop in Sprucedale for several years.  She was a member of the Seniors' Club, actively involved in all aspects of the club donating food to luncheons and donating to raffles for fundraising for the club. Irene was a correspondent for the Almaguin News.  In 1992 Irene was honoured by the Governor General with a citizenship medal for her contributions to her community. Wild life was one of Irene's loves. A Conservation award was presented to her at Edwards Gardens in Toronto for greatly increasing awareness of Canadian Wildflowers, for her many articles in magazines on Wildflowers, and for her many visual presentations. In the year 2000, Irene was the official water carrier for the area as part of the Trans Canada Trail Relay and included great-niece Alicia (Ivany) Cox as a flag carrier to walk beside her. The Canadian Cancer Society was also fortunate to have Irene as Captain for Canvassers in the area for several years.  Irene never brags about her accomplishments and doesn't look for credit, Sprucedale and area would not be the same without her!”

In her later years Irene lived at Rogers Cove in Huntsville until her health and vison declined to the point where she needed nursing care which she received at Fairvern Nursing Home. 

The family wishes to thank the many health care and personal support workers involved in Irene’s life.  

A Celebration of Life and interment of cremated remains at the Sprucedale cemetery will be planned for the spring of 2022.  In lieu of flowers Irene asked that you plant a tree in her memory or donate to a charity Huntsville Hospital Foundation, Friends of Algonquin Park or the Canadian Wildlife Federation.

"Like those we love, a candle burns bright, guiding and comforting us with its light. Even after the candle has been extinguished, we can still feel the warmth of its flame and remember how it flickered and danced with the tiniest breath of air. We can no longer see our beloved Irene but the light she brought to our lives still burns bright in our memories and our hearts forever."


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