Coldstream’s first female politician remembered

Margaret Gilchrist was the first lady to sit on council and as Regional District of North Okanagan chair

A leading lady in local politics has died.

Margaret (better known as Marnie) Gilchrist was the first woman to sit on council in Coldstream in the early 1960s and the first female chairperson of the Regional District of North Okanagan.

“She was a councillor during the time my father worked at the municipality,” said Coldstream Mayor Jim Garlick. “I do not have any detailed stories about her but my father always spoke highly of her. She was the only councillor to ever ask and go with him on a tour of the municipality.”

At the age of 91, Gilchrist died on Dec. 27, 2018, at Vernon Jubilee Hospital.

See: Margaret Irene “Marnie” Gilchrist

“Marnie lived a full life and her accomplishments were many,” her obituary in The Morning Star reads. “She was an R.N., Flight Attendant and Alderman.”

It was her political passion that many may remember her for.

“She was a fiercely independent woman who was never stuck for an opinion,” her obituary reads.

Gilchrist is mentioned by Margaret Ormsby in her historic book Coldstream Nulli Secundus, as the wife of a physician who moved to Vernon in 1961.

“Mrs. Gilchrist was soon respected for her work on the finance committee and the health committee and for her efficiency as the first (female) chairman of NORD,” Ormsby wrote.

See also: Local women should be honoured

The Regional District of North Okanagan was incorporated in 1965 with John Baumbrough as the first chair, followed by Gilchrist from Dec. 14, 1967, to Dec. 17, 1969.

But politics weren’t her only passion.

Gilchrist loved to travel, having visited almost every continent. And she loved skiing, hence why her last home was in the mountains.

“Marnie was the oldest person living on Silver Star Mountain,” said friend Jay Wiener. “She decidedly did not want to leave her cabin to reside in a retirement home.

“With Marnie’s passing, I am relatively certain that a Judd Buchanan, who turns 90 in July, is now the oldest person living on the mountain,” continues Wiener, an avid skier from the U.S. who spends months at a time at Silver Star. “He owned the resort before the Schumann Family purchased it from him, late in 2001. Judd was raised in Edmonton and later served as an MP from London, Ontario. He held four Cabinet Level Positions during the Pierre Elliott Trudeau years.”

See also: Magic evening raises firefighting funds

Gilchrist will be missed by the many friends she acquired in her years.

A Celebration of Life is planned for the spring.


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