“A Dominion of Saints,” Ensign, Sept. 1988, 38
The Yellowknife Branch of the Canada Calgary Mission covers more than half a million square miles of the Northwest Territories—an area larger than many countries!
The branch has about one hundred members, including around fifty in the territorial capital, Yellowknife, on the north arm of Great Slave Lake. The rest are in scattered communities—some above the Arctic Circle—like Hay River, Fort Smith, Coppermine, Inuvik, Rankin Inlet, and Frobisher Bay (now Iqaluit).
Members in Yellowknife, a cosmopolitan city of 12,000, come from all over Canada, as well as from Australia, Italy, Sierra Leone, and the Caribbean island of St. Vincent. Their pursuits are as diverse as their origins. Branch President Brian Randall is an electrician in a gold mine. First counselor Robert Slaven is an office automation specialist for the territorial government. Elders quorum president Bob Gauthier supervises the Canadian Rangers, a group of northern hunters and trappers who assist regular Canadian armed forces in maintaining sovereignty in the Arctic.
Keeping branch members in touch when they are so widely scattered can be difficult. A monthly newsletter, which includes messages from branch and auxiliary leaders, helps. Branch outings can be hard to plan, but they still are held. Last year, for example, members traveled hundreds of miles on dirt roads to converge in Hay River, on the south shore of Great Slave Lake, for a holiday weekend.
Lorraine Wright is a professor in the College of Nursing at the University of Calgary and director of the university’s Family Nursing Unit. She also has a part-time private practice in marriage and family therapy.
In addition to her other responsibilities, she is Relief Society president in the Bow Valley Ward of the Calgary Alberta West Stake.
Lorraine first came into contact with the Church several years ago through one of her nursing students, then joined later in Hawaii when she was studying there for a master’s degree.
“When I started going to Church,” she says, “the thing that had the greatest impact on me was the hymns. They touched my spirit and softened my heart so that I was able to receive the gospel. The hymns still have that effect on me, more than anything else.”
Calgary, Alberta, has the third largest school system in Canada, and school board meetings are televised live to a large audience. Ann Tingle is at center stage as she chairs the nine-member board.
She has served on the board since 1980. She is also Relief Society president in the Calgary Sixteenth Ward, Calgary Alberta Stake, and the mother of five children.
How does she handle all of her responsibilities? “She knows how to work with other people, she goes to the Lord for guidance, and she lives a beautifully balanced life, always keeping the important things in proper perspective,” says her husband, Richard. A lawyer, he is a high councilor in the stake.
“My family has been very supportive,” Ann says. “At times I’ve been involved in controversial issues where negative recognition has carried over to them. I’m proud of the way they’ve handled it.”
Ann says her husband is a great help. “He was brought up by a widowed mother, and he thinks that everybody in the family has a responsibility to keep the house running smoothly,” she says. “It’s been wonderful.”
Clifford and Verna Thompson are “the grandparents of the ward,” says a fellow member in the North Shore Ward, Vancouver British Columbia Stake. “They’re loved by everyone.”
The Thompsons, who completed a mission in Tallahassee, Florida, three years ago, are regular workers in the Seattle Temple.
Years ago, Verna recalls, one of their children helped them realize the importance of the example they set. When they first moved to the area, they had to take a ferry and then two different streetcars to attend the small branch in downtown Vancouver. It was so far to go with three small children and a baby that they started going to Sunday School in a nearby church of another denomination. “But one Sunday when we were walking home, our eldest son, who was four years old, said, ‘Mom, why don’t we go to our own Sunday School like we did in Calgary?’ And that made me realize that even a little child knew the difference. So from then on we made the effort to attend the meetings and be active in the Vancouver Branch.”
Donald Salmon may be one of the busiest men in Alberta. As the province’s auditor general, he supervises a staff of 185 auditors. He is responsible for the provincial government’s financial statements and the auditing of all departments, agencies, boards, and commissions.
In addition, he is president of the Edmonton Alberta Riverbend Stake.
Even with all his responsibilities, he isn’t longing for the chance to be idle. His eight-year appointment as auditor general will end in five more years. If he retires then, it won’t be simply to play golf (which he loves). “In my mind,” he says, “retire means you ought to go on a mission.”
But for the moment, he and his wife, Joyce, have plenty of Church work to do; she is the stake’s Relief Society secretary. The parents of four children, they are shown above with their daughter Janelle.
Jean Saintonge is one of only four members of the original French-speaking branch in Quebec who still live in the Montreal Quebec Stake.
When he was baptized, French-speaking members attended a dependent unit of the English-speaking Montreal Branch. “There were only a handful of us—about ten—mostly missionaries and a few elderly members.” But Jean watched that dependent branch grow into a stake after twenty years. “I’ve grown up with it,” he says.
He has served in a wide variety of Church callings. Currently he is a high councilor in the Montreal Quebec Stake. With his wife, Ghyslaine, and their three children, he attends the Beloeil Branch. They live in St. Bruno.
Jean, an electrical engineer, works for a research institute in Montreal.
As president and chief executive officer of the Business Council of British Columbia, Jim Matkin is in a high-profile position. His nonprofit organization represents the major businesses in British Columbia—among them forestry, mining, construction, and utilities.
He averages three press interviews a day and frequently speaks in public throughout western Canada. His name is often connected to the Church. “My being a Latter-day Saint is seen as unique,” he says.
Jim has held a variety of important governmental and educational positions; he has been, for example, a clerk of the Supreme Court of Canada and an assistant professor of law at the University of British Columbia. At age thirty, he was appointed deputy minister of labor for British Columbia—the youngest deputy minister in the history of the province.
He is a high councilor in the Vancouver British Columbia Stake. His wife, Cheri, is home management teacher in the Vancouver First Ward’s Relief Society. They are the parents of three daughters.
As a young man, Conrad Laplante entered a Catholic brotherhood in a religious community because “I wanted to give all of my life to God. But I felt we weren’t really given to God in that isolated setting,” he recalls. “So I left to find God elsewhere.”
Eventually he found the gospel through LDS missionaries. But first he met his wife, Huguette, who had been a sister in the same religious community he had left. They are now the parents of six children. He is a high councilor in the Montreal Quebec Stake, and she is a counselor in the Relief Society presidency of the Drummondville Ward.
Conrad teaches high school French in Drummondville. He goes out of his way to find opportunities to do good among his fellow teachers and others because, he explains, “it is still my desire to give all my life to God.”
Jackie Hoag is a living legend in Regina, Saskatchewan. Known in the press as a “community activist” and “tenacious guardian of the underdog,” she is described by those who know her personally as astonishingly warm and generous.
Her record in community service is remarkable. She has been involved in successful campaigns for the building of a rehabilitation center and school for handicapped children, housing for low-income families and senior citizens, and a counseling center for first-time offenders. She spent five years working with native people on nearby reserves. She has served as an alderman in Regina, a city of 160,000; president of the Regina Council of Women; and chairman of the local and national Community Planning Associations.
Stories of her unselfish love abound. Her home has been a haven for all, from unwed mothers to a dying friend.
Born in rural Manitoba, Sister Hoag was taught early that the greatest virtue lay in sharing whatever her family had with those who were less fortunate. “My father insisted that we live our religion rather than just preach it,” she recalls.
Jackie and her husband, Jacj, a man known for his own generosity, joined the LDS Church in 1964. Since his death shortly afterward, she has served a mission in Alabama. Her two eldest granddaughters, whom she reared, are now serving missions. Sister Hoag is a member of the Regina First Ward, Saskatoon Saskatchewan Stake.
Marc Gionet is presiding elder over the twenty-three member Richibucto Branch in the New Brunswick/Prince Edward Island District of the Canada Halifax Mission. Meetings are held in the Gionet home for now, but the branch is working hard to gain enough members for a chapel.
When the missionaries were teaching the Gionets, “I was amazed to discover the Lord had reestablished his Church on the earth—something I had thought was impossible,” Marc explains. “It was a miracle to me, and to this day I’m in awe.”
Marc and Jeanette Gionet have four children. Marc is an industrial arts teacher in Richibucto, a fishing port on the gulf of St. Lawrence which is home to many French Acadians.
Wilbert and Jean Frelick had been members of the Church for five years when they determined to go to the temple in far-off Cardston, Alberta, 3,300 miles away.
A week before they were to leave, they still didn’t have enough money for the trip. But as he and his wife strolled down toward the harbor in Liverpool, Nova Scotia, where he is a lobster fisherman, they noticed two people examining a piece of property he owned.
“They wanted to know if we’d sell it,” Brother Frelick remembers. “I said, ‘Sure, you can have it for a thousand dollars.’” The sale financed the Frelicks’ temple trip.
That was fifteen years ago. Going to the temple is much easier now, Brother Frelick says, smiling; to visit Washington, D.C., “we only have to go 1,300 miles.”
Brother Frelick is president of the Liverpool Branch of the Dartmouth Nova Scotia Stake. The Frelicks are the parents of seven children, all grown.
Tanner Elton, deputy attorney general of Manitoba, expresses a strong conviction that Latter-day Saints are “amazingly under represented” in government service, given the leadership potential they develop through Church training and responsibilities.
“I’d like to see many more Church members working in government, because we can have a positive influence,” he says.
He has had a positive influence himself on legal reforms at both the national and provincial level. In addition to practicing law in Montreal, he has taught at the University of Ottawa Law School; was director of research for the Central Law Reform Commission; was assistant deputy minister of policy for the federal Solicitor General; and served in various other capacities in the federal Department of Justice.
Tanner is the high priests group instructor and his wife, Barbara, is Young Women president in the Winnipeg First Ward, Winnipeg Manitoba Stake. They have three daughters.
Harold and Ruth Doerksen met when he was transferred to Magrath, Alberta, in the mid-1960s as a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. She helped convert him, in what he recalls now as “a discovery process” triggered by her questions to the minister of his church.
Since their marriage, his work has taken them to Lethbridge and Calgary, in Alberta; Ottawa, Ontario; and Winnipeg, Manitoba, where he is an investigator for the federal government.
Harold is bishop of the Winnipeg Second Ward, Winnipeg Manitoba Stake. Ruth is ward organist and a counselor in the Primary presidency. They have two daughters at home and one who is married.
William Davies was called as the first president of the Toronto Ontario Stake when it was organized in 1960. At that time, he worked closely with the mission president, a young man named Thomas S. Monson, who was instrumental in preparing the way for the organization of the stake.
Brother Davies has been a Latter-day Saint for sixty-one years. He was baptized with his mother as a teen after they heard the gospel from two LDS missionaries. His real conversion came, though, when he read the Book of Mormon for himself. “From then on the Church became the center of my life,” he says.
“Without a doubt, I have had the privilege of working with some of the finest people who ever walked the face of the earth,” Brother Davies says. He is now patriarch of his stake. His wife, Olive, has also been active in Church service, including several years in ward and stake Relief Society callings. They have a married daughter.
Laurie and Kathy Davidson moved from western Canada to Newfoundland’s rugged coasts nine years ago because “we needed an ocean,” Kathy says. An oceanographer, Laurie conducts studies for fisheries and for companies involved in offshore oil exploration.
Laurie is president of the St. John’s Newfoundland District of the Canada Halifax Mission and is also Young Men president in the St. John’s Branch. Kathy is the branch’s Young Women president. Their oldest son is deacons quorum president.
The comparative isolation of members in Newfoundland makes family and Church activity all the more important. “Your strength has to come from prayer and the scriptures,” Kathy says. “You really have to rely on the Lord.” The Davidsons and their five children arise early every morning to read the scriptures together and have family prayer at 6:00 A.M. Then they feel prepared for the day’s activities.
Dean and Shauna Campbell are two of the reasons that Latter-day Saints have a good name in Kindersley, Saskatchewan.
The Kindersley Branch of the Saskatoon Saskatchewan Stake doesn’t have its own Boy Scout unit, but Dean is one of several Church members who serve as leaders of Scout units in the community. Dean and Shauna also sing in a large community choir.
He is Young Men president in the branch. She is branch public communications director and a teacher and music director in the Relief Society.
Dean and Shauna and their eight children make a significant contribution to their branch, now numbering more than one hundred.
Kent Cahoon manages a 3,000-foot-deep potash mine that produces more than 4,000 tons of the fertilizer each day. He is a director of the Saskatchewan Potash Producers Association and president of the Saskatchewan Mining Association.
Kent and Carol Cahoon found just one small branch in Saskatoon when they moved there from Alberta in 1970. Today there is a stake, and Kent is the high priests group leader in the Saskatoon Second Ward. He served in the district presidency before the stake was formed, and also as a counselor in the stake presidency.
The Cahoons live in Clavet, about ten miles southeast of Saskatoon, with their son and three daughters.
Ten years ago, Don and Rose Bruce were key figures in establishing a Protestant reform church in Halifax, Nova Scotia. So how did they become active Latter-day Saints?
Two LDS missionaries knocked on their door, and the Spirit touched the Bruces’ hearts. “That was the beginning for us,” Don recalls.
He serves as the Elders quorum president and as a Primary teacher in the Cole Harbour Ward. He is the stake’s physical facilities clerk and also teaches LDS institute classes in Halifax.
His efforts as a computer systems analyst for the Canadian government earned him the prestigious Merit Award in 1987. He also works with a community group that sends medical supplies to Third World countries.
Like him, his wife, Rose, is “a busy, busy, busy person,” Don says. She serves in the stake Primary presidency. They have five sons and a daughter. Two of their sons recently returned from missions, and two are still serving.
Doug Bowie’s resumé reads like an executive talent recruiter’s fantasy. He has held several positions in the federal government, including assistant under secretary of state, the highest level in Canada’s permanent civil service. He served as vice president of PetroCanada, one of the nation’s largest firms. Currently he is president of the Niagara Institute, a nonprofit foundation that offers leadership training to senior officials in public service, business, and labor.
The direction of his life was shaped by a 1968 student seminar in French West Africa. “The culture shock had a fantastic impact on me. For the first time I really became aware of the needs of others, and at that point I dedicated myself to working with people.”
Back in Canada, this new dedication led the young Albertan eastward to find ways he could contribute in service to his country.
Doug and his wife, Diane, have six children. They live in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, just across the river from New York state. He is a counselor in the Hamilton Ontario Stake mission presidency, and Diane is Relief Society president in the St. Davids Ward.
The first Canadians joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints more than 150 years ago in what was then Upper Canada. Fifty years later, in 1887, the Saints moved to western Canada and began to cultivate the prairie sod of southern Alberta. Today, there are Latter-day Saints throughout the nation, in all walks of life. They not only contribute to the Church but also serve in government, business, and community roles. Meet a few of these outstanding Latter-day Saints in the Canada of 1988.