Hilda passed away peacefully at home surrounded by family on Friday, February 19th 2021 at the age of 89. Hilda is survived by her husband Eugen, her children Gary and Heather (John) and her grandsons Garrett and Haydn. Born on September 1st 1931 in North Himsworth Township, Hilda was the first of nine children born to Alex and Mabel Byers. She is survived by siblings Lawrence Byers (Lila), Mervin Byers (late Ruth), Vivian McKee (Ranald), Maurice Byers (Shirley), Margaret Watson (late Dan), Thelma Byers, Lyall Byers (Eunice) and Victor Byers (Linda).
Hilda was born and raised on the Byers’ homestead in North Himsworth Township. Being the oldest of nine children, she helped raise many of her younger siblings and continued to be a natural caregiver throughout her life. She often happily reminisced about her childhood, including; the long walk to school from Byers Road to McDonald Road in the dead of winter, her true love of school and winning the spelling contest, one harrowing journey with Lawrence through the bush in the dark to get help from her Uncle when her dad was injured, another trek through the bush to Powassan with pig in tow, the day the huge draft horses got away, berry picking with her mom with a watchful eye for bears, and gathering wintergreens for her dad’s birthday cake every year. Growing up on the farm surrounded by a loving family set the stage for a deep and everlasting connection to her mom, dad and all her brothers and sisters.
While she moved to southern Ontario to work at an early age, eventually getting married and having her two children, she always longed for home and the family moved back to her beloved northern Ontario in 1973. She was so happy to once again be close to her birth family and was able to enjoy many treasured moments with and provide support to her parents as they grew older.
Like her mom before her, Hilda loved being outdoors and could often be found in the garden, doing yard work, looking for pussy willows on a country walk or picking blueberries on the blueberry rocks. She had a green thumb and ran a small greenhouse for many years that was famous for its huge tomato plants and beautiful petunias. She was a wonderful cook and not a day went by when there wasn’t fresh baked cookies or squares for her kids to snack on when they came home from school and a full course meal on the stove. That said, one of her simple pleasures in life was sitting down to a meal at a restaurant, any restaurant, because she didn’t have to do the cooking! She was an extremely hard worker with endless energy, still cleaning the house, piling wood, mowing the lawn, raking leaves and shovelling snow in her late 80’s. As much as she took care of home, she did love going places, whether it be to visit family, shop at the mall, or take a longer trip down south, further north or even to Germany. She was always more than up for a family excursions, even going to Canada’s Wonderland as recently as 2019.
Hilda was a deeply devoted wife, mother and grandmother and her unconditional love and support was evident every single day in both the small and the large things she did. She was definitely the glue that held the family together through all of life’s struggles, with her no-nonsense approach to problems and her unwavering dedication to her family’s welfare. Her twin grandsons were her greatest joy, with them being ever-present at the house growing up, giving her endless hugs and laughs, and leaving Lego pieces everywhere for her to step on and pick up. Even when her health was failing, Garrett and Haydn’s visits made her smile the brightest.
At 89, she fought a brave battle with esophageal cancer, which was in remission at the time of her death. As expressions of sympathy, memorial donations to the Northern Cancer Foundation would be appreciated (ncfsudbury.com).
Special thanks to her Northeast Cancer Centre health care team and her local at-home palliative care health care team.
The family has chosen to hold a private funeral service.