29 June 1927 - 28 June 2017
Jan was born in Carlisle, England to an English mother and Canadian father, and had a happy childhood in New Brunswick. She attended Mount Allison University until she was old enough to enroll in nursing school at St. John General Hospital. Upon receiving her RN, she enlisted as a Nursing officer in the Royal Army Medical Corps and was posted to Kurie, Japan. It was there she met her husband, Major William K. Stirling, who was then a junior officer with the Princess Patricia’s, and who had been evacuated to Japan after being wounded in action in the Korean conflict.
Jan and Bill were married in Fredericton, NB in 1953. There then followed four children and 14 different postings throughout Canada with a three-year stint in Germany. While Bill was with Canadian forces headquarters in Ottawa, Jan attended the University of Ottawa, graduating with a BSc in Public Health.
In 1971, Bill was posted to Yellowknife as part of the military staff establishing Northern Region. Jan started work in September 1971 as Nurse in Charge of the Public Health Centre. She continued in that position until her retirement in 1997 at the age of 70. For several years her duties included medical evacuations from remote communities and the high Arctic, usually in single engine Otters. Public Health Nursing in the North gave full expression to Jan’s skills and compassionate nature.
Jan was extensively involved in community and charitable work, and was a lifelong active member of the United Church. She exemplified the church’s ideals of tolerance and acceptance. She had a personal connection to people of every background and had particular empathy for those on the margins, in distress, suffering, depression, loneliness or exclusion. She was always available in her heart and her house to those who needed kindness and support. She was kind and loving, and had a particular empathy for those on the margins: people who were left out or alone. She was exceedingly tolerant and open minded, and was blind to gender, race, culture or religion.
Her friend, Tessa MacIntosh, writes: “Definitely the end of an era, like Bob McQuarrie’s song suggests, Jan was not just an ordinary northern nurse. Always to me she was one of the few long-time Northern matriarchs. She reached out to everyone whether territorial politician or homeless person.
Personally, yet I know I speak for many others as well, she was like a mother to us and a grandmother to our children. Jan was a one-woman welcome wagon for those who chose to make their home in the North…we could call on her at public health. We’d spill a list of symptoms… and without so much as a blink she tended to our needs with respect, dignity and genuine caring as if she had known us all our lives. Immediately she made us feel comfortable in our times of need. Like the care due a wounded soldier on the field, perhaps it was her experience in Korea that brought the same grace to attend to each of us whether we were ill or not.
Jan seemed never to tire of giving to her community. The epitome of a true nurse, Jan’s every greeting to everyone was nurturing, a blessing. Jan was a blessing in our lives.“
Jan was a wonderful mother and grandmother, who was always supportive, encouraging, and full of fun. As the matriarch of the Stirling family, she was the heart of every gathering. She leaves a seat at the head of the family table which cannot be filled. She had many close friendships and had great fun and laughter with the Birthday Girls and the Owls Bridge Club. She travelled extensively with her friends.
Jan received numerous awards for her professional and charitable work including Northerner of the Year, Life Membership NWT Nursing Association, The Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award, and Order the Northwest Territories. The health centre was named after her when she retired.
Jan was pre-decesased by her father, William Moore, her mother, Emily (Sonny) Moore, and her brother Captain William Moore. She is survived by her brother David, her children: Lynn, Bill (Sandra), Gregory (Margaret), Roddy (Tanis) and her beloved Grandchildren Meagan (Brendan), Aislinn, Carter, Scott, Hannah, Mara, and her Great-Grandson, Stirling Peters.
The family extends grateful thanks to her many friends for their abiding kindness and generosity and to the nurses, doctors and staff of Stanton Hospital, and Homecare, and deep appreciation and thanks to her Caregivers, Rinda, Donna, Chelsea, Teruno, Keiko, Melania, Nancy, Margaret, and Ropa.
In lieu of flowers, if you wish, donations can be made to the Salvation Army in Yellowknife or YWCA NWT’s Lynn’s Place.
There will be a celebration of Jan’s life on Thursday, July 6 at 11 am at Sir John Franklin High School.
Send messages of sympathy to the family: email@example.com