H. Irene Peebles

H. Irene Peebles


Passed away in peace on September 8, 2021, at age 91, from complications after a fall.


Survived by her husband of 63 years, Donald Muir Peebles, and their two sons: Dana Muir Peebles (Lindsey Love-Forester), and his daughters, Grace Isabell (d. April 4, 2021), Alice Muir and Eleanor Lily Marlatt Peebles, and their mother, Constance Marlatt (Sasha Darling); and Eric Dean Peebles (Kirsten Cockburn), and their sons, Carter Muir and Foster Paul Cockburn Peebles.


Irene was pre-deceased by her parents Frank Lester Steeves (d.1970) and Annie McGorman (Kennie) Steeves (d. 1980), as well as her brothers Donnie (d. 2011) (Millie d. 2013) and Dale (d. 2017) (Cecilia d. 2002) Steeves. She is survived by her three sisters, Molly Crossman (Murray d. 2017), Joan Smith (Carl) and Marion Thompson (Huck d. 2009).  Irene also leaves her many Steeves nephews and nieces, and Dad’s Peebles cousins, and their families.  


Irene was born in Shepody, Albert County, New Brunswick on April 19, 1930.  She grew up on the family farm, and her parents instilled values in her that guided her for the rest of her life: hard work is its own reward; family comes first; and a devotion to the Church and her community. She was educated at Hopewell Hill Public School and Riverside Consolidated School, and remembered the names of her teachers there for the rest of her life.  She was an excellent and hard-working student. She attended Mount Allison University on scholarship (working two jobs on campus to pay the balance of her tuition), and graduated in 1951, Magna Cum Laude, with a Bachelor of Science (Home Economics), winning the Gold Medal for her year.  Irene was immensely grateful to Mount A. for the rest of her life, and it was a source of pride for her that her mother had graduated there with a teacher’s certificate in 1921, and that her granddaughter Grace followed in her footsteps, graduating with a B.A. in 2020.  


Irene returned to Sussex, N.B. to teach from 1951 to 1954, and then took a position at Smiths Falls Collegiate Institute from 1954-1956, where she met Don, a local boy teaching at the elementary school. She moved to Cornwall C.I. from 1956-1958, then returned to Smiths Falls in 1958 and married Don. They both continued to teach in Smiths Falls for several years, then moved together to England in 1961-1962 for Don to take an exchange position, and where Mum ended up filling a vacancy to teach at the Winton School for Girls while they lived in Manchester. While overseas, they visited countries around Europe, the beginning of their love of travel together.


Don and Irene moved to Bowmanville in 1968 with their two young sons.  After a period of time at home with her boys, Irene re-trained as a librarian, and was excited to return to the workforce at Durham College, Oshawa as a library assistant, and then as the librarian at M.J. Hobbs Senior School in Hampton.  She also taught English at night school, passing on her love of the English language to others.  After Don retired, they spent their summers at their cottage on the Rideau, and travelled the world in the winters, often on tours with other retired teachers.     


Mum believed that community service was essential. She spent almost 45 years volunteering in Bowmanville, at the Hospital, with Meals on Wheels, and with Community Care (where she served as Chair). She devoted countless hours to the St. Andrews Presbyterian Church, and was a leader in inter-faith initiatives with other local churches. On her CV, she listed “Church Work” first in a list of her “Interests”.


Mum enjoyed reading, and played bridge with the same ladies for almost 50 years (although in Mixed Bridge, she was sometimes frustrated with her partner, Don). She enjoyed her collections: cake plates; brass inkwells; Steiff stuffed animals; and amber glass. She was passionate about learning, and watched Jeopardy (and Wheel of Fortune) every day. She sewed, and cooked, and was a wonderful baker. Don ate homemade pie every week for 60 years.  Her grandchildren also loved their Nana's baking; it was one of her many expressions of love for them. 


The birth of her grandchildren, Grace, Alice, Eleanor, Carter and Foster, brought her much happiness.  She treasured the time that she spent with them at the cottage, attending many school and sporting events, and countless other family celebrations. She was very proud of all of them, and they were one of her greatest joys.


But mostly, Irene loved. She loved her parents, and her many Steeves relatives. She loved her siblings, and their children, and she loved the Peebles cousins and their families. She loved the Church, and doing things for others. She loved her teachers, and then her students. She loved her husband.  She loved her sons and her daughters-in-law. She loved her grandchildren, immensely and unconditionally.  And boy, were there ever a lot of people who loved her back.


In sum, Mum had a long life, filled with love. We will miss her more than we can say.


Interment will be at Maple Vale Cemetery in Smiths Falls, in a private family ceremony at a later date.


Donations welcomed in Mum’s name to Sleeping Children Around the World, Doctors Without Borders, Mount Allison University, Hopewell Hill Community Church NB, or the charity of your choice.


Visitation will be held at NORTHCUTT ELLIOTT FUNERAL HOME, 53 Division Street North on Saturday September 11th from 11 am – 12 pm.  Please call the funeral home at (905) 623-5668 if you wish to attend.  A Private Family Service will be held.