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Michael Angel

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Michael Robert Colin Angel

March 15, 1940 - September 24, 2023


Michael Robert Colin Angel, age 83, died September 24, 2023 on Salt Spring Island. Loving husband to Barbara, brother to Jeanette, and father to Eric, Jeannette and Colin, Michael was born in Edmonton, Alberta on March 15, 1940. Michael’s father, Colin Victor Angel, an Anglo-German immigrant to Canada, served overseas with the Royal Canadian Artillery until 1946. Almina Jeannotte, Michael’s French-Canadian mother, raised her son on her own for the first six years of his life, on the Jeannotte family farm in the Big Hay Lakes region of Central Alberta, where Grandmère Eugenie and Oncle Léo also resided.

When Colin returned from the war in early 1946, the family moved to Lacombe, Alberta, where Michael’s sister Jeanette was born. Growing up in a small rural community, Michael developed a passion for the outdoors that would stay with him for the rest of his life. The local Boy Scout troop became his main extra-curricular activity during his teenaged years, culminating in a trip to the World Scout Jamboree in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, a formative experience that sparked a curiosity about people and cultures around the world that never left him.

After graduating from high school, Michael joined the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) University Naval Training Division (the “Untidys”) and enrolled at the University of Alberta. There, he met the love of his life, Barbara Ann Jackson, a precocious young student in the Department of History, classical pianist, and fellow lover of the outdoors. Married on August 24, 1963, in Edmonton, their first son, Eric David, was born in November of the following year. These were the Sixties, and Michael and Barbara were keen to explore the world and make their mark. Their first stop was Iowa City, where daughter Jeannette Cybèle was born, followed by Guyana, where Michael and Barbara taught while serving with the Canadian University Service Overseas, better known as CUSO.

When their CUSO stint drew to a close in 1969, Michael and Barbara relocated to Winnipeg, Manitoba, where Michael took a job with Red River Community College, instructing in their Library Sciences program. Colin Victor, their second son, was born a few months after the family’s return to Canada. Winnipeg would be home to Michael, Barbara and family for the next thirty years.  A family cabin on the Winnipeg River near Myrtle Rapids, the regular summer pilgrimage to Birds Hill Park for the Winnipeg Folk Festival, canoe trips with friends and family in the trusty Brigden fibreglass canoe from the Happy Outdoorsman, cross-country ski-ing trips all over southern Manitoba and northwestern Ontario in the winter, a wide circle of friends from around the world, including innumerable house guests who became part of the extended family – it was a rich and fulfilling life with many joys and satisfactions.

Michael retired from the University of Manitoba in 1999 as the Associate Head of the university library system. His career as a librarian had begun at the Edmonton Public Library in the early 1960s. After obtaining a Master’s in Library Sciences from the University of British Columbia, Michael worked as a librarian for the University of Iowa, the Manitoba Department of Education, and the University of Manitoba. For many years he held executive positions with the Manitoba Library Association and the Canadian Library Association. In his 50s, a longstanding interest in the history and culture of First Nations led Michael to pursue an interdisciplinary PhD at the University of Manitoba, where he combined history, anthropology and religious studies to produce a well-regarded study of the Midewiwin, eventually published as Preserving the Sacred.

With Michael retired and Barbara having the opportunity to teach history at Okanagan University College in Vernon, the two of them followed in the footsteps of countless Albertans and made the move to British Columbia. They soon bought a house in Coldstream, where they cultivated a fine garden, continued their love of the outdoors, especially in the company of RJ, the family dog, indulged in gourmet cooking with their many friends, and entertained their grandchildren, including Kyden, Lydia Jane, Eva Rae and Etta Marguerite.

After 16 years in the BC interior, still curious and eager for new beginnings, Michael and Barbara joined a co-housing community in Vancouver alongside Colin, his wife Tracy, and their son Miles. The dense urban experience proved a bit much for Michael, and he was relieved when a final move to a small acreage on Salt Spring Island with Barbara, Colin and family brought him back to the rural setting he had been born into, where he continued to garden and ply his skills as a pruner.  One of Michael’s great joys in those last few years was his dog Corey, a Great Pyrenees, and successor to his first dog Wolf from that long ago family farm in rural Alberta.

Michael leaves behind Barbara, sister Jeanette and her partner Marlene, son Eric and his partner Erin and grandson Kyden, daughter Jeannette and her husband Randi and their daughters Lydia Jane, Eva Rae and Etta Marguerite, son Colin and his wife Tracy and their son Miles. In lieu of flowers, donations to the Salt Spring Hospice Society will be gratefully accepted. The family extends its sincerest thanks to Dr. Verheul and to the staff at the Lady Minto Hospital and Greenwoods Long Term Care Residence on Salt Spring Island and the Health Care Centre in Chemainus for their unstinting care for Michael during the final months of his life. Michael was laid to rest in the Salt Spring Island Natural Cemetery on Tuesday October 3, 2023. While he sleeps among the trees, he would still welcome visitors.

Please join us for a Memorial Service for Michael Robert Colin Angel at All Saints by-the-Sea Anglican Church on Salt Spring Island, BC on Friday November 17th, at 1pm. There will be a gathering with refreshments after the service. We intend to have a Zoom link option for the service for those unable to attend in person. We will send out the link to everyone prior to November 17th, 2023. There will also be another opportunity to join the family in August 2024 on Salt Spring Island for an outdoor Celebration of Life. This second event will probably not be available online. All are welcome to either or both events.

Please RSVP to jeannetteangelfox@gmail.com and indicate how many people will be attending so that we have enough chocolate for everyone.

Event: Memorial Service for Michael Angel

Date: November 17th, 2023

Time: 1pm – tbd

Location: All Saints by-the-Sea Anglican Church

Address: 110 Park Dr, Salt Spring Island, British Columbia


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