LaPrairie, Rene Julien Paul surprised us all when he passed away on June 1, 2019 in Sidney at the age of 89 just shy of his 90th birthday. Rene “LaP” was born on June 19, 1929 in Timmins, Ontario. He is predeceased by the love of his life, Edna after 60 years together and his brothers Martin, Arnel, Andrew and sisters Muriel and Claire. He will be lovingly remembered by his 3 AMAZING daughters Irene, Brenda and Andrea; 3 son-in-laws Allan, Andrew and Jeff and 6 grandchildren Jordan (Candice), Cassandra, Mikaela, Gabrielle, Maddison and Deaglan, sister-in-law Cecile, as well as 2 brothers-in-law Cornie and Albert from Manitoba. Rene’s early years were spent going to a Catholic Boarding School and was a source of many tales regarding his mischievous antics – traits that would last a lifetime! School breaks were spent working at the family store “Laprairie’s Groceteria” where he learnt the value of hard work, customer service and a love of meeting people which lasted his whole life. Rene’s work ethic started at a young age and was to continue with him throughout his life. His early adult life included many interesting jobs such as working on a tug boat for his Uncle on the Great lakes as well as mining in Hamilton. Rene attended Ottawa University and played University football with the intention of a career in accounting. After one year LaP decided to make a sudden switch with the course of his life and headed down to Florida with a group of young friends to work at the horse tracks. His passion for the horses and the track were also a lifelong joy including owning a race horse of his own. His next grand adventure began in service for his country when he joined the army. He was eventually posted to Chilliwack as a member of the Corps of Engineers where he met a civilian secretary called Edna and after she beat him in a badminton game it turned out to be a match made in heaven. They married on September 17, 1955 and never looked back! Edna and Rene loved to travel and shared grand adventures exploring the world. They spent their early years stationed in Werl, Germany where Rene served with the Canadian peace keeping forces. With a second hand Mercedes they travelled Europe! Over the years Mom and Dad’s love of travel continued with trips to Australia, Yukon, cruises and home to the family farm in Morden. Upon arrival back to Canada they started their family in the midst of transfers to Vancouver BC, Bagotville QB, Halifax NS, Comox BC, Goosebay, NF and back to the West Coast to settle in Sidney BC in 1972. During these years Rene moved from the Army to the Air Force as an air traffic controller and a career change to the RCMP brought Rene and the family to Sidney-by-the -Sea. After training in Depot Rene and the family settled in their home on Maryland Drive where they lived happily for over 30 years. Rene loved being an RCMP at the Victoria International Airport and the entire family ended up working there at one time or another. The LaPrairie family was well known in the local airport community and Rene loved the job, staff and crazy adventures the airport brought. Many locals will still remember Rene and the lasting friendships that were forged. Rene was the first RCMP officer to apply to extend his work life rather than mandatory retirement at age 60.
Words best to describe Rene are: energetic, upbeat, hardworking, generous, loving, devoted, public service and family focused.
Dad was a gardener, master lawn mower and an expert at “doing coffee.” He was also very generous with his time and spent countless hours volunteering in the community as a volunteer driver as well as babysitting grandchildren. Edna and Rene volunteered with the PCA, Beacon and Shoal centre for over 40 years and received many service awards including the “Hearts of the Community.” He was also a hockey coach, a member of the Legion and the Saanich Pioneers Society. Rene was ahead of his time with recycling and going green and passed this on to his girls. From hanging the laundry to water restrictions this was a story in itself…After retiring from the RCMP Rene continued to work for the Corps of Commissionaires as a guard, the CPR truck ferry at Swartz Bay and summers at Sandown Racetrack. Rene loved living in Sidney especially at “Maryland” but after Mom had a stroke in 2013 Rene moved to the Legion Manor in Saanichton and a final move to Sidney All Care.
Rene had a full life with his girls, son-in-laws, grandchildren, 3 brothers-in-laws, pets, gardening, shooting the breeze and going for coffee with Edna. Rene loved life and had a smile for everyone. He was a gifted conversationalist and had a genuine love of people. His laughter was infectious and he always had time to say “hello” and make you feel like he was your best friend. Those that met him would never forget him.
The family would like to express their sincere gratitude and thanks to the wonderful staff at Mt. Newton Centre, Legion Manor and finally many special caregivers at Sidney All Care who made a difference in Dad’s final years.
A memorial service will be held at St. Elizabeth’s Catholic Church in Sidney on Friday June 14 at 11 am followed by tea. A Celebration of Life will be held at Sidney All Care on Mills Road on Saturday June 22 at 2:30 pm followed by music and treats. All are welcome. Donations may be made to Mt. Newton Centre and the Alzheimer Society in memory of Dad.