Friends and relatives of a longtime Hay River resident, Delphine McKay, gathered at the Assumption Catholic Church on Friday Aug. 3 to remember her impact on the community. McKay, who was in her mid-60s, was passionate about local causes such as the Fisherman’s Wharf and her unwavering generosity towards friends and strangers alike is considered legendary.
“She was honest, loving, caring, just a beautiful person,” said Diane McCallum, a close friend of McKay’s for more than 10 years who also worked with her at the Wharf.
Born in Cannon Creek, Alta., she was the fourth oldest in a family of 12 brothers and sisters. In the summer of 1949, her family packed up and moved to Hay River in order to get involved with the commercial fishing industry here.
Local businessman and friend Brad Mapes read a moving eulogy at the service and emphasized McKay’s bubbling personality.
“She was always giggling and smiling,” he said.
“I have been to many events with her when some of her uncontrollable giggling happened. The Delphine I knew was hard-working and big-hearted.”
McKay worked at a number of local businesses throughout the years – the liquor store, Freshwater Fish Marketing, Wright’s Hardware and Wesclean, among others – and made strong connections with many Hay Riverites, especially those living in the West Channel.
She had an unrivaled fondness for bingo, and her friends knew better than to interrupt her television bingo night.
“We all knew not to call at 7 p.m. on Saturdays until it was over!” said friend Brendalynn Trennert.
Mapes told a story that epitomized McKay’s obsession with the game.
“One Saturday night Bert (Stephenson) was at her door, needing a ride to town. She said no because it was bingo night. He told her to give him a ride because she was going to lose anyway. She did end up losing and giving him a ride but she blamed him for the loss the entire way.”
Trennert remembers a time when she was studying in Didsbury, Alta. in 2007. Delphine and her husband, Charlie, were driving back home from Manitoba.
“She had him drive over to see me. They didn’t have much time but they took me out for supper, just to make sure I was okay and not starving.”
“She was like a second mother to me. She loved me for who I was, she gave me strength, encouragement and unconditional love. I hope heaven has a bingo hall for her!”