Saskatchewan

Remembering those lost to COVID-19 in Saskatchewan

Sixteen people have died in Saskatchewan after contracting COVID-19. Here's what we know about each victim.

16 people have died in Saskatchewan after contracting the novel coronavirus

Alice Grove was 75 when she died in hospital with COVID-19. Her sister wants the government to be more specific about where cases are located in the province. (Submitted by Eleanor Widdowson)

The global pandemic has left many people to mourn the loss of loved ones who died after testing positive for COVID-19.

Sixteen people have died in Saskatchewan after contracting the novel coronavirus. Here's what we know about each victim.

Alice Grove, 75

Alice Grove, 75, died March 28 at the Battlefords Union Hospital. Her sister, Eleanor Widdowson, said everything changed in a matter of days. In mid-March they had gotten together for coffee and muffins. That was the last time she spoke with her sister in person. 

Widdowson said her sister went to church when she could and loved to socialize in town. She was a widow who lived alone on a farm and didn't have children. However, she loved her extended family. Widdowson said Grove's death would leave a big hole in the grieving family. 

She made the hard decision to have her sister cremated, saying that those who wanted to say goodbye wouldn't be able to because of the COVID-19 restrictions. 

85-year-old Kamsack man

The next day, an 85-year-old man from the Kamsack, Sask., area died in hospital. CBC is not naming the man at the request of the family.

Ron Mackay, 85

Ron Mackay, the third victim in the province, was also 85 when he died from COVID-19-related complications on March 31. His family says they have received a huge amount of support from strangers and from friends. 

Mackay has been described as a man who loved northern Saskatchewan: the lakes, the call of the loons breaking the silence at dawn, and his island home. More than all of that, he is described as loving his family. He and his wife Evelyn owned and operated Red's Camps, an outfitting business in La Ronge, for decades before selling it a few years ago. 

That's where Mackay hosted countless people, but perhaps most notably Johnny Cash and June Carter. 

Ron Mackay and his wife, Evelyn, were involved in the operation of Red's Camps in the La Ronge area from 1971 until just a few years ago. (Submitted by Scott Mackay)

It's not clear to the family how he contracted the virus, but Mackay's wife also had it. The family — his wife, their five children, 16 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren — want people to be careful and stay home. 

Noble 'Butch' Gullacher, 69

Noble "Butch" Gullacher, 69, was the fourth person in Saskatchewan to die of COVID-19. He was admitted to hospital on March 19 and never left. 

His wife Kathleen watched doctors remove his ventilator through a glass window. A nurse held his hand as he passed on April 10. 

Kathleen said her husband spent a large part of his life crisscrossing the country as a conductor for the Canadian Pacific Railway. In addition to trains, he also loved cars and was the founding member of Saskatchewan's BMW Club.  

Kathleen Gullacher lost her husband, Butch, to COVID-19 on April 10 2:02

In retirement, he enjoyed watching his grandchildren play sports and playing cards with them. 

Gullacher was father to two sons and had three grandchildren — who "kept him going." His family believes he contracted the virus through community transmission, although it's not clear where. 

Joseph Pierre Sylvester, 83

Marie Trottier says her brother, 83-year-old Joseph Pierre Sylvester, died as a result of COVID-19-related complications on April 26. 

Sylvester, according to Trottier, was the first patient at the long-term care home in La Loche to catch the virus. She said he was moved into isolation in North Battleford shortly after, where he died. The death was the first of a patient in long-term care in Saskatchewan.

She said while her older brother had a hard life, there were a lot of people who cared about him.

"It's so sad," she said. "It's a pandemic. What can a person do? It seems like it's attacking only the vulnerable people." 

Trottier said the fact her brother died alone is especially sad.

"He died in the hospital all alone with no family members," she said. "If we're losing our loved ones, at least we should be by their bedside." 

Agnes McDonald, 85

Agnes McDonald, who would have turned 86 in May, is the sixth COVID-19 death in the province and the second who was a long-term care patient in La Loche. She was a well-known elder in the northern community.

McDonald's daughter confirmed the death and said McDonald died as a result of COVID-19 in La Loche on April 28.

Agnes McDonald, 85, died from COVID-19 in La Loche on April 28. (Chief Teddy Clark/Facebook.com)

7th death

The province announced on May 20 that a resident in their 60s from the north region who had tested positive for COVID-19 had died. The case brings the total number of deaths in Saskatchewan to seven.

CBC is not yet aware of the identify of the victim or the circumstances surrounding the case.

​Nelda Maurice, 64 

On May 25, the Maurice family said goodbye to Nelda Maurice from Île-à-la-Crosse at St. Paul's Hospital in Saskatoon, CBC News confirmed. 

Her daughters described Nelda Maurice as a happy, lively woman who loved her grandchildren and the community. She worked with students as a teacher's aid for years, and was known for organizing events like the Terry Fox run and walks for diabetes.

On May 25, Nelda Maurice died in hospital after struggling against COVID-19 for nearly a month. She's remembered as being the rock of the Maurice family. (Submitted by Lana Maurice)

Her daughters, Krystal and Lana Maurice, said that saying goodbye to her has been the hardest thing they have ever had to do — and it all seemed to happen in the blink of an eye. ​

6 more deaths of 'far north' residents

Saskatchewan's far north region has had far more cases than any other in the province. Many of them stemmed from an outbreak in La Loche. Eight of the 16 people who have died after a positive diagnosis are from this area. Four others are from the north, but the province refuses to say where they lived. 

Six of the most recent deaths in the province, including those two, have been people from the far north region. 

On May 26, the province said someone in their 50s from the far north region who tested positive for COVID-19 died. 

It reported another death the following day, saying a person in their 80s from the far north region had died. 

On May 31, the province reported another death. The person was in their 70s and lived in the north region. 

The government announced on June 8 that two more residents of the far north region had died after being diagnosed with COVID-19. One was in their 60s while the other was in their 70s, according to the province.

Another death of a far north resident was announced July 2. The person was in their 70s.

CBC is not yet aware of the identities of these victims or the circumstances surrounding their cases. 

Person in their 20s dies in north region

On July 7, the province announced a person in their 20s in the north region of the province had died after contracting COVID-19. This was the youngest person in the province to die after being diagnosed with the virus.

CBC does not yet know this person's identity or the circumstances surrounding their cases. 

Person in their 60s becomes province's 16th death

On July 23, the province announced a person from the north who tested positive for COVID-19 had died. The province said the person was in their 60s. 

With files from Kendall Latimer, Ashleigh Mattern and Morgan Modjeski

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