We knew the day would come after a long and full life of 98 years, but it still with sadness that we announce the death of Helen Keren Bragg of Winnipeg, on February 5, 2024.

Our “Aunt Helen” was the last of our parent’s era, so our hearts feel even heavier.

Helen Keren Bragg was born March 20 1926, at home in Elmwood, Winnipeg, to Florence May and Charles Ernest Bragg. She was the youngest of the family and was predeceased by her parents and siblings Carrie (Garson - Winnipeg), Beth (Nickel - Comox), Gordon Bragg (Winnipeg), Marjorie (MacDonald - Winnipeg) and Peggy (Calder-Letellier).
Growing up in Elmwood, she, like all her siblings, helped out in the family store, Bragg’s United Store, at Kelvin St. (now Henderson Highway) & Johnson Ave. However, in his memoirs, her brother Gordon intimated that she really didn’t like it much and tried to escape the store duties whenever she could, preferring to spend her time in the basement candling eggs or packaging bulk goods. Helen was a true introvert.

Early on, Helen expressed interest in being a nurse, but at the time, likely, because her father has strong Christian Science beliefs, he was not keen on the idea. However, with support from her mother, Grampa was finally convinced, and she began training at Misericordia Hospital School of Nursing, graduating in 1947.

Upon graduation, she accepted her first job at Yorkton General Hospital in Saskatchewan and worked there for two years. When she returned to Winnipeg after two years, she discovered that her parents had downsized their home and encouraged her “strongly” to head out on her own (which was a significant surprize to her!), which she reluctantly did.

And apparently, she took them quite seriously (about heading out on her own) and in 1949, she accepted a job at the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital in Hamilton, Bermuda. In later years, she shared some pretty spicey stories about her time there, enjoying dancing and social activities while there. My goodness – a different gentleman suitor every night!

In 1951 she travelled to Jersey City, New Jersey, to take a post-graduate course in maternity nursing and subsequently returned to Winnipeg and continued there and in Vancouver as a special duty nurse.

One of the interesting stories about our Aunt Helen occurred in 1953. Although a newspaper clipping (guess they did that then!) mentioned an “extended holiday overseas” with a friend to London, England in 1953 on the “Empress of France”– she actually was traveling to nurse and work with a young boy with polio. She lived with the family and laughed about being treated as the “downstairs” staff, who ate in the kitchen with the household staff. We imagine she was also able to get some touring in of the British Isles and the Continent while there. What an adventure!

Upon her return to Canada, Helen continued her education in 1955 with a Public Health Nursing course at University of Manitoba and practiced in Public Health in Winnipeg for 7 years. During this time, and following our grandfather’s death, Helen moved back in with our grandmother into an apartment on River Avenue in Winnipeg when Grandma’s eyesight began to fail. By now all the other siblings were married, most with children and for the most part living elsewhere. At some point, a decision was made to move from Winnipeg to Burnaby, British Columbia, so Helen and Grandma Bragg packed up and headed west.

Our Aunt Helen took on the role of companion and then caretaker of our Grandma Bragg. After Grandma’s death in 1975, she continued to work in Public Health, regularly traveling throughout British Columbia, to locations such as Williams Lake and One Hundred Mile House. After 28 years of providing health care service throughout the interior of BC, she retired in 1990.

After her retirement, Helen eventually moved to Courtney, BC on Vancouver Island in the late 1990s. This was to be closer to her older sister Beth who lived in Comox. During these years, we learned of globe trotting travels, particularly cruises, that she and various sisters took throughout the world. Some more successful than others….sisters will be sisters.

Following Beth’s death in 2007, Helen eventually moved to Winnipeg to be close to her remaining brother, Gordon. This was also where most of her remaining relatives lived so she came home to family, which provided many of us the opportunity to get to know her better and spend time with her in her last years. Gordon eventually passed away in 2012, leaving her the last of the era.

Helen lived in Dakota House Assisted Living, followed by the Rosewood Retirement Home and finally in the Pembina Place Personal Care Home where she was well cared for until her recent passing. The whole family greatly appreciates the care and comfort provided by the staff at Pembina Place and the continued visits by family members when they could.

We (remaining nieces & nephews and great nieces & nephews) all remember Aunt Helen as always being impeccably dressed and looking “well put together”. Her stories were hilarious, especially when she didn’t realize she was being funny. And she was always ready to try new things but with a healthy dose of scepticism.  We all enjoyed it when we could host her at holidays, at Gordon and Marion’s for Sunday dinners or celebrations, and she especially liked it when she could host us. Helen was likely the most “prim and proper” woman we will ever know. A true example of days gone by.

But above everything, she was also much loved, and we will miss her.

Surviving Helen Bragg are members of the Garson family (sister Carrie), MacDonald family (sister Marjorie), Bragg family (brother Gordon) and Calder family (sister Peggy).

A private family celebration in remembrance of Helen will take place at a late date.

A Memorial Tree was planted for HELEN
We are deeply sorry for your loss ~ the staff at 1442 Main Street
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