| Feb 15, 2007

Feature Article - February 15, 2007

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Feature Article - February 15, 2007

Two Women

(The past two weeks have been difficult for our little communities. Many people have succumbed to disease, and accidents have claimed two lives and put another in peril. Below are some thoughts about two women from the Parham area who both succumbed to cancer last week.)

Stefania Dignum The ultimate Shepherdess

When Stefania Dignum moved to Parham with her husband Ray, she was probably the first Icelandic farmer to come to Hinchinbrooke Township .

After a few years, Stefania started to bring more of Iceland to Parham. She imported the first ever flock of Icelandic sheep to Canada in 1986, transporting a few animals in a Cessna airplane.

Twenty years later, after struggling with disease, coyotes, and other hardships, the flock has survived, and there are now over 6,000 Icelandic sheep, all derived from the original herd, scattered throughout Canada and the United States.


Over that time, Stefania not only developed the skills that led her stepdaughter to describe her as the ultimate shepherdess for her prowess in caring for her flock, she also became expert in spinning and knitting the wool from her sheep.

Ten or 12 years ago, Stefania gave a long interview to Vickie Gabereau on the CBC. She described many colourful experiences from the farm, recounting how her husband had said that they might as well lose money with Icelandic sheep as any other breed. She also admitted that she was convinced that her Icelandic sheep were smarter, and that Icelandic lamb is better tasting than other lamb.

Stefania died last week, after developing cancer last summer. At her funeral her daughter Louise described her devotion to family and her love of animals, and her zest for life.

Betty McCumber more than a receptionist

When Betty McCumber died last week, very soon after being diagnosed with lung cancer, two of the most affected people were men that she worked with, Wayne Robinson who worked with Betty at Northern Frontenac Community Services 25 years ago, and Dr. Peter Bell from the Sharbot Lake Medical Centre, where Betty worked until last September when she retired.

Both spoke at her funeral, describing Betty’s exceptional ability to understand the needs of the people that are served by the two institutions. Betty not only made appointments, and helped people navigate through the social services and the medical establishment, no mean feat in itself, she genuinely sympathised with the conditions people found themselves in, whatever kind of pain they were feeling.

Reverend Patsy Henry, who also spoke at Betty McCumber’s funeral, described her as someone who had been given a double dose of sympathy and love when she was born 61 years ago. The overflow crowd at Betty’s funeral testified to the truth of Reverend Henry’s words.

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