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Wilhelmina “Minnie” O’Connor

June 19, 1933 ~ September 10, 2022

Wilhelmina “Minnie” O’Connor

“Family – like branches on a tree, we all grow in different directions yet our roots remain as one.”


We are deeply saddened by the sudden but peaceful passing of our beloved mother Wilhelmina (Minnie) O’Connor.


Minnie was born in Consort, Alberta on June 19, 1933, the eldest of 8 children. She married John O’Connor in 1951 and they set about to farm for themselves in St. Bride’s, Alberta. They were struggling to make ends meet with three children, and it was then that they decided to move to Whitehorse, Yukon in search of a better life. Here, John and Minnie put down roots and grew their family, having 8 children together and eventually many more grandchildren and great-grandchildren.


Family and faith were both cornerstones of Minnie’s life. She put her family on a pedestal and was fiercely proud of their achievements and success and wasn’t afraid to give them advice when she felt it was needed. It was second nature to her to create opportunities for her family to be together and connect. Minnie and John’s cabin in Tagish, Yukon was one of those places, and so were her weekly luncheons which she began hosting once she moved into a senior’s residence in Whitehorse. Every week, the hallways of the building would fill with the scent of homemade white and whole wheat buns and simmering pots of soup as Minnie would prepare a feast from scratch for all of her family members to drop in for lunch.


This kind of never-ending stamina of Minnie’s is something her friends and family will remember about her. She was someone who always had a project on the go, whether it was finishing a knitting project while watching a Blue Jays game, tending to her flowers and abundant vegetable gardens, baking her famous cinnamon buns, or canning and preserving her garden harvests. Her friends and family would laugh and shake their heads in disbelief when she would tell them of the trips she was planning, or all of the things she wanted to get done that day. When she set her mind to something, she was hard to stop – and she seemed to always achieve what she set out to do. This is someone who, at age 56, was determined to hike the Chilkoot Trail and also come out of the strenuous hike looking like her usual self. Minnie snuck a set of pink sponge rollers into her pack to set her hair and finished that hike with her honey blonde curls completely intact.


Things didn’t always come easy to Minnie and John in their lives. They endured lots of hard work in their careers and raising their family. Minnie grew to be someone who deeply appreciated the value of a dollar – be it a dollar earned through hard work or won at a casino slot machine. She worked hard to make sure that she had enough in her life, and that those of her family were set up for success. In an interview, Minnie joked, “If there ever is a catastrophe, my kids say they’ll come to my house because I’ve got enough food for us all; I like to see a full freezer and lots of jars on the shelf.”


And if her actual family wasn’t large enough, Minnie’s circle grew even wider when she moved to 600 College Drive. Her friends in the building became like a second family, and she was always involved in the building’s activities such as potlucks, evening gatherings in the lobby, the holiday craft fair, and of course, the weekly games of bingo.


Minnie appeared in the book Remarkable Yukon Women, which celebrated the lives of 50 women over the age of 50 who made the Yukon their home. She was an avid fan of curling and baseball and delighted in traveling and spending her winters in Arizona, and visiting the occasional casino. Minnie was also a proud member of the 33 Club, a group of Yukon women all born in the year 1933. Every year they would gather somewhere special for a meal in celebration of each other. When people think of Minnie, they will remember her spunky attitude, deep love of the people in her life, and unwavering faith. They will also likely remember the flavours of the food Minnie lovingly brought to the table – the sweet taste of a warm, freshly baked cinnamon bun, the savoury comfort of Ukrainian pierogis and cabbage rolls, or the fresh crunch of vegetables fresh out of her garden to name a few.


She is deeply loved and missed.   Until we meet again, Rest in Peace Mom


Minnie was pre-deceased by her husband John, daughter Catherine, sister Marie, as well as her mother Lyda and father Francis Gottenbos. She is survived by her 7 children and their spouses, 15 grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren, 6 brothers and sisters, and many friends.


A memorial mass will take place on Friday, September 23 at 2:00 pm at Sacred Heart Cathedral.


A celebration of Minnie’s life will take place in the CYO Hall on Sunday, September 25 at 2:00 pm.




Comments (11)
  • 20 September 2022
    Vivian Rasmussen

    Condolences to all of Minnie’s family. You were given a great gift to have a parent like Minnie to love for so long.
    I would like to share a favorite quote of mine from Ann Frank ….
    “What we once enjoyed and loved we can never lose for all that we love deeply become a part of us”
    Me being the youngest in the family and Minnie the oldest left us with 20 years of separation that kept us from really getting to know and appreciate each other until later in our lives. But a sister bond, once formed, is impossible to break and I will dearly miss our heartfelt conversations, her wise counsel and love of life. She was the hippest 89 year old I’ve had the good fortune to know! There are no magic powers to predict or prepare us for what lies in our future so we need to make the most of each moment of every day and that is exactly what Minnie did religiously. Her gift to us is her example of embracing family and not letting the small stuff get in the way. Minnie endured hardships to travel to our sibling reunion this past June and I’m so grateful that we all got to hug and say our goodbyes even if we didn’t realize that it would be for the last time.
    Gone but still a part of us. Love you Sis.

  • 20 September 2022
    Tony&Yvonne Weisgerber

    Our condolences to the family.wish we could be there to hug you’s all. Minnie was a great joy to us as we reconnected with her in Yuma. Had many meals and bingo ventures as well as visits with long lost family members. Such a wonderful cook,I got some helpful hints from her.

  • 21 September 2022
    James Patrick Flanagan

    rest in peace my great aunt Minnie. May the wind always be at your back. May the sun shine upon your face; the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again, May God hold you in the palm of his hand

  • 21 September 2022

    My condolences to the family, thinking of you all during this heartfelt time.

  • 21 September 2022
    Mary and Brad Thompson

    Our sincere condolences to all the family. She was a pistol and I loved talking with her about everything. I had not seen her in a while but got up dates from the family. She will be truly missed

  • 21 September 2022
    Rita McAleer

    My Sister, My Friend.
    I miss our frequent phone calls, emails and most recently the art of how to FaceTime.. Catching up on Family and Friends, sharing a recipe, talking about Doctor’s appointment, encouraging one another to enjoy the good times. I caught myself a few days ago, thinking “ I must call Minnie “.. You were loved and respected. Rest In Peace.

  • 23 September 2022
    Vincent and Pat Logue and families

    We would like to express our deepest sympathies to your families. Aunt Minnie played an important and cherished role in our lives when we all grew up together in Whitehorse. Our families have had a long and memorable history together. She will be sadly missed by all.

  • 23 September 2022
    Robert Dunn

    My condolences to the family. Minnie was great help and support when mom lived up in the Athletes Village. And there wasn’t much that went on there that Minnie didn’t know about. So sorry for your loss.

  • 24 September 2022
    Lawrence and Bev Kristalovich

    Your timeless energy, your talents, your love and care for family and friends were jewels in your life. Now are rare gem in Heaven.
    Prayers are with you. Thanks for demonstrating a fine example in life.

  • 24 September 2022
    Gerald Logue

    Gerald and Ann Logue are sorry to hear of Aunt Minnie’s passing. 
    Aunt Minnie was the Matriarch of the family. She always made time to manage her family and many others as well. 
    Aunt Minnie and Uncle John were my Godparents, an honor to have such wonderful people looking over me.
    The year Johnnie and Minnie were married was 1951.  Aunt Minnie was working  at the St Paul Hospital in St Paul, Alberta. Numerous times Aunt Minnie reminded me that she worked at St. Paul Hospital when I was born and was the first person to witness my  arrival, 71 years ago.
    All 23 O’Connor cousins grew up on Black Street in Whitehorse, Yukon. Eight of those cousins belonged to Aunt Minnie and Uncle John.
    Minnie had a great life and will be sadly missed. By family and friends.
    Gerald, Ann and family from Calgary,

  • 24 September 2022
    Teresa Anderson and family

    Our condolences to the family.
    Im going to miss that smile, and warmth she put out to everyone who crossed her path.
    She got me to Whitehorse to reconnect with family; pushing me out if my comfort zone.
    I will be forever grateful for that! I will venture back to this gem called Whitehorse filled wirh amazing peopl I’m hoping wgen we get there someone someone will continue the cinnamon buns tradition.
    I will miss her and forever grateful be a part of her life.
    Our condolences to the family.
    Lots of love,may she rest in peace.
    Teresa,Roy,Pierce,Louis and Reese

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