Myrtle Evertt - A Remarkable Woman

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Myrtle Evelyn Down was born in Saskatchewan. She grew up on a dairy and grain farm in Craigmyle, Alberta during the years of the 'great depression'. In a one-room schoolhouse, after skipping some grades, she soon became the teacher's assistant and helped to teach the other children in the school. Myrtle not only excelled at academics she was also athletically inclined. Her brother still tells stories today of her high jump and race activities and the most notable "she could run across the room of our old wood house from the wall, across the ceiling and back down the other side!" After high school graduation she took nurse's training.

In 1942, Myrtle married a minister by the name of Benjamin Evertt and helped in the ministry using her musical and educational talents. Together they raised a family of seven children.

Later while living with her family in Burnaby, B.C., she enrolled in the University of British Columbia where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree and a Bachelor of Education degree.

She and her husband were founders and charter members of the B.C. Society for Handicapped Children in the 1950's, which later became the Variety Club of Surrey. Surrey Alderman Stan Dainard and his wife, Alberta, joined the club and donated acreage that became a centre for providing treatment and counselling to handicapped children. Eventually the Variety Club became a B.C. wide organization, as it is known today.

During the Centennial of 1967, Myrtle was appointed chairperson of the B.C. Centennial Women's Committee by then mayor, Bill Vanderzalm and worked with Alderman Stan and Alberta Dainard to organize part of the Surrey Centennial Parade. At the close of the Centennial celebrations, Myrtle hosted a testimonial dinner in honour of the Dainards for their contributions to the municipality of Surrey.

Myrtle was a schoolteacher for the majority of her life. She taught as a secondary school teacher with the Burnaby School District from 1960 to 1965 and a senior secondary school teacher with the Surrey School District for the next 18 years. During these years, she and Benjamin also built and ran the Evertt Rest Home in Burnaby, B.C. and then built and ran the Aaron Heights Guest Home in Surrey, B.C. Myrtle was also involved in other real estate purchases and rentals including the purchase and development of two vacation properties in Washington State and the purchase and operations of another rest home in Mission, the Grand Street Lodge.

In the 1960's Myrtle was the first woman nominated by the Socred Party to contest one of B.C.'s 22 seats. She beat out several men to gain the nomination at the convention which were attended by 210 voting delegates. The headlines at the time read "Lone woman on four-way federal ballot". Although she did not win the final seat, she still accomplished "a first" for the women of B.C.

In 1975, Myrtle received her Master of Arts degree from the University of Western Washington. She attended the University during the summers and school breaks while she was a teacher in Surrey, as this was the only way she could earn a degree and remain in full time employment.

In 1988, Myrtle received her Associate in Science (nursing) from the University of the State of New York. Six years later, in 1994, she received her Bachelor of Science in nursing from the same University as well as her license as a Registered Nurse, New York State, U.S.A. and then in 1995 at the age of 76 years old, Myrtle received her Registered Nurse R.N.A. of British Columbia. The reason for getting her degree in nursing at the age of 76, was so she could continue to be the person-in-charge of the Grand Street Lodge in Mission, B.C.

From 1990 until she passed away, Myrtle was the B.C. Representative & Advisor for the Regents College Nursing Degree Program, University of the State Of New York, U.S.A.

Myrtle was one of the founders and a director of the Lower Mainland Senior Citizens Housing Association and the Silvertone Recreation Association that provides bus tours and recreation for seniors. She was also founder, charter member and a president of the Surrey and Abbotsford Business and Professional Women's Clubs.

Evertt was a Director of the B.C. Lung Association for 12 years prior to her passing.

Evertt is known locally for building and developing the 30-acre Heritage Valley Resort with her husband Benjamin Evertt, and family. Through their hard work Ben, Myrtle and family, their Valley has not only become a major draw for lower mainland weddings, banquet, reunion and retreat functions, but a community hot spot for activities in the Abbotsford, Mission and Chilliwack area.

Myrtle wrote a novel based on the true story of the life of Maria Karinska, Russian prima donna during the reign of Tsar Nicholas II. When Myrtle was a young girl in Craigmyle, she saw part of a performance by the singer and then many years later at college in Port Coquitlam, Evertt met Maria Karinska and they became close friends. She promised to one day tell her story and recently Myrtle published the novel called "Out of Russia".

In 1992 Ben and Myrtle Evertt celebrated 50 years of marriage. The joyous celebration was attended by many friends and relatives including Abbotsford Mayor George Ferguson, Bob Wenman, M.P. (whom Myrtle helped in the launching of his political career), Ross Belcher, M.P. and Deborah Grey. In 2001, Ben passed away in Mission Memorial Hospital after a long battle with Parkinson's Disease.

In February 2003, at the age of 85, Myrtle married Mr. Leonard Peterson in a ceremony in the Mountain Room at Heritage Valley Resort with reception following. Until her death they resided happily in Cloverdale, B.C. where they were currently working on new novels. Which is how they met – each had been given a copy of the other's book to read by some mutual friends, Anne and Elmer Snider!)

Myrtle Evertt Peterson passed away at the age of 87 on March 5, 2006 at Royal Columbian Hospital surrounded by her loving and adoring family; husband Leonard, son Berton and his wife Edith, daughters Deborah and Deanna and her husband David.

Having graduated with many degrees, Myrtle graduated from this life with high honours from all who knew her, Gods faithful servant. She was a help and inspiration to many and will be clearly missed and always remembered.


Grade 12 Academic
1960 B.A. University of B.C.
1965 B.Ed University of B.C.
1975 M.A. University of Western Washington
1988 Associate in Science (Nursing)University of the State of New York
1994 B. Sc. Nursing University of the State of New York
1994 Registered Nurse, New York State, U.S.A.
1995 Registered Nurse R.N.A., British Columbia

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