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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

New “Edna’s Kitchen” sign raised in St. John the Evangelist Hall


by Sylene Argent

For at least 45-years, Edna Chevalier dedicated her cooking and organizational skills, time, and effort to St. John the Evangelist Hall in Woodslee as the long-time Hall Manager.

On the evening of Tuesday, April 25, the Woodslee Knights of Columbus and the Catholic Women’s League hosted a chili dinner as a way to do the two things Chevalier loved: offer food to the community and bring everyone together.

At the event, a special dedication took place in Chevalier’s honour. A handmade sign reading “Edna’s Kitchen” was revealed above the kitchen entrance at St. John the Evangelist Hall, where Chevalier spent so much of her time, dedicated to ensuring community events, weddings, memorial luncheons, and other important events went off without a hitch.

She did so with the help of her “Hall Ladies;” fellow women who worked or volunteered with Chevalier in the kitchen at St. John the Evangelist Hall.

In addition, a plaque was presented to her family members. It will hang by the kitchen doors to remind facility users for generations to come of Chevalier’s endless devotion as the Hall Manager and dedicated CWL member.

The recognition event took place around a month-and-a-half after Chevalier passed away at the age of 87. With so many onsite to celebrate the dedication, her nephew, Steve Chevalier, was sure his aunt would be humbled and proud of the honour.

“They all have their special Edna stories,” Steve said of the Hall Ladies present at the chili dinner.

He said the Woodslee Knights of Columbus and CWL started discussing a way to honour her many years of service in November. Steve said he was tasked to speak with his aunt about the opportunity, and she humbly declined.

“I told her she didn’t have a choice,” Steve joked, and it was then that she warmed up to the idea that something would be done to honour her years of commitment.

Shortly after that discussion, Steve said Chevalier fell ill and later passed before a celebration was able to take place.

Edna started as a volunteer at the hall, which was built in 1959. Her duties grew to employment with the popularity of the venue.

“Back in the ‘70s and ‘80s, this hall was the go to place for weddings,” Steve said. “You would have to book one to two-years in advance.” and added that at that time many local youths got their first jobs at the hall.

Deputy Mayor of Lakeshore, Kirk Walstedt, was pleased to bring greetings on behalf of the municipality, but noted he would have attended the event regardless of his position on Council.

He said Chevalier was always front and centre at the hall. She was a kind-hearted and lovely lady.

“You wanted to get along with her,” Walstedt joked, noting that he and Edna had always remained friends. He commended her on her years of services, which included helping to plan the Canada Day celebration in Woodslee last year.

“The sign is great,” Walstedt said, gesturing to the space above the kitchen door. “You could never come into the hall without seeing her standing there. She will be missed.”

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