Aina Vitalia Turton (nee Gulbis) passed away January 4, 2023, at the age of 96 years. Aina grew up in Bird River, Manitoba, a pioneer community founded by Latvian immigrants, knowing only the Latvian language. She learned English while attending the Bird River school, which closed during WWII. Aina completed her education by correspondence and moved to Winnipeg to attend Success Business College, and after graduating became a stenographer with the Manitoba Telephone System.
Aina loved nature; trees, flowers, birds, and animals. The farmyard, “her” rock hill, and the gentle flowing Bird River were her playground. Canoeing was their means of transportation, and Aina was an accomplished canoeist into her 80’s. Aina could embroider the most intricate designs and was also a skilled sewer. She planned and sewed clothing, quilt tops and handmade braided rugs.
Aina loved singing and dancing. In Winnipeg she sang in the Manitoba Telephone choir and later the United Church Choir. She knew all the ballroom dances and attended dances in the halls around Bird River. How fitting it was that she met her husband at a dance in Winnipeg.
Aina married George Turton on August 15, 1953, at the Westminster United Church in Winnipeg. A few months later they moved to Swan River, where Aina worked for the Swan Valley Health Unit until June of 1957 when they began their family.
The spring of 1977, the family moved to their farm near Whitebeech, SK, where Aina provided meals for 10 or more people 3 times a day and maintained a giant garden. She took an active role in the Whitebeech Community Club and enjoyed many friendships.
Curious about her Latvian heritage, Aina made 3 separate trips to Latvia. She wrote her own book: The House Beside the Rock Hill, bringing to light what it was like to grow up in a pioneer community in Manitoba, and preserving the history of Bird River.
Aina was predeceased by an infant sister in 1925, her father, Willis Gulbis in 1958, a beloved cousin, Melanie Ingraham (Sarapu) (Freiman) in 1976, her mother, Julia Gulbis in 1992 and her cousin’s daughter, Rita Lagerstead (Sarapu) in 2011.
Aina is survived by her husband of 69 ½ years, George Turton, her daughter Donna and children Vic and Jordan Drysdale; son Raymond (Leona DeBruin) their children Arlan and Nigel Turton (Jilli’anna Nienhaus) and great grandchildren Matilda and Emily; daughter Glenda (Mike Thelander) and children Kayla and Jillian Thelander and son Darcy (Pam Richards) as well as her cousin’s daughter Anita Otis (Sarapu) and many dear cousins in Latvia.
To plant a beautiful memorial tree in memory of Aina Vitalia Turton, please visit our Tree Store.