Adele passed away this week. This article, written by Margaret Graham, appeared in the November 2019 issue of the Kamloops Naturalist Club newsletter, Sage Whispers.
Adele Stapleton, the club’s secretary since 2015, was born in Vancouver General Hospital on April 5, 1940 and her sister Gail was born a year later. Their parents had built a house in West Vancouver in 1937, prior to the opening of the Lions Gate Bridge in 1938. As their dad was a travelling salesman with General Electric, he was transferred frequently and the family moved several times within the province, including stops in Kelowna and Trail, before settling in Victoria in 1954 where Adele was very active with the Victoria Y swim team for four years. She graduated from Oak Bay High School which was just across the street from their house. After graduation, she attended Vancouver Vocational School to train as a hairdresser. She spent five years at Vancouver General Hospital, servicing the patients with her supplies on a mobile cart which she pushed through the underground tunnels that connected the buildings at the hospital.
Adele got married in 1960 and became a stay-at-home mom in Richmond after her two children were born: Brianna in 1966, and Allison in 1968. After her marriage ended, Adele performed office work for 20 years. In 1985, she started a 10-year stint with the non-profit group – Friends of Boundary Bay. She describes the job as a travelling wetlands road show. Equipment was pulled in a trailer to various wetlands near schools in the Lower Mainland where Adele led the children in nature walks and outdoor activities. The water samples they collected were examined under the microscopes at school. For a month each year, she toured the province, going as far north as Dawson Creek and Fort St. John, over to Vancouver Island and up the Sunshine Coast. Although they went to Oliver, Penticton, and Kelowna, they never came to Kamloops as McQueen Lake already served as a wetland study area for the local schools. In 1995, Adele attended a ceremony at Government House to receive an Environmental Award on behalf of Friends of Boundary Bay in recognition of their accomplishments in working with children around BC. Adele was certified as a Workshop Facilitator for Project Wild, Project Wet, and Forests in Focus between 1994 and 2004 (programs introduced by the Ministry of Environment and connected well with the school curriculum.)
Adele’s next job was at another non-profit group – the Burns Bog Conservation Society, where she led tours through the bog. She said it was a magical place early in the morning when everything was covered in fog. She was also very passionate about owls and volunteered at OWL Rehabilitation Society in Delta, rescuing, and caring for the birds and sitting on the board for 10 years. Between 2001 and her move to Kamloops in 2006, she delivered classroom programs for Let’s Talk Science around the Lower Mainland.
It was Adele’s childhood experience in Guiding that led to a passionate love for “Nature” and sharing this enthusiasm with others. She started as a Brownie and was associated with the Guides for the next 65 years. In 1957, at the age of 17, she attended an International Camp in Doe Lake Ontario with 1800 campers from 35 countries. She served as a Guide Leader for 10 years in Vancouver and 35 years in Richmond until she moved to Kamloops in 2006. She became a trainer of other leaders while at the coast, and inspired many leaders to work with children and nature. She ran provincial nature camps for five years, including Camp Arbuckle in Kelowna, Camp Olave at Roberts Creek, and Camp Tsoona near Chilliwack, which is now a housing development.
When Adele moved to Kamloops in 2006, she immediately became involved with the Big Little Science Centre. She assisted in developing programs for K – 7 students which were similar to the ones she had used on the coast. She also helped to run the summer camps. This led to 13 years of being secretary and director at BLSC.
Always willing to volunteer with a number of organizations, in 2013 she was recognized as Volunteer of the Year by Radio NL and Wells Gray Tours, and won a wonderful trip to Barkerville and Sunpeaks.
Since joining the Naturalist Club in 2014, Adele has become an active club member. She has served as Secretary since 2015, always participates in the TRU World gold panning trips with the international students up Tranquille Creek (she points out interesting natural features and demonstrates the gold panning techniques). She is first to arrive at Heritage House and sets up chairs before sitting down to take the minutes. She is always eager to go on field trips. Her week days are filled with exercise classes at John Tod Y and she has organized lots of hikes, luncheons, and Christmas potlucks for her Y buddies.
Something that had never occurred to Adele until retirement was “travel.” A cruise to the Mediterranean was so amazing it was followed by New York and the Caribbean, China and Thailand (six friends from the Y), and Alaska (with Y friends). Last summer she had an awesome time with her daughter Allison spending 10 days in Haida Gwaii.
Adele is truly a volunteer extraordinaire.