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CASTELEIN, Irene Younger Picture.jpg



June 13, 1934 – September 30, 2020

With heavy hearts, her family announces that Irene passed away on September 30 at the Misericordia Hospital at the age of 86.

Irene will be lovingly remembered by her children: Richard (Phyllis), Karen and Myra (Terry); grandchildren: Kelly (Hunter) and Heather, sister Joyce (Mike) and nieces: Debra (Michael) and Cheryl (Donna), and nephews: Kenneth (Kathy) and Brian (Susan) and their families.  Irene is predeceased by her parents: William and Tekla (Teenie) Seminchuk, husband Charles Castelein, mother-in-law, Eliane Castelein, and son-in-law, Charles Colyer.

Irene was born and raised in St. Boniface, Manitoba in a house on Giroux Street on the bank of the Seine River, where flooding was an annual event.  She attended King George School and Nelson McIntyre Collegiate, where she excelled scholastically and athletically.  She returned for King George reunions and Nelson Mac's 75th and 90th Anniversaries, working on contacts and decorating committees.

Irene met her future husband, Charles Jean Castelein, at a dance and they were married in 1953.  They first lived on Scotia Street, then in an apartment on St. Jean Baptiste Street, before finally finding a home in Norwood Flats on Birchdale Avenue.  Money was tight but they managed to make sure their children were well dressed and well fed.  Irene was an excellent cook and her bishop's bread fruitcake will be missed by all at Christmas.  Her lasagna and scalloped potatoes were also coveted.  She honed her sewing skills every Hallowe'en with inventive costumes for her children.

Irene worked at many jobs with few breaks.  She worked with her mother and her daughters for Minuk Catering, then retail sales at the Hudson Bay Company and Eatons, tour guide at the planetarium, cooking at the police cafeteria on Main Street, accounting at Sampson's Ski Shop, head chef at nursing homes (preparing imaginative meals for the seniors), and as a florist at Gail's Wholesale Florist.  This prepared her to run her own flower shop, Trellis Florists, with Karen in St. Norbert, then Fort Richmond, finally changing to a crafts and gift shop called the Calico Cat in St. Boniface.  Through the rest of her life, Irene sewed, knitted and crocheted many unique items for her family, gift shop and craft shows.

Irene started her love of singing at an early age by listening to the radio and singing along with the performers, whether it was opera, show tunes, religious hymns or contemporary music.  She even studied a short time with Professor Leather, who was very impressed with her clear soprano voice and range.  She started choral singing with the Ukrainian Children's Choir, followed by the Bay Choir, St. John's Choir, the Norwood United Choir, the Winnipeg Philharmonic Choir, the Opera Chorus (where she especially loved singing the Carmina Burana), the Mennonite Oratorial Choir, the Harrow United Choir and the Good Companions Group.  With the Sacred Music Choir, Irene was able to travel to Europe, performing at famous venues in France, Holland, Germany, Austria and Italy. With the Regents Park Choir, she exercised her talents in producing costumes for the annual fund-raising musicals as well as singing solos and duets with Karen.  Irene sang in the opening and closing ceremonies for the Pan-Am Games, the Manitoba Indigenous Games and Canada 150 with Karen. 

Irene also found time to act and sing with many Winnipeg local groups: Studio 22 at the Base Theatre at the Canadian Forces Base on Sharp, Straw Half Players, Interfaith Harmony Theatre (where she played Ruth in Neil Harris' play, Chautauqua, in 1966), Manitoba Theatre Center and Rainbow Stage (where she was offered the role of the Wicked Witch in the Wizard of Oz production of 1959, but missed it to go on a family vacation).  Many times she would bring her children back stage to mingle with the performers.  She performed with Gordon Pinsent, Len Cariou, Ed Ivanko, August Schellenberg and many others.  Karen and she attended many Broadway musicals when they came to Winnipeg.

The family went on camping trips every summer, usually in Whiteshell Provincial Park, but also ventured into northern Manitoba, Saskatchewan, northern Ontario and Minnesota.  Irene easily transferred her cooking skills from the kitchen to the campfire.  Irene and Charlie enjoyed cruises on Lake Winnipeg with the MS Lord Selkirk.  She went to Maryland to attend the weddings in the family of her sister, Joyce Hrechka.  She attended the Morden Corn and Apple Festival annually with Karen.  She explored caves in the Black Hills and geysers in Yellowstone.  During the last few years she took cruises from Montreal to Boston, Vancouver to Alaska and Vancouver to San Diego with Myra, Rick and Phyllis.

Grandma Irene doted on her grandaughters, Kelly and Heather; cherishing every moment with them.  She also enjoyed time with the children of her extended family: Sean, Ashley, Michael, Julia, Breann, William, Ava, Addison, Steven, Elora, Claire and Luke.

Irene loved all animals, but especially her cats. Many were cradled in her lap over the years: Kitz, Rusty, Minou, and Baby.

In August, 2020, Irene was diagnosed with an aggressive brain cancer that, with complications, quickly ended her life.  With pain medication she passed away in relative peace and comfort.  Her children visited her every day in September until her passing.  She had virtual visits with her grandchildren, nieces and nephews.  She maintained her humanity and tenacity throughout the ordeal.

In accordance with Irene's wishes, cremation has taken place and no formal service will be held.  A Celebration of Life will be held at a future time and location to be announced in 2021. In the meantime, Irene’s family kindly requests that all of her friends and relatives take a few minutes to honour her memory by watching the photo-biography above. They also encourage the sharing of photos, memories, and stories by making use of the comment section on this page. 

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to any charity sponsoring animals, nature conservancy, wildlife protection and cancer research.


Cremation & Life Celebrations

530 St, Mary Avenue - Winnipeg

204-421-5501 -

CASTELEIN, Irene Older Picture.jpg

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