Every life is a story, and this story is about a girl with a very big imagination. Born before World War II, she carried ideas and experiences from that earlier time through eight decades of shift and change, developing a love for stories that started as a child at her local public library. Her father Elo, a Westinghouse engineer with Finnish roots, taught her logic and planning and a love of the outdoors. Her mother Nina let her dream outside the lines even as she taught her to follow a recipe. Her elementary school teachers discovered that she was staring out the window because she needed a bigger challenge. Her sister Audrey and brothers Craig and David rounded out a foursome who hiked, skied and scouted together, growing up in Springfield, Massachusetts.
While studying at Bates College in Maine, this girl danced with a boy visiting from a nearby school. He was checking out the freshmen class, but instead he met this girl with the big imagination, a counterpoint to his disciplined intellect. After graduation, she completed an M.Ed. at Harvard while he attended officer training with the US Navy, and the day after they married, they left to drive cross-country to his first posting in Coronado. It was 1960, it was southern California, and Linda and Gil were open to adventure. They explored the Sierra Nevada, she taught elementary school, and when he finished his posting, they spent time in England, North Carolina and traveling Europe as he completed a doctorate and she began their family. Gil’s first teaching job brought them to Canada and McMaster University in 1967, where they canoed Algonquin Park, Linda played roles in various community theatre productions, and baby #3 was born. The next move was to Nova Scotia in 1975, where the family developed roots, friendships, and careers. The girl with the big imagination was a highly creative mother, if unconventional at times (her kids had to learn the concept of “bedtime” on their own), and her children Nina, Rus and Karla benefitted from her endless ideas, practical teaching, penchant for bending rules and ability to read a book so deeply that you could get Official Parental Approval for just about anything, as long as you asked when she was completely immersed in the story.
Linda worked at the Dartmouth/Halifax Public Library for about 20 years, which meant she had a paid excuse to fully indulge her life-long love affair for reading, books and stories. She also continued to adventure. When Gil bought a sailboat, she learned to skipper and entered races. When his work took him to China, Africa, and many other locations, she explored along with him. After the Berlin Wall fell, she signed up to teach English in a Slovakian high school. When her kids lived in distant cities, she travelled to see each dwelling and made it feel like home. She sang in a community choir and volunteered for the Scott Manor House local historic society. When her grandchildren arrived, she retired early to make sure their imaginations too were inspired. And when Gil was stricken with dementia, she did as she always did: went to the library, found the right books, and taught herself what to do, becoming a gifted and patient caregiver. Most notably, she chose to pursue a “retirement career” of storytelling, becoming a local teller in classrooms and at events, volunteering in various roles for the Storytellers/Conteurs of Canada, as well as giving time to the Parent-Child Mother Goose organization, bringing books to newborn babies and their parents to encourage reading. She was generous, compassionate, empathetic and occasionally (due to that big imagination) maddening, as no idea was ever beyond consideration, even if everyone else had already agreed on a plan. We loved this irreverent, modest, knowledgeable, fun-loving, supportive, egalitarian and principled mother, sister, daughter, aunt, grandmother and friend, and we will miss her terribly. But as she would tell you, no story ever ends, and every old story is new. And since you have read this story, now it is a part of you.
Linda ended this chapter on May 27 at age 84 after suffering a cardiac arrest while visiting family in Vancouver. She is survived by her children Karla (Gary Altenkirk), Rus, and Nina (Linda Kemp), and grandchildren Ella, Tanner, Peter, Katrina, Scarlett and Nicholas, as well as sister Audrey Tanner, brother Craig Tanner (Jollyne), brother-in-law Bruce Winham (Millie) and other extended family in the US. She is predeceased by her husband Gilbert, daughter-in-law Sherry (Wheatley), and brother David Tanner.
A celebration of life was held on June 11, 2022 at All Nations church in Halifax. You can watch the recorded service, with stories of Linda, at this link: https://www.youtube.com/
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to Storytellers of Canada to support the art of storytelling.
Linda not only introduced me to our art of storytelling, she became a dear friend and my partner in celebrating the twice yearly solstices. When I was awarded a scholarship as an emerging teller, she presented me with a ceramic tile entitled “The Storyteller”. It hangs above my desk and I think of her every time I sit at my computer. I miss her dearly.
A very fitting tribute to a wonderful colleague and friend. I look forward to sharing more memories at the Celebration on June 11.
I am sorry for your loss. You will miss her. She lived a rich and interesting life and in time memories will console you. I feel privileged to have known her and regarded her a a true mentor when I worked with her in the library.
Kit and Gill
We will miss Linda very much. Part of “our group” for the past 47 years. So wise, kind and thoughtful. She seemed good for many more years and her loss is another tragedy which reminds us to live life while we can. As she did.
Frances Mendez Barcelo ( Birch )
My heartfelt condolences to the entire family. Hopefully you can keep the passion for storytelling alive by sharing more stories about your mother/ grandmother.
Wow—is all I can say. What a life and how terribly she will be missed. What a rich story…
Linda was a beautiful person inside and out. She will be missed at Storytellers of Canada Conferences and on the StorySave Committee. It was a pleasure to have worked along side her.
What a beautiful story, lived and told.
Linda was the best “supervisor Mom” that any pregnant children’s library programmer could have had. The books she gave my children will be read to my grandchildren. She was a great role model for life-long learning, compassion, dedication to the people in your life, and not taking yourself too seriously. How fitting that she left this plane about to attend another storyteller’s conference and visiting family. Our family sends you all hugs.
My sincere condolences to all of Linda’s family. She was such an incredible person, she inspired us all. She lived her life with gusto and meaning. What she strived to share with others will live on in those closest to her and many more. I hope you can find solace in the happy memories and good times spent in the company of such a wonderful mother, sister, wife, grandmother, and friend.
Nina. I am so sorry for the loss of your mom. She sounds like a woman we all should have known. She obviously loved life very much. May happy memories wrap around you like a soft blanket during this grieving time.
I loved Linda’s free spirit and infectious laugh! We had a blast walking around Fredricton, NB at a Stirytellers of Canada Conference looking for ‘rolled’ ice cream! She had seen someone who had it, asked where they got it and convinced me to go on the search with her! It was an adventure finding the place (we hoofed around a lot of Fredericton), then to watch it being made, eating it but most of all sharing it with her! She was so committed to the things she was involved in! What an inspiration! I will miss her but am so grateful to have known her. Deepest condolences to her family!!
Nina I’m so sorry for your loss. What a marvelous story of her life. How lucky to have had her, and such sorrow to lose her!
Marc & Michelle Coulombe
What an inspiring and loving tribute to an amazing woman. Nina, we are so deeply sorry for you and your family’s loss. Linda was lovely and so many of her her qualities have imbued themselves into the loveliness we see in you and your children. We hope your cherished memories of her will bring you comfort as you celebrate her life and grieve her loss. Know that we are thinking of you and holding you all in our prayers.
Surprised and saddened to hear this wondrous woman is no longer with us. A fitting tribute to a truly outstanding role model, creative thinker and fearless teller of stories.
Sarah (Boyne) LaRoche
This was so touching to read. Spending my entire childhood and a good part of my early adulthood with Linda and Gil next door, I didn’t actually know many of these details of her life, I am happy to have learned more about her (and the photos are so perfectly her). I have many memories of Linda…her and mom having coffee on the deck (or yelling across the lawn at each other!), running over to borrow something that mom had run out of, sailing (alot!) with both her and Gil on the J24 (learning SO much from them about sailing!), quince jelly and rum balls at Christmas. I haven’t seen much of her in recently but she will be missed.
Sending heartfelt condolences to Tanner, Peter and family. What a remarkable lady! Keep your memories close and treasure them always. Sincerely Michele E.Rees (Jacob’s mom).
My favourite memory of linda Winham comes attached to memories of LONG chats with Nina at the kitchen table of the shore drive home. As the hours passed and the pot of Constant Comment tea was refreshed, Linda would breeze through the kitchen to say hello or add a new perspective to whatever issue was on debate. She was for me the epitome of the cool mom who welcomed her children’s friends as young adults with interesting things to contribute. We felt at home and affirmed.
M thoughts and prayers are with Nina, Karla and Russ. Your mom will live on in you. Much love to you and your families.
Linda was so good to me when I was just starting out in library work. She was also a lot of fun and the first to have a good laugh with over all our foibles! She will be missed and I send my condolences to family and friends. Such a life she lived! That part makes me very happy.
Lexie & Paul
“Heartfelt condolences to family and friends. Linda will be missed at her Bedford Nova Scotia residence as well. She was a kind and wonderfully authentic woman who shared her faith through words and actions on a daily basis, an inspiration to me. The stories she shared brought such enjoyment and wisdom. We will miss her. xo
What a lovely tribute to your mom. I see and feel all those amazing qualities in you and your family. I am sorry for your loss.
I hope you take solace in your beautiful memories. Thank you for generously sharing those qualities with everyone you come into contact with.
Stacy and Neil
All I can think about is the conversations Linda and I had and those we would have had when we met again. I always saw her in passing, when she was on her way somewhere, or at a conference and it was always fun and surprising. She contributed so much to the growth of storytelling across Canada. And She and Gil welcomed me to stay in their home the very first time I came to Halifax/Dartmouth as a storyteller. So many good memories. .
Joan and Dan
Our thoughts and hearts are with you, Nina, Karla and Russ. Your mom and dad were the first people we met when we moved to Bedford in 1975. As we walked down the street that summer evening, Linda came out and invited us in for pear pie, made with pears from their backyard tree. It was the beginning of a wonderful friendship enriched by Linda’s vibrancy, curiosity, spontaneity, thoughtfulness, and general love of life. We miss her dearly.
I will always be warmed by the memory of Linda’s
Warm smile and our interactions at storytelling events.Roz Cohen
It is clear from eloquently written tribute of Linda that her ability to tell remarkable stories has been passed along. Linda and Gil were neighbours of ours at their cottage on Hermans Island. Incredible people who have left incredible marks on those of us lucky enough to have known them. Peace be with you.
No matter how or where a Linda tale begins it boils down to Once-upon-a-time I had a friend, a role model, a mentor, a kindred spirit and that has made all the difference. Linda was fun, passionate and spirited. My storytelling found fertile ground with the Storytellers’ Circle and gained a sense of purpose and place when it fell within the sphere of Linda and the other tellers. It is wonderful to see the breadth of Linda’s life story, thank you to the family for sharing. The adventures will continue and the stories will unfold in magical ways and Linda will have a presence in all of them. Love and condolences to Linda’s family.
I will always remember her smiling and happy, dancing at the Mug and Anchor with Gil. I feel so fortunate to have met them both.
Linda was an amazing woman (and aunt). So accomplished. She will be missed by many. Sending lots of love to the entire family. Xo
Louisa A Stewart
Nina, Karla and Russ,
My heart is so saddened by the loss of your dear Mother. To me. Linda became my “adopted sister” for many years and especially during her brother, David”s last days. I was hoping to see her one more time. She was all the goodness and life that I found in her wonderful Finnish Scottish family. She was an adventurer and a lover of her dear family. I will miss her in the world but feel strong that God has opened his arms to her.
I will keep you all in my prayers.
I remember racing on the Bluenose with Linda when BBYC had “Ladies” races. We had a lot of fun and excitement. Linda would tell me what to do and I would follow her instructions. She even got me flying the spinnaker. Lovely memories from good times on the water.
Sending sympathy from Bedford,
Was a pleasure to work with Linda at the Dartmouth Regional Library. She was a very interesting pleasnt lady . RiP Linda.
Linda opened her home and her heart to me when I first moved to Nova Scotia and joined the Halifax Storytelling Circle. We shared many stories over a cup of tea or coffee into the long hours at the “Winham Storytellers B&B” ( We joked about this enough and we stayed there quite a few times so I made her a sign with this on it for fun) and when I got married her and Gil welcomed my husband into their home as well. I am so thankful to have met her and to have shared many wonderful memories and stories with her. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family. She will be missed. Joanna and Pat
For everyone who knew and cared for Linda, please accept my sincere condolences at our loss.
I had a Zoom visit with Linda two weeks before her much anticipated journey to participate in the SC-CC conference.
She was full of life and was very much looking forward not only to seeing friends at the conference, but also to spending time with her daughter Nina.
I did not know Linda well…indeed..more through common links within the storytelling community…..but please accept my condolences on her passing…
Linda was a Mom like no other that I had encountered (as an 8 year old). Her zest for life and willing participation in the zany antics of her kids (and their friends) made her a storyteller that brought the stories to life. Her intelligence and wit helped us decipher things with a new perspective and while visiting the Winhams was nothing like my own household, the warmth, love and safety made you love being there. Regardless of how someone leaves us in this life, adapting to the void that is left is not something that comes easily. Linda meant so much to her family, and that void will be felt, but our memories of her will hopefully soften the edges of it. Much love to you all. Tracey and Andrew Tulloch and family
How does one write a meaningful tribute to a family of prolific writers? You can’t. I’ll articulate as best I can.
In 1975, the Winham Family moved in across the street from us in Bedford. My life was changed forever. With that move Gil & Linda brought my best friend forever, Karla.
Through the years, Linda was like another mom for me, especially after my own mom passed in 2006.
Flash forward to April 2022, I am so grateful to have spent 3 nights with Linda in her Bedford apartment. Most special was a long walk in the old neighborhood, stopping at Gil’s grave on Wardour Street and continuing down Shore Drive, reminiscing about old times. We went clear past the old Bedford Lions Pool to the end of Shore Drive before doubling back all the way to The Chickenburger for a nostalgic lunch. At 84 Linda didn’t miss a beat. She was full of vitality. The kind that accelerates through her 90’s.
When she arrived in Vancouver a month and a half later for her Storytelling Convention, nothing seemed amiss. Then life took an unexpected turn. It was time. I had the opportunity to say goodbye and then she was gone.
To say Linda will be missed, is a complete understatement. We all would have cherished a few more years of her unparalleled wisdom and guidance.
I’ll take the memories I do have and cherish them forever.
Alison Coyle and Leanne Wall
Nina, Rus, and Karla,
What a wonderful woman and a wonderful story.
We are so very grateful to have shared lovely times with your Mom during her visits to Vancouver.
Our love and prayers are with you as you celebrate her life and move into the next chapter as a family.
Our sincerest heartfelt condolences,
Alison and Leanne
We will all miss Linda. My sincerest condolences to all of Linda’s family. Linda was my hero and mentor. Little did I know when I met her at the Halifax Storytelling Circle of the worlds of story she would open up to this timid listener. Nor could I imagine that she would decide it was I who would follow her into one of her roles with Storytellers of Canada. Linda encouraged us all to expand our universe and use our talents. And along the way hone our oral vocabulary. Thank you Linda. Love, thoughts and prayer with Linda’s family and friends today.
Nina, Rus and Karla,
I am so very sorry to hear that your mother has passed. Your Mom was definitely the most creative, out of the box, imaginative mom’s that help nurture me as a child, leaving a lasting imprint on me for my lifetime.
Nina, you and your mom profoundly impacted me and my childhood and I feel truly blessed to have know such a remarkable woman.
Of course our time began during the time your family lived in Dundas, Ontario during your father’s tenure at McMaster. I will never forget coming over one day to your Park Street home yo find you bedroom door removed and ready to paint however you wished, but horses definitely being the nucleus. Her sustainable practices preceded by decades of other homes gave us a view to caring for the world, thus our Clean Dundas day as a group of young children. A sole 13” portable TV was rarely on, but when it was it would be a world event designed to educate. And of course, books … books and reading were central to your home & the environment with jazz and classical music made it an optimal learning environment. That said, we enjoyed the outdoors around your home just as much. A well educated, travelled, strong, loving, caring, career mom with arms big enough to hold the world, she was one in a million.
May your memories fill your heart to overflowing as she is with you in all you are and all you do!
I am writing on behalf of the National Council of the Parent-Child Mother Goose Program to express our condolences on the loss of Linda. She was a part of this council for many years, at least from 2005 until 2013. We want to honour the huge contribution she made and to send our very best wishes to her family and friends.
Dear Linda, thank you for your many kindnesses and friendship during my summer in the children’s department of the Dartmouth Regional Library so many years ago. Here’s to many more stories from the worlds you travel through now.
Marcella Bungay Stanier
I worked with Linda at the old DRL for many happy years and was also lucky to crew with her and sometimes Gil on their boats- that Bluenose sloop- what a privilege to have sailed on her. I loved Linda.
I am very sad to learn she has passed but so grateful to have known her