It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Joan Millar (nee Climenhaga) on September 2, 2020. Joan was born in Saskatoon, Sask., the first child of John and Grace (nee Garratt) Climenhaga. She grew up in Victoria. She was a serious student at Victoria High School and later studied Romance languages and literature at the University of Victoria. After her BA degree, she worked for a short time with CUSO in Trinidad and when she returned, studied in the Social Work program at UVic, which led to a long career in that field in such Northern British Columbia communities as Prince Rupert, Terrace and Smithers, and on Vancouver Island. Joan loved to travel and visited Europe several times. In 1985, she married Garth Millar of Victoria and they lived for a time in Alert Bay, where Garth served as Anglican priest and Joan was employed by the ’Namgis First Nation. After returning to Victoria in 1998, Joan returned to the B.C. Government. She retired from the government in 2004, although continued in a contract role for several years. She was active in the congregation of St. Barnabas Anglican Church, where she sang in the choir. She loved literature, especially that of Jane Austen, and was an enthusiastic member of the Victoria chapter of the Jane Austen Society of North America. Joan was predeceased by her parents, John L. Climenhaga and Grace (Garratt). She is survived by her husband in Victoria, her brother David Climenhaga in St. Albert, Alberta, David’s wife Luanne, and nieces Kathryn and Lily.

A Funeral Service will be held on Saturday, September 19, 2020 at 2:00 PM in the Sequoia Centre at McCall Gardens, 4665 Falaise Drive, Victoria. Due to restrictions on gatherings, in-person attendance is limited and is now at capacity.

Those wishing may attend virtually via Zoom by clicking the link below:

Those who wish to honour Joan’s memory may donate to the John L. Climenhaga Scholarship at the University of Victoria or the Alzheimer’s Society of BC in her name. Condolences may be offered to the family at

  • Nancy James

    I miss Joan daily, when l think of visiting Victoria knowing she is not there now. She was a really good friend and a fellow admirer of Jane Austen. We drove around UVic once and she showed me the Climenhaga connection. She lent me her walking poles and the last day I was there Tom and I walked over to deliver them and have tea with both Joan and Garth. She was such a very nice person.

  • Joyce Grant

    I was fortunate to have met Joan during our years of studying social work at UBC, 1968-70. Although we only reconnected twice since, once at her home in Smithers in 1973 and a few summers ago with Garth in Sooke at our mutual friends from UBC days, Joan was always a delight to share time and ideas. It is with very fond memories that I will remember her.

  • Christina Talstra Lopez

    Thank you for opening attendance to the service via zoom. It was a lovely service that honored her well, and I appreciate being able to witness her farewell from afar. She has always been “Auntie Joan” to me, even though we are not related. She treated my siblings and I as family when we were kids and kept that up as we grew into adults, spreading the love down to our kids. She blessed our mailbox with unique and thoughtful cards, and our bookshelves with well-illustrated and interesting books. As was said at her service, to know Joan was to feel loved. I will miss her being part of this world, but I’m glad her earthly hardships are over. She once shared the following comforting Bible verse with me: “The eternal God is a dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms.” Deuteronomy 33:27 My sincere condolences to Uncle Garth, and to all of Joan’s family.

  • Wayne Spencer

    Dear David and family, it is with extreme sorrow that I learned of Joan’s passing. In my time with Joan, years ago, she was always supportive, funny and very erudite! I also enjoyed my brief time with you and I always admired your entire family.

    I watched the funeral on Zoom and enjoyed your words.

    Again, love to you and your family, I know that Joan made a significant contribution to making the world a better place for all she associated with.

  • Beth Porter

    I knew Joan from our time teaching in Trinidad in the 60s with CUSO. We stayed in touch ever since, though I was in Ontario and we saw each other only rarely. In Trinidad, Joan made good friends among the teachers and church members where she taught. I remember get-togethers, sometimes to beaches with her friend Chandradaye, and the visit of her parents and brother (I think) for whom my Canadian ex-pat friends hosted a dinner. On one lovely occasion a few years ago, Joan and Garth walked me down to the nearby cove where we enjoyed beach-combing at low-tide.

  • Pam Broderick

    So sorry for the loss of cousin Joan…..I will miss our lunches and visits. She was such an interesting person and will be missed by so many.

  • Beverley Cober

    It was always a special event when cousin Joan would come to visit. She was just enough older that I have always looked up to her, and yes, idolized her. The Climenhaga Family Newsletter would rotate regularly to our home and I would listen eagerly as mother Verna would read Aunt Grace and Uncle John’s updates on Joan and David. In these later years our Uncle, Leo Bearss, would proudly announce that his niece Joan and husband Garth had phoned, and they had such a wonderful visit. Those calls meant so much to him and really kept our families connected.
    Our sincere condolences to you David, Leanne and girls.
    Cousin Beverley Heise Cober and husband Keith, Fort Erie, Ontario

  • Norma Millar

    Thank you David for letting our family know about Joans passing-Glen, my son, has sent us all your e-mail. I was saddened to hear about Joan. We all got to know Joan through her marriage to Garth. Ian and I attended their wedding and we have kept in touch through visits, letters and e-mails. I always enjoyed Joans company and her gentle ways. I am also pleased to read that Garth is being well cared for. Please accept my condolences on behalf of her Australian relatives kindest regards to your family Norma Millar

  • Jane Patterson

    I shall miss Joan’s cheerful, engaging friendship.
    She was a very thoughtful and helpful person.

    Joan enjoyed and treasured her Climenhaga and Millar family members,
    also her close friends whether they were at school and university together,
    worked with her, were from her church or were people she met during
    her retirement. Joan stayed in touch with all these people by phone,
    visits, letters or emails.

    She kept active in researching whatever intrigued her as well as
    supporting her church, The Jane Austen Society of North America,
    The Book Club — a small group of avid readers here in Victoria,
    her exercise classes and more.

    I met Joan at The Book Club and we shared books and thoughts while we
    went for walks in Gordon Head, as we drove to Tai Chi lessons or had
    tea and laughter together with Garth.

    Joan and I both grew up in Victoria and had many good memories of places,
    times and events. We also both lived in Terrace, although not at the same
    time, and we would share memories of living there as well.

    Joan enjoyed life and was keen to give help to any who needed it. She also appreciated the help she received from others and spoke highly of the
    people who had given her assistance.

    She will be missed by many people.

    My condolences go to Joan’s brother, David, and his family and my
    loving thoughts go to her husband, Garth.

    Jane Patterson

  • Elizabeth Rose Paul

    I was surprised and shocked to learn of the passing of my cousin Joan. She was a wonderful person, full of strength and goodness. My thoughts are with Garth, David and family during this difficult time. May your wonderful memories of Joan, sustain and help you.
    Beth Paul

  • Marion Carroll

    Dear David,
    I was so very sorry indeed to hear the sad news confirming the death of Joan, when speaking with you.
    Joan was a lovely person and I will miss her.
    I am remembering you, Luanne and family and Garth at this painful and most difficult time.
    I am so disappointed that unfortunately I have a previous commitment on Saturday, 19th. September at 2:00 p.m. and will not be able to attend Joan’s funeral, or meet you and the family.
    With all good wishes ~ Marion Carroll

  • Debbie Loewen (nee Climenhaga)

    So saddened to hear of Joan’s passing. I’m sorry that I was just a first-cousin-once-removed who did not live close enough to know my father’s cousins. May peace be with you during this time.

  • Sheryl Craig-Merrett

    Dear Garth,

    I was so sorry to hear about Joan. I feel blessed having known her and know
    you spent many wonderful years together – what a blessing for you both.

    May God surround you with the love and peace only He can give at this trying time.

    Warmest regards,

  • Ann Barry

    Joan and I met when Garth was taking the pre-confirmation classes at Christ Church Cathedral. I saw her on her wedding day just as she was about to enter the Cathedral. My condolances to Garth and her family. May she rest in peace.

  • Frances McLeod

    My heartfelt condolences to Joan’s family and friends. I met Joan as one of the “founding members” of our book club over thirty five years ago and have shared wonderful and stimulating conversations over a glass of wine and delectable treats. We will miss her thoughtful and wise insights and the warmth of her laughter.

  • Marilyn Hewitt

    Dear Garth, David & family.
    Joan and I attended Victoria High School, graduating in 1962. In 1972/73, I worked as a Public Health Nurse in Smithers & Hazelton, BC. We shared a dinner one might at gathering in Smithers.
    Years later, I connected with her brother, David via Twitter.
    I remember Joan as a smiling cheerful and kind person.
    My condolences to Garth, David and family. I know her kindness and bright spirit will live on in
    her family and friends.
    Rest in Peace, Joan.

  • Susan Black

    Garth, I am so very sorry to read of Joan’s passing…
    My sympathies to you. May she rest in peace and rise again in Glory.

  • Ashleigh Ronald

    Every memory I have of Joan comes with feelings of warmth, kindness, support … and delightful humour! She introduced me to the joys of Jane Austen literature and started my daughter off early with a Pride and Prejudice board book at the age of 3 months. When I moved to Victoria at 17 to go to school, she was there with furniture, dinners, movies, company and food. Her support was unconditional, and available at any time. She was really one of the best, the definition of a good person, and those of us that got to have her in our lives are better for it. My heart goes out to Garth and the rest of Joan’s family, I am truly sorry to hear about her passing.

    Ashleigh Ronald (nee Saunders), daughter of Berniece Saunders (nee Climenhaga)

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