Karen was the middle of the three ‘Cronk Girls’ as they were known in the Blenkinsop Valley where they grew up. She and sisters Gail and Rhodena were raised by parents Ken and Eileen Cronk on the farm where her grandfather homesteaded in 1903 and where her mother was born. To Karen, family history was very important. She loved researching family genealogy. She traced her roots back to places in Ontario, England and beyond. She sought out her United Empire Loyalist roots and proved her descent from four different loyalists. She found relatives far and wide, made contact with them and traveled to meet many of them in her later years. She also traveled extensively across Canada and to New York on many genealogy-related research and conference trips, always with her friend Catherine. In 2019 she received the Leith Memorial Award for outstanding volunteer work on behalf of the United Empire Loyalist Association of Canada.
In her youth Karen was an avid Girl Guide and 4-H member. She was one of the first girls in BC to join a 4-H Beef club. She won accolades for her beef judging skills and her sewing skills in the Saanich 4-H Home Arts club which she encouraged her mom to start. She attended the Toronto Royal Winter Fair as a 4-H delegate in 1961, one of 10 youth who were selected for this honour. She earned both her All Round Cord in Girl Guides as well as her Gold Cord in Sea Rangers. As an adult Karen was a Brown Owl and Guide Leader in Woodwyn District. She served as Camp Advisor for two different divisions in Southern Vancouver Island Area as well as two terms as Camp Advisor for SVI Area, driving out to work at the camps in Sooke every week. She loved to camp and backpack and participated in many Guiders’ hikes and camps all over the province. In her later years she enjoyed hikes with the Peninsula Pals Trefoil Guild. Karen received a Gold Merit Award for her service to Girl Guides of Canada and was a member for over 65 years.
She met Bruce in 1957 when he arrived at her house on horseback with a friend who was interested in Karen. Story has it that Bruce and his big mare Shawnee kept getting in between Karen and the other suitor. The rest is history as they say. The engagement happened on her seventeenth birthday and November 10, 1962 was the big day. They were the first couple married in Gosworth Road Community Church which was built by her grandfather. It was the start of a new adventure that took them first to a little house in Brentwood Bay, then to the cabin at the ‘home farm’ and finally to the house they built on West Saanich Road that has been their home for the past 54 years.
Karen and Bruce had three children, Carolyn, Natalie and Ross. Son-in-law Steve added a new dimension to the family. Then along came four grandchildren, Rebecca, Susannah, Ethan and Michaela and grandsons-in-law Chris and Jon. In September 1979, Karen became a fixture standing on the side of West Saanich Road every weekday morning and afternoon where she safely ushered dozens of school children across the busy road to Durrance School. This job lasted for twenty-five years until her retirement in June 2004 when the last students left the school for good. She was honoured for this service at a retirement tea in May of that year.
As a result of her upbringing on the farm and her life-long membership in Girl Guides, Karen believed in being a good steward of God’s creation. She was passionate about eradicating invasive species and could frequently be found somewhere on the farm digging up any she could find. She was also a recycler long before curbside recycling came to be. Karen enjoyed many life-long friendships including many in Guiding. She kept in touch with friends from Mt Doug High and lunched regularly for many years with dear friends Gail and Marilyn from Durrance School.
Karen has left to her family love, devotion and a Godly legacy. She accepted her Lord and Savior at a young age and her prayers have been influential in many family members accepting the Lord, including her children and grandchildren. We have been blessed by her in more ways than we can count.
She was a long time member of Saanich Baptist Church where a memorial service will be held at 4347 Wilkinson Road, on Saturday, July 24, 2021, at 2:00 pm.
Condolences may be offered to the family below.
Charlotte Ann Baade-Sekul
Deepest condolences to the Family of Karen & her friends. I met Karen in the UEL Association of Victoria. Her role as our Archivist & photographer is very much appreciated! What an amazing legacy she left. What a privilege to have known such a kind, lovely person who always had a great smile & a twinkle in her eye. I’ll miss her!
Carolyn – I was so sorry to hear of your mom’s passing. I always enjoyed my pre-service chats with her on Sunday mornings. She came early enough to church to allow us time for a good conversation. She was a lovely person and I will miss her.
Thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.
rick simmonds erin katie greg
Bruce and Family. Memories of loved ones never fade. Our sincere condolences to all of you.
Condolences to Karen’s family. I knew Karen only slightly from the U.E.L. meetings.
Didn’t know we shared Girl Guide memberships. We certainly could have shared experiences. So sorry she passed away. Josephine Herndler
My condolences to all the Borden family. I first knew Karen as a neighbour when we lived on Wallace Drive and she safely ushered our children across West Saanich Rd to Durrance school, then later when we were members of the Peninsula Pals Trefoil Guild. Karen was an inspiration in all walks of life.
Mary Lou Rowbotham
RIP Karen. It was a pleasure to have known you over my years in the Victoria UEL group. My cousin Catherine Fryer, who was your good friend, got to travel to Ontario with you to meet Catherine’s Eastern relatives who she didn’t know existed until I joined the Victoria UEL. You helped me get two certificates for my ancestors and quite a few for Catherine. Thank you for the amazing job you did. My condolences go out to your family and friends, it sounds like you had many!
Judy & Mark Pennell
Sorry to hear that you have lost your Mom, Carolyn. A very sad day.
Sending our condolences❤️
Thinking of you all.
I met Karen through Guiding. She will be missed by many. Condolences to the Family.
Sandra Brooke Farkas
My condolences to Karen’s family.
The Karen I knew loved her family and was so proud of every one of you. She was also tough and adventurous like the ancestors she researched. She had a great spirit and that lives on in those she’s left behind.
To the Borden family, my love is with all of you at this sad time. Life changes when we loose a wife, a mother, a sister, a friend and she was all of these things to us.
I loved her laugh, I remember skiing with her right after her marriage and I could
not believe she could leave Bruce on his own! Karen assured me he could handle her
weekend away! They were a great couple and she loved her family so very much.
Heaven is rejoicing and we are remembering Karen.