Mathilda “Tilly” Koppes, 82, of Chartwell Ridgepointe in Kamloops, British Columbia, longed to honour her late husband Martin’s achievements and to preserve his legacy by creating a photo album dedicated to his life and career. For years, she had been collecting and archiving printed materials about his personal and professional life that she hoped would someday be assembled in a meaningful way. Mathilda’s wish was put into action with the help of Chartwell’s charitable partner, Wish of a Lifetime Canada. They understood the value of preserving history to pass on to future generations and did everything possible for Mathilda to achieve her dream.
As a young woman, Mathilda moved to Canada from the Netherlands in 1960 to marry the love of her life, Martin, also originally from the Netherlands. The couple had three children and raised five foster children, helping them to “find their place in life.” Martin and Mathilda shared many interests, including traveling, fishing, hiking, and volunteering.
Martin’s position as postmaster for Canada Post meant the family moved frequently, his last job taking the family to Chase, BC, for 17 years. After retirement, Martin chose to enter politics, first becoming a Councillor for a term and then the Mayor of Chase for two terms. Tilly clipped and saved every item ever printed in the newspapers, along with pictures to go with the articles. Her extensive collection was a treasure chest of memories on Martin’s life.
Losing Martin suddenly in 2016 was heartbreaking for Mathilda but she drew on her incredible strength, faith and love for her family and friends to cope with his loss. The idea of creating a photo album retracing his achievements has helped her focus on his legacy, rather than her deep sense of loss. Mathilda’s extensive collection of photos, news clippings, articles and letters, gathered over 56 years of marriage’ were digitally reproduced and bound into a beautiful handcrafted photo book, along with copies for each of her children, thanks to the help and coordination of Wish of a Lifetime Canada.
Mathilda couldn’t have been happier with the way the photo books turned out. Memories of she and Martin’s life together flooded over her as she sifted slowly through the 150 pages of the book. On her 82nd birthday, Chartwell Ridgepointe planned a special celebration where she gave each of her children a copy of the beautiful photo book dedicated to their father. “Tears were running down everyone’s cheeks,” said Mathilda. “It was more than I ever could have imagined.”