LORRAINE ”BUNNY” ENGLER PLANES
1923 – 2012
Nearing her 90th birthday, one year after the passing of her husband, distinguished T’Sou-ke Elder Frank Planes, Lorraine “Bunny” Planes, Chum-o-coyth, was laid to rest with him at Sooke Harbour Cemetery.
It was Bunny’s striking Hawaiian beauty that had first attracted Frank back in 1942, when he was serving in the Canadian Forces and on leave in Vancouver. And at the service conducted by Father Michael Favero and Salish Spiritual Advisor Shirley Alphonse at the St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church on Saturday, it was haunting melodies from the Hawaiian Islands that drifted through the proceedings.
Bunny had grown up in Vancouver, her mother Edna May Vianen of Hawaiian descent and her dad, Thomas Engler, a Hollander who had immigrated to North Dakota and then to B.C. Bunny, and her sister Viola nicknamed “Buddy” had learned hula dancing when they were growing up, and in turn, taught their young daughters.
Graduating from Templeton High during World War II, Bunny had gone to work in a factory in the east end making tents for the Armed Forces. Perhaps that was where she got her first practice at sewing, as she sat stitching on the heavy canvas.
On Oct. 18, 1944, the two were married. Frank brought his bride to Sooke to stay with his family while he went back to his war service. Before leaving her though, he introduced her to deer hunting in the Sooke hills, and instructed her to learn to pluck and clean ducks.
When Frank came back from the service, they were able to set up their first home together. Youngsters playing on the fine, new playground equipment at Saseenos School nowadays would be surprised to know that a little cottage stood exactly where they swing and climb on the bars. Almost hidden among the trees at the time, the cottage belonged to Frank’s step-dad Gustave Planes and the couple set up housekeeping there, with the help of apple crates for furniture.
The couple were living on Maple Avenue when first daughter Willow was born, and then with Frank’s successful fishing career they got their own home on West Coast Road. Daughter Fern joined the family. Industrious Bunny sewed clothes and dancing outfits for her girls, and matching outfits for Frank and herself.
Long gone were the days when she didn’t know how to pluck and clean game. Now she enjoyed trout fishing with Frank and the two went to the Kootenays for elk and to Saskatchewan for geese. Like most women of the day with fishermen husbands, she canned jar after jar of salmon.
When her children were grown, Bunny went out fishing salmon commercially with Frank, serving as deckhand, along with grandsons from time to time. They particularly enjoyed the interlude when she was deckhand and hostess for Frank when he was captain of Bob Wright’s Salmon Princess sailing out of Ucluelet.
In their senior years ,the couple were living on Eagle Heights on Reserve No. 1, and spent a more relaxing period traveling and entertaining relatives, including Bunny’s Hawaiian kin from the mainland. Until recently, Bunny still kept up her skills, knitting, crocheting and continuing to turn out jars of canned salmon.
Bunny Planes leaves daughter Willow (Joe Dodge), Fern (Frank Albany), grandchildren: Shelley (Luke) Orton (Kylie), Leaf, Frankie, Ricky, Alyssa and great-grandchildren: Skye, Lyall, Jessie, Bailey and Brodie. She leaves her sister-in-law Germaine Sutherland, brothers-in-law Jack Planes and Ronald Planes (Doreen) and many nieces and nephews.
Sooke Region Museum