Katharine Steig of West Vancouver, British Columbia, passed away peacefully on the evening of August 12, 2022. She was in her 86th year. Katharine was predeceased by her husband, Michael Steig. She leaves behind her son Eric Steig of Seattle, his wife Juliet Crider, and their children Lucie and Henry. She also leaves behind her son Joseph Steig of West Vancouver, his wife Susan Sandison, and his adult children by prior marriage, Cassie and Sam. Katharine also leaves behind her older sister, Winifred Wood of California, and three nieces, Kimi Wood, Naomi Bowman, and her children Christian and Hannah, and Nori Jabba, and her children Katherine, Claire and Corinne.
Sara Katharine Jaeger was born in November 1936, the youngest of two daughters of Ethel and Julius Jaeger. She grew up in Tacoma, Washington and went to Reed College in Portland Oregon where she met and married Michael Steig of New York City. They later moved to Seattle, then to East Lansing, Michigan, and finally to West Vancouver, Canada in 1966 when Mike took a faculty position at Simon Fraser University. Katharine became an active member of the West Vancouver community, working at the West Vancouver Memorial Library and maintaining her involvement in educational and municipal affairs for over 50 years. She was also a passionate potter for many years and left behind for her family a personal legacy of clay dishes and animal figurines.
Katharine’s greatest passion was for native plants and wild places. Some of her fondest childhood memories were of summers in Puget Sound beach-combing and playing in the mud flats and estuaries. She studied biology at Reed College before completing her undergraduate degree in early childhood education at University of Washington. Upon moving to West Vancouver she first became entranced by the wilderness on the doorstep of the urban and suburban world and then concerned by the threats from development to this wilderness and to public lands and parks. In 1990 she played a leading role in the successful effort via municipal referendum to protect a stand of old growth forest within West Vancouver lands, preventing a golf course from being built. She devoted the remainder of her life to the protection of wild places to ensure that they were preserved for future generations to respect and enjoy. The old growth forest she helped protect came under the stewardship of the Old Growth Conservancy Society, a group in which she was an active participant until her death. In 1991 she became a member of Nature Vancouver and served on the Board of Directors and as the Chair of the Conservation Section for many years. She also was a founder of Friends of Cypress Provincial Park, an organization charged with ensuring that the natural features of the park be maintained in the face of development pressures. For many years she chaired this group. Outcomes of her efforts include the protection of Mount Strachan and Hollyburn Mountain from development and the preservation of Yew Lake as a place for wild animals and plants and as a sanctuary for humans. Her gentle spirit will live on in these special places.
A memorial service was held on November 26, 2022, at the entrance to the Old Growth Conservancy.