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Canadians are known to be quiet and reserved. Canadians who were born and raised in England make the rest of the population look like wild barbarians. And then there’s Auntie Minnie.

Auntie MinnieMinnie was the primmest of the prim – a true, proper, English lady, with manners fit for the Royal Court. Everything about her was diminutive: just five feet tall, always soft-spoken, always dignified. Never a hair out of place, her back was as straight as her perfectly vertical stocking seams. Yes, Auntie Minnie was the epitome of British-Canadian comportment – the Dowager Duchess of our family.

When her Grand-nephew, Gordon, decided to take a bride in Toronto, the entire family was invited to his wedding. Although my parents decided to travel by car, most of the Montreal contingent – including Auntie Minnie – chose to take the train. Rumor has it that the wedding party began on that train ride, in the train’s “refreshment” lounge. I don’t know how many bottles of gin, bourbon, vodka and Crown Royal were emptied during that six-hour revel.  What I do know – what the rest of us learned after the “gang” poured into the hotel where all of the wedding guests were staying – is that prim, proper, petite Auntie Minnie was the life of the party.

The story of Wild Auntie Minnie became a family legend, epitomized in the bit of doggerel that made the rounds all weekend, and that was sung loudly on multiple occasions during the wedding reception:

My Wild Auntie Minnie,
Remember when she was skinny.
Now look at her today,
All old and gray,
My Wild Auntie Minnie!

Some say that booze will shorten one’s lifespan. But I don’t know. Minnie was only 70 years old when she had her fling; she lived to celebrate her 90th birthday. Still prim, still proper, still petite. And, to us, always our Wild Auntie Minnie.