On February 28, 2020, Métis Nation Veterans Affairs Minister and MNC National Spokesperson David Chartrand was in Rivers, MB to present Métis WWII Veteran Phyllis Eastcott with a $20,000 cheque – the 19th Legacy Fund presentation as a part of the $30-million Canada-Métis Nation Métis Veterans Recognition Payment Agreement. Ministers John Fleury and Will Goodon, both board members for the Southwest Region, were in attendance to celebrate the occasion, along with Ms. Eastcott’s family and friends from the Riverdale Personal Care Home. Beyond the $20,000 cheque, Ms. Eastcott received a sash and a beaded poppy for her efforts in the war.
Phyllis Eastcott (nee Hyde) was born in 1922 in Fisherton (now Fisher Branch), Manitoba, the middle child of a family of 13 children. Out of 13 children, Phyllis was one of 5 to serve in the Second World War. Her 4 brothers, Gerald, Bill, Henry and Charlie all served, with her brothers serving overseas. Other family members who served include her uncles Charlie and Jim, and cousin Dorothy. Cousins Cecil Switzer, Clarence Matthews, and Jim Keir all served and were killed in action.
Phyllis often fondly recalled that during her training in Shiloh, when the Commanding Officer would call her, by her last name “Hyde” as was the protocol, all of her fellow corps members would duck as a joke about her last name. During her service, Phyllis was a stenographer, bookkeeper, canteen operator and did office work with the Canadian Women’s Army Corps in Winnipeg, Fort Osborne, and various places across Canada.
She later served as a Dr’s assistant in Portage la Prairie handling intake of returning soldiers and there met her future husband, Wilton (“Slim”) Eastcott.
Following the war, Phyllis and Slim settled down in Rivers, Manitoba to have and raise their 3 children, Wilton (George), Leslie, and Richard. While Slim founded himself as the town’s best mechanic, Phyllis became a champion homemaker. Her most beloved hobby was sewing and quilting. Her children’s clothing rivaled that of Paris fashion houses and her beloved quilts found their way into homes across Manitoba. Later, after her children moved out of the home, Phyllis transformed a main floor bedroom of their home into a sewing room and spent many years sewing and shipping dresses and quilts to orphanages in developing countries.
Phyllis and Slim built a small cabin at Ditch Lake and would spend entire summers there with their children, many Grandchildren and extended family, teaching generations of children how to catch crawdads, the fine art of how to lose at Rummy, and how to beat and not burn brown sugar candy.
Many an afternoon were spent picking wild berries, gardening, baking, canning and preserving.