Sunday, April 10, 2011

I love it when you call me names! (Part Two)

What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.
~ Shakespeare

UPDATE: Photo of Aunt Win added  - thanks, Pat!
UPDATE 2: Aunt Winkie sent me some more information about Aunt Win.

If you've been visiting my blog for a while, you may recall my post about the pet names Steve and I use. (Nothing rude or too cutesy, but some fun ones.)

Now that I think of it, it's kind of odd that I didn't mention my actual name in that post. I may have been going through the brief period of trying to remain anonymous in the blogosphere. Yeah. With a URL of

Anyway, it struck me again as I introduced myself the other day that -- oh my heavens! -- I have an unusual name!

"That's a pretty name," the bank officer commented, once he got over his confusion. Well, what else was he going to say?

So I thought I might share with you the meaning and the story behind Wynn Anne.

First the "official" meaning.

According to,
Winifred is of Welsh and Old English origin, meaning "holy, blessed reconciliation; joy and peace." Winifred, a martyred Welsh princess, is traditionally called the patron saint of virgins.
Keep that "patron saint of virgins" thing in the back of your head for a bit, okay?

But, according to another site, my variant, Wynn, is also from Welsh, and means, "light complexion." Yup. That's me.

Anne comes from Hebrew name Hannah and means "grace." (Anyone who's seen me play any sport will guffaw at that one.)

Now for the real derivation of my name.

That's me on the left, of course.
The sculpture on the right reminds me a lot of Aunt Win,
though Aunt Win was not so diminutive.

The real Aunt Win
I haven't always liked my name -- I tried to shorten it to "Anne" in Grade 1 because "Wynn Anne" didn't fit on the library cards with my scrawl -- and I once had an English teacher tell me that it did not "scan" well for poetry. But my mother was on her sixth child and perhaps running out of options, so she looked to my dad's side of the family for inspiration.

First there was my great-aunt Nora Winifred Winnifred Anne, whom we called Win. She was born on January 12, 1896. I never got to know her very well, which is a shame because she was quite a remarkable woman.

She never married, so naming her after the patron saint of virgins wasn't such a stretch. Though, of course, they couldn't have known that when she was born, and we have no idea what went on in her personal life.

She worked on the discovery of insulin with Banting and Best. She played hockey. She was friends with Canadian author and artist John Houston (my mother has one of his watercolour paintings) and had an enormous library. She sent each of her great-nieces and great-nephews $5 on their birthdays, without fail. (Let me remind you that you could buy a whole chocolate bar for about 10 cents at the time, so that's the equivalent of 100 chocolate bars!) I don't recall ever sending her a thank-you note.

She lived alone and used the "good" dishes all the time. According to my sister, she could pick a chicken leg clean with fork and knife, without ever touching it with her fingers.

Sadly, she died of Alzheimer's sometime in the 1990's.

Then there was my aunt Winnifred Anne (the original Winn's niece), whom almost everyone calls Winkie, and a few call Miss Pinkie, because they have difficulty pronouncing W's.

Winkie was the baby of the family, graced with a toussle of white curls and a disposition so pleasant that the nickname "Winkie" was meant for her.

She also never married, so that patron saint of virgins thing comes in again. But I know that Aunt Winkie has been happily single, with her life full of nieces, nephews, friends, refugees, colleagues. She has such a full life that it is difficult to "book time" with her (though she always does her darnedest to make time). She loathes having her picture taken, which is why I have not posted one here. She is beautiful to me, but shares my lack of ... photogenic-ness? photogenicity? We don't come off well in photos.

Winkie also has that gift that Stephen has, of accepting people. She has a far more generous heart than I, and I have a lot to learn from her. I'm about to get schmaltzy, so I'll stop here.

So, like that bank officer, I also like my name, but for completely different reasons.


  1. I don't often meet others with your name, but did meet one up in St John's Newfoundland working at one of our hotels.

  2. I have always liked your name too, and for all the same reasons.
    That photo on the bench! I must scan a photo I have Aunt Wynn...on a park bench.

  3. Andy, did you tell her you had a sister with the same name?


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