Up the Gatineau! Online Articles
The following article was first published in Up the Gatineau! Volume 26.
Pat Evans: A Tribute
by Ernie Mahoney
It's always a sad day when we have to bid a final goodbye to friends; it is even sadder when we have lost one of the early members of the Historical Society of The Gatineau. Aside from his close neighbours the Dolgins and the Pawleys, I often thought that the Historical Society and above all its archives, was indeed Pat's family, although latterly he found another family at his new home in Le Manoir de Wakefield.
Goodness knows, in everything that he did, Pat worked hard and with a determination that was far beyond the call of duty. Pat joined the Society in the early 1960s, under its second president, Arthur Davison. Arthur appointed Pat as the official representative of Kirk's Ferry, since his mailing address was Reid's store. I'm really not sure what we can snake of this, but that store was destroyed by fire the day after Pat left us! Kirk's Ferry was also the subject of the first story that Pat wrote for us, which appeared in the first edition of Up the Gatineau! That was in 1975. Over the twenty-four years since, he contributed another ten stories to the publication.
Patrick M. O. Evans was born in England in 1913, and followed his father to Canada in 1929 to settle in Magog, in Quebec's Eastern Townships. As little more than a teenager he worked for Dominion Textiles, and it was there that, he became a Boy Scout and later joined the RCAF and received his Wings as an Air Gunner. He was extremely proud of his military progress, but wondered if the air force was not very hard up for recruits when an ex-polio victim was accepted! After the War, Pat became a member of the Executive Staff of the Boy Scouts of Canada, serving with distinction until he retired in 1983. In 1978 Pat was awarded the Silver Wolf, Scouting's highest honour.
All during his later years with the Boy Scouts Pat had been living in the Gatineau hills, and eventually built a home at Larrimac. In fact, he founded a Scout Troop in Wakefield in 1953 and made a lifelong impression on his Scouts, who fondly referred to him as "Skipper" in reference to one of his other interests, sailing. Several former Scouts served as pallbearers at his funeral on December 13, 1999, at the McGarry Chapel in Wakefield.
Pat was a confirmed bachelor, but in spite of living alone, he had at least two families. His neighbours, the Pawleys and the Dolgins, watched over him, as he did them. Having two surrogate families with plenty of kids gave him more pleasure than his natural reserve would admit.
He is fondly remembered for his ability to bring local history to life through his legendary handwritten column in a local weekly paper. It ran for more than a decade. Jay Atherton compiled many of the columns into a book, Echoes from the Past, in 1998. It is still available in local stores.
Pat honed his skills with the Historical Society of Ottawa, where he served as archivist and was given honorary life membership in 1996, and as a charter member of the Ottawa branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society. After this, he was ready to tackle his monumental genealogy of the founders of Hull. For his book The Wrights, he inscribed details about more than 40,000 persons on individual handwritten cards. Eventually in 1978, the National Capital Commission published the 500-page book in Pat's handwriting. It is now included in the Mormons' rich collection of genealogical data. It made Pat very proud, only this past summer, to grant their Family History Society permission to use his work in what is reputed to be the finest collection of family records in the world.
He also delighted in doing research and mapping pioneer cemeteries, as well as making interesting interpretations of historical fact. In addition to his many articles for Up the Gatineau!, Pat also wrote A Tale of Two Chelseas and The Old Chelsea Post Office Centennial 1885-1985.
Another of his achievements was founding and maintaining the archives of the Historical Society of The Gatineau, a task that occupied him for more than eight years. Although he passed the mantle to a successor in 1997, he continued to be involved with its activities as "archivist emeritus." For more years than I can remember, Pat, even in his frail condition, would climb the 20 steep stairs to my office at the West-Quebec Post every Tuesday morning at 10:30 sharp to pick up copies of The Post to clip for the archives. It was surely a great example of good old British pluck, as those stairs are certainly steep.
Patrick Evans died in his sleep at the Gatineau Memorial Hospital on December 9, 1999. He had been in indifferent health for a number of years, and had been a resident at Le Manoir de Wakefield since moving from his longtime home in Larrimac in January of that year. After the move, he was often seen in Wakefield village, moving happily about on his new electric scooter. He was a truly an original personality, deeply devoted to the history of his community, and concerned that the rich heritage of the Gatineau live on in people's memory. Thanks Pat, we are all going to miss you.