Echoes from the Past
Articles on the history of the Gatineau from the Patrick Evans column "Echoes from the Past", originally printed in the Low Down to Hull and Back News and subsequently compiled by Jay Atherton and published in book form by the Gatineau Valley Historical Society (under its former name the Historical Society of the Gatineau) at Chelsea, Quebec, 1998.
Patrick Michael Oldfield Evans - An Autobiography
I was born in Ashfield, Vicarage Lane, Bowdon, Cheshire, England on the 5th of October 1913, the only child of Arthur Oldfield Evans of Altrincham (owner of a pattern card making business in Manchester, Lancashire, nine miles north of Altrincham). My mother was Margaet Hope Pattison, living with her parents at The Healds, Heald Road, Bowdon (she was a member of a Scottish family that could trace its line back to 1127 A.D.).
After a short time in kindergarten, at six years of age I continued my education at Bowdon College, a school earlier attended by my Uncle Gerald, my mother's brother. Bowdon College was less than half a mile from where I had been born. By this time my father was serving overseas in World War I.
My mother was seriously ill will bronchitis. Depending upon her fluctuating up and down spells, I was alternatively a border or a day-boy at school. During holidays my mother and I stayed at her parents' home, The Healds. Ashfield was meanwhile "mothballed".
Father came home at the end of the war, only to find that his Manchester business had vanished. As a temporary measure, our little family of three returned to our home, Ashfield. Father looked for any job, anywhere, but was only partially successful. He had served his king and country faithfully and well, but had the bad luck to return home in one piece, on his own to keep his family and himself.
For the next five years my father taught me so many things, while my mother stayed at home. In adulthood I came to suspect that she did not want him to learn how ill she was, so she sent father and son away. I was taken to his friends to start my stamp and coin collections, and was shown how to collect birds' eggs, how to pierce and blow the shell -just once, mind you, from each different kind of bird.
I went, perched on the handlebars of my father's old bicycle, on many expedition to see things; how the ice age had scored the huge boulders, fossils in rock formations, and the like. I learned British history We rode seven miles to Knutsford ("Can we stop, daddy? My backside hurts.") King Canute's ford. Another trip saw us about to pass an airplane taking people for short rides. I was shoved into a line of adventurers, armed with a half crown - children half price. I flew in 1924, aged eleven; did this presage things to come? The year 1924 was also notable in that I listened to the opening of the Wembley Exhibition on a wireless that I had built.
Two years later, acting on advice and financial help from his friends (how his pride must have suffered), my father set sail for Canada, to Magog, in the Eastern Townships of Quebec, where there was a cotton mill. There he was employed at his old business. By working hard, he would save enough to bring his wife and son to share a new life with him.
In the meantime I continued at Bowdon College. Mother was in the care of nurses night and day. One day my Uncle Gerald came to the school to say I was to go to see my grandmother - his mother. I suspected nothing. With tears streaming down her cheeks, she told me that my mother had died that morning. I did not shed a single tear; I was just too shocked. After a stay of a couple of days with my grandmother, my Aunt Ethel arrived in Bowdon by train, to take me to Stirling in Scotland, to her and my eight cousins' home. Mother and I had spent many summers with them at the seaside in Fifeshire.
After a month at Stirling I returned to Bowdon. Although that was the last time I saw Aunt Ethel, I was slated to see, in the future, at least four of the cousins — all girls, including the twins, three months old than me, whom I have outlived by several years. This gave my Uncle Gerald the time to cable my father and arrange my passage to join him in Canada.
I left Liverpool on board the CPOS The Metagama (not forgetting to wave to the Liver Birds) in the spring of 1929. (I still have in my possession the boarding pass for this journey.) The crossing of the Atlantic took ten days. It was exciting. I was growing up, I thought, could go to my bunk whenever I chose, go wherever I was allowed on board, even to the bridge during a storm. A friendly sailor suggested standing further back, as the glass could shatter in my face. Seasick? Not once during the voyage. (It was only when I reached manhood that I realized that my Uncle Gerald had arranged for me to be "watched" by some travel agency until delivery to my father. And I thought I had grown up. Wow!)
Eventually I got off at Quebec City, to proceed through customs and immigration. My father had written to me a Farther Point; the letter came on board The Metagama along with the river pilot. I was to travel by train to Montreal and go to the Windsor Hotel, where a room had been reserved for me. This I did, clutching my first meal on Canadian soil, a bunch of bananas.
I have no memories of the train journey through the night. I had been up early that morning watching all that I had in the world being sent ashore. Passengers were to follow their baggage through customs. I imagine I was cleared through, but I don't remember. Somebody pointed the way to the train. I bought my bananas and went aboard my first Canadian train complete with bell and cowcatcher on the locomotive. I did not need to be rocked to sleep.
In his letter my father had written that I was to stay in my hotel room until he phoned the following morning. That night I slept in a bed that neither rolled nor bounced. I was still in bed, but not asleep, when the phone tinkled.
I had not heard my dad's voice for three long years. It was still very "English". Of course, he had frequently written letters to both my mother and me. In those days, however, one did not telephone across the Atlantic. If a message was urgent, one sent a cable.
My father took me to breakfast in a cafeteria (new to me); we descended below ground by a moving staircase (also new). I was hungry - not for bananas. Dad watched me as I loaded my tray. He told me later that he wondered where I was going to put it all, forgetting that growing teenagers are always hungry. During the meal, he explained that a very good friend of his at Magog had driven him to Montreal to pick me up. His name was Arthur Francombe and he was also a World War I veteran. The two Arthurs got on famously.
My father and I planned to stay at a small country hotel that backed onto the Magog River, "The Battles House" (named after a local character named Joe Battles). Dad had already been a guest there for the three years since his arrival in Magog.
During the next twelve months there were a number of questions requiring answers. Did I want to continue my education at the only English-speaking school in Magog? No, thanks, I want to earn money to help pay for our room at the Battles House. There are things I wish to buy also, skis, ice skates, a rifle, a bicycle, a fishing rod, and so on. Poor dad was at a loss as to how to deal with a teenaged son whom he could no longer treat as a child. Fortunately, my English education helped, especially Latin, French and History — and I was very fond of reading. Wrongly or rightly, it was my decisions, and I got away with it. Working was "adult" I was taken on the staff in the main office of the Dominion Textile Company in Magog, as an office boy. In addition, I took over the duties of the girl who managed the telephone switchboard each day during her hour-long lunch break.
For the balance of the day, I was adding or subtracting on a machine that I had met for the first time in this office. After six months, I was bored almost to tears with the job and was not getting much of a salary. I mentioned this to my father in the quiet of our hotel room one evening. A month later I found myself learning a trade, that of finishing cotton cloth before sending it out to shops for sale to the public. While the hours were longer, I was paid 22 cents an hour.
As fifty percent of my fellow workers were French-speaking, my father suggested that I might care to brush up on my schoolboy French. A man named Phillip Courville was the barber who plied his trade at the hotel. I was accordingly installed in the Courville home for the next twelve months, where one of his daughters, a year older than I would learn English, and I French.
ME: "Ou est votre mère?"
SHE: "In the chicken (kitchen)." Loud laughter from the Courvilles, especially mother.
As few days later disaster struck. I was in bed when I suffered excruciating pain in my lower back. It was so severe that I stood up in bed with my face to the wall most of the night weeping copiously. The next thing I remember was being in bed in the Sherbrooke Hospital, with a doctor examining my spine. "Do you feel this?" "No." "How about that?" "Yes." "Where?" "in my right leg." "I'm afraid it's polio your son has. We'll keep him under observation here for several weeks. You may visit him whenever you care. After all, you live only seventeen miles from Sherbrooke."
I did not see my father leave. He told me later that he worried that he might lose his son so soon after his wife had died.
The summer passed. I was to be allowed home for my seventeenth birthday. Possibly I could stay in Magog for the winter, as nothing more could be done for me. A special padded wooden arm rest was constructed and strapped to my body. My overcoat was split along a seam, tapes were sewn into the seam. I was presented with a walking stock, and this glorified mummy figure faced the future, however long that future was to be. Initially came the fact that I was handicapped from now, into a future that seemed bleak indeed. Did I really believe that? I don't think I did, somehow.
How does a young chap "know" that miracles are still possible in the twentieth century? I suppose it hinged upon early religious training and what I believe arose from it. Instinctively I knew mine to have been sound right from the day I had been christened. Two god-parents saw to that.
Perhaps the reader should be minded of the times in which we were then living. In the early thirties we were in the depths of the great depression, the hungry and dirty thirties, the plague of modern times. Whatever the days offered, my mind and body both matured and ever so slowly recovered from the dreaded scourge, polio. Here is how it came about.
After a good night's sleep each night and a hearty breakfast each morning, I returned to the bedroom my father and I shared at The Battles House, while he went off to his duties at the textile plant. In his wisdom, dad had suggested a two-pronged course of recovery. First, the mind. I would spend each morning practicing hand lettering. (Through the International School of Business I had agreed to take a course in hand lettering and design, especially as I enjoyed this type of exercise.)
In the afternoon it was the body's turn, while our room was aired and the staff tidied it. There were plenty of people around the hotel to ready me for my walks on the sidewalks. The slightest unevenness used to tip me over, but someone would soon have me upright again. I became and "institution". Soon the snow came and my falls were somewhat cushioned.
Introduction to Scouting
Then Scouting for Boys entered my life. I had a new hero to admire: Lord Baden-Powell, Chief Scout to the World. This came about because a Rover Scout Leader from the U.K., who had come to work at the textile plant, asked me to join his Rover Scout crew. In those days there were three branches to scouting: the Rover Scouts, young men of 17-21 years of age (its motto is SERVICE); the Boy Scouts, lads from 12 - 16 (with the motto BE PRERPARED); and the Wolf Cubs, boys between 8 and 11 (DO YOUR BEST). The entire programme is based on Rudyard Kipling's Jungle Book, reading upwards, the mottos come together as DO YOUR BEST to BE PREPARED for SERVICE.
When I stood before my Rover Scout Leader and the rest of the members of the Crew and made a promise, I felt this to be an impressive moment in my life, as I had joined a world-wide movement. Apart from merely being good, I had undertaken to do good; even the youngest Wolf Cub could do his daily good turn.
The boys who were to form the Scout Troop of which I came to be their Scoutmaster came from the school I had scorned to attend a few years earlier. This meant that the results achieved in meeting responsibility I had undertaken had to be more than satisfactory. The boys to whom I was to provide leadership were, after all, just a few years younger than I. Lads of their ages are quick to detect shallowness or insincerity. My fellow Rover Scouts took care to show me the skills I would need. A thorough reading of Baden-Powell's Scouting for Boys took care of the rest.
By this time my strength was returning almost day by day. My walking stick had been discarded; I now could walk and hike unaided; and one winter day I strapped on my skis and went for a sliding shuffle. I soon had to return to work, to help pay for my hospital bill. As it turned out, unknown to me, some of the "big shots" at the Dominion Textile Magog Plant had undertaken that responsibility. I was grateful to my "fans".
During the thirteen years that I was in Magog-if one could categorize as normal those things that one could do in a deep depression. For instance, as a boy I had participated in a school excursion to view a total eclipse of the sun. Another such eclipse was slated for 1936, with its centre of totality within twenty miles of Magog. I wrote to the person in charge of the expedition, Professor Stratton in the U.K. The result was an interesting job, which lasted for two months.
Another experience that overtook me was that I fell head over heels in love with a young lady, who shall remain nameless. I even joined the Anglican Church choir, so that I could be near her in public. After a year or so, we both came to recognize that we were no longer meant to be together, so quietly separated. Thereafter, whenever we met at social events, we were just good friends.
Let's return to Scouting once more. We in the Magog Scouts became interested in the Lennoxville troop, whose Scoutmaster, Rev. Colin C. Cuttell, I had already met. The two troops learned to like each other, often exchanging visits. Lennoxville is three miles from Sherbrooke, where I had been hospitalized. Cuttell was a great teacher, and I an apt pupil.
One other incident, small enough at the time, was the visit to Magog of the Chief Executive Officer of the Boy Scouts Association in Ottawa, Dr. John Stiles. In a "thank you" letter to me following his visit, Dr. Stiles wrote: "I commend the Troop for its outdoor programme, and the boys seem to enjoy your way of managing how things are accomplished. May you long be spared to give such sound leadership." I thought to myself that I would enjoy working with Dr. Stiles. A few years later my wish was granted.
World War II
To end these years of depression, Hitler and his minions plunged the United Kingdom, its colonies, and the members of the British Commonwealth into a second war within twenty years of the ending of the Great War, which had supposedly been fought to end all future conflicts
By this time I had returned to my job with Dominion Textile. Even this huge corporation was gearing itself to participate in the war effort, through the manufacture of camouflaged and plain khaki cloth by the thousands of yards. I thought that the collection and sale of paper and metal of all kinds should be another war effort. With this in mind, I went to my superiors and asked to be the agent for such an initiative. To my utter surprise and great joy, my requests was granted.
Realizing that a Scoutmaster and his younger Scouts could not possibly cope with the task undertaken (the older lads were enlisting in the services by their ones and their twos), I turned to the adult committee that looked after the needs of the Cubs and Scouts. The result was formation of the Magog War Ambulance Club, its purpose being to purchase a fully equipped war ambulance to be sent where it was most needed overseas. Arthur Francombe (he who had driven my father and me from Montreal to Magog in the spring of 1929) agreed to head the club. He was joined by other veterans of World War I. The mission was accomplished! Perhaps our greatest satisfaction came from our tearing the two German guns from World War I from their resting place in Magog Park. They were slated to be returned to Hitler with love and kisses.
Unfortunately, my father was let go by the Dominion Textile Company during the depth of the depression. The company was working only four days a week, and could no longer pay his salary. He moved to Montreal, where he was able to find only part-time jobs. When World War broke out he was hired by an aircraft factory to be in charge of its stockroom. As far as I know, he never returned to Magog.
As the War grew in intensity I came to feel that is was not right that my older ex-Scouts should have the burden on my behalf. As I knew the Magog War Ambulance Club to be in good hands, on April 2, 1942, I enlisted in the RCAF. Following initial training, I was packed off to Reserve Mines in Nova Scotia, an active service station on watch for enemy submarines in Canadian waters. I was a member of the security guard, which was on patrol twenty-four hours per day. During leave times I could not resist helping the local Scouts, whose leaders had themselves enlisted; those left behind were too old or too young to carry on.
After a year and a half at security work, I wondered whether I might remuster to the flying part of the RCAF. I was amazed to be accepted. Things must be in a bad way if an ex-polio victim can take to the air! Eventually I gained my wings as an air gunner, just in time for Hitler's suicide. I could return to civvie street -"but, remember, you're a trained air gunner and may be needed for Japan." Not a pleasant thought, but the atomic bomb and the end of the war brought me personal relief.
Not long afterward, a letter was on its way from me to Dr. John Stiles, Chief Scout Executive, Ottawa, requesting a position with him. His reply requested me to visit him in Ottawa as soon as I could. I honoured his request as fast as the train could carry me from Montreal, where I had taken my discharge, to Ottawa.
"I would like you to take the position as Dominion Field Commissioner, replacing another who has retired. I'd also like it if you could start right away by warming up in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. I'm sending you out to Saskatchewan for a term of five years." He agreed that I might take a month to complete my return to civvie street and settle my personal affairs.
Eventually, I arrived out west and met E.H.M. Knowles, a barrister and Provincial Scout commissioner, to whom I would be reporting for the next sixty months. We took to each other from the instant of meeting. Mr. Knowles's father was Bishop Knowles, a fine and gentle man. Mr. Knowles, Jr. lived in Regina.
In the first months my responsibilities included a Silver Arrowhead Training Course for Junior Leaders. I was joined by the Rev. J.H.H. Watts, a Milestone, a trained Scout leader, to be known by the boys as "Uncle Harry." We got along so well together that he joined me on a number of such courses. The first was on the Little Red Creek, not too far from Prince Albert, and a later one was much further north, a district camp for 109 campers, far too many for one scout leader and a paid ex-Navy cook. On weekends a number of adult leaders came to help. By then I was usually too tired to be of much help. In that camp there was one accident and three illnesses. You may rest assured that Mr. Knowles was advised and requested to act.
Here I had my first contact with Lone Scouts, boys who live alone or with one, two, or three others and carry on the best they can. There is a person appointed to keep in touch with them by correspondence. I made it a point to stop and chat whenever I saw the sign. "A Lone Scout lives here." Later that year (1945) I conducted several Bronze Arrowhead Indoor Courses for the scouts who had qualified for the Silver Arrowhead course. Normally, these events occurred in the reverse order- but 1945 was not a normal year.
Next spring, I advised Mr. Knowles that I would be inviting my father (in Montreal) to join me in Regina. He was delighted that I should do so; we rented a small apartment together for the next four years. Before long, while I was away on field trips, he met an antique dealer, with whom he spent many happy hours discussing their common interest. The antique dealer also introduced me to a new hobby, the collection of 10,000 - 15,000-year-old-arrowheads, scrapers, knives and pottery shards. His collection included thousands picked up during the depression years. When he took me to a nearby "blow" to show me the tricks, I was thrilled to find my first arrowhead on the hardpan (I still have it in 1998).
On one of my weekend trips (to Weyburn) my car had its first encounter with Saskatchewan gumbo, requiring the aid of a tractor to be extracted. Do you know what a correction line is? Neither did I until I asked. All roads going east or west are parallel with each other, generally speaking. It is only when travelling northward that there is a jog in the road every twenty-four miles. This jog is a correction line-its purpose being to correct for the curvature of the earth as one moves north or south. Incidentally, a curious thing I noticed about the Saskatchewan Scouts was their inborn sense of direction. Even in a darkened room or on a pitch black night on the open prairie it was always the same: ask one, "where is east, west, south, or north?" and a pointing finger would be an immediate response.
A new Chapter Begins
Unfortunately, Dr. Stiles died when my five-year term in Saskatchewan had only a few months to run. Major General Daniel Charles Spry, the youngest officer of that rank in the Commonwealth forces in World War II, succeeded him. The decision on whether or not to accept this appointment must have been based on his youthful days when he had been a scout himself. We met at a scout rally in Saskatoon, where Spry was serving as escort to the Chief Scout of the Commonwealth, Lord Rowallan.
Following the departure (with a substitute escort) of Lord Rowallan to complete his Canadian Tour, Spry asked me to lead him, by car, to Yorkton, where I was due to run a Bronze Arrowhead Course for Junior Leaders. Travelling too fast for the conditions, I experienced my second bout with gumbo. At the bottom of a slight hill my car went for a complete revolution before again landing on its wheels. The scattered contents were placed in the Spry car, along with myself. It was some time before I again saw "Eliza" in Regina, repaired and repainted.
In the meantime, I was delighted to learn that my good friend, Rev. J.H.H. Watts (Uncle Harry) had become head of St. Chad's (Anglican) College in Regina. We had a number of interesting chats about our shared experiences, in his private study, as we consumed pots of tea. All too soon, the call would come for me to report to Ottawa. I asked Harry to keep an eye out for my dad. I had to go ahead to Ottawa-which I did not know at the time-to locate a suitable place for him to live.
In due course, I arrived at Canadian Scout Headquarters and was put to work under the direction of Ernie F. Mills, who had been the Scout Executive at Winnipeg. Canadian Headquarters at this time was at 306 Metcalfe Street, in a quaint old mansion that had been built as a home for a local lumber baron (Birkett). It had, and still has, the look of a fort, complete with battlements.
Ernie Mills was now (in 1950) director of all scout training in Canada. My first assignment was to read and comment on adult training by correspondence, part of the Wood Badge Course (Gilwell) used worldwide. One could not read courses all day without becoming bleary-eyed; I requested and received time out. Rather than just sitting around, I went exploring in the basement, where I discovered a small room chock full of camping gear in one huge pile. Over several days I straightened up the mess, intending the result to be a surprise. It was, but little did I guess its outcome. I was switched from the Training Department to that of Administration, under Lieutenant-Colonel George E. Simmons, a war-time officer with General Spry.
Apparently, I was a naturally-born organizer, and gradually took on more responsibilities. One day I got the idea that I should like to make a display for the front hall of the building. I had observed that some members of the staff had suitable items on their mantelpieces or bookshelves. With George Simmons's encouragement ("give it a bash!"), I borrowed these items, appending stories in connection with each. My old skill learned hour after hour in polio days was paying off. (Later, the architect for our new headquarters on Baseline Road provided for fifteen showcases, to receive the Museum of Canadian Scouting, which was still growing when I retired.)
I now had to think about my father, who would be arriving at old Union Station opposite the Chateau Laurier in an hour. I had made reservations at the YMCA for both of us for at least a week, so that we would have time to plan for the future. A later visit to the Veteran's Hospital satisfied us both; my father was to find happy accommodation there.
At Scout Headquarters I asked Ernie Mills if he could think of a place where I could live. Yes, he could: the Rowes, Hugh and Helen, then living near the Ottawa Civic Hospital. Mills and Helen (Strathey) Rose had been good friends in Winnipeg. Yes, I could room with them, but meals were my responsibility. As it happened, the Rowes owned a summer cottage on the east bank of the Gatineau River, opposite the Larrimac train station. They wished to sell it and use the proceeds to build a winterized house on the west side of the river, pending Hugh's retirement. Meanwhile, we were still at the Ottawa address.
One evening in early spring of 1951, the telephone range for me and a male voice said, "your old man is on his way - he died a couple of hours ago." He was sixty-nine. I have often regretted that I was not at his side to squeeze his hand gently. I was now alone in Canada, my nearest relative being my Aunt Catherine (my father's sister) on Lake Windermere in England. Her generous nature later provided me with a lovely home at Larrimac.
Meanwhile, the Rowes invited me to stay in their new house at Larrimac, "Strathrowe" - a stay of thirteen years. The household at Strathrowe consisted of Charles Wilmot Strathey, his daughter Helen Amy Rowe, Hugh Millar Rowe (Major, WWI, retired), and me.
The first few weeks and months was a period of meeting new friends and getting acquainted with the surrounding country. During the work week, Hugh Rowe and I now had a longer drive to and from our offices; with two others, we formed a car-pool, which eased the burden. Shortly thereafter, on the Rowes' invitation, I became a member of the Larrimac Golf Club. While I enjoyed the game and appreciated the outdoor exercise, I must admit that I never became an outstanding player.
The members of the executive staff at Scout headquarters considered it a useless practice in our deliberations to spawn policies, rules, and regulations unless a trial run had been taken in the field. To this end, most of the executives joined and existing unit: a Cub pack (8-12 years), a Scout troop (12-17 years), or a Rover crew (17 and up). This initiative seemed to work. There being no unit in the Lower Gatineau Valley area, I chose to try forming a Scout troop in Wakefield. Perhaps some of the boys in the local school might nibble at the concept.
In 1953, the bait was cast on a week day, in the form of two or three handmade and sketched posters tacked to wooden hydro poles:
- Can you lay and light a fire in the rain? This boy can; he's a Scout
- Can you stop this person from bleeding to death? This boy can... etc.
- Can you signal a message across the river? This boy can... etc.
- Meet Skipper on the rail station platform at 2:00 p.m., next Saturday, Sept. 14.
Five lads showed up, to be met by six Ottawa scouts in full Scout uniform. The entire afternoon was spent in short chats about scouting skills. The Ottawa scouts showed the prospects how to tie knots, how to control bleeding, and so on. There was time for games to take the kinks out.
When we parted I told the Wakefield lads to meet me with their parents at a certain place and time; failing this, there could be no scouting for them. Obviously, it happened. A Group Committee (adult control) was formed. Annually, Father-and-Son Banquets took place, at which a challenge was announced, and briefly explained, for the next twelve months - such as: A Wolf Cub Pack for boys under the age of 12 years to be formed and two or more leaders (Scouters) to be located; if unaware of the Scouting programme, they can be trained. The target was achieved.
The following year the goal was: Build a meeting place, where supplies and equipment could safely be left between weekly meetings. Achieved. The next challenge was the acquisition of canoes to do some scouting on water. Three were supplied. Year after year, challenges were issued (know where one is to go, and how to get there).
In abbreviated form, an account of the Scout Troop's happenings might appear as follows:
|a)||Good turns encouraged.|
|b)||Apple Day annually to raise funds.|
|c)||Fifth Night. In months that had a fifth meeting night the regular agenda was replaced by an outing chosen by the boys from a list prepared by the Patrol leaders (junior leaders).|
|d)||Three achieved Queen's Scout (highest level); two of them attended the 8th World Jamboree at Niagara-on-the-Lake. Our scouts sponsored a Scottish Scout, and they met at the Jamboree|
|e)||Twice to New York by air: Ed Sullivan Show, U.N. Building. Rides on a fire engine; watched by cows being milked on a round-about milking rig.|
|f)||Annual camps: one or two were overnight canoe trips, the longest from Perth to Kingston.|
|g)||Land and Sea Scouts in same troop; sea scouts taught how to sail.|
|h)||Overnight hiking trips to improve skills toward First Class and Queen's Scouts designation.|
|5 April 1978
Awarded Silver Wolf by the Chief Scout of Cabada
H.E. The Govenor General, Jules Léger
1962: Gatineau River Yacht Club
In the year 1962, with four others (John Winfield and Ivan Herbert - both now deceased- Gerry V. Byers, and Allan Richens) I helped form the Gatineau River Yacht Club. The Club's programme has followed that which is customary with other yacht clubs in this area: sail races, cruising, social events, and inter-club regattas. G.R.Y.C. has a very active junior section, which prepares its participants to become full members when adulthood is reached.
In my personal opinion, two events stand out. The first was that, when it was only five years old, the Canadian Yachting Association selected G.R.Y.C. to host a regatta for juniors. Two teams of two sailors each, from every province, were to compete for a week on the waters of the Gatineau River during Centennial Year. The event was highly successful, garnering wide publicity and a wealth of VIPs, as well as a Navy band on G.Y.R.C.'s island home ground. Indeed, at one time it was feared that the island itself might sink under the waves. Fortunately, the Great Canadian Shield did its duty, and sinking was avoided. The full story of this event appears in the Club's log book (Annual Report).
The second event of note was of longer duration-approximately two and a half years. It became painfully clear that, owing to the steady increase in membership, the former cottage on the larger of the two islands, with its single floor level, having served as the clubhouse for the first few years, had to be replaced. Added to the normal demands on its facilities were those of visiting members of other clubs, when it was the G.R.Y.C.'s turn to host invitational inter-club regattas.
The Club's executive was faced with no alternative other than replacement. The means to achieve this was fully discussed at the executive level, and then presented to the membership. First, the annual fees would naturally have to be increased substantially. If every man, woman and child pitched in, however, things could and would happen. There was no dearth of architects, construction people, carpenters, electricians, plumbers, glaziers, and others. Let's go for it!
The modern new structure was erected within six inches of the old; at a precise time work almost stopped on the new while the old was taken apart, plank by plank. A new deck took the place of the flooring of the former cottage. The new edifice was essentially what may be seen now. The membership of that era had every right to be proud of its achievement. Present a high enough target, and the struggle to reach it will provide its own reward!
|Honorary Membership to P.M.O. Evans|
Historical Society of Ottawa
In the dim and distant past, because the price was right, I joined the Historical Society of Ottawa. I renewed my membership annually, maintaining interest because of a small display of Wright memorabilia in the Museum beside the locks, which had been built by Lt-Col John By on the order of the Duke of Wellington to construct a canal system from Ottawa to Kingston.
Unfortunately for the Wright display, the pieces shown were actually from two completely unrelated Wright families in England in the seventeenth century. One family was established in Essex, and the other in neighbouring Kent. Both families headed to Boston area on the east coast of North American within ten years after the landing of the Mayflower on Plymouth Rock in 1620.
Research revealed that the Kent Wrights had, centuries earlier, had their "seat" in Cusworth, York. One member of the family had moved to Kent, to marry an heiress, said to have been very rich. It was this rascal who caused such confusion among later genealogists, including me.
Having cleared up the Wright story, let us return to that display in the museum beside the locks. My deeper involvement came about through peculiar circumstances. Both Judith O'Halloran and her husband, John Burns, appear on page 333 of the Wright genealogy (as well as their children and one grandchild). Judy had reviewed the Wright "book" very favourably, I thought. She was generous in providing me with the genealogical names, dates, and places as a background to the inclusion of her family with the more than 40,000 persons as part of this vast genealogy.
In due course, Judy became President of the Historical Society of Ottawa and, by a passage of time, its Past President. At this juncture, the Society's Archivist decided to accept the offer of a paid position with another organization-which left a space to be filled. Judy Burns, at a meeting of the executive, suggested the Pat Evans, who was fully conversant with the Wright family tree, might undertake the challenge. I agreed to try the experiment for a month. As the daily drive would be 44 miles, I requested recovery of travel expenses, as I could not afford the cost of both labour and travel. This was agreed to. Eventually, the month was to extend to 13 years.
It is not too difficult to follow in the footsteps of a trained archivist. For a short time I found myself performing the same functions for two historical societies, when I offered to launch an archives for the Historical Society of the Gatineau.
|Honorary Membership, Historical Society of Ottawa
Historical Society of the Gatineau
Having been born in a country with a recorded past going back well before the arrival of the Romans on our islands in 55 and 54 BC (Avebury and Stonehenge), I took a great delight from boyhood onwards in the study of history. Why, therefore, should I not be interested in Canadian history-which I have learned since World War II may be equally as ancient as that of the U.K.
Then again, Richard E. Leakey's book The Making of Mankind reveals a history thought to be that of man and woman themselves. And they begat...
My service with a succession of presidents of the Historical Society has been varied. I actually joined the Society during the term of the second president, Arthur Davison, and was promptly informed by that gentleman that I was appointed "official" representative of Kirk's Ferry (Reid's Store was my mail address). As I received the "command", two questions occurred to me: who was Kirk, and why the ferry?
My first direction was to see "Aunt Maud" (Brown) and her nephew by marriage, Arthur Brown. From those two evolved my first writing on the Gatineau: "Early Kirk's Ferry, Quebec" (Up the Gatineau! No. 1). My second directive was to meet Carol Martin, well steeped in local history and slated later herself to wear the mantle of President. From the first a relationship was fashioned to last. This resulted in my being entrusted to help her with the genealogies of the families Wright and Pritchard, from both of which she is descended. With a son and a daughter to be raised plus a four or five year term abroad, she had little time for family trees.
Being a bachelor and having long winter nights available, the two genealogies grew apace. I did need help, however, with my new hobby. With this in mind I joined the Ottawa Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society at its second inaugural meeting (it took more than one to get things going). My permanent membership number (29) will die with me. As a result, my special correspondence increased enormously. Upon the Martins' return home, I guessed that Carol would be pleased with the progress: thanks to the National Capital Commission, The Wrights was in the hands of a printer; the other, The Pritchards, would come later, by family arrangement. Further, I also guessed that Carol would suffer a twinge of regret for her temporary absence from her twin projects.
Tours have been popular with Historical Society members, under two tour directors. The first set was with Arthur Davison: by bus to Rawdon, Québec, to see Earle Moore's village (Lower Canada, as it were); by steam train to Maniwaki, with photo opportunities during the fall colours; by automobile to Low(e) to hear about the Brennan's Hill tax revolt; and by automobile again to Ironside, to hear about and see the home and farm of James Hammond. The second set of tours, all by bus, were well planned and directed by Bob and Carol Martin to heritage sites in the area of Meech Lake, Hull, Aylmer, and LaPêche.
A good programme of guest speakers, held once a month, is well received. The annual Auction (fund-raiser) and annual publication Up the Gatineau! Seem ever-green specials. With a regular programme of good ideas, there are not many idle hands, or minds. One early operation, now unfortunately defunct, is apt to be forgotten. It is the Society's establishment of a tearoom and upstairs museum at Moorside (Mackenzie King's property at Kingsmere). Both the tearoom and the museum were run by the Society for several years, until closed by the N.C.C.-an action repeated some years later with the Maclaren House and Grist Mill in Wakefield. Twice bitten, thrice shy!
When I retired from the Scout Office in 1883, Pierre-Louis Lapointe (President of the Institut d'histoire et de recherché sur l'Outaouais) arranged with Arthur Davison and me, to have me undertake some research and cataloguing in the municipalities of LaPêche, West Hull and Aylmer. The first and third areas were chosen because of recent amalgamations, and West Hull was there because no list of contents had been prepared or, if prepared, was so badly defaced that it no longer was valid.
In each case, the work involved removing from the vaults all parcels designated "amalgamations", opening and cataloguing their contents, and after consultation with the municipal secretary, returning them to the vault, each labelled as to its contents. The total exercise took about six months, for which I was paid a lump sum plus recovery of expenses used in the task, such as writing materials. Mr. Lapointe and the three mayors seemed pleased and satisfied with the outcome.
Old Chelsea's post office in the village store was to celebrate its centennial on 1 March 1985. I offered to research and write the story. I was surprised to learn that the original "post office" actually comprised a small table and a contraption placed upon it in which a small rack of pigeonholes for letters was installed-very convenient to move around to different locations ("pick up thy table and suitcase and walk"). A reporter from The Low Down to Hull and Back News who watch as I autographed copies of my history of the post office, asked me to write columns for her paper, once she had cleared the idea with Kitty Mantell. This was duly accomplished-and the rest is history!
The research undertaken for the post office story left me with a wealth of knowledge requiring a wider readership. The result was A Tale of Two Chelseas, published in 1988. (Note that the book on the two Chelseas is labelled a "tale", not a "history". Although the lack of a proper index is a detriment, the only regret I can claim is that a deadline set by the publisher did not allow the necessary time to verify details. I should have insisted.) At the same time, my first effort - the Wright and Pritchard genealogies-came out in book form.
Finally, the project from which I have received the greatest satisfaction is the launching and maintenance for the past eight years of the archives and research facility, which perhaps will ease the task of researchers a hundred years hence. Nobody could have been surrounded by a more dedicated team, nor followed by a wiser successor as I step into semi-retirement.
P.M.O. Evans, Honorary Member, 1969