Valley Lives - Allan Brabant
The following article first appeared in "The Low Down to Hull and Back News" in the May 18, 2016 issue. Reprinted with permission.
River claims 'gentle' Wakefielder
Village loses 'determined' man whose daily walks showed his strength
by Tess Allen
On May 10, with his characteristic quiet determination, Allan Brabant set out for a walk.
As was often the case, he was in pain, the result of a lifetime battle with Type 1 diabetes and pancreatitis. But he took off from his Wakefield home, the iconic orange brick house near the Rockhurst and Riverside junction, all the same. "That was just his way," said his wife of 33 years, Ingeborg Mueller.
"When he set out to do something, he did it. That's the way he was."
From launching his own phonebook business in Orleans and embracing the roles of doting step-father and step-grandfather, then, later in life, taking multiple walks a day to keep his muscles intact and to "stay in touch" despite the pain, Brabant did everything with a strong will.
"I have rarely seen such a will to continue," said Brabant's stepdaughter, Monica Ferguson, of the persistent outings many Wakefielders recall observing near the riverbank and along the tracks of the old Wakefield steam train. "I can't tell you how ill he was, and despite that, he had such a drive. Every day he would take his walk because that was what he could do to help himself."
But Brabant's was a strength imbued with a palpable tenderness. He was a "quiet, gentle person with so many layers underneath," said Ferguson, adding that Brabant was "a doting grandfather" and "the most amazing gift-giver" she'd ever met.
"His affection was not always about words. It was more so with gestures and thoughtful moments and kindnesses," said Ferguson. "He could choose a gift like no one. It was really remarkable... I remember Christmases in particular because he was such a quiet person, but by choosing my Christmas gifts, it really transcended a lot of the quietness."
Ferguson recalls the afternoons when her children, Samantha and Evan, would be watching television on the living room floor and Brabant would unexpectedly roll Kinder Surprise chocolate eggs across the floor to them. Or when he would reward the kids with quarters for scratching his back and "hitting the good spots."
"The quarters would fly," said Ferguson with a laugh.
When he wasn't entertaining Samantha and Evan, now 18 and 22 respectively, he was working on his art. The Cornwall native was a gifted woodworker, who loved and admired the beauty of his Wakefield surroundings for roughly 30 years.
At around 8 p.m. on May 10, after an hours-long search by police, Brabant's body was pulled from the Gatineau River. A coroner told Ingeborg on the night of the incident that he believed Brabant was unconscious before he fell in, meaning he may have fainted near the bank of the river shortly after he left the house. He was 64.
It was a fitting farewell for a man with a "meaningful connection" to the river and an unbreakable independent streak, said Ferguson.
"He left in his own way, under his own steam. Being independent was probably the most important thing to him, to have that independence for his last day."
Return to list.