Valley Lives - Hendrick. Vince
The following article first appeared in "The Low Down to Hull and Back News" in the December 13, 2017 issue. Reprinted with permission.
Chelsea loses community builder
A farmer, a councillor, and always a gentleman
By Ben Bulmer
Vince Hendrick was in many ways the patriarch of the community. Known for his infectious laugh, and his kind and caring demeanour, Vince was a husband, father, grandfather, and great grandfather, as well as a farmer and long serving councillor
"He loved people [and] he loved to laugh," said Vince's daughter, Barbara Hendrick. "I don't think he realized how much of an impact he's had on some peoples' lives because he took the time to talk to them." Barbara describes her father as a person of "quiet accomplishments," never one to boast or brag. Vince accepted people for who they were and always treated everyone with the utmost respect.
Born in 1926 on the Hendrick Farm in Old Chelsea the youngest of nine siblings, Vince married Wakefielder Gertrude White in 1954, and continued to farm into his late seventies. Even after Vince had his first stroke in 1992, Barbara said he came back with "perseverance and determination" and got "back on the tractor and back in the fields."
Vince told the Low Down in 2005 that as a child he would get up at 4 a.m. each day and he and his brothers would feed the livestock before school. At lunchtime, he would race home do more chores before heading back to class. Vince's father John, known as Jack Hendrick, passed away when Vince was 15 years old; after finishing Grade 9 he left school to work full time on the farm, something he did until the last of his cows were sold in 2005.
"The responsibilities he [Vince] had as a young lad - you would never have the same expectation today," said Barbara. "He worked hard and he did what he had to do to keep the family farm running. He took on a lot of responsibility at a young age." Barbara said her father was "strict but fair" and, along with his great sense of humour, was a fantastic storyteller: "it really didn't matter how many times you'd heard the stories, they were just as good the second or third time round." He was proud of his roots, and the family farm, which his father had bought in 1905.
Vince's down-to-earth personality combined with his common-sense approach to life and his ability to see the good in everyone led to his being a municipal councillor from 1971 to 1987. Former Chelsea Mayor Judy Grant describes Vince as a mentor, treating everyone with respect and giving Grant an array of advice when she became a councillor in 1981. "He was a gentleman, always, but he always had a twinkle in his eye, so you had to be careful - he liked playing jokes on people," said Grant. The former mayor recalls a council meeting where a clearly exhausted Vince, after a day of bringing in hay, appeared to nod off. With his eyes shut and the chair he was sitting in tilting further and further back, the inevitable happened and Vince went "tail over applecart," shooting backwards through an open door behind him. He picked himself up, walked back into the room, and sat down as if nothing had happened. "We all went hysterical," said Grant. This dry and composed sense of humour also helped him clear the air after heated debates at council. Vince stepped into the position of interim mayor in 1986 following the death of Doug Minnes and retired from municipal politics the following year.
Chelsea resident Richard Hofer also spent time on council with Vince in the late 1970s. "Vince Hendrick represented everything I wasn't," said Hofer. "I represented a new generation of people moving to Chelsea, I was university educated, I had a job in the city, I was much younger with all the impossible arrogance of youth. I represented the city slicker come to tell the rubes how to live... he and I were polar opposites and we fought like dogs." Fast forward 25 years and Hofer said he and Vince became very close friends. "I admired so much what he represented and what he represents." Hofer describes Vince as "a man with great integrity" and a "wonderful example of how a man should live his life."
Former Chelsea Mayor André Renaud also sat on council with Vince and, although the two did not agree on everything, there was never any animosity between them and Vince never held a grudge. Renaud refers to his friend as a man who will leave a legacy in Chelsea, repeating Grant's sentiments. "He had a twinkle in his eye, and people loved him."
Chelsea Mayor Caryl Green describes Vince's passing as a great loss to the community.
After 70 years of friendship, Chelsea resident Larry Dufour remembers Vince as an honest and loyal friend who always spoke "from his heart." The pair played hockey together in the 1950s, but even over half a century later the pair would still meet up with friends and have breakfast together once a week.
Barbara said Vince never tired of the Gatineau Hills, and the community never tired of him.
Vince Hendrick is survived by his wife of 63 years, Gertrude, four children, six grandchildren, and five great grandchildren.
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