Tuesday, 28 January 2014

A True Pioneer

My great-grandfather was a homesteader in the Peace River country. His obituary was published in the Northern Tribune in December of 1937.

Charles McNaught Appleton District Passes Away

Was Pioneer in Western Area, Having come into The Country in 1912 A True Pioneer-Funeral One of the Largest Ever Seen in the District-Death Casts Gloom Over Whole Community

APPLETON, Dec 14  A shadow fell over this and surrounding districts when the death of Charles McNaught on Friday morning at the family home became known. While it was known he had been in poor health, it was hoped that he would regain a measure of good health again.

Born in Brantford County, Ontario, in 1856, son of Samuel McNaught, Scotch immigrant of 1834, Mr. McNaught with his brother Samuel (late of Halcourt), operated the family farm three miles from the city of Brantford.  He married Eliza Connor of Brantford and later moved to the village of Glen Morris, where he farmed until he left the East for the last frontier of the West- the Peace River country.

With Mrs. McNaught he made the trip over the Edson Trail, homesteaded and filed on land in the Beaver Lodge Valley in 1911.

The following year Mr. McNaught brought in his family and farm effects and built was has been not only the family home but also the centre of all community activities in the early days. (The McNaught homestead is now a designated provincial historic resource) 

McNaught Homestead
The McNaught home in a new land has ever cherished the hospitality and helping spirit that characterizes the true pioneer.

For several years after 1912 Mr. McNaught was a familiar figure on the old Edson Trail, making the trip down to Edson on eleven different occasions as well as trips to High River for supplies.

Whenever he came among men he brought June sunshine and made even despondent and surly men feel a fuller and warmer summer was at hand for in the late Mr. McNaught was embedded all the great and noble traits of the Scotch race. 

No more eloquent nor true tribute could be paid by his friends than to say he was one of nature’s noblemen.

The late Mr. McNaught had the courage to come to a new country, and he would not shudder to go out on a voyage of discovery which shall reveal a vaster and more brilliant country, not fear the ascent of the eternal hills.

Left to mourn Mr. McNaught’s death are his wife, one son John, four daughters, Margaret, Isobel, Euphemia at home and Mrs. George Martin of Edmonton; also two grand-daughters, Margaret and Janet Martin.

The funeral cortege was one of the largest ever seen in the western district.  

Funeral services were held at the family home Monday afternoon, Rev. Sidney W Semple officiated.  J.B. Olivers had charge of the funeral arrangements.  Internment was made in the family lot at Halcourt.  Pallbearers were Messrs E.J. Heller, B Elcome, J Perry, Mortwedt, L. Mackie and J Dixon, close friends of the departed

To the bereaved ones the sympathy of the community is extended.

There were many floral tributes.

O sweet be thy sleep in the land of the grave
Where suffering can no longer harm ye
Where the songs of the good, where the hymns of the blest
Through an endless existence shall charm thee.

-Robbie Burns
The Northern Tribune
December 16 1937

View the family tree on ancestry.ca

Monday, 20 January 2014


I've been robbed a few times. It's kind of unsettling.  The first time I was a university student.Someone gained access to our apartment building and broke into every single apartment, leaving every drawer in the suite open. We were university students.  We had no cash or anything worth stealing.

Hong Kong 1987
The second time my husband had his wallet stolen from the counter of the Hong Kong Post Office.  It was an inside job. He set his wallet down to put a stamp on a postcard, went to pick it up and it was gone.  There was no one else at the counter. But he got nowhere in getting it back.

The third time was a Walkman stolen out of our room at 3 am in Dali, China. A guy reached through the window from the balcony, grabbed the old Walkman and ran off with hubby in hot pursuit.  He reported it to the hotel and by noon the next day the police escorted him to a house, told him to look through the window, and lo and behold there was the robber listening to the Walkman. Crazy.

Next, we had a bunch of CDs stolen from our car in Tumbler Ridge.  Part of a rash of vehicle break-ins.  My brother thought he knew the culprit and went to scare him into returning them.  Nothing doing.

The next was another wallet grab at the Guinness Factory in Dublin, Ireland's #1 Tourist Attraction. My husband knew the thing was gone within 30 seconds, went back to the counter, got told it was probably nabbed by the person behind him in line.  No attempt to watch the CC TV tape or do anything.  They basically shrugged it off like it happened every day. Maybe it did.  Maybe by one of their employees right there at the counter- they were that nonchalant.Maybe our Irish doctor is right when he says "the Irish are all t'ieves."

Mexican Police.
The worst theft of all was by the Mexican police. We were driving in Mexico City, a bit lost, when we got flagged over. "Great," we thought, "The police will direct us to the right road."  Wrong.  "Your licence has a 7 in it. You need to pay us $100 right now." Bastards.  I know the guidebook says Mexican police scams are commonplace and you should insist on being taken to police headquarters and given a proper form with a description of your violations on it, but when two guys with guns and badges demand $100, your tendency is to give it to them. 

The returned camera in its evidence bag.
A couple of weeks ago I was in Havana. It seemed totally safe...until a guy lunged at me in broad daylight, snapped the camera from off my wrist and ran off chased by my daughter in her little skirt and flip-flops screaming "Give it back, you motherfucker!" She didn't catch him. We didn't report it to the police, thinking it would be a pointless waste of one of our seven days of vacation. Imagine my surprise the next day when I was at a homestay in another town and got a call saying the police had the camera- they had tracked me down to my previous casa using the photos on the camera. Could I identify the thief so they could send the "bad boy" to jail? I'd only seen his face for a second but I did want the camera back.  After filing a report, translated by my Havana homestay host (and if you are even in Havana, stay with Rigo at Sierra Barroso's Colonial House!) and two trips to the police station, I had the camera back! 

Now what is the lesson in all this? Apart from the fact that I may be a bit careless with my stuff? Hmmm.  I've had items stolen on three continents, in democracies and non-democratic states. And where did I get the stolen items back? CHINA and CUBA.  

When the people were looting Baghdad, Donald Rumsfeld said, "...free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things."  And from my experience, free to get away with it too.  I'm no hard-ass law and order person, but you know what?  I like getting my stuff back.