Northeast North Carolina Family History – memories… By: Irene Hampton - nencfamilyhistory@gmail.com




Writing about a family wedding and then my grandparents’ 100th anniversary last month has had me reminiscing a lot lately. This month I want to wish my Dad who has been on my mind a lot, “Happy Birthday.” As I have written about before, December is the anniversary of both my father’s birth and death.

I’m not sure when the picture of him was taken, I’m guessing sometime in the 1920’s when he was in his 20’s. Sad that I don’t know for sure, but as I have also lamented in the past, I don’t know much about my dad. He was born in Rhode Island to French-Canadian parents in the first decade of the 20th century. His father deserted the family sometime when my father was about twelve, so my grandmother took her son and daughter back to Canada.

Her father, my grandfather, had worked during the Canadian gold rush in the Klondike and then moved to Edmonton, Alberta. She moved there after her husband left her and raised her children in Alberta. Both her children attended Catholic schools with the intention of taking religious orders. My aunt did become a nun, but my father said he was told he didn’t seem to have the “temperament” to be a priest. He never clarified what that comment meant but my father did have a desire for adventure.

He was hired by the Hudson Bay Company to buy furs in the Canadian north. Dad always said he “reached his majority” while he was in the north. He talked of staying in igloos while meeting with Eskimos and he took pictures of the land and the people of Baffin Island. He spoke of some of the people he met, in particular a young Canadian mountie Constable Edgar Millen, who was shot and killed by the man known as “The Mad Trapper.”

After completing his work in the Canadian north, he joined the Canadian Parks Service and was assigned to Jasper National Park. I have pictures of him with a baseball team, curling (a sport he loved) and climbing Whistler Mountain in British Columbia. An older man during WWII, he was assigned clerking duties, rather than assignment overseas. Somewhere along the way he ended up transferred to Banff National Park.

I’ve mentioned in a past article that my parents met in a bowling alley in Calgary as my father was passing time waiting to catch a bus to Banff. After my parents became engaged, someone sent an anonymous letter to my mother telling her not to marry him. They always thought it was a former girlfriend. Dad was almost 48 at the time and had apparently dated someone who had taken quite a fancy to him but he never talked about it. I’ve always thought he looked like a silent movie star in this picture, so I can understand that. In reality dad rarely talked about his life before he was married.

My parents raised four children, the youngest born just before my father turned 58. At 65 he had to retire from government service. He had accumulated over two years of vacation time which he never took or was reimbursed for. He knew of land deals happening in the park and could have profited from that knowledge but never did. He was as quiet and honest as a man can be. With young children still at home after his first retirement he found employment at what was then the Banff Springs Hotel. He began in their accounting office but as his eyesight worsened he was moved to security which he worked until he was 80.

We drove from California to visit with my parents in the fall of 1985 and a few weeks later, the day before his birthday, my father had a heart attack while Christmas shopping with my mother in Calgary. A few hours later he was gone. And with him, so much information I thought I’d ask about someday.

Please take the time to talk with your family this holiday season and perhaps spare a lifetime of regrets.
Northeast North Carolina Family History – memories… By: Irene Hampton - nencfamilyhistory@gmail.com Northeast North Carolina Family History – memories… By: Irene Hampton - nencfamilyhistory@gmail.com Reviewed by kensunm on 7:00:00 PM Rating: 5

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