A Celebration of the Life of June Allison Beaddie (1922 – 2014)

Written by Harold McNeill on August 27th, 2014. Posted in Biographies


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February, 2008: Maggie (Corns)(nee Mathews) and her mother June (Beaddie) (Matthews) (nee Heather), share a special moment aboard the Golden Princess.

January 4, 2012:  This post is brought forward for those to two entertaining young woman from England with whom we shared so many laughs.  This post provides some background on recent death of the mother of a dear friend, but it is the last part, and your interest in Colin Firth, which came up in our conversations. Perhaps we shall meet again one day.

What an inspirational day as Lynn and I as travelled to Salt Spring Island, that little gem in Georgia Strait just off the southeast coast of Vancouver Island. We were there to celebrate the life of the mother of our one time next-door neighbour and long time friend Maggie and the grandmother of Maggie’s five children – Alison, Jon, Megan, Dan, Ben. The second youngest, Jon, our son Sean’s school and sports buddy, could not attend as he is currently on course in Singapore while completing a two year stint as an Emergency Room physician in Perth, Australia.

We were most fortunate to have met June a few months earlier when the family, absent Ben on that occasion, were visiting Victoria just before Jon left for Australia.  At ninety-two, June was clearly a going concern until the very end and from the stories we have heard or read, she was truly an inspiration.

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Victoria-Morioka Friendship Society

Written by Harold McNeill on February 16th, 2014. Posted in Biographies, Adventure


Miss Misaki Usuzawa

We bid a special welcome to Miss Misaki Usuzawa, winner of the Japanese new singer of 2012.
Miss Usuzawa, a student at the Ootusuchi Junior High School, encouraged people along the coast with her songs following the Great Disaster of 2011.  (Link to Times Colonist article)

Welcome Friends from Japan

We begin this week with a visit by several friends from Japan who made our 2013 tour to that country so memorable. Mr. and Mrs. Rioichi and Ayako Taguchi were enthusiastically greeted at the airport on Saturday.  Although it is not their first visit to Victoria, it is such a pleasure to have the opportunity to share our city with them.

Sadly, Mr. and Mrs. Yocihi and Rieko Sakashita, who also graciously hosted us during our recent visit to Morioka, are now unable to make the journey. We shall greatly miss the opportunity to return their kind hospitality and will look forward to seeing them again in the future.

Also attending later in the week will be Mr. Toshinori Suzuki, Principle of Ootsuchi Junior High, the West Coast school devastated by the 2011 tsunami and which we visited last year. He will be introducing one of his students, Miss Misaki Usuzawa, a folk singer who won the grand record prize as the Japanese new singer of 2012.

The young artist, just now entering her mid teens, comes from one of the areas devastated by the Tohoku quake. She is considered a genius singer, excelling in the traditional style. Her mother, Mrs. Nakoko Usuzawa, will also accompany her daughter on the trip.

Others being welcomed to Victoria include Mr. Osamu Hirano, President of the recording company working with Miss Usuzawa  and Ms. Miwa Ishiganki, a Director of the Iwate Broadcasting Company.

During their stay, the group will attend a number of functions, including a courtesy visit to the Victoria City Hall where they will be welcomed by Mayor Dean Fortin.  Miss Usuzawa will perform a mini concert at City Hall as well as during a later visit to St. Margaret’s Junior and Senior Schools.

As a special treat the young singer will perform in a concert at Christ Church Cathedral on Saturday, February 21, from 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. The general public is invited to attend.

Bill and Rita McCreadie and other friends of the Victoria-Morioka Society will host the group at a number of private functions over the coming week.

Harold and Lynn McNeill

Links below for video and photo albums:

1. Misaki Usuzawa You Tube Video

2. February 2014: Arrival in Victoria in Victoria Link Here  (This link provides a full set of photos from the visit)

3. Japan Trip 2013: The Journey Begins

4. Japan Trip 2013: The Adventure Continues

5. Japan Trip 2013: A Trip to the West Coast (Slide Show)

6. Link to February, 2014, Times Colonist article

More links are provided in the stories linked within the above albums.

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Patricia Pearl Humphrey (1916 – 2013)

Written by Harold McNeill on October 26th, 2013. Posted in Biographies


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Patricia Pearl Humphrey (Schirrmacher/McNeill)
(1916 – 2013)

The youngest child of a family of
Canadian Pioneers

On Saturday morning, October 26th, 2013, our dear Aunt Pat passed away at her home in Stony Plain, Alberta.  At age 97, Aunt Pat was the last of eleven siblings of a family that pioneered in South Dakota in the 1800s and then Saskatchewan at the beginning of the last century.

Her parents, James Wallace McNeill (1866-1938) and Martha Ellen McNeill (Church) (1874 – 1958) married in 1893 in Chamberlain, South Dakota, then, 17 years later, after facing an ongoing drought and constant unrest in the Dakotas, pulled up stakes and headed to Canada. After entering through Peace Portal in Manitoba, the woman, including Martha’s mother (her husband had passed away), and the youngest children caught a train west while the father and older boys, Clifford and James, drove the wagons and cattle. They all landed in North Battleford, Saskatchewan in the spring 1910.

On departing from South Dakota, the couple had seven children in tow – Dave (2, my father), Elizabeth (5), Hazel (8), Irene (9), Ruby (12), Clifford (14) and James (16), not a move many of us would ever consider tackling . Not only that, in the fall of 1910, after arriving in North Battleford, the twins, Armina and Almira, joined the family.

After checking out the lay of the land, James and Martha selected a homestead in Birch Lake, about 60 miles north. It was there the final two children, Floyd and Patricia Pearl, were born. The family worked the land until the father, James, passed away in 1938. A few years after his death, perhaps the mid 1940s, Martha moved back to North Battleford where she remained until her passing in 1958.

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McNeill Connections: Such a Small World

Written by Harold McNeill on September 5th, 2013. Posted in Biographies


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And it gets smaller with each passing hour…

On Tuesday, after our return from camping at Island View Beach, Sean mentioned that Lucas (a friend of Sean and our family) was dating girl from Oak Bay and there was a connection to our family.  A copy of the information passed to Sean is included in footer.

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Gery Lemon Achieves New Milestone

Written by Harold McNeill on April 2nd, 2013. Posted in Biographies


Portrait of Gery Lemon and Graham Hill taken by long time family friend Rebecca Kirstein. This note by Gery: “Rebecca is like a daughter. She is a very accomplished photographer and over the years shot our wedding, Kelsey’s wedding – all kinds of family gatherings and reunions. This picture was presented in preparation for Graham’s campaign in 2011 – for his fourth term as mayor. It’s in front of the rock wall across from the Four Mile – beautiful work of public art. The shot was to go on his brochure and website …..I think we look in love.”

Saturday, April 6, 09:30, Dear Reader:  The original story was somehow deleated last Monday when work was being completed on a server transfer. The new story is posted below. If you note any errors in names, please email me a note at harold@mcneillifestories.com

 

A recent story about Gery and Graham may be linked here: Graham and Harold’s Christmas Adventure

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Black Friday: An Amazing Coincidence

Written by Harold McNeill on June 30th, 2012. Posted in Biographies


To receive regular notifcations of new posts, link to the
McNeill Life Stories Facebook page and click Like.
LINK HERE

An Amazing Coincidence

Following is an observation for the math guru’s among you.

While completing the Black Friday story, I first met P/O Bert Ramsden who, in the 404 Squadron photo, is standing immediately below and to the right of the nose cone V3 painted on the Beaufighter. No big deal, he just picked a place to stand and there he stood very near the symmetrical centre of the photo, a modest 1 in 59 chance of occupying that position.

Later, while researching the article, the name of one other member of the squadron air crew still living was found to be P/O Miller Bryce. It was not until I was highlighting names in the photo I discovered P/O Bryce was standing just below and to the left of the V3, shoulder to shoulder with P/O Ramsden.

Now there is nothing unusual about just two members being left alive as that was bound to happen at some point. However, that the final two living members of the 59 members in that squadron photo were randomly standing side by side seemed highly coincidental. This will be further discussed later.

In an email exchange with Don Flynn, the son of P/O Pat Flynn, I was told I had missed his dad’s name on the photo name list. He told me his father was sitting directly above Ramsden and Bryce on the nosecone above the V3. Sure enough, I had accidentally missed the name the first time around. Now, of the three members coming to my attention, all are sitting or standing in a symmetrical position around the V3 nosecone!

Photo: Cropped section of the Squadron photo displayed in the introduction.  Link here to the full Squadron Photo. (Lead photo in the Black Friday Story)

During the Black Friday Ceremony held in 2008, in Naustdal, Norway, the two living members (and their families) along with the family of one deceased member, were represented.  Of course, the two living members were P/O Ramsden and P/O Bryce.  The third, represented by his wife and son, was, take a guess, P/O Flynn, the man who completed the Beaufighter nosecone triangle.

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Black Friday in Norway

Written by Harold McNeill on June 9th, 2012. Posted in Biographies


Above: Artists depiction of Beaufighters from the Australian 455 Squadron attacking German Ships in a Norwegian Fjord.
Along with the Australians, the RCAF (Royal Canadian) Squdron 404 (pictured below), RNZAF (Royal New Zealand), Squadron 489 and RAF (English) Squadron 144,
took part in one the the largest Air Battles to ever take place in the skies over Norway. Bert Ramsden was part of battle.

In Memory of Bert Ramsden
1921 – 2014

Bert Ramsden

November 3, 2014
Pilot Officer Bert Ramsden, the subject of this story, passed away peacefully at his home in Saanich, British Columbia. The young man who fought in the Second World War shall not be forgotten.

At the age of 93, Bert joins his beloved wife, Marie who predeceased him in 2004, as well as parents, Joseph and Mercy and brothers, Cal (Eleanor) and Cec (Bess).  Born in Castor, Alta., Bert is survived by his son, Don (Nancy); daughter, Karen (Chip); grandchildren, Andrea (Chris), Jennie (Trevor), Jon, Jamie and Jeff and great-grandchild, Zachary.

A memorial service will be held at 1:00 pm on Friday, November 14, 2014  at
St. Aidan’s United Church, 3703 St. Aidan’s Street in Victoria.  

Below, Pilot Officer Bert Ramsden ties his shoe on the tire of his Beaufighter.

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The following story was written after several interviews with Bert first at his home in Saanich and then at various coffee shops along Shelbourne Street during May and June 2014.  At 91, Bert was ever the affable pilot officer who was still more than able to charm the young women at our various coffee stops along the way.

The photos in this post and in the attached photo album were copied mainly from Bert’s personal files and from various Web Sites that carried information about Black Friday.  During the period of research and writing, an amazing coincidence became apparent. This coincidence was written up in a separate post that may be linked below the names of those show in the photo below.

Bert was one of the thousands of young men who left their homes, families, farms, businesses and careers to join the Second World War effort in Europe and other parts of the world.  While Bert returned home without injury, many of his comrades in arms were not so lucky and it is on November 11, each year that we celebrate these young men and the sacrifice they made to make our world a better place.  While I say that Bert returned without injury, it is clear he still carried with him, even at the age of 91, a degree of guilt that he walked away when so many of his flying comrades died in the battles in the skies above Norway and elsewhere.

We shall remember Bert.

Harold McNeill
November 9, 2014
Victoria, B.C.

Pilot Officer Bert Ramsden and the Flying 404

RCAF Squadron 404 (Circa Spring, 1945, Banff, Scotland)

Ramsden Photo Files: RCAF 404 Squadron, Bert Ramsden is standing
immediately below and to the right of the “V3“.

Ramsden and 404 Squadron

A high-resolution copy of this photo, in which all the faces and printing is clear, can be obtained by leaving a note on this posting or by sending an email to harold@mcneillifestories.com
(double click to open in a larger size)

Top Row on Wings
F/L Stewart (standing), F/O Bondy, P/O Wade, P/O Michael (standing centre), P/O Flynn (below Michael), F/L Foord (standing), F/O Nelson (front of Foord), F/O Gibbard, W/O Gracie, F/O Catrand.

Second Row Down (immediately below wing L/R)
F/S Aube(y), F/S Orser, F/O Mallilieu, F/O Williams, F/Lt Hill, F/O Cook, F/O Burns, P/O Bryce, P/O Ramsden, P/O Elliot, F/O Jones, F/O Bedwell, P/O Wright, P/O Camanella

Second Row Below Wing
F/S Henderson, F/Lt Ball, P/O Landry, F/O Aljoe, F/O Coyne, F/O Tomes, F/Lt Rancourt,
F/L Toon(e), F/Lt Jackson, F/O McKnight, P/O Temple, F/O Lee, F/O Johnson, F/O McCallan,
P/O Moe, F/O Stansak, F/O Miller, F/O Jasper.

Bottom Row (L to R)
F/O Panuk, not named, F/Lt Wilkinson, F/Lt Hill, Capt Chodoroff, S/Ld Inman, F/Lt Bolli, S/L Schoales,
W/C Pierce, S/L Christison, S/L Jones, F/L Watlington, F/L Beacook, F/L Spencer, F/L Corder
F/O Hines, F/O Keele

Missing from Photo
F/O Elbury, P/O Wallace, W/O Rumble (P/O Ramsden’s Navigator)

For an Amazing Coincidence regarding placements in the above photo
LINK HERE

To view the full set of photos of events surrounding this story:
Link here to McNeill Life Stories Facebook Page

A Pittance of Time (For Video Link Here)

Black Friday: An Epic Air Battle of World War II

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A Life Long Learner

Written by Harold McNeill on October 30th, 2011. Posted in Biographies


The purpose of learning is growth, and our minds, unlike our bodies, can continue growing
as we continue to live.
Mortimer J. Adler

That’s what learning is, after all; not whether we lose the game, but how we lose and how we’ve changed because of it and what we take away from it that we never had before, to apply to other games. Losing, in a curious way, is winning.
Richard Bach, The Bridge Across Forever, 1984

A Lifelong Learner

Lynn Grad

October 28, 2011    This past Friday family and friends gathered at Camosun College to join in the celebration with fifteen hundred students who completed program studies ranging from full degrees to certification in various trades and career specialities. Among those being recognized was our very own Lynn Frances McNeill, a woman who is the very definition of a ‘lifelong learner’.

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Comments

  • Mike Fedorowich

    September 1, 2023 |

    I have gone through the above noted text and have found it quite informative.
    I am a former member with several law enforcement agencies from across Canada.
    I worked in the First Nations service under the authority of the RCMP with the over sight of the OPP. My law enforcement service was conducted under the authority of the Nishnawbe – Aski Police Service in North West Ontario the Louis Bull Police Sevice in Hobbema AB, the Kitasoo Xaixais Police Service in Northern in side passage on Swindle Island, the Lac Suel Police Service North West Ontario and the Vancouver Transit Authority Sky Train Police Service. I’m presently dealing with an RCMP member for falsifying a report against me for a road rage event. Court case is finished and the charge was dropped but I have an on going complaint with the member and have forwarded to the WATCH DOGS IN OTTAWA FOR the RCMP review and consideration. I believe the said officer is in violation of his oath of office and should be held accountable for falsifying his RTCC all the while dragging me through the court system here in Nanaimo. RCMP continue to stonewall the appeal but Ottawa and the crowns office are still looking into the matter. if your able and find the time or the interest in this very brief introduction, I would very much like to speak with you and would be grateful to hear any wisdom that may come across from your end. I served with First Nations Police Services for ten years in isolation and six years with Transit Police out of New West Minster. I do value and appreciate any time you could spare to chat for a bit on this particular subject matter. Respectfully with out anger but an open mind, Mike Fedorowich Nanaimo BC 250 667 0060

  • Harold McNeill

    February 28, 2022 |

    Hi Robert, I do remember some of those folks from my early years in Cold Lake (Hazel was my aunt and our family spent many fond times with Uncle Melvin, Aunt Hazel and Family. I knew Lawrence and Adrian. Having read a half dozen accounts it is clear their were many false narratives and, perhaps, a few truths along the way. I tried my best to provide an even account from what I read. Cheers, Harold. (email: Harold@mcneillifestories.com)

  • Robert Martineau

    February 25, 2022 |

    Its been a long time since any post here, but its worth a shot. My Grandfather was Hazel Wheelers brother Lawrence, and son to Maggie and Adrien. Maggie Martineau (nee Delaney) is my great grandmother. The books and articles to date are based on the white mans viewpoint and the real story as passed down by the Elders in my family is much more nefarious. Some of the white men were providing food for the Indians in exchange for sexual favors performed by the Squaws. Maggie was the product of one of those encounters. Although I am extremely proud of my family and family name, I am ashamed about this part of it.

  • Julue

    January 28, 2022 |

    Good morning Harold!
    Gosh darn it, you are such a good writer. I hope you have been writing a book about your life. It could be turned into a movie.
    Thanks for this edition to your blog.
    I pray that Canadians will keep their cool this weekend and next week in Ottawa. How do you see our PM handling it? He has to do something and quick!
    Xo Julie

  • Herb Craig

    December 14, 2021 |

    As always awesome job Harold. It seems whatever you do in life the end result is always the same professional, accurate, inclusive and entertaining. You have always been a class act and a great fellow policeman to work with. We had some awesome times together my friend. I will always hold you close as a true friend. Keep up the good work. Hope to see you this summer.
    Warm regards
    Herb Craig

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Hi Dorthy, So glad you found those stories and, yes, they hold many fond memories. Thanks to social media and the blog, I’ve been able to get in touch with many friends from back in the day. Cheers, Harold

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Well, well. Pleased to see your name pop up. I’m in regular contact via FB with many ‘kids’ from back in our HS days (Guy, Dawna, Shirley and others). Also, a lot of Cold Lake friends through FB. Cheers, Harold

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Oh, that is many years back and glad you found the story. I don’t have any recall of others in my class other than the Murphy sisters on whose farm my Dad and Mom worked.

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Pleased to hear from you Howie and trust all is going well. As with you, I have a couple of sad stories of times in my police career when I crossed paths with Ross Barrington Elworthy. Just haven’t had the time to write those stories.

  • Howie Siegel

    November 25, 2021 |

    My only fight at Pagliacci’s was a late Sunday night in 1980 (?) He ripped the towel machine off the bathroom wall which brought me running. He came after me, I grabbed a chair and cracked him on the head which split his skull and dropped him. I worried about the police finding him on the floor. I had just arrived from Lasqueti Island and wasn’t convinced the police were my friends. I dragged him out to Broad and Fort and left him on the sidewalk, called the cops. They picked him up and he never saw freedom again (as far as I know). I found out it was Ross Elworthy.