Remembrance Day

Albert Lloyd Fox Photo

I never knew my great-great-uncle Albert Lloyd Fox (his mother spelled it Loyd). But growing up I always heard of how he died fighting for his country. My grandfather was lucky enough to get hold of his diary that he kept during the war. My uncle’s diary has been transcribed and typed up by my grandfather, who is Fox’s nephew. Fox was a pilot officer for the Royal Canadian Air Force. He served in 1942 during the Second World War in the year of 1942. Fox fought with and for his country alongside the allies and helped them become victorious.

In his first entry on January 1, 1942 he wrote, “This day finds me at Rivers (Manitoba) having been presented with Air Navigators wing and sergeant stripes on December 20 and now studying Astral Navigation.” Albert wrote in his diary every day, usually just one or two lines. The temperatures started to drop and a lot of his practice flights were cancelled due to bad weather. On January 22 he headed home for the last time.

Before setting off by boat to Liverpool he wrote, “Realized that although it’s hard to leave, it’s harder for those we love to wait.” He spent eight days on the boat before catching sight of Ireland. Fox continued taking classes while in Europe and wrote to his family back home faithfully. On April 16 he wrote, “Nearly ‘had it’ tonight when another aircraft came down on top of us while waiting at the end of the runway – had no ‘after effect’ though.” Fox spent his down time attending shows and going to dances where he met Ida Sharmen, “a very nice girl and good company.”

In May he got out flying more, “saw more country in three hours than most people see in three years.” He wrote about his cross country flight. On May 27 he wrote, “tension very high in camp, nothing doing for us but all others preparing for something big. My guess is invasion preparations.”

“Went on ‘Ops’ (operational flight) tonight – dropped over a ton incendiaries on Dusseldorf. Attacked by fighter coming back punctured one gas tank. Caught by search lights and flak over Dutch coast – and another tank punctured,” wrote Fox on July 30.

The last letter Fox sent was to his family at home on December 19. The letter started, “well here I sit with a box of chocolates beside me – munching. I fully realize that I am going to have a terrible stomach ache, but it will be a glorious one.” Fox said he had received all of his family’s Christmas gifts that day. On their last “Ops” tour he was commended by his squadron for his navigation.

Fox died at the age of 22 on December 20, 1942. His family was notified of his death in a letter to Fox’s mother from crewman Ralph Bailie. The crew was on their way back from an operational flight and something went wrong. Their pilot decided to ditch and due to the bad weather their plane crashed into the sea. Bailie thinks Albert drowned almost immediately and only saw Fox come to the surface once. A gunboat picked up Bailie after picking up Fox and another crewman. The men on the gunboat tried to save Fox but there was nothing they could do. Fox was buried at Great Yarmouth (Caister) Cemetery in the United Kingdom.

This Remembrance Day I thought a lot about my great-great-uncle Albert Lloyd Fox. Remembrance Day is a time for Fox’s family to reflect on who they have lost in war and to always remember them.

Remembrance Day

Small Town, Big Heart

Sawmill

I always remembered sitting on that itchy chair on those hot summer days watching my brothers’ baseball games. I grew up with that chair, “KDM” woven into the back. Kenneth Darren May, my dad, is who the chair was made for. His aunt Lillian, or, aunt Lill made it for him in her days at The Hand Crafter.

The Hand Crafter is a very special place to Boissevain because it is a place where mentally and physically handicapped individuals can spend their time improving a life skill rather than being institutionalized. My great aunt Lill had a very proactive mother. My great grandmother Elsie May and a few other mothers with mentally handicapped children got together and created a special classroom for their children. This class brought many individuals to Sunrise school from close by communities.

Sawmill Tea & Coffee Co. is located next door to The Hand Crafter and is the newest addition to Boissevain’s community. Sawmill is a café owned by Prairie Partners. Supported individuals is the term Sheena Cochrane, executive assistant of Prairie Partners, prefers to use when talking about those who are mentally handicapped. Sawmill Tea & Coffee Co. is a place supported individuals can come and receive pay for the work they do. “We try to get them interactive with the community and we try to give them life skills,” said Cochrane.

Sawmill is a not-for-profit community gathering place and makes up for one of three parts of the buildings in downtown Boissevain. The Hand Crafter and the wood shop are right next door. Sawmill gives these supported individuals an opportunity to cook, work the till and interact with other members of their community.

With a “no purchase necessary, come in and relax,” sign on the door you can guess that this is a really welcoming place in the Boissevain community. “It’s the gem of Boissevain,” said Rhonda Coupland, “great atmosphere, my kids go there, they enjoy meeting friends and they do their homework there.” Sawmill is open Mondays 8:00 am-4:00 pm, Tuesdays to Thursdays 8:00 am-10:00 pm, Fridays 8:00 am-11:00 pm, Saturdays 10:00 am-11:00 pm. These hours are great for Boissevain’s youth helping to keep them off the streets. Keeping the town’s crime rate low with 1 crime in the last 1.5 years according to the Boissevain Community Justice Committee. “They can play pool with out going to the bar,” said Karla Reimer, manager at Sawmill.

It started in Boissevain with my great grandmother and her dream to give her daughter the best life she could. About 80 years has passed and it’s grown into something so special that has truly touched my heart.

Boissevain Website | Sawmill Tea & Coffee Co.

Small Town, Big Heart

My Life in a Photograph

I peer over my mother’s shoulder, wanting to hug her, console her. In front of her a photograph of me, age 3, and my brother. We were on a family vacation and held up in a hotel for the night, bags and bottles were everywhere. What started out as story time turned into chaos, pillows thrown, blankets made in to tents and then ripped down by my brother, he was a year old. In the photograph he is looking at me, his big sister, longing, wanting to do what I was doing, jumping endlessly on the bed. He was having trouble walking, and he was a bit of a slow learner, grabbing on to things to keep himself from falling, he was my brother and I loved him.

*CLICK*

My father captured that moment of happiness and love shared between his two children. A moment you can keep, and remember always.

What the future held for all of us was sadness. This photograph has been looked at a lot, framed and kept at the bedside table. I remember back to that day and think about how perfect my life was, I look at my face with a big smile from cheek to cheek, and my parents were letting me get away with jumping on the bed. My hair was wild, from a long day in the car passing in and out of sleep, which was likely why I am so awake in the photograph.

This was the last smile of mine ever caught on camera, because after that vacation I was diagnosed with cancer. My little body could not withstand treatment and the doctors told my parents I only had months to live. Despite their growing pain and sadness, they made sure my last few months were some of the happiest months of my life.

I will always remember how my mother used to hold me when my body hurt, how my father walked with me when I wanted to see the sun one last time, and how my brother kissed my cheek and made me smile while I was laying in the hospital bed, and the sounds of all of their voices in my ear and I slipped into my eternal slumber.

My Life in a Photograph