Roy Hart, a resident of the Chesterville area for the past 72 years, passed away at the Dundas Manor Nursing Home in Winchester on Sat., July 19, 2008. He was 89.
Roy was born in Whittlesey, England on May 20, 1919, the only son of Ernest R. Hart and May Cox. The family farmed in England before moving to Canada in 1935 when Roy was 16 years old. Roy immigrated to Canada first and he went to work for a dairy farmer in Eastern Quebec. It was a tough job, but he hung in there until his parents came a year later. Eventually they all found employment working for the Ballantyne family on the seventh concession of Chesterville, more recently known as Don’s Road.
Roy and his dad worked on the Ballantyne farm looking after horses,cattle, and crops, and his mother looked after the household.
It was during those years he met a young girl, Marion McConnell, who also worked at the Ballantyne household. They were married on Aug. 17, 1942 and together they had three children: Mark, Brenda, and Lee. Following their marriage Roy and Marion bought their own place, about half a mile east of the Ballantyne farm. It was an old house then, with an old barn, and only about 60 acres of land. Eventually Roy and his father bought more land and built it into an operating dairy farm.
Roy loved to farm and it remained his career and his life for more than 40 years. Due to health issues and age, and the fact that none of his kids wanted to farm, he sold the cattle in the late ’70s. A short time later, like many area people, he went to work as a guide at Upper Canada Village, which launched a whole new career for him.
He worked in different areas, but he enjoyed being a guide at the sawmill the most, demonstrating how the 200 year old water-powered operation worked. He also learned a new skill as a cooper, working with wood to make hand made pails and barrels, axe handles, walking sticks, and other wooden tools. This, his first and only government job, was right up his alley. It was seasonal, he had no particular deadline to get any work done, and all he had to do was show up every day and visit with people. Roy liked to visit.
Roy retired from the Village in 1984 and for several years enjoyed travelling. He and Marion went on a number of bus trips and saw much of North America. He made one trip back to England to visit his home territory. They tended a big garden at home. Roy had created a little wood working shop where he could work on projects, and he loved to go fishing.
He enjoyed reasonably good health up until the last few years when arthritis sidelined him, making it increasingly difficult for him to be as active as he would have liked, but he always noted that a lot of people were worse off than he was.
Most notably he was a good and gentle man. Not just a gentleman, but a gentle man. Usually calm and easy going he rarely got flustered or angry. He loved his animals. He was a very compassionate herdsman looking after his cattle over the years. When he sold his own cattle, he was glad to rent out the farm to friend Tony Logtens and see Tony’s cattle in the fields every summer. It was not only important to make use of the grass, but Roy liked to see cattle in his fields. He also loved his dogs and he never met a dog he didn’t like. In the last 20 years or so he didn’t have cattle of his own, but he always tended to a small herd of barn cats.
Roy was a person of great trust. He treated people the way he wanted to be treated. He was honest, well meaning, and enjoyed a good laugh. He was always there to do his part, to help out friends and neighbours. He was a person of great humility, a man with an “aw-shucks” manner, and was a patient and skilled craftsman. He loved visiting with family and friends, and he enjoyed a good game of euchre.
He was just a mild mannered dairy farmer from south of Chesterville who never made a lot of money, but when it came right down to all things that really mattered in life, the love of his family, the respect of his friends, and a community-wide reputation asa good, decent, honourable, and gentle man, his bank account was indeed full.
Roy is survived by his loving wife of almost 66 years, Marion, his children Brenda (Walter Conrad) of Carp, and Lee (Angie) of Calgary, his daughter-in-law Connie Hart of RR1 Chesterville, seven grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren. He was predeceased by his son Mark. He is also survived by nieces and nephews.
Friends called at the Marsden and McLaughlin Funeral Home in Williamsburg on Wed. July 23. The funeral service was held at the Williamsburg United Church on Thurs., July 24 with Rev. Elaine Beattie officiating. Interment followed at Maple Ridge Cemetery in Chesterville. The pallbearers were grandchildren Chris Hart, Greg Hess, Shannon Hess, Amanda Hess, Allison Hart, and Nathan Hart.
Donations to Williamsburg United Church, Winchester District Memorial Hospital, or Dundas Manor would be appreciated by the family.