In memory of those who have Crossed the Bar
I'm going to tell a story about a man who was a great story teller. Our Dad, John Patrick Maddigan - better known as Pat - was born June 2, 1924 on Uncle Johnny's farm in Palmer, Saskatchewan. He was the oldest son of 14 children. His legacy is 5 daughters, 3 sons, 20 grand children and 43 great grand children.
He started school at age 5, learned to read in his first year, skipped grade 2, and graduated at age 15. Dad was an avid learner, hence he set high standards as far as report cards, studies and homework were concerned. As kids, it was always a major feat to walk by the bedroom door on report card day when Dad was waiting to "chat". Some us weren't in a hurry to have the chat. Sometimes it could go bad.
In his youth, Dad worked several farm jobs, and worked on road crews. He always sent his cheques home.
He enlisted in the Canadian Navy at age 17, changing his birth year on his papers to 1923 so he would be accepted. Dad was on loan to the British Royal Navy. He trained in Scotland as a commando and was placed in Flotilla, which was a branch of Secret Service. They had 500 men in the company and only 50 returned. Dad was the last surviving Flotilla member.
He also served as an Able Seaman on HMCS MAGOG in the St. Lawrence Seaway. On October 14, 1944 at 10 a.m. they were torpedoed by a German U-Boat, and had to be rescued by HMCS TORONTO. Three men were killed.
He left the forces and made his way to Vancouver Island where he went logging with Short Pebernat. Short was a brother to Toots Pebernat. Dad asked her to be his wife while she was washing the clothes! He started life with Toots as the father of 3 girls, and then, within the span of 3 years there were 4 more children. The youngest arrived 2 years later for a total of 8!!
A frozen potato crop in Sayward sent Dad and our Uncle Leonard to homestead in the Peace River Country in 1959. They filed for homestead rites on the Kiskatinaw River. We soon got to know all of the neighbours as Dad lit one of the brush piles on fire – and almost the whole countryside! We nicknamed him "Pyro Pat" after that.
We began our growing years with a lot of the usual amenities: running water, electricity, radios. We had outhouses and mosquitoes, unknown things to kids from Vancouver Island. Eventually, trees were cut from our homestead to provide telephone service to some of the neighbourhood, but not our house.
Our house was always the hub of activity for Christmas sing songs, lots of sledding on the hill, and there was always room for extras at the table. Dad was a hard working man and great provider; he even shot a moose from the kitchen window.
We had a huge garden – lotsa weeding and work for energetic kids. We were eating within 25 miles of our home before it was ever fashionable. Our lives were full and blessed with love. Our world was rocked in 1991 when our mother passed away from cancer.
Our Dad was very fortunate to invite Shirley Powers into our lives. They spent approximately 24 years together and enjoyed their senior years playing cards, dancing, and attending lots of friends' gatherings. They were involved in living with and caring for each other.
Dad taught us strong work ethics, family values, and responsibility which we passed on to our families. He made 92 years living independently as he wanted to do, and he still had his driver's license, or "steering papers" as he liked to call it.
Dad always said you'd know when you're gone because people will be standing around saying nice things about you.
Father- Francis Eugene Maddigan born in Reynolds, North Dakota
Mother- Ella Williams born in Verona Township, Huron, Michigan
Ships served in:
HMCS MAGOG - Survived the torpedoing of HMCS MAGOG