Lost and Found and Lost Again

Mystery. It’s one of the best things about genealogy, and also, paradoxically, one of the most frustrating.

I was confronted with several mysteries when I set out to learn as much as I could about the MacVay family 22 years ago. Since then I’ve been able to solve many of them. I figured out where my family had come from. I found relatives. I dug up information on when and where people had been born, where they had ended up, and when they had died. Eventually I broadened the scope of my research to include the MacLeods and other families in my tree. New mysteries presented themselves. I combed through records, followed leads, contacted people, put clues together, came up with theories. One by one, the mysteries were solved. I think I’ve done pretty well.

There are still a number of mysteries I need to solve, some of which have baffled me for years. But all these years there was one mystery that really frustrated me. For 22 years, I wondered just what had happened to my great uncle Kirk.

Kirk and his brother Sandy were the only two of William and Fanny MacVay’s six children not buried in Cape Breton. Sandy wasn’t a mystery for long, because his daughter showed up at my dad’s place in a motor home one day in 1990 and filled us in on where he’d ended up (Sandy died in Seattle in 1952). That left just one mystery: what happened to Kirk? My father (whose middle name is Kirk) didn’t know much about his uncle. Over the years I managed to dig up bits and pieces of information, but I still didn’t know exactly when, where or how Kirk had died. No one knew. But I never stopped digging.

In 1897, my great-grandparents William and Fanny MacVay lived in Little Ridge, just outside Saint Stephen, Charlotte County, New Brunswick. They lived on the farm William had inherited from his father, Alexander MacVay, who had died the previous year. William and Fanny had four children – Robbie, Sandy, Maud and Armour – and were about to welcome their fifth child into the world.

William Kirk MacVay was born on March 6, 1897, just across the border in Grand Lake Stream, Maine, where his mother’s family had settled years before. It’s fairly obvious where his first name came from. His middle name – the name he would be called by for the rest of his life – probably came from the fact that Fanny’s brother Frank Macartney had married Mabel Kirk the previous year.

Kirk spent his very early childhood in Little Ridge and, like his older siblings, also spent quite a bit of time across the border in Grand Lake Stream. The border wasn’t what it is today; the MacVays crossed the border like we cross the street. I know little about his early life in Little Ridge except that he and his siblings basically lived in both countries. I also know they had a bit of excitement in 1898 when the MacVays’ house burned down – Kirk’s first experience with a devastating fire and, sadly, not his last.

When Kirk was four years old, he and his family moved to Sydney, Nova Scotia, where his father and older brothers had secured jobs at a newly-built steel mill. After a short stay on Falmouth Street, William built a big house on George Street and William, Robbie and Sandy settled into a routine: they would put on their best suits in the morning, walk to the steel plant, change into coveralls, lay bricks all day, then clean themselves up, put their best suits back on, and walk home.

The MacVay family in 1904.
The MacVays in 1904. Back row, left to right: Armour, William, Maud; front row: Robbie, Fanny, Kirk, Sandy. Kirk was about seven years old in this picture.

Kirk, meanwhile, enjoyed a carefree childhood. An elderly relative once told me that Kirk had been a cheeky little boy who kept his staunchly conservative father busy. His father was proud of his Scottish heritage and, I’m told, played the bagpipes and even did some Highland dancing. However, he reserved such displays for the appropriate time and place, and was apparently horrified when he found out young Kirk was doing the Highland fling on street corners.

Other than that, I know very little about Kirk’s growing-up years in Cape Breton. He appears on the 1911 census, and then in 1914 in McAlpine’s Sydney City Directory, which says he lived with his parents and worked as a clerk. Then he disappeared.

Well, he disappeared for me, anyway. For years I couldn’t find any trace of Kirk beyond that 1914 directory listing. (I later found him on a 1916 census of the prairie provinces, lodging with a family in Maple Creek, Saskatchewan.) Older relatives said he’d died in an explosion or fire in the United States in the late 1920s or early 1930s. But I couldn’t nail down the details. Someone said he’d been killed in an explosion while doing welding work on a big oil tank. Or maybe a ship. Or maybe he’d been killed in a hotel fire in Chicago. Or a mine explosion in Pennsylvania. The relative who told me about Kirk’s dancing on street corners said she remembered Fanny’s despair upon finding out her son had died. But she couldn’t remember when, or where, and for years I could find no trace of him.

Kirk’s whereabouts remained a mystery for several years, until I found his name in a record of a border crossing made by his younger brother Frank, my grandfather. Eighteen-year-old Frank crossed the Canada-US border at Vanceboro, Maine on 1 March 1927. He said he was going to the US to look for work. His contact in the US was his brother William K, who lived at 18 Charles Street in Malden, Massachusetts. He had probably gone to Malden because of his mother’s family, the Macartneys, who lived there and in nearby Lawrence and Lowell.

So I knew Kirk had lived in Malden in March, 1927, and that he had probably died before the census was done in 1930. But that was all I knew. I still couldn’t find him.

Then, just last week, I found him. Or rather I lost him, for as the details of his death emerged, I felt like I was watching it all happen before my eyes. Actually, I was reading about it in the newspaper, since most of what I know about Kirk’s tragic death has been pieced together from old newspaper archives I found online. And so the events leading up to Kirk’s death unfolded before me as if I was reading them in this week’s papers.

In 1928 Kirk was still living in Massachusetts. Like his older brothers, who had both moved to the US for work, Kirk was able to live and work there easily due to the ambiguity of his place of birth. He was, for all intents and purposes, American. The papers gave his address as 28 Faulkner Avenue, Tewksbury. Faulkner Avenue is actually in neighbouring Wilmington, not Tewksbury. Also, there’s a Faulkner Street in Malden, not far from Charles Street. I don’t know exactly where he lived, but I do know where he worked. In 1928 he was working as an electrician at the Beacon Oil Company’s sprawling 50-acre plant and refinery on the banks of the Mystic River in Everett, Massachusetts, not far from Malden.

On 10 February 1928, he was doing some electrical work on the roof of the pump house when a massive explosion occurred. The blast was felt and heard all over the Boston area, where windows shattered and dishes fell off shelves. A monstrous black cloud climbed up into the air, joined by flames that reached 200 feet high. Kirk survived the explosion but found himself trapped on the roof of the pump house. The only way out was through the fire. Faced with the choice of being swallowed by the black wall of smoke or trying to escape, he chose the latter and jumped right through the flames.

A photo of the fire by Leslie Jones of the Boston Herald-Traveler newspaper.

“Workmen, with their clothing ablaze, ran like living torches from the fiery ruins,” wrote one reporter. Kirk must have been one of them. According to the same reporter, some of them were dead by the time the first firemen arrived on the scene.

This photo by Leslie Jones of the Boston Herald-Traveler newspaper shows firemen removing charred bodies from the scene of the fire.

Kirk was rushed to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston with three other men. An article that appeared the following day listed him among the badly injured:

McVAY William-28 Faulkner Av Tewksbury – Severe burns about body, face and extremities – Danger list.

Two of the other men died the following day, but Kirk held on. His last days must have been agonizing. A 1982 newspaper article about a different disaster (the 1942 Cocoanut Grove fire) provides some insight into how horribly the men burned in the Beacon Oil fire had suffered. In that article, Dr. Oliver Cope says what he saw after the Beacon Oil fire affected the way he treated burn victims:

“In 1928, when I was a fourth-year medical student at Harvard Medical School, there was a fire at the Beacon Oil Company in Everett, and 31 men were burned.
“The treatment at the time was tannic acid. You would remove the blister and the dead skin and tannic acid would be applied. It makes a dry cover.”
But, Cope said, the treatment involved painstaking – and painful – cleaning of the wound and turning of the patient’s body to get at the burns.
“I remember very vividly going into a little bathroom, and a nurse and an intern were denuding a man from the Beacon fire in a bathtub and pouring tannic acid on him. He died. And why did he die? because no attention was paid to his (body) fluids. That stuck in my mind.”

Cope would later argue that oil should be used instead of tannic acid, because “most burns sterilize the wound as they happen and…doctors should simply cover them and let the blister provide a natural protection. That way, fewer doctors could treat more patients.” This was an important thing to consider, especially after Pearl Harbor, where Cope said “the medical people were overwhelmed by the casualties”.

On 21 February, after eleven days of agony that I can’t even begin to imagine, Kirk finally lost his battle for survival. Here’s an article that appeared the next day:

BOSTON, Feb 21 – By Associated Press – The death toll from the explosion and fire in the plant of the Beacon Oil Company on February 10 was increased to 14 today when William Kirk MacVey of Tewksbury died at the Massachusetts General hospital from the effect of burns received during the fire. MacVey was an electrician and at the time of the explosion was working on the pumphouse. He jumped through the flames.

Finally finding out the truth about Kirk left me with mixed feelings. I was happy, of course, to have solved such a longstanding mystery. But I was also a little sad. Maybe it’s weird to feel that way about someone who died 84 years ago, but I did feel a little sad. Maybe it’s because I always assumed he’d died instantly, and was surprised and a little horrified to find out he’d held on for almost two weeks like that. And he was so young, just shy of his 31st birthday. Or maybe it was because I’d been wondering about Kirk for so many years, thinking about him. I’ve come to know that generation, people who died years before I was born, almost like I know my own aunts and uncles. I don’t know. But yeah, I felt a little sad.

I thought maybe I was sad because that mystery was solved now, that chapter closed. Like how mountain climbers finally reach that elusive peak and ask ‘What now?’ But no, I guess that’s not it. After all, I have many more mysteries to solve. In fact, one of those mysteries does involve Kirk: Did he have a wife and children? My aunt said she thought he had. Someone I found on the 1930 census may have been his wife and two children, but I’m not sure yet. I’ll keep digging.

While I’m not sure whether Kirk was married or had any children, I did find out something interesting about the aftermath of the Beacon Oil disaster. The wives and children of those killed in the disaster got some insurance money, but it was still hard for widows left with large families, including some very young children who would never really know their fathers. The mayor of Everett, James Roche, had worked at the Beacon Oil plant and knew some of the victims, and wanted to help. So he brought in some big-name help.

Glenna Jenkins, a lady in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia whose grandfather Joseph Landrigan died in the Beacon Oil disaster, has done quite a bit of research on the disaster and its aftermath. In an email, she gave me some of the details:

Mayor Roche of Everett was also the manager of the refinery at the time. He felt a responsibility to the widows and orphans left behind after the explosion and wanted to hold a charity ball game to raise money for them. He also had a buddy down at Fenway Park by the name of Bill Carrigan, who happened to be the Red Sox manager. Carrigan had also played for the Sox with Babe Ruth early in both their careers: Ruth pitched, Carrigan played catcher —the battery, I think it’s called. As the story goes, Carrigan was onside immediately. He volunteered 16 rookies and put a call in to his buddy Miller Huggins, manager of the Yankees, the team Ruth played for. He also offered Fenway Park as a venue, but Roche wanted to hold the game in Glendale Park, in Everett, as it was close to where most of the families lived. When Huggins let Ruth know about the game, he volunteered right away. So did Lou Gehrig, and Tony Lazzari, who ended up injured from a previous game and sat in the bleachers to watch. Also, several other players offered to sit in the stands and cheer the game on.

Carrigan and Huggins set the game for Thursday, August 9, 1928, almost 6 months to the day after the accident. The Yankees were coming to Boston that week and playing 4 games at Fenway. The plan was to wind up the game at Fenway in the afternoon (major league games were played in the afternoons in those days due to lighting), and bus both teams up to Glendale. Ruth, Gehrig and Carrigan played for the Everett team (The Knights of Columbus Blues) against 16 Boston Red Sox rookies.

New York Yankees superstars Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth.

The Red Sox won, she told me, but Ruth and Carrigan each hit a home run for the Everett team. The 15,000 people in attendance must have found it pretty entertaining. More important than the game’s entertainment value, though, was the $10,000 that was raised, a huge amount back in those days. Here’s Glenna again:

My grandmother got $1,000 and used it to buy a farm on Prince Edward Island where she was from and where she moved her family to after my grandfather died. My own father credits that ball game and Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig for helping his mother keep them together. He said without the money from the ball game they might have ended up separated among relatives, which was common in those days, or sent off to an orphanage.

Despite my odd sense of loss over Kirk’s death, it’s somewhat comforting to know that if he did indeed have a wife and kids, they probably got a little boost from the help provided by Gehrig, Ruth and the others. I don’t know, of course. There’s so much I don’t know. No matter how much I uncover about my family, there’s always so much I don’t know about their personalities, their voices, their secrets, their hopes and dreams. I have to accept that what I’ll never know is a vast ocean compared to what I can uncover. But I’ll keep digging. Because I love a good mystery.

And That Has Made All the Difference

One of the things that fascinate me about genealogy is the fact that so much of who I am is the result of both happenstance and the decisions of my ancestors. Well, duh, right? okay, it may sound obvious or unremarkable at first, but think about it: Your ‘prehistory’ is full of events and decisions, some major, some tiny, that went a certain way and led to…you. Even the moment of your conception could have gone a million different ways. Then there were the decisions, big and small, that culminated in that moment. You may know about some of them. Now go back further, beyond your parents, to events and decisions in the lives of their parents, and further still to your grandparents’ parents. The further back you go, the more events and decisions there were, most of which you will probably never know about. And every single one of them had to happen just that way, at just that time, or you wouldn’t be you.

I’ve thought about stuff like this for as long as I’ve been interested in genealogy, over 20 years now. But what prompted me to write about it now was the story of one particular branch of my family tree: the MacKenzies.

Neil MacKenzie, my great-great-great-great-grandfather, was born in Scotland around the year 1764. He and his wife and three children left Scotland in the early years of the 19th century, most likely because of the Highland Clearances, and settled in Pictou, Nova Scotia. While living there, Neil became a follower of a fiery preacher from Assynt (I believe Neil MacKenzie may have also been from there) named Norman McLeod, who was no stranger to controversy in Scotland and would court it eagerly in Nova Scotia as well:

But a person who at this time made more disturbance and excitement was Norman McLeod, who arrived in Pictou about the year 1818. He was not only not connected with any religious body, but denounced them all, even going so far as to say there was not a minister of Christ in the whole establishment. Those who have heard him at this time, describe his preaching as consisting of torrents of abuse against all religious bodies, and even against individuals, the like of which they had never heard, and which were perfectly indescribable. He had never been licensed or ordained, but regarded himself as under higher influences than the ministers of any church. “I am so full of the Holy Ghost, that my coat will not button on me,” he said once in a sermon, as he made the attempt to bring the two sides together in front.

In 1820, McLeod received an invitation to move to Ohio; his loyal followers, who later became known as Normanites, built a ship (which McLeod’s critics in Pictou dubbed ‘the Ark’) and left with him. The plan was to sail down along the Atlantic coastline and then up the Mississippi to Ohio. I’ve read two versions of what happened next. One says that the Ark, on its maiden voyage and stuffed full of Normanites, ran into a storm and got blown off course, then found a safe harbour which turned out to be St. Ann’s on Cape Breton Island. The other version, which is more plausible, says that when the Ark had been completed, some of the men took her on sea trials and stopped near St. Ann’s to do some fishing, then went back for their families later. Either way, that part of Cape Breton reminded them of Scotland, and they decided to stay. Neil MacKenzie, his wife, and their three adult children were among those first settlers. They settled just north of St. Ann’s in what is now called North River Bridge.

Life in St. Ann’s was fine at first. The community flourished, with McLeod as their minister, schoolteacher (most classes were taught in Gaelic), and magistrate — essentially their leader in every way. Despite their initial success at building a thriving community, though, the pioneers’ life eventually became almost unbearable. The winters grew harsher, sea-ice clogged the harbour, and a potato blight brought the community to the brink of starvation. Then McLeod got a letter that changed everything:

It was when the famine was at its worst that Norman received a letter from his son Donald who had run away with a family ship and cargo seven years previously and been unheard of since. He had ended up in Australia as the editor of a paper and wrote his father urging him to move to this land of promise and wondrous climes. This chance letter awakened the pilgrimage spirit in Norman once again, but his age was a barrier – nearing 70, and his wife Mary over 60 was in poor health. However, after prayer and reflection, the spirit prevailed and he wrote: “Tho’ the distance is long indeed, the direct course is over the mildest ocean in the world.”

He urged his followers to join him. Donald’s letter passed from hand to hand, families debated long and hard and worried. It was not only about their family – they were taking part in the breakup of the unity of the community – their home for thirty years. There is little question that, if their leader had not been determined to move, the stubborn Gaels of St. Ann’s would have stayed and somehow survived. But, Norman was the shepherd and they were the flock and the decision was made that would eventually lead to the virtual depopulation of a substantial part of Cape Breton.

McLeod’s followers built a ship (which he had to sell his farm to complete) and 140 of them sailed with him to Australia, followed several months later by 136 more on a second ship. Unfortunately, Australia turned out to be a less-than-suitable home for McLeod and his flock, not least because that side of the country was experiencing a gold rush and all the debauchery that went along with it. So McLeod sent a letter to the Governor of New Zealand, got an invitation to settle there, and the Normanites set sail again. They settled in Waipu, north of Auckland, and were later joined by hundreds more who sailed from Nova Scotia to New Zealand on four ships. This would be the last great migration for the Normanites, who settled permanently in Waipu, and for their leader, who died there in 1866. Though the people there no longer follow McLeod’s strict ways, and Gaelic is no longer the language of daily discourse (in fact, I’m not sure there are any Gaels left there at all), Waipu still celebrates its Highland heritage; there’s even a museum dedicated to McLeod and the Scottish settlers who followed him.

As for St. Ann’s, while Gaelic is no longer the language of daily discourse there, either, it was just that for many years after McLeod and his followers left. In 1938, another Presbyterian minister, the Reverend A.W.R. MacKenzie (no relation to my MacKenzies, as far as I know), opened a Gaelic school in a log cabin on McLeod’s old farm. That school, the Gaelic College, is still there and remains “devoted to the study and preservation of the Gaelic language, arts and culture.”

But what about my MacKenzies? At the time of the Normanites’ migration, my ancestor Neil MacKenzie had probably already passed away. His son Angus (my great-great-great-grandfather), who had been born in Scotland, would have been around 50 years old. He and his wife Janet (who was a MacLeod, probably a daughter of one of several MacLeods who had followed Norman McLeod to Cape Breton) had several children, including my great-great-grandfather, Hector MacKenzie, who was around 20 years old and not yet married. Angus, Janet, and most (if not all) of their children stayed behind when the Normanites left.

There were MacKenzies (and MacLeods) among the Waipu settlers, so it’s possible close relatives of my ancestors joined McLeod. So why did Angus and Janet and their children stay when so many of their neighbours and relatives were leaving for greener pastures? Why didn’t they follow the man who was their leader in pretty much all respects? It’s impossible to know for sure, because the further back you go in your family tree, the more you have to rely on official records as opposed to family stories. But if I were to guess, I’d say the MacKenzies’ reason for staying behind was that they thought the Reverend Norman McLeod was too extreme in his ways:

Ruling in an autocratic fashion, McLeod led and exhorted his followers towards moral perfection. As the minister he could scold a person from the pulpit on Sunday for drunkenness; as a magistrate he could fine him on Monday. He even criticized his wife’s bonnet during a Sunday sermon and quickly castigated anyone he suspected of moral laxity. On one occasion in his judicial capacity he ordered the tip of a boy’s ear removed in punishment for a suspected crime. Some of his congregation eventually withdrew because of his autocratic manner. Not even the Presbyterian clergy in other parts of Cape Breton were spared from his censure and criticism. His preaching was described as “torrents of abuse against all religious bodies and individuals”[.]

Their decision could very well have been based on simple logistics, or maybe they just chickened out, or maybe not everyone thought Cape Breton was hopeless. There are a few possibilities, but I like to think the MacKenzies’ decision to stay in Cape Breton was based at least partly on a rejection of religious extremism. Whatever their reasons, they stayed in North River/St. Ann’s, and Angus died there in 1872. Hector, meanwhile, married Isabella MacRae in 1868 and they had several children, including two sets of twins. During the 1880s they moved to Sydney (Nova Scotia, not Australia), where Hector worked as a carpenter. Their son Hec (my great-great uncle) was a member of the original Sydney Millionaires hockey team, which almost won the Stanley Cup in 1913. Their daughter Christina was my great-grandmother. She married Robert Davison, an electrician who worked at the steel plant, and they had several children, at least four of whom died very young. Among those who made it to adulthood was Muriel, my grandmother, who married Frank MacVay in 1934. There’s more, leading all the way down to me and my kids; none of it would have happened if the MacKenzies had decided to leave Cape Breton. I’m glad they stayed.

Lost Treasures

I am a chronic procrastinator. It’s something I know I need to work on, and I will. Some other time. But for now, here’s an example of how procrastination and genealogy do not work well together.

Wait, you might say, don’t they? I mean, the great uncle who was dead 30 years ago will still be dead five years from now. Quite true. There are parts of my family tree I’d love to look into but will probably only do so several years from now, mostly because I have neither the time nor the money to do so right now. There’s no rush. The history will still be there, waiting for me.

Sometimes, though, it doesn’t work that way.

Several weeks ago, my grandfather, who was trying to recover from pneumonia, fell in his bathroom and broke his hip. The next week or so after that was a rollercoaster of emotions for the entire family. At one point, it seemed the end was very near. My mother and most of her siblings took turns sitting with him in the hospital, hoping against hope that Papa would somehow pull through, but thinking that he probably wouldn’t.

To make a long story short: He pulled through. The doctors don’t know how long he’ll still be around — it could be just a few months — but he’s still around. He’s back at home. He’s still the toughest man I know. He’s still the Highlander.

That whole episode really drove home the fact at some point, people will be gone. It’s not like I didn’t know it already, but Papa’s latest brush with mortality really got me thinking I should make sure I talk to my elderly relatives while they’re still around. When they’re gone, it’s too late. Your aunts, uncles, great aunts, great uncles, grandparents…they’ve all got stories to tell. They can send you to another time, a time when you weren’t alive. They can tell you about their lives, and about the lives of people who were part of a grand story called The Making of You. They’re important. And they won’t be here forever.

I thought of Papa’s brother Jack. After the deaths of Hughie, Hector, Ronald, Robert, and the other MacLeods of MacLeod Settlement in Glencoe, Jack came into possession of the property, at least that’s what Papa told me. Jack spent time up there when those guys were still alive. He’d have stories. He’d probably be able to shed some light on a few foggy spots in my information about the MacLeods. At the very least, he’d be able to tell me his story. His stories.

The last time I saw Jack was when I was a kid. I might not even know him if he passed right in front of me, but that’s probably not true because you can’t mistake the MacLeods. I do vaguely remember one of his daughters once babysat me and my brother for about a week but never did so again, probably because of the time I found a rusty pair of garden shears in a brook and when Troy said ‘Throw them over’ I did just that and the damn things stuck right into his leg, and our cousin — I think it was Sheila — had to take him to the hospital. God, we drove her crazy. Good times. Anyway, it had been a while since I last had any contact with Jack, but I knew he still lived in Sydney, on Townsend Street. So I looked up his number online. I reached for my phone, then thought, No, I’ll call him tomorrow.

The next day I did the same thing. Every time I went to call Jack, I thought I’d just be bothering him. I figured I’d just call the next day, when I had a better idea what I would say to him, what I would ask him. The episode with Papa had driven home the point that you can’t let things go too long. But hey, Jack is Papa’s youngest brother. My great-grandmother was pregnant with Jack when my great-grandfather was killed. Papa’s going on 83 but Jack’s just turned 74. He’ll be around at least a little while longer.

Well, no.

It is with heavy hearts that we, the family, announce the sudden passing of Jack MacLeod on Sunday, July 24, 2011, at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital, Sydney.
Born in Sydney, he was the son of the late John and Susan (Powell) MacLeod.
Jack was in the military for 33 years, including a tour in Germany, until his retirement in 1988. He held many roles, but was particularly proud of being a paratrooper and a tank corps member as a radio operator.
Jack was also a member of the Royal Canadian Legion branch 12.
Jack was a gifted athlete. He particularly loved baseball and hockey, which he played competitively as well as coached. In his retirement, Jack enjoyed woodworking and painting.
He had the ability to strike up a conversation with anyone and immediately understand what was important to them. He will always be remembered for this gift.
He is survived by his loving wife, Rose (Twerd) MacLeod; his children, Ronald Joseph (Bev) MacLeod, Regina, Sask., Carol Ann (Joe) Lewis, Sydney, N.S., Sheila Marie DiPenta (Guy Choquette), Swift Current, Sask., and Stanley Charles MacLeod (Melissa Harper), Mesa, Ariz.; and seven grandchildren.
He is also survived by three sisters, Mary (Frank) O’Brien, Florence (late Fern) MacLeod, Frances (Jack) O’Brien, all of Sydney, N.S.; two brothers, Duncan (Mary Theresa) MacLeod, Sydney, N.S., and Ronald MacLeod, Toronto, Ont.; several nieces and nephews, as well as many special close friends.
Besides his parents, Jack was predeceased by his daughter, Stephanie in infancy, sisters, Pauline Morrison and Jessie MacEachern and brothers, John, Hughie, Fraser, James ‘Jim’ and Donald.
Cremation has taken place. There will be no visitation by request.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m., Thursday, July 28, 2011, at the S.W. Chant & Son Funeral Home, 564 Alexandra St., Sydney, with Pastor Sheldon Chant officiating.
Interment to take place in Resurrection Cemetery, Sydney Forks. In lieu of flowers, donations will gratefully be accepted on behalf of the charity of your choice.
Online condolences may be sent to our web page at www.chantfuneralhome.com.

Mom Skyped me the other night to tell me about Jack’s passing. It seems he was with his wife Rose at Dominion Beach when he just dropped. He was unconscious before he even hit the ground. A lifeguard did CPR and Jack was rushed to the hospital, where he had a second heart attack and died.

I think I’ll always regret not making that call. There are a few other calls I can still make. Better not put them off too long. Some of our family history is just history, but there’s also living history. Don’t wait, go and find it. And treasure it.