Obituary of Harry Ernest Fox
January 15, 1922 – October 3, 2018
Harry Fox, longtime resident of Silver Valley, passed away peacefully at Fairview Long Term Care on October 3, 2018.
He leaves to mourn his passing, Ruby, his wife of 61 years and their children, Charlie (Anja), Raymond (Shelbi), Tim, and Martin (Melanie); seven grandchildren and 9 great grandchildren.
Funeral service for Harry will be held on Saturday, October 13, 2018 at the Savanna RecPlex at 2pm.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Fairview Resident and Family Council, Bag 2201, Fairview,
AB, T0H 1L0.
Care entrusted to Bear Creek Funeral Home, Fairview 780-835-3306 www.bearcreekfuneral.com
Tough, determined, fearless, humorous and mischievous are a few words that describe Harry.
Harry was born on January 15, 1922, to Ella and Bert Fox, in Hastings Coulee, Alberta. He was born premature weighing approximately three pounds! He was kept warm in a box on the oven door of a wood cook stove. Perhaps it was here where his toughness and sense of humour began.
As a young boy, he would spend time playing in the cab of the steam engine and watching the threshing crew working outside, allowing his mother a much needed break.
Harry’s mischievous nature began early in life as well. As a young boy Harry drug a Christmas tree right across the housekeepers freshly washed floors, spilling needles along the way. Harry’s grandpa was also a victim of his pranks. Harry would mess up the settings on grandpa’s knitting machine, which would result in Grandpa, who was also a blacksmith, threatening to give Harry a “tin ear”.
Harry’s school years began with receiving the strap on his very first day of school along with his Aunt Katie who was the same age. They left school grounds without permission defying school rules. When it was time to receive punishment, Harry, always the gentleman, said “ladies first”. Aunt Katie received her strap, cried and went and sat down. When it became Harry’s turn, he received several straps because he wouldn’t cry, finally he faked crying and sat down. After school hours Harry would often tease his much larger cousins which would usually result in a fist fight.
In 1934 the family moved to Sion, Alberta. During this time they strung a rope from the house to the barn to do chores because the dust storms were so bad they couldn’t find their way without it.
During hhis teenage years, he went to work for his Uncle Howard. The first night he arrived, nobody was awake, so he headed for the barn and slept in the manger. His paycheque from Uncle Howard went towards buying a sawmill, thus ending his school years. The sawmill was bought from George Munroe and Race Horse Mary… which a separate story we don’t have time for. This mill was steam powered and the logging was all done with horses. Several years later, after running out of timber, Harry spent some time packing ice for Arctic Ice Company in Edmonton and sawed lumber for the Muttart Lumber Company.
In the early 40’s the family built a house in the Rossdale Flats area of Edmonton. Harry would deliver lumber from his mill with a 1935 International truck with no clutch and poor brakes through downtown Edmonton and down the river hill to where the house was being built.
Later Harry joined forces with his dad and a few of his brothers and bought a larger mill and set it up near Joussard and later moved it to Slave Lake. Harry filed for homestead in Silver Valley in 1951. Harry and his brothers sawed lumber in the winters and cleared land and farmed in the summers. It was Christmas of 1956 that Ruby came to visit her parents, who worked at the mill. After a three month courtship, which consisted of Ruby watching and visiting with Harry as he filed the saw blade at the end of the day and Ruby said she also remembers Harry taking her to a movie once. They were married on March 30, 1957. Prior to being married they went to Edmonton where Harry gave Ruby five dollars so she could file for homestead on a half section right beside his land in Silver Valley. The farm grew larger as did the family. Harry and Ruby were blessed with four boys which became invaluable farm help. During the early years Harry was a pitcher on the community baseball team.
The mill was shut down in 1963. Harry worked as a sawyer for several winters in MacKenzie and Finlay Forks, BC, and eventually became a full time farmer. In camp he was always the first one up in the morning, where he would wake up the crew by saying “Get up, its daylight in the swamp” and then proceed to sing a jingle.
During Harry’s farming years, there were many close calls and near misses usually on account of a poorly positioned jackall or due to driverless equipment. He would commonly jump off the tractor as it was coasting to a stop, he would get out of his pickup truck before it came to a stop and during shift change or when being relieved for a meal break on the combine, he would get off and leave the combine speeding ahead until the person relieving him could catch it and get it back on course. This almost backfired once when his trick knee gave out as he was getting off and Ruby refused to go after the combine, so he had to get back up and chase it himself.
Harry would commonly start his day around 4 am and sometimes before heading out to the field he would start a large batch of bread dough, donuts, rice pudding without sugar, baked beans, or cookies that were made with whole wheat flour, rolled oats and sunny boy cereal. Usually the bread dough and donut dough would be left for Ruby to find when she got up, and she would have to finish them. Harry never used a recipe and never made small quantities. He almost always made rolled oats or sunny boy cereal for breakfast and on special occasions would make huge batches of whole wheat pancakes, which he would call “saddle blankets”.
Harry’s sense of humour remained all of his life, with clever one- liners, and the infamous twisting his nose while grinding his teeth that would make most kids shudder. Even with the progression of Dementia, and while in Long Term Care in Fairview, he provided many humorous situations for staff and residents.
Harry was a hardworking, determined pioneer who was an excellent sawyer, farmer and provider. He was a gentle, patient, caring and very giving man with an incredible sense of humour. But above all, Harry was a son, brother, husband, father, grandfather and friend. And loved his family dearly!!