Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Chapter 23 - The Pattersons of Dartmouth

This chapter in our family’s history is a departure from the normal stories that I tell in this blog. The first major departure is that I did not write this chapter. It was written by my second cousin, once removed, Charles Arnold Patterson, known as Arnie by almost everyone, and it tells the story of his life and his family’s life growing up in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. Why would this be of interest to us? Well, my grandfather, Douglas Ross Patterson, was born in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia in 1888 one of the six children of John Riddle Patterson. John Riddle Patterson was the second oldest son of John “Jock” Patterson and the younger brother of William Patterson, Arnie Patterson’s grandfather. As I pointed out in Chapter 10, my grandfather when he was young in Dartmouth was an avid athlete as were many others in the Patterson family as you will see described later in this chapter. Grandfather Patterson however, at the young age of only 25 in 1913 chose to leave his family and Nova Scotia and he accepted a position with the YMCA in Lockport, New York. The following story titled “Memories” written by Arnie Patterson tells the story of one the Patterson families that remained behind in Nova Scotia, a story that could very well have mirrored our own lives had Grandfather Patterson not moved to the United States. The individuals described in this chapter are my great uncles and aunts and second and third cousins and it is with great pleasure that I am able to include this story in my family history blog. A special thanks to Cousin Arnie Patterson for taking the time out to share his story with us.

By Charles Arnold “Arnie” Patterson

The Pattersons have played a prominent role in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia for more than 150 years. The progenitor of the clan, John “Jock” Patterson, a native of Paisley, Scotland, was somewhat of a celebrated local figure here, often seen clad in his kilts and his bagpipes crested. In that he fathered nine children with his wife, Margaret Leonard, a Dartmouth girl, meant that the reach of his clan has been both widespread and lasting. Any close examination of the history of our Patterson family would clearly indicate that they were not an academic or necessarily prosperous clan. Most were workmen, and many were involved in shipyard work as Dartmouth had a host of shipyards that build wooden ships on its Halifax Harbour front. My Memories will center largely on the Pattersons of Dartmouth. I think that I can add a new dimension to their already impressive tale, one more local and of a later date. [This photograph was taken of John “Jock” Patterson with his three sons. William, Arnie Patterson’s grandfather, is the tall boy in the middle. John, my great grandfather and my uncle Gene Patterson’s grandfather is the boy seated on the right. The third young boy standing on the left is John Patterson’s third son, Robert Patterson.]

My own father, Charlie, son of William, grandson of Jock, died in 1931 when I was only two years old. As such I did not know him although my mother, a story teller and a strong woman with an enthusiasm for life and an ambition for her four children, ages one to seven, kept my father alive with a continuing rendition of his life, especially his sporting triumphs. Our modest but very neat three bedroom home at 11 Sinclair Street in Dartmouth, near my father’s cherished Dartmouth lakes, was adorned with trophies and medals from my father’s athletic exploits. I still remember the scores of photos of him in his various sporting garb with his medals neatly displayed in our home.

As youngsters growing up we were very conscious of our family’s heritage which while not monumental in any sense, was a matter of pride and distinction for all of us. Our great-grandfather, John Patterson, at age 62 traveled with the Nova Scotia battalion that went west to fight dissident Metis Indians in what became known as the Northwest Rebellion. Jock, who had fought in the Crimean War with his Scots regiment, the Black Watch, returned to his roots as he was the battalion piper. The Rebellion took place in 1885, 28 years after his retirement from the then British service. My father’s two uncles, Charlie and Alexander, better known as Sandy, were stars of the famous Dartmouth Chebuctos hockey club that won the Maritime senior championship for eight consecutive years between1887 and 1894. Sandy later toured Europe putting on speed skating exhibitions and he was sponsored by the Starr Skate factory of Dartmouth, at the time and for more than 65 years, the largest skate maker in the world. My own grandfather, William, brother of Charlie and Sandy, was manager of the old Dartmouth skating rink. When it was rebuilt in 1884, it was known at the time as one of the finest rinks in Canada. It was noted for its outside lighting and given its location on a hill overlooking Halifax Harbour, for the lighthouse that perched on the roof of the rink. Other relatives of note were a cousin, Lee Lennerton, who finished third in the Boston Marathon in the early 1900s when the event was less celebrated then it is today. My father’s oldest brother, Archie, took part in the Boer War in South Africa as a boy bugler with the Nova Scotia regiment. My father, Charlie, was a noted hockey player and the Maritime speed skating champion in the 1910 era. He was also a crack marathon runner and a singles sculler. [In the photograph above, Arnie’s father, Charles Patterson, is shown with the rest of his championship hockey team. Charlie is in the second row, second from the left.]

Every Armistice Day, November 11, our mother would parade us to the Post Office for memorial services. One of the highlights for us was that our Uncle Arch did the bugle calls although sometimes in a shaky fashion. It did not matter to us for we were proud of Arch since he was a veteran of the Boer and First War (WW1) and he had more medals than any of the other marchers. On the Memorial monument at that location were inscribed the names of my father, Charlie, and his four brothers, all of whom had served in the Canadian army.

My father’s first cousin, Reg Patterson, a son of Charles the First as he was later identified by sports writers, was the long-time Maritime singles sculling champion. When we left the house each morning to go to school, our mother and our coach and mentor, would say, “Stand tall, be erect, and remember, you are Pattersons.” Reg, who was later killed in an explosion at the shipyards, lost his sculling title in 1937. I can remember standing on the shore of Lake Banook rooting him on when a big, bronzed man by the name of Dan Wallace of the Halifax Jubilee club, put on a burst of rowing and defeated Reg and the rest of the field. Sometime later I encountered Reg and asked him, I expect plaintively, what had happened. He said with a smile and a laugh, “Arnie, the bottom fell out of my boat.” As little boys without a father but a proud, strong mother we were heightened by her encouragement which was constant. In later life, and through most of my life, it has been a natural habit of mine to hug my children and my grandchildren and tell them how good-looking and how smart they are. My mother’s example lingers after so many years.

Jock Patterson had five sons and four daughters. The sons were William, my grandfather, John, Eugene’s grandfather, Charlie, Alexander (“Sandy”) and Robert. The daughters names were Jane Anne, Margaret Alice, Hannah, and Emily. Charlie and Sandy worked at the Dartmouth Shipyards as caulkers in their early careers and both were later prominent members of the Dartmouth Volunteer Fire Department. Charlie’s sons, George and Robert, were later the Chiefs of the full-time fire force, and both were highly regarded. John, Douglas Patterson’s father, was the superintendent of a large Dartmouth estate owned by the owner of the Mott Chocolate company which sold its products throughout the world.

I recall meeting my grandfather, William, only once. I was about five years old and my mother took me and my brothers to see him shortly before he died in 1935. As the manager of the Dartmouth rink and Exhibition Hall, he was widely known. I have seen many pictures of him and he was always very formally dressed in a black business suit and per the style of the day his whiskered face was adorned with a large drooping mustache. [The photograph to the right was made from a newspaper clipping circa around 1900. The gentleman in the rear with the mustache is Arnie’s grandfather, William. The young boy in the front is Arnie’s father, Charles.] William had married Mary Ann Warner, who was of an old Dartmouth family whom we were familiar with throughout our lives. They had seven children, five boys, and two girls. The boys were Archibald, William, Ernest, Harry and Charlie. The girls both migrated and were married in the United States. Arch was a painter with the Canadian Coast Guard whose ships were moored on the Dartmouth side of the harbour. William, who fathered an energetic clan of his own, worked at the Dartmouth Shipyards. Earnest, I believe was also a shipyard worker, while Harry, who learned his father’s ice-making skills, went to Boston where he became the head icemaker for the then Boston Arena. Like so many of his clan he was a speed skating champion. My father as I will detail later, worked at the then new Imperial Oil (Exxon) oil refinery just outside of Dartmouth. His cousin John, Doug’s brother, was later the superintendent of iron workers at this big plant and was probably instrumental in helping my father get the job when he returned from World War I. Both were recruited to play hockey for Imperial which I am sure also helped them obtain a job at the plant.

All hockey players were given nicknames such as Duke, Twitcher, Toughie, and Dutchy. My father’s nickname was Donkey. The name was given to him by British soldiers garrisoned in Dartmouth who marveled at the way he fought for the puck as a when he was a youngster. My father was also an outstanding figure skater and he put on exhibitions between periods in the hockey games. When I was a youngster playing the game I had several old timers come up to me and ask me if I was going to put a figure skating exhibition. Alas, no. I was a very average skater. My father, Charlie, was pretty much a full time athlete although he was the paid coach of the King’s University hockey team at Windsor, 45 miles from Halifax. This was a job arranged by one of his old Dartmouth friends, Walter Regan, who had moved to Windsor to open up a grocery store. Walter, the father of Gerry, later a Premier of Nova Scotia, and the grandfather of our current Member of Parliament, Geoff Regan, both Liberals, was the manager of the Windsor Swastikas hockey team. The swastika was then an emblem of the Mic Mac Indians. {The swastika was not adapted as a Nazi symbol until many years later and of course the symbol henceforth and forever took on the connotation of evil.] Regan recruited Charlie to play for the Windsor team and also got him the job at the nearby university, a post that he held for two years before the breakout of World War I.

Given his family’s background in the military, my father and his brothers were early recruits in the World War I effort and he was dispatched overseas with the Canadian Expeditionary Force where he was to spend almost four years in the trenches in that dreadful war. He was to survive although he saw and took part in some of the heavy fighting on several fronts, including the Somme. I visited the Canadian trenches at Ypres about 15 years ago, some still intact, and was shocked with the reality of the war. What a horrible way for a young man to spend four years of his life. While I regret that I had never heard any of my father’s war stories from him directly, my mother provided some commentary. There were a few times when the troops were given sabbaticals in the British Isles and my father fell in love with Scotland and apparently knew many of the old Harry Lauder songs which were popularized during the war. They were mostly Scottish tunes. We also had medals that he won in a track meet staged by the Canadian Army in France. In a letter home to his father, William, he wrote “I was named the top athlete in the meet, so I guess there is life in the old boy yet.”

As mentioned I never knew my father, but my mother’s stories kept him alive for us. As well, he left a series of letters which portrayed a sensitive and dutiful fellow. Earmarked “Somewhere in France” the letters he sent home were direct from the trenches. Here is a letter that warmed my heart. As you may know Halifax was hit with a major explosion in 1917 when an ammunition ship collided with another large vessel. Several thousand people in both Halifax and Dartmouth were killed and the north ends of both cities, especially those on the harbour front, were flattened. My mother, Mary Sullivan, R.N., was then an army nurse, and among others was summoned to help with the injured.

Here are two of my father’s letters:

My Beloved Mary,

We received word yesterday of the awful disaster that has occurred in Halifax, and I have been sick with worry for you, my love, and your dear family but God grant none of you have been hurt, and O! That I were there with you in your trouble. I am also concerned about my dear old Dad, and those of my family in Dartmouth, but not so much as I am about you my own sweetheart, you are the world to me, and I would want to die if I thought you were among those killed. But something seems to tell me that you are safe, and I will keep up heart, and pray to hear that you are all right. But, O! It will be so long until I hear from you my love, and days will seem like weeks.

Nothing in this awful war has made me as downhearted as when I heard about the explosion. There must have been hundreds killed from what I have heard. I would send a telegram if I could, but there is no place to send one from here, so all I can do is to sit sadly and wait for the news, but O! I could only be there with you now. Mary, my own, if you want any money to help anyone who has suffered through this awful catastrophe, please let me know and I can send you two hundred dollars out of my book, and it would be good to help, and I will feel glad to know that I can do a little to relieve suffering.

Dear sweetheart , if it were not for you, I would have been killed long before this, as I have often thought that it did not matter about me, whether I died or not, but then I have always said to myself, perhaps Mary loves me, as I do her, and everything may come out right in the end. Then I would cheer up and be careful not to get into any more danger that I had to.

I am worried about Jack and Edie (Mary’s brother and sister-in-law) as I understand from the English papers that the greatest part of the damage is in the north end. My dear Mary if any of your dear ones were taken away (God forbid!) be brave and bear up: but I know you will as I know you as a lovely brave woman. I only wish I could share your sorrows as I have in the past.

You asked me in your last letter which I received a few days ago , and which gave me great joy as you mentioned the show “Charlie’s Aunt” which we saw the first night we met. Yes, dear girl, it is as fresh to me as the very night itself as are the memories of you, the only girl that I shall ever love.

I cannot realize the awful scenes which the explosion must have caused, and to think that you, my love, may be dead at this very moment. No, no, I know God will watch out for you as he has me.

Yours Boy Ever,

Good news was to follow:

My Dearest Girl,
How thankful I am that you and all of yours, and my folks, were spared in this awful explosion. Suffered more in the two months after the explosion than I had in all my life before, as I could get no word from home at all, but now everything has come out all right. I am praying and longing for the end of this nasty old war, and be back home with you again. We will make for all we have missed, won’t we, my darling.

He had received three copies of old Halifax Chronicles which gave him the details of the explosion.

There is one other letter I would like to quote from, and one that I think shows his sterling character, and perhaps even a part of the courage of a hockey player.

Dearest Girl,
My only desire is to see the end of this, most terrible war, and be back home with you. These are terrible days here, and many a good fellow is going under in ferocious battles. I am sure we will soon see the end of it all, and the Boche will be beaten, and I will come home. I feel more than content tonight as we are in a nice, clean billet with lots of new straw to lie on, and I hope to get a good night’s sleep. I just wish I could stay here until the war is over: but I suppose someone else would have do my bit if I did.

He signed his letters: ”Your Boy Charlie.” These letters and other tell me a lot about our dear father than I ever knew. Of course he did get home but not after six months in an English hospital for injuries that were not specified. When he got home he married his lovely Mary in 1920. They were to have four children of which I was the third born. Three boys and a girl, my sister Jeanne, who is the oldest and who continues to live in Dartmouth at age 87. Brothers Bill and Laurie both died a few years back. We will all very close and at one point the three of us were involved in our family radio operations. Sadly Charlie died in February of 1930 from cancer which my nurse mother always contended was due in part to gassing during the war.

My father had been prudent and we owned our own home, and as well he had bought Imperial Oil stock which strangely my mother kept, or some of it at least, until her own death 36 years later. My mother went back to nursing as a nurse with the Victorian Order of Nurses in about 1935 as I suspect funds were starting to run low. Fortunately her mother, our grandmother, lived with us and played a big role in our upbringing.

Memories – Part Two

While much of my emphasis is on the family of William Patterson, Dartmouth was a close-knit community and did not experience major growth until the late 1950s when the bridge connecting Halifax and Dartmouth was completed. At the time of the start of the bridge construction, the first of two bridges which now span the harbour, Dartmouth was a town of about 12,000 people. In 1961, this home of the Pattersons was incorporated into city status with a population in excess of 65,000. In 1995 there was another major development with the passing of provincial legislation which amalgamated Halifax and Dartmouth, Bedford, Sackville and many other adjacent communities, giving the new Halifax Regional Municipality [HRM] as it is now called a population base of about 350,000. Much of the character of the old Dartmouth has been lost as a consequence and in fact, I am currently writing a book which I will title “Vanishing Dartmouth.” While the merger has basically been beneficial, it has in effect, in part at least, erased the individual identity of our one-time old harbour town. [The photograph shows Dartmouth as it exists today. It is easy to see from this photograph how and why watersports (hockey, figure skating, swimming, rowing) developed early in Dartmouth considering that the city is surrounded by water.]

There remain many Patterson families in the area, actually 114 in HRM, close to half of which are resident in Dartmouth on its neighboring Eastern Shore. Pictou County, located about 100 miles from Halifax, also had a number of Patterson settlers in the early day and their numbers have spread throughout the province. Four of William Patterson's sons, Arch, who had no children, William, Leonard and Charlie, remained in Dartmouth. Harry, as I mentioned earlier migrated to the U.S. William Jr.’s sons were well known to us and several of these cousins were our close friends. He had seven children, five boys and two girls. One of the girls, who would today be around 86, was singled out for her appearance and agility during WWII when she served in the Canadian Women’s Auxiliary Corps, a branch of the Canadian Army. His three younger sons, somewhat my age, were closer to us. One of these cousins, David, went to high school with us, and his brother Lenny was also close. Brother Tom, a few years older, was cited for bravery a few years back when he braved a wild storm to rescue a stranded fisherman on the Eastern Shore. The two older brothers, not as well known to us, were Raymond, a decorated WW2 hero, and Twitcher, who boxed professionally for a few years and also served in the war. They were all nice, easy-going men.

My father’s other brother, Ernest, lived some distance from us and as his family were older we never knew them well. Strangely, one of his sons, a man at least ten years older than me, played in senior golf tournaments when I myself was active. His name was Ernie and we were paired several times over the years. He had been a caddy master at Brightwood, the Dartmouth course, and was a strong player. Of the uncles, Arch was the closest to us. When we were small he used to come and take us for walks down at the lakes. I vividly remember him teaching us to skip rocks on the water. As well he told us tales of our father’s sporting exploits and of his own war experiences. He also tried to teach me how to blow his old bugle, a holdover I think from the Boer War. I proved an inept student.

Johnny Patterson, the brother of your grandfather, Douglas, a first cousin of my father, was considered by us to be an uncle as he and his wife, Kitty, were especially kind to us as children. As well he used to avail us the use of his nice cottage at Soul’s Lake on the Eastern Shore for our family outings. He also gave me his old hockey gear which I was delighted to receive but it was tattered and torn and ultimately found its way into the garbage can. One of my fondest memories of Uncle John as we called him, was that on leaving our house after a visit he would clasp our hands and deposit a quarter. A quarter then to us youngsters was a big reward. A short, stocky man, Johnny was an outstanding hockey and baseball player. A defenseman in hockey in had the nickname of “Toughie” Patterson and was known for his strong play. In baseball he played the “hot corner,” third base. His brother Doug was also a strong player and both played on Dartmouth teams with my father. The John Pattersons had two daughters, Doris, an R.N., who married and moved to Sarnia, Ontario, and Evelyn, who was later the Mayor of Fort Francis, Ontario. Her husband was a native of that community. Our families were somewhat intertwined. My sister bought Johnny’s camp at Soul’s Lake after his death and owns it to this day. Also of interest is that John and my mother, widower and widow, went to dinner, movies and wrestling matches together late in their lives. He was in all respects an exemplary man.

In that he had moved to the United States in 1913 we never knew his brother, Doug, although he was peopled in my mother’s stories, and as she told it he was one of my father’s major athletic rivals despite their close relationship. I think it was in the summer of 1939 when a big blue Cadillac pulled up in the front of our house on Sinclair Street. It was Uncle Johnny and Kit and as it turned out, Cousin Doug and his new bride. His first wife had died a few years earlier. My mother then prevailed upon me to do a rendition of the famed Foster Hewitt’s Toronto Maple Leaf hockey broadcasts which I did standing in the center of the room. At the time I was only ten. When I finished I remember my newly-discovered cousin applauding. When he was leaving he presented Laurie and I with leather-covered photo album books, and these were engraved with a Mountie on the cover. So forever after we referred to Douglas as our rich American cousin. We had had no further contact with his family over the years. They lived in Lockport, New York, where Doug, succeeding his father-in-law as president of a company reputed to be one of the largest wallet-makers in the U.S.

One day in the Summer of 1985 or 86 I had a telephone message from a man who identified himself as my cousin Gene who was stopping off with his wife, Piney, and another couple, on a quick visit to his father’s home town. His father was Douglas Patterson. As I was playing in a golf tournament at the time I did not have an opportunity to call him back. The next day however, I received a call from a Dartmouth woman, her maiden name was Roome, who told me that I had a cousin who was trying to reach me. She had known him when her husband was stationed in Norfolk with the Canadian Navy. As a liaison officer, Gene had been a captain in the U.S. naval reserve stationed in Norfolk. Anyway I finally reached him by telephone although found he was leaving the next day. In that their flight was not until night, I invited them to join me at the radio station which I owned in Dartmouth. As it turned out quite by coincidence, Gene’s wife Piney’s family owned a radio station in Norfolk, Virginia, where I was to later visit.

In that I had a lot of cousins and at the time was very busy working on a radio promotion, I really expected it would be a short visit. But when they entered my office they were clad, all four of them, in golf clothes. My wife Glo and I are both avid golfers. He was rather delighted to see our logo which proclaimed the company as Patterson Broadcasters. We quickly became engaged and I knew that Glo would love both of them. I invited them to lunch at a big pub I owned, the Village Gate, located in north Dartmouth. We traded stories and at one point, this after Piney telling me that his father Douglas was a domineering man, and not totally kindly, she said “Arnie reminds me so much of him. “ We had a laugh over that. After lunch we drove to my home in Bedford but found Glo enmeshed in a major wash as our daughter Carol had just arrived from studying in Moscow. It was a rather quick visit and simply an exchange of pleasantries. Before they departed, however, I took them to Moosehead Breweries of which I had been general manager some years earlier and we picked up a 24-bottle pack of Alpine beer. This intrigued Gene’s wife Piney as her formal given name was actually Alpine.

When we were at our place in Florida that winter, I had a call from Gene inviting Glo and I to visit them at their home in Virginia Beach. When I told Glo about the invitation she showed little enthusiasm. Hoping to convince her I added “but he is my cousin.” She promptly replied “you have known him for only a few hours and it would be difficult to stay with strangers.” She was adamant. I called Gene back and told him that we could not make it. He was disappointed saying that he was surrounded by Piney’s cousins, many residing in Virginia Beach and neighboring Norfolk, and he had never had a cousin visit. He added that Piney had prepared a special dinner party for eight and then added the kicker; we could get a golf game at his fine course there as well. Glo finally consented and we went and our two or three day cemented a warm and close relationship that lasted until their passings. They visited us in Nova Scotia twice, and we toured and had family parties, and we became somewhat regulars at Mountain Lake, their Florida winter home and a classic resort. Piney was very bright and Glo loved her. Gene was highly competent and so well organized that Glo commented to me “are you sure that he is a Patterson,” implying that I was a somewhat of a loose operator. We developed a real affection for the two of them, and I think it was mutual. They are very much missed. [A photograph of Arnie with his”rich American cousin” Gene Patterson is shown on the left above.]

Memories – Part Three

In Part Three of this tome I will deal singly and simply with the tales of the Charles Patterson family or Charlie Jr. as he was known in sporting circles. Charles Jr. was the nephew and not the son of Charlie Patterson, the original Chebucto. The younger Charlie was my father who was born in or about 1890 and died in 1930. As mentioned earlier, he married Mary Margaret Sullivan, a Halifax girl who had received her R.N. studying at the Sisters of Providence, Holyoke, Massachusetts. Her three years there turned her into an avid fan of the U.S. and American-related activities. When we were young we had photos of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and later of John F. Kennedy, posted on our kitchen bulletin board. The Prime Minister of Canada and the Queen were conspicuously absent. My parents had four children, Jeanne, now 87, William, who would be 86 had he not died in 1989 at 66, myself, Charles Arnold (Arnie), born 1928, and Laurie, born 1929, suws 1999 at age 69.

Our mother, a tall attractive woman, positive and outgoing, was a major force in our collective lives. She was both a mother and a father to us. We had a nice home on a quiet deadend street on which we played street hockey and generally cavorted with neighborhood kids, of which there were many. While we were not “well off," we were largely comfortable and our father had been prudent and left some stock and insurance monies. As well we owned our own home which proved a blessing. Our mother went back to nursing in 1935 as a public health nurse and was able to provide for the family. As her mother, our grandmother, also lived with us we were well cared for. Later in life when we were all grown up mother became the nurse and later the superintendent of a large summer camp for underprivileged children that was sponsored by the local newspaper, the Halifax Herald. Interestingly, I had spent a summer as sports director and counselor for Dartmouth underprivileged kids. I had just come out of high school at the time and this preceded my mother's tenure at Rainbow Haven, the Halifax camp. [As I write this Canada is playing Russia for the world hockey championships, 2009, and at this point they are tied 1-1 after the first period. We as a family are mad hockey fans, and in earlier times I was a hockey broadcaster. Glo has been a hockey fan since her early years. Your grandfather Doug was a very good player and I remember your uncle Gene telling me he had been the goaltender when he was at Cornell. Hockey is, of course, a passion in Canada, and we Dartmouthians claim that they game first saw light here on our Dartmouth Lakes. Russia won 2-1 Ugh!!]

While we lived modestly we had a great time growing up. The Dartmouth Lakes, only minutes away from Sinclair Street, were our playground winter and summer. We lived on the lakes in the summer, swimming and later canoe racing and rowing. The three boys were all members of Mic Mac war canoe crews, while our more dignified sister, Jeanne, paddled and swam for Banook, our across lake rivals. My father too had been one of the original members of the Mic Mac Amateur Aquatic Club, founded in 1923 and which continues today as a major factor in the sporting life of the community. I spoke at the club last year as they celebrated their 85th anniversary. Bill, as mentioned, had been president of the club years ago, and continued until his death as the leader in canoe racing. He was the first Commodore of the Maritime Canoe Association, and was later the first Maritimer to be named Commodore of the Canadian Canoe Association. We have an honour coming up which I will share with our many distant cousins. This summer a small park at the foot of the lake, next to the Mic Mac club, is being named "Patterson's Corner" this largely a tribute to Bill. It will be dedicated while the World Canoe Championships, a first for Dartmouth, are being staged on our lakes.

Jeanne and Bill were six and five years older than me, Laurie a year younger, only nine months old when my father died. Jeanne was a lovely girl, tall and good looking. After high school she took up stenography. At 21 she married her high school sweetheart, Carmen Moore, who served with the Royal Canadian Navy during the war. When he returned to civilian life he returned to university and became a pharmacist. He ran his own drug store for some years on Windmill Road in the north end of Dartmouth. Sadly Carmen died about 15 years ago. Jeanne, now 86, remains resident in Dartmouth. They have three children, a son Ian, a druggist like his father, and daughters, Deanne and Valerie. Deanne, who lost her Coast Guard husband in a helicopter crash, has four children, one of which, Lindsay, a nurse in the Canadian Navy, served time with the Canadian forces in Afghanistan. Val lies in Dartmouth with her mother. [The above photograph is of Arnie’s sister Jeanne.]

Bill, our big brother, was a very special man. He was almost as much a father to Laurie and me as he was a brother. He went to work after high school, first as a salesman for a grocery wholesale firm. On Friday nights he would bring home his pay envelope and hand it to my mother. His help played a major role in his two younger brothers’ chance for a university education which we both achieved. I graduated in journalism, Laurie in Commerce. Both of us went to Saint Mary's University in Halifax which was a Jesuit institution which since our time has become a major college. These were happy, fun-filled days and ones in which we played an active role. I was editor of the college paper, a vice president of the Student Council, and vice president of my graduating class. I never excelled in religious studies. As we had the Sisters of Charity from grade one through high school, and then the Jesuits, you could say that we had a full-scale Catholic education. As I look back on the years gone I realize that our local church, St. Peter's, and our parochial school by the same name, gave us a strong sense of identity growing up and at this late date I continue to have a conscious debt to those men and women who served us so well. [The photograph to the left that was taken in the mid-1930s shows older brother William in the center, Arnie on the left and the younger brother Laurie on the right.]

Bill stayed with sales all of his life, and for a period of 25 years he was the vice president and sales manager of our radio stations, CFDR and Q104 in Dartmouth-Halifax which operated under Patterson Broadcasters of which I was president. Laurie also worked at the station for a period as one of our star salesmen but left to establish he own sales agency. After graduating in journalism at Saint Mary's I joined the reportorial staff of the Halifax Herald papers in Halifax. More than 60 years later, looking back on my journalistic and broadcasting career, I feel as if I never had a real job. It was always so much fun and interesting. In my early days I also sidelined as a hockey broadcaster on a Halifax station, later my competitor, and as well during college days broadcast horse races for the Truro station. I continue to have a love for the two sports to this day.

The best decision that I have made in my now long lifetime was to marry Glorena Meta Hoadley in 1953. She was one of the city's beauties (this description would offend her, but true) and I met her through her employment with the public relations department of the Canadian National Railway in Halifax. We were to have our first daughter, Carol, a year later, [See photo to left and a later picture of Glo below] and shortly after we moved to Toronto as I accepted a job as a writer with the Toronto Telegram. I was making a $100 a week, modest money even in that age, but we had a great time. Early on I won the posting as a City Hall reporter for the paper and through this I had access to the Mayor's hockey and football tickets, invites to the civic receptions and other such plusses which made life fun. I was living like a millionaire. I later was to have several high-profile postings in public relations with several major Canadian companies, including the Dominion Steel and Coal Company, for which I was named "Public Relations Man in Canada" for my media management during the sad Springhill coal mine disaster which claimed 76 lives. This tragedy attracted media from all over the world. During this period we lived in Montreal, a delightful city.

Home was to call and I went home as General Manager of Moosehead Breweries in Dartmouth. This was a fascinating challenge as it was a new operation, a subsidiary of a successful New Brunswick company. We were to challenge Oland's Brewing a company that had been established in Nova Scotia for more than 100 years. With a much energized sales and public relations program, largely centered in sports, we took our fledgling company from an eight percent of the market to 38 percent in four years. But again another challenge loomed. I was to enter politics as the Federal candidate of the Liberal party. While we made a strong big, I lost but I enjoyed every minute of the battle. This was in 1968 and I ran again in 1974 with the same result and to the same sitting member, a Conservative. [Photo of Arnie campaigning is on the right.] I stayed very active in politics throughout the years and in 1979 took a year off from my then radio station duties to serve as Principal Press Secretary to then Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. One of the best experiences of my working career, and during that period I saw just about every corner of Canada. As I write there is a Liberal candidate's sign on my lawn as we have a provincial election coming up shortly. [A photograph of Arnie Patterson with Canadian Prime Minister appears at the left.]

I have up to this point failed to mention what a consider one of the most important things I did in my life, and this was the founding of two radio stations in my home city of Dartmouth. The first, CFDR, in 1962, a good music station which we built into a 50,000 watt operation that received a national award in 1984 as the station in Canada who contributed the most to their community. The second station was a rock and roller, light years from our other operation but housed in the same building. It was founded in 1981 and gave us a strong reach into the younger audience. Jack Cruickshank and Vince Currie were shareholders in the early years but I purchased their shares in 1971. In 1987 I sold both operations to Newfoundland Capital as I wanted to pursue other things, and added to the fact that they made a substantial offer for the stations. I loved every minute of it but after 25 years I was ready to semi-retire. Shortly thereafter I took on the responsibility of writing a column on politics, business and other aspects of life, for the Halifax Daily News. This became a 20-year pursuit. In that I was only writing once a week it was an easy task.

One other issue that I have not commented on is my family. While attainment in various pursuits, along with making money, are perhaps important, nothing is as important as the rearing of your children. You can educate them, kiss them, give them your prejudices at the dinner table, but after that they are largely on their own. I have been blessed by my two daughters, both bright and successful. Much more is owed to their mother than me, but they have been a source of pride. Carol, our oldest girl, born in 1954, is a lawyer. Noteworthy is that she is the managing partner of Baker, Mckenzie practice in Moscow, Russia, with 280 people to manage. Baker is an international firm with offices in 38 capitals throughout the world. More noteworthy is that in recent days her firm, under her leadership, has been named the top law firm in the whole of Russia. Both domestic as well as international law firms were involved in competition for the prestigious Chambers Award which went to her Moscow-based office. Her sister, Lori, born in 1959, is Communications chief for the region's major transportation service, Metro Transit, and as well has served as general manager of this operation which carries sixty million passengers a year. Both have two children. Ian and Colin are Carol’s and Lori has Liam and Andrea our only granddaughter. My main job in life now is to spoil them. [The 2004 photograph above shows sisters Carol and Lori taken somewhere in the United States.]

I will close on a note which covers three generations. Last year I was elected to the Nova Scotia Sports Hall of Fame. As both my father's uncle Charlie and my own father, Charlie, had been inducted years ago, I became the third Charlie Patterson to be elected. My full Christian name is Charles Arnold Patterson. I have capsulated here but I should mention that one of our delights has been the 25 winters spent in Florida at Isla Del Sol, a golf community, in St. Petersburg.

For me life has been fun and I consider myself to have been very lucky.

Memories-Part Four

The Most Important Day of the Year.

I am not talking about Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter but rather about a birthday celebration, and that of Dartmouth. The citizens of Dartmouth have since 1895 marked the town’s birthday, Dartmouth Natal Day, with a wide range of events. It was a day as a child that we could hardly wait for. The affair started with the sounding of the horn at the fire station, a continuing blast. On this signal we would run down to Charman’s corner, a few minutes from our house, to watch the marathon runners trek in a six-mile event that went back to the start of the 20th century. Then off to downtown to catch the Natal Day parade. While it was not Macy’s, it with its local touches provided fun for all. The parade traveled over a route of about four miles and every section of it would be lined with spectators. Then off to the softball game, a Dartmouth team would be playing a team from out of town. The old Dartmouth Amateur Athletics grounds was the site of this event. Elsewhere there was a baby carriage contest and as well go-cart races.
The centerpiece, however, of this one day celebration, which we immodestly claimed as the best in the whole of Canada, were the activities at and around Lake Banook, this in the center of the city, and just minutes away from our house. Bill Lynch’s fair was a highlight with its Ferris wheel, the Merry-go-Round, swings, and assorted other rides. You could also buy fries, hot dogs, and hamburgs and there was a big bingo game as well as other booths featuring other games of chance. The Grace United Church women’s guild also offered lunch and dinner for the visitors and this located in an old ice warehouse. The ice, of course, is long gone. The major event though was the annual Natal Day regatta. This event involved canoe racing, rowing, and swimming races. Dartmouth had been a center for aquatic sports in the province for decades. The lakeside rivals the Mic Mac and Banook were contestants as were the North Star Rowing club from its northend harbour location, and crews from St. Mary, the Jubilee and North West Arm Rowing Club. All events were considered Maritime championship events. The two old boathouses were jammed with spectators, and the shores of the lake lined with other followers.

I should mention that the Patterson families played a major role in these activities and these covering a period of more than 100 years. Charlie and Sandy Patterson, earlier mentioned as hockey players, were also oarsmen and won the two-man rowing race at the first regatta staged in 1895. My father Charlie won the novice single shell in 1907, and a cousin, one of Charlie senior’s boys, Reg, won the senior singles event about six times. He was greatly acclaimed. All four children in our family paddled. Jeanne played for Banook, a slightly more sophisticated place than our Mic Mac, while Bill, Laurie and I were with the redshirts. Laurie was one of the top paddlers of his era. We continued to participate long after our paddling and rowing days were done. Bill was usually the chief referee for canoe events, Laurie coached junior war canoe paddlers, and I was the race announcer. Our mother was on the Miac Mac balcony watching.

As kids we would try to save money for the big day, this with the prospect of rides on the Ferris wheel, a hot dog, certainly a bag of peanuts and other delights. Our source of funds came from hunting for beer bottles, potato sacks that we could sell to Jacobson’s junk shop. We received three cents for the quarter bottles, one for the pints. And before we were active participants in the rowing and canoe events, we peddled peanuts by the bag to the spectators on the shoreline. The finale to this day of days was the fireworks display. The lake was ablaze with light. One of the most memorable fireworks display came in 1937 under the aegis of George Patterson, then a volunteer fireman. One of the spectators at Birch Cove dropped a cigarette butt on one of the bags of explosives and everything went up with one big bang. Two nearby houses were set a fire.
An event to remember.

Memories-Part Five

While this tale is already very long I will do an addendum as there are a number of stories that I did not tell.

One of them relates closely to the family and descendents of Douglas Patterson, our “rich American cousin.” When Gene and Piney were here on their third visit with us we took them to view certain sights including the boat clubs, parks, the site of John Patterson’s home, now long since a residential development with no traces of the old Patterson house. Also on the agenda was a visit to Christ Church, the old Anglican church where most of the Pattersons worshipped. We had arrived just after the regular tours were complete. But I became the guide and was telling them about the families that had their names inscribed on the church windows, and this under some depiction of Christ and his followers, when the guide, unknown to me, came up and said he had a photo to show us. It was of the 1906 or ‘07 Christ Church boys’ hockey team. Doug Patterson was in the front row. We marveled at the coincidence.

I think too that I omitted mention of my four grandchildren who I endeavor to spoil each and every day. Carol and Malcolm (Gray) have two sons, Ian, 26, and Colin, 21, both resident here where they have attended university, and Lori and Patrick (Daly) who have a son Liam, 19, going into second year at St. F.X., and Andrea, our only granddaughter, 16, who will be going into grade 11. [In the photograph to the left from the left are Colin, Liam, Ian, and Andrea.] They are the delight of our lives and we are all close-knit. All four are keenly interested in sport, Ian played varsity soccer at King’s University here, Colin played four years of varsity football at St. F.X on a scholarship, Liam, who is 26, played both football and rugby at his high school. That leaves Andrea who is as close to a full-time athlete as you can imagine. She plays on her high school’s soccer, tackle rugby, and field hockey teams. And she is also an excellent skier.
One Christmas, and we always gather in our house for the holidays, I said to Glo, this with the four kids assembled, that we were lucky. “Only one of them is funny looking.” With that Colin quickly replied “who looks like you Dada.”

That is the Dartmouth Patterson tale. Amen.


Anonymous said...

I read this as I looked up Arnold Patterson and Q104 for my son's project. I lived across the street from them in Dartmouth and was lucky to have grown up in the Dartmouth neighborhood known as Creighton Park. I really didn't know much of Mr Patterson at the time. I do remember getting a tour of his radio station when he moved to Queen Square. It influenced me in that I became a Disc Jockey in the 80's. I don't think that he realized just how much seeing his station had meant to me. It is interesting looking back now and reading this article how it seemed that most people in our neighborhood were connected through politics media and entertainment and how connected I really had to be to get that job back then. I was lucky to have grown up there and to have met so many interesting people and just now understanding how interesting and important they really were.

jdfraser said...

For two years I lived in Creighton Park and went to school with Carol Patterson who at the age of 11 was sophisticated and ambitious! Arnie Patterson was by far the nicest father around. He took a great interest in my athletic and writing talents -- so enthusiastically supportive and kind! I can't express enough the positive affect he had on my life.