Ward, Alexander Gordon
Born December 20th, 1916 in Plaster Rock, New Brunswick. He died peacefully Sep 8, 2006, at the Nanaimo hospital surrounded by 4 generations of loving family.
The son of Mary Brown and Arthur Ward, Alex was the eldest of 10 children who lived near the Tobique river on a road known to the locals as ‘Bungalow Row’; on this street were 3 homes that contained 45 children.
As a young man Alex was a gifted hockey player, and family legend has it that he was once scouted by a farm team of the Montreal Canadiens. Though he was exceptionally skilled on a pair of skates his wife Billie despaired that this never translated into much grace on the dance floor. However, at a very young age he became a crack marksman with a rifle; years later his young Grandsons can attest that he still could, at the age of 89, effortlessly plink tin cans off the woodpile with their BB-rifle.
In 1936, at age 19, with a fortune of $19 Alex and a group of buddies worked their way west across Canada, earning money by picking up jobs on the way. They worked the harvest on the prairies, and for a short time went south to Washington State to pick fruit.
He and his ‘Bungalow Row’ buddy Eloi Doucette got their first west coast job with Rock Bay Logging, near Port Hardy. Rest & Recreation for the loggers took the form of occasional trips to Vancouver where he met his future wife Billie Griffiths in the summer of 1939.
When war came Alex tried to enlist but was rejected due to his eyesight. At any rate, as a logger, he soon became locked into his job which at that time took the form of harvesting spruce to make military aircraft.
Alex and Billie were married in October, 1940 and soon afterward moved to Port Alberni where he worked for Bloedel, Stewart & Welch. When first child Merilyn arrived the young family moved to Great Central where, for five years, they lived on a float house.
In 1948 they moved to Sarita River, where Alex continued with BS&W; he spent many of his off hours as first baseman on the vaunted ‘Sarita Loopers’ ball club. He loved baseball and was, in later years, instrumental in giving financial support to the Parksville Royals team; he also raised and donated money to many other teams and organizations.
In 1957 he struck out on his own with Ward Logging. In 1959 he did contract logging for the Tahsis Company in Zeballos & Fair Harbour. He nearly lost his shirt when, during a very severe storm, an entire log boom worth $78,000 broke loose & disappeared.
In the ‘60s, he began Cachalot Logging, which he ran until his retirement in 1980. He built his own roads, hired the men, did the books and payroll, cooked, cleaned, drove Cat and presumably even cut down a few trees when time permitted. During the Seventies he hired his much loved nephew Clark Cameron as well son Ross Ward, who began his logging career at age 17 setting chokers for Dad at $4.62 an hour.
His best friend & brother-in-law Ross Cameron drafted him into the Parksville Benevolent Society upon his retirement and he served there in several capacities, as President, Treasurer, factotum and selfless fund-raiser, through what must have been at least several thousand Bingo games. So many in need benefited from his kindness; his quiet generosity was legendary.
Alex relished traveling and drove across Canada five times in his truck and camper, often with the goal of visiting New Brunswick and his family of brothers, sisters, nieces & nephews — so far away but so close to his heart. He made frequent trips to Hawaii which he enjoyed greatly. He was a soft touch for dogs, cats, and most creatures, and an avid fisherman with a trove of understated yet heroic fish stories that listeners realized were probably true. During retirement the garden & greenhouse were his principle hobby — and his ‘Sweet 100’ tomatoes were famous. It was not unusual to drop by and find that he’d imported some scallops & lobster from New Brunswick or Nova Scotia, just as an excuse to gather family for a feast. Few people have loved food and family so much.
He is survived by his wife of 66 years, Billie Ward, children Merilyn Baldwin (Don) of Prince Rupert; Maureen Schuler (Ron) of Qualicum Beach; Ross Ward (Janice Abbott) of Parksville; Marion Ditrich (Vince) of Nanoose; Grandchildren David & James Baldwin of Prince Rupert & Vancouver, Kim Mackay (Per Zetterberg) of Parkville, Kevin Mackay of Parksville, Cody Ward of Port Alberni, Perry & Sam Ditrich of Nanoose and Great Grandson Mattias Zetterberg of Parksville.
There will be no funeral by his request.
In lieu of flowers please donate to Parksville Benevolent Society or the SPCA in his memory.