My grandpa, Harry Charles ANDREW, was a quiet mannered, down to earth and seemingly calm individual with a great sense of humor and lots of patience with his many grandchildren. My mother, sister and I lived with my grandparents for most of my preschool years, which made our bond very special.
I have very fond memories of my grandpa playing card games with us; he taught us to play Rummy (his favorite) as well as Go Fish and other games. He was also a great story teller, and again I have fond memories of sitting on his lap, avidly listening to the tales of the "Big Brown Bear". Unfortunately most of the details of these highly anticipated and entertaining tales have been forgotten, even though we heard them so often as children that we had them memorized and would often correct Grandpa when he ‘got it wrong’. Of course it was done on purpose, with a twinkle in his eye and a slight hint of a smile. It was part of the game, the entertainment! On the other hand, we appreciated it when his stories were personalized to include the names of his varying young listeners.
Grandpa was also good at "Dolly" stories, using an actual doll as a prop. Dolly (probably a "Betsy Wetsy") went for a walk ‘down street’ (along Grandpa’s leg) and midway Dolly would freeze in horror, lift one little leg and wipe her shoe off furiously on the ‘sidewalk’, exclaiming “Dirty little dog!”. Such bathroom humor is always popular with kids, it seems, so naturally this got rave reviews and was often requested. Grandpa liked to doze off in his chair, even during story time, and I fear at times we got a little too persistent with our demands for his wonderful stories.
Harry Charles ANDREW and Eleanor Louise "Nell" RICHARDSON were married in St Johns Anglican Church in St Eleanors in PEI on 16 Jun 1915 when Harry was almost 26 and Nell was 21. They lived on and worked the Andrew family farm along with Harry’s parents and perhaps his sister Mabel (before and after her nurse’s training in Charlottetown until her marriage). By this time, the rest of his siblings were married and pursuing their own lives: sisters Alice and Isa were both living near Winnipeg, his brother Albert was a clergyman in Nova Scotia (soon to distinguish himself in WWI), Horace was married and farming his own property near his parents, and sisters Delores and Fanny were married to local farmers.
Fates later intervened, and after the start of WWII, it was decided by the powers that be that an airport and RCAF training base was needed on the Island. The farmlands of North St Eleanors were targeted as the ideal site. According to family stories, Harry and Nells’s farm of about 100 acres was one of the first to be appropriated. In about 1941 when Harry was bed ridden recovering from an accident, Granny was left to negotiation with the men who turned up at their door. They ended up getting a pittance for their property, although others latter held out for better deals. They then bought a house from Mrs. Rhodes in St Eleanors, on the Old Town Road to Sherbrooke. Before the war was over, Harry was working as a boiler man, or heating system Engineer, at the new air base.
During WWII, three of Harry’s sons were old enough to enlist. One was critically injured overseas and eventually made it back to PEI to convalesce. The doctors advised the winter weather was too harsh for him and he would do better in a warmer climate. So in 1945 they sent him out to the west coast of Canada to live with relatives. As Harry no longer had a farm to care for, he quickly made plans to follow his son, thus starting the cross-Canada migration of most of his family, which occurred between 1945 and 1953. His oldest son George settled in Ontario after the war.
On Jan 29, 1946, Harry came west with his youngest son, and his sister Mabel and her husband Fred May. He settled in the Westholme area near Duncan and Chemainus on Vancouver Island, BC. Other children followed them. Nell stayed behind in PEI for another 4 years or so to look after her own aging parents. The separation was very hard on the family. Sometime before Mar 1948 they bought a home on some property on Herd Road (north of Duncan), but I don't think they were there long. Sometime after Granny arrived (about 1950), they moved into Duncan, just outside the city limits, and bought a little 2-bedroom house on Garden Street where I spent my early childhood. It had a lovely back yard with large maple and Bing cherry trees and a sizable garden where they grew raspberries, rhubarb, asparagus, cucumbers and of course potatoes as well as other vegetables - they certainly knew how to grow and preserve food. For a time Harry worked in the logging industry as a “whistle punk” in the bush near Duncan. He may also have worked with his son in a dairy and creamery, which was just at the end of the street. Their house no longer exists, but the memories do.
Harry lived to be age 96, living in an extended care facility and bedridden for the last couple of years after a series of strokes. He had a good long life, and celebrated many milestone anniversaries throughout his retirement years with his wife Nell and their growing family. They also welcomed visitors (relatives, old neighbors and friends) from PEI and elsewhere to their home, always eager to hear news of the their first Island home. Growing up, I heard so many stories of their life on PEI, and how I wish I could go back and record them all! One day I really must visit their homeland.