Looking back, I have realized that I have never written about my Grandfather, father of my father.
So here is what I know and what I remember about my Grandpa.
Gordon was born on Mar 3, 1903 on by a Dr. J Argue. He was later christened in the McLeod St United Church by Rev Wm Timberlake. He was the younger brother of Walter Russell, who had been born 2 years early. Their parents were Robert Rutledge, son of Irish immigrants and Annie Dicks, daughter of English immigrants.
Sadly, 4 years later, their life would change for the worse, Annie Rutledge died of tuberculous on January 12, 1907. I often wonder who stepped in to Mother my Grandpa during those years and how different he would have been had his Mother have lived. Was there a woman in his world or was it just 3 men surviving through their grief?
This is Grandpa in about 1911, a few months after he got a step-Mother and soon more heartache.
On June 29, 1910, his father Robert Rutledge was to marry Georgina Gifford and in May of the following year, she gave birth to a daughter, Verna Eileen Hope. Sadly, she passed away less than a year later. Two years later, another son, Grant was born. The thing I find strange is neither my Grandpa or Father ever mentioned them while I was growing up. In fact, there was nothing ever said about his teenage years or how he met my Grandma but meet her he did.
And within a few years, my Grandpa had the first 2 of his children — his only daughter — Verna (named after his sister and Robert (possibly named after his Father)
It was sometime after that the Grandpa with Grandma, 2 kids along with her parents and possibly her sister and her family left Toronto to drive across Canada and settle in Burnaby, BC. What was happening that made them travel across the country? Was he already set up for a job? What had happened that he left the City he had grown up in? I don’t know if he ever went back for visit.
He settle around several different houses in Burnaby, and soon the family expanded with the birth of 2 more sons — my father, Walter and then my Doug. The little family was complete. In time, they settled into the house on Smith Avenue. It was in the shadow of Central Park and the train tracks. He started working for Woodwards Department Store as a Grocery Clerk and he was there for close to 40 years — below is on his day of retirement in 1968
Over time, his children grew, moved out, married and then as life does, the next generation came — the grandchildren. And then there was another great loss.
On January 15, 1963, his wife, my Grandmother passed away. In many ways it was the beginning of the end for the close family ties. I don’t remember any large family gatherings at Christmas, like the one in the following picture. It was like she was the glue that held us together. I have to believe that it was the lack of a Mother in his early years that made him not as loving. But as a family we held some things together.
My Mom and her sister-in-laws stepped in to cook meals for him, as my Mom once said he didn’t know how to boil water for an egg. He had his job, his woodworking and his garden.. oh his garden, it was a beautiful, magical place — with berry patches(raspberries, salmon berries), flowers and the fish pond that had a little trail circling it. It was still there years later when my daughter visited him.
But the garden was special because it was through his love of gardening that he met the next love of his life, he met and married Mabel. She was a wonderful lady who brought with her a teenage daughter, Roberta. Then life went on — small little family dinners with one group or another, visits at Christmas time, the arrival of Great Grandchildren, and some Great-Great Grandchildren.
The house on Smith Avenue was sold and no longer is the little house with the red stairs and magical garden in the back.
Grandpa passed on October 1993. He was cremated and several years later I learned that his ashes had been scattered in the Indian Arm. Mabel moved to be with her daughter in Alberta and she passed several years later. I don’t know where her daughter or children are now.
The family here is gone and scattered as well to the many corners of the world but I like to believe that the many ones that have moved on are together again, having tea (or a beer) and looking down at us all and protecting those that are still here.
Below are a few of the legacy that came from him — a complicated man who had losses throughout his life but will always just be my Grandpa.