In the quietest moments, without trying to teach, life’s lessons unfolded and we were imprinted forever with a strong work ethic, the power of a kind word, and the value of integrity….
Who was he? What was he like? These are the questions that might be asked by curious grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, and their children in the years to come. His descendants will walk this earth, long after our time has passed, when those who knew him in this life are themselves just a memory, a grainy photo in someone’s dusty old album, or a name that’s mentioned from time to time when family members gather together.
His ancestors came to Canada in 1816 and settled in Drummond Township, not far from Ferguson Falls. Both sides were from southern Ireland, and both Roman Catholics, weary of the treatment of their kind by the British, and longing for freedom and the opportunity to thrive and prosper.
Dad was the youngest son, of a youngest son, of a youngest son of the pioneer settler, he was named for.
He attended school in Prestonvale, and played ball on the local team, and the Innisville team were their greatest rivals.
Church attendance was non-negotiable and held at St. Patrick’s each Sunday without fail.
photo: 1896, family of Thomas Stafford & Mary Carroll Stafford (seated in the middle) Thomas was the youngest son of pioneer settler Tobias Stafford and Elizabeth McGarry, 11th concession, Lot 10, Drummond Township. Seated in the front is Dad’s father, Michael Vincent ‘Vince’ Stafford.
(back row: Anne, Mary, Thomas Julia, middle row: Margaret beside her father, and Peter beside his mother, Anastasia seated beside Vince in the front row)
1932 Prestonvale Ball Team
The Prestonvale ball team in 1932, Tobias ‘Tib’ Stafford seated 2nd from the end, wearing a tie.
(other players unknown, but may be some of the same players as the 1934 team below)
Prestonvale Baseball Team 1934
Back row: Bob McEwen, Mansell Horricks, Henry McFarlane, Tobias ‘Tib’ Stafford, Roy McEwen, Dawson Horricks
Front row: Ossie Rothwell, Billy Tullis, Lloyd Horricks, John Dickenson
St. Patrick’s Church, Ferguson Falls, Ontario – where Dad and his family attended services
He enlisted in WWII, in the R.C.A.F., where he met our mother, while they were both stationed at the No. 8 Bombing and Gunnery School in Lethbridge, Alberta. They married in 1943, and he was posted overseas in Bournemouth, England.
1946 – Dad was discharged from the Royal Canadian Air Force, and he, Mother, and their two babies, Tim and Judy, moved to the home they would occupy for the next 50 years – the Stafford House.
By the 1960s, the family had grown! Left to right – Roger Stafford, Arlene on Judy’s lap, Mother – Audry (Rutherford) Stafford, Dad – Tobias ‘Tib’, ‘Tim’ Stafford, Tim Stafford, and Jackie Stafford.
Dad farmed the land for some years, then the cattle became ill with tuberculosis and had to be destroyed. He hauled milk to local cheese factories, spent some years working on the railroad, a couple of decades delivering milk for Chaplain’s Dairy in Glen Tay, then finished his workdays at Wampole Pharmaceutical on Hwy 7, in 1983, when he retired.
1968 – their 25th wedding anniversary
1988 – 45th Wedding Anniversary – with Korry’s farm in the background
What was he like?
Dad was soft-spoken, and for the most part was even-tempered and easy to get along with. His family was very important to him and he enjoyed spending time together at Christmas, birthdays, and other special occasions. He kept his cars in immaculate condition and loved to take us all for Sunday drives into the country. He enjoyed nature and called us over to see a hummingbird flutter, or a sun-dog in the sky. He loved to hear the birds calling, high up in the maple trees, and didn’t mind the bats swooping around on hot summer evenings. He took great pride in the appearance of his lawn and enjoyed cutting it and trimming the long grass.
How do I remember him on Father’s Day?
He was the slayer of dragons who hid in the dark corners of my room at night. He was the one I ran to during thunderstorms, who distracted me from my fears by showing me his watch with the hands that glowed in the dark. He was a night-time story-teller and a bed-time book-reader. He was the tour-guide on Sunday drives, and the local historian on trips to the cemetery. He believed that everyone deserved a treat – every day, and he brought home chocolate bars, tucked into his lunch pail, for each one of us, every evening. He was a great believer in common sense and had a surprisingly simple solution for almost every problem. He showed us how a man treats a woman he loves as he joked around and also complimented our mother as though they were still dating. He got up each day, dressed neatly, and went off to work, and I never heard him complain about his job, although I’m sure there were times that he could have.
And so as we pause today to thank the fathers of the world, some who are still here, and as we also remember those who are no longer with us, I will finish with a quote that reminds me of this quiet, thoughtful man who we called, “Dad”:
“He didn’t tell me how to live,
He lived, and let me watch him do it”
Clarence Buddington Kelland