Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Thanksgiving Goodbye

It is with great sadness that I announce the passing of my grandpa, Fred LaFleur. He was born on in 1936 in Spiritwood, Saskatchewan, and is predeceased by his mother Alice (1937) and father Charles LaFleur (1975). Alice died the age of 39, after a brief and mysterious stay in the North Battleford Mental Hospital. Fred was one year old when his mother died, and was subsequently brought to Vancouver Island by his older sister, Florence, along with her one year old son, Claude. Fred and Claude shared a special brotherly relationship, and as children were referred to as "the rascals." In a recent hospital stay, Claude visited Grandpa and joked about the days when they would do odd jobs (weeding, collecting milk bottles, and castrating pigs!) to earn 25₵ to go to the movies.
Grandpa Fred (left) and Claude.

As a child, Fred lived with various family members and in different residential schools, and always longed for a family of his own. Fred met Patricia Brown in 1956, after a chance encounter, and agreed to drive the stranded girl and her sister home. They were stopped by police and Fred asked Patricia to hide his beer under her poodle skirt. She said "no way," but mustn't of minded too much because she married him, and they had 3 children together (Michael [my dad], Cindy, and Victoria). Grampa leaves behind three sisters (Marie, Irene, and Lorraine), my Grandma (Pat), Auntie Laurie, Mike and Donna, Cindy, Vicky and Terry, his grandchildren (Marni [and Ron!], Shane [and Mandy] and Casey) and great grandchildren (Caileen, Jesse, Hunter and Betty).

Grandpa and Grandma, 53 years ago, on their wedding day.
Fred and Claude started working in logging camps when they were 15, but the majority of my grandpa's career was spent driving cranes as a longshoreman. He worked hard and fulfilled his dream of having and taking care of his own family. Fred was Métis and was very proud of and interested in his heritage. He was involved in the Métis Association in Duncan and was happy that his grandchildren got financial help with education through Métis organizations.

Grandpa was exceedingly patient with children and I fondly remember him taking me on trips to Coombs, Transfer Beach, Fuller Lake and/or Chemainus. We'd go for ice cream or to search for critters, and he never minded waiting for me to catch the perfect tadpole or wee fish to bring home. I recently asked him if he remembered taking me to the lake and waiting for me to catch a small fish (in a cup). He got a wide crooked smile on his face and simply said "yup."

Grandpa and I at Transfer beach in Ladysmith.
During his recent hospital stays, the nurses commented on how he was a popular guy. His constant stream of visitors were a testament to what a great man my grandfather was. It saddens me to say that he is gone, but even more so, it saddens me that he was so uncharacteristically unhappy in the past few weeks. Cancer is a rat-bastard of a disease, and today, I am thankful that my sweet Grandpa Fred is no longer suffering.
Grandpa and Betty. Canadian Thanksgiving 2011.
Tonight, my heart is with my Grandma. Goodbye Grandpa. We love you.


  1. Very sorry Marni! We are thinking of you XO

  2. Sorry to hear this news, Marni.

    Lisa G.

  3. thank you Marni I love you! ccxxx gramma

  4. Very sad news indeed. Fred Lafleur was a really great guy and will be missed. I enjoyed talking with him over the years. (your aunty Cindy is my good friend for 25 yrs.) And yes we did talk Metis! Fred loved to conversate and was genuinely interested in people. I remember he always had a smile for me when visiting! I wish i could have talked with him one more time. My heart goes out to all the family during this very sad time. love Kelly Winkel

  5. Thanks so much, Kelly. And GRAMMA, Lisa and Joelle. Tis a black friday, but we should do something fun. Grandpa would want it.

  6. A beautiful tribute. Mr. Lafleur was one of those truly nice guys, loved by all. He is going to be missed. Hugs to all of the family. You are all in my thoughts. Love Glenda Johnson