Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Workday Wednesday - John Bertram & Sons of Dundas Ontario

   When I think of my ancestors and work, I always think of my great great grandfather George H. Dennie and his son William George Dennie. They both worked at John Bertram & Sons of Dundas, Ontario. This is an updated post of one I did back in January. I wanted to fill out the story more and so have deleted the older one.

The Workers of John Bertram & Sons of Dundas, Ontario
1936 (75th anniversary photo)
first row, second from right - George H. Dennie

     George worked there first of course and then got his son William in later. While working here William met George Fraser and the two became fast friends. George Fraser went on to become Williams oldest child's God Father. That child was my grandmother Elva Irene Dennie. She of course called him uncle George and then her children likewise called him Uncle George (that would be Great Uncle), then her son William F. Goodwin (my father) had a child (me - John F.W. Goodwin) and it was Uncle George again (that would be great great Uncle now). Finally I had children and he was uncle George to my kids (great great great uncle George). That is five generations of my family that Uncle George new and spent time with. He was able to tell me personally about my great great grandfather and great grandfather, both of whom I never had the honor of meeting myself. Both were honest, hardworking men for whom family came first. I would have liked to have known them, but since I couldn't, I will say that getting to know them both through Uncle George was a great experience. not only did I see them through his eyes; but reflecting back on it, I realize that I got to know them by the friend they picked to have as a member of our extended family. Uncle George Fraser was a great man and since I couldn't know my relatives personally; I'm sure glad I knew Uncle George because of them. Uncle George was a driver in the Second World War and when the then Princess Elizabeth and her husband Phillip toured Canada; Uncle George was one of the army drivers assigned to her motorcade. Six drivers would rotate positions in the motorcade. Front right and left army car drivers, followed by and RCMP car, followed by the Limo with the Princess or her husband (they weren't allowed to go together), then another RCMP car, then the second Limo (the Limo's were driven by one of the army drivers), then another RCMP car and finally the last two army cars with their drivers rear right and left. Uncle George said that mornings before starting out that Prince Phillip would often come out and smoke with the drivers and chat. Now as uncle George tells it, the RCMP gave strict orders to the drivers that no other vehicles were allowed in the motorcade and that if any tried to enter, it was their duty to keep them out whatever the cost. So one day they had to get the Princess from one engagement to the next in half an hour down a highway that would normally take 45 minutes to an hour to get to. So they were flying down this road at high speed with uncle George in the rear left guard position. As they passed an on ramp he noticed in his rear view mirror a car come on the highway behind the motorcade. It was gaining on them fast. As it caught up to the motorcade (there were only two lanes going in the direction they were going) with both the rear guard cars holding the two lanes it tried to go around on the shoulder to uncle Georges left. Now when he told me this story I was so intrigued and blurted out "so what did you do?. Uncle George with out missing a beat said "I came over to the left." So he side swipes the car as it tries to pass and forces him off the road into the center ditch; where he said he viewed it in his mirror going flying and tumbling end over end. Then he "moved back into the lane and took up his position and continued to the destination".  When he got to the destination the RCMP officers all came over and congratulated him on his fine driving skills and shook his hand. He said as far as he knew the driver of the car that tried to pass him was found dead in the car by the local police, and as to why he was travelling so fast and trying to pass they didn't know.  The character of the man tells us a lot and this character was a great man. I will always "Remember When..." I got to sit and listen to uncle George tell me about his life and that of my relatives lives. Thanks for the memories Uncle George.

1998 - Victoria (7) with Liam (1) seated on her lap & Miranda (3) with their
Great Great Great Uncle George Fraser