|Grandpa & Sweetheart|
If he were still here with us, today my wonderful grandfather Neil Alexander McInnes would have turned 100 years old. I was sitting at my desk thinking about that last evening, and also the fact that I am now the same age that he was when I was born.
My grandpa was a wonderful man and a friend to many, both young and old. He was born in Brownlee Saskatchewan in 1915, and his family moved to the hamlet of McIntyre in my beloved Grey County when he was a still a young man. It was there where he and his family farmed, and where he would come to meet and marry my grandmother Reba Winifred Priddle who's family owned the farm across the way. My grandparents had 2 boys, my dad Brian and his brother Wayne, and they were still young boys when the clouds of war began cast a shadow far across the globe. My grandpa enlisted and was soon sent off overseas where he drove a munitions truck through the battlefields of Europe. While he was away, my grandma not only continued running the farm, but also raised two young boys on her own while supporting the war effort here at home.
In 1945 at the end of the war, my grandpa returned home a decorated veteran and a changed man. As the realities of economic landscape changed, farming and the distance in the country became more of a challenge, especially for a young family. Soon thereafter, my grandparents sold the family farm and moved to the village of Nottawa just outside of Collingwood. Until their retirement, my grandpa worked as a dedicated and caring custodian at Nottawa Public School, while my grandma worked for DAAL Specialties which was once located on High Street in Collingwood.
I happened upon the scene in 1965, and from that moment on we were forever joined in a bond of mutual love that would carry us on seemingly forever. My grandparents were incredibly caring and supportive, not only to me but to all those whom they met and called a friend. In myself, they fostered a love of history, art and music that I will carry with me always. As a young boy and beyond, I spent so much time with my grandparents that many of my schoolmates actually thought that they were my parents. My grandpa and I built things together, shared a mutual love of television (back when it was worth watching), and often debated current events. We were often at odds of opinion, but as he once told me, it was because I was the only one who cared enough to disagree and would argue a point with him. Sounds very familiar, hmmmm?
For many years before and after his retirement, one of the things we did together was attend auction sales. Our favourites were often auctioneered by local legend Ivan Brown who would often admonish the audience with his famous “I’ll smash it!” if a suitable bid wasn’t produced. After he retired, my grandpa would spend the winters refinishing many of the antiques we bought at auction and then would have two yearly yard sales, one on Victoria Day, and one on Labour Day. Folks used to come from quite a distance for his sales as they always knew he had a good eye for quality. I could go on forever, but I think you all see my meaning.
My grandpa left us suddenly and sadly in the late evening hours of Sunday April 27th, 1992. His presence in my life was one of my greatest influences, and his passing changed my life forever. As with all my grandparents, I loved and adored him, and will remember him always!