Thomas Aloyious MacDonald
In loving memory of Thomas Aloyious MacDonald who passed away peacefully on July 5th 2018 at the age of 91 at the Dryden Regional Health Centre.
Tom was born on September 18th, 1926 in Barnaby River, New Brunswick. The youngest boy of the seven MacDonald children his early life was spent on the family farm on the Barnaby River.
Tom first attempted to join the army to be a part of World War II at 14 but after his mother intervened he was sent home. He attempted a second time at 17 and was successful after lying about his age. On the train heading back to New Brunswick from the war the train stopped in Northwestern Ontario. On that visit, Tom decided that he liked the area and he returned thereafter to find work. While in Thunder Bay he met Ethel McKie and they were married shortly after. They started their married life in Cameron Falls, ON where Tom worked as a river driver rafting logs across Lake Nipigon and in the winter working in bush camps. Tom was part of the last generation of loggers to use horses.
In the years that followed, Tom and Ethel would welcome five children: Janie, Jim, Sharron, Billy and Danny. They would relocate for job opportunities and eventually settled in Dryden. Tom worked in the bush as a heavy equipment operator until his retirement in 1992. He was always happy when he was on a new piece of heavy equipment to see what it could do, his favourite being a big cat dozer. Retirement was spent puttering around the yard and road tripping with Ethel to spend time with his children and grandchildren. He had a can-do attitude and would weld and mend almost anything in his own workshop.
Tom was a renaissance man, capable of many things with profound interest in geography and the weather. It was always expected that if you showed up at the MacDonald house in the morning the Weather Network would be on. He always kept track of the weather wherever family was across Canada and when you called to chat the long term forecast for your area was always discussed. He had a mind of an engineer and enjoyed explaining various processes and advancements in machines and technology. In the past few years he had received an iPad from his children and enjoyed keeping in touch with family through FaceTime and email. He would be quick to show guests pictures of his grandchildren and great grandchildren he had saved on it. He was so interested in how the internet worked and embraced the technology even going as far as having a Netflix account.
Tom loved to read the paper daily and had subscriptions to many newspapers, he would read them front to back in his favourite chair and would be able to keep everyone up to date on current events. He was interested in politics and met a few prime ministers in person. He would watch the Legislative Assembly channel for hours, although if you asked he would be happy to put something else on. He loved playing crib with anyone who was game. He loved to teach people how to play but was also a notorious cheater. Family members knew to be extra careful when it was his turn to count or to watch out that a few extra holes weren’t added when pegging. He loved animals, dogs especially and would always have a container of dog treats for any that visited.
Poppa Tom spent countless hours with his grandchildren cultivating relationships, developing memories, passing down knowledge and making inside jokes. He was especially famous for his demonstrations on how to properly tie a neck tie. He was proud of all their accomplishments and would tell anyone he could what they were up to. He will be remembered fondly for his love of bridge mixture, playing cards, doing crossword puzzles and his catch phrase “Oh Boy!” His grandchildren made sure to stop by for 3 o’clock tea time at Tom and Ethel’s. There would always be a fresh cup of tea and cookies or sweets. Poppa loved cookies, store bought or home baked and his famous line was “just took them out of the oven.”
He was happiest in a boat and enjoyed fishing no matter what the weather was like that day. He successfully fished many bodies of water throughout Northwestern Ontario catching trophy sized northern pike and many a pickerel. If you were to wake up early at camp you could always find Poppa Tom at the end of the dock wetting a line long before anyone else was awake. One of his favourite pastimes was picking blueberries for Grandma’s famous blueberry muffins.
Tom’s happiness was contagious. He was always content and loved hearing good news and talking about people’s achievements. He always looked on the bright side and was an eternal optimist. He loved a home cooked meal. He would always compliment the cook, saying: “all a young feller really needs is a bowl of soup and a sandwich.”
Tom will be missed by his children, Janie (Billy) Inget, Jim (Cindy) MacDonald, Sharron (David) Struk, Daniel MacDonald. His grandchildren Jill (Joel) Inget, Brian (Amanda) Inget, Matthew (Jeremy) Struk, Marcey (Pawel) Stefanski, Melissa (Dave) Gerrard, Lara MacDonald, Cole MacDonald, Mike (Shannon) Struk. Great grandchildren Ben, Isla, Max, Everly, Heidi, Magnus and Ainsley. Tom will also be remembered by his sister, Betty Muzzeroll in Miramichi, New Brunswick. He was predeceased by his wife Ethel, son Billy MacDonald, his parents James and Vera, brothers Bernie, Cletus and Locke and sisters Mary and Dorothy.
“Hooray!” For Tom MacDonald. He was a great person to know and love.
The family would like to thank the nursing staff at the Dryden Regional Health Centre for the care and compassion shown to Tom and his family. Also a big thank you to the Patricia Gardens staff for going above and beyond to allow Tom to stay in his own home.
A memorial service to celebrate the life of Thomas MacDonald will be held Friday, July 27th 2018 at 10:30 am in the Princess Court Chapel with Father Al Campeau officiating.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Tom’s memory may be made to the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 63 through Stevens Funeral Homes, P.O. Box 412 Dryden ON, P8N 2Z1.