Harold Gorley was born November 11, 1905 in Killarney, Manitoba to George and Ethel (nee Trewin). He would have been 112 years old on Remembrance Day this year. When he was just four years old the family moved from Manitoba to Saskatchewan and set up a home near Traynor. While they were there, Harold’s only sibling, Arthur was born.
A few years later they moved farther west to Alberta. Harold was about 13 at the time, so his formative years were spent on the homestead and farm in the Rosyth area. He was active in the community, playing ball on a local team.
An opportunity for adventure knocked on Harold’s door when he was about 16 years old. Between 1921 and 1925 the Canadian government was rounding up buffalo from the Wainwright Buffalo Park to be relocated to the Wood Buffalo Park in the North West Territories. Harold saddled his horse, felt the earth shake with the thundering buffalo hooves, and with dust thick in the air, participated in rounding up 6700 buffalo and loading them on rail cars for their trip north. Perfect job for a guy like Harold!
About this time a young lady named Thelma Mae Miller caught his eye and they were
married in 1929. They spent the first year of their married life living on the farm with Harold’s parents, until they could acquire a farm of their own. They stayed on the farm through the tough years of the 1930s, battling the elements, grasshoppers, and drought. Times were already hard and the years of WWII made things even more difficult.
In the early 1940s opportunity again knocked on Harold’s door and the family, now numbering five children, moved west once more, this time to the Bulkley Valley in BC. Harold had a good job at the Smithers Dominion Experimental Farm where they experimented with innovative ways to grow hearty crops and livestock. It was a busy place, and many men were employed as carpenters to build the farm structures, outbuildings, and residences. It was a busy Gorley household too, with three more children born while they were living near Smithers!
In the late 1940s Harold decided to become a business owner, and set up a taxi business in Telkwa. Unfortunately, his luck was bad and his timing was off. Thelma, his wife of 25 years passed away suddenly at the young age of 44, leaving Harold with five children at home, the youngest only 18 months old.
It must have been devastating and he probably felt like giving up, but Harold’s fortitude and determination to keep the family together were strong. In the short term, the younger children were looked after by other family members.
Harold married Eva Granzow in 1957 and brought the younger children back home again, all under the same roof once more. Again, things were difficult financially with the expanded family (Eva had children of her own) but the kids recall happy times and a solid family life. Perhaps that’s the most important value, and Harold wanted his family together.
The situation improved, and he earned a forestry scaling licence is 1959 and worked in sawmills around Barriere until 1972. The kids were on their own by this time and Harold had time to enjoy his garden and support the local hockey team as a fan in his spare time. He was widowed a second time when Eva passed in 1970, and he married again, to Leita Crow in 1973.
Life is never predicable, and the surprises kept coming. Harold used the middle name ‘James’ until 1967 when we was 62 years old. It was then, when he applied for his pension and needed his birth certificate that he learned his middle name was actually ‘McDougal’. He also learned he was a year older than he thought!
Harold’s last few years were spent at the Ponderosa Lodge in Kamloops. He enjoyed visits and outings with his sons and daughters, and meeting old friends in the pub. He died peacefully on August 7, 1993 in Kamloops and is buried with his first wife, Thelma, mother of his children, in Telkwa, BC.