Ron Barwick, January, 1977
My father was born in York, my mother in Filey, both in the county of Yorkshire, England. They were married in Scarborough, Yorkshire. They had three children - Gladys, Elsie, and Ronald. Father spent twenty years in a law office as an article clerk. Finally he fell prey to high pressure advertising sent from Canada all about it being a fantastic country and the land of opportunity where one could get free title to 160 acres of the finest grain growing land in the world. Lithographs showed vast fields of golden grain, along with equally vast forests with huge trees, apparently all within the 160 acres (nice work if you could get it).
Father, along with other misguided young men, accepted the challenge, and in due course arrived in Vermilion which at that time was apparently in Athabasca, North West Territories, Canada. The year was 1905. It was a mild and wonderful winter which really impressed these young men, and Dad wrote to Mother telling her about the wonders of this new country. In June of 1906 Mother with we three children arrived in Vermilion after an exhausting three and a half weeks of travel, at 1:30 a~m. Several young men accompanied Dad to meet the train and to welcome us. I was fast asleep, so one young man volunteered to carry me t6the hotel. His name was Fred Miller. Passing over the years - when I arrived at Elk Point to start a new phase in my career, I had not been around for more than a few minutes when I met a man I knew very well; it was Dr. F. G. Miller, the same man who at about 16 years of age had carried me to the hotel forty-four years earlier.
Before deciding where to go to start a modest business on my own, I rnade many inquiries in business circles as to where they thought I might settle in a good small town with a future. Several picked Elk Point so I tossed my hat into the ring. Sometimes I wondered, but now, when I look around me and see what I have accumulated in a comparatively short space of time, the good friends I have made, my fine home and valuable property, a comfortable cottage at beautiful Muriel Lake, the services I have been able to contribute to the community, it makes me feel very thankful that I made the choice I did. I purchased the retail business of Frank Lambright and went into the Mens and Ladies Wear and Footwear business. I arrived in the latter part of June, 1950, and was followed shortly by my wife and two young girls. We were quickiy accepted into the life of the community, and were in business until the interior of the store was partly destroyed by fire in 1966. Since then I have lived a semi-retired life. My wife, Grace, has been employed at the Elk
Point hospital on Medical Records since January of 1966. Ihave carried on as a sign painter and with band work. I was asked to put briefly into this story of my life the contributions I have made to the life and welfare of the community, and the positions I have held in the many organizations. I do this without boast, and in all humility, but with a great feeling of personal pride.
First, I am thankful for the God-given gift of musical ability which has given me the opportunity to give pleasure to others both in church work, concert, marching bands and dance bands. I had the privilege of organizing the once quite famous Elk Point Junior Band and Majorettes, the Lac La Biche All Girl Drum Corps & Majorettes, give basic training to the Bonnyville marching band, and for the past two years (1975 - 76)1 have trained the Kehewin All Girl Cree Indian Marching Band and Majorettes who have quickly become a much-wanted group at the many parades throughout the area. I have worked hard and long with the Elk Point Chamber of Commerce, and served as Provincial Director with the Alberta Chamber from 1959 to 1966.1 spent fourteen years as director on the Highway 41 association and saw the completion of the highway on July 26th, 1976. I worked with the Tourist Association for five years and served as president of Zone 6 in 1972.
I served as president of the local Chamber for four years. During that time our secretary, the late Ernie Brailsford, and myself organized the "Friendship Train" which saw 150 members from various towns in the North Eastern area converge on the city on an official visit to the Edmonton Chamber where we were given a terrific welcome. It proved to be a most memorable occasion; actually pages could be written on this escapade.
I headed a committee which organized the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the founding of Elk Point - 1907 -1957. This event attracted over 4000 spectators. On this day also the official opening of the new Elk Point High School took place.
A most exciting event in the history of the area was the Centennial Celebration and Canoe Pageant of May 31st, 1967.1 was asked to be coordinator for the event.
On April 26th, 1972, Mrs. Barwick and myself were invited to attend a joint annual banquet of the Vermilion Chamber of Commerce and the Agricultural Society held at the Vermilion Agricultural Vocational College. There were 200 people in attendance. As a complete surprise to both of us, we were called to the head table. Mr. Fred Brimacombe, who is a long-time friend with whom I played hockey and baseball, and who is also a great musician, presented to me, on behalf of the Chamber and the Agricultural Association, an engraved silver tray with the inscription "To Ron Barwick, In recognition of your contribution to community activities in the Vermilion District". Coming as it did after our being away for twenty-two years made this award more acceptable than usual. I also have the distinction of being a charter member and Past Exalted Ruler of the Vermilion B.P.O.Elks Lodge of 1926; also a Charter member and Life Member of the Elk Point B.P.O. Elks.
At the time of this writing, I have just turned my personal calendar to 77 years. I thank God that I am still able to live an active and rewarding life, and carry on with contributions to the life of the community. I have the Kehewin Band, and play in the very popular dance band out of St. Paul called "Group 1(one)". I must mention at this point that my very wonderful mother who passed away in 1967 at the age of 104 years, has always been my inspiration as the way of life. Shortly before she died she was interviewed by the press at Victoria. She was asked for her secret of longevity. She answered briefly that she lived a happy-go4ucky life, tried to be honest with herself and to others, took time to enjoy life while she could, and above all else was true to her own self.
Mrs. Barwick and I intend to live out our lives in Elk Point. It is a beautiful town, growing steadily, and I am sure it has a future. We have the time now to sit back and count our blessings, and they are many The peace and goodwill we enjoy, the honest personal feeling of all friends, and their concern when one suffers adversity, is typical of the small town, which really makes life a great experience.
Bandmaster Ron Barwick and the Elk Point Band