Two years ago, I met a woman whose grandparents had owned the farm in the early 1900s. Her name is Lorraine. Since then, Lorraine and I have stayed in touch, and she has visited the farm several times. Last fall, Lorraine arranged to have a tree planted in memory of man who worked on the farm with her father. I wrote an article about this for our community newsletter, and I’m sharing it here today.
In 1936, Harry Halworth came to Puslinch. He was 16 years old. At home in England, there were no jobs, so he signed up with a government program that brought young people to Canada to work on farms.
Harry’s experience in Puslinch forged a deep connection to Canada. This connection was commemorated in the fall with a special tree planting. Lorraine Stewart, the daughter of one of the farmers Harry worked for, arranged for a maple tree to be planted on her parents’ former farm.
“That tree is really like a memorial to Harry’s love for this country,” Lorraine explains.
A case of appendicitis brought Harry to the Stewart farm. The farmer Harry was working for could not pay Harry’s medical bills, and Harry was abandoned in the Galt hospital. Lorraine’s father, Allan Stewart, stepped in and Harry then came to work for the family.
Harry worked for the Stewarts and other farms in the community for three years. Then he decided to go home and bring his fiancée, Vina, to Canada.
Unfortunately, the year was 1939. When war broke out, Harry enlisted in the British Navy. He spent the next five years in submarines. When the war concluded, Harry stayed in England and went to work in the coal mines of Mexborough. He and Vina raised five children.
Harry never forgot his time in Canada, though, and in 1962 Allan received a telephone call. The Stewarts had left the farm in 1942 when Allan took a job in Hamilton. But a cousin who lived in Puslinch had seen a notice in the Galt paper. Harry Halworth was inquiring about Allan Stewart and some other people.
“My Dad wrote to him, and Harry ended up coming here,” says Lorraine. Harry and Vina would return to Canada many times for holidays, continuing to visit with Lorraine and her friend Greta after Allan’s death. Harry’s last trip was in 2010 when he was 90. He rode the train to Vancouver, enjoying the view of the Rockies from the glass dome railcar.
Shortly after Harry returned to England, his daughter phoned Lorraine to tell her Harry’s health was failing.
“That’s when I told him I was going to plant a maple tree in the northwest corner of the property,” says Lorraine. “He loved this country. I think he felt so badly that he had missed out in not getting here.”
The tree honours Harry, his work in Puslinch, and his love of Canada. It will be a beautiful legacy for generations to come.
Julia, interesting that you should have a tree planted in Harry’s memory. I have one too, now planted in the cemetery where Mom and Dad’s stone is. And my first picture book is titled Harry’s Tree. I
How lovely, Carolyn. It’s a very special way to commemorate people. I enjoy the trees we have around the farm so much, and wonder about the people who planted them often. I think about them , even though I don’t know them.