Whilst we were visiting Sackville in New Brunswick, I took some photo’s of a plaque on a building and a broom and a shovel…
Later on I read though the information on the plaque and wanted to tell you about how the life of this man impressed me.
Harold Geddes was born in Halifax, probably in 1914. He passed away in Sackville, New Brunswick at 90 years of age.
Sackville is a not so small town but retains the feel and atmosphere of a small town. Maybe that had a lot to do with Harold’s life. He was orphaned when he was only three during a famous explosion in Halifax in 1917 and adopted by Charles and Alice Geddes of Sackville where he spent his formative years.
Later he worked at the Fawcett Foundry, and at an aircraft factory in Nova Scotia during World War Two. When the war ended he returned to Sackville, where he became a custodian at Mount Allison University, until his retirement.So… nothing unusual then? Well, not so far in Harold’s life.
But after he retired something special happened.
Apparently ” retirement” meant something different to Harold than it does for most other people… because every day this brisk and gruff gentleman took it upon himself to spend his time voluntarily cleaning the streets of downtown Sackville. He took pride in clearing the footpaths , all year long though the heat of summer and the cold of winter he shoveled the pavements free of snow, picked up litter, broken glass, cleaned gutters of dirt and leaves and even washed windows.
Harold was someone that we would label ” a character” someone who doesn’t quite fit neatly into society, and he was apparently rather rough around the edges, and it’s said that he would often refuse to acknowledge “outsiders”. (heck, I thought that that is rather usual practice in many small towns all around the world )
Sackville appreciated all his hard work, completely voluntary and in all weathers, so a memorial called ” “Remembering Harold” was created by local sculptor and Mount Allison sculpture technician Kip Jones.
In 1998, he was presented with the Good Neighbour Award and In 2000, Harold received the first-ever Mayor’s Award for his “pride, initiative, and interest in keeping Sackville neat and clean…on a totally volunteer basis.”
Clearly Harold was a quirky man, he had his ways and was what he was. Apparently, what you saw is what you got. He might have been a little rough around the edges, but he sounds like one of those people who was a diamond in the rough.
It’s not often that a town has cause to honour a man for accomplishments that feature, not on the big and showy world stage, but quite literally at ground level, famous for doing the messy work, the hard graft, getting his hands dirty, mucking in. Harold sounds like one of the world’s unsung hero’s… a volunteer, turning up day after day to get things done just because they need doing.
Bravo to Harold for being true to himself, for being his grouchy, brisk self and people just had to accept him for it. You know, if you are a square peg, Why not just accept that you are, and be happy in it, rather than trying desperately to contort yourself into a round hole your whole life.
Bravo to all volunteers everywhere… who do the jobs that need doing, no pay and not nearly enough Thanks. Volunteers teach us that money isn’t always everything, satisfaction of a job well done is important too, and that “giving back” can take many many forms.
I can only wish that there were plaques and statues for all those who volunteer… so if you are a volunteer, then Kudos, this post is a big Thank-You for the work you do.