Herbert Duncan, our Dad, Grandfather, Great Grandfather peacefully passed away at Cypress Lodge at the age of 106 with one of his caregivers, “his angels” he often called them, by his side. Herb was predeceased by his loving wife of 73.5 years, Connie Elaine [Smith] who passed away on June 21, 2017. He was also predeceased by his 9 siblings, Clarence [Dolly], Opal [Artie] Packard, Esther [Ernie] Pickett, Harold [Adeline; Pauline], Ruby [John] Haubrich, Edith [Lawrence] Haubrich, Vernon [Vi], Pearl [Hugh] Hanson and half sibling, Dudley [Anna] Prescott. Herb’s Father, Charles Ellsworth Duncan passed away in February 1947 and his Mother, Stella [Hanson] passed away in April 1982.
Herb is survived by his loving family: Larry [Jackie Howg] and children Scott, Janelle, Brent; Derryl [Dolores Kobitz] and children Larissa, Lauren; Neil [Peggy Holmes] and children Natasha, Amanda, Jarrett, Lynanne [Marc] Bourque and children Danielle, David, Jocelyn. Also 8 significant spouses and 16 great-grandchildren who all have memories they will treasure. Herb also had numerous loving nieces and nephews who kept in touch with him throughout his life sharing their affection.
Dad was born on the family farm 12 miles north of Maple Creek. When he was 10 years old, the family pulled up stakes and moved to Hodgeville, Sask. The trip was an arduous one at that time as everything had to be moved with horses and wagons. The children were fortunate to have a school in town to attend. The family moved back to Maple Creek in the 1930’s but Dad stayed in Hodgeville working for various farmers. Upon returning to Maple Creek a couple of years later, he worked wherever he could find a job. He herded sheep for Billy Dixon for two summers in the Cypress Hills, worked for the PFRA in the Bigstick area, a pick and shovel job in frozen ground for 25 cents an hour. He also worked for Raymond Glascock as a mechanic and for Grice Blythman in the garage.
In 1941, Dad met our Mom, Connie Smith, who was boarding with his sister, Opal and Artie Packard. Mom was teaching at Webster School. They were married in 1943, lived in Piapot until the Fall of 1944 when they moved to Maple Creek. In 1947 he went into the construction business with C.C. Smith. For the next 18 years they built roads, dams, ditches and dugouts all over Southwestern Saskatchewan. Upon leaving the construction business, he worked for Wilf Murray hauling fuel, sold trailers with his brother Harold for a time. He also worked for Co-op Hardware until he retired in 1979. He was a great salesman too! Mom continued to work with the Credit Union until 1984 retiring after 25 years as Office Manager in Maple Creek. Mom was always there for Dad.
Dad’s retirement years gave him the freedom to choose what he loved to do like fixing appliances —a dandy handy man, using his ability to “witch” for water using a crowbar finding water for wells and dugouts on farms and ranches in the area. Many are likely still drawing water to this day. Dad and Mom took part in square dancing and round dancing classes for a few years at the Community Hall. They travelled to Florida, Hawaii and went on a cruise to Bermuda along with family and friends accompanying “Steel Heart”, the RCMP Band with whom son, Neil, played bass guitar. They also enjoyed travelling in their motorhome for many years.
In 1973, Olga Sawby started the Maple Creek Old Tyme Fiddlers and Dad became a member. For 15 years the group received recognition throughout the prairie provinces. Over the years they made 4 albums, tapes, and a CBC Access Television program in 1974. Other highlights included performing at a SUMA Convention in Regina, playing on the cruise ship, Lord Selkirk on Lake Winnipeg, at the Yorkton Pioneer Days, also at North Battleford and Lloydminster. For many years the group held Old Time Dance classes at the Armories twice monthly and played for dances on Saturday nights at Cypress Hills Park during the summer season. Dad came from a musical family who played at dances, along with singing throughout the area. Learning to play the violin at age 14, taught to him by his father, all came full circle in retirement bringing Dad and Mom much joy and to many others as well. They were bonded by their love of music for Mom loved listening to music, Dad played music, and to quote Mom: “We have many happy memories of those days”. As an added note, Dad played “by ear” as did many of the talented players in the group. Search the internet for Maple Creek Old Tyme Fiddlers and there they are!
Dad never backed away from a challenge and evidence for that is when he took up woodworking as a hobby. He rebuilt an old wooden pump organ into a console for their television and storage. At age 80 he decided that he was going to make a violin. He got a book with instructions and his first violin took him 18 months to make. He had to invent some of his own tools to make the job easier. He made 5 violins. His neighbour and friend, Bob, also made a couple of violins with him. Dad often used one of his violins as he played, along with friends Ingolf, Harry, Jim and Wilf, at the Cypress Lodge and in the area even at age 101.
Dad had an extraordinary memory, a great sense of humour and was in very good health for most of his life. He always worked hard, was very talented, had amazing natural skills and won many awards. He loved his Grandchildren and that mischievous sense of humour, as he teased them, will give them stories to fondly share —“Remember when Grandpa—“.
Dad felt so honoured to be recognized at the age of 101 for his volunteerism and being awarded The Saskatchewan Centenarian Award which recognizes a Senior over the age of 90 who continues to volunteer. He participated in the community’s clubs—Ken Club, Masons and Shriners. At age 94 he sold $10 000 in calendars and was recognized by the Shriners of Saskatchewan for being the top seller that year! He won trophies in fiddle contests, often along with his grandson, Scott Duncan, now a professional violinist/fiddler. Dad’s love of playing sports included baseball, golf, bowling, curling and he had a forever passion for the Toronto Maple Leafs right up to his passing.
Many thanks to the whole community of Maple Creek and area for their friendships. Also a special and heartfelt thank you to the Homecare Ladies. For the past 3 years Dad has been a part of the Cypress Lodge community where he found comfort, compassion, respect and friendship. The family is ever so grateful to Jeanie and her Staff at Cypress Lodge for the extra-ordinary care and support they have given. Thank you to Dr. Govender for his excellent care. Thank you to Binkley’s Funeral Service. Memories may be shared with the family at www.binkleysfuneralservice.com.
A Celebration of Life will be held at a later date.
A donation in Herb’s memory may be made to The Jasper Cultural and Historical Centre Maple Creek, Sask. S0N1N0
[1-306-662-2434]; Wa Wa Shriners 2065 Hamilton Street, Regina, Sask. S4P2E1 [1-306-569-2294]
Dad often said, with a smile, a chuckle and a shoulder shrug, “I didn’t know I would live this long.” We are so grateful he did for he has left, for all who knew him and knew of him, quite a legacy which will have ripple effects for many years.
Rest In Peace Dad, you are forever loved.
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