CJ Frederickson

In my work on genealogy to date I’ve focused mostly on my maternal grandmother’s family: her parents and eight Corry siblings. But one figure that looms large in my life is my mother’s father, Clarence John Frederickson (everyone called him “Fred”).

Recently I’ve come across a couple of tidbits online that are worth sharing here. First, there’s a picture of him in Radical Campus: Making Simon Fraser University (see also Writing the book about SFU, by the author, Hugh Johnston).

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My grandfather is standing second from right in this picture of the Simon Fraser Board of Governors, taken in December 1963. I was just six months old, but this is how I remember him: in the remaining twenty years of his life, his appearance changed little.

He retired from his involvement with SFU in 1967, and was awarded an honourary degree the following year. (One of the other recipients that year was H.R. MacMillan, after whom the Space Centre, among other things, was named.) The citation (PDF, all caps!) reads as follows.

An original and creative thinker; a highly logical, Christian gentleman dedicated to the cause of education: thus has Clarence John Frederickson been described. Those of us privileged to have known him as a colleague and friend will warmly endorse the tribute.

Born in Nanaimo in 1897, Clarence John Frederickson came to Vancouver in 1903. From 1915, when he left Normal School and began to teach, till late last year, when he retired from the Board of Governors and Senate of this university, his interests have embraced the whole realm of education and his work has influenced teachers and teaching in far-reaching ways.

In 1933, Mr. Frederickson received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of British Columbia – in his own words, fifteen years late! He taught and was principal in British Columbia schools until 1937, was appointed Inspector of Schools in January 1938, and became Superintendent of Schools for Burnaby in 1954. He retired from the Burnaby School Board in 1962.

One suspects that this outstanding educator should consult a good dictionary: he does not know what the word “retirement” means. Since 1962 he has engaged in a host of activities not normally associated with taking one’s ease. He worked with the Department of Northern Affairs from 1962-63, acted as Interim Director of Adult Education in Langley, and was Co-ordinating Chairman, Canada Land Inventory, ARDA, for British Columbia from 1964-67, taming this omnivorous body and bringing B.C. into the forefront of its nationwide programme. In September 1967 he once more retired after four years of creative service on the Board of Governors and Senate of this university.

For his contributions in the field of education Mr. Frederickson has been awarded the Fergusson Memorial Award and a life membership in the British Columbia Teacher’s Federation. His ideas concerning the effective design of school buildings are reflected to this day in architectural features of many B.C. schools, and his influence is still felt through the in-service training programmes for teachers which he helped to develop.

In Clarence Frederickson we encounter an individual of the highest integrity, possessed of an analytical mind and considerable organizing ability; an extraordinarily hard worker; and one who is intensely interested in people, both as individuals and in the team context. He rejects conflict as a means of solving problems, appealing always to the best in others: his philosophy is that logic must prevail. I sincerely believe that any one generation produces only a few men such as he.

Mr. Chancellor, for his service as a founder member of the Board of Governors of this institution, his outstanding contributions in the realm of education in this province, and his remarkable personal qualities, I present to you John Clarence Frederickson for the degree of Doctor of Laws, Honoris Causa.

It’s surprising how little of a life can survive; he’s been gone just a quarter century and there are only a few other bits of information of which I’m aware. I think I may have the honourary degree stashed away somewhere; at some point in the early days of the web I found a picture of him as a very young teacher on Vancouver Island, which I hope I saved somewhere. I will do more research.

Percival Archie Corry (In Memory Of)

Last summer, Radiohead‘s Harry Patch (In Memory Of)—listen to it on Apple Music or Spotify—got me thinking about my great uncle Percival Archie Corry, who was killed in Belgium in December 1915 fighting in the First World War. I remember him every November 11, but there is something about this track that evokes the time: I think the instrumentation, composition, and arrangement are something that my grandmother Kathleen, Perce’s brother, would recognize and appreciate.

About ten years ago, I put together a genealogy of my grandmother’s family. She had eight siblings, and the long-term impact of war was made clear: the others had descendants, marriages, jobs, and stories. Perce’s page in the book was a dead end. Here are a couple of pictures of him, one on the family farm outside of Victoria, clearing land for the B.C. Electric power line; the other obviously in preparation for the trip to Europe, from which he never returned.

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The genealogy included the following text by Jean Rathgaber, daughter of Perce’s brother Art.

When the news was announced that Canada had entered into the war, Kath [my grandmother] and Babe were outside discussing it. They heard a whooping and a hollering, and Perce, on horseback, came dashing toward them as fast as he could gallop, shouting and waving his arms. He swerved at the last minute, just missing them, and yelled, “Hooray! War!” He and his brothers thought the war would be a great adventure; all three enlisted and were sent overseas. … The great adventure did not turn out as they had expected. George returned from the war with a steel plate in his head which caused him head pains all his life. Art returned with stomach ulcers caused from being gassed. For the rest of his life, he could tolerate only bland foods like milk, puddings and porridge made with milk. He never complained about this diet and lived on it for 40 years. And sadly, Perce never returned at all.

It’s tempting to think Perce’s romanticization of war is of another era, but I suspect that’s not completely the case.

I am going to work on updating the history for a reunion this summer, and one of the things I have found is Percival Corry’s attestation papers, online at Library and Archives Canada.

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It’s striking to see these papers, signed by an eighteen-year-old destined to die in the Great War almost a century ago. It’s possible to order copies of a soldier’s service files, which aren’t posted online, and I plan to do that to see what other information is available on Percival Corry.

I am the only one that got through
The others died where ever they fell
It was an ambush
They came up from all sides
Give your leaders each a gun and then let them fight it out themselves
I’ve seen devils coming up from the ground
I’ve seen hell upon this earth
The next will be chemical but they will never learn

—Radiohead, adapted from a BBC interview with Harry Patch, one of the last surviving veterans of the First World War