On Oct. 28, 1997, John T. (Jack) Egan passed away at Fort Frances, Ont. at the age of 77 years.
He was the second-oldest in the family of Patrick Philbert Egan and Gertrude Rose Egan (nee Harrigan), and was born at Mazenod, Sask. on Nov. 17, 1919 “out on the bald-headed prairie,” to quote his father.
The family moved to Fort Frances in 1923, where Jack grew up during the Great Depression of the “Dirty Thirties.” He had vivid memories of those days of little or no indoor plumbing, no radios, no refrigeration; in fact, none of the conveniences we take for granted today.
However, he also remembered those days as very active, enjoyable times—learning to swim at Pither’s Point Park on Rainy Lake, large family gardens, piling, sawing and splitting wood, “running" the sawlogs in water storage at the two large Shevlin-Clarke sawmills on the upper Rainy River, swimming at the "old ‘red dock’ swimming hole," also on the upper Rainy River, delivering daily papers (the Daily Bulletin and the Fort Frances Times) in the east end of Fort Frances, and picking wild fruit (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, etc.) all over the area in season, for winter preserves, which were essential "in the continuing struggle to keep body and soul together,” to quote his mother.
But, he often reflected, it couldn’t have been much fun for our parents.
After graduating from high school in the mid-30s, Jack, as did most of the youngsters of his generation, worked at whatever seasonal jobs became available. He fought forest fires all over the lake and bush country of the district, including the major forest fire south of Flanders in the hot, dry summer of 1936 and the tragic Dance Township fire in the autumn of 1938.
In the summer of 1937, he worked as a “bull cook" at a Crow Lake tourist camp on the newly-opened strip of loose gravel called the Kenora Highway. During the first half of the following winter, he worked with a group of young men cutting out and improving telephone lines in Quetico Park, under the supervision of park rangers, in what was called a Youth Training Rehabilitation Program of the Province of Ontario. During the second half of that same winter, he worked as a "swamper” in a Shevlin-Clarke sawlog camp on the Maligne River in Quetico Park.
He also worked as a logman on two Shevlin-Clarke sawlog river drives—one on Bear Creek south of Flanders, which was a “piece of cake," and the other a drive "rear” on the Namakan River, which was not a piece of cake. Both were memorable experiences. He enjoyed the hard physical work and camaraderie of the camp life of those days.
Finally, in July of 1940, he got a steady office job at the local paper mill and there (except for service in the Canadian army during World War II) he stayed until his retirement at the end of November, 1984, after working at a number of different jobs.
Jack and Sheila Peterson of Fort Frances were married on Sept. 22, 1952. They had two children, Janet Doris and John Paul. Jack liked fishing and hunting, and built a cabin on Redgut Bay of Rainy Lake, which he and his family enjoyed very much. But he had a bit of wanderlust in his makeup and often when fishing would say, “Let’s forget the fishing and go for a boat ride," or if hunting, he would say "Let’s forget the hunting and drive to the end of the road.”
So during very busy times in his working life, he managed to take his family on two driving trips to the west coast of Canada and on one trip to the east coast of Canada, including Quebec. Later on, he made three trips up the Alaska Highway to Alaska and the Yukon and Northwest Territories, and two trips over the Dempster Highway, which starts near Dawson City in the Yukon and angles northward over the mountains and tundra to Inuvik at the mouth of the Mackenzie River in the Northwest Territories.
During the second of these Dempster trips, he joined a group of other campground travellers in a same-day return trip by Twin Otter to nearby Tuktoyaktuk, a hub of oil and gas exploration in the area, which he found fascinating.
He always regretted not at least “having a look” at Newfoundland and Labrador.
Besides his parents, Jack was predeceased by an older sister, Anastasia, in childhood (1927); by two brothers, Bertram (“Bert") in 1955 and Martin ("Red”) in 1978; his wife, Sheila in 1991; and by a brother-in-law, Charles Folino, in 1993.
He is survived by his daughter, Janet and her husband, Bill Plumridge, and grandson, Neil Plumridge; son, John; his daughter-in-law, Carol (nee Ronmark); sister, Doris Ferguson and Alex Kapac; brother, Ken and his wife, Dede (nee Armit), all of Fort Frances; sisters, Frances (“Pat”) and her husband, Ray Cottrell, and Jean Folino, of Thunder Bay, and Agnes and her husband, Lorne Swanson, of Pinawa, Man.; as well as numerous nieces and nephews.
There was visitation at Green Funeral Home from 7-8 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 30, 1997.
At Jack’s request, there was no funeral service. Family and friends were invited to visit at Bill and Janet’s, 839 4th St. E., on Friday, Oct. 31 from 2-4 p.m.
Interment was in Riverview Cemetery in Fort Frances.