Monday, January 09, 2006

Elgin NB-Boyhood Friends United

Two little boys lay side by side hashing over all the fun they had had since the time they became friends. Little Delbert Bannister and George Taylor, lived on Gowland Mountain near the community of Elgin, New Brunswick, Canada. They didn't have much time left, for the Taylor family were leaving to go back home to Scotland.

Charlie and Mary Taylor of Scotland, always wanted a farm, a farm in Canada. The beginning of their dream began coming true in 1928 when they boarded a ship for the long voyage to Canada.

A short time after landing on Canadian shores and searching for a farm, they found one in Elgin, N.B. To add to their great Canadian experience, Mary soon gave birth to a son. They named him George James Hay Taylor.

On Gowland Mountain, Harold and Olive Bannister also lived. They had a son named Delbert, who was near the same age as George, and they became best of friends. Many a carefree day was spent as they played and sought out adventures together. But their friendship came to an end far too soon. In 1936, just ten years after arriving in Elgin, Charlie fell very ill and died. He was only 38 years old.

Mary's family encouraged her to return to her homeland, Scotland, and to her family. When the morning arrived Mary gathered her two sons, George who was now 10 and his younger brother Lewis, who was 3, for their long trip back home to Scotland. George peered out through the back window of their car and sadly waved good bye to Delbert as they drove away from Elgin.

When back home, Mary settled in the town of Elgin, Scotland. Here her sons grew and began lives of their own. When George was 14 he went to work for his uncle driving a log truck. When WWII broke out George enlisted as a sailor and served on the Seafort Highlander.

Canada must have had a lasting effect on George, for in 1951 he moved back and settled on the West Coast. There he married, raised a family, and retired in 1986 after 35 years as a papermaker at the Powell River Paper Mill.

Here on the East Coast, Delbert too grew, married Alice Teakle from Portage Vale. They settled there and raised their family. Still living in Portage Vale, Delbert has since retired and enjoys life to the fullest. But often times throughout the years Delbert has wondered whatever became of his boyhood friend, George.

In 2003 Delbert happened one day to meet Jean (Taylor) Yeomans in Moncton. Knowing that Jean was a cousin to George, he inquired about him. From that chance meeting, Delbert obtained George's mailing address and wrote him a letter. From that first letter they have corresponded ever since, thus beginning a reacquainting. From two little boys playing in the hills of Gowland Mountain, to two old friends living on opposite sides of this great country. Not only have they shared old stories, but have filling in the gaps of over 67 years of not knowing what had happened to each other.

George, in one of his letters, told Delbert of a trip he made across Canada and how he had visited his boyhood home in Elgin, N.B. in 1979. George drove his car up Gowland Mountain toward his homestead, there he met two people on the side of the road picking raspberries. He stopped and talked to Laura Smith and her husband for a long while before continuing on his way. He stopped his car in the yard of his homestead. The people who now lived there, Mr. & Mrs. John Ayre, seen George, went out and invited him in for supper.

George had a wonderful time sharing with the Ayres some of his experiences. One such story George shared was about one sever winter in Elgin. He told how, by times, horses could walk atop the snow because the crust had frozen so hard. At other times the children, on their way to school, would break a path for the horses so they could be on their way.

After his visit with the Ayres, George made his way down to the village and there he stopped at the Elgin General Store. He purchased a souvenir plate with Elgin written on it, then asked the owner if he had lived there long.

"All my life," was his reply. George then introduced himself and the storekeeper disappeared into a back room. When he returned he had paper clippings with all the names of the children who went to school at the same time that George had. George came across the names of the Stewart children, and said he remembered Doris Stewart. The storekeeper smiled and said that Doris was in the village today visiting with her mother. With directions on how to get there George was off for yet another visit. This visit lead him to yet another visit with his old school teacher, Marie Steeves. George surely enjoyed this trip down memory lane.

December of 2003 Delbert and Alice went west to visit with one of their daughters and family who lived in Half Moon Bay on the Sunshine Coast. They knew that George lived somewhere near, but had never obtained his phone number. They got the phone book out only to find 27 George Taylors. But, looking closer, Delbert seen George James Hay Taylor and knew it had to be the same George he knew.

The call was made and a meeting arranged in West Vancouver at a Starbucks. When George came through the door, Alice knew immediately it was him from photographs he had sent them. They then went to The Keg to share a wonderful supper and a time of reminiscing. George told them that after he retired in 1986 he moved to Surrey B.C. where he still resides. He said he enjoys a great game of lawn bowling and still plays the bagpipes in a pipe band.

George and Delbert have not since visited each other, but they still keep in touch via phone calls and letters.