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Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Eldon Gallant, Part 1

Born in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada in 1949, he had a heritage that extended back to Prince Edward Island. This man, Eldon Gallant, was the oldest child of Edmund and Rita Arsenault Gallant, both of the Wellington area of Prince Edward Island. Rita and Edmund married on PEI and moved to Ontario for work. Edmund had a job digging trenches and laying pipe. He and Rita had two boys and Rita was pregnant with their third child when Edmund was killed in an industrial accident. A trench collapsed on him, killing him. 

      Edmund, Rita Gallant
       with Eldon and Ron

Rita returned to PEI to bury Edmund and stayed home to be near family. She delivered a third son shortly afterwards. Rita lived in Summerside with her three boys, Eldon, Ron and Paul, supporting them by running a boarding house. 

       Eldon, Paul, Ron and Rita

She eventually met Alphonse Gallant, no relation to her first husband, and they married when Eldon was seven. Rita and Alphonse had eight children together.

Rita was a hard working woman, an excellent cook, who even cooked for the Queen and Prince Charles during their visits to the island. She had a green thumb and kept a lovely garden, could sew anything and did a great deal of volunteer work. Of course, Rita raised eleven children so she was busy enough as it was. 

Eldon became a truck driver, and went to work in Ontario where he met Eleanor Bursey who was from St. Augustine, on the Lower North Shore of Quebec. They married in 1970 and in 1974, moved to St Augustine to care for Jack Bursey, Eleanor's father, after her mother, Julie died.

There Eldon worked as a fisheries' officer for four years. Then he opened a garage where he sold and repaired Bombardier snowmobiles.

Life on the Lower North Shore was paradise for Eldon. He loved the outdoors and St. Augustine was a man's world to him. The cod jigging, trout and fly fishing, hunting, trapping, and snowmobiling were all ventures which Eldon enjoyed.

       Tent used for camping made by Montagnais 

In 1985, Eldon and Eleanor adopted their son, Peter. The boy was a joy to Eldon, who loved children.

            Eldon, Eleanor and Pete, four months old

He was eager to share his love of the outdoors with Pete, who was not as keen on the experiences as his father. Still, they shared many camping trips with one of Pete's cousins as company for his son.

       Eldon with the boys, Dustin and Pete, using 
        the galvanized stove made by Jack Bursey

Then the family moved to Prince Edward Island with Rita who needed some assistance in her home at this point in her life. Eldon died in 2009, Rita died this past year. Pete lives in PEI and has two children here. Eleanor is a family friend who shared her story a few weeks ago.

           Rita Gallant

Part 2 of Eldon's story will be his journal account of the return snowmobile trip he took with some companions from St. Augustine to Goose Bay, 1989.

Thank you to Eleanor Bursey Gallant for sharing Eldon's story.

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