This week our prompt for 52 ancestors in 52 weeks is “Oldest”. I’m going to tell you about Robert McCall, who I knew as Uncle Bobby. Uncle Bobby lived to the grand old age of 101 years old. I remember celebrating his 100th birthday at Rainycrest (what we called the old folks home) in Fort Frances, Ontario. My great-aunt Edna made him a strawberry shortcake because it was his favourite. Below is an article from the Fort Frances Times newspaper about his birthday. The article states he even received congratulations from the queen for reaching 100 years old. I have never been able to find a birth registration for him but the family celebrated his birthday on July 21 and said he was born in 1880. In the 1881 Census he is 1 year old.
Uncle Bobby is my dad’s grandmother’s (Margaret Miller nee McCall) brother so that makes him my great-great uncle. I remember visiting him at his home in LaVallee, Ontario when we were kids.
He was born in Huron, Bruce County, Ontario. Bobby had 4 siblings; Andrew, born about 1874, Elizabeth (Auntie Ganton), born about 1877, Billy born about 1881, and my great-grandmother, Maggie, born about 1882. The family moved to the Rainy River District about 1904.
While living in Eastern Ontario, he lost his left arm on a thrashing machine.The story goes he was engaged at the time but his fiancee wouldn’t marry him because she didn’t think he could support her. Bobby never did married.
The family stories tells us that he was very creative in managing with one arm. It’s written,
“It’s amazing what Bobby could do with only one arm. He was able to use a shovel and a ptichfork as well as someone with two arms. In order to use a scythe, he designed a harness which made it possible for him to cut hay and grain .In the winter he cut and sold firewood…Tamarack had to be cut…while green; otherwise, it became so hard that it dulled the saw blades. He mounted a stationary engine on a horse drawn wagon to run a circular saw. This system allowed Bobby to save labour and increase productivity.”
His resourcefulness made it possible for him to provide for himself.
Uncle Bobby died on April 26, 1981 in Fort Frances, Ontario and is buried in the Devlin/LaVallee Cemetery.
1881; Census Place: Huron, Bruce South, Ontario; Roll: C_13274; Page: 35; Family No: 154;
Ancestry.com and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1881 Census of Canada [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA; Citing
“Census of Canada, 1881.” Statistics Canada Fonds, Record Group 31-C-1. LAC microfilm C-13162 to C-13286. Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa.
Tara Shymanski Collection; undated clipping from the Fort Frances Times (probably July 1880.
Tara Shymanski Collection; “The Millers of LaVallee”; undated stories, unknown author.