Colford, Jack

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                                      PEOPLE OF THE PAST
                                        Jack Colford

A Blackville resident celebrated his 100th birthday Saturday. Jack Colford was born on June 3, 1878 in Shinnickburn on the Cains River. He grew up in the area, and at the age of eighteen, he apprenticed as a blacksmith with Thomas Jardine of Renous. He then moved to Houlton, Maine where he worked with several blacksmiths who specialized in different kinds of work such as horse-shoeing, sled-making and wagon-making.

In Houlton he met and married Elizabeth Kervin, a Shinnickburn native who had moved to the U. S. when she was a child. In 1904, the couple returned to Blackville to look after Mr. Colford’s aged parents. He took a position with William Sinclair in Newcastle, and two years later established his own blacksmith business in Blackville.

Mr. Colford attributes his long life and good health to hard work. His motto has always been “hard work never hurt anybody.” His neighbours used to say that the first sound in the morning and the last at night, in the village, was the ringing of his anvil.

ENJOYED STEAM DRIVING

As a young man, Mr. Colford enjoyed steam driving. Each spring, he would take a vacation; to work on the Penobscot River and other rivers in the province as a steam driver.

In addition to hard work, Mr. Colford feels that the key to his longevity is that he had never worried about anything. “In times of trouble, and there were many, he would always say, “I’ll do the best I can and leave the rest to God,” says his daughter, Avilla. She adds that her father’s life has been touched by several tragedies. His father died of cancer, two daughters and a son died at an early age and his wife died over 30 years ago. “My sister, Eva died of diphtheria when she was seven years old. At that time, no one would go near anyone who died of such diseases, and my father had to bury her body himself. He loved his family dearly, such an action must have been terribly painful,” said Avilla.

The Miramichi centenarian is the grandfather of 16 children, 21 great-grandchildren, and four great-great-grandchildren. He and Mrs. Colford had ten children of their own, six of whom are living. Lela lives in Toronto, Frances Provencal and Edith Mandryk live in Rhode Island, Flora LeBlanc lives in new Richmond, Quebec. The other two daughters, Marguerite Kehoe and Avilla live in Blackville. Avilla lives with her father.

Three other children, Eva, Phyllis and Theodore died while they were young, Phyllis at the age of 17, and Theodore when he was 21. Eva, as mentioned earlier, died at the age of 7.

STRONG AND GENTLE

Avilla notes that her father is a wonderful combination of strength and gentleness. “He managed to educate six girls by the sweat of his brow, and his philosophy was “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” We were never allowed to gossip in this house. He always told us, “if you can’t say anything good about a person, don’t say anything.” He loved people and he never held a grudge or made an enemy,” says his daughter.

Recently a grade twelve student from Doaktown was researching the history of the Miramichi. She approached Mr. Colford for some information. He delighted in telling her logging stories and sang several folk songs without forgetting a word. He used to entertain local people at dances by playing th violin and singing the “come ye alls,” as the folk songs are called.

STILL ACTIVE

Mr. Colford is still very active in his garden. He reads a great deal, and is in excellent health, though he is a little hard of hearing and his sight has slightly deteriorated.

The family celebrated Mr. Colford’s birthday with a mass said by Father King of St. Raphael’s Church, followed by a party. All of his daughters attended and several grandchildren, and their families. He received congratulatory telegrams from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, Premier Richard Hatfield, Maurice Dionne, M. P., Sterling Hambrook, M. L. A., and Sen. Al Graham, secretary of the Liberal Association of Canada. Members of the Blackville Village Council and Police also dropped by to congratulate him. The Senior Citizens of Blackville and many friends extended their best wishes on his 100th birthday.

Many people in the area speak fondly and with great respect of Mr. Colford. The Miramichi has good reason to be proud of our centenarian.

By Judy Cross

Source: North Shore Leader – June 7, 1978

This text is available for use under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. For more information, select the following link: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/

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