Dick Hunt's Blog

March 16, 2010

The Rev’d. Webster Henry Fanning Harris Rector of St.Georg’e’s Anglican Church, Stettler , Alberta.

Filed under: Current — Dick Hunt's Blog @ 8:15 am

The Rev’d. Webster Henry Fanning Harris Rector of St.Georg’e’s Anglican Church, Stettler , Alberta. with an update regarding a historical correction May 7/10 from Stephen Page

Reverend Harris officiated at my Parent’s marriage on February 3rd, 1913
by Dick Hunt. March 15th, 2o10
The above Parish came into being in 1907 so it was really new when my Parents, Harry Harold Hunt, age 29 and Florence Elizabeth Foreman age 17 were married there in 1913.  They started their life together on the cattle Ranch my Father and two of his brothers pioneered in 1904.  Their first home was a “Sod Shack”, made by ploughing up sods from virgin grassland, and stacking them to form walls, with spaces framed from rough sawn lumber to accomodate windows and a door. Poles, grass and more sods for the roof. They lived in that shack, right outside the fence where the cattle were kept, until 1914 when a frame house was built on top of the flat hill above the cattle pens.
My Mother learned to cook, bake, sew, garden, feed hungry men and make do in those primitive surroundings.  Her first batch of bread was so hard it was thrown out  on the hillside where it became footballs for the coyotes as it was too hard for them to eat. Soon after the frame house was built up the hill, my eldest  brother Harold Wilfred was born, May 1st, 1914.
So what  is the deal about the Rev’d.  W.H.F. Harris?   Two things.  He was fifty miles away from the Ranch –  his transportation was a horse.  And in 1917 he was on his way overseas on a troopship to serve with the Canadian armed forces as a Chaplain when his ship was torpedoed and all aboard were lost.  There is a bronze plaque in memory of him in the Church in Stettler.  And I became the Minister there in 1957.  It ties in together.  It was my first Parish as Minister in Charge and  Ruth and I and our children spent seven years there in a happy ministry, just an hours drive from where I was born and where three of our four children were born.

an update and corrected history from Stephen Page (May 7, 2010)

“Webster Henry Fanning Harris did not die at sea: Wesbter was wounded by shrapnel and paralyzed from the hips down on Sept 16 1916 while conducting a burial at the Somme front. He died from his wounds on May 4 1917.

Was the burial possibly for Bishop Pinkham’s son Ernest, who was killed on the Somme front Sept 15 1916?
Webster’s last name was Harris, not Fanning-Harris, Fanning is a family name.  I donated his watch to the Red Deer Museum a couple of years ago (It was given to him by the Red Deer St Luke’s Ladies’ Group), along with a post card book he possibly worked on while in hospital in England. The watch was quite damaged; suspect he may have been wearing it when the shell hit.”

But, back to Ranch where our first child, Joy  was born  in 1947 in Castor Alberta, six weeks early and spent her first weeks in an incubator. It was a Roman Catholic Hospital and the staff was wonderful.  Robert  was born in the same hospital in June , 1951.  Gail  was born there too, in May , 1953.  In the meantime we were happy  and very busy on the Ranch and in the community. We were  active in a Parish Church which came into being during the first World  War just twelve miles away in Byemoor Alberta, just twelve miles away.
I became a Lay Reader (Licensed to assist) while still on the Ranch and over time found myself teaching Sunday School, taking Sunday services, preaching and teaching over an expanding area.  Finally it was  leave Ranching as a way of life to answer my growing awareness of my call to train for Ordination.  We said a sad goodbye to the Ranch and our partnership with my eldest brother and his family and drove off to Saskatoon Saskatchewan for my time of  intensive studies. Our fourth child was born August  1956 in the University Hospital on the University Grounds.
The Maternity ward was then on the same corridor as the Cancer ward. The sixth day was when Ruth and our new son, to be named Harold Timothy were to go home to be with the other four of us.  A Cancer clinic Dr. however, found a suspicious lump on his right thigh so he was kept at the hospital while a biopsy  was  taken and examined. The result  was that he was found to have a rapidly growing cancer in his thigh, which necessitated the amputation of his right leg at the hip socket. In a  exhaustive search world wide, no other case came to light of a newborn with bone cancer.  His surgeon won a Scholarship to the Harvard School of Medicine for his work with Tim.  He had to be kept  in the hospital for 6 weeks as  he contracted Staph infection in his wound  spread through the air conditioning system in the hospital.  In the meantime Ruth went to the hospital night and day and nursed him in the ward under very sterile conditions all during his stay.  I drove her, having terminated my summer employment when Tim was born.  Our  neighbors baby sat the other children and our lovely Collie dog.  So we now had our family of four; a girl, a boy, a girl, a boy.
Tim was a independent spirit from the first and has never asked for special treatment or privileges.  He fought his own battles as a child but never sought a fight.  His Cancer has never returned and the Cancer Society followed him up for years to keep in touch. I am a Veteran and that has been a great blessing to us and to Tim.  The War  Amps Society of Canada has been of immense help to Tim and still help him the cost of his Prosthetics. And we support the War  Amps. Tim is a Cabinet Maker, an employee of the U.B.C. maintenance staff, an avid skier and Father of five. He lives next door to us with his wife Elaine.
In the  meantime, my continuing studies  led to Ordination on May 30th, 1957, in the Cathedral Church of the Redeemer in Calgary, by Bishop George Calvert.  We arrived in Calgary with just enough gasoline and food to get us there, and only $350.00 in debt. Still 40 miles out of Calgary the transfer case in our four wheel Drive Jeep Station Wagon started jumping all over the place. I pulled up to a garage close by and looked under the car.  There was a pool of oil two feet wide on the pavement by the time I looked.   I pulled carefully around into the Town of Irricana and went to a Massey Harris Dealer in the little town. He put the car up on his hoist,  took off the stone guard and found the problem. All of the lag bolts but one were missing around the transfer case and the oil had all leaked out. He found new bolts, set them up properly, replaced the oil, put the stone guard back on and only charged us $5.00.  Wow. That’s all the money  we had!
We continued on to my Mother’s home just south of Calgary  and visited a couple of days until the day of my ordination.  Two others of my fellow students were Ordained Deacon at the same service.  My Father had passed away just  seven weeks previous to my  Ordination. Then I was away to Stettler to begin our new life in Ministry.  In the meantime, Ruth and our family stayed with my Mother  for six weeks because the Parish house in Stettler was condemned as unsafe.  I batched there until a furnished house was rented and the family could join me in mid  July. Finally, the Parish bought a house which was suitable for our use just four blocks from the Church, in which we lived for the seven years of our work in that Parish.  I had responsibility for two other churches and a number of other districts in the area, so was fully occupied all the time we were in  Stettler.  I was also active in Diocesan Camp life, Boy Scouts, Diocesan administrative service and with a good deal of counseling for Marriage, Confirmation and youth work in the Diocese. We built a new Church two years into our time there and did a good deal of the construction ourselves. We were blessed to be able to take part in the 100th Anniversary of the founding of that Parish Church in July of 2007, which coincided exactly with the 50th Anniversary of my Ordination  as Deacon in Charge of the Parish. It  was marvelous to be able to visit with  the many friends who were there.

1 Comment

  1. Webster Henry Fanning Harris did not die at sea: Wesbter was wounded by shrapnel and paralyzed from the hips down on Sep 16 1916 while conducting a burial at the Somme front. He died from his wounds on May 4 1917.

    Was the burial possibly for Bishop Pinkham’s son Ernest, who was killed on the Somme front Sep 15 1916?

    Webster’s last name was Harris, not Fanning-Harris, Fanning is a family name. I donated his watch to the Red Deer Museum a couple of years ago (It was given to him by the Red Deer St Luke’s Ladies’ Group), along with a post card book he possibly worked on while in hospital in England.
    The watch was quite damaged & suspect he may have been wearing it when the shell hit.

    Comment by Stephen Page — May 7, 2010 @ 10:49 am


RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Dick Hunt's Blog

Dick Hunt's 92+ years of history

%d bloggers like this: