Eric James ALDERSON

Eric James Alderson

1921-2015

We are sad to report the recent and peaceful passing of our father in the capable and kind hands of the doctors and nurses of Lady Minto Hospital at Ganges on Salt Spring Island. Eric leaves behind daughter Lucy and son Tim in Canada as well as a the British branch overseas. For the past five years his every need was attended to by a wonderful crew of women who, as time went by, spent more and more time in his presence at his home. The captain of this team is a beautiful person and a retired RN on Salt Spring named Adele Storm. She saw to it that his world, albeit shrinking over time, was a happy place. The other wonders are Rita Alexandra, Kathy Geldart, Flo Schreiner and Alex Golder. Keeping a close eye on Eric and our mother Joy before her passing were their neighbours Wilf and Helga Hoffman. No two people could have been more kind helping out in every conceivable way. Whether it was a timely fixing of something broken, receiving his weekly meds shipment, paying attention to the property or their daily visits … these people were so thoughtful and an unimaginable help to us living far away.

Eric was born and raised with two brothers in Wimbledon, then a suburb of London. In his early teens he spent time on farms during summer school vacations. The hook of farm life and working with livestock it would turn out, was deep. In mid-teens while going to school, Eric joined a form of military cadets. With war in Europe becoming more and more likely, training accelerated year round and he eventually became part of the Home Guard. After one year at the London School of Economics, he was drafted into the regular British Army. First assigned to anti-aircraft guns, he and his team proved so successful they were sent to France with the invasion and trained for artillery. Obviously it was a long war. With many officers losing their lives and the amazing skills of his artillery battery, Eric received one battlefield promotion after another until this cadet became a Major.

With the ending of the war in Europe and the demobilization that followed, Eric found work as a buyer in the purchasing department of UniLever. At the time this company was one of the largest dry goods suppliers in the world. Working up the ladder, he became head buyer for what would be supplied to a chunk of Africa. The company wanted him to move to Africa but it was not what he wanted in his heart. He wanted farming. He answered an advertisement placed in an English farm magazine. He accepted the job working near Lindsay, ON.

The owner of the farm was a lawyer in Toronto. He had lost his wife due to illness and had a young daughter approaching her teens. He had hired a governess to raise her to be a proper young lady and teach her the English style of riding horses. Farm life started out a little rough under the eye of this ruthless autocrat. Whenever seasonal work was done and Eric had time on his hands, his boss would rent him out like a slave to neighbouring farmers to fence, pick rocks and drain swamps. The boss saw no need to share the proceeds as he was already paying Eric! Life did however improve when the governess showed up with the daughter. After a romantic courtship, that governess became Mrs. Joy Alderson.

Over time the intolerable lawyer was just too much and the governess had to spend lots of time in Toronto, far from the farm manager. This couple answered another ad and won a position to manage a farm near Aurora. The owners were Jim and Anne McLeod who would turn out to be saints, god parents and family to all of us. Their four daughters were about the same age as Lucy and Tim. With Eric convincing Jim and Anne, the livestock business grew and grew to a point where it was prudent to spin it off into a company they mutually owned with the Jones family and other close friends. Eric had an auspicious career in the swine industry, participating in or leading many boards and councils.

The bloodlines developed and crossbred from the herd produced legendary results.

Eric had two pursuits that gave him particular pleasure: playing rugby into his forties and following in the footsteps of the voyageurs. There were many a rugby party over the years with lots of fun people. In the late fall each year, we kids would be yanked out of school for two week canoe trips in remote locations. Often never seeing a soul for the entire voyage there would be beautiful lakes and endless portages to explore. We all learned how to canoe, kayak and make a campsite out of nothing. We had a lifetime of adventures.

A few years before retirement, Eric and Joy scouted out the west coast to find a milder climate and be closer to family. Upon retirement, Lucy and Joy found a house on Salt Spring that Eric participated in purchasing, sight unseen. That was 28 years ago. To say their retirement was enjoyed would be a vast understatement. They loved their life on the island. They made the right choice to be with the lovely people of Salt Spring, the weather, the growing season and the adventures they had! Eric asked for no ceremony and no marker. At a private moment, we spread his ashes over his and Joy’s favourite Salt Spring spot.

If you would like more details, you may contact Tim Alderson at 

tim@aldersonconsulting.ca or 780-232-9092.

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