My father’s birthday was on June 9th but he wasn’t alive to celebrate this year. Maybe he was able to connect to some of his old railroad cronies back in Ontario. I expect soul travel is much more convenient than the kind we do with our physical bodies.


Last year I paid Dad a surprise visit to Kelowna for his birthday. We had such a good time having lunch at the golf club where he used to golf regularly and the next day at a winery where we took a picnic lunch. I knew his health was failing but he hadn’t been diagnosed with cancer yet. I wanted to ask him lots of questions, realized I should do that before it was too late. Get him to tell stories as he used to. But it seemed more important to sit at the picnic table looking out at Lake Okanagan together.

I sent a piece to “Lives Lived” in the Globe & Mail about Dad and although they didn’t run it, as I have a blog I can run it myself!

Father’s Day is coming up so it seems a good time to write about Dad. So many other things are being honoured on June 21st as well: National Aboriginal Day and Summer Solstice, the longest day and shortest night of the year.








Lives Lived

Bob (Robert) L. Moore

Fisherman, hunter, woodworker, father, grandfather, great grandfather, railroad man. Born June 9, 1926, in Latchford, Ontario, died October 19, 2014 in Kelowna, British Columbia from mesothelioma, aged 88.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABob Moore was born Russell Lewis Moore. His siblings, of which there were twelve, called him Bubbie and “Bub” became “Bob” through the years. He later changed his name from Russell to Robert.

Before his retirement from the Ontario Northland Railway (ONR), Bob was interviewed by singer/songwriter Murray McLauchlan who, in 1984, released his song “Railroad Man.” About thirty years later, Bob recalled that the interview must have been in 1978 “when I was in my old office and prior to [becoming] Senior Director. In any event, it was a long time ago.”

In the interview, Bob said that the first job he had with the ONR was sanding the walks at the engine roundhouse in North Bay. Bob, who had a grade eight education, was asked by his prospective employer, Tom Reid, whether he could read and write English. Bob replied: “Yes, a bit.”

In 1943, Bob’s family moved to Moose River Crossing from McInnis. That same year he graduated as a Sgt Airgunner having trained at MacDonald Air Field in Alberta.

On leave in North Bay, he was asked to go on a blind date with Sgt Jim Fox and his girlfriend who had a friend called Wilhelmine Dobberman. His blind date became Bob’s wife in October 1944. Their daughter, Mary Ann, was born on July 3, 1947 in North Bay.

Bob became a fireman for the ONR and then an engineer. There were no roads in Moose River Crossing and he remembers his mother waving a tea towel as the train passed through twice a week. He’d blow the whistle from two miles back and “everyone knew that Bob Moore was coming into town.”

Bob and Wilhelmine (later called Billie) were divorced a couple of years later and Bob spent many years in Cochrane, still working for the ONR. He retired in 1980.

He and his second wife Audrey retired to Abbotsford, B.C. and spent winters in Palm Springs.

After Audrey died in 2000, Bob kept in touch with their mutual friend Jean. They married the next year and moved to Kelowna close enough to a golf course to ride their golf cart over for a round. He enjoyed picking cherries, eating fresh peaches, and visiting wineries in the Okanagan Valley.

After his daughter Mary Ann spent his 88th birthday with him in Kelowna he wrote in an email: “The 88 year old is pleased !!! It was a great birthday and only took me three days to get over.”

When he was diagnosed with mesothelioma, lung cancer related to on-the-job exposure to asbestos, he began to make plans for some of his belongings. His railroad watch for a nephew. His ring and an antique desk from Scotland for his daughter.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABob spent less than a week in Hospice House in Kelowna before he died. He apparently didn’t care about having a funeral. He said: “When I’m gone, I’m gone.”