Shawn L. Bird

Original poetry, commentary, and fiction. All copyrights reserved.

Obituary- Herbert Mosses Duguay July 25, 2015

Filed under: Commentary — Shawn L. Bird @ 5:40 pm
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Herb93bday (2)OBITUARY:


October 25, 1914 – July 25, 2015

Herb Duguay passed away peacefully Saturday, July 25, 2015 in his 101st year. Herb was a devoted father and husband.  He was the son of Charlotte Coombes Mosses Duguay and David Owen Mosses, but raised as the son of Joseph Georges Duguay in Montreal.  He was married to Alison MacMillan Duguay Baker for over twenty years.  He was married to his beloved Lalita Ortlieb Fuson Duguay for fifty-three years.  He had one daughter by birth, Shawn (John) Bird, and three children by the heart, Wayne Fuson, Stewart (Gail) Fuson, and Naomi Verbonac.  He had 8 grandchildren: Veronica, Shane, Lalita, Jolene, Trista, Charlotte, Nicholas, and Kyle.  He had 9 great-grandchildren.

Herb’s first memory was seeing the World War 1 soldiers coming home in 1919.  Around this time he was run over by a brand new Model T Ford. We are thankful for their high wheel clearance.

He was an avid Boy Scout and saw Lord and Lady Baden-Powell when they came to Canada in the 1920s.

In the 1930’s Herb worked in quality control at Burroughs Wellcome Pharmaceuticals. As a result, he was a lifetime believer in the power of Polysporin.

He built bombers at Fairchild Aircraft in Montreal during World War 2 because the army didn’t want him.  They said he had a bad heart.  They were wrong.  Herb was all heart.

He moved to Vancouver in the 1950s to start up Maco Industries with Reg Baker.  For the next thirty years he travelled through Western Canada selling their products to building supply stores.  He was proud of his ethics and the good relations that garnered him respect and openings everywhere, because he only sold products he believed in.  He was still selling in the care home, pitching his daughter Shawn’s books to staff and residents at every opportunity.

He was a travelling salesman who never missed a school performance or event of significance.

Herb never walked past a child’s lemonade stand without buying a glass and chatting.

He always had a good dog to keep him company.

He was an avid tennis and table-tennis player throughout his life.  Though blinded by macular-degeneration, he still played into his 80s with unerring accuracy.  In the last few years, he was the goalie for the award winning Bastion Care Home floor hockey team.  Until two weeks ago, he walked up 2 flights of stairs each day.

He was proud of the letter from the Queen for his 100th birthday.  He was prouder of the accomplishments of his children and grandchildren.

Herb was friendly, funny, honest, kind-hearted, and loyal.  The world is a less gentle place without him in it.  He was truly a “man of worth.”

Thanks to the Bastion Care Home staff.  You were his favourites.

Herb Duguay (age 85) and Teddy

Herb Duguay (age 85) and Teddy

Herb Duguay (age 70) and Shawn

Herb Duguay (age 70) and Shawn

( ^ In that picture he always reminds me of Maurice Chevalier.  Dad loved to sing Chevalier’s Thank Heaven for Little Girls to me when I was little).

Herb (age 40ish) behind Maco with Kinky the dachshund

Herb (age 40ish) behind Maco with Kinky the dachshund

Herb Duguay tennis champion

Herb Duguay tennis champion

He told me he’d won a big tournament in Montreal once.  I just received this photo which I had never seen.  I wish I could ask Dad about it!  No idea of year- somewhere between 1945-55 I’m guessing.  Let me know if this trophy looks familiar!

From the cast photo of A Nautical Knot performed Nov 30, Dec 1-2, 1939 by St Andrews Operatic Society Montreal

From the cast photo of A Nautical Knot performed Nov 30, Dec 1-2, 1939 by St Andrews Operatic Society Montreal

A Nautical Knot was a comic operetta by William Rhys-Herbert.  Dad could not sing a note, but he was filler on stage.  He used to laugh about it.  I believe it was put on by the St Andrews United Church in Lachine, which held its last service Dec 18, 2011.

Vincent Martin, Herb Duguay, Kenneth Dow Boy Scouts Montreal 1930ish

Vincent Martin, Herb Duguay, Kenneth Dow Boy Scouts Montreal 1930ish

Vincent Martin joined the Merchant Marine and was killed Sept 1941, age 26.


harp tune-Suo Gan June 24, 2014

Here is Suo Gân, a Welsh lullaby, arranged by me and dedicated to David Prosser of the Barsetshire Diaries.



My paternal great-grandmother was Margaret Owen, born in Holyhead, Wales. She was married to Thomas Mosses of London, England.  About the only time the two appear to have been together is on their marriage certificate.  According to many years of census data, Margaret was alone from the time of the marriage onward.  My grandfather was David Owen Mosses.  I wonder if single mother Margaret ever sang this lullaby to young David?


(And if you happen to be a Mosses from Liverpool or London, I’d love to hear from you).


genealogy: stories everywhere! October 16, 2011

I have been doing genealogy since my teens.  It has gotten much, much easier in recent days, as more and more records are scanned and available on line.  One upon a time you had to send to England for copies of hopeful extracts from parish records, now you can look at the records on your home computer and print them off immediately if they pertain to your ancestor.

You only get little peeks into the lives of your ancestors, but sometimes those peeks are fascinating.  For example, I think parts of the life of Thomas Mosses, my great, great, grand-father would make an interesting novel.

Thomas was born in 1799, and worked in London, England as a wood engraver.  Back then, wood engraving was the way to illustrate books, and there are still a lot of books in libraries (or for sale on google!) that he contributed to.  On some records, he’s listed as an artist, on others he’s listed as a wood engraver or just engraver.    He appears to have lived a rather ‘romantic’ life!

In 1820, when Thomas was 20 or so, he married Ann Walker, who was a couple years older than him, at the parish church in Islington.  The next place he shows up in on the bapismal record of a pair of boys in 1824: Thomas Alexander and William George.  They could have been twins, but more likely, Thomas just liked to get this task done efficiently.   The next baptism for Thomas and Ann was for Isabella in 1826.  Then things get interesting.

April 3, 1831 Ann is buried.  She is about 35 years old.

In 1835 , there are two baptisms where Thomas is the father.  George, son of Thomas and Ann, and Harriet son of Thomas and Elizabeth.    More searching revealed Thomas, widower, married Elizabeth Rogers January 1932 at St. Anne Limehouse.  It is not good for man to be alone, as the Good Book says.

It doesn’t look like he was alone much, though.  According to the records, on July 7, 1831 Thomas Alexander died, but on the same day daughter Ann was born.  On the baptismal certificate (June 1837, but her birthday is recorded) Ann was born to Thomas the engraver and Mary Mosses at a parish a little out of the way from where the normal family baptisms were done.  Mary?!  Still no sign of a marriage certificate for Thomas and Mary, but if baby Ann was born in July 1831, she was likely conceived in October 1830, and Ann the wife was still around.  A little cheeky to name the illegitimate child after the wife you were cheating on, isn’t it?

His wife Elizabeth died July 1836.  He married again, to Sarah, who was about 30.  Presumeably that was in 1837

Thomas Sr. was buried March 1844.  He was only 45 years old.  He left an interesting legacy in artistic expression, and baptismal records!

Almost a year after his death, in February 1845, Thomas Sr shows up in the church records again as another pair of his  kids are baptized.  Another son Thomas, who was born to Thomas and Elizabeth in April 1835, and Sarah Ann, born to Thomas and Sarah in 1838.

Sarah lived a rather long life, dying in 1867.  Elizabeth’s children had long lives, and son Thomas, who was my great-grandfather, offers many of his own mysteries.  Ann’s children fared the worst.  Isabella died in the workhouse at 24 years.  I’m not sure whether George or William George lived to adulthood.

Just these little snippets suggest a very interesting stories unfolding, don’t they?  A whole book could happen just in 1830-31.

In Diana Gabaldon’s Voyager, Claire remembers her love left in 18th century Scotland, and her return to his time:

He had been fixed in my memory for so long, glowing but static, like an insect frozen in amber.  And then had come Roger’s brief historical sightings, like peeks through a key hold; separate pictures like punctuations, alterations, adjustments of memory, each showing the dragonfly’s wings or lowered at a different angle, like the single frames of a motion picture.  Now time had begun to run again for us, and the dragonfly was in flight before me, flickering from place to place, so I saw little more yet than the glitter of its wings. (p. 338)

I am peeking through keyholes, but I would love to see these wings fly!


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