Ireland traces grandfather’s history
Robert Ireland has collected a lot of information and photos about his grandfather, DeCourcy Cargill ‘Paddy’ Ireland.
South Peace News
For 10 years, Robert Ireland has made it his mission to research his grandfather, DeCourcy Cargill ‘Paddy’ Ireland, one of the founding families of High Prairie.
As 2008 is High Prairie’s centenary, he wants to share what information he has about his grandfather.
“He was such a smart old man,” says Ireland. “When I started finding out the education he hand and he gave it all away to live in the north, it just blew me away – to come and develop up in the middle of nowhere.”
His research included talking to family and friends of his grandfather’s. He also travelled to Armstrong and Vernon, B.C. to find archival records of him.
‘Paddy’ Ireland was born Oct. 12, 1877 in Dunedin, New Zealand. He and his family moved to Victoria, B.C. in 1890.
In 1895, he moved to Armstrong, B.C. and became a rancher. He came to High Prairie in 1908, picked out a quarter section of land and registered it with the land office in Grouard. Then he returned to Armstrong and packed up his family and they arrived in High Prairie in 1910.
One of the things Robert Ireland came across was an old diary his grandfather had from 1908. It details his journey from Kamloops to the Peace Country that spring and summer. He made his way by horse and raft and contended with bad weather and mosquitoes during the journey.
In 1916, ‘Paddy’ Ireland sold to the Fevangs what land he hadn’t subdivided and went to Europe to serve in the First World War. Upon returning in 1918, he homesteaded on a quarter section in what was called Little Smoky Settlement, 15 miles west of High Prairie.
‘Paddy’ Ireland was a poet and wrote the equivalent of a book. One poem is entitled ‘A Voice from the City’, which gives an indication of his desire to stay away from civilization:
Sing me a song of the waste-lands
And the life that I used to know
A song of the wild, free spaces
In the land where the hunters go.
I’m tired of the stifling city,
And the ceaseless cry of the street -
I long for the silent pine-lands
Where the sky and the mountains meet.
Sing me a song of the ranges,
And the days when I used to ride -
Of the endless trails I’ve followed,
And the prairies far and wide.
A song of the golden bunch-grass,
With the great, wide sky for a roof,
And the traffic’s roar forgotten
In the beat of the flying hoof.
Sing me a song of the free-life,
When a man is a man again -
When the joy of life calls madly
And the pain is a lesser pain;
Then the reek of town shall vanish,
Like a troubled dream of the night
That vexedour slumbers a season
And faded away in the light.
Looking at Robert Ireland’s other documents, it is clear his grandfather had a lasting influence on those who knew him. There is an old photo of him with his army buddies, a photo of him with relatives in his later years and there’s even a copy of an easement he granted for the British Columbia Railway through some of his land.
‘Paddy’ Ireland passed away in High Prairie May 1, 1954 at the age of 76.
Robert Ireland is pleased with the information he’s collected about his grandfather over the last 10 years and feels it’s time to end the research. However, he encourages everyone to learn from their elders so they don’t encounter voids in their heritage.
“If you’ve got elders that are still alive, get all the information you can from them. Once they’re gone, it creates a gap.”
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