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Arthur Frederick Broadbridge  ( 1915 - 2009 )

parents George & Charlotte WILLIAMS
born in Elham 1915
christened in
died in CANADA 2009
buried 29 March 2009
 1920 14th May: Sailed on the S/S Royal George (Helipolis) to Halifax, Nova Scotia from Southampton with wife Charlotte and children Cyril G (9) and Arthur F (5) Canadian Passenger Lists 1865-1935
 1941 Enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force and was sent to Vancouver to study radar, wikipedia
 1973 High Commissioner to Zambia & Malawi wikipedia
 1975 Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Mozambique Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
 2009 Cobourg has lost a citizen who, as author of St. Peter's Church, made a significant contribution to the heritage of the community.

Arthur Frederick Broadbridge, one-time school teacher, officer in the Royal Canadian Air Force, diplomat, resident of Cobourg from 1977, died at the age of 94 on Mar. 29, 2009 after a brief illness.

No one arrives so cheerfully at the age of 94 without certain outstanding qualities of body and spirit. Certainly, Arthur had a strong heart and body, shaped by a hard-working youth on a farm in Saskatchewan.

Arthur's family left southern England in 1920, heading for backwoods Canada. Arthur was just four.

"My parents emigrated," he often said, "and I decided to come with them."

Life on the farm was primitive, with no electricity or running water and lots of hard work. Imagine Arthur as a little boy after feeding the chickens, heading back to the house with an empty pot stuck on his head.

"My father looked at me and said, 'You don't know how to be silly enough.'"

Think of him also, a little older, sitting with book in hand on a butter churn (the latest word in technology and somewhat like a bicycle), peddling like mad until the thick cream turned into yellow butter. Think of him with his older brother Cyril, trudging, day after day, four miles to a one-room school in the village.

Arthur learned to love society on that lonely farm, where the isolation was broken only periodically by country fairs or dances. Sometimes, Arthur said, he would almost have preferred to stay home. In 1930, his mother firmly dispatched her shy, 15-year-old son to a masquerade. She had dressed him as a beer stein overflowing with froth. It wasn't an easy costume to dance in, Arthur commented wryly, and it was only his family's urging, "not to let the side down", that finally persuaded him to go.

Arthur always did his duty. That was a characteristic that served him well in 1932 when he left the farm. When Arthur failed the subject of agriculture in high school, he said, his family "saw the writing on the wall."

Despite shortages of cash in Depression-era Saskatchewan, the Broadbridges scraped together the money to buy Arthur a year of teachers' training.

As a teacher in the remote backwoods, Arthur nervously faced a class of some 30 children, many of whom could not even speak English. He did his best, he said. At night, he retired to a nearby frame cottage where, on winter mornings, he had to break the frost on his blankets to get up. His salary, a few hundred dollars annually, was usually paid in kind by poor farmers.

"But I was luckier than most," he said with characteristic grit. "I had work."

Arthur thrived as a teacher, eventually migrating to the relative sophistication of a two-room school in the prairie community of Rosetown. There, he made friends of his own age with whom he picnicked, played baseball, danced and went to movies. He also studied. In the summer, he headed for Saskatoon to add one or two courses a year to his steady accumulation of credits toward a degree.

Arthur, in his mid-20s, began to court Mavis Davies, a fellow teacher. That was when the Second World War broke out.

"I was a most reluctant warrior," he later confided. "But I thought it was my duty to join up."

In 1941, Arthur enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force. He was sent to Vancouver to study a new, top secret technology called "radar."

It was as a radar officer, therefore, that Arthur shipped out for England in 1942, en route to Africa, Sicily and the Italian campaign. As part of a multinational tactical support unit, he followed the retreating battle line northward through Italy during the last two years of the war. During the winter of 1944, he had an office in the Bourbon palace overlooking Naples. He saw the famous Vesuvius erupt. He led a donkey train up to a mountaintop in Corsica to set up radar installations looking out toward France. He entered Rome days after it fell to the Allies. He spent the last days of the war in glorious Florence.

He celebrated VE Day in 1945 in Venice, where drunken servicemen slid, whooping, down the sloping sides of military tents.

"It was heady stuff," he admitted, "for a farmboy from Saskatchewan."

The war changed Arthur's life. He returned to Canada as a veteran at age 30, married Mavis Davies and, with government support, attended the University of Saskatchewan full-time. He graduated with an MA in history and found employment as assistant archivist at the Saskatchewan Archives. Another bend appeared in the road. He wrote a federal civil service examination and, in 1949, was drafted into the Foreign Service.

Arthur, Mavis and their small daughter, Susan, packed up and headed for Ottawa, en route to postings that over the next 28 years took them to Chicago, Washington DC, Cairo, Berlin and Zambia. In the 1950s, another two daughters -- Wendy and Jennifer -- were born to the couple.

Arthur loved his life as a diplomat. After serving as High Commissioner in Zambia, however, from 1973 to 1977, he retired in order to bring his ailing wife home to Canada. The Broadbridges bought a house in Cobourg to be close to two of their daughters in Toronto.

Mavis Broadbridge died soon after and Arthur found himself alone in Cobourg. That is when, at the urging of the late Rev. Terence Tarleton of St. Peter's, he returned to history and undertook to write the story of the old church. He made friends at St. Peter's and even took on the role of assistant beekeeper to one of them, Harry Hoseason.

The loneliness eased even more dramatically in 1979, when Arthur travelled to Ottawa to visit an old friend -- the recently widowed Ada Uren. They were married on Halloween, Oct. 31, 1981.

Arthur always said, "I got the treat, and Ada got the trick." Ada died in 2004.

The fact that Arthur was able to keep going so strongly in the past few years was due in large part to his indomitable will. He was also supported, however, by two great-hearted women -- Edith Robillard and Jean Doyle -- who came to him through the Red Cross and went on to become close friends. He also deeply appreciated the presence of friends such as Ron Woods, Jack and Joan Read, Leo Molenaar and Jim Ingamells.

Arthur Broadbridge carried on to the age of 94. He answered the door to a steady stream of visitors. He did his daily crossword. He dined out weekly, drove into the countryside, kept up with current events and read constantly.

He was hospitable, courteous and generous. In his last days at home, though in great pain, he entertain his guests with good humour and laughter, living life on his own terms to the last possible moment. Northumberland today