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"HAB" 2003 Obituary


HABERGER o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2003-11-03 published
Archibald David CARLYLE
By Sue HABERGER, Monday, November 3, 2003 - Page A14
Farmer, father, mentor. Born September 1, 1912, in Chesterville, Ontario Died June 30, in Blackfalds, Alberta., of a heart attack, aged 90.
Archie CARLYLE was an ordinary man with an extraordinary philosophy that reached far beyond the Blindman River Valley in central Alberta, where he and his wife, Sarah, raised four children and farmed for 66 years.
Archie never completed university but those who knew him would say there were few men smarter or wiser. Everyone who met Archie went forth into the world with greater humanity, curiosity, and enthusiasm as a result of the contact. Archie's philosophy of life sorted itself into three great lessons. Lesson One: People are wonderful. Archie was intensely interested in people and he saw only the good in them. Even as a kid, his nickname was "Biz" -- short for busybody -- because he would question everyone he met for details of their lives. Archie understood that what people really want to talk about is themselves. Through his astute interrogations, he often discovered some way he could help people and this he would do without hesitation. We likely have no idea how many people Archie helped because he never tooted his own horn -- but when more than 350 people showed up at his 90th birthday party, it was obvious that Archie had touched a lot of people. And he was the only one at the party who knew everybody by name.
In the 1940's, each family in the Blindman Valley was actively involved in erecting poles and stringing wires in order to have telephone service -- a party line with as many as 25 other families. Archie used the party line to great advantage, "rubbering" in on other conversations so he always had a handle on what was going on in the valley and who might need help. It was not a love of gossip so much as an abiding interest in building community.
Lesson Two: The world is amazing. Archie possessed an intense curiosity about the world and he never stopped learning. He kept up on agricultural methods and experimented with cattle breeds and crops. In addition to welcoming the local Grade 4 class to his farm every year, he would organize visits for kids and seniors alike to local fairs, nature sanctuaries, and heritage sites. All of these outings served to inject others with Archie's sense of wonder about the world. He loved the ecology of his own land, even fencing off the corner of a pasture to prevent the cattle from destroying the lady's slipper orchids that grew there.
Archie was also fascinated by medicine. We will never know which of his many personal health experiments gave him 90 years. Was it porridge, alfalfa, gin and raisins, cider vinegar -- or simply his grand sense of humour?
Lesson Three: Work is fun. This is perhaps the greatest lesson of all. Archie loved what he did and he had an extraordinary ability to turn work into play and to make his helpers feel very important. Whenever things got a bit dull, some crisis would arise that needed immediate attention and at times he was even suspected of letting the cattle out just for the fun of rounding them up.
Archie worked with incredible strength and determination. He absolutely never gave up on a problem -- whether it was curing a sick calf or mending a leaky toilet. Although not a big man, he had super strength and could lift lumber, stretch wire, and loosen rusted joints with ease. He never seemed to mind personal discomfort or getting his hands dirty.
Archie's family, Friends and neighbours made it possible for him to stay on his farm. Archie helped build community and community helped sustain him.
Archie's death is a great loss, but he lived life right up to his graceful exit, which occurred, appropriately enough, while he was feeding his dog and cat. He's now gone but his lessons were well taught.
Sue HABERGER is a friend of Archie.

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