Lost Friend Found

Imagine writing a post on your blog site, (see: Hamilton Township Vistas) and receiving a comment from Canmore Alberta, 3,500 kms away. The Ranger immediately recognized the name of the writer! Robert Lean, a best friend from Camborne, Ontario, we attended the one room school there from the early 1950’s to 1961 when Rob moved to Cobourg.  We both were brought up in historically significant homes in Camborne…our forefathers together once owned most the land of what is now the Village of Camborne.  We lost track of each other for over half a century! Rob, I have a question that I have yet to ask, how did you ever come upon the 2oldguyswalking site?

Rob Lean (now living in Canmore, Alberta) e/m’d this comment to the 2oldguyswalking site “Thanks for your views from the top of Albert’s Hill and Jus’s Hill. I still haven’t read all your blog but am working my way through it and enjoying every word. When I first read about sitting on the steps of Emond’s store and fearing Almeda Hamilton (See post: Camborne Characters) I knew that I was reading information written by people with whom I had grown up with in Camborne. The pictures of Sharon and Barbara confirm this although I’m still not sure which of the brothers you are. Would love to hear from you. I have lots of old photos of Camborne, some taken from atop Albert’s Hill.”

Ranger through the site replied: Rob, thanks for your great comments. My identity remains unknown, LOL! I will give you a hint, I am the youngest of my brothers. We were best friends some sixty years ago in Camborne. Always wondered about where you were. I would be happy to e/m you and catch up on what is happening in your Canmore life and yes, verify the Ranger’s real identity.

Ranger’s initial e/m to Rob went something like this: Greetings Rob, this is the Ranger. You might know me better as (real name here). I thank you so much for your reply to the 2oldguyswalking site.   The Ranger and Bushwhacker are whimsical names we chose when we started this site three years ago, we have made a lot of good friends through this site and have had many compliments on some of our 250 posts on it, your reply was one of the most surprising yet!   My family all remember you well. I am trying my hardest to remember when and where you moved when you left Camborne. I hung out with the MacFarlanes who moved into the historic Lean House after you moved from it and that was in the late sixties or early seventies. As I am pushing 70 years of age…that makes it a long time since I last saw you. I well remember many of your family.  I especially remember your mom, she was a great lady. Vivid memories of your brother Rick, sisters Gwen and Chum. Looking forward to more e/m’s to share with my family.

Reply from Rob: “Ranger, great to hear from you and to re-establish a connection. I often think of you and your siblings, wondering what became of all of you. When I discovered your blog a year or so ago, I knew it was being written by someone from my past, I assumed it was a member of your family but wasn’t sure if it would be you, Ron or Bill. The photos from atop of Albert’s and Jus’s Hill gave me the incentive to contact.” We left Camborne in 1961, moving to Cobourg. I was going into grade 8 at Central School. After graduating Cobourg Collegiate West in 1967, I went to Trent University and London Teachers College. I taught in the Hamilton-Niagara area from 1971 on, taking an early retirement in 2003 due to some health issues.  Rob survived 24 years of marriage and two children, the Ranger 30 years of marriage and two children and both took an early retirement after 30 years.

Following a move to Calgary In 2003, and to Canmore in 2008 Rob mentioned that since the last time he was in the Cobourg/Camborne area was in 2004 and that he does miss the old stomping grounds so is reliving them through our blog site. He misses the wildflowers and morels and “to eat a puffball again, it’s been 40-plus years since I had one of those.” Rob enjoyed hiking for many years as did the Ranger and he has taken up photography as a hobby and has been instrumental in organizing “Art in the Park” in Canmore.   He now sells his photos as greeting cards, matted and framed prints and canvases and says he may not get rich from it, but it is a great way to meet people from all over the world. In the early seventies the Ranger also became an amateur photographer of landscapes and snapped hundreds of pictures of old local abandoned railway lines. I was never without the old Yashica camera, lenses and filters. Oh yeah…won a prize once at the local fair!

Rob, I never realized that for five years, we were both at the Cobourg District Collegiate West at the same time and neither of us knew it!  I had only one friend all the years I was there, we would likely have been great friends had we known that. I explained that I was a bit of a ‘nerd’ there as I was painfully shy after eight years at a one room school. I actually hated high school and very few there would ever remember my name. I hated Industrial Arts, but mostly Phys Ed as I was ignorant of the rules for all the sports the other kids had played for years at town schools. In a following e/m Rob really surprised the Ranger “if you were a nerd in high school, I was a super-nerd. Phys Ed – I faked sickness to get out of it. I also hated Industrial Arts, I was spastic when it came to handling tools.”

I recently emailed Rob a picture of my ten siblings, most of which he would remember. His reply was “I’m speechless, seeing your family photo was wonderful. I’ve attached one of me, only because you and I could pass as brothers. I suspected you’d have a full head of hair, like Ron and Bill. I saw your name with the photo and thought, (forgive the language…”F word)…he and I have even more in common.” I can’t write anymore tonight, as I am still taking in rediscovering my best friend from ages 5 to 12.” Note: Yes, we could pass as brothers, we both have the same hair…or lack of it, grey beard and mustache. Unknown to me, seems Rob is related to almost everyone in Camborne and even to a lot of my relatives.   Is anyone else beginning to see a lot of similarities here between the Ranger and Rob?

Another interesting email from the feisty historian Rob, read in part “The Lean family arrived in Camborne about 1841. They were poor, so not many photos, definitely interested in sharing them with someone in the vicinity of Camborne. One thing that annoys me immensely. There used to be a sign at the junction of the road to my grandfather Lean’s property (through the ski hill property). The sign said “Lean Road”. The last time I was in Camborne, and on Google maps, that is now designated as Doyle Road. Why did they remove the name of one of the founding families of Camborne? I sent the township an email several years ago asking why, but they did not dignify me with a reply. The Leans were a presence there from 1841 to 2003.”   Rob, as a fellow historian, I agree with you, there should have been a “Mill St.” instead of Albert’s Alley, a more appropriate “Ford St.”, a “Hore St.”, “Cullis St.” or a “Lean St.” to honor the original founders of the village.

I am now looking forward to meeting Rob again, he is considering a trip east this spring to re-explore the Camborne area. He is looking forward to finding some morels and seems to remember exactly where to find them. He is also keen on once again seeing Mayflowers, the muti-colored hepatica, white and red trilliums, dog-tooth violets and other wildflowers which they don’t have in Alberta. He wishes that he had taken more photos while still in Ontario. Recently Rob has become a volunteer at the North West Mounted Police (NWMP) Barracks in Canmore to explain the history of the building to tourists, seems like a job the Ranger would enjoy!

Rob, thanks for the memories, the many old school-day photos and permission to use them in this post.

Regards, Ranger

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