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Carman Fullerton

Rhody Family Funeral Home

Carman was born at the family farm home on Concession 16, Greenock Township.  He was the youngest child of Robert E. and Viola Fullerton.  His oldest brother Glen was fourteen years older, followed by Reginald who was eleven, Aileen was eight and Shirley was seven years.  At age six, Carman started school at Bradley, walking the two miles each way with his neighbour friends, Glen Sawyer, and Allen and Lawrence Gregg.  For the next six years, he made the daily walk to and from school, occasionally in winter catching a ride partway with Horace Clark, who was feeding cattle at a farm on the route to school. There was a creek near the farmhouse that became the centre of Carman’s entertainment. In winter there was skating, and in the summer, they built a boat that floated on the water between the Gregg and Fullerton farms. Their farm was like many of the era, with cows to milk, steers and pigs to feed, and laying hens. Having electricity installed in 1948 was a welcomed improvement.

Bob Fullerton was a livestock drover and would weekly ship fat cattle to the Toronto Stockyards, first from the siding at Eden Grove, and later from the station in Paisley. The week would be spent arranging for the shipment, either buying from the farmer or managing and shipping client cattle for the Monday private treaty sale at Toronto. In the early days, the cattle were walked to the station. Later, a Dodge truck was used for the Saturday round of picking up cattle. With very few snow blowers or the modern fleet of municipal snow clearing equipment, the cattle would be coaxed or led out on a sleigh track to the road, loaded on a narrow chute and taken to Paisley. A farmer might only have one or two to ship so to get a load it meant dropping the stock chute often.

In 1953, Carman moved with his parents to Paisley where he then attended grades 7 and 8. Living in town meant he had no chores to do. Carman spent time at the arena and with Bob Stoddart, the undertaker and furniture store owner, who lived two doors north of the Fullerton residence. Bob had ponies and rabbits and Carman spent time in his barn driving the Stoddart pony named Dolly on a cutter during the winter. He also helped with uncrating furniture and caskets.

Graduating from elementary to high school meant Carman would ride a bus to Walkerton District. It is unsure how much school he participated in at Walkerton, but by age 15, he decided he was going to be a farmer. Bob started looking for a farm near Paisley and bought the Frank Pearce farm north of the village on the Elora Road. Here he fed cattle during the winter. It was close to Paisley and close enough that a 75-dollar horse named Tiny and an old buggy would become Carman’s mode of transportation for the next year. He would leave town in the morning and feed the cattle, clean the stable and be back in town by 12 noon for his dinner. Afternoons were spent down the street or watching CKNX television that just came on the air. In the summer there was hay to take off and cattle on grass to tend to.

When Carman turned 16, he got his beginners driver’s license in the morning and full license in the afternoon. He was then free to get to places further than old Tiny and the buggy could take him, such as Junior Farmer meetings, curling bonspiels and dances at Sauble Beach or Port Elgin. He had a host of friends that he travelled with and as one of his friends would say, “Many a merry mile in a 1956 Dodge Custom Royale with power glide transmission”. It was at one of these dances that he met Barbara Armstrong from Teeswater. They were married on August 8, 1964, and the Frank Pearce farm became their home for the next 55 years. This 90-acre property was a mile from town, so Bob would be out every day and he and Carman worked together, adding the Bruce Miller farm and the Ken McNeil properties close by. By then, loose housing for cattle was utilized and western calves were bought and fed, then grassed over the summer and sold to feed lots in southern Ontario. Hay was first baled in small round bales, then changed to small square bales and put into stooks, loaded, and stacked into the three barns. Bale throwers came next, and local young men from Paisley were hired to help in the hay mow. For most, it was their first paying job, and some did more than one summer. Carman enjoyed having the help. The boys probably remember the roast beef dinners, with potatoes and gravy, that Barbara would cook, sometimes twice a day if they started early.

Showing horses and the Paisley Fair were important parts of Carman’s activities.  He started helping with the fair while in Junior Farmers and started showing rabbits as his earliest entries. When he was fair president, he worked with members of the Rotary Club and Beef Fest to renovate the fair Palace to include a new kitchen, washrooms, and a concrete floor.  He began showing horses at Paisley in the early 1960s and continued for almost 50 years.  Showing Commercial horses, then moving into Clydesdales, it became a family hobby.  He showed as far south as Leamington and Simcoe, West to Brigden, east to Sutton and Aurora, and north to Barrie, Collingwood and Wiarton. He also judged horses in Nova Scotia, Quebec and most fairs in western Ontario. Showing led him into racing some standardbreds which he enjoyed and achieved some success in. Barbara became the groom and as she said, “I carried the pail”. He was a founding member and twice President of the Commercial Horse Association and Director of the Ontario Clydesdale Club. He was always involved with the horse show at the Paisley Fair.

In 1968 Carman ran for a council seat on the Elderslie Township council.  He was successful and remained there for 10 years. He was Elderslie’s representative with the local fire committee for Paisley when they upgraded the 1946 pumper for a 1973 model and built the new fire hall.  They later added a water tanker.

When his father died very suddenly in 1974, the farming operation was taking more of his time, and he took some time off from municipal politics. He was involved with the Grey Bruce Cooperative, Westminster Presbyterian Church, Masonic Lodge, Grey Bruce Mutual Insurance, Farm Debt Review Board, the Plowmans Association, and found time in the winter to curl.

As their children Robert, John, James and Dianne, grew up, they became the hay help, fixed fences, helped with the cattle, cleaned pig pens and showed horses. Robert drove the baler at ten years of age and would fill the wagon and wait for the next wagon. By the time he was old enough to be in the haymow, Barbara became the driver of the baler and Robert and John were stacking the hay. How they got 20,000 little square bales off and filled the barns, remains a mystery. Round bales became the answer.

In 1985 Carman returned to the Elderslie Council in the position of the Reeve.  He remained in this position until 1997.The following year would begin the amalgamation of 31 municipalities into 8.  He served on many of the county committees and was Warden of the county in 1993.  He attended conferences and conventions and joined with wardens from other counties and regions in southwestern Ontario for meetings. Bruce County hosted the 1993 International Plowing Match and Carman was chair of the county exhibits tents and displays.

During his years on County council, Carman and Barbara travelled to both coasts, occasionally spending a few weeks in Florida, as well as going to fairs and events related to the horses. In later years a trip to Scotland was enjoyed, seeing the landscape where many of their relatives left to settle in Ontario. Time was spent looking at the livestock at the Royal Highland Show.

Day trips were also popular. How he decided where these trips would be to would begin with “I had a notion”. Could have been to the Keady sale or visiting a horse breeder somewhere. Lunch packed for a trip to anywhere would be opened at about the Cargill corner. If you asked him if he was going somewhere or to do something, it would often be “We’ll see” meaning he really had not decided, but if he did decide to, you may be on the road in two minutes.

Over the past seven years, we watched Carman’s behaviours change. Faces were no longer recognized, and memories of recent events were replaced with things that had happened 60 years prior.  Home was always the sixteenth of Greenock, where his earliest memories were formed. He continued to share a smile with a visitor, thanking you for coming for a visit.  His time at Maple Court with Barbara was challenging but they were together. His move to Brucelea Haven was necessary for his and Barbara’s safety. He became a favourite of the Brucelea Haven staff, and unbeknown to his family, was able to manoeuvre and escape to most anywhere on the fourth floor in his wheelchair, all the while whistling a tune.  He would often say “Once a man, twice a child” in reference to someone who in their declining years, had required special care and attention. In his own mind he returned to an earlier time in his life, bookends to many volumes and chapters of a life well lived.

Carman passed away peacefully at Brucelea Haven, Walkerton, on Monday, May 6, 2024, in his 84th year.

Beloved husband of Barbara (Armstrong) of 59 years. Dear father of Robert (Gail), John, James (Lori), and Dianne (Scott) Dykstra. Missed by 6 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren. Carman was predeceased by his parents Robert E. and Viola Fullerton, his brothers Glen and Reginald, and his sisters Shirley Thede and Aileen Fullerton.

A celebration of Carman’s life will be held at the Riverside Palace, 293 James St, Paisley, on Sunday, May 12, 2024, from 1 – 4 p.m., with words of remembrance being shared at 2 p.m. Private family interment in Paisley Cemetery.

Memorial donations to the Paisley Agricultural Society or to the Westminster Presbyterian Church, Paisley would be appreciated as expressions of sympathy.

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