Christopher “Chris” F. Allen
1978 – 2023
Chris was an amazing family man and friend. Chris enjoyed the simple things in life, but in particular, loved spending time with Lesley, Hannah and his extended family and friends; that was his happiness. Chris has left us all with many memories, and will live on in the hearts and minds of all those who love him.
Christopher Frederick was born on Wednesday, January 18, 1978, in Owen Sound, Ontario, to proud parents Fred (George Frederick Ross) and Joan (Catharine née Hatten) Allen. He joined his sister Carolyn to make the family complete. At the time of Chris’s birth, the Allens called Chesley home. Accustomed to home renovations from the time he was a newborn, Chris lived in several houses including one built by Fred, the old Krug house, and then finally the house next to St John’s United church manse. Visits to Nana and Pa’s house in Tower Park and the park behind their home, as well as visits to Grandpa and Grandma Allen’s farm for extended family gatherings were important memories. Those who knew Chris in later years may be surprised that the confident and meticulous friend they know was painfully shy in larger gatherings when he was young and he did not like getting his hair cut. They would, however, recognize his strong preference for muted and conservative clothing in shades of blue, grey and occasionally brown which stayed consistent throughout his life.
The family moved to southern Ontario in the early 80’s, spending a year in St. Catharines before settling in Thorold in 1982. Here, Chris attended Richmond St. Public School until Grade 4 and tried a year of hockey, where it should be no surprise that Chris was honoured as most sportsmanlike. Fond memories of these years include games of “He-man” with friends on the street, watching G.I. Joe, Hercules and Brady Bunch after school or the Smurfs and Looney Tunes on Saturday mornings, playing in the pile of snow in the centre of the circle, watching Brock Badgers hockey games, block parties on the circle, fishing, and taking family visitors to see the tourist sites around the Niagara region. There were many dinners with Mr. & Mrs. White, Kristen and Jessica, where those at the kids’ table generally laughed so hard milk would spurt from noses. This would be followed by either a movie or by a game of mini-golf where Chris would delight in trading insults with Mr. White, who was always delighted to have a boy around to balance out the numbers.
The family relocated back to Grey-Bruce in 1988 and settled on a farm northeast of Durham on the second of Glenelg, next to where Fred had grown up, and near where Fred’s sister Jean and brother-in-law Ross Clark also farmed. Shortly after, the family adopted a collie, Lassie, who became an integral part of farm life and enjoyed many games of hide and seek, fetch or accompanying the family on walks or cross-country skiing to “the back.” Chris took to farm chores much more readily than Carolyn and soon began driving the tractor to help out. He was also called upon whenever there was a snake baled up on the load of hay being unloaded and came down out of the loft with a grin to rescue Carolyn whenever she started shrieking.
Many gatherings of family and friends were hosted on the farm, always with delicious meals prepared by his mother, Joan, and frequently followed by one of her famous pies. (Her apple pies baked with apples from the old orchard were one of a kind.) Chris’s school friends also frequently hung out in the basement with the Nintendo, sometimes staying for days at a time before their parents would drag them home. Although Chris maintained a quiet public image, he loved the quirks of the friends he collected and loved to share stories of their antics. Summers frequently meant camp fires in the orchard, particularly during August meteor showers. The kitchen table saw many competitive games of crokinole, cribbage, trivia, and euchre. Nana (Mary Hatten), would frequently accuse Chris of cheating – although, always with a laugh because Chris could do no wrong in her eyes. Chris bought an Eagle Talon and then a run-down Jeep that he worked to fix up. In 1996, Carolyn’s future husband Mike started to visit the farm and instantly became close friends with Chris. In addition to becoming golfing partners, they would team up on board games and then stay up late watching Simpsons, SNL, Family Guy and South Park. Opposing them in any game was always frustrating to the competitors because of the “mind connection” they shared, giving them an unfair advantage, particularly in pictionary, where they would guess one another’s drawings accurately based on a mere squiggle on the page.
Chris’s summer job in high school was to help his dad on construction projects and he learned many practical skills, and to insist upon excellence in his projects. He assisted with building the addition to the farm house as well as some other projects that Fred was working on. Like Fred, Chris learned to swing a hammer with either hand. Fred and Chris used the four wheeler to haul cedar from the swamp to use for the floor boards of the deck and gazebo they added to the house. For all projects, final decor decisions as well as painting, staining and wallpapering were left in Joan’s competent hands. During these farm years, Chris completed his elementary school at Durham District Community School before graduating from Grey Highlands Secondary School in 1997.
He pursued post-secondary education at the University of Waterloo. Here, Chris majored in math and minored in computer science, obtaining his degree in 2002 while continuing to enjoy camaraderie with a close group of friends. During one of his co-op placements, he was hired by Chris Lowes, who was to become a close friend and alter the direction Chris’s life took. He also did a placement at Bruce Power during which he lived with his Aunt Marion and Doug Kelly in Inverhuron.
After graduation, Chris Lowes was able to provide Chris a reference which led him west to Calgary to a position with Epcor, working with Sherry MacDonald. It was during this period, on a Wednesday wing night on April 20, 2005 that Chris met Lesley Gallant. Over the next few years, their friendship flourished. In early 2007, they began dating, and Chris immediately became a doting father figure to Lesley’s daughter, Hannah. Chris also quickly grew close to Lesley’s parents, Helen and Abe, enjoying the many meals prepared by Helen who also shares his love of board games, and always finding enjoyment in Abe’s animated conversation. Chris was also fast to bond with Lesley’s sister Amy, who he teased affectionately but mercilessly, and her husband Stephen. By this time Chris was working for Nexen, and he remained with the company until its sale. Following this period, Chris took some time off, as he and Lesley had moved in together as of April of 2008, and he spent the time completing extensive home renovations and spending valuable time with Hannah. Chris and Lesley married in 2013 in a small ceremony in Calgary, followed by a “blessed by the sea” ceremony in Jamaica. Close friends and family gathered and danced on the beach to celebrate their marriage.
Chris returned to the workforce with Madstone, blessed to again be working with Sherry and her husband Gary, who had become close friends. In his role as Practice Lead, Risk Advisory and Systems implementation, he consulted for many energy companies including Cenovus, Tidal, and Superior. Although, first and foremost Chris was a family man, he was also well-loved and respected by his colleagues in the business world. He was core to the Madstone Consulting Group for his immeasurable contributions on a professional and personal level. Those who had the pleasure of working with Chris remember his friendly support and his competence. Chris’s unique gifts in logic, programming, systems, strategy, and solutioning are already missed by the Madstone Group.
In recent years, Chris continued to love playing board and video games, sharing these interests with his nieces Katelyn and Ariana, and nephew, Will who all loved spending time with “Apple Crisp” (Will’s variation on Uncle Chris that was adopted by all three of his nieces and nephews.) Chris spent much time doing home renovations and also found enjoyment in camping, travel, and gardening. All pastimes were shared with friends and family. His quick sense of humour was always at the ready, no matter the pursuit and so many memories are of laughter shared. He enjoyed cross-country skiing and going on regular, long walks with their dog Milo, often joined by friends. The family stayed connected through shared trips to California, Mexico, Florida and Dominican Republic, as well as visits back and forth to Ontario, Alberta and Newfoundland. Chris was able to visit all 10 provinces. Back at home, Chris enjoyed non-fiction books and often researched topics of interest – cars, politics, finance, nutrition and sleep were some of the topics which grabbed his attention. Any item he was considering for purchase was well vetted through consumer reports, and he provided advice to family for their purchases too, particularly for vehicles. When it came to entertainment, Alone, South Park, The Family Guy, Simpsons, and Jimmy Fallon were staples for Chris as was the music from his teenage years. He could often be found listening to the likes of Nirvana, Pearl Jam, or Metallica. Chris loved a good debate, or discussion, especially around politics or finances. Chris loved to do his research, and loved discussions on varied topics with neighbours, friends and family.
Chris was a loving, caring, dependable father, husband, brother, son, and friend who always put the needs of others first. His calm, witty demeanor will be missed by all those who knew him. He was intelligent and independent and always strived to make those around him more comfortable. He treasured time with all family and friends; however, his death will be hardest for his girls. Chris always put the well-being of Hannah and Lesley first. He taught Hannah every sport, taught her to drive, encouraged her in her horseback riding (even though he was allergic to horses), and helped her with her homework, especially in the subjects of physics, and math. He was her constant, often being there with her to begin her day as well as make sure all her needs were met after school. Lesley was his wife, companion, and best friend.
In July of 2022, Chris was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of terminal cancer. Throughout this past year, Chris never let his challenge change his optimism, sense of humour, and care for his friends, and family. His family and friends appreciated his strength, courage, and unwavering commitment to remaining his true self throughout his battle. They would like to acknowledge and say a special thank you to all the healthcare aides, nurses, social workers, recreational therapists, housekeeping staff, and doctors who supported Chris during his journey, especially the wonderful Foothills Unit 47 and Dulcina Hospice staff. Chris passed away on Monday, October 16, 2023, at the age of forty-five. The beloved father, husband, son, brother, and friend passed peacefully at Dulcina Hospice surrounded by family and bathed in the love and prayers of those who supported him through his journey.
Chris is mourned by his wife, Lesley; stepdaughter, Hannah; mother, Joan; sister, Carolyn (Mike); nieces, Katelyn and Ariana; mother-in-law, Helen; father-in-law, Abe; his sister-in-law, Amy (Stephen), and nephew, William. He is predeceased by his father, Fred.
A memorial service celebrating Chris’s life will be held at the Klages Mill, Chesley, on Sunday, November 5, 2023, at 1 p.m. Private inurnment in Durham Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations to the charity of your choice would be appreciated in honour of Chris. If you prefer to give the gift of service, the family would appreciate a simple act of goodness in honour of Chris.