On October 3, 1948 in Calgary, Alberta, Walter Clark was welcomed into the world and was the eldest child of Walter “Clark” and Jessie “Irene” (Macdonald) Brown. In 1954, Clark, Irene, Walter, Dale and Cheryl left the oil fields and headed back to Chesley to start a family, and they lived on a beef and dairy farm on Bruce Road 10, better known as Scone Road.
This is when Walter’s passion for farm life and cattle started. While on the farm, Karen and Vaughan arrived…. (The family is still not complete.) In 1963, Clark sold the farm and moved the family to 22 Mill Street Chesley, and ‘Clark Brown and Sons Meat Market and Custom Killing’ was born, and so was Baby Jane around the same time.
Walter started school at the Scone School House and later transferred to Chesley Public School due to a medical issue before the family moved to town. Walter graduated from Chesley District High School, and Ryerson University, Toronto graduating with a diploma in Hotel and Restaurant Management
After college, Walter worked at many jobs, adding to his list of qualifications, and figuring out what he liked and didn’t like. His heart was always in Bruce County. He moved back home, working alongside the family business as well as his uncle Lloyd’s dairy farm.
In September of 1972, Walter and his brother Dale decided to take a European vacation. 9 weeks, 16 countries, and 2 Brown boys… what could go wrong?! Walter decided when the trip was done, he wasn’t, so he found a way to make money and travel to a few more countries. England was his last stop. With low funds and a good time, he thought it was time to head back to Ontario. Back to what he loved, farm life and in the butcher shop. Oh, and let’s not forget, your local waiter at the Chesley Hotel.
In February 1977, Walter befriended a man by the name of Victor Cain. Vic thought it would be a great idea to introduce Walter to his daughter Beth. He called Beth down to meet him for a beer because there was someone he’d like her to meet. Beth agreed. Walter didn’t have a date yet for Valentine’s Day. The two ran into Beth’s mother downtown and Walter asked for her phone number so that he could ask her permission, without hesitation she gave it to him. Walter invited Beth to the dance in Elmwood and as a true gentleman, he picked her up at the Owen Sound Hospital at 11:00 PM when her shift was over. They arrived in Elmwood, and Walter swept her off her feet, or she slipped on ice. Either way, the rest was history!
Walter and Beth were married March 10, 1979, in Beth’s hometown of Desboro at the St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Sullivan. On the day of the wedding, Walter was to keep the side door open for Beth to get herself into the church. Well, as we all know, Walter liked to keep people on their toes, and he locked the door on her!
In 1980, Walter and Beth purchased their first home on 5th Street in Chesley and welcomed Jesse on November 4, 1979. Also in 1980, Walter and Beth decided to purchase the business and building from his parents. They moved downtown and continued the legacy of the meat market after getting settled. They welcomed their daughter Jodi on August 21, 1982. Their $1 million family was complete, and his staff increased. Walter always recruited the kids to help on friends’ farms, the real estate office, feeder finance or any odd job he acquired… You could always find the kids in the store helping out as Browns do … However, this was not Beth’s idea of family time. If she wasn’t home, the kids were in the store learning life skills. Ask her about being paged to the Emerge Dept while working on the inpatient unit and the patient being Jesse… She loves that story!
In 1992 Walter made a tough decision to close the family business and pursue a new career in real estate. He thrived meeting people and showing off Chesley and Bruce County. There are many people in Chesley to this day that can say Walter Brown sold them their house. After that, he joined Bruce Feeder Finance as a supervisor. Another job that he enjoyed was meeting new people, building relationships and being back on the farms.
Walter was a hard worker, but he was always up for a few beers, chatting, meeting new people, good times, a joke, or a prank. Walter was one of a kind and a class act. Walter would acknowledge every person that crossed his path, making them feel seen, and worthy, bringing a smile to their face.
Speaking of meeting new people… Walter was the guy that could walk into a room, not knowing a soul, and leave knowing where they grew up, their family names, their birthdate, and next, their phone number… Why? Because he wanted to be the first person to call them and to guarantee that birthday and anniversary calling. This usually started about 5:30 – 6:00 a.m. Some greetings were more well-received than others. One thing about Walter is he had a good memory for everything. Facts, dates, phone numbers, and who is related to who. One thing I can tell you was that he knew about your birthday because he had an entire book, currently in the third edition. The pages were filled with family, friends, his kids’ friends, their kids, and starting onto his grandchildren’s friends.
The grandchildren, Rachel, and Wyatt were the apple of his eye. The threesome could be found travelling all over Bruce County, checking cattle, visiting friends, walking to the park in Chesley or just checking out the town. Poppa didn’t say “no” to those two very often. He made sure to give them all his attention and time. If more than a week had gone by and he didn’t see the kids, he would call Jodi to bring them down to Chesley. She could stay if she wanted to, but she didn’t have to.
Walter was very devoted to his family, work, and his community. He always wanted the best for everyone. If you needed a helping hand, Walter would be there in a heartbeat. He would offer the shirt off of his back to the person standing next to him. He didn’t judge and he wanted to know you for you, not someone else’s opinion of you.
His bicycle rides were one of his many happy places. He would bike 10k a day, catching up with friends and getting the latest on what was going on in Chesley. He would greet everyone with a smile and a ‘hello,’ ‘good morning,’ or leave a joke or something witty. It was always worth being late for work, I promise!
Once you met Walter, you never forgot him.
Walter Clark Brown of Chesley, passed away suddenly on Thursday, July 6, 2023, in his 75th year.
Beloved husband of Beth (Cain). Loving father of Jesse of Toronto and Jodi (Andy) Price of Tara. Cherished and proud Poppa of Rachel and Wyatt. Dear brother of Dale Brown of Mildmay, Cheryl Brown of Waterloo, and Jane (Rob) Brown-Copeland of Guelph, and brother-in-law of Donna (Wayne) Duquette, Frank Cain, Shirley (Rob) Braun, and Rob (Karen) Cain. Walter will be missed by many nieces and nephews, friends and the community.
Predeceased by his siblings Karen Brown and Vaughan Brown, sisters-in-law Kathy Brown and Sue Cain, his parents Clark and Irene (MacDonald) Brown, and Beth’s parents Victor and Marie (Leifso) Cain.
A celebration of Walter’s life will be held at the Chesley Community Centre on Saturday, July 15, 2023, from 2 – 5 p.m. with words of remembrance at 3 p.m. Private family inurnment will be held in the Chesley Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations to the Canadian Cancer Society or the Chesley Legion would be appreciated as expressions of sympathy.