Kenneth William Archer Currie was born at home in Elderslie Township at Dobbinton, on November 9th, 1934 to parents Mabel (Archer) and Archibald Currie. He was the oldest of three; Ken, Beth (1937) and Mary Ann (1940). The Currie family resided on the 12th of Elderslie and Ken was educated at S.S. #13. When it came to high school, apparently he walked in the front door and as he put it jokingly, walked right back out! It was just not meant to be.
At the age of sixteen, Ken went slightly west for work and began his career at the farm of Bruce Clements a few miles west of Dobbinton. Despite his small stature, Ken performed all sorts of heavy and laborous farm tasks and was mentored by other workers and mature men in the community where he learned a range of useful skills and trades, including a strong work ethic. Ken seemed to excel on Bruce’s farm and despite the high expectations, he enjoyed the added responsibility that came with the job, including the few occasions where he drove livestock to Toronto without a license. Ken put in long hours, earning $120 per month plus room and board with few days off until he set out to buy his own farm in 1957.
Ken's sister Beth was best friends with a young woman by the name of Eleanor Mary Slumskie. In time, Eleanor and Ken started dating and the two were wed on August 18, 1956 at Dobbinton United Church. The young couple soon took up residence on their own 100 acre farm, on the 10th of Elderslie where they began their life of farming together. They started with a small herd of 16 cows that they milked together and often brought in Western cattle to feed in the fall. Their farming was not limited to only cattle as there were farrowing sows and pigs going to Keady market over the years as well. While on the farm, Ken quickly adapted to repairing and mechanical skills - like his father. He also attended night school in Owen Sound and learned the art of welding. On the farm Ken and Eleanor made a great team, sharing seasonal labours, responsibilities and pooling resources. Their appreciation for each other was rarely spoken but they thrived on their common goals and loved what they were doing.
In 1958, Ken was recruited by the Legion and joined the militia. This often meant going to Petawawa and Meaford for training. When not farming Ken also enjoyed snowmobiling, curling and who could forget square dancing with Eleanor.
On March 15th, 1962, Eleanor and Ken welcomed their daughter Elizabeth Anne into the family. As a little girl Beth Anne worshipped her father and enjoyed helping him on the farm. The two did a variety of chores together and Beth Anne treasured that time spent with her dad outside in the barn. He was also close by during her lengthy childhood illness. In fact, Ken was often the one driving his VW Beetle to her Doctor’s appointments in London and she fondly recalls their long drives and their pact that before Ken left for home, he would wind down the car window and produce a mighty "wave" up to Beth Anne who was sadly left behind – peering out a window at the Sick Kid’s Hospital. As with most fathers, he was over protective of Beth Anne, but also generous and helped her financially through school and bought her first car so she could get home for visits from University.
As you probably know, Ken was a quiet man. Beth Anne recalls that her Dad found it challenging to ask her personal questions about how she was doing in life or at school. Instead, he could more easily check in with her about her car. He surmised that if you were taking good care of your car you were probably taking good care of yourself! Before heading off to university Ken told her, "Never put your ass in anyone else's car but your own! No one can drive a car as well as you because I taught you how and you got plenty of practice on all my farm machinery!"
As you could probably tell, Ken had a passion for cars. His first car was a 1937 Chevy. He later upgraded to a 1947 that he bought in 1954 for $900. If that sounds cheap, remember that gas prices were around $0.25 a gallon back then. In later years Ken helped out his dad, Archie, by purchasing a used car for him when his failed to run. This generosity was not limited to family as Ken was a strong supporter of the Dobbinton United Church, Canada Foodgrains Bank, the Chesley Hospital Foundation, the Legion and many other charities abroad.
On the farm, combining was Ken's favourite seasonal activity. He derived much satisfaction from having a full granary at the end of harvest season. Ken's goal was to own and operate his own machinery as he was fiercely independent and self-reliant. At least that is how the two women closest to him describe his passion. His favourite tractors and equipment were Massey Ferguson and when asked about his most expensive machinery purchase, he replied that he spent $18,000.00 on a 120 hp tractor back in the 1970's. Funny enough, Ken never got to drive a four wheel drive tractor in his farming days. Over the years their farms expanded to include the 200 acre Hall farm next door, 50 acres across the road and 110 acres of grassland near Paisley. Although a successful farmer, Ken had his fair share of personal setbacks. In the summer of 1975, he was badly injured in a combine explosion where 40% of his body was burned. He spent the next few months in hospital in London recovering from the injuries and worrying about how everyone was doing back home on the farm. As if that wasn't enough, Ken suffered a debilitating stroke in 1993, at the young age of 58. This event forced Ken to make tremendous adjustments to his life both physically and mentally. Eventually, using his lifetime of inner determination and perseverance, he re-learned how to walk and adapted his life experience around a new reality. He eventually reduced his farming portfolio, rented his farms, and barns and continued to enjoy a connection to the land for another 18 years.
In 2011, Ken and Eleanor retired from the farm and moved to a lovely home in Chesley. Giving up the farm was a huge loss for Ken and soon after, his strength and mobility diminished more quickly. Although a shy person and a man of few words, it was during this time that he expressed these words to his beloved wife of nearly 60 years: "I never could have survived all these years of shit, if it hadn't been for you!" In April of 2015, provisions were made for Ken to move into long term care at Elgin Abbey. It was here that he regained his sense of humour, often teasing the staff and surprising them with his witty comments. Ken lived out his remaining days in the care home until his death on Thursday, May 24, 2018, in his 84th year.
Beloved husband of Eleanor (Slumskie). Cherished father of Beth Anne Currie and her partner Kathy Underwood of R.R. #2 Kemble and grandfather for Andrea Jessie “AJ” Adams (Sam Stewart) and Victoria “Tori” Leigh Adams (Dylan Donnelly). Ken will be sadly missed by his sisters Beth (Don) Slumskie of R.R. #2 Dobbinton, Mary Ann McGhie (Rod McDougall) of London and their families. He was predeceased by his parents Archibald and Mabel (Archer) Currie.
Visitation will be held at Rhody Family Funeral Home, Chesley on Saturday, June 2, 2018 from 1 p.m. until 2:45 p.m., with a Celebration of Ken’s Life to follow at 3 p.m.
Memorial donations to the Chesley Hospital Foundation, Dobbinton United Church, Canadian Foodgrains Bank or Heart & Stroke Foundation would be appreciated as expressions of sympathy.Send to friend