Charles Mervin Thomson was born at Victoria Hospital, London, Ontario on March 11, 1930, the second son of Lillian and Charles Thomson. Charlie was a farmer, and the Thomsons were always moving, with their seven children born in six different places: Speyside, London, Earlton, Loretto, Caledon and Acton.
In school Merv was really good in math but a terrible speller – with Lill’s help at night and he’d spell them correctly, but next day he’d forgotten them. He always liked history and certainly knew his historical facts and dates.
Merv’s teacher for Grades 4, 5 and 6 was Miss Mary Smith. Whatever he, Roy and Doug were up to caused Miss Smith to send a message of sympathy to Mrs Lack, the teacher at their next school, that “those Thomson boys were coming!” Merv got along fine with Mrs Lack through Grades 7 and 8, so he was sure it was all Mary Smith’s fault.
In 1942, when Merv was 12, his Uncle Jim who farmed in Saskatchewan, died suddenly. Charlie went to help Aunt Esther with the harvest for two months. It fell to Lill and the three boys to do the chores before and after school. They were up before 5:30 am to do their chores and get to school before 9. With no electricity, they had to get the feed and straw down before it got dark at night, as it wasn’t safe to use lanterns upstairs in the barn. Barb (8) would look after baby Don and do the dishes. Everyone had their job.
Merv left school after grade 8, and his varied jobs from a young age proved to be the Continuing Education he needed to succeed. He began helping his Mom in the house and barn, advancing to picking mustard from the grain fields for neighbours at age 9 and 10. In Caledon, the older boys got a month off school each fall to pick potatoes.
It was popular for young men to go west on the “Harvest Excursion” in the 1940s. When Merv was 17, he, brother Roy, and other Nassagaweya friends went west by train. Going through northern Ontario they had seven whole cars to themselves. He went as far as LaCombe Alberta where he worked harvesting from late August until mid-November.
His other jobs included picking and drying tobacco, working at the Acton Tannery, processing at the cotton mill, clearing bush, building streets, delivering bread, snow plowing, delivering fuel and spreading gravel. In 1953, Merv began working for Nellis Construction. He started on an old drag scraper mounted on an army truck. Soon he learned to operate crawler loaders. Then their first bulldozer with cable controlled blade, mixing salt, calcium and sand, stockpiling it for winter months.
Merv figured his Continuing Education was complete at this point, so in 1955 he began his own business. Mervin Thomson Construction operated for 40 years. Countless farm ponds, foundations, race tracks, dams, roads and golf courses are an enduring testament to his work. He held a Hoisting Engineers Licence from 1966 to 2016.
In 1950, Merv took flying lessons on weekends, at Leven’s Brothers Flying Club on Dufferin St Toronto and got his pilot’s licence but never used it. Eleada said he thought he was flying when speeding down the highway.
Speaking of Eleada, they were married on July 4, 1953. It couldn’t have been love at first sight as they were not sure when or where they first met. But the partnership lasted a long time – over 58 years to be exact. They raised a family on the Nassagaweya Town Line – Tamra, Wayne and Kerri – and parented many foster children along the way.
Merv and Eleada attended Ebenezer United Church on Guelph Line. He served as Steward, Assistant Sunday School Superintendent and Elder over the years. He even dug the foundation for the addition to the church.
Merv enjoyed the company of friends, whether playing euchre, or acting as the blushing bride in mock weddings to celebrate their milestone anniversaries.
Merv was a founding player in the Nassagaweya Men’s Slo-Pitch League in 1983 and later the Masters Slo-Pitch League for men over 35, playing at Brookville ball diamond. Even though he was the oldest player he could outlast most of the younger ones, especially on extremely hot days. He was used to working in the heat and stayed away from the beer tent. His ball career ended when he and Eleada moved to Chesley in 1995.
Mervin was 65; the move was his retirement. He gave up the strenuous job of excavation for the easy job of cattle farming. Only in Merv’s mind could this constitute retirement! They settled into their new community, made new friends, and joined Tara (now Cornerstone) Presbyterian Church. They enjoyed time with grandsons Jesse and Sebastian. He gave up the cattle and switched to cash crops in his late 70s … and then acquired a dozen head of cattle when he was 86.
Merv always denied aging. He was 29. For 60 years. Sadly, Merv passed away at South Bruce Grey Health Centre, Walkerton, on Wednesday, June 26, 2019, in his 90th year.
Predeceased by Eleada (Britton), his dear wife of 58 years. Beloved father of Tamra (Linda L’Heureux) of Ottawa, Wayne (Michelle Culver) of Chesley, and Kerri (Eric McPherson) of Hamilton. Treasured grandfather of Jesse Thomson and Sebastian McPherson. Remembered fondly by siblings Donald Thomson, Joyce Diamond and Carol Graham, family members and his many friends in the Acton, Chesley and Tara areas. Predeceased by his parents Charles and Lillian (Merritt) Thomson and siblings Roy Thomson, Douglas Thomson and Barbara Wilson.
Visitation will be held at Rhody Family Funeral Home, Chesley on Monday from 7 – 9 p.m., then to MacKinnon Family Funeral Home, Acton for visitation on Tuesday from 7 – 9 p.m. A funeral service celebrating Mervin’s life will be held at Ebenezer United Church, 12274 Guelph Line, R.R. #1 Campbellville on Wednesday, July 3, 2019 at 1 p.m. Interment in Ebenezer Cemetery.
Those wishing to make a donation as an expression of sympathy may consider the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, Canadian Cancer Society, or Cornerstone Presbyterian Church, Tara.
Special thanks to the nursing staff at Chesley, Owen Sound, St Mary’s (Kitchener) and Walkerton hospitals for their kind care.Send to friend