A Chance Meeting with Mr. Herbert (Bert) Topliffe
Written by Kerry Parker (8 February 2005)
At this same meeting I met a delightful gentleman who introduced himself as Bert Topliffe. I introduced myself and upon hearing my name asked if I was a relative of John William Parker. What a wonderful surprise when I told him I was John William Parker’s great granddaughter and discovered Bert knew a lot of the old history of the family. I gather Bert was born around 1915. His family was one of the Coombs Colonists, having one of the 20 acre parcels down the road from our family. Here is what he told me:
Bert said he knew John William Parker well, that he was an avid fly fisherman and hunter and that he raised pheasants on a huge estate back in England. He said he was a kind and hard working man. Bert worked with him on occasion in later years logging sometimes.
He remembers being at John’s house and seeing a gun hanging over the door. John told him the gun belonged to Will (Charles William Parker who had died in the war in 1916). John said he hung the gun over the door when Will died and it had stayed there ever since. He said he would not part with the gun but Bert could use it once in a while if he wanted. Bert borrowed the gun and thought he would clean it up as it was a mess. He said he could not get it clean and the inside of the barrel was a mess, it probably could never shoot anything but he appreciated that John would let him use it.
Bert told me that he remembers Grandad(Fred Parker, youngest son of John William Parker) losing his leg in a logging accident, but does not exactly remember how.
He also remembers the sad day that George Parker was injured and died. Bert said he was working for Jack Dougan and George Parker, logging, and there were some fires burning. The shift was over and Bert and the crew went home. Jack and George stayed because of the fires. Bert was told that later that night some burning logs rolled down on George, severely injuring and burning him and that he died later in hospital.
Bert was thrilled to meet me and I him. I think he is an amazing man with lots of stories to tell. He promised if I took him out for coffee he would tell me more. I will take him up on that offer. Signed Kerry Parker