In sync with the sea­son

Fred Dixon is a recog­nis­able fig­ure around Gan­der wear­ing his cow­boy hat

The Beacon (Gander) - - Front page - BY CLARENCE NGOH THE BEA­CON

You can tell the sea­son we are in by look­ing at the colour Fred Dixon’s cow­boy hat. The ma­te­rial of each hat is suited for the dif­fer­ent sea­sons.

A light colour straw hat in sum­mer to pro­vide some shade and cool, a grey felt for the cooler tem­per­a­tures of spring and fall.

Win­ter will soon ar­rive, and Dixon will choose the black or choco­late brown to ac­com­mo­date the sea­son.

Dixon was born in the “hun­gry ‘30s” as he calls it, in Toronto, On­tario. He re­calls watch­ing the mo­tor­cade of the King and Queen of Eng­land in their Rolls Royce driv­ing past their house on El­iz­a­beth Street in 1937.

Dixon is 82-years old and re­tains his youth­ful ap­pear­ance.

“I feel good, and I still give blood ev­ery three months. I look at it as an oil change – it is good for the car,” as he points to his heart, and chuck­les.

Look­ing back

Dixon was raised in a fam­ily of girls, with three sis­ters. His youngest brother was born 11 years later after his father fin­ished his tour dur­ing the First World War from 1939-45.

He fol­lowed his father’s foot­steps, and de­cided to en­roll in the Navy when the Korean War broke out.

“It was on my mind at that time that I would take part and go over­seas,” he said.

“I never had any as­so­ci­a­tion with ships or any­thing at all. But I thought I joined the Navy and be­come a sta­tion­ary en­gi­neer and follow my Dad’s foot­steps.”

Due to a change in med­i­cal el­i­gi­bil­ity in the Navy, Dixon’s foot­steps to follow his dad al­tered. He was al­lo­cated to a po­si­tion in com­mu­ni­ca­tions.

“My trade was in com­mu­ni­ca­tions re­search. If I told you what I did, I would have to shoot you,” he joked. “We were mon­i­tor­ing – let’s put it that way.”

He was re­luc­tant at first to be in com­mu­ni­ca­tions as Fred had his mind still set on be­ing a sta­tion­ary en­gi­neer.

“Twenty-five years later, and I re­tired with a rank of war­rant of­fi­cer,” he chuck­led.

Dixon’s mar­riage broke up in 1971 after re­turn­ing from an as­sign­ment in the North­west Ter­ri­to­ries.

“She left and I be­came a sin­gle par­ent with five kids,” he said.

Two of their older chil­dren stayed in the north to work and got mar­ried, so Dixon took the three chil­dren aged eight, 10 and 13 to his next post­ing in Gan­der. It took 68 days to travel by car from Inu­vik in the North­west Ter­ri­to­ries.

“I bought a new car and trailer, and we took our time and trav­elled all over and through the States,” he re­called.

Due to the ex­ten­sive trav­el­ing that Dixon and his chil­dren trav­elled for his work, “they be­came good trav­ellers, and were more knowl­edge­able be­cause they trav­elled all over Canada.”


Dixon also has a pas­sion to men­tor young and dis­abled chil­dren.

“I don’t know why – maybe it’s in my blood,” as he de­scribes his in­volve­ment in the Lions Club and the Boys and Girls Club.

Dixon co-founded the Lion’s Max Simms Camp and also the Boys and Girls club in Gan­der. In ad­di­tion, he was ac­tive in help­ing chil­dren with de­vel­op­men­tal dis­abil­ity with his in­volve­ment in the Vera Per­lin So­ci­ety.

After 31 years of ser­vice in the Lions Club, he de­cided to step aside and make way for “some new blood to lead the team.”


Dixon’s cow­boy hats are a re­minder and a tribute to his time in Al­berta spend­ing time with his chil­dren.

His daugh­ter had a quar­ter block of land, and there Dixon de­vel­oped an in­ter­est, and later a pas­sion in rear­ing horses.

“I bought one horse at the auc­tion, then a sec­ond one, and a third, and ended up with seven of them,” he said.

He re­mem­bers his first horse, a “cross be­tween a Quar­ter and a Cly­des­dale. It was quite a large horse, about 16-and-ahalf hands high.”

Dixon didn’t have any names for his horses. They re­sponded to “C’mere girl. C’mere boy”, he laughed.

The cow­boy hat re­minds Dixon of the fond mem­o­ries made in Al­berta.

“It is me bringing Al­berta back home.”


Fred Dixon ex­plains the right way to store your hat. It may look up­side-down, but stor­ing this way keeps the shape, es­pe­cially when hu­mid­ity set­tles on the cor­ners of the hat.


Fred Dixon, with his recog­nis­able cow­boy hat that he wears around Gan­der. Hav­ing sev­eral hats to choose from, this par­tic­u­lar one is suited for the cooler tem­per­a­ture of spring and fall.

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