Don­ald Legge feel­ing at home in Cavendish

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY TERRY ROBERTS edi­tor@ cb­n­com­pass. ca

De­spite spend­ing a life­time in Toronto, 75year-old Don­ald Legge re­mains at home in his na­tive com­mu­nity of Cavendish. The sprightly man with the thick beard shared his story with

The Com­pass.

It’s a mild Oc­to­ber af­ter­noon in Cavendish and Don­ald Legge is deftly stand­ing on a sawhorse, hold­ing a strip of alu­minum fas­cia in place as his son, Randy, se­cures it to the eve of a stor­age shed.

Legge doesn’t look out of place in this scenic, Trin­ity Bay com­mu­nity. He’s wear­ing a base­ball cap, glasses, a well-worn leather jacket and much of his face is hid­den be­neath a thick, sil­ver beard. He’s of av­er­age height and looks very strong for a man who has lived 75 years.

It’s when he speaks that a passerby notices some­thing out of the or­di­nary. Main­land ac­cent. Cen­tral Canada, most likely.

Sure enough. Legge is from Toronto, but he’s very much a New­found­lan­der.

His story is a fa­mil­iar one, but with an un­usual twist that we’ll get to in a moment.

Safe pas­sage

“I was dead for about two min­utes. The paramedics

saved my life.”

— Don­ald Legge

Don­ald re­mem­bers very vividly hold­ing his mother’s hand as they boarded the ill-fated S. S. Cari­bou pas­sen­ger ferry in Au­gust 1942, along with six other sib­lings. The ship was sent to the bot­tom of the Cabot Strait later that fall by a Ger­man sub­ma­rine.

He was seven years-of-age, and the fam­ily was head­ing to Toronto to join their fa­ther, Llewel­wyn Legge, who had ear­lier left Heart’s De­light in or­der to find work on the main­land. His mother, Car­rie Jack­man of Cavendish, could not read or write, and had never been off the is­land of New­found­land.

It was pre-Con­fed­er­a­tion, and Don­ald can still re­call the “out­house” on the wharf in Syd­ney, N.S., that served as a cus­toms of­fice.

“A man came out of the build­ing and asked my mother where we were go­ing. She told him she was go­ing to join her hus­band. That was it. Off we went,” he said.

That was the be­gin­ning of a fresh start for the Legge fam­ily. Don­ald went to work at age 15, soon met his fu­ture wife, Mar­garet Jack­man of Cavendish, and the cou­ple had three chil­dren. They have been mar­ried for 53 years.

Don­ald worked a long ca­reer as a mo­tor­coach driver for a com­pany once owned by for­mer prime min­is­ter Paul Martin, re­tir­ing at age 59. Not one to sit idle for long, he soon took a job de­liv­ery roof­ing shin­gles in Toronto, and did that for an­other nine years.

It took a near-death ex­pe­ri­ence to slow him down. About five years ago, while wait­ing at the Toronto air­port for his wife to re­turn from a trip to New­found­land, he ex­pe­ri­enced con­ges­tive heart fail­ure.

“ I was dead for about two min­utes. The paramedics saved my life,” he said.

He now has a de­fib­ril­la­tor planted in his chest that will shock his heart back into rhythm in case of an­other at­tack.

Through­out the years, mean­while, Don­ald and his fam­ily re­turned to the Trin­ity South shore on vacation nearly ev­ery sum­mer. He now spends ev­ery sum­mer in Cavendish, and hasn’t ruled out the idea of mak­ing New­found­land his home once again.

But what’s un­usual is that two of their three off­spring — sons Randy and Robert — moved per­ma­nently to Cavendish in re­cent years, de­spite be­ing born and raised in Scar­bor­ough. Randy works sea­son­ally with the Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion and Works, while Robert is un­able to work be­cause of an in­dus­trial ac­ci­dent.

Asked why he de­cided to move to New­found­land, Randy shrugs and ut­ters the fol­low­ing: “ Sure, how good have you got it here?”

Af­ter liv­ing 39 years in the same house in Scar­bor­ough, Don­ald said On­tario is home. How­ever, he said, “ Toronto has changed; and it’s not for the bet­ter. We’ve lost our com­mu­ni­ties.”

“ But New­found­land is still very much a part of who I am,” he added.

Photo by Terry Roberts/The Com­pass

Seventy-five-year-old Don­ald Legge flashes a broad smile while help­ing his son, Randy, in­stall fas­cia on a shed in Cavendish ear­lier this month. Legge left the com­mu­nity at age seven, but re­turns ev­ery sum­mer to his child­hood home. In fact, two of his three chil­dren have moved to the com­mu­nity.

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