Bernard Joseph McCann Biography

Bernard Joseph McCann was a pillar of the Harvey community his entire adult life. In his youth, Bernie had a passion for, and graduated from, St. Thomas University, which – at the time – was a high school in Chatham, New Brunswick.

Bernie and Janet met at a dance in Fredericton Junction in the mid ‘5o’s. Bernie always said he fell in love with Janet’s father, Donald Byers, first, and then married the love of his life, Janet Byers in May of 1958. When they first settled in Harvey, Bernie worked at Corey’s Garage for a few years and in a few years moved on to spend his working career in the New Brunswick Civil Service Dept of Motor Vehicles from which he retired in 1990.

Bernie and Janet were longtime members of the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Cork where he cared for the cemetery property as well as the Cemetery Association which he eventually established as a charity in 2002. Bernie and Janet were devoted members of the church – caring for the land, the building, the altar linens, flower arrangements, and the priests. We, their children, were altar boys, church organist, and choir members. Every Sunday after Mass, the Priest was our lunch guest. In the late 1980s, they became members of Holy Family Catholic Church in Hanwell.

Bernie was very active in the Harvey community through representation on the School Board, Hospital Board, Senior Complex, and Village Council where he served as Village Clerk for many years. Bernie also dedicated over 60 years to, what is now known, as Harvey Community Days. A year after his death, the dinner served during Community Days was renamed in his memory and is now known as the “Bernie McCann Memorial Supper”.

First and foremost, Bernie McCann was a family-man. He and his wife of 58 years, Janet, raised five community-minded, caring and competent children- all of whom have followed in their father’s footsteps. One would be hard pressed to find a committee or organization in Harvey on which a McCann descendant is not part. The kids that “left town” have devoted their careers to medicine, nursing and teaching in service to their own communities. What a wonderful testament to a great man!

When his sons were in their early teenage years, he formed “McCann & Sons” and they could be found mowing many of the lawns in the Village of Harvey as well as the community cemeteries, doing house repairs and other handyman jobs. One of the most memorable tasks was refinishing all the wooden desks at the Elementary School – no small feat!

In his later years, Bernie found immense pleasure in being a part of his 12 grandchildrens’ lives. A large part of this was watching the five who graduated from Harvey High School play basketball. Bernie and Janet could be found sitting religiously in the Harvey High School stands, and, eventually, on the seniors’ row of the basketball court. Not a game was missed! One of their granddaughters played basketball for St. Thomas University and they attended her games whenever they could; Bernie would often wear his STU sweater in support of the school and as a good luck charm. While the “away” grandchildren did not get as much facetime, Bernie and Janet made it a point to see them all participate in the activities they loved as well – including watching a few ski races in sub-zero weather in Vermont and enjoying hiking, camping and white water rafting in Colorado.

Bernie’s love of Harvey was demonstrated by his actions; he and Janet were always there for the sick and needy, he helped many elders with tax return filings, picked up and delivered DMV paperwork for Harvey residents, and performed countless acts of kindness that many of us never knew happened. Shortly after Bernie’s death in August 2016, the family established the Bernie McCann Bursary Award at St. Thomas University, to be awarded to a Harvey High School Graduate attending STU. This award punctuates the significance of the McCann family’s commitment to both the community of Harvey and St. Thomas University.

Few men have devoted as much time and energy to ensuring that Harvey was a safe and vibrant community. It is with much love and respect, that we, the children of Bernie McCann, nominate him for this honor. He was our hero – and we believe his presence on the Wall of Recognition will be an affirmation of his genuine love of the Harvey community and a lifetime of kindness.

Prepared by Kathy (McCann) Curtis, 2022

Recommended Reading

Interested in learning more about the rich history and heritage of the Harvey region? Here are a few blog posts that might pique your interest: