HARVEY’S HONORARY FIRE CHIEF STILL LEADS ACTIVE LIFE
Acquiring a new home, for most of us, is a matter of going through a bank and getting a mortgage. For T. Kay Craig, 92, of Harvey, getting his first home involved paying $200 and drivin twelve horses through a snow storm to transport his home from Tweedside to its present location in Harvey. The year was 1927 and T. Kay was thirty years old.
Although this may seem like an odd way of acquiring a home for this enterprising man, this was merely another challenge in what has proven to be a lifetime of challenges.
Born on August 23, 1897, to John Thompson Craig and Janet Craig (nee McGowan), T. Kay continued to reside on the original land grant given to his great-grandparents, who were among the original settlers of Harvey.
A grade twelve graduate from the Middle District School, he began working for his father on the family farm. Leaving the farm, T. Kay then turned his hand to carpentry until 1924. Ever looking for new challenges, he then embarked on a career as a mechanic and built his first garage on his father’s farm with lumber he borrowed from Arthur Mowatt; lumber destined for a hen house but not used, which he replaced the following year. The following year the garage expended with an addition to the building, one of the village’s first self contained lighting plants, and the installation of the first gas pump.
During his second year T. Kay attended various educational institutions to up-grade his skills. He spent two months at Hemphill Trade School in Montreal, three weeks at Saint John Vocational studying mechanical techniques, and one week at Canadian Liquid Air Ltd., Halifax, undertaking a welding course.
In 1928 Mr. Craig, now established as a local businessman, took a bride; one Emma Manzer a local girl. Never one to slack off when there was work to be done, the inpending bridegroom spent the morning of his wedding day mixing cement.
As the business continued to grow, it outgrew its premises and so in 1929 he bought a building in Prince William, which had previously been used as a hotel and store; dismantling it into sections which he subsequently trucked to Harvey and re-erected on the site of the present day Harvey Fire Station.
During the next several years he and his wife devoted much of their time to raising their family of four sons: Avens, Murray, Raymond and Neill.
Aside from his work and family obligations T. Kay Craig still found time to serve his community. In 1945 he was a member of the local Civil Defense organization which at the conclusion of the war was re-organized to become the Harvey Volunteer Fire Department. Serving as Captain for two years he was subsequently elected Fire Chief, a position which he held until 1977 making him one of the longest standing Fire Chiefs in the province.
During his years in the fire department he often called on his skills and ingenuity to improve the quality of their firefighting tools. In the early years the equipment consisted of hand pumps, a few coats for the firemen and a collection of buckets, “I was not satisfied with this situation,” reminisced Mr. Craig, “so I went to McAdam and bought an old truck for $50. While I overhauled the motor, my son Murray re-lined the brakes. I then went next door to the creamery where they gave me an old five hundred gallon wooden drum which I mounted on the back of the truck. To finish it off I coupled a pump to the tank and we had a ‘fire truck’ which we used to put out a lot of fires.”
Ironically, after thirty-six years as owner and operator of one of Harvey’s principal service stations disaster struck. While away at a Fire Chiefs Convention in Cornerbrook, Nfld., in 1960, the building housing his business was itself levelled by fire. Choosing not to rebuild, he sold his business to Milton McLean.
Never one to remain idle T. Kay turned his hand to performing a number of skilled taks. At the age of 65 years he wrote and passed the required examination and was certified as a qualified electrician.
Talented at more than just the mechanical T. Kay also plays the organ and violin. He is an avid video buff and photographer, always looking for opportunities to add to his collection.
At 92 he still drives his own car, lives on his own, buys his own groceries and continues to split his own wood. He is an honorary member of the Maritime Fire Chiefs Association, a recipient of the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Medal, the Fire Chief Office Medal and has held positions as: Public Relations Officers of the Harvey Fire Department, President of the N.B. Fire Chiefs Association and honorary member of the United Church Session.
Southwest Valley Reporter, Sept. 6, 1989 p. 3.
LONG-TIME HARVEY RESIDENT HONORED AT 90
Over 100 friends, neighbours and family gathered at the Christian Education Centre of the United Church in Harvey recently to celebrate the 90th birthday of one of Harvey’s oldest residents, Thomas Kay Craig.
Well-known to the people of Harvey, Mr. Craig served as fire chief of the Harvey Volunteer Fire Department for over 30 years. Mr. Craig (known to all as Kay) owned and operated a garage from 1924-60. He also served as the local electrician during the winter months and received his electrician’s licence at the age of 65. Kay lives alone and remains active doing odd jobs.
Attending the birthday celebration where Mr. Craig’s four sons: Avens of Fredericton; Murray of Oshawa, Ont.; Raymond of Ottawa, Ont.; and Neill of Fredericton. Mr. Craig’s first wife Emma Manzer died in 1965. They were married in 1928. Mr. Craig’s second wife, Marion died in 1973. Mr. Craig has 10 grandchildren.
Mr. Craig was presented with a medal for his long service in the fire department by former Lieutenant-Governor George Stanley. He also received the Queens Silver Jubilee Medal and the Fire Chief Office Medal for 30 years of fire chief duty.
Mr. Craig served as public relations officer of the fire department following retirement. He was made honorary member of the Maritime Fire Chiefs Association where he attended conferences regularly and served as guest speaker.
After serving many years as an elder of the United Church Session, he was made an honorary member of session as well.
He was born Aug. 23, 1897 to John Thomason Craig and Janet (McGowan) Craig. His great-grandparents Henry and Isabel Craig were original settlers of 1837 and it is on that grant of land where Kay now resides. His parents and grandparents were lifelong residents of Harvey Station as well.
Kay still attends church regularly, drives and enjoys electronics, cameras and video equipment. When asked how he feels about turning 90, Mr. Craig remarked, “I don’t feel as young as I used to but I am very thankful I feel as good as I do.”
Birthday greetings were received from Premier Richard Hatfield, Governor-General Jeanne Sauve and Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, as well as the N.B. Senior Citizens Federation.
A lunch was provided by the ladies of the United Church and Rev. David Chesney served as MC for the event.
Daily Gleaner, Aug. 31, 1987 p. 8.