December 10, 1931 – June 14, 2020
Stanislaus Charles McRae was born on Dec 10, 1931 in Winnipeg Manitoba, the third child of Philip Ambrose and Caroline Anne (nee Kent) and his two siblings Margaret Anne (Wang)(1923) Philip Joseph (1924). Stan’s father worked for CP Rail which required moving across Canada from west to east. By the time Stan was seven they had settled in the town of Orillia where they joined generations of relatives. Stan was an avid hockey player, he competed in Junior B throughout Ontario.
He eventually became a contract miner working in hard rock underground mining across Canada in some of the poorest safety and working conditions. There were no unions then.
During the labour movement from the early 50s on, an intense battle was in progress across Canada for the right to mining certifications and to bring in union representation. Led vociferously by Harvey Murphy and Al King many actions were often thwarted by managements devilish coalition called the Three-Way Pact.
By the 1960s wildcat strikes were going on and that’s when Stan and some of the underground guys started working for the union. They were the tramp miners, a special breed that goes in wherever a new mine is opening up and prepares the mine. They sink the shafts, drive the drifts, and raise and generally gain access to and from new ore bodies. It’s highly hazardous but highly paid work, which is why a lot of miners like to do it.
“But to labor with zest, and to give of your best,
For the sweetness and joy of the giving;
To help folks along with a hand and a song;
Why, there’s the real sunshine of living.” Robert Service – “Carry On!” (1916)
It was as tramp miners that Stan, Paddy ‘Take Five’ Toner, Vince Ready, Archie MacDonald, Norm Harsford and most other young wildcats worked under Al King. These young haywire organizers did such a good job that people started calling them “King’s Wrecking Crew.”
One of the largest mines raided in the 60s was the Granduc in northwestern BC near Stewart. Stan, Vince and Archie worked several miles underneath the Leduc glacier when suddenly without warning a huge avalanche tore down the mountain and swept away part of the west-end portal camp. Being safely underground they survived but 26 miners did not. The mine resumed operations after the tragedy and the Three-Way Pact stacked the vote and the union was defeated. In the end benefits were paid and conditions in base metal mining were slowly improving. There were many other memories too, in that rough and tumble era, there was comradery, drinking, brawling and hockey. Stan always joined the mining hockey teams wherever he was in Canada.
In 1971 Stan married the love of his life Maxine (nee Quamme). They eventually bought property on Gabriola Island, British Columbia and fully settled, working as committed volunteers on the island with their many friends. Stan took up an early life passion working with wood and became a talented artisan turning unique wood bowls and other items from local burls and large wood pieces. In the summer he spent every Saturday at the local Farmer’s market with Maxine selling their creations. They were both huge supporters of the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) the New Democratic Party (NDP) and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA).
To prevent development, they purchased an additional 20 acres across from their home and worked with the Islands Trust Conservancy to ensure the land will stay undeveloped in perpetuity. It is called the McRae Conservation Covenant with meadow and trees-lined trails for public use. They also donated one acre of land for the Gabriola Museum to be built. They loved their animals Angus, Fergus, and Jock.
Health issues eventually caught up with Stan.
“But the man who can meet despair and defeat
With a cheer, there’s the man of God’s choosing;
The man who can fight to Heaven’s own height
Is the man who can fight when he’s losing.”
At 88 years old and after a long, brave fight, Stan shuffled off this mortal coil on June 14, 2020.
“Let the world be the better for you;
And at last when you die, let this be your cry!
Carry on, my soul! Carry on!”
Stan leaves his wife Maxine, who misses him dearly. He is predeceased by his brother Philip, his sister Margaret, his nephew Michael, pets Angus, Fergus, and Jock. He is survived by Helen McRae (nee Hughes) his childhood friend in Orillia who was married to his brother Philip. He is also survived by nieces and nephews and great nieces and nephews who enjoyed his many stories.
Due to Covid-19 no service will be held.
Memorial donations may be made in Stan’s name to one of their favourite causes.
The family wishes to thank the staff at Nanaimo General Hospital and Trillium Hospice in Parksville.
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