Reuben was the youngest of seven children born to George and Ethel Hagan (nee Carter), on their homestead in Mazenod, Saskatchewan. He attended Four Corners School, completing his formal schooling at the end of Grade 10. Dad recalled travelling 3 Â˝ miles to school by horse and cutter, or later riding his own horse, Snort. The land his family farmed was cleared by hand and much of that back-breaking labour was done by his father and older brothers. He described their land as rolling which made it difficult to work by horse in the time before large equipment. Early experiences certainly shaped Dadâs future path.
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Dad taught us all the importance of working hard. Based on stories shared, his strong work ethic undoubtedly came from his early years of chores and demands on the farm. When he was younger, Dadâs chores included hauling water from the well a Â˝ mile away, milking the cows and taking the cattle to pasture. When he quit school, he worked for a neighbouring farmer, Paul Lang, for 2 years. From there he did a little custom combining, and ventured down to Hinsdale, Montana to pick sugar beets for a season â back breaking seasonal work. This created enough motivation for a young lad to move elsewhere. Word had it that there were jobs to be had in mining towns to the north so he headed that direction with two friends in September 1948. When they arrived in Regina, the boys flipped a coin â heads to Flin Flon or tails to Sudbury â and we know how that flip turned out. The road didnât go as far as Flin Flon in those days, so Dad needed to leave his car in The Pas and take the train the rest of the way. What an adventure!
Dadâs first job in Flin Flon was at Palmerâs Northstar Fuel and Ice where he unloaded stoker coal from a boxcar into bins. He was hired at Hudson Bay Mining and Smelting on October 26, 1948, despite being 2 pounds short, weighing in at only 148 lbs. Apparently being a farm boy from Saskatchewan made all the difference as the hiring office knew Dad could manage hard physical labor. Dad had friends who were volunteer firemen with the Flin Flon Fire Department and not to be left out, he joined the crew too in 1955. After 24 years underground, Dad left HBM&S to become the Deputy Fire Chief in August 1973, and ultimately âChiefâ in June 1986. Dad retired in April 1991 after 35.5 years of service. Many great friends and even more great stories came from the relationships Dad built over those years. Flin Flon truly became the home for the underweight farm boy from Saskatchewan.
True love came Reubenâs way when he met Olga Goy. She worked at Friedmanâs cafĂŠ and tried to sell him a ticket to a school play. Although he didnât buy one, young love blossomed and they married on Dadâs birthday in August 18, 1951. Mom and Dad were together in marriage for 53 years; their union resulted in 5 children, 6 grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren. Along with time with his family, Dad lived life to the fullest with garage parties on South Hudson, summers at Denare Beach or traveling to visit family and friends, curling bonspiels and card games with the boys from the fire hall, board meetings at the Credit Union, and morning coffee at the Legion.
Dad was a social man, always willing to share a nod, a good joke or âkibitzâ for a few minutes when he saw people he knew on the street. Dad was always willing to lend a hand, and helping others brought him great enjoyment. He found purpose and a place for his extra time serving on the Board of the Credit Union for 32 years, and holding various volunteer roles as an affiliate member of the Royal Canadian Legion. He became a regular face helping with Wednesday bingos and Friday meat draws at the Legion. As we have been told, Dad was a valued member of both organizations. Anyone connected to the Fire Department, the Credit Union or the Legion over the years seem to readily share heartfelt sentiments about his commitment, his personal contributions and his many endearing qualities.
Walking or driving past Reuben would often bring on his signature âthumbs upâ as a sign of hello or good bye, or just acknowledging being alright with what was going on. He had many âReubenismsâ or sayings that we will remember and cherish such as ârightoâ or âsheâs a bearcatâ when a situation was more challenging. Hearing these in the future may bring a tear to our eye but also a smile to our face knowing his memory will live on.
Dad was a devoted caregiver to Mom as illness took hold of her mind and then her body. He stayed in the family home after she died in 2005, and remained there until shortly before his passing. He died peacefully in Warman, SK with his children and two of his grandchildren around him. We are grateful he has been released from the physical pain he struggled with for many years, and that he is finally reunited with the love of his life.
On his final road trip, we say to Dad as he often said to usâŚâKeep âer between the bushes Ruby, and watch for deer.â We love you Dad.
Predeceased by his wife Olga in 2005, Reuben is survived by their loving children Robert (Beverly), Edward, Gina (David), Aleta (Rick) and Kathleen (Kevin); his grandchildren Stephanie (Matthew), Nicole (Adam), Nicolas, Alexander, Odessa and Carter; and his great grandchildren Max and Taylor. Reuben was the last surviving member of his siblings.
Due to the current public health event a celebration of life for Reuben will be held at a later date.
If friends so desire memorial tributes may be made to a charity of one's choice.