Several retired mounties who served at Golden in the early 1960s returned to the community Aug. 8 to 9 to honour their former landlady. Also attending the reunion was former Golden Star reporter Clayton Stacey.
The group met at Glacier Mountaineer Lodge to pay tribute to long-time Golden resident, Pat Franson.
Mrs. Franson and her late-husband, Len, owned a rooming house where the RCMP members and reporter stayed more than five decades ago.
“It was a gathering that was long overdue,” said reunion co-organizer Ted Brecknell of Salmon Arm who left the RCMP in the mid-1960s to become a lawyer and later a judge.
“Pat was more like a mother to us than a landlady . . . and we decided after all these years to return ‘home’ to give her our thanks,” added Stacey.
The ex-mounties and reporter, along with their spouses, came from as far away as Orillia, On., Holden, Ab., Regina, Kelowna, Vernon, Coquitlam, White Rock, and Salmon Arm. Among the mounties were Jack McGregor of Holden, Ab., Monty Peters, Coquitlam; and Derek O’Donnell, Vernon.
Also, there were Bill Phillips, Kelowna; John Dixon, White Rock; and Clyde Yorke from Orillia, On. It was the first time in close to 50 years that some of the mounties had seen each other.
Golden was more than a place of work for four of them. It’s where they met and married their spouses. Brecknell married the late Bertha Richards; Phillips wed Donna Bath; Yorke married Nelda Hanson; and O’Donnell was united with Linda McErvel.
Stacey, who owns a seniors’ publication in Saskatchewan, helped co-organize the reunion.
“The credit goes to Mrs. Franson – known by everyone simply as ‘Pat’ – for suggesting the idea,” said Stacey.
“During a phone chat in mid-2011, she said it would be nice if ‘her boys’ could once again get together in Golden . . . and we merely followed through.”
The retired reporter, editor, and publisher said Golden will always be special in the minds and hearts of those who worked there so long ago. “We spent a lot of time (during the reunion) reminiscing about our months and years in Golden – both on and off the job – and there was a lot of laughter and fond memories.”
But the focus was on Pat.
“Her coffee pot was always on, and the cookie jar was always full,” said Dixon. “We were treated like one of the Franson family . . . which was very important to us.”
The former sergeant added: “When one of us came down with the flu, Pat would deliver chicken noodle soup right to our room. She really looked after us.”
Also at the reunion were Pat and Len’s four children – Gord, Sharon, Terry, and Tami. “They were always such polite kids. They looked upon us like we were their older brothers. They were very special to us.”
After leaving Golden, five of the mounties were eventually promoted to the rank of staff-sergeant while others became sergeants, and corporals.
Three of them – Peters, Dixon, and Yorke – were posted in the RCMP’s commercial crime section. A special plaque bearing the RCMP crest and an inscription calling Pat “the world’s great landlady” was presented to her “from the boys of the 60s”.
“I am overwhelmed,” she responded.
Unable to attend the reunion for health and other reasons were former Golden mounties Gerry Tilley, Don Marchand, Ken Davis, Mike Morhun and Len Giles. Plans are already underway for the group to meet again next year in Kelowna.