In this month’s Founders and Builders Series, we introduce you to Norman Jolly, a longtime member and treasurer of the CFHA. His life is remembered here by Sandra McCann Fuller.
Norman Thomas Jolly (1923–2012)
By Sandra McCann Fuller
Norman Jolly was born 20 December 1923, in Mossbank, south of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, the son of Thomas and May Jolly. Norman’s father, Thomas Gordon Jolly, was born in 1884 in Saskatchewan about the time of the North-West Rebellion. In 1906 he applied for a Homestead Grant. The 1926 Canadian Census records the Jolly family, including Norman (two years) and his older brothers Harold (five years) and Donald (six years), living near Willow Bunch in southern Saskatchewan. Norman remembered that the Jolly family lived in a sod house in the 1920s and 1930s. Life on the prairies was challenging, especially from the harsh winters and the summer droughts. The 1930s brought many dust storms. During theEconomic Depression of the 1930s, frequently called “the Dirty Thirties,” the Jolly family decided that they could no longer endure the hardships of life on the prairies. They loaded their household belongings, as well as some horses and farm animals, onto a number of railway freight cars and moved to a farm near Exeter in southwestern Ontario.
In April 1943, during World War II, Norman, then a young man in his early twenties, joined the Royal Canadian Naval Voluntary Reserve (RCNVR). His first posting was on HMCS Kenogami, which escorted ships from overseas, serving on the triangle run from St John’s, Newfoundland, to Halifax, Nova Scotia, and New York City USA. His next assignment was serving on the North Atlantic run.
After the war, Norman took advantage of education for veterans and became a student at University of Western Ontario (currently called Western University) in London, Ontario. He decided to become a secondary school teacher. He married Dorothy Fuller from Stratford, Ontario, who was also a teacher. Norman taught at schools in Lively (west of Sudbury), Port Hope, Aurora (Dr. G.W. Williams Secondary School), and Newmarket (Newmarket High School). He retired in the late 1980s.
Norman’s interest in genealogy led him to work at compiling information for several books. With Alvin Mylo Srigley, Norman compiled Robert Srigley 1777–1836 and Jane Heacock Srigley 1787–1867 and Their Descendants to Seven Generations, printed in June 1977. Norman’s keen interest in history was demonstrated by his work with the York Region Branch, Ontario Genealogical Society. Later, after retirement, as a World War II veteran, Norman worked at compiling York County Men & Women who gave their lives in World War I. Volume I: York County, Ontario, excluding the City of Toronto (1995) and Volume II: Toronto City (2002). The books were both published by York Region Genealogy Group of the Ontario Genealogical Society, Toronto Branch.
Norman was a life member of the Newmarket Historical Society and served as its president in 1990, 1991, and 1992. Norman was also a member of the Aurora Historical Society. Norman’s ancestry and knowledge of Quaker history led him to become a member of the Canadian Friends Historical Association (CFHA); he served CFHA as treasurer for a number of years in the early 2000s.
Norman Jolly passed away in his eighty-ninth year, on Saturday, 18 August 2012 at Southlake Regional Health Centre, Newmarket, Ontario. His wife Dorothy predeceased him in 2007. Norman is survived by a daughter, Donna (Martin Blackwell) of England, and a son, Norman William (Bill) of Newmarket. Norman and Dorothy Jolly (1928–2007) are buried at Aurora Cemetery.
For a photo of Norman during his years in the Navy and to listen to his story, visit thememoryproject.com.