Raymond Rene Jean-Baptiste was born 1 November 1922 at Les Prevosts, St Saviours, Guernsey. Following is the short overview of his life, as told by Raymond to his daughter Julie (with additions by his younger brother, Paul).
Raymond worked on the farm as a young man, and was not evacuated during WW2 with the younger members of the family. He stayed behind with Bertrand and George to look after the farm, but eventually went to Alderney for work, to look after cows for the States (Guernsey local government authority). Following is a letter from Ray to his mother written while he was in Alderney (from her papers)
Sunday May 30th
I was very glad to receive the parcel you sent me, one pair of breeches was too small but the other is alright. Last week thirty heiffers arrived from France, and we had to go and fetch them from eight in the morning till five at night, one off the boys bring me my dinner at one o’clock , yesterday I sat in the grass and read all day, some days I have to be after them every five minutes. Last night our boss, Corporate Vogler told us he would shoot us a rabbit so today we made a stew. Will you please send me my brown shoes as soon as possible because my boots and shoes are worn out, my grey trousers are worn out so will you please send me my grey flannels. When I came to Alderney I had three pounds and now I have twenty-five. I hope to come on leave in a couple of months. I am in good health and putting on weight. I hope George is getting better. How is the food situation in Guernsey? You will find two marks in envelope for stamps and envelopes. There is a boat leaving tomorrow for Guernsey so I must end my letter if I want to post it in time so goodbye for now.
Yours truly Raymond.
All was not to go smoothly however. There was an altercation with a German officer. As far as we understand, Ray was eating lunch and was told to get back to work and was struck by the officer with his glove. Ray, then only about 20, struck back and flattened the officer (who was not very popular). As a result he spent 6 months in solitary confinement in Alderney’s jail, where he only had half a page of Reader’s Digest as distraction. A kindly German jailer would share his food with him. It was a brutal existence, on many occasions fellow prisoners were taken out and shot. Ray never knew when his turn might come.
After the war, Les Prevosts ceased to operate as a working farm. Ray bought his own truck and did general carting, although the economy was at a virtual standstill. Life in Guernsey after the war held little promise, so he followed the example of many and migrated to Canada in 1948. He travelled to London where he caught a plane to Shannon Island (off Ireland) then onto Gander, Newfoundland and then onto Toronto.
Upon his arrival he worked in St. Catherines, Ontario on a farm, he stayed there until 1949 and then went to work in a papermill, located along the old wellan canal. He said that he worked with a bunch of Orangemen; he was there 6 months.
During his stay in St. Catherines, he caught a ride with a Ukaranian, who was going home to Saskatchewan to help his dad with the harvest. This gentleman wanted someone to share the cost, so Ray went with him. As the TransCanada Highway was not built yet the drove down through the United States and then back up to Canada. The farm was near Inglefeld, Saskatchewan. He does tell a funny story that he remembers going into a bar and everyone was speaking German and wondered what he was getting himself into. However, he was treated very well during his stay.
He met a gentleman in the airforce in Saskatoon who told him that the work was in Calgary, Alberta. This gentleman’s wife had come from Turner Valley which is not far from Calgary. When the harvest had ended, he headed west to Calgary via the Canadian National Railway.
Upon arrival in Calgary, he went to the employment office, but before he entered a gentleman by the name of Ernie Lutz pulled up and asked Ray if he was looking for work, Ray said he was, but he just arrived in Calgary and he first had to find a place to stay and he needed to change his clothes. Ernie said that he could change on the job site, so dad went off to work pouring basements.
This is where he met and worked with Peter Scott; they remain very good friends to this day. Peter was room and boarding with Larry Imbeau and dad then began to room and board there as well. He also remains very good friends with Larry Imbeau. Dad’s days in the cement trade were cut short by and accident; where his sleeve got caught in the pully on the engine of a cement mixer and he broke his arm. He was off work for some time.
In late 1949 he went to work for Calgary Power at the Spray Lakes, this is located just south of Canmore, Alberta now. He did this in the winter and in the summer of 1950 he went to work for the National Parks maintaining the road between Banff and Jasper.
He eventually met the lovely Maxine and they settled down in the little town of Pincher Creek, south of Calgary close to the U.S. border, where he brought up 4 children, Dean, the twins Ray and Robert and apple of his eye, Julie.
When Paul visited in the late 1980’s a prominent citizen told him that it was a good day for Pincher when Ray turned up. He is much respected.