Information update regarding Harry Boshouwers, MCHS Alumnus who passed away some years after graduating
We owe many, many thanks to Henk Boshouwers, who has shared the following information (I checked with Henk first, to ensure it’s okay if I post it) about Harry Boshouwers.
Henk Boshouwers writes:
You refer to the passing away of Harry Boshouwers MCHS’63. I have known his parents since 1960 since his father was a cousin of my father. Harry was killed in a taxi along with the driver in a collision with a train in front of his house in Saraguay. I do not remember the exact date but it must must have been a few years later as he was then a student a Sir George Willams University.
Harry Boshouwers’ parents had been living in the Dutch East Indies and had been detained in a Japanese internment camp after Pearl Harbor.
A daughter was born in the camp. I believe Harry was born shortly after liberation. The family lost everything. Via the Netherlands they settled in Canada.
Harry Sr. worked for Canadair en built his own house on Green Lane in Saraguay.
After high school Harry Jr. studied at George Williams University (now Concordia) in the evening. One night in the mid sixties, coming home via the train station in Cartierville by taxi, he was killed, when the car was hit by a train along with the driver on the unguarded crossing on Green Lane, a few hundred feet from his home. His death as their only son was as terrible blow to his parents. They moved to B.C. where they have since deceased.
Students and Staff Who Have Passed Away
At the MCHS 2015 website, we have a page devoted to students and staff Who Have passed away. You can access the page here:
Students and Staff Who Have Passed Away
We are compiling a list of music associated with MCHS Students or Alumni who have passed away. Harry Boshouwers loved the song “Spanish Harlem” released by Ben E. King in 1960s.
Harry wrote the blurbs describing each of the students in 11-B for the MCHS 1962-63 yearbook. I remember, because I recall speaking with him about what he had written, by way of a text, that went with my own yearbook photo. In each class, one student took on the task of writing the descriptions.
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A former employee of Canadair who worked for Harry Boshouwers Sr. got in touch with me sometime back. She said she was 78 years old. Harry the father was responsible to do evaluations of the employees throughout the time he was at Canadair and introduce new methods of evaluation.
When she worked for the father, she mentioned that he was a very kind individual and I also got to know the family because the father stayed with us recovering from a hernia operation that he needed. His own small cabin was no place for a man in recovery from an operation. Dad had met him during one of his walks over the tracks on Green Lane.
The power station was under construction and he lived in a 10X6 foot shack through the cold winter while he worked on his house. After Harry died on the tracks on Green Lane, things changed fairly quickly. That same crossing had taken the lives of 6 workmen in a previous accident and now there were two more. When you multiply that by the extended families that lost their kinfolk, that crossing changed or destroyed the lives of a great many more people than just those who died on it.
After a lot of searching and trying to recreate the southern extension of Green Lane which was actually located in St. Laurent, I actually found the house on Google Maps at Street Level. It still stands although all of the Boshouwers, except perhaps the daughter who might still be alive, have passed on, I would think the parents moved out to BC when Harry Sr. retired from Canadair and likely to be near their daughter and perhaps grandchildren.
I wonder if Henk knows if she is still alive? Yes the parents would have gone now since Harry Sr. was my father’s age and he would be 96 now if he was still alive. Anyone out for a walk on Green Lane in Saraguay today would not know about the tragedies of the rail crossing unless they lived there before the crossing was finally removed.
There is nothing to signal that there had once been a crossing at that location and Green Lane ends up at a fence with the option of turning right or left and driving back to Gouin Blvd down a different street. Having watched the house being built over a number of years, I knew exactly what it looked like and I could easily pick it out by its unique garage 55+ years later. No doubt, to this day, Bob Pare still feels responsible for Harry’s death because he would not let Harry take him down to the house by the river where he lived, it was only a few minutes walk, but that few minutes would have saved Harry’s life.
We all carry our burdens, some are heavier than others but given time, they get easier to live with but they are never forgotten. Life is very precious, especially at this age and as all of us now realize, it is also very short.
Note to Jaan, If I can find it I will send you the picture I took on Google that was Harry’s house and still stands.
Further to Bob Carswells’ query I can add the following:
Harry Boshouwers and his wife Betty eventually settled in Kelowna B.C. Their daughter Ilona had already relocated to the Edmonton area, where she appears to have been active in the oil financing business. Over the years I have seen signs of life via the internet, but not recently. To the best of my knowledge the only five Canadians currently bearing the Boshouwers name are my four children and I. My four grandsons all have other surnames for various reasons.
Harry Sr passed away many years ago and his wife several years later. They were indeed very kind people, but not surprisingly Harry Sr. had lost some of his bounce after the terrible war years and the tragic death of his son. He still did volunteer work at a Montreal hospital.
I remember Harry Jr as a positive, intelligent and active boy with interest in music.
Harry and I were friends even though I was a few years older than him. The same went for Bob Pare and his family. There was one summer when Harry and I chummed around and I recall visiting his home and sitting on his bare bedroom floor listening again and again to the only record he proudly owned “Spanish Harlem.” After his death I came to call it “Harry’s Song” and I would occasionally refer to it in my writings. I think I was living in Calgary when I learned of Harry’s death. Knowing the family history in Java as prisoners of war, having watched his father build his house and live in a small 6X10-foot cabin winter and summer for years and then see the gathering of the family at last in Canada in their new home was quite a nice result to such a trying time. Regarding the older sister who I had little to do with, I suspect she was born before WWII as she was old enough for her mother to teach her how to secretly steal bread in the POW camp in Java. I do appreciate Henk’s update. I did not know what happened to the family after the sister went to work and Harry had died. We had lost contact and I had gone on with my own life. I am happy the parents found a nice new home in Kelowna, one of my favourite places in BC, thanks for the update, Henk. May they rest in peace…finally.
By accident I found this website. Can somebody please trace the address of Ilona Boshouwers (Harry’s sister). She was my about neighbor in Holland, we have the same background (war in the East Indies, my father -POW- died) and we shared a few years as schoolmates.
I’ve been looking for her for ages, never thought the family emigrated…
Thanks in advance..
I have sent emails to Bob Carswell and Henk Boshouwers. They may be able to help. We will do what we can to help you find the contact information for Harry’s sister.
By way of an update, some information from Bob Carswell:
Thanks for your request from Preserved Stories which has been passed on to me. I probably knew the family as much as anyone this side of the ocean. However, Ilona seemed to be an older female sharing the home at 27 Green Lane and not someone I was interested in knowing back then. I am guessing she was four or five years older than I was when Harry Jr. and I hung out together one summer. Since my education as a high school student took 8 years because of my learning disabilities, a lot of the last years were at night while I also worked in the retail trade downtown. My goal was to get enough marks to get into the university program at SGWU which Harry also eventually attended. Harry went on with local high school at MCHS while I moved on to night school and a demanding job. We basically lost touch somewhere along the way as my job promotions took me to western Canada.
Somewhere along the way I understand that Ilona, the older sister, ended up in Edmonton doing financing work in the oil industry according to Henk Boshowers. I wonder if this was the predecessor to Alberta Oil Sands project which might have taken her to the city hit by wildfires. Hard to guess but by now if she was still alive, she would be close to 80 years old. I also wonder if she might have retired to Kelowna to look after her parents at some point or to settle the family affairs after they died. Another guess as I cannot find any reference to her anywhere on the Internet in Canada.
I also wondered if she might have got married along the way but that info just is not available using government records until long after both she and a husband have died. According to Henk, the only members in Canada with that name today are related to his side of the family so the “buck stops here” as the old expression goes and there is nothing else I or others seem to be able to offer you. I wish I could be of more help. If anything more turns up I will let you know.
[End of comment from Bob Carswell of Toronto]
I do not know where or when I learned this or how. I must be starting to lose it. Even so, at some point I had learned that Ilona Boushoiwers had moved to Calgary and settled there. Maybe I can find something in old emails that might tell me more.
Here is something interesting from a former employee of Harry’s father and my reply back in 2015 that I found in my emails:
Today while surfing the ‘net, I came across your references to Saraguay, Cartierville, Church of the Good Shepherd and Canadair – that caught my attention as I worked there from 1957 to 1959 in the Employee Appraisal Office with Harry Boshouwers.
He was building a house at 27 Green Lane in Saraguay at the time.
I remember that awful railway crossing where his son was killed. I often wondered what happened to him and his family.
Perhaps you could have some information – I would appreciate it.
Both my daughters were christened in the Church of the Good Shepherd – we lived in Cartierville at that time.
Sat, May 2, 2015 at 9:31 PM
Well – this is a long story – I really should talk to you for all the details.
I came to Montreal (Cartierville ) as my husband was transferred from London Ontario by Bell Canada in 1957. I was 21 years old.
We rented an apartment -on Michel Sarrazin in Cartierville in 1957.
I was unable to find work with Bell Canada – they would not allow me to work in the same office as my husband – so I went to Canadair and applied for a job.There was an opening in the Employee Appraisal Department working for Harry Boshouwers. I did not speak french but it did not matter – it was all about numbers!
I worked with Harry from June 1957 to December 1958.
My husband and I were trying to start a family and I became pregnant in 1958. In those days pregnant women did not work very long in the work force – I was encouraged to leave in December 1958. My first daughter Mary was born in 1959. We subsequently moved to St Laurent and had a second daughter Catherine in 1961.
While in Cartierville, my husband who was a navy veteran formed the Sea Cadets – He called them the “pea Cadets”.
Harry was trying to build a house on 27 Greenlane – it really was a shack! I saw the house – many times I gave Harry a ride home after work if his car or transportation was not working. At one time he was trying to build a boat in the kitchen area. It was truly rustic. He had managed to add a second addition to the house but the building inspectors made him tear it down – he was only allowed a one storey dwelling. He was VERY upset. . He sent money back home to his family every payday. Ate all his meals in the Canadair cafeteria. I think he lived on rice and water !He told me about the prison camp – how he risked his life to steal an egg – he ate it and it was rotten!
He knew he had a daughter who was very tall – but he had never seen her for many years.
His wife finally joined him but was not happy – the local ladies were not very welcoming – she did not speak french – I understand she went back to the Netherlands. He had a lot of health and dental problems after the prison years. He introduced me to his dentist in St Laurent – if you wanted freezing it was $1 extra – many of the old farmers refused, to save the extra money. I always paid for the freezing!
He was a very brilliant man – wonderful with mathematics. Also a great sense of humour despite all those prison years.
He taught me how to speak dutch. Smoked like a furnace (so did I – we often cut the remaining ciggies in half with scissors to get through the day as we were not allowed to leave Canadair without a pass!) When you work with someone for 5 days a week – you really get to know them.
After I left Canadair – I never saw him again until Expo 67 – my husband and my two girls were there one day and encountered Harry and his wife – it was a short meeting – I realized that she had decided to come and join him
I never saw him again but often wondered had happened to him. When I read about the death of his son, I sent a sympathy card – never had a reply. Harry used to warn me about that crossing when I would give him a ride home. It truly was dangerous.
My daughter and I were doing my family history and that is why I decided to google the Church of the Good Shepherd – up came your link. I had often wondered what had happened to Harry and his family in his final years. Is his daughter still in the Montreal area?
I am now 78 years old – retired from managing a Media centre for the last remaining bastion of English education in Quebec – living in a retirement home in the Laurentians – teaching water aerobics to seniors – buried two husbands……
Both girls went to West Island schools – Lindsay Place High School – SGWU – Dawson – MBA’s at Western – Ivy Business School.
Keep in touch
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On 2015-05-02, at 6:44 PM, Bob Carswell wrote:
Hi again Barbara,
Here is what I wrote about Harry Boushowers Jr. on a Facebook site related to the death of Ben E. King:
I have occasionally rewritten a story titled “Harry’s Song.” I will write it here once more. Ben E.King and I were Harry’s two friends one summer when we got to know him better. Harry was a babyboomer born to his mother in the Netherlands shortly after WWII. The story of the Boushower family goes back much further. His parents had been separated in Java by the Japanese during WWII and his older sister had learned as a young child how to steal bread to survive in the camps.
On return to the devastation of the Netherlands after WWII, the family decided to immigrate to Canada. However, that meant the father came first and the rest would follow. He lived in a small one-room shack by night, worked at Canadair by day and built his house on the weekends. His property was at the top of Green Lane in Saraguay, that part containing 3 or 4 houses and a power station over the tracks, so to speak. Harry’s neighbours were two young lads of French Canadian and British extraction who grew up in an unfinished house next door.
The boys’ French Canadian father had gone to England during WWII as a soldier and returned with a British War Bride, much the same as my own father did. One of those boys died in the USA 5 years ago. They both left home and joined the U.S. Army to fight in Vietnam. The older one Michael did two tours and spent his life in the army until retiring in Georgia. I do not know the whereabouts of his brother.
I don’t think they ever got to know Harry as they were raised Catholic and went to different schools. In any case, it was a lonely life initially and as a young Dutch fellow, he did not have a lot of local friends. I got to know the family because we had taken in the father years earlier when he had to have a hernia operation and needed a place for recovery. Dad had met him during one of his walks.
When Harry and I became buddies that summer, I often just dropped over to his place and we listened to music. Harry had a portable gramophone and one 45 rpm record titled Spanish Harlem. We never played the other side of it. I call it Harry’s song because it is how I remember him. Harry graduated from High School, went on to university and was a bright spot in the family.
The railway crossing that had killed six workmen.in a train-truck accident in the late 1950s, took two move victims one summer day when I was living in the west in the latter 1960s, They were Harry and the taxi driver who did not stop at the crossing. That little corner of St. Laurent at the end of a farmer’s field back then has now been absorbed into the expansion of the industrial area along Bois Franc Road.
The crossing at Green Lane has also disappeared with the fast commuter system put in place along that rail line. I am now 70 but I still remember those days of our youth and the sounds of Spanish Harlem by Ben E King playing in the background as we played cards on the floor as young boys. Harry barely lived to be twenty and now his idol of that time has also gone. RIP…may you both meet in the beyond one day if such things are possible..