By Vivian Collings
Curry Bishop will be remembered by countless throughout the Haliburton Highlands for his devotion to bettering the community through his extensive volunteerism, his tireless work ethic, inspiring those around him to “lead by example,” and reminding all of the importance of time spent enjoying the landscape around us.
“He was always community minded. He was absolutely driven to serve his community,” said Curry’s son, Greg Bishop. “He was there to help and support; always community-minded and always pushing the community to be bettered.”
Curry passed away peacefully at the Gardens of Haliburton on Monday, Nov. 21 at the age of 91.
He was an Ontario Land Surveyor, Canadian Land Surveyor, a civil engineer, a life-long member of the Rotary Club of Haliburton, a member of Royal Canadian Legion Branch 129, a former deputy reeve and reeve of the Municipality of Dysart et al, a former school board trustee, and a founding president of the Haliburton County Forest Owners Association.
He is remembered by his three children, Deb, Shirley, and Greg, 10 grandchildren, and 18 great-grandchildren. He was married to his wife, Aldyth (Sisson) Bishop, for 63 years before she passed away in 2016.
Greg will always remember time spent with his father hunting at North Lake, north of Fort Irwin and Haliburton Lake, beginning when he was four-years-old.
“My favourite experiences with my Dad are all around hunting and getting out in the wild and spending time with him that way. Those are the memories I have and certainly am still having, because hunting is still a family thing,” Greg said.
Curry continued hunting until he was 87 years old.
Greg’s son and eight-year-old grandson hunted at the camp for the past moose and deer season.
Deb hunted until she was 21 years old, and Deb and Greg’s sister, Shirley, is also an avid hunter.
“It was a real family affair, and we’re carrying on the tradition,” Greg said.
The tradition was started by WR Curry, Curry’s grandfather whom he lived with from the age of 11 until he left for university.
One of the fondest memories Deb has of her father was when he took the family on vacation to Mexico in 1966.
“It was an adventure. Dad never liked to spend a lot of extra money on extravagance. He like sports, adventures, being outdoors, which we all grew up appreciating. Aunt Ethel Curry painted with the Group of Seven … So the outdoors was a main focal point for the whole family,” Deb said.
It was the family’s first holiday together, and they stayed in a two-storey hotel, watching turkey vultures with their chicks and herds of horses walking past the front doors.
“He took us all deep-sea fishing for the first time. We went out on a little chartered boat, and I remember drinking Coca Cola and not getting sea sick despite the huge waves,” she laughed.
Everyone in the family caught a sailfish, but Deb’s was the largest.
To her surprise, it showed up at the family’s door in a few months after their vacation.
“I guess Dad sent it to a taxidermy, and then it got shipped to the house here in Haliburton. I hung it on the wall in my bedroom downstairs here for the longest time. It was 5’3” and weighed 105 pounds, so it was bigger than me at the time,” she laughed.
Deb said the gift of her sailfish from her Dad was a wonderful surprise, and it was an example of how much Curry valued adventure.
School and work
Deb was born while Curry was attending school at the University of Toronto.
He obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering and then became an Ontario Land Surveyor, Canadian Land Surveyor, and conducted post-graduate work in planning.
“We moved [to Haliburton] when I was four years old. I’m now living in the home we all grew up in right in town,” Deb said.
Greg and Deb reflected on Curry’s surveying achievements in Haliburton County.
“At one point in time, he had eight partners and over 1000 lakefront properties in their portfolio in the 80s,” Greg said.
He was one of the surveyors who allowed for developments in Halbiem and along College Drive in Haliburton.
“There are subdivisions all over that have turned into nice residential areas,” Deb said. “He was a workaholic for sure. He always had his focus on work.”
Greg followed in his father’s footsteps to also become a surveyor.
“He would always say, ‘You need to lead by example.’ I wasn’t a workaholic quite like he was, but I was always on sites before crews got in and after crews left because of Dad’s influence,” Greg said.
There was no such thing as a lunch hour break for Curry.
“He would work until it was dark; 10-12 hour days,” Deb said.
Curry obtained his Ontario Land Surveyors certificate one year after graduating from university when it normally took two.
He worked for Marshall Macklin Monaghan in Ungava Bay in Northern Quebec.
“When he came out of that, he had a small stint over in Bracebridge and then FT Webster’s business in Haliburton came up for sale, and he bought it in 1958,” Greg said.
From there, he changed businesses and locations in the county a few times, but always remained dedicated to his work.
When asked about Curry’s retirement, Greg laughed and said, “That’s a great question. He really never quit.
“When he couldn’t do the math as well, he spent two years in our office going through his old files which he knew like the back of his hand, and leaving the important ones for us to digitize.”
Deb said because of his photographic memory, Curry was able to rectify any mistakes or gaps in the extensive collection of records.
“He also loved what he did, and I think that helped with his memory,” Greg said. “The last known survivor of the Canadian Land and Emigration Company was Jimmy Robertson, and he worked for Dad.”
Greg remembers going with Curry to Robertson’s house behind what is now Foodland in Haliburton and listening to the two of them recite where each tree and rock was at specific places in the county.
“I surveyed all my life, and I would remember the site when I got there, but I wouldn’t remember the site to give information to the crew before they went. Dad would know it all,” Greg said. “That was how much he loved it.”
Curry’s dedication to everything he did carried into his volunteer career. He had perfect attendance at the Rotary Club of Haliburton for 56 years.
“He would go to a Rotary meeting wherever he traveled, or, you’re allowed to miss a meeting and then make up for it, so he would make up for it in Minden whenever he got back,” Deb said.
Greg remembers one instance in particular when his Dad was on bed rest, but still made it to Rotary.
“His knee was operated on in the 80s. He was unable to move for two weeks, but he wasn’t missing Rotary,” Greg said. “We had to take him in a wheelchair to the meeting so that he wouldn’t miss it.”
Curry received the Fred Jones Award, or the “Rotarian of the Year” award, in 1990.
He spearheaded and helped with several Rotary projects over the years, and attended the Rotary International District Convention in Rouyn-Noranda in 1965.
Time in office
“He was elected deputy reeve of Dysart et al in 1992 for a three-year term, and in 1994, took over the job of reeve when Chris Hodgson, who had held the position since 1992, was elected MPP for Victoria-Haliburton,” read a piece about Curry on the Rotary Club of Haliburton website.
Greg said Curry was interested in municipal politics because it concerned the local area.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that his long-time commitment to places like Rotary, that wanting to support the local community and make it better, was at the top of his mind,” he said.
Memorial donations to the Haliburton Rotary Club’s Good Food Box Program, Royal Canadian Legion Branch 129 Haliburton, or to the Haliburton 4C’s Food Bank would be appreciated.