My maternal grandfather went by the name, George Edward Maclaren Smith. “Maclaren” was his own invention. He liked the sound of it; it served him well when he wished to emphasise his Scottish heritage to seek employment; and he liked the initials G. E. M. S. on the steamer trunk that carried his belongings from Enfield, England to Pier 21, Halifax, Nova Scotia, and on the Canadian Pacific Railroad to the prairies of Western Canada. His father, John Smith, was an Englishman and his mother, Helen Smith (maiden name and married name), was from Auchterless, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. From these Scottish roots George developed an appreciation for bag-pipes, scotch whiskey, Robert Burns, fishing, and the history of the United Kingdom.

George Smith has been a great inspiration to my life. I find I have developed many of his same interests. He was a member of the Church of England/Anglican Church and it was through his influences that I realized that one could be a man, a church attendee, a lay-minister, an outdoorsman, a father, a grandfather, and a community volunteer all at the same time. George and his wife, Bertha, were awarded the citizens of the year award in Stettler, Alberta in 1974 for their exemplary community service.

I have no doubt that I have an idealised image of my grandfather; he was not perfect and likely had sins that I never saw. Yet, it is healthy to have people in our lives to whom we can look for inspiration. George Edward Maclaren Smith was all that in my life. To whom do you look for inspiration?

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