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Bill Cavenaugh, settler in Enderby, Canada


Bill Cavenaugh (on right)

Bill Cavenaugh's long life of adventure began at middle age when he left his home in Ontario to explore the continent. He toured both Canada and the United States and ended up in Enderby. He had no family except for his parents.

In 1909, Bill shared a cabin with Fred Barnes and Ben Procter. For a few years, they had an Indian woman as cook. For the sum of $50 Bill sold his cabin and moved to the north end of Mabel Lake.

Bill Cavanaugh lived alone in a log cabin at Mabel Lake for 22 years. He rarely left his end of the lake, and didn't have many visitors. When he did have visitors, he welcomed them in and was very hospitable. Bill was soft-spoken and very energetic. Bill was a smart, well educated man, and was a reader of the Bible, although he wasn't a believer in it. He trapped beaver and muskrat in the spring and then sold the furs in the summer. With the money he received from these furs, he bought supplies from Ben Proctor which included food, coal oil for his lamp and other necessities.

Although Bill spent months of his life alone, he did not have many hobbies. The few activities included growing his own tobacco and keeping a small garden in the summer. He also constructed a shoe last with which he made his own shoes (this artifact can be viewed in the Kingfisher Museum which is owned by Wilfred Simard). Another widely known fact about Bill is that he was very fond of alcohol. On special occasions Bill would drink with his good friend Nait Wayne.

In the late 1920's, Bill would journey down the lake to see his good friend George Cargyle, who lived in Kingfisher. Bill had built himself a sailboat and on a windy day he would set sail. If the wind died he would row his way to shore and wait till another wind arose. He would stay there overnight if a wind didn't come up.

In 1930, Bill Cavanaugh left the seclusion of his log cabin for the town of Enderby. Concerned citizens persuaded Bill to live within society's limits. He then started receiving his old age pension.

On Christmas Eve, 1932, Bill Cavanaugh was killed in a freak accident at George Cargyle's cabin. He was visiting George Cargyle and was enjoying a Christmas dinner when he choked on a turkey bone, and within a few minutes Bill passed out. Dr. Keith, Coroner of the District at this time, brought his body into town. Bill was seventy - eight years old when he died. His body was buried in the part of the Enderby cemetery which is reserved for the friendless.

Through research, we found that Bill was not friendless as he was buried, but he had touched a lot of people's lives with his kindness.

Leanne Sylvester, Ryan Hunt, Karleen Schwab - ALF School 1989

This article is reproduced with the kind permission of The Enderby and District Museum