Tom Lambon is someone who always has a quick smile, a twinkle in his eye and an easy joke. “It doesn’t hurt to crack a smile,” he chuckled. This was something that Tom learned from an early age. As one of thousands of boys who passed through the doors of the Boys Home of Montreal, later known as Weredale House, Tom grew up without a mother or father and was sent to the orphanage at the tender age of three. “I never really knew my parents. My younger brother and I grew up at Weredale and my two sisters were sent to a home for girls,” he explained.
Although Weredale House did develop a training home for delinquent boys, its main responsibility was the welfare of homeless or abandoned anglophone boys. The red brick building was the only home that Tom ever knew or ever had and he admits that after having served in the military; he came to realize that he had received quite the disciplined upbringing. “Weredale operated a lot like the military. I didn’t know any different so it was alright,” he shrugged.
At the age of 17½, Tom and the rest of the Weredale boys that were of age went off to war. “I served in the Infantry Corps for a total of four years and was over in Europe from ’44 to ’46. I served over in Belgium, Holland and Germany and I’ll tell you the truth, my dear, I was scared like hell,” he chuckled.
When he returned to Canada after the war, he was on his own, now of an age where he no longer had to return to Weredale. “I came back and started working for the federal government as a civilian driver. I worked there for 15 years and then transferred to the fire department. I really enjoyed the work and loved the people. I worked for them for 25 years and retired from the base here in Chilliwack,” he said.
He left his siblings back east while he made his way out west. His brother took on a job with the City of Montreal while one of his sisters worked as a nurse also in Montreal. “My other sister was murdered in New York. It was really kind of sad,” he said plainly.
While he enjoyed being involved in the community, one of the things that he had never been involved with was rodeos. “I lived in Alberta for a while but this was something that never really crossed my mind. Jack Mussell was the one who got me started and I’ve been involved ever since. Jack is a great guy,” he smiled. Twenty-five years later and Tom is still an enthusiastic and dedicated rodeo volunteer. “There are things that I can’t do now but I still help out where I can.” In 1996 Tom was named BCRA (British Columbia Rodeo Association) Rodeo Person of the Year. As the plaque states, the award, handed out in memory of Hank Vogel, is given to a person who exemplifies the qualities and character of a true rodeo person. “Two years ago, I was honoured with the silver buckle by the Chilliwack Rodeo Association. It’s quite nice and its sure heavy,” he said, taking it off to show me. The impressive and prestigious award was presented to Tom for his many years of dedicated service. He is also an active and dedicated lifetime member of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch No. 4, an organization that is near and dear to his heart.
This coming June, Tom will be 87 years young and although he is a colon cancer survivor and had a pacemaker installed just last year and has recently lost his wife, he keeps very active and is always trying to look on the brighter side of life. “I love people and you have to stay busy. You always have to have something to do each and every day. I’m always looking forward to tomorrow and when I wake up, I thank God that I’m alive to enjoy another day,” he said convincingly, with a huge smile on his face.