My father, Clinton Garth Ramsey Campbell

Clinton Garth Ramsey Campbell

My father was Clinton Garth Ramsey Campbell (1913–1999). Dad was always known by his middle name “Garth,” and never by his first name. I don’t know much about his early childhood and, come to think of it, I know relatively little about his adulthood. You see, my parents were separated when I was about three years of age and divorced by the time I was nine. As a result, I spent most of my life with my mother’s side of my family.

I do know, however, that when Garth was born, his parents lived at 40 Brentford Road, Cross Roads, St. Andrew, Jamaica.  Louisa Graham was in attendance at the birth and signed his birth certificate. Like his brother, Donald, Dad attended Calabar High School and, after graduating, he worked as a municipal clerk at Kingston & St. Andrew Corp. offices, which I believe were at Half Way Tree.

In 1931, when Garth was about 19 years of age, he drew a ticket in the Irish Sweepstakes. The Jamaican newspaper The Gleaner on 19 Nov 1931 reported that he “was in a state of sublime ecstasy bordering nervous agitation.” When asked by the reporter if he would consider selling his ticket, he replied, “No. I am going to stand or fall alone, as the saying goes. I will not sell any part or portion of my ticket. The only offer I will consider is £30,000 for the ticket.

By the way, £30,000, was the value of the first prizes, £15,000 for second and £10,000 for third. Sixteen years later (1947), Ian Fleming, the author of the popular James Bond series, wrote in a letter to a young man in England:

… you could live a happy and modest life [in Jamaica] on £500 to £1,000 a year, with a house, servants and all the rest.  It will cost you about two to three thousand to build a house.  The land will be about ten to a hundred pounds an acre, depending on the situation.

So £30,000, or even £10,000, would have been a significant windfall, especially since Fleming’s estimates included post-Great Depression, post-Second World War inflation.

Clinton Garth Ramsey Campbell (1913–1999) Birth Registration

My father never spoke to me or my sister about his windfall, nor do I believe he ever told my late mother—whom he married nine years later. Nor was there evidence he had ever won a large sum. The old article in The Gleaner is persuasive, however, for it has Dad’s name, age, father’s name and his job at the municipal offices all correctly stated.

Dad married my mother Florence Agnes Reynolds (usually known as Agnes) on Saturday, 14 January 1939, as announced in the following Monday’s edition of the Jamaican newspaper The Daily Gleaner.

The Daily Gleaner 16 Jan 1939 Wedding Announcement

My parents’marriage lasted long enough for them to have my sister, Diane Yvonne Theresa and me. And, by 1944, they were separated. I won’t go into that period as it will be covered later when I write about my time in Jamaica at some later date. I will mention, however, that for a time in the mid-1940s, after the breakup of his marriage, my father operated a hardware store in St. Andrew above Half Way Tree that was owned by his Dad, Donald Harcourt Campbell. I remember taking my bike to the store to have it repaired.

Elsie Anne Cover (1931–2013)

About a year following their decree absolute—the final court order in divorce proceedings, which meant my parents’ marriage was legally at an end, and they were free to remarry—Dad married Elsie Anne Cover (1931–2013). I didn’t know her before the marriage but do know she was the daughter of Septimus Cover of Jamaica.

Garth & Elsie Marriage

Elsie and Dad had six children, four girls and two boys: Ann, Patricia, Kathryn, Grace, Bruce and Donald. 

Earlier on in his time in Jamaica, Dad had worked in the accounting field, but during his years in Jamaica with Elsie, he worked mainly as a salesman. In the late 1940s–early 1950s he worked for George & Brandy Ltd., sales agents, and, starting in 1957, with N.A. Taylor Limited in Kingston.

In mid-1955, about four months after Elsie had given birth to her fourth child, I emigrated to Canada, and by 1960 I had lost touch with my family in Jamaica—a long uninteresting story that I won’t be covering here.

Unbeknownst to me at the time, Elsie, Dad and their kids immigrated to Canada in the mid-1960s. In about 1970, out of the blue, I got a call from one of my half-sisters, Patricia, informing me that she and the family were living in Canada. So after a 15-year gap, we were reunited and I met my two youngest half-siblings for the first time. Patricia had tracked me down through one of those weird it’s-a-small-world things and telephoned me hoping she had connected with the right Russell Campbell.

Dad and Elsie lived with their children in Don Mills. For some of that time, Dad worked in the bond cage at a stock brokerage in Toronto. According to him, he couldn’t get a job in his field when he first came to Canada and worked for a while as a gas station attendant. During this period, a regular customer took an interest in him, and after talking to him off and on for a few days, he offered Dad a job in the bond cage at his brokerage, giving Dad his first big break in his adopted country.

After he had worked a few years with the stockbrokers, Dad decided to move on. One night he called me and asked for some of my accounting books—he had accepted a job as a controller and wanted to “brush-up,” as he called it, on his accounting. I do not believe Dad had worked in accounting since he was much more than a kid. With some misgivings—I had spent five years as an accounting student—I did lend him some books and somehow he was able to hold his job as the controller for a chain of pizza stores until his retirement, which was well into his seventies.

After the kids had grown up, Dad retired and Elsie and he moved to Parry Sound, Ontario where he died in 1999 at the age of 86. Following Dad’s death, Elsie moved in with one of her children living in the Greater Toronto Area and passed away on 16 Sep 2013. They are both buried near Parry Sound.

And on that note, I’ll end this summary of my father’s family and pick up the story again in some later post with background on my mother’s Jamaican family.