The death of Michael Bridgeman leaves a sad note

In this Journeys article, we look at the life well lived by Michael Bridgeman, a musician, farmer and family man

Michael Bridgeman struck a chord with the community: a beloved musician and farmer with a booming voice and a silly sense of humor who never lacked for friends.

On August 15, Michael died at the age of 89 after being diagnosed with dementia.

Eldest son Troy Bridgeman said it was difficult to watch his father go through this experience and it has been a complicated week since his death.

“My dad was such a big presence in our lives,” Troy said, noting that his dad valued honesty and authenticity.

“It’s interesting, since he died I’ve had all these people come forward and talk to me and tell me these stories, and I realized he was friends with our friends as much as we were, going to places, and people were like, ‘Oh, I used to go here with your dad.'”

Michael was born on March 2, 1933 in South Walsingham in Norfolk County. His father, a teacher, died when he was four years old. As the 14th of 18 children, Michael dropped out of school after grade 7 to help on the family farm. At South Walsingham, Michael was introduced to his future wife, Joan George.

“My mom, her best friend was her cousin, and her cousin was dating my dad’s brother,” Troy said, “and then she met my dad, and I guess they fell in love, like in the stories .”

The couple were still dating when Michael moved to Guelph in 1955 to find work. Joan joined him about a year later and they were married on July 21, 1956. During their 66 years of marriage the family lived on Hearn Avenue before moving to a farm in Puslinch.

Troy notes that his father used to make up silly songs and stories that he shared with his five children. In one story, Michael referred to himself as “Big Toe”.

“They were ridiculous, most of the time, but they kept us entertained because of his character,” Troy said.

While living in Guelph, Troy recalls his father and mother being very social and participating in activities such as bowling and judo. Rich or poor, Troy said his father was friends with everyone.

“If he didn’t love you, you knew it. He didn’t judge you because of your religion or your political views, he didn’t judge you on anything else, it was s’ whether he got along with you or not.” he said of Michael.

Michael and Joan shared a passion for music and were both known as talented singers. The couple formed a family group called “The Bridgeman Family” or “The Fearless Five” after an announcer made a mistake. For several years, the family traveled across Canada and the United States, performing at country and bluegrass music festivals.

“He (Michael) sort of saw himself as Joe Jackson, the father of the Jackson Five, he kind of had to promote us, even though he wanted us to be country music stars and we played with all kinds of famous people,” Troy said. about the group.

Despite being known as “comically” frugal, Troy said he always had enough money to pay for musical instruments or tuition for his children.

“No price was too high to help us with that,” Troy said.

Besides their love of music, Troy notes that family was also important to Michael and Joan. Before his death, his father was also a grandfather and great-grandfather.

“We’re all stubborn and stubborn, which is something we all learned from my dad, but then it’s about the crisis, we come together and stick together and that’s definitely something we learned from him,” said Troy. .

“He was very supportive and I can’t think of anything he wouldn’t do for us.”


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