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Robert (Moose) Ferguson Add to ...

Family man, stock trader, handyman, jokester. Born April 9, 1932, in Toronto, died Feb. 4, 2013, in Port Hope, Ont., of non-Hodgkins lymphoma, aged 80.

The family always joked that as a child, Moose had “romantic fever,” and while in reality it was rheumatic fever, there was a grain of truth there: When Moose met his wife, Rose, she was engaged to someone else.

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After taking early retirement from school, Moose spent his entire career as a trader on the Toronto Stock Exchange, where his rich voice earned him his nickname. It stuck with him for the rest of his life – for colleagues, friends and family – everyone except his mother, who called him Bob.

He was profiled in a 1983 article in Toronto Life magazine, where a good trader was described as someone with a “nickel-plated constitution, a cool temper, a loud voice and plenty of street smarts” – in an environment where formal education was no help and often a “demerit.” This was Moose.

A self-taught handyman, he decided that their first house was getting too small for Rose and their two boys, so he borrowed some library books and single-handedly built an addition. He could fix or build anything. When he and Rose were on a cruise, they met another couple, one of whom told Moose he was a history professor. Moose, who could never resist, told him that he too had a PhD, in upholstery.

Moose was always the life of the family’s theme parties, dressing as Winston Churchill for the Second World War-themed party, a bearded lady at the circus party and a Cossack at the farewell party for his nephew Tom, who was leaving to study in Moscow. His thespian skills were often on display, particularly when the family filmed their own versions of A Christmas Carol and Miracle on Yonge Street – classics still enjoyed every Christmas.

A charitable man, Moose “donated” a good portion of his retirement income to the Ontario Gaming and Lottery Corporation and he often hosted poker parties for friends and family. He and Rose (who is a breast-cancer survivor) supported cancer-related causes – including the Survivor Thrivers, the local dragon boat team, and the chemotherapy wing of their local hospital, Northumberland Hills Hospital in Cobourg, Ont.

While there were many good times, it was still a life tinged with sorrow, most notably with the death of his son Bob in 1992. He and Rose supported each other and accepted that this was the end of a long struggle with mental illness for Bob. Andy was living in Vancouver then, but the trips home became a little more frequent at the time.

Moose always had a passion for antique cars, whether it was his first Model T or his last purchase – a 1948 turquoise Highlander convertible with plaid upholstery. These were among his many “toys” (in which eating or drinking was strictly forbidden).

When Moose was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma in 2001, the first thing he did was go out and buy a black Mustang convertible. His resilience allowed him to replace this in 2010 with a cherry red model, in which he and Rose could be seen zooming around their retirement communities of Port Hope and Cobourg, easily identifiable by the Moose licence plate.

He had no intention of slowing down. On the day he died, Moose and Rose were preparing to move to a new house in Cobourg. By chance, he was visited that day by his niece Diane and received phone calls from his brothers Ron and Don, and from his son Andy, who lives in Florida. They didn’t know these would be their final goodbyes.

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