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It is fitting that Henry, born in Scotland and raised in England, would find himself in a Canadian hamlet of 100 people most famous for its pub. He claimed status as the Ashton Village Curmudgeon with a self-published book by that name. The book was atlas, architectural document and love song to the village and life he adored.

He left Ashton, near Ottawa, adorned with sculptures made of gourds, daffodils, trees, garden gates with sunflower designs and unlikely connections between people.

Henry cultivated relationships. He was married twice, first for 26 years to Betty, with whom he had three children - Giles, Karen and Tim - then for 20 years to Susan, who predeceased him in 2003.

Susan and Henry found great joy in their large garden. Henry designed and built additions to his barn and home. He traded lumber for copper and began building fountains; this gave way to gourd sculptures and then to painting and life drawing.

Henry accommodated, though didn't give in to, his failing health. He had cardiomyopathy.

Henry enjoyed drinks at the Ashton Pub on darts night, ice cream at the General Store, a good meal and the perfume of a beautiful flower.

Behind his big gruff exterior was a gentle man who easily fell under the spell of small children, delicate garden creatures and the promise of seeds.

He spoke with great pride of his children and grandchildren. His friends were a group of people as eclectic as his interests. The extent of his social circle was evident at his 70th birthday party - toddlers, retired farmers, academics and artists joined the celebration.

Although he was unable to walk more than a block or two, Henry headed for Mexico with his dog and camper van. This was preceded by trips to northwestern Ontario, Yukon and James Bay, and followed by a trip to Newfoundland.

In the later stages of his illness, he complained that he was "dying too bloody slowly," but Henry lived independently until a few days before his death, in his home surrounded by Dougal, his canine companion, sports on the telly and a book by his side.

When he died, he left an ambitious five-foot canvas with the beginnings of a farm scene, gourds partly carved, fish to feed, plants to tend and frogs to show to visiting children. These were the signs of hope and the love of life that desired one more day.

Shayna Watson and Rob Jennings are Henry's friends,

and Giles Darvell is his eldest son.

CORRECTION

Henry Darvell was married to his first wife, Betty, for 30 years. Incorrect information appeared in a Lives Lived column Jan. 10.

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