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June 24, 1917 - November 11, 2012
Craig Parry Hughes died peacefully at the Ottawa General Hospital on Remembrance Day, 2012. He was in his 96th year. He is survived by his daughter Deryn Elizabeth, his son Owen Craig Bragdon, and four grandchildren, Christopher Luke Erlam, James Matthew Erlam, Bryn Elise Morin and Sarah Cameron Hughes. Interment will be private. In lieu of flowers, donations in his memory can be made to support the Palliative Care team at Ottawa General or to a charity chosen by the donor. Friends and family will gather at a date not yet set, to celebrate his life.
Craig outlived his daughter Sara (1984) and beloved wife Nancy (Bragdon) who died in 1986. Until 2007, he remained in the family home at 1011 Pinewood Crescent, Ottawa, then moving to Stonehaven Manor in Kanata in time to celebrate his 90th birthday with family and friends, particularly fellow members of the Ottawa Welsh Society and the Twin Elm Rugby Park. He was a founding member of Twin Elm, and imbibed the inaugural pint in its bar.
Craig was born on June 24, 1917 to Maud Lamb and Owen Parry Hughes. He had two sisters, Gwen Parry Thomas and Dilys Parry Anderson, both of whom predeceased him. He grew up in the small Welsh market town of Dolgellau, which sits below the mountain of Cader Idris ("Chair of Idris," a giant and astronomer of Welsh mythology, whose rocky seat on the mountain's peak was said to bring death, madness or poetic inspiration to anyone who spent the night on it). It was his wish that his ashes be scattered on Cader so he could eternally survey the home of his childhood and heart.
Craig was a lawyer and his legal studies began in Wales at Aberystwyth but were interrupted by World War II when he joined the Royal Navy, seeing action in the Mediterranean theatre on HMS Griffin and other destroyers. In the Navy his right arm was permanently disabled but he learned to use his left hand to write (beautifully) and continue his wartime correspondence with Nan, whom he had met at King's Cross before the war. They married at St. Mary's Church in Dolgellau in 1946 and settled in Blackpool, UK but in 1949 emigrated to North America on the Queen Mary with their newborn daughter Deryn.
They settled in Toronto with Owen (born 1951) where Craig became senior legal counsel to Odeon Theatres Canada and their third child Sara was born in 1955. In 1962, Craig entered the Federal government, with his first position being that of Senior Legal Advisor to Commissioner Gordon Cameron and Registrar of Land Titles for the government of the Yukon Territory. From 1962 until 1967, Nan and Craig and their children truly celebrated and enjoyed life in Whitehorse, YT. Craig was instrumental in organizing the Territory's participation in the First Canadian Winter Games in 1967. For the Canadian Centennial in 1967, he helped to conceive and bring about the first ascent and naming of thirteen peaks in the St. Elias Range, one for each province and territory and one for the Centennial itself.
In 1967, the family migrated again, to Ottawa where Craig worked for the Department of Justice, serving such clients as the Canadian Mint, the Department of Communications, the Department of Supply and Services, and the Department of Agriculture. His good counsel and clear writing are lasting examples of integrity, professionalism and his love of language.
That love of language extended from etymology - his children often found themselves at dinnertime sent to fetch the Oxford English Dictionary to check a meaning or trace a root- to foreign languages, history, poetry and wordplay of all kinds. He could not be left alone in a bookstore, particularly near the bargain bins, and could often be found with a Teach-Yourself book on Swahili, Finnish, Persian or Urdu. As for Welsh, he was a master teacher and took an active role with the Ottawa Welsh Society.
Throughout his life he loved athletic endeavour and the outdoors, playing rugby and golf (the latter, even after his right arm was injured), running, swimming and snowshoeing, hunting and fishing. While in the Yukon he became sufficiently enthused about dog mushing to build a sled and recruit the family dog to pull it, with mixed results.
More than any other quality, it was Craig's enthusiasm for the world that marked his life. He spent many years of it without the use of his right arm; but he seized life with both hands, always. He will be greatly missed.
Published in The Ottawa Citizen on Nov. 17, 2012