Clifford Brison has left a few marks on Cheverie in his lifetime.
Senator Terry Mercer and Senator Jane Cordy recently presented Brison with a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal at a ceremony in Halifax.
He was recognized for supporting minor sport, playing a key role in the founding of the Cheverie-Kempt ball field, creating recreational opportunities on the Kempt Shore, coaching hockey and baseball, and hosting jamborees on his property to raise money for the Cheverie United Church for 25 years.
“When you live in a small community everybody has to chip in,” the sharply dressed 89-year-old said in an interview at the Hants Journal office.
Brison, who is shy to speak about his own accomplishments, says he is honoured to be the holder of a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, but disappointed there are many deserving locals who have been overlooked.
“Kind of a shame to think some of the people around that have done a little more than I have never got one.”
Brison ran a country general store on the Kempt Shore from 1946-69. He jokes that he had “no money and no brains” when he decided to leave the Bank of Commerce in Hantsport to run his own business, but he has many fond memories of the days he and his wife, Verna, worked side by side.
“She’s a great worker. She caught on to the store business very quick,” Brison noted with a smile.
“Many years of hard work from both of us, and the people who worked for us.”
The couple raised four children — Frances, Mitch, Philip and Scott.
“All good workers — take after their mother.”
Frances Brison, their eldest child, remembers her father delivering groceries along the Kempt Shore, and allowing his low-income customers to pay what they could, when they could.
“People couldn’t pay him, but they would charge their groceries and I’m sure there was some of those bills he never did get paid for.”
She says her father’s humble beginnings made him well aware of what it was like to go without.
“If I would say to him, ‘Oh gosh, I feel so bad for somebody I’d like to just give them a little money,’ his words would be, ‘You’ll never miss it.’”
Brison says he found great joy in coaching the Cheverie Cardinals andShore Maroonsin his spare time, and providing local sports teams with uniforms and guidance.
“None of the boys that I ever coached ever ended up in prison,” he said. They “kept busy, had something to look forward to.”
Brison left a lasting impression on many of his players. About 10 years ago, a group of former Cheverie Cardinals presented him with a wooden plaque crafted especially for their coach.
“Despite whatever bad things happened to my father over the years, I’ve almost never seen him without a smile on his face and a positive attitude.” - Scott Brison
“My eyes kind of filled up with tears. The whole ball team showed up to my beach property… unbeknownst to me and presented me with that,” Brison recalled.
“They said it made a difference in their lives.”
Philip Brison, a former Cheverie Cardinal who now works for Sysco Food Services, says his father worked hard to ensure there was a minor ball team on the Kempt Shore, and the players knew it.
“He provided us with an opportunity that no one else did.”
Brison sold his general store in 1969, and accepted a job as an investment counsellor in Halifax.
“I worked at that until I was 80 years old,” he said.
“I enjoyed it. I still would like to be working now.”
Frances, a nurse manager for the Annapolis Valley VON, says the rink on their property was open to the community.
“When they built their house after he sold the store he had a rink built in the back of the house and the garage was always full of hockey sticks and hockey gear,” she said.
“He always provided for kids, not just his own.”
Frances says her father’s compassion for others did not fade with age. Although he keeps busy as the primary caregiver for his wife, and the proud grandfather at hockey games, he still takes the time to visit or call families affected by a sudden death or serious illness.
“I’m just in awe of him and what he does.”
Scott Brison says although many did not know it, his father remained committed to helping his community throughout many trying times in his own life.
“Despite whatever bad things happened to my father over the years, I’ve almost never seen him without a smile on his face and a positive attitude,” the Kings-Hants MP said in a phone interview from Alberta.
“Doesn’t matter how tough things were for him, he always had that sort of smile on his face, or twinkle in his eye, or a little joke to tell.”
Scott says his father has overcome some serious health complications, and continued to support others while doing so, but his current work as a caregiver for his 84-year-old wife is nothing short of inspirational.
“I’ve always been proud of him, but I’ve never been as proud as I am now seeing the exceptional care he is providing to our mother.”