CLARNEVILLE, NL— Shannon Samuel Keats moved to Alberta for work in 1998, as many Newfoundlanders do.
Yet he says there is a part of his heart that still lives in his home province.
That’s why he makes the trip back to Newfoundland every summer.
He loves to visit old friends and family, have a yarn over a beer or a cuppa tea, and perform in silly skits for Canning’s Coves Days.
But there’s one stop on Keat’s itinerary that isn’t about fun and games and having a laugh.
It’s a small, simple, wooden cross on a turn between Clarenville and Morley’s Siding, crafted and planted by Keats in 2014.
It’s a memorial to his father, Samuel Keats, who was killed following a two-vehicle collision on the bend 38 years ago, on Jan. 17, 1980.
Shannon, his brother, mother, uncle, and grandmother were in the car at the time of the accident. The man in the oncoming car, Lloyd Stagg, was also killed.
The cross is a way to pay homage to a father he never knew— he was only three at the time of the accident.
“When you grow up without someone in your life, you always miss them. But I have no memory of him,” explained Keats.
Keats grew up working in his grandfather Joseph Simmonds’s sawmill in Canning’s Cove, and sawing the lumber for the cross at his uncle Ed Hart’s sawmill in Lady Cove on Random Island brought back plenty of memories.
He visits the cross when returns home, and performs any maintenance that may need to be done.
He hopes the next time he visits the cross, he’ll share the experience with a man who knows his pain only too well.
Through a Facebook post, Keats was able to connect with Stagg’s son.
“It’s not just my family that was affected. It was his too.
“The next time I’m in Newfoundland I’m going to go to that cross with him. We’re going to pour out a beer each for our fathers.”