BARRY’S BAY – In just over the span of a week, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pembroke has lost two dedicated and caring priests. Fr. Douglas Morris of Sheenboro, Quebec died February 15, and Msgr. Ambrose Robert Pick passed away February 24 at Marianhill Residence, Pembroke. The two pastors, along with Fr. Emmett Murray of Barry’s Bay, were seminary classmates and remained close friends. The three went fishing and took many holiday trips together.
Born June 7, 1928, the son of August Pick and Annie Rumleski, Msgr. Pick grew up in Barry’s Bay, on Paugh Lake Street, the second oldest in a family of three siblings, at a time when the town was very isolated from the rest of the world. His father enlisted for service in WWI, worked for J.R. Booth for most of his life, spending the winters in lumber camps.
Msgr. Pick came from a line of hardy Polish Kashub ancestors. His paternal grandfather, John Pick, educated in German, changed his name from “Pych-Lipiński” to “Pick” and fled Prussian-occupied Poland, in 1892, with his wife and daughter, to avoid service in the Prussian army. The family stayed in Webster, Massachusetts for two years where Msgr’s father, August Pick was born. In Canada, the family settled on a farm in Sherwood Township northwest of Barry’s Bay, where seven more children were born. They endured many hardships living in a log scoop-roofed hut with a dirt floor, until a clapboard house could be built. (Later Fr. Aloysius Rekowski grew up in the same house, which still exists today, remodelled into a country home.) Msgr’s grandfather was a leader in the community. He worked on the railway, served as school trustee, assessor for the township, and the village constable in the early days.
Growing up, Msgr. Pick spent much time at his maternal grandparents’ farm, in Paugh Lake, helping his uncles, Joe and Mickey Rumleski, milk cows, rake hay and doing the usual farm chores. At age 15, he went to work at Omanique’s sawmill stencilling lumber, which belonged to J.R. Booth, using a tin stencil and lamp soot. It was during the war, and the logs were floated down the Madawaska River from Algonquin Park, cut into lumber, stencilled, loaded onto boxcars and shipped to England.
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