Print
Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 17, June 1973

By C.W. MALCOLM, B.A.

Known affectionately as "Freddy Le Manquais",' he has a special claim to an honoured place in Paeroa history. Already experienced in his trade he rode on horseback from Thames to become foreman at Mc Andrews Timber Mill some seventy years ago. It was mentioned on p.3 in Journal 16 [see Journal 16: Early Timber Industry in Paeroa - E] that he became a senior partner in the firm "Le Manquais Lamb & Co.", he being the business traveller while Mr. Gordeon Lamb oversighted the excellent workmanship of the "Sash and Door" factory in Frances [Francis ? – E] Street.

Mr. Le Manquais married Miss Edith Morland, an aunt of Mrs. Reg. Shaw of Paeroa and her sister Mrs. Dawson of Auckland. There were two daughters, Kathleen (whose promising career was cut short in her teens), and the late Annie (Mrs. Lambert). Their second home which still stands on the lower corner of Cullen Street and Hill Street had the elegance one would expect of a timber mill owner, yet the means of transport never graduated above the humble bicycle, on which an active and dapper figure was a familiar sight.

On the firm's business he regularly travelled to other towns by rail, (his bicycle always in the guard's van), and orders came in from as far afield as Hamilton and Auckland. On occasions, when unable to reach the nearest station in time to catch the "Wild Cat" (last daily train back to Paeroa) he would cheerfully leave his cycle over the nearest farm fence and catch the train somewhere along the track. It was reputedly a slow train, but no doubt his familiar figure was well-known by the crew who would obligingly make it possible for him to join "whilst in motion". His bicycle was always recovered through routine channels!

Fred Le Manquais was a highly respected member of the Salvation Army and always seemed aware of unfortunates in need. In the days before Social Security, his response to the call meant that there were times when his own family went short because of his self denying liberality to others. At one time he took into his home several members of an orphaned family and supported them until other arrangements could be made.

He played the tenor horn in the Army Band and before an organ or piano was purchased his violin gave a most acceptable lead to the singing. He collected substantial sums for appeals, travelling far and wide on his ubiquitous bicycle, gaining generous response by his sincere and friendly approach. For many years he was in charge of the work for the Sunday School and young people. Picnics by launch on the river found him in his element. He was a strong swimmer and could remain under water for considerable periods. (This skill was helpful to the Police in times of drowning tragedies).

His own life ended without warning at the early age of 54. Following a useful and happy day. Fred Le Manquais passed peacefully away in his sleep in the early hours of Sunday 12th March 1922. His funeral, as had been that of his daughter, was one of Paeroa's largest. All were shocked by the sudden loss of so good and respected a citizen and the Churches paid him special tribute.