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Profile 1 - Gene Manion

.By Christina Decarie with photography by Bernard Clark

Gene Manion was born and raised on a dairy farm on Wolfe Island, but he was destined for other things. Born in 1935, he was still a boy during the Second World War, and as he explains, “Wolfe Island was a low-flying area for the air force during the war, and the planes from Trenton used to come down over our farm quite low. And some of them crashed. No, I never got scared. They intrigued me so much that I thought I was going to be a pilot.”

Gene’s father, John, and his mother, Marion, ran the farm, which had about 30 cows. His older brother, Bernard, who liked farming life, eventually took over the farm. Gene was never tempted to stay: “There was no money in it. We were quite poor. It was dirty and I just didn’t like it. But I did well in school. I went to public school on Wolfe Island, and for high school, I went to Napanee and lived with my aunt and uncle. I was 12 years old.” Gene came home to the farm in the summer and sometimes on weekends, which is when he would watch the skies for planes being flown by pilots-in-training. His sister, Mary, had gone to Kingston to go to school, and his brother, abandoning school after one year of high school on the island, remained on the farm. . . .

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