Robert Clifton Huff
May 30, 1927 — December 27, 2018
Lifelong Edmonton area farmer and philanthropist, Robert Clifton Huff, passed away quietly on December 27, 2018 at the University of Alberta Hospital in Edmonton. He was 91 years old.
Born to Reginald Koyle Huff and Grace Flora (Unger) Huff on May 30, 1927, Robert was the eldest grandson of Abraham Sylvester Huff and Isabella (Robertson) Huff. They had established Huff’s Maple Leaf Dairy in 1913, on the section of land that was sold to the Canadian government in about 1956 and became the Griesbach Army Barracks.
A thriving dairy operation, Huff’s Maple Leaf Dairy delivered milk door-to-door in north Edmonton, in large tanks on the back of horse drawn wagons. Residents would bring their own containers to the wagon when it appeared on their street and the milk they purchased would be dispensed into those containers. Later milk was delivered door-to-door in glass milk bottles, using trucks. Huff’s Maple Leaf Dairy was home to what amounted to a village for years. The houses on the dairy were occupied either by family members, or by the men hired to work at the dairy and their families. Many of these workers emigrated directly from the Netherlands, to work at Huff’s Maple Leaf Dairy and begin new lives as Canadians. In later years their descendants fanned out across Alberta and Canada, many of them establishing dairies of their own in the process.
Before Abraham Sylvester Huff moved his family west from Chatham, Ontario to Edmonton in 1913, two of his brothers, Tecumseh Kingsley Septimus Huff and James W Huff were already respected business men in the Edmonton area, as was a cousin, Warren P. Huff who established the Jasper Dairy in west Edmonton, in 1911. James W. Huff was the principle shareholder of Huff’s Grading Company which dredged as much as 30,000 yards of gravel and sand from the North Saskatchewan each year, supplying a great deal of the raw material that went into building the infrastructure of the City of Edmonton as it grew. It was said that a ‘paying quantity’ of gold could be sifted from the sand Huff’s Grading Company sold to its clients. James W. Huff also harvested ice from the North Saskatchewan, delivering it door-to door for the iceboxes of city households in the days before refrigeration. As a young man, Robert worked the ice crew one winter.
Robert’s parents moved their small family from the Maple Leaf Dairy to their own farm one-half mile north on Highway 28 (later 97 Street) when Robert was a young boy. As an adult, Robert fulfilled his ambition of becoming a farmer himself. He purchased his parents’ land and operated it as a mixed farm, concentrating on egg and grain production until the early 1970s. He then established a beautiful new farmstead just north of the Manning Freeway. In the 1960s, Robert was very active in the establishment of the Alberta and Canadian Egg Marketing Boards.
In 2006, Robert received treatment for an irregular heartbeat and following that, he decided to share the wealth that his years of hard work and good fortune had yielded. In a single flurry of generosity, he made large donations to the Mazankowski Heart Institute, the Stollery Children’s Hospital, Lakeland Agricultural College, Alberta 4-H, and the Cross Cancer Institute. He continued making philanthropic donations to those and other charities through the remainder of his life and included large charitable bequests in his final will. A lab, dedicated to treating irregular heartbeats, at the Mazankowski bears his name and his portrait hangs in the foyer. Beneath his portrait, a plaque bears his words:
“The measure of a man’s success is reflected in the ‘seed’ he puts back into his community…for the benefit of those who will surely follow.”
Robert was predeceased by his parents, Reginald and Grace Huff; infant brother David Sylvester; sister Marion Isabel (Huff) Marchant and her husband William (Bill) Marchant of Kindersley, Saskatchewan; and brother James Reginald Huff; infant grandson Fraser Cornell Huff; his niece Karen (Marchant) Callsen; ex-wife and mother of his children Agnes (Vowel) Miller; and Sam, his last dog and dearest companion.
Robert is survived by four children: Brian Robert Huff and his wife Joan Goddard, Bruce Allen Huff, Margaret (Peggy) Grace Huff, and Murray Albert Huff and his wife Marilyn (Richardson) Huff all of Edmonton and area; four grandchildren: Lauren Rachel Huff, Taylor Konrad Huff, Phillip Bennett Huff, and Ursula Ruth Huff all of Edmonton and area; two step-granddaughters: Diane and Karen Wotherspoon; sister-in-law Faye (Rafter) Huff (of Edmonton); and six nieces: Marilyn (Marchant) Resch and her husband Ambie Resch of Mantario, Saskatchewan, Barbara (Marchant) Brockman and her husband Carl Brockman of Red Deer, Alberta, Valerie (Marchant) Smith of Bentley, Alberta; Heather (Huff) Jung and her husband Rod of Georgetown, Ontario; Lorraine (Huff) Worbetz and her husband Robert (Tony) of Red Deer, Alberta; and Shannon (Huff) Hoffman and her husband Gordon of Edmonton; many grand and great-grandnieces and grand and great-grandnephews; and many friends across North America.
Family and friends are welcome to join Robert’s children and grandchildren at a Remembrance Gathering at the Namao Community Hall, on the corner of Highway 37 and Highway 28, on January 19, 2019 between the hours of 1 and 4 p.m. A light lunch will be served.