September 3rd, 2014
Brother Fred Wharton grew up in Camrose, Alberta, the middle of six children. After a stint in the Royal Canadian Navy, he arrived in Vancouver about the time the Queen Elizabeth Theatre was being built. His first theatre job was installing rigging at the QET before it opened in 1959. Learning the business from the ground up (or from the top down!), he first worked as a casual Head Flyman, Propman and Carpenter. When things were slow on stage, Fred worked as a Dolly Grip with Local 891 in the early days of the Vancouver movie industry. Fred actively participated in the administration of Local 118, serving on several Executive Boards as Financial Secretary. In 1982, Fred became the full-time QET Head Carpenter, and continued this job until he was forced to retire at the age of 65 in 1998. Fred particularly enjoyed the many Broadway musicals that came to Vancouver, working alongside stars such as Robert Goulet, Debbie Reynolds, Mickey Rooney and particularly Ann Miller.
After his ‘retirement’, Fred continued working as a casual active member of Local 118 until 2011, and enjoyed socializing with a whole different group of people at his favourite watering hole, the Billy Bishop Legion in Kitsilano. Fred loved being around people, telling stories of his many experiences, asking for advice on home renovations and keeping cats out of his patio garden, describing the latest work on his ’65 Mustang, and sipping a pint (or a pitcher) of beer. Nobody ever said ‘yes Fred, we’ve heard that before!’, because we all felt the joy he got from telling the story. We remember him!