Well-known whistling on the streets of Pictou will no longer be heard, but will long be remembered.
The “Whistler”, as many knew Albert Patterson, is being paid tribute as he passed away earlier this week.
He was known as someone who picked up bottles and refuse, mowed lawns, shovelled out paths after snowfalls – and did it all with an almost ear-shattering whistle and a friendly wave.
David and Ann Porter knew Patterson in a special way by insuring he had a permanent place to live in their home on Church Street.
“He was a godsend, just a joy to be around,” David Porter said. “He would have been 60 in December. He was not a tenant – he was family.”
Porter said Patterson previously lived in the house and described how Patterson ended up living there in 2019 after a chance meeting at a downtown restaurant.
“Ann and I were having breakfast and he was looking at me,” David said. “He came in and sat down. We ordered him a coffee. He asked for a favour, and that’s pretty rare. He lived in the house in the 1980s with my grandmother. He asked if his room was still available. It took us a couple of seconds to think about it and I said, ‘You’re coming home.’”
Ann said she appreciated how Patterson called every night to check in with them.
“He looked after the house,” she said. “He loved the fact he was close to his work. He was very intelligent. He was very up with everything going on.”
Tabitha Coleman, who operates a business downtown, got to know Patterson through the odd job she did for her.
“I’m devastated,” she said. “Every day, he’d walk by. His name was Albert but everyone would call him Kevin. It’s quite a story.”
Bernie Currie remembered him as a kind person who took pride in his town. Currie said he gave Patterson a new reflective vest that identified him almost as well as his whistle.
“He was Pictou proud,” Currie said. “I’d see him every day. He’d go around town with a can on a dolly. This was on his own. He will be missed.”
Currie recalled an occasion when an older woman ordered some gravel that was left piled in her driveway.
“She got a load of gravel and they just dropped it,” he said. “She asked if I knew someone who could spread the gravel and I said I did: Albert Patterson, the Whistler. He came out on a hot, hot day and got it raked in a couple of hours. She gave him $50 and he said ‘$12 an hour – that’s me fee.’ That’s the way he was. He was a real honest man to anyone who knew him.”
Funeral arrangements are with McLaren’s Funeral Home with visitation from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. Monday.