They say his eyes were as blue as Irish skies and his heart as big as all Killarney.
Patrick Hough (pronounced Howk) was his name, and this transplanted educator from the Auld Sod left an indelible imprint on Vancouver. Today, nearly 65 years after his death, Paddy, as he was affectionately known, is memorialized in the Hough neighborhood and the Hough School, 1900 Daniels St.
Paddy Hough might seem an odd character to have inspired two generations of children here. Short in stature, with a scraggly beard and only one arm, he did not fit the stereotype of a born leader. He overcame his physical shortcomings with an overflowing love for learning and for children.
He was born on the banks of River Shannon in Ireland on St. Patick’s Day, 1846, and began teaching there at an early age. However, when the Franco-Prussian War broke out in 1870, he voluntered as a stretcher bearer on the battlefields of France. It was there that a German artillery shell robbed him of his lower left arm.
Hough went home to Ireland, scraped up $400 and booked passage for the New World. He taught 13 years in New Westminister, B.C., then emigrated to the United States.
Hough was lured to Vancouver by a job as head of Holy Angels College, an institution now long gone. He taught there all day, then spent his nights training other students to become teachers.
Hough left the parochial schools in 1891 to become principal of the Columbian School on Kauffman Avenue. In 1899, he became principal of Vancouver High School, a position he held until his “retirement” in 1908.
His retirement didn’t last long, and Hough was to serve as deputy superintendent of county schools and as a substitute teacher during World War I.
When Paddy Hough died of a heart attack at his home on Dec. 17, 1925, the whole city mourned the quiet man who had inspired them and their children to seek the loftier things of life.
A Vancouver High School 1909 yearbook dedication summed up the feelings of his former pupils:”To Patrick Hough, our dear old professor, whose sympathetic advise and Christian example have been to us an inspiration to live higher and nobler lives, this is affectionately dedicated.”