In June 2011, Bruce Parsons was recovering from hip surgery and was set up with a nice room at Camp Hill Veterans Memorial Hospital in Halifax, a facility for veterans needing long-term care.
The Canadian navy veteran, who is now 89, was allowed to keep his pet cat in the room and had all the services available to him that any person could want, his son Mike Parsons told The Telegram Friday.
Yet, Bruce Parsons decided it wasn’t for him and left.
“He insists on living in hotels and motels and bed and breakfasts,” Mike Parsons said.
“He was doing that most of his life.”
Bruce Parsons is currently staying at the Extended Stay Hotel in St. John’s with his room costs paid for by Veterans Affairs until Tuesday. After that, the whole scenario about where he will stay will likely play out again as it has for the past couple of years in a number of cities and towns in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland.
Bruce Parsons likes to place ads in local papers or online, asking for rides from one town to another, or a place to stay, or advertises for a job saying he is looking for a personal assistant.
He has stayed at a number of hotels, usually running out of money to pay for rooms and when hotel staff, Veterans Affairs, social workers or community organizations try to help him, he gets a ride and pushes on to another town.
“He moved along from Halifax to Windsor, N.S., and stayed there for awhile, then moved on to North Sydney,” Mike Parsons said.
“In North Sydney, an organization called VETS Canada — a private organization of veterans helping other veterans stay off the streets — set him up with an apartment in the city and the (Royal Canadian) Legion came forward with money for furniture, because he was being kicked out of the North Star Inn in North Sydney.
“He ended up leaving there and going to Port Aux Basques.”
A Facebook entry Friday from a lady in Port Aux Basques noted Bruce Parsons called her several times when he was in Port Aux Basques looking for a place to rent and for help finding someone to drive him around and to work for him as his personal aide.
“The last conversation we had, he told me he was desperate and asked how many bedrooms I had and if he could stay in our house with his cat,” she said.
Bruce Parsons worked most of his life as a marine consultant and broker. He was based out of Halifax most of time, but spent some years with an office in St. John’s. He says he would travel the coasts looking for old schooners to purchase.
Even now, he says he is still working and researching old ships.
In St. John’s, he has stayed at a number of hotels before his current location.
Jane Kingston, manager of Quality Hotel in St. John’s, said Bruce Parsons arrived at her hotel on
“We don’t take pets, but we received this man and you completely feel for him, so we made the decision to accept him,” Kingston said.
“We soon realized the poor gentleman was unable to care for himself. We had to bring him to and from the restaurant. We placed him near the elevator for his own comfort and convenience.
“We became extremely concerned. He was calling down to the desk every few minutes, as he needed assistance with everything.”
Kingston said assistant general manager Jerry Stride started making calls, trying to get help for Parsons.
“By Jerry getting in contact with all these people, we had a social worker and a member of Veterans Affairs come here to assess him and he refused their help,” Kingston said. “(They) left in dismay.”
Kingston said she was surprised to read in Friday’s paper that Parsons said he was going to be kicked out of the Quality Hotel. She said he left voluntarily on May 11, with the staff expressing concern about it.
“Jerry, my staff and the restaurant staff went above and beyond for him,” she said. “We certainly never, at any point, said we were going to kick him out.”
That day, a woman had come to the hotel and Parsons left with her.
That woman (who doesn’t want her name published) told The Telegram she had merely responded to an ad on Kijiji advertising a job for a research assistant. When she got to the hotel to meet him, he said wanted to go to her house to discuss the job details. Once there, she realized there was no job, and Parsons ended up sleeping on her couch for two nights.
Mike Parsons, who refers to his father as “Bruce,” said the man made millions of dollars over the years, and spent most of it “chasing women and living in hotels and motels.”
“He has this thing about having a young person, mostly female, hanging off his arm because all the old fogies that he’s known all his life would see Bruce with this young 18-, 19-, 20-year-old hanging around, supposedly working for him, mostly keeping track of his coffee receipts and keeping track of a few things, but never really accomplishing anything,” Mike said.
“He’s delusional, thinking he’s going to keep going the way he’s going.”
In Bruce Parsons’s hotel room, there’s a couple of cardboard boxes containing some items, including a coil of rope and a mound of paper. He has a couple of shifts of clothing, his cane, a cellphone and some cat food. He says he lost his jacket about two weeks ago.
“Right now, what he owns he has in his room,” Mike Parsons said. “The story with Bruce is he gets a decent pension. Most people could live on that pension, no problem. He could pay rent. Bruce is his own worst enemy.”
Mike Parsons said Bruce Parsons has burnt bridges in both his personal and business life. He said he wasn’t a good parent when they were growing up.
“He’s got one daughter who is 40 years old who has never spent a night under his roof, not from the day she was born,” Mike Parsons said. “Most of his family won’t even talk to him.”
He said Bruce was married three times and had a number of common-law wives. He said Bruce has seven children “legally” and “a couple more out there.”
Despite the disconnect with his family, family members have come together many times to help Bruce out financially in the past.
“But we know if we keep feeding him money, all he wants to do is stay in these hotels and motels,” Mike Parsons said.
“He’s been bailed out by churches here, there and everywhere, bailed out by Legions, by Vets Canada. And Veterans Affairs has bent over backwards to help him.”
Bruce Parsons on Friday made no apologies for what he is doing.
“It’s the way I choose to live. It’s a free country,” he said.
“I am free to go wherever the hell I want. What I’m looking for is accommodations and my cat goes with me. I’m not ashamed of anything I’ve done. I’m quite capable of taking care of myself and my cat.”
(This Article has been amended)