Monthly Archives: July 2019

Remembering ICNAF at Edinburgh

One of the most satisfying experiences of my career in federal government communications was also one of the rarest: doing media relations at an overseas international conference. The event was the annual meeting of the International Commission for Northwest Atlantic Fisheries (ICNAF), taking place in Scotland’s capital city, Edinburgh in June 1975.

Deliberations focused on the impact of Law of the Sea negotiations which resulted a year or so later in establishment of the 200 mile limit of national jurisdiction over fisheries and marine resources. I was there to handle communications for Environment Canada’s Fisheries and Marine Service, predecessor of today’s Fisheries and Oceans Department. Some 18 countries having some involvement in the then thriving fisheries of the Northwest Atlantic were members of ICNAF.
Federal fisheries representatives – Dr. Art May, Dr. Mike Sheppard, Bob Applebaum are some whom I remember – took a leading role in the discussions. Promoting Canada’s interests in international fisheries had been a dominant theme of government policy since Law of the Sea deliberations began in the early 1970s. Fisheries Minister Jack Davis had hosted in Vancouver in 1973 a 10-day FAO Technical Conference on Fishery Management and Development, and I was there as a Press Officer.

Our Canadian group stayed at Edinburgh’s hospitable George Hotel where we found a most enjoyable custom of allowing guests to take their refreshments after hours in the open lounge. Socializing so comfortably after long days of serious negotiating was an unexpected boon. The rafters rang often with song, much stimulated by the spirited talents of Art May and his songstress wife Sonya.

My first impression of Edinburgh came aboard a bus taking us from Prestwick Airport into the city when watching two little girls talking to their obviously Pakistani parents in the thickest Scottish accents one could imagine. A plethora of Scottish speech and no small quantities of Scotch liquor served to lighten the task of supporting media coverage of an important international event. In between business meetings, delegates were treated to several receptions, one of which was hosted at Edinburgh city chambers by the Lord Provost and members of the Edinburgh district council. A particularly enjoyable reception came from a Scotch whisky organization, serving top rated malt whisky in stylish wine glasses – with neither ice nor soda to mar the taste. Never much of a Scotch fan (leaning usually toward rye in those days), I was amazed how smooth and flavorful all of them were.

Leading Canadian reporters attending the conference were Tom Earle, CBC; John Hay, Canadian Press; Peter Calamai, Southam Press; and David MacDonald, FP Publications. Others included Pat Massey, Reuters; Peter Hjul, Fishing News International; and Spike Noel, World Fishing Magazine.
A cherished memento of that experience was this letter dated June 24, 1975, addressed to Hon. Romeo LeBlanc, Minister of State for Fisheries, from Tom Earle, London Correspondent for CBC Radio News:
“On behalf of John Hay of Canadian Press London Bureau and myself, I want to say how much we appreciated the help given to us at the ICNAF Conference by Nix Wadden, your Chief of Information Branch. His professional assistance, rendered at all times, helped us a great deal.”

Women’s Soccer Team Launched in 1984

Soccer became a dominant theme in our house in the mid 1980s when Dianne wanted to play soccer and persuaded Ron to start and coach a women’s team for her to play on. And that’s how I got the job of women’s team manager.

South Ottawa Rovers 1984

South Ottawa Rovers 1`984

Set up as the South Ottawa Rovers by the South Ottawa Soccer Association, the team had a good first year in 1984, ending the season in second place in a five-team league competition. Rovers tallied 19 points behind Nepean Furies with 25 but ahead of South Ottawa Internationals and Glens Falcons, each with 16 and Aylmer with 12. Jackie Burbridge was captain. Sparked by fleet-footed Debbie Kerwin, who scored 15 goals in league games and six in others, the team’s 17 players had their special merits toasted in the manager’s irreverent end-of-the-season tribute:

Award and Honours that we wish we could present:-
1) Andrea Sinclair, the Mudpuppy Award for all that rolling in the mud and other tribulations of a soccer goalie;
2) Nancy McCall, the Rainbow Trophy for the most colourful bruises sustained in the line of full back duty, and a special Sportswomanship Award for playing Backup Goalie (with one shutout) and for putting up with Pat Carruthers’ jokes;
3) Jill Umbach, the Unintentional Backup Goalie Award, with a gift certificate for purchase of a pair of velchro goalie mitts for ball handling in the goal area;
4) Loretta Desoudry, the Prettiest Headband Prize, plus a Soccer Field Pathfinders Map of the National Capital Region;
5) Pat Hunt, the Windmill, Grunt and Bellow Award for excellence in scaring the wits out of opponents by unorthodox kicking, running and blocking the ball with the belly;
6) Lily Fayad, the Flying Foot Award for intercepting the ball in mid-air and directing it, usually, in the opponent’s direction;
7) Catherine Rancey, the Pushy-Pushy Enthusiasm Award, for the most aggressive defensive play when the referee is looking;
8) Sharri Walsh, the Muhammed Ali Challenge Cup, for the most aggressive forward, when the referee is not looking;
9) Joey Thayer, the Most Surprised Goal Scorer Award, plus a seasonal dispensation from attending classes on Soccer Nights;
10) Robin Kealey, the Most Honest Ball Handler Award, and recognition as the unchallenged champion in toe curling;
11) Dianne Wadden, the Corner Kick Triathlon Award, with the hoped that it won’t always be necessary to do all that swimming, cycling and running 15 kilometres before kicking the ball;
12) Brenda Agard, the Late Bloomers Scoring Trophy, for making her first in the team’s last game for the season, with a forecast of lots more in ’85.
13) Jackie Burbridge, the Golden Mouthpiece Award for Sportswomanship and for showing team mates how, in every way, to use their heads;
14) Cindy Mills, the Generosity Award for giving the ball to others to score, and the Runner-Up Award in the Late Bloomers Scoring Race – two in the final two games;
15) Alana McNamara, the Leaping Librarian Award for dexterity in bypassing opposing backs;
16) Debbie Kirwan, the Mercury Medal for the fastest feet on the football field, and the “You’ve Got Time” Award for leadership in Team Spirit both on and off the field;
17) Wendy Knight, the Whizzing Winger Award, for keeping up, almost, with Debbie, plus a gift certificate for a stainless steel ankle support complete with spurs to fend off attackers’ cleats;
In addition, a few other Awards are appropriate:
18) Toni Fitzpatrick, the Toni Award for First Aid to Ankle Sprainers, and a special Sportswomanship citation for playing in exhibition and tournament games when the team was shorthanded;
19) Pat Carruthers, the Linesman of the Year Award as the best (and only) team linesman;
20) Gwen (surname not remembered), the Welcome Aboard Award as the newest recruit to the S.O Rovers in its tournament at Williamstown.

That Memorable Drive in ’75

Incredible as it may seem today, I once drove a car in London, England, blithely undaunted by busy traffic and the challenge of working my way into the very heart of the city. I was alone and braving my first experience driving on the left side of the road. But that was in 1975, over 40 years ago, so maybe it wasn’t such a big deal, though it felt like it at the time. I did breathe a big sigh of relief when I pulled into the car rental parking lot to hand over the keys. It had been an eventful journey.
My journey had begun in Edinburgh, pausing at first for a brief look around Gretna Green, that romantic haven above the Scottish border where lovers thronged to be wed when forbidden to do so by English law.

The village blacksmith was its most  respected craftsman so the Blacksmith’s Forge became a favourite place for weddings. The tradition of the blacksmith sealing the marriage by striking his anvil led to the blacksmith and his anvil becoming symbols of Gretna Green weddings. The Old Smithy where lovers have come to marry since 1754, is still in the village and still a wedding venue.

I told in a recent blog about my overnight stop at the fascinating Bleaze Hall bed and breakfast in Old Hutton near Kendall. I have learned since that this more than four centuries old heritage dwelling still stands today, thanks to substantial upkeep by its private owners.

The property was advertized for sale in recent years for 570,000 pounds after it had been extensively renovated and modernized by a couple who had occupied it since the early 1980s. Its many features detailed on the sales notice included “the magnificent plasterwork ceiling and frieze in the drawing room, substantial fireplaces, oak staircase, floors, doors, beams and oak uprights, stone mullion windows (some of which had been walled up in 1692 to avoid window tax) and flagged floors. The history has been documented and includes details of previous owners, dates of extensions and the fascinating ‘dobbie’ stone which was brought to the house in 1636 and hangs from the ancient rafters for good luck.”

It was reputed to be haunted by the ghost of a maiden, “old, fleeting shadows”, and a phantom funeral which relates to the maiden who died brokenhearted when her lover failed to return from a Crusade. I’m glad I didn’t know that when I slept there in my canopy bed.


Being close to the fabled Lake District, I took a brief detour into Lake Windermere, a favourite holiday destination reputed to be England’s largest lake. Scores of sail boats, and plenty of sun worshippers, were enjoying the beautiful weather.

My only other stop along that southbound route was at the city of Manchester where I discovered a beautiful sunken garden built probably on a site devastated by wartime bombing. An imposing monument also caught my eye.

While there I witnessed a political gathering in which a Liberal party candidate was campaigning for re-election. Interestingly enough, he was distributing a flier advocating proportional representation, a cause which crops up frequently on both sides of the Atlantic, but usually in vain. Don’t know if he made it but his party came third after Labour, led by Prime Minister Roy Jenkins, went down to defeat at the hands of the Conservatives under William Whitelaw who won a modest majority. Labour had been in power for 16 years.

When nervously wending my way along London streets, I couldn’t help noticing there were still some bombed out buildings, stark reminders of the Second World War which had ended just 30 years before. The task of rebuilding this great city had yet to be completed.


My Bleaze Hall B and B

The first time I visited Britain in June 1975, my most poignant experience was spending a night in one of the most unusual bed and breakfast hostelries I ever encountered. My trip began with a visit to Scotland’s venerable capital, Edinburgh, and was to end in London, so I decided to drive the 400 miles between those cities. Undeterred by the fact that I had never before driven on the left side of the road, I rented a car in Edinburgh, and hoped for the best.
My adventure began rather scarily, as I had to back the car out of the rental lot in a long lane onto a busy roadway, but I managed to do so without mishap. Driving through Scotland proved safe enough and quite enjoyable, stopping briefly out of sheer curiosity to see Gretna Green, the romantic Scottish border village famed as a wedding haven since the late 1700s.

As evening approached, I found my way to a district known as Old Hutton located near the English town of Kendal, the southern gateway to the popular Lake District not far from Lake Windermere.

Watching out for a likely bed and breakfast, I came upon a sign for Bleaze Hall, an imposing stone building set back from the roadway. Politely assured by the hostess, Mrs. L.M. Porter, that it was indeed a bed and breakfast, I agreed to spend the night in what proved to be a most unique setting.

I found that my bed for the night was smartly furnished with a full canopy, giving me the impression that I was really living in style.

Moreover, the ceiling and upper walls were richly decorated with swirling designs reminiscent of Moorish architecture.

I expressed such interest in the Bleaze Hall building that my hostess dug out for me a set of historical notes about its remarkable background. An 1892 document described Bleaze Hall as being used as a farmhouse, but “worthy of note as containing the remains of some originally splendid woodcarving and paneling of this period.” It was built about 1600, probably by Roger Bateman, a cloth maker. A descendant, Henry Bateman, was credited with doing the woodwork, with his initials H.B. and the date 1644 incised in the word.

On the first floor, the main room had remains of an original plaster ceiling of elaborate design; the decoration consisted of large spirals of vine-ornament with smaller spirals in the spandrels; on the north wall was a plaster frieze of similar ornament with human heads or busts at intervals. The bedroom I occupied had to have been that same room, complete with its uniquely designed plaster ceiling.

Reclining that night in my cozy, comfortable centuries-old bed, I couldn’t help recalling an expression my Dad used to quote, mostly to get a rise out of my very properly raised mother, that the ultimate in home comfort in olden days was to have “canopy over the bed and a canopy under the bed,” (except that the second one was not spelt the same way!)