Category Archives: rambling

A Golfing Fun Day at Kingsway

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans annual golf tournament at Kingsway Golf Course in 1978 was a prime occasion to mix sports and social activities.

 

 

 

 

About 24 foursomes teed off on a fine sunny day. I played with Ed Hearnden, Viviane Jennings and Lynn Dolan.

 

 

 

 

A few pictures from that event were passed around at the time, but a recent scanning session has allowed posting of a full set for interested viewers.

 

Names are noted when known – help please to fill in any gaps.

 

 

 

Golfers enjoyed a hearty dinner in the Kingsway lounge, after which prize giving was run off with the usual round of plaudits and commiserations for performance on the golf course.

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

Award presentations were headed up by Assistant Deputy Minister Gerry Ewing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oops!  one picture got in twice, but couldn’t find out how to delete it.

Remembering Mary O’Flaherty

Mary O'Flaherty

Mary O’Flaherty

It has been gratifying to see the tributes which have been published marking the death in Ottawa at age 92 of Mary O’Flaherty, who played a vital role in the Canadian Caper in Iran in 1980 as communications officer for Canada’s embassy in Teheran. The group headed by Ambassador Ken Taylor engaged in a cloak and dagger plan to protect and smuggle six American citizens to safety after rebels overthrew the Shah of Iran and took control of the United States embassy. She was one of five recipients of the Order of Canada for her part in the escape adventure.

In her public service career, Mary began work with the Department of National Defence and transferred to the Department of External Affairs. She is reported to have never turned down a posting and, in addition to Teheran, also served in Islamabad, Canberra, New York, Moscow and Ottawa.

Mary O’Flaherty was born in St. John’s, Newfoundland, and I knew her in her younger days as a member of a family that shared many experiences with my family. Her parents and mine were friends for many years and her mother was a particular friend of my mother, Bridget Wadden. In St. John’s, children went to the same schools, and our families actually shared a pew in the Roman Catholic Cathedral (now Basilica). Her brother John and I were at Memorial University together. In summer both families spent vacation time in Kelligrews.

 

Mary's mother in 1920s

Mary’s mother
in 1920s

Among a treasure trove of family oldie pictures inherited from my mother is one of Mary’s mother, Chris O’Flaherty, mounted on a favourite horse when she was a riding fan sometime in the 1920s era.

A South African Patriot

A chance name search on google prompted a delightful e mail exchange remembering Peter  Hjul, a fascinating individual who played an important role in two widely different spheres – pre-Mandela South Africa and International Fisheries. My search began while scanning photo slides from the 1970s when my work in federal Fisheries Communications brought me together with Peter on several occasions.
We first met in Vancouver in 1973 when I was Canadian Press Officer at the FAO International Conference on Fishery Management and Development. Peter Hjul attended as Editor of Fishing News International, a leading British trade magazine. The ten-day conference was organized at the instigation of Canada’s Minister of the Environment, Jack Davis, as a prelude to negotiations that led to establishment of the Law of the Sea and the 200 mile fishing limit. Two years later we met at the World Fishing Exhibition in Marseilles, France, where we in Canada were promoting the 1977 edition of that exhibition to be held in Halifax, N.S.

Peter and I became good friends during this period and, when my wife and I planned a trip to England in 1979, he invited us to visit him in London and to his home in Windsor. He treated us to an intriguing pub crawl of Fleet Street, then the famous hub of British news media, capping it off with lunch at the London Press Club. In Windsor, a home visit was preceded by a marvelous private tour of Windsor Castle where Peter amazed us with his thorough knowledge of its rich and colourful history.


In re-discovering my pictures from that era, I wondered what might have happened with Peter Hjul in later years, so I browsed through google one day and was rewarded by finding significant references to him and his career. I found that he had died in 1999 at the age of 70 but his obituary paid tribute to his many achievements since growing up in Northern Rhodesia. His family had come originally from Norway.

Most gratifying to find was an article about his South African experiences entitled “Days When My Father and Mandela Stood Against the Forces of Apartheid,” written by his journalist daughter, Jenny Hjul. It was published in 2013 in the Daily Telegraph, one of Britain’s most prominent newspapers. Peter Hjul was working in Cape Town as editor of the South African Shipping News and Fisheries Review. Strongly opposed to the ruling party’s apartheid regime, he became a leading figure in the mainly white Liberal Party, heading its radical wing which advocated voting rights for all adults black and white. His party was unsuccessful in efforts to elect members to Parliament, and his persistent agitation against apartheid policies resulted in his being banned from any political involvement and subjected to police harassment and two years of virtual house arrest. After a Nationalist fanatic’s firing of a bullet into his home, he and his family left South Africa in 1965 for a new life in Britain. There he founded the highly successful Fishing News International magazine, followed later by Fish Farming International. He travelled to all continents to report on, and participate in, major fisheries conferences and events.
Having discovered Jenny Hjul’s article, I contacted her by e mail and had the pleasure of telling her about my experiences with her father and sending her some of my photos from those encounters. She answered enthusiastically, remarking that she knew her father had visited Canada several times and even considered moving here at one point. She was thankful to receive “these wonderful pictures,” which she was sharing with her sister.“ She recalled how much her father loved to travel, particularly after having been banned for several years from going anywhere beyond his house and work.
When Nelson Mandela was released from prison, Peter Hjul, along with other political exiles, was invited to a celebration with the African National Congress, Jenny recalled, he did not go, downplaying his role in South Africa’s long road to democracy. “But, until his death, he kept Mandela’s photograph beside his bed, a symbol of hope in the years when there was none that one day his country would be free.”

Relics of a Bygone Era

carbon papere cover sheet

carbon paper cover sheet

Nostalgia freaks among us may readily recognize these flimsy relics of that earlier age when the term digital meant something to do with fingers. Labourers in the media and communications world many decades ago resorted often to the use of this stuff – messy black carbon paper – to file away copies of their deathless type-written prose. Secretaries and stenographers were doubtless the principal users but many if not most reporters found them handy when they wanted to keep a copy of text for whatever reason. Letter writers, another nearly extinct breed nowadays, occasionally slipped in a sheet so they’d know what they had said when replies arrived.

carbon paper inky side

carbon paper inky side

Carbon paper is described by one authority as “thin paper coated with a mixture of wax and pigment that is used between two sheets of ordinary paper to make one or more copies of an original document.” Offices of all kinds used carbons constantly with manual typewriters and they only fell into disuse when replaced by word processors and photocopiers. Few if any lamented the loss, relieved of the often messy routine of inserting and removing carbons and filing of dark stained flimsies. (Yet the term cc still commonly used in correspondence to denote copies actually derived from the term carbon copy.)

In my early journalistic days, working primarily in radio and TV in Newfoundland, I had little practical need for carbons, but used them often to keep copies of my stories, since originals stayed with station management. Well did I appreciate this custom when, decades after abandoning journalism for the dark side of government communications and then retirement, I decided to write a book (Yesterday`s News) about my news media career. Being able to quote verbatim from carbon copies of dramatic news stories lent the narrative a base of authenticity which mere reminiscence could not possibly achieve.

Coming upon these unexpected carbon sheets in a seldom opened subject file, my thoughts dredged up a far less pleasant recollection of many miserable hours spent in a student days summer time job in Montreal. As a temporary clerk, posted from one Canadian Pacific Railway office to another, I endured a full week doing nothing but removing carbon paper from copious office files. It took hours every night to wash away those dirty carbon stains.

A Little Bit of History

A small snippet of political history which has been in my possession for more than 60 years is outbound by mail this week to the Newfoundland Archives in St. John’s. Musty from nearly forgotten confinement in a filing cabinet, the folder contains meeting notes and correspondence on the 1949-50 drafting of a constitution for the newly formed Progressive Conservative Association of Newfoundland. It came to me when I served as acting Secretary of the Association in 1958-59.

Militant opponents of Newfoundland’s 1949 entry into Confederation and the Liberal provincial government led by Premier Joey Smallwood hastened to form the Newfoundland Progressive Conservative Party. While struggling to fight the Liberals in early elections, organizational efforts began with drafting of the new party’s constitution.

Documents show that preparations began with approaching the Dominion Headquarters of the Progressive Conservative Association of Canada in Ottawa, seeking copies of existing constitutions. National Director R .A. Bell complied with this request in letters March 18, 1949, to Hon. J.S. Currie, Editor of the “Daily News”, and Harry Mews, Manager, North American Life Assurance Co. He provided copies of constitutions of the P.C. Association of Canada and that of the P.C. party of Ontario which he said might be of some value to them. Other provincial parties also sent copies of their constitutions. Harry Mews, later to become Mayor of St. John’s, was the first Leader of the Newfoundland Progressive Conservative Party while Hon J.S. Currie was Honourary President of the Nfld P.C. Association.

The folder label reads “Constitution – 1st draft – Currie, Browne, Furlong.” Of particular interest in its contents are hand written minutes of the Consultation Committee of the P.C. Association held November 8, 1950 over the signature of Secretary A.B. Butt. Attendees, identified in the minutes mainly by surname, were Messrs (John T.) Cheeseman, John G. Higgins, (W.J.) Browne, (Frank) Fogwill, (J.W.) McGrath, Pinsent, Stick, (R.S.) Furlong, (Bill) Perlin, (Harry) Mews and (A.B. “Bert”) Butt. It was decided after discussion to produce a constitution for a provincial association rather than limiting it to a St. John’s organization. The minutes were written on Press Message form paper of the Anglo-American Telegraph Company Ltd.

Another hand written note dated Nov 5, 1950 listed by surname the following as P.C. Association officers:
Hon. President – Currie
President –           Cheeseman
Vice-Presidents   Duffy, Finn (?), Sparkes,
Secretary              Hollett
Treasurer             O’Dea

Members included McGrath, Dawe, Furlong, Doyle, Perlin, Mews. Harrington, Higgins. Fogwill, Fahey, Jackman, Browne, Higgins

Several of the participants later served in the Newfoundland House of Assembly or in the Canadian Parliament. R.S. Furlong became  Chief Justice of Newfoundland.

Something to Celebrate

Just a quiet dinner out marks a notable milestone for this family – the 50th anniversary of moving into out modest South Keys bungalow on May 28, 1968. There was nothing but mud covering the building lot surface as we gingerly stepped on rough boardwalk leading up to the front door. Not a blade of grass, nor any other kind of vegetation  was anywhere to be seen, and only a handful of neighbours. Our house was among the first group to be built in this new Campeau development. We were in fact the fifth family to move into South Keys, and the third on our street and, as some have moved on, we may have lived here longer than anyone else.

home sweet home 1968

home sweet home 1968

But we remember well that first day, moving in with a small apartment’s worth of furniture and two young children, though there was one consolation. The actual move didn’t cost us a lot. We had ferried a lot of stuff from our Henry Farm Drive garden home by car in previous days. Saving the big stuff until the last day, we hired a U-Haul trailer which was hitched to our bumper, paying the princely sum of $8.03 for eight hours use. Good friends pitched in with the heavy lifting of fridge, stove, washer and bedroom furniture, so the job was done in three or four trips.

Outside the house was far from ideal, surrounded by masses of that gunky mud caked with the disastrous leda clay that undermines so much of the local landscape. Kids being kids, however, made the best of it in outdoor play by grabbing up gobs of the stickier stuff to fashion crude but imaginative sculptural creations. Topsoil, front lawn sodding and other improvements followed eventually, while settling in chores whiled away a busy but enjoyable first year. Then barely within city limits, the south end community has bloomed into one of the capital’s more desirable neighbourhoods.

 

 

Foreign Stamps in My 1940s Collection

distinctive foreign stamp design

distinctive foreign stamp design

At the height of my short lived stamp collecting career in the 1940s, I had accumulated, not only some 5,000 Newfoundland stamps, but also a colourful array of stamps from 126 foreign countries. Unhappily, this entire collection disappeared following my departure from home in St. John’s to attend St. F.X. University in Nova Scotia from 1950 to 1952.

One memento survives in a hand written listing I put together of those countries from which I had gathered quite a rich cross section of colourful national stamps. Most were of the standard rectangular format, but a few countries had adopted triangular and other offbeat designs.

many French colonies issued their own stamps

many French colonies issued their own stamps

These were naturally among my favourites. See a few samples from a current on line catalogue.

triangular stamps are uncommonly attractive

triangular stamps are uncommonly attractive

It may be interesting to check how many of these countries have since changed names or been otherwise altered with the passage of time. Here is that list:

Abyssinia, Algeria, America (United States), Angola, Antigua, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Barbados, Bavaria, Bechuanaland, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, British Guiana, Bulgaria, Cameroons, Canada, Cayman Islands, Ceylon, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Cuba, Cyprus, Czechoslovakia, Dahomey, Denmark, Dominica (British), Dominican Republic, Dutch (Netherlands), Dutch Guiana, Dutch Indies, Egypt, England, Equador, Finland, France, French Equatorial Africa, French Overseas, Germany, Gibraltar, Gold Coast, Greece, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Italy, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Uganda and Tanganyika, Latvia, Lebanese Republic, Leeward Islands, Liberia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malay, Malta, Martinique, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Montserrat, Mozambique, New Caledonia, Newfoundland, New South Wales, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Northern Rhodesia, Norway, Oceanic Settlements, Orange Free State, Palestine, Panama, Paraguay, Persia, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Porto Rico, Portugal, Queensland, Romania, Russia, St. Pierre, St. Lucia, St. Thomas & Prince Islands, St. Vincent, Salvador, Senegal, Seychelles, Siam, Sierra Leone, Somali Coast, South Africa, Southern Rhodesia, Southwest Africa, Spain, Straits Settlements, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Tannu Tuva, Togo, Transvaal, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunis, Turkey, Uruguay, Venezuela, Victoria, Wallis and Futuna, Yugoslavia.

How many outdated country names have you spotted?

 

A Newfoundland Nurse in World War One

Alice Fitzgerald (top rrow) on nursing duty in France

Alice Fitzgerald (top row) on nursing duty in France

An intriguing photo of a Newfoundland nurse who served in the First World War is tormenting me because I can’t seem to find any details of her story. What I do know is that she was my Aunt Alice, my mother’s oldest sister, but I only saw her once when I was seven years old. In the photo above, she is in the top row among soldiers resting within the ruins of a war damaged stone wall, apparently somwhere in France.

Alice M. Fitzgerald was born in St. John’s March 22, 1885, the oldest daughter of William B. and Katherine (Hagan) Fitzgerald. Thus she would have been between 29 and 33 years old during the First World War. All that I have been able to confirm about her World War 1 nursing career is that she is listed in the Royal Newfoundland Regiment as a nurse from St. John’s but with no further information recorded. According to a heritage Nfld. account of Newfoundland and Labrador’s WW1 service, there were about 175 women who served overseas as graduate nurses or with the Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) – a corps of semi-trained nurses. So she was most likely one of those graduate nurses.

Alice Fitzgerald (from family Portrait)

Alice Fitzgerald (from famiy porrtrait)

After the war, Alice Fitzgerald married another Newfoundlander, Norbert Burke Dec 18, 1918, at St. Joseph’s Church, presumably in St. John’s.

They settled in North Sydney, Nova Scotia, where Norbert worked with Nova Scotia Steel Company, and raised one daughter, Frances.

Norbert Burke’s family lived in St. Jacques, Fortune Bay, and he too served in the war overseas, one of four brothers who volunteered for active service.

One of them, Leonard, was seriously wounded in the Battle of Cambrai. His other brothers also survived the war – Dr. John Burke conducted a dentistry practice in St. John’s, while Dr. Vincent P. Burke, had a distinguished career in Newfoundand education, and as a member of the Canadian Senate.

Alice Fitzgerald Burke died in North Sydney March 21, 1947 at the age of 62. Her daughter Frances, who married Jerome Rabnett and lived in Belleville, Ont., passed away in 1998.

 

 

Newfoundland Stamps Lost and Found

I thought I had long ago lost all of my Newfoundland stamp collection when someone at home unwittingly threw them out while I was away at university. It was a big one – more than 5,000 stamps in all. That was a long time ago – about 1952, three years after Newfoundland became, controversially enough, a province of Canada.

St. John's harbour

St. John’s harbour

And that was why the monetary value of Newfoundland stamps had escalated because no more were ever to be produced.

Image then my surprise when a couple of hundred of them showed up again a few months ago – 65 years later! I discovered them while clearing out some old boxes containing long discarded memorabilia accumulated over the years and all but forgotten.

King George V

King George V

Easy to miss, because the stamps were wrapped in tiny bundles enclosed by golden hued sewing thread – a method of postage stamp husbandry that would justifiably horrify philately purists in any era. But they did keep them together and in reasonably good shape.

Pity it is that these remnants from the past include only some of the most common low-denomination stamps. Survivor sets consist of 118 grey 1-cent stamps depicting codfish dubbed “Newfoundland currency”, and 100 green 2-cent stamps depicting King George V, grandfather of Queen Elizabeth. Current values except for those in mint condition – which these are certainly not – appear to be minimal.

Codfish: Newoundland currency

Codfish:
Newfoundland currency

My stamp collecting methods were entirely simple and downright crude, soaking stamps from envelopes and bundling them in sets as needed and placing them in envelopes or even Eddy’s match boxes, and keeping them together in larger cardboard boxes which I stored on bedroom cupboard shelves. I recall one of my favourites, a Whitman’s Sampler chocolate box in a design still to be found on store shelves today. Others I liked to use were fancily packaged boxes for cigars my Dad used to smoke.

What I was careful about was in counting all my stamps and marking down the numbers and the places they came from. The listing shown below was hand written in pencil on a note pad sheet dated November 1943, supplied by a venerable St. John’s printer, Dicks and Company. I probably wrote the list in the late ’40s before going away to St. F.X. University in Nova Scotia. It spelled out my complete Newfoundland stamp holdings:

1,394 2-cents, 1,129 3-cents, 1,090 4-cents, 781 1-cent, 426 5-cents, 199 10-cents, 151 8-cents, 54 7-cents, 18 4-cents, 15 15-cents, nine 20-cents, nine 25-cents, two 24-cents, two 9-cents and one 28-cents, for a total of 5,280.

As recounted in my 2015 Gower Street memoir, I wrote about my stamp collecting hobby in The Sentinel, a 1944 grade eight newspaper. I don’t really recall how or why I got interested in stamps, but it probably grew from awareness that Newfoundland stamps were rather unique because we were a small country which produced quite a lot of attractive stamp designs.

Caribou Symbol of Newfoundland Regiment

Caribou
Symbol of Newfounland Regiment

As comprehensively detailed by Memorial University of Newfoundland professor, Dr. Thomas F. Nemec, some 300 different postage stamps were issued by the Newfoundland Post Office between January 1, 1857 and June 24, 1947. Interestingly enough, because they were not demonetized, Newfoundland stamps can still be used legally on mail posted in Canada.

Back to the BlogoSphere

Neglecting one’s blog may be an unforgiveable character fault, but let’s see if comeback efforts can merit yet another comeback. A virtual hiatus since last June came on, not because of illness or other drastic cause, but merely due to preoccupation with other interests.

First, there was an inordinate obsession with tracking down family origins in Ireland, prompted by discovery of digitized listings of birth records for parishes in the vicinity of my great-grandfather Nicholas Wadden’s home community near New Ross, Wexford County.

Birth of an Irish cousin 1845

Birth of an Irish cousin 1845

Eyes glazed from hours of scanning pages and pages of hand-written records, some of them fiendishly rendered in Latin, the time-consuming exercise produced some worthwhile results. But that’s a story for a later blog.

Sated with family history’s somewhat frustrating research, I had fun helping out with publicity for a quite successful photographers’ gathering held in June in Ottawa, organized by the RA Photo Club. The Canada Camera Conference 2017 was the third national conference which our club has organized since 1998, and all three were highly successful and profitable. Co-chair DAVE Haggarty, mastermind of each event, overcame special problems this time for want of major industry sponsors, victims of photography’s transformation to the digital age. “Canada Wild,” a hit audio-visual production staged in Algonquin College’s theatre by the Almonte team of photographer Bill Pratt and musician Ian Douglas, helped a lot in the revenue drive.

More recently, much time has been given to retrieving something else from the past – hundreds and hundreds of photo images originally taken as colour slides. Thanks to the virtues of a trusty scanner, decades-old photos of people, places, events and scenic wonders have been recaptured, edited, and preserved in special event or annual print albums.

from the archives

from the archives

A painstaking chore indeed, but it’s been rewarding to get the best out of images that graphically trace many of the high points of a family’s growth.

Today’s voluminous triggering of electronic images for every moment of the day brings many satisfactions but their very plenitude defies most people’s ability, or indeed willingness, to preserve them in printed form. Perhaps only those venturing into their golden years my feel a desire to bother with prints. Later generations may or may not care, but let us hope that enough people leave something behind to tell who and how they were in days of yore.

In seeking to revive the blogging habit, topics of interest range from the sublime – day dreaming of a world without Trump – to the ridiculous – back to the aforementioned subject. Yet there are plenty of potential items coming to mind, e.g. the mundane concerns of green binning,

compost essential

compost essential

bicycle behavior, the ongoing follies of our own politicians, or the joys rather than the frustrations of noteworthy international travels. And let’s add some tidbits on such offbeat pursuits as stamp collecting, book writing and photography,

Autumn in Ottawa

Autumn in Ottawa

along with a generous sprinkling of photo images to brighten up the mix. More to come soon!