Monday, December 21, 2020

Tall Sol was a goliath among Davids on Jewish basketball team

By Tom Hawthorn

Special to The Globe and Mail

December 22, 2020

Sol Tolchinsky was a goliath among Davids on his Young Men’s Hebrew Association basketball team.

Standing 6-foot-4, Tall Sol, as he was called, played centre and forward for the YMHA Blues when the Montreal team won the Dominion basketball championship in 1950. The triumph was celebrated by Jewish communities across Canada.

Two years earlier, he had represented Canada at the Olympics in a basketball tournament remembered for the duplicity of European officials and the disunity of the Canadian team.

Mr. Tolchinsky, who has died at 91, was known for his sharp passes and an accurate hook shot.

“We depended on him to help out with rebounding,” said Murray Waxman, who, at 95, is the last living member of the championship Blues team.

The centre also was a specialist in layups, driving to the net before pushing the ball up and in. Another of his skills was wisecracking for his teammates and trash talking his opponents. He fouled out often and engaged in fisticuffs in more than one game, perhaps inspired by his city’s fondness for such shenanigans on the ice.

After the trauma of the Second World War and the euphoria surrounding the founding of Israel, the Blues emerged as a team representing Jewish pride. Their team jerseys included a crest with a Star of David inside a maple leaf. 

“We were an all-Jewish team,” Mr. Waxman said. “We were all born in Montreal. Everybody knew us. We were well supported by the community.”

Two years earlier, in 1948, the Blues narrowly lost the Canadian title to the Vancouver Clover Leafs in a grueling, physical best-of-five series played at a packed Sir Arthur Currie Memorial gymnasium in Montreal.

The two teams met again two days later in the Olympic trials, a two-day knockout tournament at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto. The Blues got their revenge by defeating the Clover Leafs, only to lose to the upstart University of British Columbia Thunderbirds, a student team with fresh legs.

The Canadian Olympic basketball team ended up consisting of six Blues, seven Thunderbirds and Ole Bakken, the Norwegian-born star of the Clover Leafs.

The original plan was to play each group as a unit. In the end, the coaches mixed the players, but the teams had different styles and never performed smoothly together. The passing decades have not eased antipathy among the players.

“We had quite a good team,” Dr. Patrick McGeer, formerly of the Thunderbirds, said in 2012, “and a not-so-good team.”

“We were the lead team,” Mr. Tolchinsky insisted at that time.

The 1948 Olympics are remembered as the Austerity Games, as postwar London barely could supply the basics let alone luxuries. After a week-long sail across the Atlantic aboard the Aquatania, a Cunard liner stripped down for war service as a troopship, players settled into spare quarters at an air-force base in Uxbridge. Those players who neglected to bring a towel had to rent one from organizers. The spartan lifestyle was familiar to Mr. Tolchinsky, a 19-year-old student who held a low-paying job in the schmatta (clothing) business as a shipper. He was so tall his feet dangled off the end of the bunk bed.

The team managed to hold two practices in a church basement where both nets were blocked by posts.

The shared misery of the journey did not ease tensions in the squad. The Vancouver players were honoured at a luncheon at British Columbia House. The Montreal players did not attend. The Montreal players were feted at a luncheon at Maccabi House. The Vancouver players did not attend.

In the preliminary round of the Olympic tournament, Canada won three games and lost two, one of those by a single point. Though they finished in a three-way for second place, Canada was relegated to a consolation round because of points differential. They had deliberately not run the score up against an outclassed host British team, while others in the group had. Uruguay, also 3-2, advanced to the medal round even though Canada had beaten the South Americans by 52-50.

The Canadians then defeated Iran, Belgium and Peru to win the consolation bracket and finish ninth in the tournament, a bittersweet achievement.

One of Mr. Tolchinsky’s strongest memories was of scrimping to save $75 in spending money for the six-week trip. “There was nothing to buy,” he said of a London still struggling with rationing and shortages. “Nothing to spend it on. Nothing.” He returned home with $16 still in his pocket.

Two years later, the Blues again challenged for the national title. Mr. Tolchinsky scored 28 points in a 65-45 victory over the Ottawa Valley champion Glengarry (Ont.) Cameron Highlanders, whose top scorer was Pete Finlay, who also played professional football with the Ottawa Rough Riders. The second game ended 53-34 for a total points victory of 118-79.

The Blues then eliminated the Toronto Tri-Bells to claim the Eastern Canada title before defeating the University of Manitoba Bisons in four games in a best-of-five series. For the first time since it had been donated by a sporting club in 1926, the national Montreal Cup was awarded to a team from the city in which it originated.

The victory was hailed by Jewish fans across the country.

That summer, Mr. Tolchinsky joined four Montreal teammates and three Toronto players on the Canadian team attending the third annual Maccabiah Games in Tel Aviv. The United States defeated Canada 56-34 in the championship game that culminated the 18-nation Jewish Olympics.

Solly Tolchinsky, as his full name was officially registered by Rabbi J.L. Colton, was born in Montreal on Jan. 2, 1929. He was one of three children born to the former Nessie Cartman and Mendel (Max) Tolchinsky, a labourer and door-to-door salesman. The family, Ukrainian Jews from Odessa, immigrated to Canada in 1926.

An older brother, Shmuel, known as Sam, arrived in the new country at age 13 without knowing a word of English or French. A few years later, he was elected president of his high-school class, served in the Canadian army during the war by playing glockenspiel in a military band, then moved to New York where he became the head writer of Sid Caesar’s famous Your Show of Shows alongside Mel Brooks and Neil Simon. He also wrote for Danny Kaye, Jerry Lewis and Bob Hope, and was story editor for the trailblazing 1970s sitcom All in the Family. “I’ve lived under the czar, Lenin, Stalin and Ronald Reagan,” he once quipped.

Sol Tolchinsky followed his brother by attending Commercial High, where he played on the school basketball team. He was still a teenager when named to the Canadian Olympic team.

In the fall of 1950, Mr. Tolchinsky registered at McGill University, where he played for the basketball team. He was also a writer for the McGill Daily student newspaper, although his most creative work was writing musical comedy for the Red and White Revue theatre group.

He befriended an aspiring actor by the name of William Shatner and was smitten by a chorus girl named Margot Blatt. They were married for 67 years. She survives Mr. Tolchinsky, who died in Montreal on Dec. 1 of complications related to Covid-19. He also leaves a son, two daughters, and five grandchildren. He was predeceased by his brother, known as Mel Tolkin, who died in 2007, and his sister, Rae Frank, who died in 1966.

Away from the sporting arena, Mr. Tolchinsky, who was also known as Sol Tolkin, operated Exposervice Standard Inc., a trade-show contractor. In 1980, he became the first Canadian to serve as president of the Exhibition Services and Contractors Association, which is based in Dallas, Tex.

Though he displayed panache on the basketball court in his youth, Mr. Tochinsky was something of a klutz in civilian life, a big man in a small world who regularly knocked over wine glasses or scraped fenders in parking garages.

Saturday, October 24, 2020

2020 B.C. election prediction

With every poll suggesting a large BC NDP plurality in the vote total, perhaps even a rare majority, I predict the seat totals will be:

(Number won or lost compared to 2017 election)

B.C. Liberals: 28 (-15) 

B.C NDP: 58 (+17)

Greens: 0 (-3)

Independent: 1 (+1)

Ridings changing hands:

To NDP from Liberals:


Columbia River-Revelstoke






Richmond-South Centre


Coquitlam-Burke Mountain

Vancouver-False Creek


North Vancouver-Seymour


To NDP from Greens:

Cowichan Valley

Saanich North and the Islands

Oak Bay-Gordon Head

To Independent from Liberals:

Chilliwack-Kent (Laurie Throness)

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Rosemary de Havilland (1904-2005)

Hollywood's famous feuding acting sisters, Olivia de Havilland and Joan Fontaine.

By Tom Hawthorn
Special to The Globe and Mail
April 6, 2005

By marrying Walter de Havilland, Rosemary Connor joined a family whose disharmony was striking even by Hollywood standards. Her stepdaughters were the glamorous thespians Olivia de Havilland and Joan Fontaine, sisters whose antipathy for each other was legend; as well, both were estranged from their father.
The newest addition to the feuding clan would not be immune from the discord. At their wedding in 1960, the groom was 87, the bride a youthful 55. The wedding ceremony attracted little press attention, unlike his previous two marriages.
Walter Augustus de Havilland, was a handsome British eccentric whose first proposal for marriage was captured in a memorable Washington Post headline: Flips Coin; Wins Her. Tired of her suitor's ardent pursuit, Lilian Augusta Ruse playfully agreed to a coin toss to settle the matter. Miss Rusé -- she disliked the literal meaning of the family name and so placed an accent aigu on the final letter, a ruse of her own -- soon became the first Mrs. de Havilland.
The couple settled in Tokyo, where he worked as a patent attorney. She bore him two daughters -- Olivia Mary, on July 1, 1916, and Joan de Beauvoir, on Oct. 22, 1917. The marriage ended soon after when she discovered her husband's affair with one of the maids. She raised her daughters in California, where they would not see their father for more than a decade.
In Tokyo, Mr. de Havilland found himself shunned by the European community for living with Yuki Matsu-Kura, whom he married in 1927.
The sibling rivalry between the sisters was made all the more acute by their success in Hollywood. When Joan Fontaine won the Academy Award for best actress against four rivals, including her sister, she neglected to praise her sister from the podium or in private. While Miss de Havilland would soon enough win two Oscars of her own, the breach was irreparable.
Mr. de Havilland and his Japanese bride moved to the United States in 1941, a few months before the attack on Pearl Harbor. When she was ordered to be interned, he arranged for a comfortable life for themselves at a Colorado hotel. After the war, they moved to Victoria, B.C., where Yuki died in 1958.
Two years later, he married for the third and final time. Mary Eliza Connor was born in Yorkshire, later taking for herself the name Rosemary. She was a nurse in England and Canada and met Mr. de Havilland in British Columbia. 
All the while, her husband's relationship with his daughters occasioned headlines, not all of them complimentary. He once went to Hollywood to seek money. Later, he enjoyed a rapprochement of sorts with Olivia, who indulged a newspaper photographer by greeting him with a hug at Union Station in Los Angeles in 1952. 
After Walter died in North Vancouver in 1968, his first wife and their two daughters journeyed to the English Channel island of Guernsey, the de Havilland family's ancestral home. "Our mission then was to scatter my father's ashes into the sea at dusk," Joan Fontaine wrote in No Bed of Roses , her 1978 autobiography. "But we managed to smuggle only two-thirds of Pater into St. Peter Port. In Canada, his third wife, Rose Mary (sic), had been adamant: The other third should nurture flowers in the soil near Vancouver where he had lived with her so happily, dying there at the age of 96. I remonstrated with her, suggesting Father was not a birthday cake to be parcelled out in such a manner. Nevertheless, she divided his remains meticulously into three packages, one for each daughter, the third for herself and British Columbia."
Even the passing of a late-in-life stepmother was not without its embarrassments. A paid death notice in the Vancouver Sun declared Olivia de Havilland to have predeceased her stepmother; in fact, the last living star of Gone With the Wind resides in Paris. By coincidence, she was the subject of the Proust Questionnaire on the final page of the March edition of Vanity Fair magazine. Asked how she would like to die, she responds: "I would prefer to live forever in perfect health, but if I must at some time leave this life I would like to do so ensconced on a chaise longue, perfumed, wearing a velvet robe and pearl earrings, with a flute of champagne beside me and having just discovered the answer to the last problem in a British cryptic crossword."
At Rosemary de Havilland's passing, eight weeks before her 101st birthday, she was a resident of Evergreen House, a 292-bed facility for long-term patients in North Vancouver. "Rosemary was interested in the psychics," her paid death notice states, "and was famous for her paintings that were generated through her psychic visions."
Rosemary de Havilland was born on April 23, 1904, in Ellerby in Yorkshire, England. She died on Feb. 27, 2005, in North Vancouver, B.C. She was 100.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

The world had never seen a sporting event like it — the 1972 Summit Series

A dejected Vladislav Tretiak ignores celebrating Canadians.

By Tom Hawthorn
Victoria Times Colonist
September 28, 1997

The Russian equipment was old and ratty. Their uniforms had patches like a hand-me-down quilt. The captain wore a "K" over his heart. The goalie wore No. 20, a defenceman's sweater. Their names — Mikhailov, Yakushev, Tsygankov— were barely pronounceable and certainly unspellable. They all wore helmets (the sissies). Canadian boys said it made them look like robots.
Had they come from Mars, the Soviet Union's best hockey players could not have looked more alien.
Today, 25 years to the day that Paul Henderson's improbable goal decided the Summit Series, when Pavel Bure is a Vancouver Canuck and the Stanley Cup has been paraded through Moscow streets, it is hard to remember just how rare it was for Canadians to see a person from the Soviet Union, never mind an entire fast-skating, crisp-passing team of them.
Stalin was long dead in 1972. Igor Gouzenko, the cipher clerk who defected with tales of Soviet espionage rings, appeared in public only with a bag over his head. For most Canadians, the only Russian to have a name was Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev, round and stiff like a matreshka doll, albeit one with comic eyebrows.
The battle for hockey supremacy was supposed to be a pushover for Canada's professionals.
Infamously, Canada's scouts watched Soviet goalie Vladislav Tretiak play a single game. He was a sieve, and that's what they reported. What they didn't know was that the hungover Tretiak had been married the day before.
Johnny Esaw, the CTV broadcaster, was so certain that Canada was to win in eight straight that he chose to air Games 1, 3, 5 and 7 on his network; he felt viewers would lose interest as the Canadians crushed their opponent.
CBC got to air the decisive Game 8. By that time, the series had become less an exhibition and more a crusade.
It was Sept. 28, 1972. Elementary school pupils gathered in gymnasiums to watch on television. A federal election campaign was ignored for a day. Workplaces slowed, then stopped during the third period. Foster Hewitt did the play-by-play on television, while Bob Cole did the same on radio. Those who watched and listened have not forgotten the precise moment when, in the final minute of the final period of the final game, Paul Henderson, a forward blessed with more perseverance than skill, slipped a rebound past Vladislav Tretiak.
(I skipped junior high in Toronto that afternoon, a 12-year-old who feared crying in front of classmates if Canada lost. When Henderson scored, yahoos in apartments high above our own tossed empty beer bottles from their balcony, the brown stubbies shattering on the blacktop 25 stories below.)
Ron Butlin, who now lives in Victoria, was among the whistling, enraptured spectators at Luzhniki Arena in Moscow, an outdated rink where fans behind the goals were protected by proletarian mesh and not bourgeois plexiglass.
His strongest memory is not so much Henderson's goal, but the arrival of a Soviet V.I.P.
"The Russians jeer by whistling and they were making quite a noise," he said, recalling Game 8. "All of a sudden, the whistling stopped, absolutely stopped. It was so quiet you could hear the skates of the players down on the ice. I looked around and saw Brezhnev walking through the stands to get to a private box at the top of the arena. Until he sat down, there wasn't a sound.
"Midway through the third period, Brezhnev got up and again there was silence, except for the blades of the skates cutting the ice. Once he was gone, everything resumed.
"It was either fear, or respect, or both. Those were the days of tough Communism."
The series had become a showdown between more than just two hockey teams, but between rival systems - Communism vs. capitalism, collectivism vs. individualism.
Team Canada considered their rivals to be unthinking automatons, obedient to their system, incapable of adapting to circumstance or of allowing individual flare to flourish.
For their part, the Soviet skaters felt the pros played only for money, not for pride of country. How wrong they were, too.
Away from the series, among fans, fantastical rumors took hold. It was said here Tretiak had been forced to have surgery to replace his ligaments with artificial ones. The Russians, in turn, believed that goalie Tony Esposito had a plate implanted in his forehead, the better to withstand shots to the head.
Over the years, the series has become a collage on the tape-loop of memory:
The "To Russia With Hull" campaign; the shocking 7-3 Soviet win at the Montreal Forum to open the series; Pete Mahovlich's brilliant dipsy-doodle goal in Toronto; the booing spectators at Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver and Phil Esposito's impassioned, drenched-in- sweat, post-game monologue on national TV ("To the people of Canada, I say we tried. We did our best. We're really disheartened, disappointed and disillusioned. We can't believe we're getting booed in our own building. I'm really, really disappointed. I can't believe it. Some of our guys are really down in the dumps. They have a good team. Let's face facts. We came because we love Canada. I don't think it's fair that we should be booed"); the defection of four Team Canada players who returned home from Moscow; "da da Canada, nyet nyet Soviet"; indecipherable referees named Kompalla and Baader (the players called them Baader and Worse); Bobby Clarke's vicious two-handed slash of Valeri Kharlamov's ankle; Alan Eagleson's scuffle with Soviet officials during Game 8; his rescue from armed soldiers by Pete Mahovlich; Eagle's flipping a one- finger salute to the crowd from the ice; and, unforgettably, Henderson's goal.
"As we got into the last minute of play," Henderson reminisced in Shooting for Glory, his 1992 autobiography, "I stood up at our bench and yelled three times at Peter Mahovlich to come off so I could get on the ice. It wasn't our line's turn, but I honestly felt I could get a goal. I can't explain why, but I just had this feeling, just as I'd had in the previous game. For whatever reason, Peter came to the bench and I catapulted myself over the boards to join the play in the Russian end. As I got on, the puck went to Cournoyer on the far boards. I screamed at him for a pass that I hoped to one-time at the net because I had a clear shot, but I had to reach back for the puck with all my momentum pushing me forward. I missed and their defenceman neatly tripped me, causing me to fall and slide into the boards behind their net. Immediately I thought, Get up. Get the puck and come back down to try to score.
"The Russians, with a great chance to clear the zone, failed to control the puck, allowing the relentless Phil Esposito to whack the loose disk towards the goal. Tretiak stopped Phil's shot but couldn't smother it. By this time I was standing alone in front of Tretiak to pick up the rebound. I tried to slide a shot along the ice, but Tretiak got a piece of it. The puck came right back to me, and with Tretiak down I slid it along the ice for the winning goal. There were only 34 seconds left to play!"
He leaped into Cournoyer's arms, an image captured by Toronto Star photographer Frank Lennon. Henderson, elated, is staring straight at the camera. So, too, is Tretiak, as he lifts his back off the ice, helpless as an upended turtle. To their left, Soviet defenceman Yuri Liapkin, a look of disbelief on his face, appeals silently to the referee for - what? A reprieve? The series was over. Canada had won.
Twenty-five years later, as they gather in Toronto for an exhibition to be played in their honor, Team Canada's alumni are pot- bellied and balding, enjoying the fruits of their labors in their 50s. Bill Goldsworthy has died of AIDS, Kharlamov in a car wreck, but otherwise most are in comfortable circumstances.
The image of Henderson being hugged by Cournoyer has become an icon, reproduced - for profit - on posters, coins, book covers, and, unveiled just this week, a postage stamp.
Meanwhile, on a farm in Ontario, Pat Stapleton claims to have put Henderson's puck in a box with many others. Some have come to his door with money in search of this Holy Grail of the series, but Whitey is having none of it. His dream is to play shinny with his grandchildren on a frozen slough, and to lose the puck in a snowbank.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

What's black and white and whistles?

Lonnie Cameron (right) worked his final NHL game as a linesman on April 2, 2019.

By Tom Hawthorn
Victoria Times Colonist
May 24, 2000

Kelsey Chow, age eight, brought a zebra to her Grade 3 class for show and tell on Tuesday.
It weighed 225 pounds and had a black and white coat. Its name was Lonnie Cameron.
Cameron is a linesman -- a zebra in hockey slang -- and his natural habitat is the rinks of the National Hockey League.
The Victoria native came to View Royal Elementary with a message.
"Whatever you guys do," he told Kelsey's class, "try to be the best you can be at whatever you do."
Cameron, 35, wore his No. 74 black-and-white sweater with an orange NHL crest over his heart. He brought his hockey equipment, including a girdle and skates and shin pads, as well as a whiskey bag filled with whistles. The kids liked the whistles; they thought the hockey gear was stinky.
"I think I have a really cool job," he said.
Most hockey fans think linesmen have a thankless job that rarely wins them respect. Their daily chores seem mundane compared to the glamour afforded referees with their orange armband and a benevolent dictator's command.
"Kelsey, what does the linesman do?"
"Helps," she said.
"Helps break up fights."
A linesman's job description includes calling icings and off- sides, dropping the puck for face-offs, and helping the referees maintain order on ice. Often that means sticking their noses into fights they would rather avoid.
The NHL rule book has 103 entries and Cameron is supposed to be able to recall any of them at a moment's notice.
"Say Brooke and Kelsey are in the corner," Cameron told the class, "and they're getting their elbows up. I'd say, `Hey, get your elbows down and play the puck.'
"And if she gave me that look," he said, indicating Kelsey's scowl, "she's in the penalty box."
Cameron has known little Kelsey since the day after she was born eight years ago to Ross and Lynn Chow. The linesman went to kindergarten with Ross and the families have kept in touch as Lonnie's hockey career took him from Juan de Fuca to Racquet Club to junior in Estevan, Sask., where his dreams of following Ken Dryden as an NHL goalie came to an end.
Instead, Cameron decided to become an official, working in the Western Hockey League where he won the Allen Paradice Memorial Trophy in 1995-96 as the league's top referee. Cameron also was on the ice for the hockey finals at the 1994 Olympic Games. He made his NHL debut on Oct. 5, 1997.
While some educators may occasionally find need of a linesman's assistance, teacher Catherine Harrower runs a tight ship.
In fact, the children in Mrs. Harrower's class are far better behaved than the scofflaws Cameron encounters in his working life. Just last year, Philadelphia Flyers coach Roger Neilson was suspended two games for throwing a stick on the ice that almost hit Cameron.
(In his defence, Neilson said he had no intent of hitting the linesman, but was keen on getting the referee's attention. He did, though not in the manner he intended.)
Earlier on Tuesday, Cameron addressed the intermediate students at View Royal with an inspirational message.
"If you set a goal, always try to achieve it," he told them. "Shoot for the stars. If you hit the moon, that's just a speed bump."
Later, he said, "It's kind of corny, but I believe in that."
With 30,000 officials working in sports in Canada, Cameron told Kelsey's class that he landed one of only 60 jobs open for refs and linesmen in the NHL.
The class asked good questions. Heidi Shenkenfelder asked if girls could play hockey. (Certainly, Cameron said, and he expects the NHL will one day have women officials.) Jeff Camden wanted to know if his dad, the mayor of View Royal, worked as hard as the linesman? (Maybe even more so, Cameron said.) Tyler Laberge simply wore a Maple Leafs sweater. ("Good team," Cameron said.)
Cameron had a trick question in his classroom quiz. How many teams are on the ice during a game?
"Two!" the children shouted.
"Three teams," Cameron said. "We as officials work as a team. If the team in black and white isn't doing their job, they'll know about it from the fans."
The linesman gave an autographed photo to each students. It showed him standing to the side as Donald Brashear punches the face of Marty McSorley.
"These guys aren't really getting hurt," Cameron cautioned the class. "It's all make believe."
After the presentation, the class returned to their study of insects such as the ladybug (not Lady Byng) and the cockroach (not Claude Lemieux, but close).
Mrs. Harrower was not much of a hockey fan before show and tell.
"When I heard that Kelsey was bringing a linesman, I had no idea," she told her class. "I thought he climbed poles."

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Edith Iglauer (1917-2019), writer

By Tom Hawthorn
The Globe and Mail
February 16, 2019

Few outsiders have so profoundly captured the Canadian spirit as Edith Iglauer, an American who wrote about eccentric geniuses and rough-hewn laborers.

She profiled the artist Bill Reid and the architect Arthur Erickson, though was best known for her memoir, “Fishing with John,” about her unlikely romance with a salmon troller on the Pacific coast. The book was turned into a forgettable movie, but it is not every magazine writer who can claim to have been portrayed on the silver screen by Jaclyn Smith.

In 1969, after the publication of a memorable profile of Pierre Trudeau for the New Yorker magazine, she spontaneously invited the prime minister to dinner at her Manhattan apartment. He accepted, arriving to announce he had invited a guest — Barbra Streisand.

After a career lasting nearly eight decades, including a stint as a war correspondent in the final weeks of the Second World War, Ms. Iglauer has died at 101 in Sechelt on the British Columbia coast, an area where she spent much of the last half of her life.

In the pages of magazines such as Harper’s, The Atlantic and, particularly, the New Yorker, whose staff she joined in 1961, she chronicled a vast land and its peoples for an American audience often indifferent to “the strangers next door,” a phrase used as the title for her collected works of journalism. She was an unsentimental writer with a gimlet eye, rendering her pieces with prose as bracing as the geography in which many of the stories were set.

She wrote often of the Canadian North and expressed a sympathetic yet unromanticized view of the hardships faced by indigenous inhabitants whose centuries-long survival in a pitiless landscape had become perilous with the arrival of interlopers.

In the book “Denison’s Ice Road,” she described the harrowing business of carving a route across tundra and frozen inland seas, where truck drivers kept their right hand on the wheel and their left on the door handle, lest their heavy rig punch through the ice, leaving them mere seconds to abandon what would otherwise be an icy tomb. The book, set in the Northwest Territories, inspired an episode of “Suicide Missions,” a program airing on the History Channel, and, later, the reality television series “Ice Road Truckers.”

Her works were informed by a Chekhovian attention to detail, perhaps no surprise as she had devoured the Russian classics not long out of grade school after the school librarian provided a copy of Tolstoy’s “Anna Karenina” at age 12.

Ms. Iglauer displayed the standards of an upper middle-class upbringing — elegant blouses, a confidence about etiquette, and an attention to coiffure, which, late in life, was rendered as a gloriole of silvery hair framing a fine-boned face. She was blessed with a journalist’s most useful quality — a curiosity for which there seemed no satisfying.

Edith Theresa Iglauer was born on March 10, 1917, in Cleveland, a second daughter for the former Bertha Good and Jay Iglauer, a comptroller and later executive for the upscale Halle Bros. department store. Both parents were American born from German Jewish families. His salary afforded the daughters a comfortable upbringing in a large, three-story home in the leafy University Circle neighbourhood. The household included two maids, one of them a 49-year-old widow from Canada. The family later moved to a larger home on a half-acre lot in suburban Cleveland Heights.

Summer weekends were spent at a cabin on the Chagrin River in the Ohio countryside, where Edith rode horses and developed a passion for rural life. Her mother devoured books and displayed exquisite taste, while her more adventurous, free-spirited father exulted in the natural environment.
Late in 1933, even as many struggled through the deprivations of the Depression, the family enjoyed a week-long cruise aboard the ocean liner Mauretania from New York to Halifax and back, likely her first visit to the country she would interpret for her countrymen.

Jay Iglauer had abandoned a university scholarship as a young man to work to support his family after his father’s death, so he encouraged both daughters to pursue higher education. Midway through high school, Edith was sent to Hathaway Brown School for Girls, a private institution in nearby Shaker Heights preparing the social elite for a liberal arts college education. “I missed the boys,” she once said, “but I had two great teachers.” The courses included rigorous language instruction, as lessons about Virgil in Latin by Anna Blake “taught me to listen to the music in words.” The headmistress and English instructor Mary E. Raymond once told her, “Edith, never stop writing.” For the rest of her life, she would recall those four words every time she sat down at a typewriter.

Literature classes at Wellesley College in Massachusetts paled in comparison, a disappointment for a young woman hungry to improve her craft. Instead, she threw herself into club work, serving as president of the Student Forum in her senior year, during which she introduced prominent lecturers, such as professors from Harvard Law, and met students from war-torn China and Loyalist Spain. In December 1937, she attended a conference of Canadian and New England students to discuss the deteriorating global situation.

After graduating with a degree in political science, she attended Columbia University’s School of Journalism in New York, selling articles to the Christian Science Monitor in Boston and to the Cleveland News in her hometown, whose editor, Nat Howard, almost immediately spotted her talent.
After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Ms. Iglauer joined the Office of War Information, where she worked on the religion and Scandinavian desks for the radio newsroom, relaying news to those surreptitiously listening in Norway and other Nazi-occupied countries. She convinced a senior officer to include Eleanor Roosevelt’s weekly White House press briefings in her work routine, forging a friendship with the First Lady.

“As the newest and youngest reporter there,” she said, “I kept my mouth shut, learned a lot and loved being part of her intimate circle of reporters.”

On Dec. 25, 1942, she married the journalist Philip Hamburger, who was also serving with the War Information Office. They had met by chance in the library at Columbia after matchmaking grandmothers from both families sought to introduce the pair. The ceremony was performed by a judge in the home of Major Robert Kintner, a former White House correspondent and columnist with the New York Herald Tribune. (Mr. Kintner became a television network executive after the war, landing on the cover of Time magazine when he testified before the U.S. Congress about the rigging of quiz shows.)

In 1945, Mr. Hamburger was dispatched to Europe as the New Yorker’s correspondent in the Mediterranean Theatre, where he covered the execution of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini. Ms. Iglauer, who continued to use her maiden name for professional purposes, traveled to Yugoslavia via Casablanca, filing stories to the Cleveland News, whose readership included many who traced their ancestral roots to the Balkans. Even a short time in a war zone convinced her of the folly of armed conflict.

“The shocking destruction from bombings that I saw everywhere, especially in London, made a confirmed peace marcher out of me,” she told a convocation audience while accepting an honorary degree at the University of Victoria in 2006.

After the war, they set up housekeeping in railroad apartment (small rooms connected in a row without a separate hallway) on the third floor of a walk-up tenement. Mr. Hamburger resumed his career at the New Yorker. After the couple announced a pregnancy, Harold Ross, the magazine’s founder, asked their landlord, who happened to be a friend, to find the couple a larger apartment. The landlord was Vincent Astor, millionaire head of the famous aristocratic family.

The young family fell into traditional roles with Mr. Hamburger as the breadwinner and Ms. Iglauer alone to raise two sons, as well as responsible for organizing dinner parties and other social occasions. Ms. Iglauer once told the writer Annabel Lyon that her husband, a man of great intellect, was so unfamiliar with the daily rigors of childrearing he had once placed the rubber pants next to the baby’s skin with the cloth diaper overtop.

After both boys were in school, Ms. Iglauer endeavored to revive her own career. She arose each morning at 4 a.m. to write for three hours before returning to domestic chores. By then, her husband was a critic and she often accompanied him to concerts and recitals, only to fall asleep midperformance.

She proposed story ideas for the “Talk of the Town” section of the New Yorker. Other writers were then assigned the story. In time, she was allowed to report and write them herself. In 1961, spurred by a sense of adventure, she journeyed by train and dogsled to Northern Quebec to write about an economic co-operative being formed by Innu families whose nomadic life was coming to an end. Other expeditions to remote places in the Arctic followed. She liked to say she discovered Canada from the top down.

Ms. Iglauer displayed a doggedness and meticulous attention to detail notable even for the glacially-paced New Yorker of the era. In 1972, she finished an article on the building of the foundation for the World Trade Center, the story taking longer to complete than the foundation itself.

An exposé on sulphur dioxide in Manhattan’s air forced Consolidated Edison to burn a lighter oil and brought attention to environmental despoliation in 1964, six years before the inaugural Earth Day.
The writer was on assignment when a friend suggested she meet John Heywood Daly, a commercial fisherman. An unlikely romance bloomed between the gruff and uncouth seaman and the sophisticated cosmopolitan. He invited her to spend time with him aboard MoreKelp, a 41-foot boat lacking a toilet and reeking of diesel fuel. She wrongly anticipated pulling into quaint New England ports of her childhood and even packed formal wear for swanky dinner parties, which, needless to say, never materialized. As he worked the coast, she decided she had found her next major writing project, alerting New Yorker editor William Shawn to the story from Port Hardy, surely the only call of its kind ever made from the Vancouver Island fishing village.

She had returned to New York when Mr. Daly awakened her with a telephone call.

“I’ve just bought a wooden toilet seat that I think will fit very well on top of that pail on the boat,” he said. “It’s sky blue, and I paid $8.50 for it.”

“Lovely,” she replied. “But it’s two o’clock in the morning. What about it?”

“What about it?!” he sputtered. “Marriage! That’s what.”

The union was a happy one until the night Mr. Daly died suddenly of a heart attack at a community dance four years after their marriage. In her grief, Ms. Iglauer wrote her most famous, and autobiographical, work, which was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award for Non-fiction in 1988.

Other notable books include “Seven Stones,” a biography of Mr. Erickson published in 1981, and “Inuit Journey” (2000), an updated and revised version of her first book, “The New People,” published in 1966.

She met a widower named Franklin Wetmore White, an autodidact and self-described “bush ape” who had spent much of his life as a trucker and gyppo logger. He was the father of Howard White, her publisher with Harbour Books. They embarked on a Green Acres relationship, as he had spent much of his time in logging camps and had the table manners to show it, while she traveled in circles so sophisticated they not only read the New Yorker, they wrote it. After a quarter-century courtship, they married in 2006. They lived in Mr. Daly’s seaside cottage in Garden Bay on British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast. At age 99, Frank White, who was known as Munga, published a best-selling memoir, “Milk Spills and One-Log Loads,” following up a year later with “That Went By Fast: My First Hundred Years.”

Into her nineties, Ms. Iglauer wrote marvelous short essays for Geist, a literary magazine based in Vancouver. She also worked on a memoir, a genre with which she disliked being associated, as she felt far too many people were writing navel-gazing works of low quality.

She died at Sechelt Hospital on February 13. She leaves two sons, Richard Shaw Hamburger, of New York, a theatre director, and Jay Philip Hamburger, of Vancouver, founder and artistic director of Theatre in the Raw, and their families. Her marriage to Mr. Hamburger ended in divorce in 1966 and he died in 2004, aged 89. She was also predeceased by her second husband, Mr. Daly, who died in 1978, and her third husband, Mr. White, who died in 2015, aged 101. Her older sister, Jane Iglauer Fallon, a patron of the arts and inductee to the Cleveland Play House Hall of Fame, died in 2002, at 89.

Ms. Iglauer displayed a dogged attention to detail notable even for the glacially-paced New Yorker of the era. In 1972, she finished an article on the building of the foundation for the World Trade Center, the story taking longer to complete than the foundation itself.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Marking 50 years on the legislature floor

George MacMinn photographed by Deddeda White.
With renewed attention being paid to the position of the clerk of the B.C. Legislature, here's a profile of George MacMinn, who spent a half-century in the post. 

By Tom Hawthorn
The Globe and Mail
June 4, 2008

George MacMinn's office contains one of only two working fireplaces in the capital's historic parliament building.
His desk has a plaque marking it as once having been used by the Queen.
Such perks are the reward for someone whose workday includes interminable hours at a table on the red-carpeted floor of the legislature.
He is the clerk of the British Columbia Legislature. For 50 years, Mr. MacMinn has been surrounded by politicians, his ears buffeted by the warm blast of rhetoric.
No table officer anywhere in the vast Commonwealth — from Antigua to Zambia — has enjoyed so long a tenure.
In the raucous chamber, in which sitting members square off like irate hockey players, the Speaker acts as referee, wearing a robe instead of a striped shirt. As clerk, Mr. MacMinn is the neutral and non-partisan keeper of the rule book. He is an expert in procedure, precedent and standing orders.
Some may think a half-century of listening to politicians to be cruel and unusual, but not Mr. MacMinn.
"It's a rather awesome experience sitting there in the middle of the action," he said. "Bullets flying back and forth. And none of them seem to hit me."
He's written what some parliamentarians describe as the bible. (No, not the Bible. He's not that old. He's only 78.) Mr. MacMinn is currently at work on the fourth revised edition of his Parliamentary Practice in British Columbia , which he hopes to get to the Queen's Printer later this year.
While not spellbinding reading, it does include a chapter with the promising title of "Offer of Money to Members; Bribery in Elections."
"Haven't had to consult that one," he said. "Yet."
He has served 15 Speakers, observed 10 premiers. His tenure has been such that he has seen sons follow fathers - the Gordon Gibsons, as well as Bill and W.A.C. Bennett - onto the floor.
He has had a front-row seat to some of the most dramatic events in the province's political history. He has felt the elder Mr. Bennett's dominating personality, heard Flyin' Phil Gaglardi in full rhetorical flight, witnessed a defiant Dave Barrett being carried out of the chamber.
He takes so seriously his role as a non-partisan officer that he has not cast a ballot in the 13 provincial elections since he joined the clerk's staff.
His hiring was an unexpected turn of events.
On a quiet day, the 27-year-old lawyer took a telephone call at his office. The voice on the other end wanted to know if he was available that day to meet the province's attorney-general.
"Just a minute, I'll check my calendar," Mr. MacMinn replied. The day's schedule was blank. He agreed to a 3 p.m. appointment.
Robert Bonner, a veteran who had been wounded during the war, was a powerful minister in the Bennett cabinet. The attorney-general had two questions.
"Are you closely aligned with any political party?" he asked.
"I must confess," Mr. MacMinn replied, "I haven't been too interested."
Mr. Bonner seemed pleased by the response.
His second question was succinct, though unexpected.
"Do you have a sense of humour?"
"I think so," Mr. MacMinn answered.
He was then dispatched to meet with a white-haired, craggy-looking fellow named Ned de Beck. The job interview with the clerk of the House was even briefer than the meeting with the attorney-general.
"Are you in any way related to Hope MacMinn?" he asked.
That was his mother.
"I play bridge with her," the clerk said. "You'll do fine."
His appointment was ratified by the House at its next sitting. His salary was a munificent $800. He has not left the table since.
He came to law only after realizing poor science marks did not herald a career in medicine.
He was born in 1930, on the cusp of the Depression, at New Glasgow, N.S., where his father was a bank manager. Earle George MacMinn had dreamed of being a doctor, passing on to his son both his name and his own thwarted ambition, if not necessarily his Conservative politics.
The family moved to Victoria when George was 13. Five years later, he was bird hunting with his father on a day when what seemed to be an inconsequential decision proved to be tragic.
The elder MacMinn slipped into a punt on a lake near Duncan to roust birds on the far shore. Unseen by his son, the boat tipped.
After spotting the overturned craft, as well as his father's hat, floating on the water, George ran for help. The RCMP were unable to find the body. On the following day, the lake froze over. His father's remains were recovered later.
He inherited from his father a love for tennis. Mr. MacMinn makes a biennial pilgrimage to Wimbledon. He has also transformed the expansive lawn between the sea and his Oak Bay house into what he calls Spoon Bay Centre Court. He thinks lawn tennis a subtle game and one easy on the knees of a septuagenarian whose backhand remains defiantly one-handed.
The province is celebrating its sesquicentennial this year, marking 150 years of modern history. The mighty MacMinn has sat dutifully in the legislature for one-third of all those years.