Mrs. Lorna Johnson died October 14, 2019 at Smiths Falls, Ontario. The historic fountain-pen sketch of my acquaintance with Mrs. Johnson is faint but indelible. My primary connection is through her father, Raymond A. Jamieson, QC in whose former law office at 74 Mill Street, Almonte I began my own career. The last time I spoke with Mrs. Johnson was immediately following the death of her father as we reminisced about his lengthy career spanning 1921 - 1976. Enlargement of the dynamic local personalities included Mrs. Johnson’s beloved spouse, Donald Patterson Johnson who, aside from being a maverick accountant, represented John Hawley Kerry. Mr. Kerry had been taken under the arm of Mr. R. A. Jamieson upon his arrival in Almonte many years ago. Mr. Kerry extended similar favour to me upon my arrival in Almonte. I understand that in the 1960s both John H. Kerry and Mrs. Evelyn Jamieson (Lorna’s mother) were separately named Citizen of the Year for the Town of Almonte. Completing this network of inspiring personalities is my acquaintance with Mrs. Johnson’s brother, John G. Jamieson who has that familiar flair which characterizes the family. Mrs. Johnson’s death has revived these important recollections of which I am honoured to have been a part howsoever fleeting.
Yesterday afternoon - an exceptionally bright and cool autumnal day - I sat in a folding chair at the Elizabeth Kelly Library, one leg swung over the other, chatting with Julia Thomas and Barbara Cotterill. After agreeing somewhat reluctantly we are all old fogeys (I am seventy, Julia is in her eighties and I suspect Barbara is in her mid-seventies) we laughingly regaled that we are thankful to have such enduring association. We determined that the three of us go back at least to 1978 (though Julia and Barbara have known one another even longer).
Shortly after I began my own law practice on March 1, 1978 Barbara Cotterill joined me and my lead assistant Mrs. Jennifer M. Thomson (who pointedly now lives not far from my residence on Jamieson Street - named after Raymond A. Jamieson, QC). Barbara primarily handled the bookkeeping for the office and also estate administration. Julia Thomas probably first came to my acquaintance through "The Hub" (Almonte Community Co-ordinators) of which she was a board member. Julia was part of a formidable team of women spearheading this non-profit organization. Other important members included Fern Martin, Janet Duncan and Nellie Hempell. In 1976 upon my arrival in Almonte (when employed by Messrs. Galligan & Sheffield, Barristers &c.) I had been directed by my principals to write the corporate documents for The Hub. Years later I participated in the acquisition by the corporation of the former Royal Bank building at the corner of Bridge and Mill Streets where The Hub resides. I recall attending the ribbon cutting ceremony which was a remarkable achievement for the organizers.
My association with Julia Thomas was extended through Janet Mitchell (originally Anderson and now Rintoul) with whom I had a casual social relationship. Both Janet and Julia were exceptional cooks. On occasion Janet and I would be invited to dine with Julia and her husband Frank at their lovely historic stone home in Pakenham (which coincidentally was located virtually across the road from the farm where Janet would later live after her marriage to Laurie Rintoul). Julia had that extraordinary talent to prepare a boundless table of cooked meats, vegetables and assorted homemade desserts all with seemingly effortless aplomb. Her husband Frank - who recently turned 90 years of age - was notorious for housing only the finest renditions of Scotch whiskey - a pleasure I am informed he still enjoys. Janet Rintoul now aligns with Ian Bertram Paige, a former mayor of the Township of Pakenham. Ian is an exceedingly accomplished potter from whom I purchased what is my all-time favourite piece, a small glazed fruit bowl on which I currently store my daily supply of Granny Smith apples. I regularly encounter Janet and Ian on Saturday mornings at the Farmer's Market adjacent the Almonte Library.
The pinwheel of my local associations is extremely important to me. Years ago we briefly canvassed the possibility of moving to Brockville or Gananoque or somewhere along the St. Lawrence River in order to be nearer the larger body of water but we have since abandoned that prospect. Increasingly we have adjusted to the informed conclusion that little if anything can compete with the ideal present circumstances not the least of which are the channels of friendships and acquaintances. Although we do not revive these significant alliances regularly they are nonetheless critical to the fabric of almost half of century of my life. It amuses me to encounter new residents of Town whom I know have absolutely no knowledge of my familiarity here; it is reminiscent of what I imagine were similar sentiments of those whom I met many years ago upon my own arrival here. Like my predecessors - characters such as Arnold Craig, Ernie Adams, Howard Sadler, Laura Schultz and Marion Graham - I enjoy enlightening the interlopers about their new environment. I am probably considered just as peculiar.