Today's foregathering for breakfast with Jim and Louise reflects a tradition of association with others with whom we have aligned for many years. Indeed there is a commonalty among us all, illustrative of the sinews which tie together people of diverse and sometimes unexpected confederacy. For example Jim's erstwhile law clerk (Alan) - himself now a judge on the same bench - was someone whom I randomly met many years ago while jogging on the Ottawa River Parkway. Alan and his wife Lisa joined us not long ago at the Golf Club for a late afternoon lunch following a meeting of his in Ottawa. More frequently the Golf Club serves as a convenient watering hole and trough for casual gatherings of local personalities who appreciate the convenience of a nearby secluded and Arcadian resort.
It was not atypical this morning that upon our arrival at the club house the place was virtually empty - this notwithstanding the enormous number of cars in the parking lot. The members are clearly dedicated to their golfing ambitions before retiring to the comfort of the club house for refreshment. This naturally meant that our foursome had the privilege of tranquillity overlooking the tee, greens and meandering Mississippi River while sipping our coffee and casually conversing. By design I took the opportunity to learn - without being intrusive - about the current ramblings of our friends and their immediate families. We never rise above the most inconsequential parley but it nonetheless fulfills the need to keep abreast of one another. Our discussions focussed upon current occupations and whereabouts, upcoming birthdays, graduation ceremony and travel. There were naturally comic allusions to medical conditions and the perpetual declension of old age. We even shared our present undertaking to decide upon a gravestone monument for our burial plot in the Auld Kirk cemetery.
Curiously - though certainly there is no demonstrable reason it should have been completely unexpected - a diverting conversation arose with our server (Erica Mann) while waiting for Jim and Louise to arrive. Erica is currently studying history at Queen's University. She is in her fourth year of an Honours BA with intentions afterwards to go to teacher's college. When I enquired where she lived during the summer she said with her family in Almonte. Further enquiry disclosed that her parents own (and are now in the process of selling) "Burnside" on Strathburn Street in Almonte.
Erica confirmed that her parents bought the property from the estate of the late Angus Morrison (who survived his wife, Carlotta Morrison, who I believe was daughter of a Texan oiler). When I mentioned that Angus had been President of the Rideau Club, Erica said her father was currently a member. I mentioned to Erica that the last time I had been in "Burnside" was for a luncheon during which I withdrew to a rumpus room to play an upright grand piano (which I recall was but one of several pianos located throughout the house). While playing the piano John Jamieson (son of Raymond A. Jamieson, QC who was my predecessor in the practice of law) came to chat with me. We discussed possible choices of piano for his children. John eventually decided upon a Louis XIV Steinway grand piano which I subsequently played at his grand home on Union Street North:
The "Burnside" property is among the better known residences in Almonte, several others of which are in the immediate area, including "Old Burnside" once owned by James Mackintosh Bell (geologist and member of the Bank of New Zealand), on the same street but adjacent and overlooking the Mississippi River. John Bell (son) told me that when his father had "Old Burnside" there was a "skeleton staff of fifteen":
Across the street from "Old Burnside" is the former "Gatehouse" which was owned by Edward and Isobelle Winslow-Spragge when I first came to Almonte. When I first foregathered socially with Ed and Isobelle I recall having played their piano with Ed who was himself an accomplished pianist.
Further south on Strathburn Street is "The Glen" (former residence in 1919 of Archibald Rosamond) and latterly belonging to Col. John R. Cameron and his wife Peggy, who bequeathed it to their son, Bernard (a former student with me at St. Andrew's College) who was tragically murdered in 2016 by a dissatisfied estranged common-law spouse of his daughter. Peggy was from Halifax, NS where another of her sons, John R. Cameron, QC, and I attended Dalhousie Law School (in addition to St. Andrew's College). John ended assuming the practice of Senator Henry Hicks, QC who was a former acquaintance of my father when he was the commanding officer of Greenwood Air Force Base in Nova Scotia.
Jim has since sold that property and moved further down the River to Coleman's Island where he maintains a smaller though delightful riparian holding.
Though I never imagined that 77 Little Bridge Street (which I owned and from which I conducted my former law office) was counted among the grand residences of Almonte, it is a smaller version of the local historic properties:
Today's gathering is part of what is proving to be an uncommonly social time for us. When we're in Florida for the winter we actively avoid participation in social groups except for the occasional small gathering one-on-one. Lately however we've cultivated an array of outings with friends and there are more on the horizon, including at least one with family. Our society will soon be extended as far east as the Atlantic Ocean where I hope to reunite briefly with a former law school crony whom I haven't seen since 1973. Immediately our next venture is with a couple from Ottawa whom we met on Hilton Head Island many years ago.
James Cornelius Knatchbull-Hugessen CM (born July 26, 1933), known professionally as James K. Hugessen is a judge currently serving on the Federal Court of Canada. He is the son of the senator Adrian Knatchbull-Hugessen.
Born in Montreal in 1933, James K. Hugessen was educated at Oxford University and McGill University. After graduating with a B.C.L. from McGill in 1957, he was called to the bar in 1958 and entered private practice. From 1962 to 1974 he was an adjunct professor in McGill’s Faculty of Law. In 1972 he was appointed as a justice of the Quebec Superior Court. In 1983 he became a judge of the Federal Court of Canada, Appeal Division and retired in 2008. After his retirement, he was appointed as a deputy judge of the Federal Court. His other appointments have included the Administrative Tribunal of the International Labour Organization and the Supreme Court of the North-West Territories. A visually-disabled person, he served as the chair of the federal Task Force on Access to Information for Print-Disabled Canadians. In 2009, as a result of his outstanding judicial career and long term service to McGill’s Faculty of Law, he was given the F.R. Scott Award for Distinguished Service. In 2014, he was named a Member of the Order of Canada. His archive is held at the McGill University Archives.