Friday, July 5, 2019

Breakfast @ Golf Club w/Jim & Louise

I joined the Mississippi Golf Club as a social member in 1976 shortly after I arrived in Almonte to practice law. Like many other clubs, the Mississippi Golf Club in the Village of Appleton has become over the years a regular place for leisure gatherings. Initially it was primarily the venue for annual summertime family celebrations on the scale of twenty people - things like my parents' birthdays (in June and August), Mother's Day and Father's Day. There were also the occasional congregations of friends - usually of a smaller number, latterly intimate gatherings of two couples only. The original club house built in 1915 - where once or twice after dinner I played the rickety upright grand piano - was destroyed by fire in the fall of 1997 and replaced with a new modern building that opened the following spring.

The current venue is extremely attractive and always appeals to urban visitors and many locals yet unfamiliar with the surroundings. Mississippi Golf Club is one of the oldest in the Province of Ontario. For as long as I can recall the kitchen has been managed by the same chef whose attention to taste, detail and generosity is nonpareil. The staff is equally commendable and always congenial.

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.

Coincidentally Jim is the widower of Mary Rosamond whose family at one time owned "Pinehurst" on the opposite side of the Mississippi River. It was this property (with its two furnaces) which my mother had at one time hoped to buy before my father persuaded her instead to build a new home in Ottawa.

Pinehurst, 1890, 161 Union Street, Almonte
Built by Bennett Rosamond, president and managing director of the Rosamond Woollen Company, one of the largest woollen mills in Canada at the time. In 1884, he started to clear his land on the “Point” in a quiet and secluded area known as Brookdale Park, and by March 1890, had announced contracts for construction of Pinehurst, “the handsomest house” at the “prettiest location in town.” This was followed by a lodge (1892), a grapery (1894), and two outbuildings (1895). Later, an iron bridge was built on the road leading to Pinehurst from No. 1 Mill and a stone wall was built along the driveway.
Pinehurst was one of the highlights of Almonte, with its two falls, rocky islands and sloping lawn, and thousands of people each year took advantage of the opportunity to pass through its grounds. In winter, visitors could enjoy the toboggan slide, while in summer, a view of the falls at every turn, vines climbing over trees, fences and rocks added to the beauty of a “cool Sunday afternoon retreat.”
Although Bennett Rosamond lived alone at Pinehurst, it was the setting for many social events, some of them quite grand, including the official opening of Rosamond Memorial Hospital in 1909, when Governor General Earl Grey and his party came to lunch.
After Bennett’s death in 1909, Pinehurst and Rosamond Woolen Mill passed to his nephew Alexander. In the early 1930s, the lodge was enlarged and rebuilt by Alexander’s son-in-law, architect Gordon Hughes. Hughes also restored the old Baird mill, which was renamed the Mill of Kintail and used by Robert Tait McKenzie, the surgeon and sculptor, as a summer home. In 1922–23, before acquiring the mill, McKenzie used a stable at Pinehurst as a studio where he designed the Volunteer, the Almonte War Memorial.
In 1946, Pinehurst passed from the Rosamond family. It remains a private residence.
To complete this historic summary of residences it should be noted that Jim is the former owner of an estate on Queen Street also overlooking the Mississippi River:

Wylie House, 1882, 81 Queen Street
Although built for James Dowdall, a local lawyer, it is known as the Wylie House, after its second owner, John Wylie, a wealthy mill owner, and it remained in the Wylie family for 63 years. In 1950, it became the Almonte Armouries, and during the Cold War, it became the Emergency Measures Organization Target Area Headquarters for Lanark County, complete with bomb shelter. Built of rectangular limestone blocks, it features carved quoins, a polychromatic slate roof with intricate moulding at perimeter base.
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:

Dr. Kelly Building, 77 & 77A Little Bridge Street, 1884
Dr. John King Kelly (1874–1954) was a highly regarded physician in Almonte for 50 years, living in and operating his practice, together with his wife, a nurse, from this house on Little Bridge Street. Born and raised in Almonte, he studied medicine at McGill University, the final year confined to a wheelchair due to rheumatoid arthritis. He graduated in 1896, at the age of 22, after which he spent six months in New York taking intensive curative and restorative therapy before returning to Almonte to practise, but with a permanent deformity of his spinal column and metatarsal bones in his feet.
Dr. Kelly was the eldest of a well-known athletic family, which included Billy, a famous lacrosse player, and Dick, a well-known runner. He served as president of the Almonte Hockey Club in the 1930s and, after World War I, together with other prominent local citizens, organized a golf club, modelled on St. Andrew’s in Scotland.
In his civic capacity, he acted for many years as the town’s medical officer of health. He is memorialized, along with two other well-loved and long-serving doctors, in a mural on the north wall of The Hub.
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.

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