Soaring to Excellence
FROM THE MEDICAL LAB OF Banting and Best to the exploration of outer space by Roberta Bondar, the century witnessed Canadian heroics aplenty. From the medicine of Norman Beduine in China to the paintings of A. Y. Jackson at home and the conquest of the Arctic waters by seagoing Mounties, there was an unswerving commitment to excellence.
Realizing a childhood dream
When Roberta Bondar flew over Canada on board the space shuttle Discovery in 1992, the then-46-year-old native of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., played a tape of O Canada sung by a policeman from her home town. For Canada’s firstfemale astronaut, thatflightfulfilled her earliest childhood dreams.
I GREW UP IN THE 50s, before people even went to space. When I was young, I built little plastic model rockets and I had a set of View-Master 3-D
reels that dealt with space. At that time, the United States had just launched Echo 1, its first communications satellite. When I was 14, my dad and I would
Men and women who made a difference
stand on our back porch and watch it streak across the night sky.
I remember at campfires watching the sparks go up into the sky and looking at the stars. I imagined what it was like to be out there. It was a time of promise, of the future and of not having to deal with the realities of a Challenger accident. I knew very early on I wanted to go to space.
I identified with all the early astronauts. I never thought about them as being men or women. I just thought of them as people. When the first man landed on the moon in 1969, I remember running back and forth from the television to the back porch where I looked up at the moon.
I am still excited by exploration and adventure, and in space the adventure still continues. The oral histories of space will continue long into the next millennium.
Overwhelmed by carrying the flag
Greg Joy entered the 1976Montreal Summer Olympics confident he was going to win a medal. And he did, taking the silver in the high jump. But for Joy, now a 43-year-oldfund-raiser and motivational speaker, there was another prize to come— carrying the Canadian flag for the Games’ closing ceremonies.
MY MEDAL-WINNING JUMP was an average jump. I had one of the worst days of my life. I was not jumping well that day. I was flat, I was really
struggling. It was grit and determination that did it more than anything else.
I couldn’t believe it when they asked me to carry the flag at the closing ceremonies. I was absolutely overwhelmed. Walking
into the stadium with the flag was an awesome experience.
When I was leaving the stadium after we finished and all the flagbearers had exited, and Canada was last, of course, I remember my arm went straight up in the air with the flag. It was such an overwhelming experience. It was fabulous. I hadn’t really understood the impact of what I had accomplished. The people were just going crazy and it gave me a tremendous amount of pride, especially being at home.
Overcoming the old country’s prejudices
A. Y. Jackson, who died in 1974at age 91, helped establish the Group of Seven, whose first exhibit took place in Toronto in 1920. In a 1969 interview, he discussed the difficult beginnings of this distinctive Canadian art movement.
AT THAT TIME (1911), there were lots of artists, and good ones, too, paint-
ing in Canada, but they were all painting like European artists. They were making Canada look like England or Holland, or some other country. Well, Canada is not like those countries. It has a kind of
beauty that we all found distinctive, and we felt it was time that Canadian artists started to paint Canada the way that Canadians saw it, and not the way the Europeans wanted it to be.
We all felt then that there was a very definite colour about the Canadian North, and that’s what we tried to put on canvas. A lot of people didn’t like what we were doing, especially some of the European people living in Canada, who didn’t necessarily want to be here. They were the ones who would look at our paintings and say, “It’s bad enough to live in this godforsaken country, without having pictures of it hanging on your walls.” That’s the kind of opposition we ran into at the start.
‘I decided to inject myself to prove it wasn’t poison’
As a University of Toronto physiology student in the summer ofl921, Charles Best collaborated with Frederick Banting on a series of experiments that led to the discovery of insulin the following spring—and Banting winning the Nobel Prize for medicine. Nearly half a century later, in 1969, Best recalled how one experiment that summer nearly killed him. (In March, 1978, Best, then 79, collapsed and subsequently died of a ruptured blood vessel after learning ofthe sudden death of his son from a heart attack.)
WE USED A LOT OF ANIMALS in our research and for a while they were supplied to us by the police,
who used to be responsible for collecting stray animals. Then, after the humane societies came into it, a lot of animal lovers started to protest, just like they do today. But I must say
A fairy-tale beginning
Mary Pickford, “America’s Sweetheart, ” was born Gladys Smith in Toronto in 1893. By the time she was 15, she was living in the United States and starring in movies. And by 1917, she was earning $350,000 a film as one of the first international movie superstars, along with Charlie Chaplin. In 1973, when she was 80—six years before her death—she recalled her impoverished Toronto childhood and how she broke into show business.
IT WAS A MATTER OF economics. None f my family was in the
theatre. In fact, they disapproved of it heartily. When my father died, I was four years of age and mother was left with the three of us and a paralyzed mother, so she had five mouths to feed. She had used up all our savings for doctors for my father.
Mother became a seamstress and rented out our master bedroom—always to a woman. One day, a man came to the door and wanted to rent the bedroom, and mother said, “Oh no, I never rent it to a man.” But the man said: “I’m a married man, and would you like to meet my wife,” with the result that they took the bedroom.
He happened to be the stage manager of a company called the Valentine Stock Company and, one day, he said: “We are putting on a play next week that requires children. Would you allow your three babies to appear?” And mother said: “Gracious no, I wouldn’t allow my children to be actors—they smoke!”
The man replied not all of them do and persuaded mother to see for herself. She went to the theatre that night and they were charming and nice people. So mother agreed, with the result that I became a member of that company at age 5.
I just loved it, and I was on the stage forever after.
this: I have never heard one mother or father of a diabetic child say that animals must not be used.
Anyway, when it came to injecting humans, I decided to inject myself to prove it wasn’t poison. I always injected it in the leg, then when it works itself through the bloodstream to the face, the face gets red and you get a metallic taste in your mouth. One time when I did this, the student who had been working with me made the batch up a hundred times too strong, and when I gave it to myself I went into histamine shock and I nearly passed out of the picture. However, the students were bright. They got adrena-
line and they brought me around and they began asking me questions about how I felt and so on, and we ended up writing a little medical paper on the whole experience. Following the discovery, I was offered many good
positions in the United States and in England, but aftgj. serious consideration we decided to stay here. Canada is my home. After Fred Banting’s death [in a 1941 plane crash], I felt there was a responsibility to the Banting-Best Institute here at the University of Toronto, and I never seriously considered leaving. Canada has been very good to me.
Crushing through the ice
It was the little wooden boat that could. In 1944, the 32-m RCMP vessel St. Roch ended the 400year search for the true Northwest Passage, the shortest sea route from Europe to the Far East near the top of the world. Bill Cashin, now 72 and living in Carmacks, Yukon, was a 16-year-old special constable on that 86-day historic voyage.
I WAS WORKING IN THE dry docks in Halifax, and the Roch was in for a refitting on its way to the Arctic in 1943. I was a rig-
orous helper and with the war going on, there was a shortage of men. My father died when I was 14, so when old Henry [Capt. Larsen] wanted me to join the Roch, my mother gave me permission because she said I had to make my own way.
You have one helluva pile of icebergs in the Davis Strait. I’d never seen one before—they’re sure enormous. You’d have fog and snowstorms, but most times it was beautiful sunshine. The
A Canadian hero in China
In the one year that Canadian surgeon Dr. Norman Bethune worked with the communist Chinese 8th Route Army in the war against Japan, he became one ofthat country’s most revered figures. His death in November, 1939, prompted Mao Tsetung to write a laudatory essay, ‘‘In Memory of Norman Bethune,” making Bethune's name almost synonymous with Canada in China.
Bethune, who was born in Graven hurst, Ont., in 1890, never even approached such fame in his own country. But 88-year-old Irene Kon fondly re-
members Bethune as a remarkable surgeon in his Montreal days in the early 1930s when she worked in advertising. Their connection was Ron’s activist father, Louis, and his Friends of the Soviet Union, which Bethune also joined.
BETHUNE WOULD OFTEN COME TO OUR HOME on Sunday mornings to talk politics, arts, literature. One morning, he was talking about the operations he had to do the next day. I said: “I want to go. I want to watch you.” He picked me up really early the next day, about 6 a.m. He had a little roadster and wore a porkpie hat and leather gloves. He looked very dashing.The nuns, in their uniforms were fluttering along beside. “Dr. Bethune. Dr. Bethune,” they would say. He would slap them on the behind and they would just giggle. It was very funny.
I watched him do those four operations, and I tell you, the gentleness, the kindness that he showed each patient. There was this huge Italian man who had worked on ships as a stoker all his life. He had black, black hair and black eyes. He was a huge man, he sort of hung over the gurney that they had him on. He was crying and saying: “Mama-mia, mama-mia.” Beth was standing there, stroking his hair and saying: “Oh John. Come on. We talked about this yesterday. It’s not going to be so bad.” Like a mother to a child, it was so touching.
It was no surprise that he gave so much of himself to the world. The thing that is so amazing is the lack of attention to him here in Canada. All over Asia, India, Europe everyone knew him. [South African black nationalist] Steve Biko and many other people who changed the world studied medicine because of Bethune.
food—damn right it was bad! We had cases and cases of Irish stew and it was all salt with a few pieces of meat and veg. Once, we lucked out with a musk ox—like a caribou but with hair to the ground and horns like a water buffalo. Old Hank went ashore and shot it. It was a $ 1,000 fine to shoot it, but it had a broken leg and the wolves would get it anyway—it sure was fine eating.
After we reached Vancouver in October, 1944, the city put on a banquet and gave us ID bracelets as presents. We got decorated by King George VI with the Polar Medal—in my mind, its more prestigious than the Victoria Cross because, up till then, less than 20 of them had been awarded.
In 1949, I left the crew and thought I’d go down to the employment office one last time before resigning myself to joining the Navy. They said they only had one posting, but that it was in a mine way up north in the Yukon. Well, I jumped up and told them the farther north the better for me. I’ve been here ever since.
A politician who gave people hope
In 1941, Tommy Douglas (1904-1986), a former Baptist minister and the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation MPfor Weyburn, Sask., became that provinces CCF leader Three years later, he formed the first socialist government in North America. In his 17years as premier, Douglas brought in unprecedented reforms, including a universal public hospitalization plan in 1947that later became the blueprint for Canada-wide medicare. His daughter, actress Shirley Douglas, now 65, remembers her father, the spellbinding orator and courageous politician.
MY EARLIEST MEMORIES ARE of him on stage. I would love the way he'd start. Everyone would just laugh and laugh. Then he would take
them down a road that was so serious and so quiet. And then he would give them this enormous ending, which often included the part about where your responsibility to Canada is, and Canada to the world.
People’s lives were so hard in Saskatchewan in the Depression. There was no electricity. Everyone said getting electricity was impossible because the province is so enormous. You had all these big farms and so far to go to reach the next one. My father said in the ’44 election that he would bring electricity to the province. But no one believed it. Even one of our own supporters turned to my mother and said: “He has to say that. But well just ignore it because we know it can’t be done.” But he did electrify the province. And once, when he was flying over Saskatchewan, someone asked him what is the greatest thing you feel you have done for this province? He said: “Look down. Right there. The twinkling lights.”
A lot of people don’t understand how great a war it was getting health care in Saskatchewan. In 1947, the first part of the health plan started with hospitalization—$5 per person, or $10 per family per year. You had to pay it and it
would cover you in the hospital. That brought such hostility from the insurance companies in Canada and the United States and from the Canadian and American medical associations. When I think of that small town, Regina, 65,000 people, and the Saskatchewan Hotel was full of insurance company employees. They came to fight that 1948 election.
There was such a fear in the business community. And the people were bewildered, too. The letters in the newspapers and editorials were vicious. You had the radio stations and all the newspapers across the entire province dead set against it. “It’s all Communist,” people would say. “My doctor just told me that after the election, I won’t be able to go to him anymore.” It took a lot of faith to trust us. It was amazing that the ’48 election was won.
The one thing he did until the day he died was give people hope. Even in the darkest times of Saskatchewan, when nobody had any hope at all, he convinced them that if they worked together, they could achieve what they want to achieve.
The bantam who floored the German
Atfive feet, three inches and 118 lb., Horace Gwynne didn’t scare a lot of people. But as his golden performance in the 1932 Los Angeles Summer Olympics showed, it was his powerful left hand people had to worry about. Then 19, Gwynne shocked the boxing world when he floored German Hans Ziglarski to capture gold in the bantamweight division. He turnedpro right after the Olympics and won the Canadian professional bantamweight crown in 1935, a title he held until his retirementfour years later. Now 87, Gwynne is currently the oldest living Canadian Olympic gold medallist.
I TRIED TO BE A JOCKEY, but I was no good at it so I turned to boxing. My dad wanted me to be a boxer; he had me in the ring when I was four years old. My brother
and I used to box exhibitions when we were little kids during the First World War. During the Depression, I used to train in the gym every day and I worked at the racetrack
galloping horses. I made $ 16 a day.
In the gold-medal match, Ziglarski was a tough customer. I got lucky, though. He couldn’t take a punch in the stomach. After I found that out, I started to punch him there and put him down in the third round and won by knockout.
The Olympics was a big event, I really enjoyed it. You get a lot of publicity. Wherever you went, you were a hero. It made you feel good. It also opened a lot of doors for me when I came home and looked for a job.
Mayhem on the ice
Reginald Horner stood a broad-shouldered six-feet tall and weighed 190 lb. when he joined the Toronto Maple Leaf as a 19-year-old rookie shortly before Christmas, 1928. Known as “Red” to fans and teammates, the bruising defenceman played 12 seasons for the Leafi, the last two as captain. Now 90 and still living in Toronto, he recalls his signing with the Leafi and the game in Boston on Dec. 12, 1933, when Bruin defenceman Eddie Shore nearly killed Toronto’s Irvine (Ace) Bailey.
I STARTED THE 1928-1929 SEASON with the Marlboro juniors and I was also playing in the amateur stock exchange league. Leaf president Conn Smythe came up to
me one Saturday afternoon, just after I’d played for my stock exchange team, and said, “Red, we want you to come with us.” I said: “When do you want me?” He said: “Tonight.” I’d only seen one pro game, I didn’t know any of the players and I didn’t have a car, so I said I’d give it some thought. He offered me $2,500 for the balance of the season, which sounded pretty good, since I was only making $25 a week as a stock exchange clerk. We shook on it right there, and I was a Leaf.
Eddie Shore was the outstanding defenceman at the time, and on the night of the Bailey incident, he had carried the puck down the ice several times and was stopped each time. He brought the puck down again and I hip-checked him into the boards. [Defenceman “King”] Clancy took the puck up the ice and Bailey, a right-winger, dropped back into his place. Meantime, Shore had picked himself up and he was in a rage. He skated into Bailey, lifted him and tossed him in the air. Bailey came down on his head.
Shore nonchalandy skated up the ice while Bailey lay there unconscious and bleeding. I skated up to Shore and hung one on him. He went down, hit his head on the ice and the blood started flowing. Everybody in Boston Garden realized something serious had happened because you could have heard a pin drop. They carried Shore off the ice at one end and Bailey off at the other end. Shore was suspended for the rest of the season. I got six games. And Bailey nearly died. He spent several weeks in hospital in Boston, and never played again.
‘We were just a lonely little band’
In 1947, Barbara Ann Scott became the first Canadian to win a world singles skating championship. When Scott, then 18, returned home to Ottawa after win-
ning the title, her hero’s reception stunned her— she had no idea that her sparkling performance in Stockholm, and her subsequent victory at the 1948 St. Moritz Winter Olympics, would captivate a country and help propel figure skating from fringe recreation to one of Canada’s most popular sports. Now 71 and living in Florida, she recalls the reaction to her first international victory.
IT WAS SO OVERWHELMING, so overpowering. I thought maybe a few friends and my family would meet me at the train station
when I got back, but instead, there were thousands of people. The mayor had declared a civic holiday, so I was suddenly very popular with schoolchildren—they had to come out to see the old lady, but then they had the rest of the day off from school.
It really surprised me. Back then, the Canadian Figure Skating Association had no money, and when
‘WHEN OUR PLANE WAS TAKING OFF from Moscow, we aii stood up and sang Canada
skaters went off to world championships or the Olympics, no one ever seemed to care. We were just a lonely little band travelling on our own. But after that, people seemed to take more interest.
In a way, I’m a little sad about how figure skating has grown because I think it has become so commercial. I would hope that youngsters who take it up would do it because they love it, because they can’t wait to get to the rink in the morning. But now, it seems all some people think about is the money they can make.
Hockey’s greatest goal
When Paul Henderson leaped into the air after scoring the winninggoal in the 1972 Summit Series between Canada and the Soviet Union, he landed in the arms of Yuan Cournoyer. The now-5 5-year-old Cournoyer, a native ofDrummondville, Que., who won 10 Stanley Cups with the Montreal Canadiens and continues to represent the club at public functions, was skating right behind Henderson and watched the puck slide behind goalie Vladislav Tretiak.
IT WAS NOT JUST PAUL jumping on me-it was the other guys, too. We were proud, and it was a relief.
We were supposed to win so easily, but they were better, much better, than what we thought.
I told Frank [Mahovlich] before the first game I was worried because we knew nothing about them. I figured they won all those Olympics, so they had to be good. They were—they could easily have played in the NHL—but at first, we did not respect them. It’s funny. In the end, I think they made the same mistake. They did not think we could win three games in a row.
After the series, when our plane was taking off from Moscow, we all stood up and sang O Canada. It was not arranged before or anything. We just did it. We were so proud to be Canadian, and it was a wonderful feeling. It still is.
The TV play that launched a global career
Arthur Haileys sales figures reflect his extraordinary success: his 12 books, including Airport and Hotel, have been published in 40 languages, with more than 160 million copies in print. The British-born Hailey, a pilot in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War, moved to Canada in 1947.
He went to work as a reporter and editor for Maclean-Hunter Publishing, while writing fiction in his spare time. Now 79 and living in the Bahamas, Hailey remembers the genesis of the play that made him an overnight sensation.
IN LATE 1955, I WAS returning to Toronto from a business trip in Vancouver, travelling on a Trans-
Canada Airlines North Star—one of the noisiest airplanes ever made. Looking idly at the flight deck, I wondered what would happen if the two pilots got sick, and whether I, a rusty exfighter pilot who hadn’t flown in nine years, could handle something that big. It was a Friday, and they were offering passengers meat or fish, so I speculated fish might make them sick and incapacitated, while the character who would have to pilot the plane would have eaten meat: in other words, me.
When I got to Toronto, I told my wife, Sheila: “I have a wonderful idea
for a television play.” I wrote it over two weekends and the five weeknights in between. I sent it by mail to the CBC and a month later, they called to say they wanted it. They gave me $600. It became Flight into Danger, and ran as a live production on April 3, 1956. As soon as it ended, neighbours started coming by, and the phone rang till past midnight. All the newspapers wrote about it. That summer, NBC bought it, and the BBC showed the Canadian version in the fall. I wrote other plays that sold at once. I was now able to write full time. That was all I ever wanted to do.
The man who discovered CanLit
John (Jack) McClelland, now 77, joined his fathers publishing company, McClelland and Stewart, in 1946. At the time, Canadian publishing houses primarily distributed books written by British and American authors. But his father, John, recognized the importance of promoting Canadian writers, and soon after Jack joined the company he toured the country searching for indigenous talent.
MY MOTHER DIDN'T want me to go into the family business. She thought it was too tough a life and not financially rewarding.
So I planned to take business administration courses and get into a business where you made a lot of money. I changed my mind when I was in the Navy. This pleased my father very much. I had worked at McClelland and Stewart in the warehouse during the summers, so I knew a little about the business.
I realized very quickly that authors were the most important part of the business—you either had major authors or you didn’t. So I concentrated on Canadian
Our only Nobel Peace Prize winner
Affectionately known as “Mike,” this country’s 14th prime minister, Lester Bowles Pearson, is as much remembered for his work with the United Nations as he is for his public scuffles with political adversary John Diefenbaker. Though he led a very public life, the elusive Pearson, who died of cancer on Dec. 21, 1972, at the age of 75, felt much more comfortable working in intimate diplomatic settings than addressing a partisan Liberal crowd. After a celebrated career in the foreign service, Pearson, then minister of external affairs, became the only Canadian to win the Nobel Peace Prize for helping create the United Nations Emergency Force that brought a temporary peace to the Middle East in 1956. Pearson later went on to become prime minister from 1963 to 1968. His only son, Geoffrey Pearson,
72, a retired diplomat, reminisces about his father.
HE CERTAINLY WASN’T a born politician. He was awkward with words and much preferred to be in a group or one-onone situation. In one of his first speeches for the Ontario rural riding of Algoma East, he was so nervous going to this place he had never been before and trying to make friends. After his speech he said to my mother: “How did I do?” She said: “You missed two opportunities to sit down.”
My father grew up around questions of war and peace. His father was a Methodist minister who gave sermons on how to end war, to abolish weapons. Today, he would probably be called a radical peacenik. My father was influenced by him. That and being a soldier during the First World War. It coloured him for the rest of his life, his hatred of war.
Except my father did believe in a UN force-a superior force to limit war. He knew German-Nazi ideology couldn’t be fought with money and prayers. We must be able to confront the aggressor with superior force and power. And the only way to prevent war was to have a superior deterrence.
There were two high points in my father’s life. One was winning the Nobel Prize. All he said was “Gosh.” The other was the flag and the end of the flag debate.There was such emotion surrounding the whole thing. The unveiling was his accomplishment, and he was proud to have won.
'AT THAT TIME, the thought of university faculty protesting government policy was sensational’
publishing, and we gradually dropped our import lines.
I was very lucky because a lot of Canadian authors came along. My favourite was Margaret Laurence. She was shy, but when you got to know her, she was a really remarkable person in every way. I think she was possibly the most talented writer I published—Farley Mowat, Pierre Berton and Gabrielle Roy will never forgive me for saying that.
Dazzling the crowds in Moscow
In June, 1973, Karen Kain surprised and delighted Canadians by winning two medals at Moscow’s prestigious International Ballet Competition—a goldfor best pas de deux, which she shared with her partner Frank Augustyn, and a silver in the womens division. At 22, Kain was one of the National Ballet of Canadas youngest principal dancers—and she went on to become the first Canadian ballerina to achieve international acclaim without leaving the country.
IT WAS ALL COMPLETELY terrifying. We had to adapt to a raked stage, which is like dancing on a small hill that sioDes to-
wards the audience. It completely changes your sense of balance. There wasn’t much to eat there in 1973—there were lineups for food—and I lost 10 lb. in a month.
By the time the performances began, we were pretty nervous and tense, but the audiences were fantastic. Their biggest compliment is rhythmic applause—they all clap together— and they just don’t stop. You just have to keep coming out. We were two kids out on our own on a huge stage and we were overwhelmed by their response. When we won, it was totally unexpected. It was pretty wonderful.
I always thought it would get better and better for the dancers after me. I didn’t think it would get worse. I feel a huge disappointment for them and a huge realization about how lucky I was. We got to tour and be seen. But not only are there many fewer tours now, because there isn’t enough money, but the dancers hardly get to do enough performances to develop and really blossom.
John Folanyi takes on the prime minister
When University of Toronto professor John Polanyi won the Nobel Prize for chemistry in 1986, observers were quick to point out that his discovery of molecular events in chemical reactions could have military applications. But Polanyi had been a vocal advocate of arms control since 1959, when he andfour other U ofTfaculty members met with Prime Minister John Diefenbaker to urge Ottawa to sponsor a global ban on nuclear weapons testing. Polanyi, now 70, remembers that encounter.
WHEN NUCLEAR weapons were becoming recognized as a
menace in the 1950s, a group of us at the University of Toronto, just faculty members, decided to see Mr. Diefenbaker to tell him that the Canadian government should make it a high priority to halt their spread. The implication was that we should renounce our own plans to acquire nuclear weapons. I trotted around to my colleagues, petition in hand, and it was fascinating to see how surprised they were that we would get involved in a thing like that. If I were to get a placard with a political message and go and walk in the street today, probably
'I AM ALWAYS REMINDED that we have to work at retaining our identity'
no one would pay attention. But at that time, the thought of university faculty protesting government policy was sensational. Some said to me: “Don’t bother, you’ll just be labelled as left-wing agitators, and no one will pay any attention. You will bring Canadian universities and Canadian science into disrepute.”
Diefenbaker had arranged a photo op and so when we first walked into his office he was standing in a blaze of light, looking a good deal larger than life with a twisty grin on his face and his characteristic Churchillian thrust of the jaw. We trooped in and he challenged us and also charmed us for this 90-minute period. When I say challenged us, he was saying: “Well, what do you recommend I do.” Of course, we started to fall over each other in confusion because we weren’t ready to take over from the prime minister.
He was a gentle man and so he helped us over this rough patch and clearly took the point that we represented a broad group of troubled citizens, troubled for good reason by this new threat in the world. We were regarded as hopeless idealists. On reflection, I don’t think we were.
Keeping one’s roots
Peter Jennings left Canada for a reporter’s job with ABC television in New York City in 1964, when he was 25. He became a foreign correspondent in Rome, Beirut and London before returning to New York in 1983 as host of ABC’s World News Tonight, the position he holds today. Now 61, he has steadfastly refusedpressure to become an American citizen—and is an intensely proud Canadian who regularly returns to his roots in the Ottawa area.
SO MANY TIMES in my life I have left a hot spot in the Middle East or the maelstrom of New York
to go straight home to the Ottawa Valley. Canada has changed in so many ways since I was a young man eager to see the rest of the world. But after more than 30 years of travelling, the valley, with its dramatic change in seasons, is the one place where the pressure of a competitive life simply evaporates, like an early-morning fog on the Gatineau River. I figured out recently that, with a little luck, I can get from New York to the farm north of Ottawa in about the same time—give or take the vagaries of
New York’s air traffic control—that it takes to drive from Manhattan to the “fashionable” Hamptons on New York’s Long Island. Talk about a world of difference. I also have an absolute weakness for the Byward Market in Ottawa, where I have an apartment and where the new American Embassy is just setding in. It’s a reminder to me of how close the United States and Canada have become in my lifetime. But the long U.S. shadow is considerable and as I wander through the market, touching base with friends—the butcher, the farm stand, the surplus/everything store on the corner—I am always reminded that we have to work at retaining our identity. But it is so worth it. It helps to know that in no time at all, I can have my canoe in the water, and hear the sound of the loons. I cannot imagine a year going by without the deep inspiration that the valley provides.