Dr. & Mrs. Frank Glassow – 30 Colborne Street, Thornhill

Between 1963 – 1967 while attending St. Andrew’s College in Aurora, Ontario one of my classmates and colleagues was Nicholas Glassow. He is the son of the late Dr. and Mrs. Frank Glassow of Thornhill, Ontario where Dr. Glassow was one of the senior (if not in fact the senior) surgeon at Shouldice Hospital, a private clinic.

The facility was the subject of a 1983 business case by the Harvard Business School.¬†Written by James Heskett, the report is the school’s fourth-best-selling business case, selling over 259,000 copies. The case study focuses on Shouldice’s unique three-day hernia repair process.¬†The popularity of the business case is responsible for the hospital’s process becoming known outside of Canada.

Just recently I was prompted to recollect the many pleasant times I spent with Nicholas and his parents, both within and beyond the gated grounds of St. Andrew’s College. Dr. and Mrs. Glassow were among those parents who regularly visited St. Andrew’s College to watch cricket matches in which Nicholas excelled or to participate in such social events as the annual Christmas Carol service in the chapel at the school. Nicholas and I (together with other boys from school) travelled together to Waterbury, Vermont to ski and to Jamaica to vacation, plus skiing trips to Mont Tremblant, PQ among other ventures. Dr. and Mrs. Glassow frequently invited several of us boys from school to attend their home at 30 Colborne Street in Thornhill for an evening meal.

Before dinner we were invariably treated to a mug of beer or a glass of sherry in the exceedingly comfortable drawing room of oak, plush sofas and thick carpets. Dinner was always followed by an exceptional trifle dessert, a cold sponge cake and fruit covered with layers of custard, jelly and cream in the strict British tradition. Sitting at the head of table, Dr. Glassow signalled the end of the meal when he routinely asked Mrs. Glassow, “Have you had enough, Freddie?” to which Mrs. Glassow (Winnifred) as customarily replied, “Yes, thank-you, Frank“. Our return to school may have been conducted either by Nicholas in the genuine Morris Mini Minor (not the current “Cadillac” version of the Cooper Countryman) or by his sister, Karen, in the premium 8-cylinder Oldsmobile Cutlass. Karen by the way is an old girl of Havergal College on Avenue Road in Toronto not Branksome Hall which is the sister school of St. Andrew’s College.

Dr. and Mrs. Glassow are both originally from England where I understand they maintained a “cottage” for many years to accommodate themselves upon return visits. When Dr. Glassow initially came to Canada he informed me he worked in Carleton Place near Ottawa. I was entirely unfamiliar with Carleton Place. Both he and Mrs. Glassow made it supremely clear that Dr. Glassow’s employment at that time by Dr. Johnston was an unsatisfactory and repugnant experience – though for reasons they never clarified.

Years later in 1973 after graduating from Dalhousie Law School in Halifax I returned to Upper Canada (Ontario) to article for Macdonald, Affleck at 100 Sparks Street, Ottawa. After being called to the Bar at Osgoode Hall in Toronto in 1975 I returned to Ottawa to practice law with Macdonald, Affleck. The firm had bought the practice of Sen. Geo. McIlraith; viz., McIlraith McIlraith and McGregor. Sen. McIlraith indicated to me that his son-in-law, Michael J. Galligan, QC in Almonte, Ontario had recently purchased the practice of R. A. Jamieson, QC who had practiced law there since just after 1921. I ended being hired in 1976 by Galligan & Sheffield to fill the gap left by Mr. Jamieson. One of my first initiatives was to conduct a 10-week course “Law and the Layman” in the basement of St. Paul’s Anglican Church. During one of the lectures (which cost $10 for the the ten presentations), I was asked a question which I indicated to the enquirer was too complicated to answer in the Church but I would happily meet with her at my office – at no charge – to complete my response.

When I subsequently met at my office with the woman she began – oddly I thought at the time – by asking my political affiliation. This she followed by an examination of the schools I had attended. When I indicated St. Andrew’s College she abruptly interrupted and asked whether I knew Nicholas Glassow? When I answered that I did, she informed me that Nicholas’ father, Dr. Frank Glassow, upon coming to Canada had worked for her husband, the late Dr. Johnston. Well! I needn’t tell you my reaction! I was speaking to Mrs. Annie Johnston, widow of the late Dr. Johnston of Carleton Place, Ontario! After providing a sociable confirmation of the putative details I was invited to dine with Mrs. Johnston at her home in Carleton Place. I will briefly summarize the amusing details that followed by reporting that upon Mrs. Johnston’s death I purchased her 75 year-old Heintzman grand piano which I later translated into a new Steinway grand piano. I became friendly with her brother who was a councillor of nearby Ramsay Township. The house owned by Mrs. Johnston and her late husband was a large red stone home along the Mississippi River in the Town of Carleton Place. It naturally amuses me to know that I there trod upon the same steps as the late Dr. and Mrs. Glassow when they arrived from England so many years before!

I can’t quit this personal account in good conscience without mentioning that St. Paul’s Anglican Church was – as I am wont to say – “effectively” built in 1863 by Bennett Rosamond of the Rosamond Woollen Company in Almonte. When the Bishop from Ottawa attended the ceremony of laying the cornerstone of the church he told the assembly that he could not do so if there was any debt upon the property. When it was disclosed that in fact there was about $3,000 owed for the purchase/development of the property, the Bishop said he would have to decline to consecrate the ground. The story goes that at that point Bennett Rosamond stood up and said words to the effect, “Get on with it! There won’t be any debt this afternoon!” Bennett Rosamond’s name is emblazoned upon stained glass in the church to this day.

The further detail is that in 2008 we attended the 50th wedding anniversary of Mr. Justice James K. Hugessen and his wife Mary. Mary was a descendant of the Rosamond family.

Making the Hugessen event even more special, however, was the presence as Celebrant of The Most Reverend Bruce A. Stavert, Archbishop of Quebec and Metropolitan of the Ecclesiastical Province of Canada (the original church province created in Canada which includes the dioceses of Montreal, Quebec, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Fredericton, Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador, Central Newfoundland and Western Newfoundland).

Archbishop Stavert was Mary’s brother. Following the formal part of the ceremony at St. Paul’s Anglican Church we withdrew to the lovely stone home of the Hugessen’s overlooking the Mississippi River in Almonte. The house is immediately adjacent the church.

And now the second-last detail. The ceremony in 1863 of the laying of the cornerstone of St. Paul’s Anglican Church was conducted by Dr. William Mostyn who built the home also adjacent the church. Dr. Mostyn was an Irish-born physician. He was also the first Master of Mississippi Masonic Lodge No. 147 which was constituted by Grand Lodge of Canada in 1861. I ended being Master of Mississippi Lodge in 1983. Subsequently I was Historian of the Lodge and President of Mississippi Masonic Hall Inc.

Finally the entire matter about Dr. Glassow arose two days ago when I brunched on Anna Maria Island with Mrs. Lisa Cameron who is from Thornhill and who has an involvement in its heritage committee. When I mentioned Colborne Street she asked about the precise address. Of equal coincidence is that Lisa’s husband, Mr. Justice Alan S. Diner was clerk to Mr. Justice James K. Hugessen.