As much as I appreciate having known some of the great people of our community, when those individuals die I nonetheless regret not having known them better. I feel that in recounting what little I know of those people I am omitting a great deal of important and useful information about them. The hiatus is the result of only having known those individuals in the latter years of their life. An example of what I mean is Edward Harrington Winslow-Spragge who I heard through the local grapevine died today.
My happy acquaintance with Ed began shortly after I arrived in Almonte in June of 1976. As I have since recounted to his daughter, Joanne, I actually came to know of Ed through Louis de la Chesnaye Audette, QC, OC who was Ed’s Commander in the Navy and who from time to time had dined with Ed and his wife, Isobelle, in Almonte. Louis always spoke of Ed with exceeding warmth and generosity, not something Louis was inclined to do with just anyone. While I have some difficulty recalling my first introduction to Ed I believe it was when he and Isobelle operated the Crest Studio (an art gallery and framing studio) on Mill Street, Almonte. Their business was run out of the former Royal Bank of Canada building which continued to that day (and indeed to this day) to house a huge walk-in safe. Their shop was located almost adjacent to my law office at 74 Mill Street, the former office of the late Raymond Algernon Jamieson, QC whom Ed and Isobelle knew well of course. Indeed it was probably through discussions with Raymond that I first learned that the Winslow-Spragges formerly operated a fuel delivery company in Town. My failing memory suggests to me that the name of the company was Winslow Fuels but this is not reliable more so as the business had changed hands by the time I first met Ed.
My lingering and overriding recollection of Ed was that he was an incredibly kind man even to the point of being ingenuous. Whenever I did business with Ed to have something or other framed, it was invariably an uplifting experience. The business at hand (though executed to exacting professional standards) was always second to the element of human interaction. Competing with Ed’s personal generosity was his modesty. Subsequently I discovered that he was an accomplished musician (though only after I had embarrassed myself by having played the piano for him). While it may sound vulgar to remark upon it, it was common knowledge that Ed came from distinguished Canadian stock (including the famous Molson family of Montreal whence he originally hailed) and that he was considered a man of means. Neither of these attributes was however ever advanced by him or his family, the tell-tale test of their truth.
My recollection is that Ed may have been active in local politics in the Town of Almonte. I have subsequently discovered by trolling the internet that he was on the board of the Upper Canada College Foundation which leads me to believe he was an Old Boy of that school (as was his erstwhile neighbour at “Burnside” on the former Hamilton Street, now Strathburn Street, John MacIntosh Bell).