Thinking back…

When I began attending boarding school at St. Andrew’s College in Aurora, Ontario at 14 years of age in 1963 my address in the year-book school directory was c/o Canadian Embassy, Strandvagan 7-C, Stockholm, Sweden. I remember being dropped off at the school by a driver in front of MacDonald House on a grey, miserable day. The “new boys” to the school arrived earlier than the other boarders.  I suppose it was to give us time to acclimatize but it proved to be more lonely than anything else. The discomfort wasn’t long-lasting.  As soon as the regular régime of academic, athletic and cultural activity began there was no time for anything else.

The closest I came to my father’s office in Stockholm was to join his chauffeur who had been given the day off to take me and my sister for a ride in his yacht which he moored adjacent the office. It seemed that everyone in Stockholm had a yacht. It was after all an archipelago.

Stockholm, the capital of Sweden, encompasses 14 islands and more than 50 bridges on an extensive Baltic Sea archipelago. The cobblestone streets and ochre-colored buildings of Gamla Stan (the old town) are home to the 13th-century Storkyrkan Cathedral, the Kungliga Slottet Royal Palace and the Nobel Museum, which focuses on the Nobel Prize. Ferries and sightseeing boats shuttle passengers between the islands.

As glorious as Stockholm was in the summer when I visited – the sun came up at 2:00 am and went down at 10:00 pm – it was not as endearing during the winter – when the sun came up at 10:00 am and went down at 2:00 pm. I subsequently experienced the pinnacle of daylight hours one summer when my father and I ventured to the Arctic Circle and then southward to Oslo, Norway.

I have always been attracted to the sea.  It was not however until after my undergraduate studies in Philosophy at Glendon Hall, Bayview Avenue, Toronto that I succeeded to fulfill my ambition by going to law school at Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia.  There I regularly spent Saturday mornings trolling the shore of the Atlantic Ocean in Point Pleasant Park.

Point Pleasant Park is a large, mainly forested municipal park at the southern tip of the Halifax peninsula. It once hosted several artillery batteries, and still contains the Prince of Wales Tower – the oldest Martello tower in North America (1796). The park is a popular recreational spot for Haligonians, as it hosts forest walks and affords views across the harbour and out toward the Atlantic.

Jokingly I say that I would have remained in Nova Scotia if my last name began with “Mc”.  As it was, my native yearning for Upper Canada drew me back to Ontario where I completed my call to the Bar at Osgoode Hall, Toronto then headed back to Ottawa for articles.  Within a year thereafter I followed the advice of Senator George K McIlraith and accepted a position with Messrs. Galligan & Sheffield, Barristers &c. in Almonte, Ontario.  I have remained in Almonte along the Mississippi River to this day. My riparian activity in Almonte has been confined to dining at properties adjacent the Mississippi River or its tributaries such as the Clyde River. Never for example have I undertaken a canoe trip.  Once I swam in the Mississippi River with my first dog Lannie (a Yellow Labrador).  The swim was naturally during the summer.  I was at the park adjacent the Agricultural Hall in Almonte.  In the summer the River in that area is so shallow it is almost possible to wade into the water up to one’s waist from one side to the other.

The little time I had for vacation while running my solo law practice in Almonte was initiated by annual visits on Labour Day Weekend to Provincetown, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, USA. P-Town had a marvellous history. I especially liked that it was at the end of the road so to speak, far removed for any other traffic.

On 9 November 1620, the Pilgrims aboard the Mayflower sighted Cape Cod while en route to the Colony of Virginia. After two days of failed attempts to sail south against the strong winter seas, they returned to the safety of the harbor, known today as Provincetown Harbor, and set anchor. It was here that the Mayflower Compact was drawn up and signed. They agreed to settle and build a self-governing community, and came ashore in the West End.

In the latter part of my career the southern adventures included the Caribbean and the Mayan Riviera.

The Riviera Maya is a tourism and resort district south of Cancun, Mexico. Itstraddles the coastal Federal Highway 307, along the Caribbean coastline of the state of Quintana Roo, located in the eastern portion of the Yucatán Peninsula. Historically, this district started at the city of Playa del Carmen and ended at the village of Tulum, although the towns of Puerto Morelos, situated to the north of Playa del Carmen, as well as the town of Felipe Carrillo Puerto, situated 40 kilometres (25 mi) to the south of Tulum, are both currently being promoted as part of the Riviera Maya tourist corridor.

Our latest trip to Sardegna (Sardinia) in the Mediterranean Sea continues to be one of my favourite places to visit but for the moment at least it has been trumped by our more commanding attraction to nearby Florida, USA for the winter.

Sardinia is a large Italian island in the Mediterranean Sea to the west of Italy; population 1,671,001 (2008); capital, Cagliari. In 1720 it was joined with Savoy and Piedmont to form the kingdom of Sardinia; the kingdom formed the nucleus of the Risorgimento, becoming part of a unified Italy under Victor Emmanuel II of Sardinia in 1861. Italian name Sardegna.

What however has never changed is the entire satisfaction we have to call Almonte home.  It would be tedious to recite the many tangible and psychological advantages of this community. We are assured that it constitutes any competition with any other place in the world! Besides it’s home and that’s all one need say!