Across the bridge

Seemingly carrot cake and its creamy white icing are more nutritious than I knew beforehand. And if not wholesome at least sustaining. The unctuous moist cake embedded with nuts and raisins constituted a substantial reward following last evening’s predominantly vegetarian supper. At ten o’clock this morning I was still spinning from its toxic effect as I plied my carcass from the virginal lair and espied through the draperies what proved to be a moderately pleasant Sunday. Instantly I determined to go for a relieving bicycle ride to invigorate myself and perhaps – in anticipation of breakfast – to expedite that best of all sauces for any meal, an appetite!

It worked! For the first time since our return to Almonte from Hilton Head Island we ventured across the bridge by the Town Hall along the erstwhile railway line parallel Union Street North to the Carss Street intersection. We passed by Greystone Estate (the former residence of Air Commodore Donald Blaine and his wife Norma).  The once spacious grounds surrounding the Estate have been converted to the foundation for what I presume will be luxury condominiums. Those residences will in turn look across the street upon the riparian mansion formerly belonging to the late James Mackie and his wife Debbi (who subsequently married Mike O’Malley).

To complete the sketch O’Malley owns the property at the upper end of the River in the Village of Appleton.

I am informed that Carss Street (the junction at which the home of the late Raymond A. Jamieson QC now stands) was named after Mr. Jamieson’s mother. Significantly Mr. Jamieson was aligned with John H. Kerry, Funeral Director upon the latter’s arrival in Town a long time ago. I mention this because Mr. Kerry was himself a key impetus behind my decision to open a sole proprietorship.

The alliance between Jamieson and Kerry intrigues  me because the two were in many respects different. Jamieson was a successful athlete – formerly a member of the Hart House long-distance running team of the University of Toronto. Kerry was a lady’s man, handsome and polite with the tact of an international diplomat.  Jamieson was a well known drinker; Kerry was primarily abstemious, devoted to any “call” which might suddenly arise at any time of day or night. Jamieson did however understand the societal strength of his background and complication. In addition to being a member of a celebrated local family (who for example had the first grand piano and automobile in town) he had when acting as Town Solicitor been part of the municipal legal team behind the Town of Almonte Act (private legislation) which altered the last Will and Testament of Winnifred Gemmil to permit the construction of private residences upon the designated parkland. Kerry observed throughout his long career the dignity of a senior businessman in the Town of Almonte; and his opinion when expressed at secular or liturgical meetings never went unattended. Between the two they afforded primacy and recognition in the Town of Almonte.

These two great men are very much a part of the fabric surrounding my own career and private life in the Town of Almonte. From them I have drawn incalculable anecdotes of amusement and instruction.  John Kerry for example, once noted (in keeping with his impenetrable subtlety) that a certain well-known scoundrel “Had his good faults!” The observation made us all laugh at the time but it never altered John’s cautious social disposition. Upon meeting Raymond Jamieson his first question to me was, “Do you own any adjoining lands; and, are you not a non-resident of Canada?” It was a comic play upon the latest mandate required by the provincial governmnet in the conveyance of real property. While it may appear that these trifling elements are all that survive of these noted individuals, their influence and example penetrates far more deeply.

My relationship with Mr. Jamieson was by some accounts more fecund because I worked in his old office upon arriving in Almonte in 1976. It was a quaint office.  The upstairs 3rd floor lavatory had a hole in the floor from which one could see the top of my desk below. The entire office on the 2nd floor was heated by an ancient oil burner which regularly flooded and had to be dried out by the skilfull employment of a roll of toilet paper. The vault (which had taken Fred Larose two days to skid up the winding staircase from Mill Street) was summarily ejected onto a boom from the second storey window before being transported across the street to my new office at 77 Little Bridge Street.

I also “inherited” by default many of the former clients of Mr. Jamieson, including notably Miss Elizabeth Schoular with whom coincidentally Mr. Kerry was associated through the exigencies of the United Church burial grounds, the “Auld Kirk Cemetery“.  Mr. Kerry was Chairman of the Board;  Miss Schoular was the Secretary. The matter of accounting for the deposits in the Perpetual Care Fund had arisen. The provincial government was exacting punishing new terms of bookkeeping.  The cost and manpower needed to address this already locally documented account in the government format presented an obstacle.  Mr. Kerry arranged to have a meeting with appointees of the government at the clerical offices of the United Church in Town. As might be expected, in the throes of palapable ambiton on all sides, the meeting went well.

In another respect my association with Mr. Kerry was far more intimate. As his legal advisor I was naturally privy to expected detail.  What unfailingly expressed itself in my dealings with Mr. Kerry was his universal agreeableness and prompt adoption of reasonable solution.  Even though he was one of the most prominent landlords in the area I never – literally never – had occasion to accelerate any differences with his tenants to a quarrelsome status of any description.  And most certainly not any litigious ambition. In any other matters which arose he forever accepted the propriety of early resolution.  He was the consummate businessman.