Fifty Years Ago

The unwitting knowledge that the year is 2020 at last percolated sufficiently to entice me to do something about it! The number 50 sprung to mind. Why, I haven’t a clue other than the possible literary veneration of a solid round figure. The ambition to “cover” 50 years was diluted to embrace a broader – and less meticulous – description of 5 decades. This watering down was nonetheless still a bit of a bore, threatening to be but a tedious repetition. Though the subject matter might not be changed, the format unquestionably required alteration.  What follows is a so-called “broad stroke” for the entirety of my life from 1970 – 2020. Its uniqueness if any is that it captures only the most salient recollections.


Fifty years ago at the age of 21 years, impressed with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Glendon Hall, convinced that the only advantage of a philosophy degree was to get another and then to teach it, strangely determined to fan the embers of my father’s ancestry in the Maritimes, and smug and seasoned as a vagrant, I flew from Upper Canada to the East Coast to study law at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia on my beloved Atlantic Ocean. The clipped version of the remainder of the decade is completion of law school, articles, Don of Devonshire House at University of Toronto, Law Society of Upper Canada Bar Admission at Osgoode Hall, first year of practice in the city then the country, and finally setting up my own law practice.


There are two things about this period I recall in particular – first, the work, worry and pride of running my own small business; and, second, the advent of computers and the internet. Shamefully I am uncertain of the precise dates of anything that long ago but those themes prevail over all others. I hasten to mention my unflinching passion for technology. May I add an odd though not infrequent recollection – standing over the kitchen sink eating sardines from the can before speeding to another meeting.


This decade is all about his Lordship, the beginning of the rest of my life, a departure from the past and a marvellous adventure into the future. Apart from broadening the realm of vacation, we expanded investment and indulgence generally  – things like Cognac XO, Sea Bass, Osso Buco and 24K gold bling.


There is no other appropriate or illustrative way to describe this decade than as one of unrepentant domesticity. The house was renovated from top to bottom and all around and beyond.  We routinely entertained both ourselves and others on the deck overlooking the park. The constant improvement of the home meant the necessity to invite my parents as often for a further “viewing” of the result at times punctuated by a summer luncheon with Champagne and sterling silver flatware much to the delight of my always appreciative mother.


This brings things to an end in many respects.  My career ended and we began spending half the year in Florida. I am grateful for the fluid professional transition afforded by Evelyn A. Wheeler, Barr., &c. and her knowledgeable staff. Neither does the serendipity of John H. Kerry having a stunning apartment for rent go unnoticed. The “downsizing” compelled us to abandon anything that didn’t go in the dishwasher! What remains is metaphorically akin to that finely distilled Cognac XO mentioned earlier! Quite frankly it appears to be a happenstance of old age that one develops a diminished interest in even what once was of salivating allure! The good news is that the identical process acts as a refinement of what subsists.

What’s on the horizon?

Initially I hadn’t planned delving into this topic. Historically the prediction of the future is not something that interests me. Naturally I have a hope that things go well in the future but I have yet to equate that ambition with foresight.  Almost everything I recall of my past is that things did not go as expected. Similarly I recall that things worked out just fine.  Indeed the one feature of the future about which I am more inclined than not is that a reasoned analysis of whatever transpires in life is often a good start to a happy beginning.

In the circumstance of the pandemic we are battling the abrupt switch of almost everything. A product of this evolution is an awakening to my reliance upon socializing.  I had never such a wide view of society – everything as inconsequential as poking around at Winners, or coffee at a shop, or haircuts and casual visits with others. Understandably I haven’t however a great deal of concern about what will unfold in the next fifty years.