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Halifax

Won’t write much now as I’m in the middle of my work day – my first talk, the big one to the kids, was this morning and in a few hours we go back to the school for the book launch and my second talk. So I’m in bed fully dressed, resting my throat and trying not to get a cold – it’s cold here! Grey and drizzly and cold. But gorgeous – the trees are turning and there are woods everywhere, a mass of colour, and the sea the sea the sea. I am a happy camper beside the sea.

Yesterday my very kind hostess Gay Silverman picked me up at the airport; she used to be in charge of development at the Grammar School and offered to put me up and chauffeur me about. On the way in, we stopped to visit Fred Richardson and his wife Betty. I hadn’t seen Fred since I was about 13, but I remembered how important he was to Dad – one of the other founders of the school. But meeting him, I knew immediately how vital he was to the process – unlike most of the other founders, like my dad, he was not an idealistic intellectual university professor – he was in insurance, a businessman, he understood money and he understood ordinary people in a way Dad did not. He provided some of the glue that held the school together in the high winds that were to follow.

Again, he told the great story – that in April 1958, my dad, the visionary, and one Navy wife, Mrs. Fairney, gathered a group of parents together, and my father outlined his vision for a school that would focus on academics but also on culture and the arts and sports – that would be multi-racial and affordable for everyone who wanted a good education for their sons, with an annual fee of $300. In fact, the school was created for my brother and Mrs. Fairney’s sons. Anyway, at this meeting in April, there was no building, no money, nothing, and Dad said the school would open in September. Fred told another parent he thought that was ridiculous. “Fred,” said his friend, “you don’t know Gordin.” And the school opened in September.

So speaking there today was very moving – especially as much later the school bought Tower Road, the public school I went to for Grades 4, 5 and 6, and that’s where the auditorium is. Anyway, the talk went very well. One teacher said after, “I’ve been at this school a long time and that was one of the best talks.” A few of the kids came over after to say they’d found it inspiring. I hope so. That was the point.
Click to enlarge.

Fred and Betty Richardson. 
 

 The audience filing in – the senior school, 300 kids from 12 to 17. The junior school is in another building. There are over 500 kids in the school now, and it excels in music and the arts, sports, academics – “It is now,” said Fred, whose children went there and whose granddaughter is there now, “the school your father dreamed about.” Talk about inspiring.

In the hall.

816 Young Avenue, where we lived from 1958 to 1966: my home in the memoir.

Just down the road – Black Rock Beach in Point Pleasant Park, where I spent many an hour tossing stones into the ocean. What a lucky girl – this, down the street.

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5 Responses to “Halifax”

  1. theresa says:

    Lovely to read this, Beth — the house looks a lot like my grandmother's house on Chestnut Street. And the beach is one I knew as a child. I was in Halifax around this time last year, not having been there since 1965. The city I knew was kind of buried in the new city but still visible, if you know what I mean. Enjoy every minute!

  2. beth says:

    Theresa, all resonance of the names – Inglis, Tower Rd., Quinpool, Jubilee, Barrington, Water St. which was a slum and is now a row of chic painted wooden houses – in fact, the whole city is a row of painted wooden houses, so beautiful! I love it. It's a wonderful city. Would love to live here, but not enough to move.

  3. beth says:

    Meant to write "the resonance" not "all resonance." You were in Halifax in 1965? We crossed paths.

  4. theresa says:

    I think it was about 1963-65. Grades 3 and 4. My dad was in the navy and was stationed at the Fleet School there. My mother grew up in Halifax so it was a homecoming for her and the city was always hers. I never understood that then — her pleasure as she discovered that the place where she'd always gone for ice-cream was still there; the Public Gardens were still pretty much the way they'd been in her girlhood. But when I was there last year and recognized places — the Common, the Citadel, the Public Gardens — I knew something of her own recognition and delight.

  5. beth says:

    We overlapped a bit, but you were here the year we were away, summer 64 to summer 65. I'm having a bath in memory, it's quite amazing. We passed the Public Library today, the old building shut down but still there, and I could smell the dusty books, see that filtered light through the high windows. I'm going to the Public Gardens tomorrow.

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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