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FAICHNEY email@example.com_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2003-12-29 published
FAICHNEY, Kathryn Helena (née SIEGNER)
Kay died December 26, 2003, at Victoria Place, Kitchener, Ontario, after a period of declining health related to Alzheimer's Disease. She turned 81 on May 30 of this year.
Wife for 55 years of the late Leslie FAICHNEY. Mother of Sheila (Paul MURDOCK), John, and Jennifer (Paul MILLETT). Grandmother of Sara (Cameron SMITH) and Thomasina MURDOCK. Sister of John SIEGNER (Mary SCHAFER) and Carolyn (Stephen BURKART.) Sister-in-law of Bette FAICHNEY.
Kay grew up in Kitchener and recalled with special fondness her grandparents J.M. and Helena SCHNEIDER. She studied history and library science at MacMaster and Toronto Universities, and pursued careers as a librarian and homemaker, living in Montreal, New York State, New Jersey, Ohio, and Kitchener-Waterloo. In recent years she was active in the Canadian Federation of University Women. She found pleasure in books, theatre, and jazz, but took her greatest satisfaction in her family and Friends.
Special thanks to many devoted caregivers at Victoria Place, as well as, particularly, Bekira, Hedy, Jackie, Tania, Sarah, and Sky.
Friends will be received at the Edward R. Good Funeral Home, 171 King Street South, Waterloo, on Wednesday, December 31, 2003, from 1-2 p.m. A memorial service will be held in the chapel at 2 p.m., Margaret NALLY officiating. Interment (private) at Woodland Cemetery, Kitchener, will occur prior to the service.
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FAIRBAIRN firstname.lastname@example.org_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2003-01-22 published
She danced on tabletops of Ottawa
Former reporter with capital connections hosted parties for the powerful and waged a spirited campaign to save railway cabooses
By Randy RAY Special to The Globe and Mail Wednesday, January 22, 2003, Page R5
Most who knew her have a story to tell about Starr SOLOMON, a journalist and public-relations practitioner who for years hosted glamorous parties in Ottawa that attracted a who's who of cabinet ministers, bureaucrats and media people.
Ms. SOLOMON, the widow of Hy SOLOMON, former Ottawa bureau chief for The Financial Post, has died in Toronto. She was 64.
Long-time friend and colleague Walter GRAY/GREY remembers the time Ms. SOLOMON convinced former Prime Minister Brian MULRONEY and Liberal Member of Parliament Sheila COPPS -- for years Mr. MULRONEY's nemesis -- to sing together at the National Press Club in Ottawa in the mid-1980s, following the annual Parliamentary Press Gallery dinner.
"They sang a duet. The song was You Made Me Love You," says Mr. GRAY/GREY, a former Globe and Mail bureau chief in Ottawa, who played the piano while the two politicians crooned in tandem. Ms. COPPS is now Canada's heritage minister.
Edna HAMPTON, one of Ms. SOLOMON's closest Friends, said acquaintances, colleagues and politicians always looked forward to dinner parties at the SOLOMON home in Ottawa's trendy Glebe neighbourhood. Trouble was, you never knew when the meal would be served.
"I always used to eat first because the parties would zip along and she would let dinner go. You might eat at 8, you might eat at 11 . . . but you always knew the food would be good," said Ms. HAMPTON, a retired journalist.
Ms. SOLOMON was born in Ottawa and moved to North Bay, Ontario, as a child, where she attended elementary and high school. In the late 1950s, she landed a reporting job with The North Bay Nugget, where Ms. HAMPTON was a senior reporter at the time. Later, The Ottawa Citizen hired her as a reporter and she wrote under the byline Starr COTE, the surname of her first husband.
"She was always full of energy and fond of fun assignments," recalls Ms. HAMPTON. " She would cover anything from a royal tour to a St. Patrick's Day event up the Ottawa Valley."
Among her plum assignments was the visit to Ottawa by U.S. president John F. KENNEDY and his wife, Jacqueline. She also wrote restaurant reviews for The Citizen, where she developed a reputation as a lively writer who was quick-witted, entertaining and personal. Ms. SOLOMON often fought it out for the big local stories with Joyce FAIRBAIRN, a reporter with the now-defunct Ottawa Journal. Ms. FAIRBAIRN later became a Senator.
Ms. SOLOMON left The Citizen in the mid-1960s and moved to Toronto, where she worked with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation as a writer/producer. She married Mr. SOLOMON on January 23, 1966. The couple lived in Toronto until Mr. SOLOMON was transferred to Washington to open a bureau for The Financial Post.
When the SOLOMONs returned to Ottawa, Ms. SOLOMON and a partner formed a public-relations firm. She quickly became a fixture in the city's media and political circles, a move Mr. GRAY/GREY calls "networking at its best. She had a wide range of Friends and she used these connections to her greatest advantage. I wish I had her Rolodex."
For about 10 years in the 1980s, Ms. SOLOMON and Mr. GRAY/GREY worked at the same public-relations firm, where they teamed up on a variety of projects.
"There was the day the African chief Butelezi arrived in Ottawa as a front for a group of Canadian businesses trying to develop business relations with South Africa. I was assigned to shepherd the chief around town," says Mr. GRAY/GREY. " Starr was to accompany his lady, the lovely Princess Irene, whose sole interest was to shop -- especially at Zellers. As they made their departure laden down with Zellers bags. I think the princess gave Starr a tip for her services."
The pair also worked together on an unsuccessful campaign to stop the Canadian National Railway from eliminating railway cabooses. "The cabooses disappeared, but to this day, the Save the Caboose sweatshirt has been the most comfortable sweatshirt in our respective wardrobes," says Mr. GRAY/GREY.
Over the years Ms. SOLOMON volunteered her public-relations skills for many campaigns. She was a founding member of the Legal Education and Action Fund, which was established to advance women's equality rights, and served on the board of directors of the Ottawa Civic Hospital.
As a couple, the SOLOMONs were known in Ottawa for throwing glamorous parties, some planned, some spontaneous, that attracted the leading cabinet ministers, writers and journalists of the day. Ms. SOLOMON entertained and amused guests with her wit and political insights, while her husband was an engaging conversationalist whose business and political insights held the attention of politicians and bureaucrats.
Those who attended their soirees remember Ms. SOLOMON as a welcoming hostess and terrific cook, whose specialty was Greek and Mediterranean dishes. When guests arrived, she was always beautifully dressed and "the records were on the turntable," recalls Mr. GRAY/GREY. " Patsy Cline was her favourite. But also lots of jazz -- her friend Brian Browne, Oscar Peterson, Oliver Jones." Often guests would sing and dance around the SOLOMONs' dining-room table.
"We did have serious discussions on serious subjects, from time to time," adds Mr. GRAY/GREY.
Former Ottawa Citizen food editor and restaurant reviewer Kathleen WALKER remembers Ms. SOLOMON as "literally . . . the kind of person who danced on tabletops. She was just wonderful and wild. We had a ball together. Great sense of humour. A terrific lady."
She will also be remembered as a great friend "who was there in thick and thin if you had a problem," says Mr. GRAY/GREY.
After her husband died in 1991, Ms. SOLOMON moved back to Toronto, where she did volunteer consulting and public relations work for various organizations, including Legal Education and Action Fund and a Greek nursing home. She was also a trustee of the Hyman SOLOMON Award for Excellence in Public Policy Journalism, established to honour her husband's legacy.
Ms. SOLOMON leaves her two sons, Adam and Ben, two grandchildren and two brothers. A celebration of her life is to be held at the National Press Club in Ottawa on January 29 at 5: 30 p.m.
Starr SOLOMON, journalist, public-relations specialist; born Ottawa, February 27, 1938; died Toronto, January 3, 2003.
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FAIRBANKS email@example.com_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2003-12-24 published
Fight master set standards for stage combat
Canadian Press, Wednesday, December 24, 2003 - Page R9
Stratford, Ontario -- Patrick (Paddy) CREAN, a longtime fight director at the Stratford Festival who set international standards on staging combat in theatre, died Monday after an illness. He was 93.
Mr. CREAN, who was a competitive fencer, began choreographing fights in 1932 when he was working in his native England as an actor in The Legends of Don Juan. From then on he was frequently hired to stage fight scenes in theatre and movies such as The Master of Ballantree and The Sword of Sherwood Forest. He worked with actors including Paul SCOFIELD, Laurence OLIVIER, Trevor HOWARD, Alec GUINNESS, Douglas FAIRBANKS Jr. and Errol FLYNN, often acting as FLYNN's stunt double in movies.
Mr. CREAN first came to the Stratford Festival in 1962 to be fight arranger for a staging of Macbeth and ended up by making Stratford his home. He remained as festival fight director until 1983, arranging combat scenes for such demanding productions as The Three Musketeers. He continued to work as an actor, sometimes taking small roles in shows for which he had done fight arranging and also performing a one-man show, The Sun Never Sets. A funeral will be held Saturday in Stratford.
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FAIRCLOUGH firstname.lastname@example.org_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2003-08-30 published
A man of uncommon passion and drive
Despite hints of scandal, the scrappy former Liberal member of parliament, who spent a lifetime fighting for social safety nets, earned a reputation as a tireless crusader for the working people
By Ron CSILLAG Special to the Globe and Mail; With a report from staff Saturday, August 30, 2003 - Page F8
He died with his boots on.
John MUNRO, a Trudeau era Liberal warhorse once described as a rumpled fighter who had gone too many rounds, had just put the finishing touches to a barn-burning speech, to be delivered to a Rotary Club, on the evils of concentration of media ownership when he suffered at heart attack at his desk in his Hamilton home on August 19. He was 72.
It was almost just as well that he went suddenly, his daughter, Anne, said in a eulogy, for her father could not stand suffering. Rather, he would not abide it. Suffering had no place in Canada, he reasoned, which is why his name is so closely associated with such social safety nets as medicare, the Canada Pension Plan and improvements to Old Age Security.
More than 500 well-wishers, including old political pals, steel-workers, artists, business people and labourers, packed the James Street Baptist Church last Saturday to laud Hamilton's favourite son, a scrappy lawyer who earned a reputation as a tireless crusader for working people, despite the recurring taint of scandal.
As the Member of Parliament for Hamilton East from 1962 to 1984 and through five cabinet posts, he was proudly on the left of the Liberal Party, alongside people such as Allan MacEACHEN, Judy LAMARSH, Lloyd AXWORTHY, Eugene WHELAN -- and probably Pierre TRUDEAU himself -- fighting for medicare, against capital punishment and in favour of a guaranteed annual income. As minister of national health and welfare, he didn't win the battle for a guaranteed annual income, but he did get the Guaranteed Income Supplement that has made life easier for many seniors. He was also known and often ridiculed -- for being a chain-smoking health minister.
Prime Minister Jean CHRÉTIEN, who entered Parliament a year after Mr. MUNRO, mourned the death of his former cabinet colleague. "We were very good Friends, and I'm terribly sorry that he passed away. He was a very good member of Parliament, and he was a very good minister and a guy who worked very, very hard in all the files that were given to him."
The political bug bit early. At 18, Mr. MUNRO ran for president of the Tribune Society at Westdale Secondary School in Hamilton. Mark NEMIGAN, a lifelong friend, remembers his resourcefulness: "He went to a local bus stop and festooned all the park benches with banners reading, 'Vote for John.' It worked too. He had uncommon drive and passion, even then."
Born in Hamilton on March 26, 1931, to lawyer John Anderson MUNRO and Katherine CARR, a housewife, John Carr MUNRO became a municipal alderman at the age of 23 while attending law school at Osgoode Hall in Toronto.
"I have no idea how he did that," Mr. NEMIGAN says. "The guy didn't sleep."
Mr. MUNRO took his first run at federal politics in the seat of Hamilton West in 1957, but was beaten by Ellen FAIRCLOUGH, who went on to become Canada's first female cabinet minister. In 1962, he switched ridings, and won the seat he would hold for the next 22 years.
With the election of Mr. TRUDEAU in 1968, a string of cabinet positions followed for Mr. MUNRO: minister without portfolio, amateur sport, health and welfare, labour and Indian affairs and northern development, the last earning him the hard-won respect of aboriginal groups.
In the 1968 general election, an aggressive young poll captain named Sheila COPPS worked on Mr. MUNRO's re-election bid. She would go on to replace him in the seat in 1984.
Tom AXWORTHY, who was Mr. TRUDEAU's principal secretary, recalled that the prime minister often turned to Mr. MUNRO for support on progressive positions at the cabinet table: "When we had those kind of debates, he would kind of look over to MUNRO when he wanted to hear the liberal perspective on the issue."
Mr. MUNRO's support for the decriminalization of marijuana led to a perk in December, 1969: A 90-minute chat about drugs with John LENNON and Yoko ONO, fresh from the duo's "bed-in" at Montreal's Queen Elizabeth Hotel. Documents unearthed this spring by a researcher for an Ottawa Beatles Web site revealed that Mr. LENNON joked that while Mr. TRUDEAU and Mr. MUNRO, then health minister, were members of the "establishment," they were both "hip."
"Mr. MUNRO's speech [on the decriminalization of marijuana] was the only political speech I ever heard about that had anything to do with reality that came through to me," Mr. LENNON is quoted as saying in the 12,000-word document.
Contacted by a reporter in May, Mr. MUNRO recalled that the incident, and his stand on cannabis, didn't go over well. "Yeah, I was in a little hot water at the time," he laughed. "Everybody thought I wanted to give the country to the junkies."
Mr. LENNON and Ms. ONO made a distinct impression, he said. "The more I think about it, the more I remember he and his wife were very polite and committed people."
In 1974, the water became considerably hotter when the Royal Canadian Mounted Police raided Mr. MUNRO's campaign headquarters during a probe into kickbacks and bid rigging on Hamilton Harbour dredging contracts.
Around the same time, Mr. MUNRO was criticized for accepting a $500 campaign donation from a union whose leaders were under investigation.
In 1978, he was forced to resign from the cabinet when it was revealed that he had talked to a judge by telephone to give a character reference for a constituent on the day of the person's sentencing for assault. But he bounced back with a tenacity that Mr. TRUDEAU was said to have admired and in 1980 won reappointment to the cabinet.
Mr. MUNRO's stamp on Hamilton was legendary, from the reclamation of land that gave the city Confederation Park, to the Canada Centre for Inland Waters, to the fundraising of more than $50-million for the local airport, renamed in his honour in 1998. "Without a doubt, he was the feistiest, most stubborn person I knew in public life," former mayor Bob MORROW remarked. "I don't think we will ever meet his equal of scaring up funds for Hamilton."
When Mr. TRUDEAU retired in 1984, Mr. MUNRO ran for the Liberal leadership and prime minister. He finished a poor fifth in a field of six. There began what his daughter called the "decade from hell," starting with a four-year Royal Canadian Mounted Police investigation so vigorous, the Mounties even considered using a helicopter to track Mr. MUNRO because the officers assigned to tail him couldn't keep up with his car.
That investigation killed a re-election bid in 1988 and scuttled his marriage to Lilly Oddie MUNRO, a minister in the former Ontario Liberal government. It eventually produced 37 flimsy charges of breach of trust, conspiracy, corruption, fraud and theft stemming from his years as Indian affairs minister. After a trial that dragged on for most of 1991, the judge threw out nearly all the charges without even calling for defence evidence. The Crown later withdrew the rest.
Mr. MUNRO welcomed the verdict as "complete exoneration" but was left with legal bills estimated at nearly $1-million and a reputation in ruins. Swimming in debt (he had to rely on Ontario Legal Aid), he filed a civil suit in 1992, claiming malicious prosecution and maintaining he had been targeted by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to embarrass him. He attempted a political comeback in 1993, only to have Mr. CHRÉTIEN refuse to sign his nomination papers. Mr. MUNRO responded by filing an unsuccessful court challenge seeking to strip Mr. CHRÉTIEN of his power to appoint candidates.
Mr. MUNRO, who had returned to an immigration law practice in Hamilton, felt betrayed by the government's refusal to pay his legal bills, and it took an emotional toll.
"I'm not mad at the world," he said in 1996. "I realized this could totally destroy me if I didn't live a day at a time. You have to impose discipline, or you're finished. The motivation to carry on is voided. There's nothing to look forward to except endless grief."
He finally won nearly $1.4-million in compensation from Ottawa in 1999, but most of the money went to pay taxes, legal bills and other expenses. He could have avoided problems by declaring bankruptcy, but insisted on clearing his debts.
"He was no saint, but he was dedicated and hardworking," said his daughter Susan. "He was deeply hurt."
Mr. MUNRO had no interest in the personal trappings of wealth, she said, adding that he had a weakness only for Chevy Chevettes and homemade muffins. Good thing too, for a proposal for bankruptcy he filed in 1995 showed a monthly living balance of $476.
His last political gasp came in 2000 when he ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Hamilton. Asked in 1996 about writing his memoirs, he said: "I'm not ready. There's no last chapter yet."
Mr. MUNRO leaves his third wife, Barbara, and four children.
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FAIRLEY email@example.com_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2003-11-15 published
Sculptor 'entirely original'
A wood carver from a young age who made many public works, he was befriended by the Group of Seven and later carved their tombstone epitaphs
By Bill GLADSTONE, Special to The Globe and Mail Saturday, November 15, 2003 - Page F10
A Canadian sculptor who as a young man was adopted by the Group of Seven has died in Toronto. E. B. COX, who prided himself on achieving artistic and commercial success without ever taking a penny in government grants, was 89.
Mr. COX was a young associate, of some of the Group of Seven with whom he went on northern sketching trips; A. Y. JACKSON once complimented him on his "good sense of form." He later carved their tombstone epitaphs.
A wood carver from a young age, he came to master stone and even the delicate art of faceting and carving precious stones; he also tried metal, ceramics and glass. Because he liked to work fast, he pioneered the use of power tools to quicken the chiselling process, a technique that purists initially disdained as a form of cheating.
According to one 1990s guide-book, he had "more sculpture on view in Toronto's public places than any other single artist." His 20-piece Garden of the Greek Gods, originally installed in the 1950s on the Georgian Peaks near Collingwood, Ontario, was later relocated to the far more populous grounds of the Canadian National Exhibition near the Dufferin Gate. The only fully human representation in the group, an 11-foot-high statue of Hercules, was carved from a six-tonne piece of Indiana limestone -- "the biggest piece of stone used by a sculptor in Canada," according to friend and patron, Ken SMITH.
Among his many other public works are a fish fountain for a courtyard at the former Park Plaza Hotel, a stone bear for the Guild Inn, a stone Orpheus for Victoria College, lavish countertops and railings for historic bank buildings, a large seated lady for McMaster University and whimsical creatures for a school yard in Milton, Ontario
Having mastered big, he also excelled at small: He used to claim that he invented coffee-table art. He carved little totem poles to put himself through university, and became known for his small bear sculptures, which he sold at popular prices, especially at Christmas. "At university, I damned near starved," he would explain. "I don't believe in starving artists."
Influenced by Iroquois and West Coast Haida art, he focused on bears, beavers, birds and other animals as well as human torsos, masks and heads; he often caught the animals in quirky fluid poses and never failed to capture their essential natures. He once crafted an all-Canadian limited-edition chess set for the Hudson's Bay Co., with beavers as pawns, coureurs de bois as knights, Indian princesses as queens, and so on. He was "the great bridge between aboriginal art and modern art," according to Mr. SMITH and others. A picture book about him, featuring an essay by Gary Michael DAULT, was published by Boston Mills Press in 1999.
"He was entirely original," said Toronto sculptor Dora DE PEDERY- HUNT. "Absolutely nobody else did what he did. What style he had was entirely his. I call him a real good sculptor, a real good artist."
The younger of two brothers, Elford Bradley COX was born on July 16, 1914, in Botha, Alberta., where his family made a short-lived attempt at farming; he learned to carve by watching his maternal grandfather whittle kindling by the fireside. He persisted in sculpting even though his pious father was vehemently opposed to the creation of "graven images," he told Toronto Life magazine in 1997. The family returned to Bowmanville, Ontario, where E. B. spent most of his childhood, and where his mother died suddenly after an epileptic attack when her favoured son was a young teenager. When it was time for him to go to university, "his father sent him off with $5, a suitcase and a wish of good luck," said Kathy SUTTON, the younger of his two daughters.
Studying languages at the University of Toronto from 1934 to 1938, Mr. COX was befriended by German professor and painter Barker FAIRLEY, who introduced him to A. Y. JACKSON, Fred VARLEY and Arthur LISMER of the Group of Seven.
Mr. COX started teaching languages at Upper Canada College, but soon left to join the war effort as an intelligence officer, interrogating prisoners of war in Europe.
Afterward, he resumed teaching at Upper Canada College, and devoted part of a summer to a school canoe trip on the Mississauga River the next summer he escorted a group of boys on an even more adventurous trip down the Churchill River in the barren lands. "That was just unheard-of in those years," recalled Terence A. WARDROP, who joined that expedition and became Mr. COX's lifelong friend and solicitor. "It was a big trip and it was almost historic the rivers and some of the lakes were unmapped in 1948."
Quitting his teaching job in 1949, Mr. COX married the former Betty CAMPBELL, bought a farm near Palgrave, Ontario, and discovered that he could survive as a full-time artist. (Although he considered government subsidies poisonous, he once applied for a government grant to study Canadian stones suitable for sculpting -- and was turned down. "I did my stone research without their damn-fool money," he told The Globe and Mail in 1970.) Moving to a rural property in north Toronto and later to a Victorian house in eastern Toronto, he separated from his wife but remained on excellent terms with her and their daughters.
Being partial to pranks, he once purchased a canoe for his wife as a gift and, to achieve maximum surprise, paddled it to the dock at the family cottage in a rented disguise. Along with his love of humour, Friends recall his sharp wit and his ability to cut through social pretense. "He said he wanted his gravestone to read, 'I told you I was sick,' " recalled art dealer John INGRAM. " That's what I remember about him -- his great sense of humour and just what a wonderful compassionate guy he was. He tried to give this air of being an old curmudgeon, but in fact, he was anything but."
Becoming a mentor to many young artists, Mr. COX generously shared his tools and experience with them. "He didn't have much mentoring when he was learning to be an artist -- people didn't help him so he took the opposite tack," said his daughter Kathy.
Always enthusiastic and full of ideas, he was usually in his workshop early in the morning -- and kept on working even after losing his sight in his final years. His home was full of fine sculpture and painting, including a portrait of Mr. COX by Mr. FAIRLEY that hung over the mantel. "It was a lovely place, and by the time you got out of there, you were in a buying fever," Mr. SMITH recalled. "E.B. himself was part of the fun of buying stuff. People were just charmed by the atmosphere he created." He was also famously not particular about the prices he asked from genuine admirers of his work.
As for his art's place in the world, he was confident it would last, at least in the physical sense. "We'd have these long philosophical talks about whether there was an afterlife and what legacy to leave behind," friend Eric CONROY recalled. "He'd say that his stone works would be there long after Rembrandt's paintings had crumbled."
E. B. COX died in Toronto on July 29, leaving his wife Betty, daughters Sally SPROULE and Kathy SUTTON, two grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
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FAIRWEATHER firstname.lastname@example.org_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2003-07-18 published
D-Day vet one of the 'Two Jacks'
Story of two soldiers'daring escape from a German PoW camp inspired a book of 'amazing adventures'
By Allison LAWLOR Friday, July 18, 2003 - Page R13
Jack VENESS, a D-Day veteran whose dramatic account of capture and escape during the Second World War was chronicled in the book The Two Jacks, has died at his home in Fredericton. He was Maritime writer Will R. BIRD recounted Mr. VENESS's wartime heroism in his 1954 book The Two Jacks: The Amazing Adventures of Major Jack M. VENESS and Major Jack L. FAIRWEATHER.
When Canadians landed on the Normandy coast of France on D-Day, Mr. VENESS and Dr. FAIRWEATHER were there with the North Nova Scotia Highlanders. By June 7, the North Novas (as they were known) battled their way inland -- about 13 kilometres -- and had occupied the villages of Buron and Authie when they were met by German tanks and gunfire, led by the 12th SS Panzer Division.
A raging battle ensued that left dozens of North Novas dead and injured and led to the capture of both Mr. VENESS and Dr. FAIRWEATHER. They were among close to 100 who were taken prisoner by the Germans at the time.
"We thought it was bad luck that we were captured but on the other hand there were a lot of people who didn't survive," said Dr. FAIRWEATHER, a retired doctor living in Lewisburg, Pa.
After being forced to walk for close to a week with little food or rest, the two officers, along with the other prisoners, reached the gates of "Front Stalag." The German prison was a collection of worn-out army huts surrounded by three barbed wire fences.
Included in the book The Two Jacks is a card Mr. VENESS wrote dated June 16, 1944. "Dear Mother, I am in a German PoW camp. I am in good health and will write more later. Love, Jack."
The two Jacks would then spend the next six weeks in the prison camp before being loaded onto a railway boxcar. After spending at least five days jammed into the crowded car, with bombs dropping all around them, the two men decided if they were going to escape, now was the time.
"It was made pretty clear in training... an officer's first duty when captured is to escape," Dr. FAIRWEATHER said. "We had that in the back of our minds."
In the dark of the night, just outside the French city of Tours, the two terrified men escaped their imprisonment by jumping from a moving train through a hole in the boxcar.
"Jack said, 'This is our chance, we have to take it,' Dr. FAIRWEATHER recalled. "He said, 'Come on, we can do this.' " The two officers were hidden by a French priest in the belfry of a church (which Mr. VENESS would later visit in the 1970s with his son and first wife), and were soon after linked up with the French underground.
"I'm sure we wouldn't have survived without the underground," Dr. FAIRWEATHER said. "They hid us and protected us."
The two officers served with the French underground in the German-occupied Loire district of France for less than two months before they were able to make a safe return to their regiment in England.
After declining an offer to be re-posted to Canada, both Jacks rejoined their North Nova units in Europe. This next period would mark some of the most intense fighting Mr. VENESS took part in during the war.
"He was a very courageous and a very brave man," said his friend and fellow veteran, retired judge David DICKSON/DIXON of the New Brunswick Court of Queen's Bench. "He never lacked valour."
John (Jack) Mersereau VENESS was born on November 11, 1922, in Ottawa to John and Annie VENESS. After moving with his family to Fredericton in 1933, he attended Fredericton High School. He went on to complete one year at the University of New Brunswick before joining the Canadian Infantry Corps (North Nova Scotia Highlanders) in May, 1942, at the age of 19. A year later, he went overseas and not long after met Dr. FAIRWEATHER while in England with the North Novas.
Dr. FAIRWEATHER said he immediately liked his fellow Maritimer's directness. "He called a spade a spade."
Over the course of his storied military career, Mr. VENESS would go on to serve in England, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and France. After returning to his unit after his capture and escape, Mr. VENESS was engaged in fighting in the flooded Scheldt Estuary in Holland and Belgium, during which time he captured a German major-general at gunpoint.
In March, 1945, while leading his company in Germany, Mr. VENESS was seriously wounded by shrapnel from an exploding shell. After more than a month in hospital he recovered.
Mr. VENESS retired from the army in 1946 as a major with many medals, including the War Medal, being mentioned in dispatches, Croix de Guerre 1940 with Palm, Chevalier of the Order of Leopold II with Palm (Belgium), The Defence Medal and the 1939-45 Star.
"He had a high respect for the veterans all his life," Mr. Dickson said. "I really [think] he felt he owed a debt to his fellow soldiers."
After returning home to New Brunswick after the war, Mr. VENESS returned to the University of New Brunswick and graduated in 1950 with a degree in civil engineering. He spent four years working in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, and Banff, Alberta., then returned to New Brunswick to work for the Department of Highways. He retired in 1983 as director of traffic engineering.
In 1948, Mr. VENESS married Jere WOOD from Saint Martin's, New Brunswick They had one son. In 1976, after almost 30 years of marriage, Mr. VENESS lost both his wife and mother in a tragic car accident, while the two women were driving home to Fredericton from St. Andrews, New Brunswick Two years later, Mr. VENESS married Freda LOCKHARD. The couple enjoyed travelling and visited Europe to pay homage to fallen soldiers at military cemeteries and to attend commemorative services.
In addition to travelling, Mr. VENESS was also an active member of the community. He volunteered with a number of organizations, including the Young Men's Christian Association, where he served on the board of directors; the Masons; the Canadian Legion; and the Fredericton Garrison Club, where he was president.
Mr. VENESS's strict, early military training stuck with him throughout his life. Mr. DICKSON/DIXON remembers that a telephone call to his friend meant a brisk talk to convey a message and no idle chitchat.
"He was a little gruff at times," Mr. DICKSON/DIXON said.
Mr. VENESS died of a heart attack on June 30 while playing snooker at his home in Fredericton.
He leaves his wife Freda, son Randy, daughter-in-law Angela and two grandchildren.
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