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"TOR" 2003 Obituary


TORMÉ o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2003-02-13 published
By Jack FORTIN Thursday, February 13, 2003, Page A30
Musician, husband, father. Born August 3, 1931, in Winnipeg. Died August 31, 2002, in Scarborough, Ontario, following a stroke, aged 71.
Gordie FLEMING/FLEMMING was a remarkable music talent, known internationally as a master of the accordion, especially in the jazz idiom. He was a life member of Local 149 of the Toronto Musicians' Association.
In show-business vernacular, Gordie was "born in a trunk." He began playing accordion when his older brother gave him lessons. His musical ability was such that he began performing publicly at the age of five. His schoolteachers often saw him being whisked away in a taxi to perform at theatres and radio stations in Winnipeg. By the age of 10, he was a working member of various bands in that city.
In 1949, Gordie lost his accordion in a fire at a Winnipeg hotel. With the insurance money, he headed for the bright lights of Montreal where he soon became an important part of that city's musical life. His accordion ability was complemented by the fact that he was also a gifted arranger and composer.
He had a marvellous ability to improvise and could string out complex bebop lines, leaving his listeners in awe. He often slipped a jazz phrase into ballads or commercial tunes, confirming that jazz was indeed his first love.
One of Montreal's busiest musicians, he wrote for local orchestras, shows, radio and television. He had perfect pitch and often wrote without reference to a keyboard. He was at home in every type of music from classics to jazz. For several years, he worked at the National Film Board as a composer and musician.
In Montreal, Gordie performed with many show business headliners: there was a wealth of home-grown talent in Montreal, such as Oscar PETERSON and Maynard FERGUSON, as well as other jazz musicians who were beginning to be noticed.
Gordie had said that when when he first heard bebop it was like entering another world. As his career indicates, he had no trouble in that world. He worked with many personalities including: Charlie PARKER, Mel TORMÉ, Hank SNOW, Lena HORNE, Englebert HUMPERDINCK, Dennis DAY, Gordon MacRAE, Cab CALLOWAY, Nat King COLE, Cat STEVENS, Rich LITTLE, Billy ECKSTEIN, Pee Wee HUNT, Arthur GODFREY and Buddy DEFRANCO.
He also performed with Tommy AMBROSE, Allan MILLS, Wally KOSTER, Tommy HUNTER, Bert NIOSI, Wayne and Shuster, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation jazz shows with Al BACULIS, and many other Canadian jazz musicians.
On Montreal's French music scene, Gordie performed on radio and television with Emile GENEST, Ti-Jean CARIGNAN, André GAGNON and Ginette RENO. He was a featured soloist with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra on several occasions.
Internationally, Gordie toured France in 1952 and performed with Edith PIAF and Tino ROSSI. He had the honour to perform for former prime minister Pierre Elliot TRUDEAU at a Commonwealth Conference.
He participated with other top Canadian musicians in a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation tour to entertain Canadian and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization troops in Europe in 1952 and 1968.
For me, a memorable experience was playing in a group with Gordie for several winters in Florida. A popular member of the Panama City Beach family of musicians, Gordie looked forward to his winter trek south. Many of the American musicians will miss him, as will the many snowbirds who looked forward to hearing him each year.
His extensive repertoire allowed Gordie to author a book called Music of the World, in which he wrote the music to 280 songs from more than 30 countries.
Gordie leaves his wife of 47 years, Joanne, and seven children.
Jack FORTIN is Gordie's friend.

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TORRANCE o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2003-04-22 published
By Emerson LAVENDER Tuesday, April 22, 2003 - Page A18
Husband, father, teacher, market gardener, football coach, author. Born December 13, 1899, in Amaranth Township, Dufferin County, Ontario Died February 16 in Burlington, Ontario, of natural causes, aged 103.
Walter TORRANCE's grandfather, Thomas TORRANCE, a Scottish immigrant and devout Presbyterian, bought a farm in Amaranth Township, Dufferin County, in Ontario in 1869. As a boy and teenager, Walter helped with the work on the farm and, more importantly, he became a keen observer of all that went on around him. His whole life was a testimony to the best traditions of the Scottish Presbyterian: self-reliant, energetic, honest-to-the-core, respectful of family. For Walter and his family, the Presbyterian Church provided comfort, but it also set the moral compass by which they related to each other and to their neighbours.
As a farm boy, Walter had no opportunity to play football at Shelburne High School. He had no knowledge of football. But when he became a teacher, his principal at Burlington High School asked Walter to coach the junior football team; he agreed without reservation. A few years ago, I asked him how he did it. "Simple," he said. "The boys I coached had never played the game before and knew nothing about how to play it. I read a book on coaching and got to know a little bit more than the boys. No fancy plays, no complicated tactics. Just two or three plays, practised over and over again, with lots of physical conditioning. Gradually, our junior team gained the respect of others and we went on to win several championships." Simple: do what you are asked; if you don't know, find out, get organized and do it.
The salary of a high-school teacher was hardly enough to support Walter and his family, so for several years he operated a market garden and sold his produce at the market in Kitchener, Ontario, and sometimes at the Guelph market. That meant involving all the family in spring planting, summer cultivation and weeding, and attendance at weekend markets. Rising on Saturday morning at 3 or 4 o'clock, he loaded the little truck with produce and then drove to the market to arrive by 6 o'clock. The income from this work made life a little more comfortable for the family. Early shoppers at the market sought out his special "Jet Star" tomatoes.
Walter taught commercial subjects at the school. The graduates from his special commercial course were much sought after in the business offices of Burlington and Hamilton because Walter had not only taught them the technical skills required but, learning through his own example, his students showed respect and commitment to the job at hand.
In 1997, at the age of 94, he published A Land Called Amaranth, a season-by-season account of the life on the farm in Amaranth Township between 1901 and 1917. Walter may have had the hands of a farm boy, but he had the eye of an artist and the sensitivity of a poet. Not only was he a keen observer of all that went on around him but his ability to recall what he saw and heard was amazing. Some of his passages, such as one describing the return of the birds in spring, are almost lyrical. Others, such as the one describing the Sabbath evening with the family gathered around the kitchen table and Father leading in prayer, moved me to tears.
Sometimes of a Sunday evening, Friends and neighbours would gather for conversation and the singing of favourite hymns and, to quote Walter:
"It was our habit, a custom that came from Grandfather's time, to end the singing with that grand old hymn of parting:
God be with you till we meet again, / By His counsels guide, uphold you, / With His sheep securely fold you: / God be with you till we meet again."
Emerson was a friend of Walter TORRANCE.

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TORY o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2003-05-20 published
He helped build a media giant
Newly graduated accountant brought order to Thomson Corp. in early days
By Allison LAWLOR Tuesday, May 20, 2003 - Page R7
The astute accountant who provided the financial wizardry to pull the fledgling Thomson Corp. through its shaky early days and see it become one of the world's greatest media enterprises, has died. Sydney CHAPMAN was 93.
With Roy THOMPSON/THOMSON/TOMPSON/TOMSON and Jack Kent COOKE, Mr. CHAPMAN helped transform a Depression-era Northern Ontario radio station and The Timmins Press into Canada's largest newspaper group.
By the 1970s, with the aid of Mr. CHAPMAN's guiding hand, Thomson Corp. owned 180 newspapers, including The Times of London, 160 magazines, 27 television and radio stations and interests in North Sea oil.
"He certainly did great things for my father in the early days when my father desperately needed a right-hand man of his calibre and his integrity," said Roy THOMPSON/THOMSON/TOMPSON/TOMSON's son, Kenneth THOMPSON/THOMSON/TOMPSON/TOMSON.
"Of all the things he did, the thing I will be most grateful to Sid for is the fact that he was there when my dad needed him and he never, ever let him down."
Mr. CHAPMAN was a newly graduated accountant working at Silverwood Dairies in London, Ontario, when he answered a help-wanted ad Roy THOMPSON/THOMSON/TOMPSON/TOMSON had placed for a financial man. Soon after being hired, Mr. CHAPMAN moved to the northern Ontario town of Timmins to sort out the finances of the growing media company.
"I didn't have any equity in Silverwood's; I was just an employee and my superiors were not old," he is quoted as saying in Susan GOLDENBERG's book The Thomson Empire. "I wanted to join something that was going somewhere and have equity in it."
At the time, Mr. THOMPSON/THOMSON/TOMPSON/TOMSON, Mr. COOKE and a secretary shared one room in a Toronto building. Roy THOMPSON/THOMSON/TOMPSON/TOMSON began buying radio stations and newspapers in Northern Ontario in the 1930s and bought his first newspaper in Canada, The Timmins Press, in 1934.
"Roy was so busy on the telephone, he could hardly talk to me. I had been making $40 a week at Silverwood's and Roy agreed to pay me $45," Mr. CHAPMAN said of the initial meeting.
Mr. CHAPMAN also insisted on buying $10,000 worth of stock in the company. Mr. THOMPSON/THOMSON/TOMPSON/TOMSON, not keen on the idea of anyone but himself owning stock in his company, said he would discuss this proposal with Mr. CHAPMAN at the end of his first month.
"At that time, he asked if I had the cash and said, 'That settles it,' when I said I didn't. But I was determined to have that stock," Mr. CHAPMAN said.
The young accountant went to the Bank of Nova Scotia manager in Timmins, where he was working at the time, and asked for a $10,000 loan. For collateral, he offered his group insurance. It took more than two decades for Mr. CHAPMAN's investment to become worthwhile. "I didn't get any dividends for 22 years but when the company went public, there was a 30 to one split," Mr. CHAPMAN said.
Sydney (Sid) CHAPMAN was born on January 22, 1910, in Bromley, England, on the border of London. One of five children born to Robert CHAPMAN, a house painter who had been wounded in the First World War, and his wife Sarah, the family scraped by with little money. When Mr. CHAPMAN was still a young boy, the family packed up and emigrated to Canada, making their way to Toronto.
Not long after arriving in the new country, Robert CHAPMAN decided he didn't like the place and wanted to return home to England. His wife decided not to join him. Left to raise the children alone, Mrs. CHAPMAN took a job cooking and cleaning for a wealthy family. Sid got a job as an office boy at what is now Deloitte & Touche. While working there, he completed his high-school equivalency through Queen's University and went on to earn his chartered accountant certificate.
After spending five years at Silverwood Dairies, Mr. CHAPMAN began his long relationship with the THOMPSON/THOMSON/TOMPSON/TOMSON family. Arriving in Timmins, Mr. CHAPMAN found the business affairs of the newspaper and radio station in less than immaculate order.
Mr. CHAPMAN complained to Roy THOMPSON/THOMSON/TOMPSON/TOMSON about the cramped office space and CKGB's accounts and files being stacked in the bathroom and having to keep all his own books in a suitcase.
"Yes, well, that's why we got you up here -- to straighten things out," Roy THOMPSON/THOMSON/TOMPSON/TOMSON replied.
Mr. CHAPMAN did just that. He was so reliable that Roy THOMPSON/THOMSON/TOMPSON/TOMSON put him in charge of his northern business at the end of 1940, less than a year after he was hired. In the early days, the job was a balancing act. "I used to say about Roy's motto of 'Never a backward step, ' that he had better not step backwards or he would fall in a hole," Mr. CHAPMAN said in The Thomson Empire.
Mr. CHAPMAN got involved in the northern community through the Kinsmen service club, eventually becoming its president. It was in Timmins where he met his future wife Ruby, who was born and raised in Northern Ontario. The couple married in 1948 and had two sons. The couple later moved to Toronto with the growing Thomson company.
Mr. CHAPMAN told his young bride that he intended to work long hours. Even his honeymoon was a business trip to look into the purchase of a newspaper in Jamaica, said his son, Neil.
"He loved to work," said Neil CHAPMAN. " There was always a love of what he was doing. There was no way he was going back to being poor."
His most gratifying business moment was travelling back to England in the 1960s to be part of the acquisition of The Times of London, said Neil CHAPMAN. He was so proud to be with Roy THOMPSON/THOMSON/TOMPSON/TOMSON and to be staying at the grand Savoy Hotel after his poor beginnings in life, Neil CHAPMAN said.
Mr. CHAPMAN's financial skill extended beyond the balance sheets. He played a large role in the addition of trucking and insurance to the Thomson empire. The origin of Dominion-Consolidated Truck Lines is said to have been linked to Mr. CHAPMAN's habit of eating breakfast at Kresge's, a five-and-ten-cent chain, in Timmins in the 1940s.
"I used to sit at the counter beside a trucker named Barney QUINN who wanted my advice on buying the trucking business of Ford cars from a Windsor widow.
"Although the trucks were rusty, with bald tires, and business was slow because of the war, I expected a revival in business and decided to go in on the venture," Mr. CHAPMAN said in The Thomson Empire.
Roy THOMPSON/THOMSON/TOMPSON/TOMSON tried to dissuade him, saying he didn't know that business or have the money. After some persuasion, Mr. CHAPMAN convinced him to invest. They went on to buy smaller firms and consolidated them under Dominion-Consolidated.
Mr. CHAPMAN was also a force behind the acquiring of Scottish and York Insurance, growing out of his belief in consolidation and lowering expenses.
"He was a good and tough negotiator," said Toronto lawyer John TORY, who began working for Roy THOMPSON/THOMSON/TOMPSON/TOMSON in the 1950s. "He negotiated a lot of deals for the Thomson group.... He liked to win."
Kenneth THOMPSON/THOMSON/TOMPSON/TOMSON said that what he learned most from his early days working with Mr. CHAPMAN was his positive attitude toward life and people. "He was an extremely positive person. He loved people."
Described as a cheerful and decent man, Mr. CHAPMAN retired from the position of senior financial vice-president at Thomson Newspapers in 1975, but remained as senior vice-president of the Woodbridge Co. and as a director of Thomson Newspapers until 1982.
After retiring from Thomson, Mr. CHAPMAN had no intention of slowing down. He commuted daily into his 80s to a private Bay Street investment office he ran with his two sons. While he was extremely hard-working, serious and focused, he did allow himself to have some fun. He enjoyed golfing and ballroom dancing.
"He loved to dance with his wife Ruby," Mr. TORY said. "They danced well together."
Mr. CHAPMAN, who died on May 9, leaves Ruby, his wife of 55 years, and sons Neil and Glen.
"Dad was a good judge of character and he certainly judged Sid well indeed," Kenneth THOMPSON/THOMSON/TOMPSON/TOMSON said. "He was so dedicated and so extraordinarily loyal."

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