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"GHO" 2005 Obituary


GHOSH o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2005-07-25 published
Margaret ALLEMANG, Nurse And Scholar: 1914-2005
Pioneer in applying methodology to traditional care, she wrote the first paper on Canadian nursing history
By Sabitri GHOSH, Special to The Globe and Mail, Monday, July 25, 2005, Page S9
Toronto -- Decades after the entrance exam that secured her a spot in the University of Toronto's School of Nursing, Margaret ALLEMANG -- by then a much-honoured professor emeritus -- was still mulling over her response to the question of why she wanted to be a nurse. "I guess I just used the pat answer," she mused in a 1993 interview, "that 'I wanted to be of service to others."
An inveterate deep thinker, Dr. ALLEMANG could never settle for a pat answer if a more profound one could be unearthed. As her nephew, Globe and Mail writer John ALLEMANG, recalls, "She had a professorial way of dealing with issues: you always allow time for further thought and consideration, and you don't close off any avenues for possibility." Yet in spite of her second-guessing, what she said in 1937 proved inescapably true -- both of her career as a researcher, teacher and historian, and of herself in general.
One of a new breed of nurses who emerged from an academic program instead of from an in-hospital apprenticeship, Dr. ALLEMANG was a pioneer in applying research methodology to traditional nursing. "Essentially, nursing wasn't a research-oriented profession or academic pursuit," Mr. ALLEMANG says. "It was simply the business of training nurses to be nurses. So she was kind of on the edge of that transition, where they started doing clinical studies of nursing care."
Her 1956 master's thesis on "factors affecting the sleep of patients" was among the earliest dissertations in clinical nursing. It was unique, too, for its emphasis on the individual patient -- a marked contrast from other studies of the era. Throughout the 1960s, Dr. ALLEMANG continued to broaden the purview of contemporary clinical research, chronicling the experiences of hospitalized cardiac patients and leading an experimental research unit at Sunnybrook Hospital trying out more patient-centred systems of nursing.
"She was very concerned with the patient as a person -- a whole person," says her friend and teaching colleague, Judith YOUNG.
Dr. ALLEMANG's quest to meet the "patient's physical, emotional and spiritual needs" was one charted by personal experience. As a child, she suffered from osteomyelitis, a chronic bone infection that left her bed-ridden for most of her youth. Later, studying philosophy in university, she came to embrace the existentialist view of how a crisis like hers could be transformative. "There was the idea in my thinking," she said, "that this fits into the sick person, because illness is a crisis, that people can grow and learn through illness."
For her PhD, Dr. ALLEMANG initially wanted to construct a theory of nursing "based on the existentialist approach to man." But her PhD committee at the University of Washington nixed the idea. So instead, she turned to the development of nursing education in North America from 1873 to 1950, focusing on the leaders who ushered in its most important changes. The project took her nearly 20 years to complete, with Dr. ALLEMANG working on it in between teaching duties at the University of Toronto's Faculty of Nursing. She was, remarks her nephew, "a great procrastinator."
When Dr. ALLEMANG's paper finally did come out in 1976, it was the first ever published on Canadian nursing history. Moreover, points out Kathryn McPHERSON, dean of women's studies at York University, it also deposited a crucial piece of scholarship into the hands of social historians just as they were starting to take stock of women's history-making contributions. "It was consistent with a genre of women's history which was about looking at Canada's female leadership," Dr. McPHERSON says.
While pursuing her PhD, Dr. ALLEMANG became familiar with another group of history-making women through the Nursing Sisters Association of Canada. She herself served as a nursing sister in the air force during the Second World War. While she did not go overseas, she later discovered dozens of women who had been principal actors in the drama of war. From 1977 until the early 1990s, she systematically interviewed 30 of them in a monumental oral history project. "It's very different view of the war," Dr. YOUNG says. "Nurses were the only women who were close to the front lines. I think Margaret saw them all as heroines."
During the 1980s, a group interested in nursing history, including Dr. YOUNG and Dr. McPHERSON, began to coalesce around Dr. ALLEMANG in meetings hosted at her West Toronto home. In 1993, the group formalized as the Margaret M. Allemang Centre for the History of Nursing. Even without a building or staff, Dr. McPHERSON believes their advocacy helped prevent precious archival materials from being lost during the wave of cutbacks that swept health care in the mid-1990s. She also credits Dr. ALLEMANG for bringing nursing history into its own in Canada through her tireless support of academics like herself.
"She was a real encourager, a co-ordinator," Dr. McPHERSON says. "Nursing history is so much part of general social history, so much on the map."
Never married, Dr. ALLEMANG was particularly close to Mr. ALLEMANG, her twin brother's son. In her retirement, the two regularly went to the opera and restaurants together, and would indulge in substantive conversations about the arts, history, food and philosophy. Somehow, Mr. ALLEMANG marvels, she managed to be a critical thinker without ever being critical. "I never knew if she had a bad thought about anybody," he says. "I'm sure she did, but you had to work pretty hard to get a sense that she didn't approve of something."
Even when a boarder from Hong Kong took her prized red Mustang on a wild joyride that ended in it being totalled, Mr. ALLEMANG says his aunt barely budged. Nor did it discourage Dr. ALLEMANG from her practice of opening her home to strangers. The last in a long series of tenants was Gizaw CHUTA, a refugee from Ethiopia and a minister in training. Today, Reverend CHUTA says he initially worried that the elderly white Canadian would see his presence as an imposition. "What she told me, she has experience with all people, with all cultures, so she liked to talk with all people. For her, really, all the world's people are the same."
When Mr. CHUTA learned last November that his wife and children had finally received visas to come to Canada, Dr. ALLEMANG insisted on paying their airfares.
Margaret ALLEMANG was born in Toronto on July 19, 1914. She died in Toronto on April 14, 2005. She was 91.

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GHOSH o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2005-11-07 published
Wilbur Roy JACKETT, Jurist (1912-2005)
Bad-tempered but committed chief justice of the Federal Court had an enormous impact on the administration of the law in Canada
By Sabitri GHOSH, Special to The Globe and Mail, Monday, November 7, 2005, Page S8
Kingston -- When an admirer wanted to write his biography, Wilbur JACKETT, the retired chief justice of the Federal Court of Canada, nearly dismissed the idea out of hand. It was, he opined with his signature bluntness, "a damn fool idea and waste of time."
But then, as he was wont to do, the judge reconsidered his position, eventually agreeing to tell the would-be biographer, Montreal lawyer Dick Pound, how he went from small-town Saskatchewan to engineering some of the most important developments in Canada's postwar legal system.
That he almost forfeited the chance to make his case to posterity was characteristic of a man to whom the opinions of others mattered little and who thought, Mr. Pound said, "judges' judgments should speak for themselves, and that's all you needed to know: A judge was what his judgment was."
Mr. JACKETT entered the University of Saskatchewan's law school in 1928, apparently at the urging of his stern, emotionally distant father. After an outstanding academic career, culminating in a Rhodes scholarship, he joined the Department of Justice in The department was then the busiest in Ottawa, the place where everyone else offloaded their legislative homework under the frenetic deadlines of the war. In the close quarters of the 10-person office, Mr. JACKETT's skill at crafting solid pieces of legislation fast -- he guessed that he drafted eight bills in his first year alone -- soon came to the attention of the deputy minister of justice, Frederick VARCOE. By the late 1940s, he was handling everything from staff recruitment and training to all civil litigation, so that his appointment as Mr. VARCOE's successor in 1957 surprised no one.
At 5-foot 4, with an ink-black, rubberstamp moustache, Mr. JACKETT inspired both respect and hostility within the department. He would reassign employees without consultation, demand they work evenings and weekends, and rail at them for minor mistakes. At the same time, he could be generous in recognizing and encouraging people's gifts, even those dissimilar from his own.
Marguerite RITCHIE, Canada's first female Queen's Counsel, saw both sides of Mr. JACKETT within the span of a few months. Then in charge of international law, she was called into his office and "informed that he didn't believe in international law," she said, "and that he was going to more or less watch everything that I was doing from then on."
Ms. RITCHIE apprehensively continued her work -- which at that time centred on the legal structure surrounding the United Nations until, one day, Mr. JACKETT called her back into his office: "He said he'd changed his mind and something to the effect that you really do need someone to assist you, which was a tremendous reversal." To her, this was evidence of his overriding sense of fairness.
Under Mr. JACKETT's direction, the department developed the 1953 Crown Liability Act, removing many archaic impediments that prevented citizens from suing the government. And, at the request of the Diefenbaker government, he was also responsible for drafting the Bill of Rights, a statutory precursor to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Despite these achievements, Mr. JACKETT wanted to sit on the bench and felt he had to -- in Mr. Pound's words -- "sanitize" himself for the role. Choosing Canadian Pacific Railway as his quarantine, he accepted a position as its general counsel in 1960. Once gone from the Department of Justice, he let it be known that he would welcome a judicial appointment, specifying the Exchequer Court of Canada as his first choice.
The itinerant court, which specialized in suits against the government and in federally regulated areas such as intellectual property and income tax, was widely considered sluggish and inefficient, with some of its cases running on for five years. Mr. JACKETT became its president in 1964 and right away stopped assigning judges to files until they finished writing their judgments in reserve. In the meantime, he and another judge took on virtually all new cases. Within a year, the backlog was cleared.
Impressed, the Department of Justice took note when Mr. JACKETT suggested replacing the Exchequer Court with a wholly new body whose jurisdiction would extend to rulings by federal tribunals, boards and commissions.
Then-justice minister John TURNER found the proposal both legally and politically appealing, and agreed to pilot the necessary legislation through Parliament. On June 1, 1971, the Federal Court of Canada officially opened, with Mr. JACKETT as its chief justice.

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GHOSH o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2005-12-02 published
Magnus ELIASON, Politicial Organizer: (1911-2005)
He joined the Co-Operative Commonwealth Federation the year it was founded and became a gifted backroom planner who groomed such up-and-comers as Ed SCHREYER
By Sabitri GHOSH, Special to The Globe and Mail, Friday, December 2, 2005, Page S9
Kingston, Ontario -- In 1957, officials at Co-Operative Commonwealth Federation headquarters were looking for somebody to drive Magnus ELIASON. It was one nomination that Ed SCHREYER, then an ambitious young politico, would rather not have got.
"Frankly, I thought it was going to be a drag, driving around a political organizer," Mr. SCHREYER said. "At the age of 20, I had other things in mind."
But the white-haired éminence grise -- who was severely visually impaired as a result of congenital albinism -- turned out to be no ordinary passenger. As Mr. SCHREYER drove him through the Manitoba countryside, he cracked picaresque jokes, told stories from Norse mythology, and recounted stirring anecdotes from his days as an original Co-Operative Commonwealth Federation member.
"He was such a marvellous, marvellous storehouse of knowledge and so entertaining as a raconteur that, after that first chore, I genuinely volunteered to drive him around," Mr. SCHREYER said. They talked so much, added the former Manitoba premier and governor-general, "we never turned the radio on once."
Though his own résumé as a politician was limited, Mr. ELIASON played a singular role in the rise of the Co-Operative Commonwealth Federation and its successor, the New Democratic Party, through tireless organizing and nurturing political talent like Mr. SCHREYER, who described him as a "tremendous influence on my early life."
The son of Icelandic immigrants, Mr. ELIASON heard of the 1932 founding of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation while homesteading with his brothers in Sunnybrook, British Columbia An immediate convert, he became one of the party's most zealous missionaries, preaching its program of socialism and full employment as he freight-hopped during the Depression in search of work. In March of 1935, he went on a proselytizing trek across northern British Columbia and Alberta, walking to every farm in a 60-kilometre radius to drop off Co-Operative Commonwealth Federation pamphlets and spread the party's message. By his calculation, he achieved a 65-per-cent success rate.
As Mr. ELIASON's activism grew, the Co-Operative Commonwealth Federation hired him as an organizer to reinforce its Prairie base. His tactical savvy and attention to detail proved critical in winning Tommy Douglas a second term as Saskatchewan premier during a close 1956 campaign.
"Magnus could walk into a room and know where everybody was and who they were, and zero right in, find out just what the details were," said Jim MALOWAY, Mr. ELIASON's long-time business partner. "So if he wanted them to come to a meeting, he would have their name and phone number and the time they were home, and then organize a car to go pick them up. You can't beat a guy with organizational ability like that."
In 1958, Mr. ELIASON returned to his native Manitoba to work full-time for the Co-Operative Commonwealth Federation national office. Over the next decade, he more than tripled party memberships in the province. A born marketer, he loved going to people's homes, setting out the Co-Operative Commonwealth Federation platform as tangibly as he would demonstrate the merits of no-rip nylons or encyclopedia sets in his erstwhile career as a door-to-door salesman.
"He loved sales and getting directly to the sales pitch in a way that would just make me cringe," Mr. SCHREYER said. "But most of the time, it worked."
One winter, Mr. SCHREYER said, he drove Mr. ELIASON to a tumbledown farm -- "the farmer was chopping ice in the water trough for his livestock; you could see he was just struggling, financially" and watched with consternation as Mr. ELIASON unloaded his high-powered sales pitch.
"He probably was pleased that he could afford $5 to help out a people's movement," Mr. ELIASON later said when Mr. SCHREYER remonstrated with him. "Besides, you can't build a viable political party... on sentiment alone."
While unwavering, Mr. ELIASON's loyalty to the party was not unquestioning. By his own admission, he "entertained some doubts about the political wisdom" of amalgamating with the Canadian Labour Congress to form the New Democratic Party in 1961. At the New Democratic Party's inaugural leadership convention, he went against the party mainstream again, unsuccessfully supporting Hazen Argue over Mr. Douglas.
Convinced the party would lose Saskatchewan if Mr. Douglas left for Ottawa, Mr. ELIASON saw its subsequent defeat there as unwelcome vindication. "In politics," he said in his 1997 memoir, A Life on the Left, "I often sense a lot of things in my bones."
Mr. ELIASON's political intuition astounded Mr. MALOWAY, a Manitoba Member of Legislative Assembly since 1986. "He could predict the number of seats in an election campaign down to one or two. He used to phone me before an election and say, 'Well, Jim, I think you guys are going to get 13, or 20,' or whatever it was: He just had a great ability to sense this stuff."
In the mid-1960s, certain that Mr. SCHREYER was the key to an New Democratic Party victory in Manitoba, Mr. ELIASON secured an agreement from party leader Russ PAULLEY to resign in favour of the young member of Parliament. When Sid GREEN threatened to thwart his plan by contesting the leadership, he helped Mr. PAULLEY stave off the challenge. His protégé's ascension to party leader in 1969, followed by his election later that year as Manitoba's first New Democratic Party premier, marked the high point of Mr. ELIASON's career.
Domestically, the long-time bachelor had also found another kind of perfect candidate: nurse and New Democratic Party supporter Catherine MacFARLANE, whom he married in 1965.
Mrs. ELIASON's niece, Wanda OPANUBI, felt Mr. ELIASON -- the consummate political organizer -- craved someone who could bring order to his chaotic home life. "Magnus was the child of the marriage," she said. "He was not only the husband, but the kid, and he did need a certain amount of care."
Backed by his wife, Mr. ELIASON finally realized some of his most long-standing ambitions. He bought an New Democratic Party colleague's insurance company and became a respected businessman. Then, in 1968, he won a seat on Winnipeg City Council representing a downtown ward. Championing revitalization of the urban core and the preservation of heritage buildings, he served five terms before retiring in 1989.
It was the only public office Mr. ELIASON ever held. Decades earlier, he had run for alderman in Vancouver, but managed to repel both poles of the 1940s electorate by defending Japanese Canadians' right to vote while simultaneously disavowing communism.
"He had a streak of idealism," Mr. SCHREYER said, "but he often spoke of the need to temper that with reality. He used the word a lot: 'reality,' along with 'common sense,' 'logic' and 'analysis.'"
Mr. ELIASON's deference to reality caused the two men -- who "had a tendency to agree on just about every issue," Mr. SCHREYER said -- to disagree on one point. Mr. SCHREYER believed a party should never expel its members under any circumstances, especially on policy, while Mr. ELIASON thought it was sometimes necessary for the sake of party unity.
Mr. SCHREYER found it ironic, then, when Mr. ELIASON started taking positions contrary to the party line on issues such as abortion. In recent years, his commanding baritone could often be heard at New Democratic Party gatherings projecting a sharply dissident voice. "I know it irritated some folks," Mr. SCHREYER said, "but I admired him all the more for it."
The same fearlessness also characterized Mr. ELIASON as a salesman and canvasser. He liked to quip, "An adventure lies behind every door."
Mrs. OPANUBI offered his family's explanation for it: "He couldn't read expressions on people's faces. So he just kept on going."
Ultimately, Mr. ELIASON's readiness to come face to face with anyone or anything nearly killed him. On his business's busiest day of 1978 -- the province's February deadline for renewing car insurance -- he was working late into the night at his home office. "We closed at 6 o'clock," Mr. MALOWAY said, "but there would always be people coming by to insure their cars who would show up at 7, 8, 9 o'clock, and he would help them: He was extremely customer-friendly and would never turn a customer away."
Hindered by his near-blindness, Mr. ELIASON inadvertently opened the door to a gunman, who threatened to kill him unless his wife handed over their money. The couple survived the experience physically unharmed but emotionally brutalized.
What happened next was almost as extraordinary. The usually voluble Mr. ELIASON never spoke of the traumatic incident with anyone except his niece and business partner. Nor did his Friends detect even a subtle shift in his personality or political views: On crime, he continued to argue, as always, for rehabilitation over retributive justice. And he still opened his door whenever people came calling.
Magnus ELIASON was born in Arnes, Manitoba, on June 21, 1911.
He died after a brief illness in Winnipeg on November 11, 2005. He was predeceased by his wife.

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