Preserved Stories Blog

They pass the read-a-random-paragraph test: Stasiland (2002), Without You (2014), and They Left Us Everything (2014)

Stasiland (2002) by Anna Funder is a beautifully structured, beautifully written study of East Germany.

Stasiland is a winner of the Samuel Johnson prize for non-fiction in the United Kingdom. According to a blurb the award is prestigious and qualifies as the world’s biggest prize for non-fiction.

Another book, a novel by Anna Funder who was born in 1966 is also a prize-winner as a post at the Toronto Public Library website notes:

All That I Am, the debut novel by Anna Funder, was the 2012 winner of Australia’s most prestigious literary award, the Miles Franklin Literary Award. Set in 1930s Europe and based on a true story, it is the story of a group of young German exiles who risk their lives to awaken the world to the terrifying threat of Hitler and Nazi Germany.”

[End of excerpt]

Without You, There is No Us (2014)

Stasiland (2002) has truly taken hold of my attention. As soon as I read the first paragraph, that I chose at random, I was captivated.

Two other books that similarly have prompted me to stop in my tracks have been:

Without You, There Is No Us: My Time with the Sons of North Korea’s Elite (2014) by Suki Kim and

They Left Us Everything (2014) by Plum Johnson.

Shared characteristics

Reading a single paragraph of an author’s work is similar to what occurs when you meet a person for the first time. In a matter of seconds, you form an impression.

Each of the three above-noted authors has conducted extensive research, and/or is drawing upon a wealth of interviews.

In each case, the approach differs from a standard academic approach toward the topic at hand – valuable as such academic approaches may be. It also differs in each case from the work of a standard generalist journalist.

Recordings or notes of conversations

In Stasiland (2002) and Without You (2014) the dialogue is based upon audio recordings or detailed notes taken on the day of the relevant event or conversation.

In each case, the author presents herself  in some detail as a protagonist in the story, or as a character in the narrative.

Anna Funder, Suki Kim, and Plum Johnson

Each author presents a novelist’s way of looking at things.

Each writer shares details about who she is as she sets the scene. Each writer speaks of herself as a way to move the story along. The focus of each book, however, is on the larger narrative.

I will close with the passage from Stasiland (2002), in which Anna Funder describes the nature of her quest, and Julia reflects about what the topic at hand means to her:

In Stasiland, Julia Behrend (whose experiences are highlighted in a previous post) reflects upon two systems:


  • ‘I think it’s important, what you’re doing,’ she says, as if to comfort me, and I am ashamed. ‘For anyone to understand a regime like the GDR, the stories of ordinary people must be told. Not just the activists or the famous writers.’ Her eyes, grey-green, have a dark shape in them. When it moves, I see that it is me. ‘You have to look at how normal people manage with such things in their pasts.’
  • ‘I think I’m losing track of normal.’
  • ‘Yes,’ she says, smiling, ‘I know it’s relative. We easterners have an advantage, perhaps, in that we can remember and compare two kinds of systems.’ Her mouth twists into a smile as she collects her cigarettes and lighter and puts them in her pocket. ‘But I don’t know if that’s an advan­tage, I mean you see the mistakes of one system – the surveillance – and the·mistakes of the other – the inequality – but there’s nothing you could have done in the one, and nothing you can do now about the other.’ She laughs wryly. ‘And the clearer you see that, the worse you feel.’

[End of excerpt]


On pp. 251-252 in Stasiland Anna Funder speaks about nostalgia for East Germany:

“I don’t doubt this genuine nostalgia, but I think it has coloured a cheap and nasty world golden; a world where there was nothing to buy, nowhere to go and anyone who wanted to do anything with their lives other than serve the Party risked persecution, or worse.”


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Sad news: MCHS teacher Bob Hill passed away on June 18, 2015

Bobby Hill playing lap steel while recording Echoes From the Wheel Club, 2010. Photo by Craig Morrison. Source: Book of Condolences

Bobby Hill playing lap steel while recording Echoes From the Wheel Club, 2010. Photo by Craig Morrison. Source: Book of Condolences

Bob Hill. Source: MCHS 1953-64 yearbook

Bob Hill. Source: MCHS 1953-64 yearbook

Bob Hill. Source: MCHS 1962-63 annual

Bob Hill. Source: MCHS 1962-63 annual

Grame Decarie writes:

Bob Hill died yesterday. He was pretty despondent last time we wrote. He spoke of ‘health issues’. In fact, he’s been unwell for a good, ten years, mostly because of cancer.

I was sorry to hear it. We were pretty good friends, partly because each of us had a lot of trust and confidence in the other – though both of us were too busy to see each other most of the time.

“He was an excellent teacher.”

[End of text]

Remembering the Richard Riot in song

A March 17, 2015 CBC article is entitled: “Remembering the Richard Riot in song: Bob Hill wrote a song about Maurice Richard the night of the riot that became a smash [hit].” The article includes a link to an online video featuring Bob Hill.


Obituary for Bob Hill at Montreal Gazette website

The obituary at the above-noted link reads:

HILL, Robert Jr. “Bobby”

Robert “Bobby” Hill Jr. was born in Twin Butte Alberta, son of the late Robert and Bryde Hill, brother of the late Bryde (Binky) Hill, Dorothy Hill, Patricia Walker and Marjory Doman.

Hill graduated from the old West Hill High School in the Notre Dame de Grace (NDG) neighbourhood of Montreal.

Bobby Hill was a pioneer of Canadian country music on radio, television and in live performance throughout the 1950s and 1960s. In 1955, he wrote and recorded “The Ballad of Rocket Richard” following the Forum Hockey Riot.

Hill went on to achieve recognition as a performer of Jewish folk music, performed in seniors residences and hospitals for more than three decades. On Monday nights, he regularly performed on steel guitar at the Wheel Club in NDG.

Robert received a PhD with Great Distinction in History from McGill University in 1970, writing his thesis (and later a book) on Robert Sellar, the editor of the Huntingdon Gleaner newspaper. Hill taught History at the high school and CEGEP levels for over thirty years.

A long time resident of NDG, Hill led a one-man crusade to keep the neighbourhood clean by the simple act of picking up trash in the streets and lanes around his home, a campaign which was recognized by the Borough of CDN/NDG with a Certificate of Merit.

Robert Hill is survived by his wife Pernella Pollard Hill, children Robert Hill Jr., Ted Hill, Kari Hill, and April Hill, and grandchildren Zack Hill, Ella and Tobin Hassalback, as well as many nieces, nephews and cousins residing in the United States.

Viewing at Urgel Bourgie Funeral Home, 2630 rue Notre Dame West, Montreal, Quebec from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. and from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Friday, June 26.

The Funeral Procession will depart Montreal at 11:00 a.m. Saturday, June 27 to the Hillside Cemetery, Hinchinbrooke (near Huntingdon) Quebec, where the Funeral will be held.

Please consult and sign virtual register at

[End of text]

The notice at the Urgel Bourgie Funeral Home website (above) notes: “Robert (Bobby) Jr Hill À Montréal, est décédé le 18 juin 2015, à l’âge de 82 ans, Monsieur Robert Andrew Hill, époux de Madame Pernella Pollard.”

Remembrances at

Remembrances of Bob Hill at can be accessed here.

Among the remembrances is one (June 26, 2015) from Mary Lynne Dewhurst (MCHS 64) of Scarborough, Ontario:

“I’m sad to hear of Mr. Hill’s death. He was my homeroom teacher 62/63 and much beloved by his students. I saw him most recently performing at the Wheel club and was amazed at his stamina.”

Message from Scott Munro and other MCHS students

On December 11, 2014, Jaan Pill and Scott Munro forwarded the following message to Bob Hill:

Hi Graeme

If it’s possible, would you be able to pass along to Bob Hill the following message from Scott Munro (MCHS 63):

“He taught us grade 10 history, the focus being American history and World history. His detailing of the American governmental system, and reasoned observations on China are items that remain firmly in mind to this day, as though I can still recall him speaking to us in class. His course was an eye opener for me, and I would just like him to know that, so please forward my remarks to him. I also remember him bringing his guitar to class, singing ‘Gordie Howe was the greatest of them all’. He didn’t impress me quite as much with that one because I was a dyed in the wool Maurice Richard, Jean Beliveau fan but I’ve driven through Floral, SK, so I understand.”

Can you pleases extend a hello and “all the best to you, Bob Hill” from me as well.



[End of text] 


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Malcolm McLean Kelly: “Wonderful, kind, generous and fun man”


Malcolm McLean Kelly. Source: Montreal Gazette obituary notice

Mr. Kelly. Source: MCHS 1963-64 yearbook

Malcolm McLean Kelly. Source: MCHS 1963-64 yearbook

Montreal Gazette Obituary

The obituary at the Montreal Gazette reads:

Malcolm McLean Kelly 1928 – June 16th 2015 Malcolm Kelly, 86, died on Wednesday, June 16th at the Lakeshore Hospital, after a long and courageous struggle with Parkinson’s disease. He leaves his wife of 61 years, Anna (Wilson) Kelly; his daughters Allison (Nick), Elaine (Duane), and Sandra; his five grandchildren, Meaghan (Chris), Hilary, Ben, Bronwyn and Courtney. A memorial service will be held on Sunday, June 28th, 2015, at the Sarto Desnoyers Community Centre in Dorval. The family will receive guests between 2 and 5 pm, and remembrances will be shared at 3 pm. In lieu of flowers the family would like to suggest donations to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s research (

[End of text]

Message from Soryl Shulman Rosenberg

A message at the above-noted obituary notice from Soryl Shulman Rosenberg reads:

“Wonderful, kind, generous and fun man.”

Bryan Tremblay comments on Facebook:

“My favourite teacher at mchs. Inspired me to pursue science in cegep and at McGill. My sincere condolences to your family. A great leader.”

Michael Rosito comments as well, on Facebook:

“Yes absolutely our favorite teacher.”

Students and Staff Who Have Passed Away

We have added Malcolm McLean Kelly to a page at the MCHS 2015 website entitled: Students and Staff Who Have Passed Away

A number of messages in commemoration of Malcolm McLean Kelly’s life have appeared at Facebook Groups connected with Malcolm Campbell High School.

Obituary at J.J. Cardinal Funeral Home

The obituary at the J.J. Cardinal Funeral Home reads:

Dorval, Quebec – Malcolm McLean Kelly, 86, died on Wednesday, June 16th at the Lakeshore General Hospital, following a long and courageous struggle with Parkinson’s disease.

He leaves his wife of 61 years, Anna (Wilson) Kelly; his daughters Allison (Nick), Elaine (Duane), and Sandra; his five grandchildren, Meaghan (Chris), Hilary, Ben, Bronwyn and Courtney, many close friends and his loyal companion, Robbie.

Born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland, he emigrated to Canada in 1962, and lived in Dorval until his death.

Malcolm was a high school science teacher. He taught in Scotland until he was recruited by the PSBGM, and came to Malcolm Campbell High School, where he taught for over 25 years, and was Head of the Science Department, until it closed, after which he taught at Sir Winston Churchill until his retirement. He obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree from Sir George Williams University in the 1960’, while teaching and raising three children. He went on to earn his Master of Science degree in Chemistry from Concordia University.

Teaching was a vocation for Malcolm, and he inspired many students, through his teaching and his role as producer of many school musicals and talent shows.

Malcolm was very involved in his community, and gave countless hours as a volunteer. He officiated at summer and winter swim meets. He was an avid soccer fan, and served as head referee and then President of the Dorval Minor Soccer Association. He was a great badminton player, and served as president of the Dorval Badminton Club.

Apart from his family, Malcolm also loved tennis, gardening and traveling, and managed to combine tennis and traveling every time he could. He played tennis at the Dorval Tennis Club every summer, and particularly enjoyed the Friday night round robins and the dinners that followed.

A memorial service will be held on Sunday, June 28th, 2015 at the Sarto Desnoyers Community Centre, where he had so many happy moments, including his and Anna’s 25th wedding anniversary party and the weddings of his two daughters, Allison and Elaine, and his granddaughter, Meaghan. The family will receive guests between 2 and 5 pm, and remembrances will be shared at 3 pm. In lieu of flowers the family would like to suggest donations to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s research (

[End of text]


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Stasiland (2002): A journalist is always pitching

My visit to Stasiland: Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall (2002) begins on page 110 and moves on to page 111.

A blurb for Stasiland (2002) at the Toronto Public Library website reads:

“In 1989, the Berlin Wall fell; shortly afterwards the two Germanies reunited, and East Germany ceased to exist. In a country where the headquarters of the secret police can become a museum literally overnight, and one in 50 East Germans were informing on their country men and women, there are a thousand stories just waiting to get out.”

[End of text]

Julia Behrend meets with Major N.

I began my reading, on page 110 of Stasiland, with a paragraph in which Major N. is described as insinuating, to the East German citizen Julia Behrend, that he knew that her Italian boyfriend “had an image of her that didn’t quite hit the mark.”

N., in the interaction outlined in these pages, sought to establish that while Julia had a vague idea of the nature of her Italian boyfriend’s employment in the computer industry in Italy, the Stasi was aware that he was in fact a sales manager for the regional branch of a computer company in that country. Major N. also went on to discuss the make of car that Julia’s boyfriend drove.

The back story about Julia is that she experienced expulsion from life in East Germany “until the Stasi offered to redeem her if she would inform for them” (p. 120). She got out of her predicament by the adoption of a clever, last-ditch, rule-breaking tactic.

What was said was not real, what was real was not allowed

The context of Julia Behrend’s story can be summed up in a quotation on p. 120:

“I’ve been in a place where what was said was not real, and what was real was not allowed, where people disappeared behind doors and were never heard from again, or were smuggled into other realms.”

Soviet built environment

Elsewhere in the book (pp. 123-124), the author describes a visit to a former East German propaganda facility:

“This place seems to have been designed on the same one-size-fits-all architectural principle as everything else: the Runden Ecke in Leipzig and Stasi HQ at Normannenstrasse; the same as prisons and hospitals and schools and administrative buildings all over this country, and probably the same as inside the brown Palast der Republik only it’s behind bars and I can’t get in. From here to Vladivostok this was Communism’s gift to the built environment – linoleum and grey cement, asbestos and prefabricated concrete and, always, long long corridors with all-purpose rooms. Behind these doors anything could be happening: inter­ rogations, imprisonment, examinations, education, administration, hiding out from nuclear catastrophe or, in this case, propaganda.”

[End of text]

Anna Funder

Anne Funder, author of Stasiland (2002), is also a novelist. She was born in Melbourne, Australia in 1966 and grew up there and in Paris. “She has worked,” a blurb about her adds,  “as an international lawyer and radio and television producer.”

The full blurb about her at the beginning of Stasiland reads:

  • ANNA FUNDER was born in Melbourne, Australia, in 1966, and grew up there and in Paris. She has worked as an inter­national lawyer and a radio and television producer. She is the author of Stasiland, winner of the prestigious Samuel Johnson Prize for Nonfiction in the United Kingdom (the world’s big­gest prize for nonfiction), the Index Freedom of Expression Award, and the W.H. Heinemann Award from the Royal Society of Literature. The book was also short-listed for the Guardian First Book Award. Anna Funder’s debut novel, All That I Am, will be published in hardcover in February 2012 by HarperCollins. She lives in Brooklyn.

[End of text]

The qualifications that Anna Funder brings to her work are impressive.

As I have noted in a previous post, writers who get employment as lawyers or as anthropologists tend to be good writers.

I am reminded that another good way to go about getting into the writing business is outlined in the summer 2015 issue of U of T Magazine.

Rethinking how journalists get trained

The article in question, in the U of T Magazine, is entitled “Breaking News: U of T is rethinking how journalists get trained.”

A key paragraph, in the above-noted article by John Lorinc, reads:

  • Steiner’s vision of freelancing is obviously very different, with its focus on specialists who figure out how to “own” a topic and then use their expertise to sell unique stories to a wide range of global media customers. “This is a very different kind of freelance game,” he says. “We are training people to be leading global journalists. ” In the old model, many gener­alist freelancers would pitch similar stories to a small number of local editors – “a buyer’s market.” Under the Munk School model, the freelancer becomes one of the best writers in the world on a specialized topic, turning the relationship with editors into more of a seller’s market. To that end, Munk fellows learn a rigorous and repeatable approach to idea gen­eration and get a crash course in news judgment. “The basic rule is, ‘always, always be pitching.’ “

[End of text]

Julia and her Italian boyfriend

All of which brings us back to pp. 110-111 of Stasiland.

As the conversation continues, Major N. turns to Julia’s “life-in-progress.” He must know everything about me, Julia tells herself.

However, the one thing that Major N. did not know, or at least did nor seem to know, and which she found ironic, was that she had broken up with her boyfriend.

“Since their split in Hungary,” Anna Funder writes, “the Italian boyfriend had written several imploring letters. Julia had replied to the first one but then stopped writing.”

In the larger scheme of things, that turned out to be a minor detail.

North Korea

As I continued to read Stasiland (2002), I was strongly reminded of North Korea, as in:

How writer Suki Kim embedded herself among North Korea’s elite – Dec. 18, 2014 CBC The Current

A passage from p. 136 by Anna Funder, concerning an interview with a former GDR propaganda official, continues to resonate:

“He can switch from from one view to another with frightening ease. I think it is a sign of being accustomed to such power that the truth does not matter because you cannot be contradicted.”

My parents are from Estonia, a country I visited in 1989 and 1990 prior to the fall of the Soviet Union. Among other things, my focus at that time was on heritage preservation projects in that country, just prior to the gaining of independence of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania in 1991. Given my personal background, the books that I have described, about East Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall, and about North Korea in the current era, are of particular interest to me.


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25 Years of Drawn & Quarterly, Champion of Female Cartoonists – New York Times, June 12, 2015

Drawn and Quarterly (2015).

Drawn and Quarterly (2015).

A June 12, 2015 New York Times article is entitled: “25 Years of Drawn & Quarterly, Champion of Female Cartoonists.”

The opening paragraphs read:

When the first issue of Drawn & Quarterly sneaked into comics shops in April 1990, it seemed as if its 23-year-old founder, editor and janitor, Chris Oliveros, was trying to single-handedly conjure a future for the testosterone-confused medium that most of his fellow fans and creators couldn’t imagine.

First, he featured a beleaguered female cartoonist on its cover, as drawn by Anne D. Bernstein. And second, he criticized in its pages the world of comics for being “a private boys’ club” that discouraged women from reading or making comics. (One contributor to D&Q No. 1 was Alice Sebold, who later wrote “The Lovely Bones.”)

So it seems somehow fitting, in a theater season in which the musical adaptation of the alternative cartoonist Alison Bechdel’s graphic novel “Fun Home” won five major Tonys, that Drawn & Quarterly is celebrating its 25th anniversary by putting out a strikingly designed 776-page book that makes clear that its rise from Montreal ’zine to well-regarded publisher of graphic novels is inextricably intertwined with the advance of women in independent comics.

[End of excerpt]

The book is available at the Mississauga Library System and the Toronto Public Library

I recently borrowed the 776-page book, Drawn & Quarterly: First Hardcover Edition (2015). mentioned in the previous paragraph; I borrowed my copy from the Mississauga Library System. The book is also available at the Toronto Public Library.

I’ve enjoyed comics books ever since (and, in fact, before) the time, as a child in Montreal in the 1950s, my dear mother told me that comic books aren’t really all that great a thing for kids to be reading. Actually, I love reading all kinds of materials, including street signs, and whatever it is that students of semiotics like to focus their attention upon, as well as comic books and graphic novels.

I am just delighted to know that there is an audience out there for such a book.

This is a perfect book to approach using Alice Munro’s method of reading a short story. That is, you can jump in at any point, and go forward of backward from there, like visiting rooms in a house. You can even start at the beginning and read through to the end. I follow her prescription for a great reading experience every time I encounter a text, whatever the text may be, including a street sign whose text is inherent in the visual image – and in the resulting message – that the sign communicates.


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Car photos from weekend Port Rowan, Ontario car show – with thanks to Gina (Davis) Cayer

Gina (Davis) Cayer writes, on June 22, 2015:

“Pics taken yesterday at the Lions Club Annual Car Show in Port Rowan. Cars, you guys would have like to own. Post on the reunion site if you want, use them the way you want….Gina”


Thank you, Gina, for sending us the photos. In the past, it would have taken me a while to post them. But now, with practice, it can be all posted into place in a manner of minutes.

Click on the photos to enlarge them









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Information update regarding Harry Boshouwers, MCHS Alumnus who passed away some years after graduating

We owe many, many thanks to Henk Boshouwers, who has shared the following information (I checked with Henk first, to ensure it’s okay if I post it) about Harry Boshouwers.

Harry Boshouwers (MCHS ’63)

Bob Carswell has forwarded this photo. He comments: "Here is the location of Harry's house today on Sarleton Street, in St. Laurent, surrounded by a lot of factories that grew up in the area over the past 50 years or so. No one, would ever realize that this was once the house at 27 Green Lane, just over the tracks. Built by hand...." Source: Bob Carswell sent the photo.

Bob Carswell has forwarded this photo, a Google Maps Street View. Bob comments: “Here is the location of Harry’s house today on Sarleton Street, in St. Laurent, surrounded by a lot of factories that grew up in the area over the past 50 years or so. No one, would ever realize that this was once the house at 27 Green Lane, just over the tracks. Built by hand….” Source: Bob Carswell sent the photo.

Henk Boshouwers writes:

You refer to the passing away of Harry Boshouwers MCHS’63. I have known his parents since 1960 since his father was a cousin of my father. Harry was killed in a taxi along with the driver in a collision with a train in front of his house in Saraguay. I do not remember the exact date but it must must have been a few years later as he was then a student a Sir George Willams University.

Harry Boshouwers’ parents had been living in the Dutch East Indies and had been detained in a Japanese internment camp after Pearl Harbor.

A daughter was born in the camp. I believe Harry was born shortly after liberation. The family lost everything. Via the Netherlands they settled in Canada.

Harry Sr. worked for Canadair en built his own house on Green Lane in Saraguay.

After high school Harry Jr. studied at George Williams University (now Concordia) in the evening. One night in the mid sixties, coming home via the train station in Cartierville by taxi, he was killed, when the car was hit by a train along with the driver on the unguarded crossing on Green Lane, a few hundred feet from his home. His death as their only son was as terrible blow to his parents. They moved to B.C. where they have since deceased.

[End of text]

Students and Staff Who Have Passed Away

At the MCHS 2015 website, we have a page devoted to students and staff Who Have passed away. You can access the page here:

Students and Staff Who Have Passed Away

We are compiling a list of music associated with MCHS Students or Alumni who have passed away. Harry Boshouwers loved the song “Spanish Harlem” released by Ben E. King in 1960s.

Harry wrote the blurbs describing each of the students in 11-B for the MCHS 1962-63 yearbook. I remember, because I recall speaking with him about what he had written, by way of a text, that went with my own yearbook photo. In each class, one student took on the task of writing the descriptions.

Click on photos to enlarge them


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Comments by Bob Carswell regarding focus and discipline in the face of adversity

Focus and discipline in the face of adversity

Article by Bob Carswell

The following text is by Bob Carswell; the text originated as a Comment at an earlier post entitled:

Question for Graeme Decarie: Can you explain the Wrong-Way Driving phenomenon in New Brunswick?

Montreal - End of WW II

The End of the War on St. Catherine Street in Montreal, 1945.. This is an archival image, the exact details of which are unknown to me. See text at lower right of photo. You can enlarge the photo by clicking on it.

1935 Whatsit

1935 Whatsit

When you grow up with someone in your life that keeps turning up like Graeme Decarie has done over a lot of years and then in print via SGWU alumni magazine, it is not surprising that we also share certain values in common. I too went to the High School of Montreal for two runs at Grade Eight and one at Grade Nine but I was always too timid to skip class.

Camp Tamaracouta

Later in life I found out that I am not a listener but rather a person who gains knowledge almost entirely through his eyes. Like Graeme, I also spent a few weeks over the summer at Camp Tamaracouta for a number of years so I can easily identify with the story contents. I completed my Queen Scout badge in 1960 and went to Quebec City to be presented with it by the Lieutenant-Governor of Quebec.

Flt. Lt. John McKinley Carswell meeting Robert Anthony Carswell for the first time in March 1945

Flt. Lt. John McKinley Carswell meeting Robert Anthony Carswell for the first time in March 1945

Like Graeme, I also have a connect with the Governor General Harold Alexander, The Viscount Alexander of Tunis. A pair of twins who flew 40 operations or more during WW II in bombers over Europe and survived the war went on to do other things in the RCAF after the war. They were both awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) and later added a bar to it (a second DFC).

Allen Sherlock

One of them, Allen Sherlock, became the military attache to the Viscount of Tunis right after the war. It was in 1941 that my father recommended these two sergeant pilots (4 years his senior) for their officer’s commission in the RAF. They were part of the flight he commanded at RAF Wigtown in Scotland (where he met my mother). The twins also attended my parents’ wedding in Croydon, England.

Glamour Watch, RAF Biggin Hill, 1940 - Pat Carswell nee Paddy Leonard front row left

Glamour Watch, RAF Biggin Hill, 1940 – Pat Carswell nee Paddy Leonard front row left

As far as Royalty is concerned I cannot say I have met any however my father went to Lakefield College up near Peterborough, Ontario where the Queen’s son spent two terms. In 1941 a member of the extended Royal Family who my father befriended worked as a corporal running the RAF Hatfield station library. He quietly arranged for a photographer to take Dad’s grad photo as a pilot. Dad then found out that the same individual was the official photographer to the Royal Family.

I also remember as a youngster standing out on Laurentian Blvd in Cartierville and waving a flag at the princess and her husband when she toured the City of Montreal sitting in the back of a convertible back in the early 1950s. I have also stood outside of Buckingham Palace and I have toured the Tower of London.

Lucy Maud Montgomery

John and Pat Carswell engagement photo 1942

John and Pat Carswell engagement photo 1942

That was back in 1970. According to our blood lines we are actually descended from the early Stuart kings, are related by marriage to Lucy Maud Montgomery and to Sir Walter Scott, famous Scottish writer of the early 1800s. The seat of the Errington line from which I am descended is Hexham Castle and it is through them that the family line is supposed to go back to Royalty.

Initially, Scottish kings, they also ruled England for 6 generations until the line ended in the late 1600s. My grandfather and I were born in England and came to Canada.. My father and son were born in Canada and went to England. Since graduating from the London School of Business with an MBA, my son settled in London where he lives and contracts himself out, previously and currently to the British High Commission.

Pat Leonard age 20

Pat Leonard age 20

His grandfather on his mother’s side was an Air Commodore in the RAF and head of eye medicine for the Air Force. A medical doctor with long service around the world, he was an honorary physician to the Queen with numerous other honours to his name.

New Brunswick

I think I am a throwback to the original KERRs which play prominently in our name creation but from which I am also descended on my KERR line that arrived in Montreal in 1822 from Scotland. I am the only left-handed person in the family and this is a natural trait of the KERRs who even built their castle stairways in the reverse to suit their personal needs. Graeme Decarie has a love for New Brunswick and I can understand why having spent a lot of time travelling and camping down east at different times.

Pat Leonard at home 15 Fitzjames Avenue, Croydon

Pat Leonard at home 15 Fitzjames Avenue, Croydon

Unfortunately, I am banned from driving in NB anymore because I got caught in a speed trap doing 140 in a 120 zone and promptly lost the ticket. When they notified me of it and banned me from driving for life in NB I consciously chose not to pay it and finally fifteen years later I got a request from the RCMP to pay up…..too late….too much and probably too bad. Unless the laws change, that will stay the way it is. At least I got my daughter settled in to Acadia University and made it home before I was banned from driving in NB….so never fear, Graeme, I won’t be coming for a visit.

List of captions from Bob Carswell, for the photos that he has sent

1) My father meeting me for the first time in March 1945 in Montreal. I was 4 months old.

Sherlock Twins

Sherlock Twins

2) My parents engagement photo for the Montreal newspapers shot by the RCAF in 1942

3) My mother as a raw recruit at age 20 headed for RAF Biggin Hill where she lived through the entire battle of Britain in 1940 surviving a direct 500-lb bomb hit on the Ops Building.

4) Paddy Leonard at home in Croydon.

5) Pat Leonard at age 15 with her stepmother in the family car, a 1935 Whatsit as I call it. Seven were custom built for a Maharajah in India but only five were shipped. My grandfather had to have it.

6) The “Glamour Watch as they came to be known locally at RAF Biggin Hill. Published in the book “Ghosts of Biggin Hill” published in England.

7) The End of the war on St. Catherine Street in Montreal 1945.

8) The Sherlock twins on a visit home with their mother.

[End of text from Bob Carswell]


Having the list is very helpful, Bob. It makes it so much easier, than otherwise would be the case, for me to post the photos along with the captions.

In most cases if you click on the photo you can enlarge it


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Posted in MCHS 2015 Stories, Newsletter, Toronto | 2 Comments

Further update regarding the 1960s XKE Jaguar story featuring MCHS Phys Ed teacher, Soryl Shulman Rosenberg

Beverley Sabo (nee Evans) has provided an update, by way of a Comment at a previous post, concerning the day when a memorable gym teacher turned up at the parking lot driving an XKE Jaguar.

Click on the MCHS gym photo to enlarge it. Click again to enlarge it further.

I am pleased to post the Comment as part of a separate post, as a way of bringing attention to it:

Beverley Sabo (nee Evans) writes:

Gym Class at MCHS: Source: MCHs 1962-63 yearbook

Gym Class at MCHS: Source: MCHs 1962-63 yearbook

Here’s a hard top version of the Type-E Jaguar from the 1960s. Source:

I also remember the gym teacher getting an XKE instead of an engagement ring. At that time all the girls thought that she had made an amazing choice. What a smart women. We all decided when we got engaged we would take a car instead. :) I can still picture her in the gym….. Short navy blue v-neck tunic and white blouse with a whistle on a lanyard around her neck. The girls wore white TEDDY blouses that buttoned and funny navy bloomers which never looked good. Later we wore reddish gym outfits which buttoned down the front and still we complained about the look. Anyways, we all survived and most of us probably took the traditional diamond instead. I still love my ring…… Beverley

[End of text]

Previous posts on the XKE Jaguar theme:

Update from Soryl Shulman Rosenberg regarding 1960s Type-E Jaguar story

Ruth MacLeod recalls the day in the 1960s when a memorable Phys Ed teacher arrived at Malcolm Campbell High School in a Type E Jaguar sports car

We are also pleased to add that:

Mr. Decarie. Source: MCHS 1962-63 yearbook

Graeme Decarie. Source: MCHS 1962-63 yearbook

Soryl Shulman Rosenberg. Source: MCHS 1964-65 yearbook

Soryl Shulman Rosenberg. Source: MCHS 1964-65 yearbook

Former MCHS Teachers Graeme Decarie and Soryl Shulman Rosenberg have indicated that they are planning to attend the MCHS 2015 Reunion at old Mill Toronto on October 17, 2015.

Details about Registration, Accommodations, and Program are available at the MCHS 2015 website at


Other MCHS teachers

If you know of other MCHS teachers or other staff who may be interested in attending, but who may not know about the Reunion, please do get in touch with them, and please let them know about the event.

In some cases, there are teachers who will not be able to attend due to health reasons. We will be sending greetings and well wishes to them, from the Reunion. We’ll put together a card, that Alumni and Teachers at the Reunion can sign, and we may also find a way for Alumni to send individual messages.

Any suggestions you may have, or any contact details you may have, please send the relevant information to the MCHS ’60s Reunion Database Team. Or send the details to Jaan Pill at and the information will be passed along to Howard Hight in Boston and Diana Redden in Vancouver.

What do I get for $150?

Also by way of an update, a recent 5-minute video about the MCHS 2015 Reunion can be accessed here:


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Gina (Davis) Cayer (MCHS ’67) is developing our MCHS 2015 playlist

Gina (Davis) Cayer is developing a playlist for the MCHS 2015 Reunion. The beginnings of a playlist are in place at a page at the letter website entitled:

Music Videos & Sound Files

I will use the current post to add preliminary links to the list, from previous postings by Gina and from suggestions from other sources.

I’ll begin with the following one:

Give Peace a Chance – John Lennon – Yoko Ono

Sound Files

The Sound Files at the above-noted MCHS 2015 page includes the MCHS School Song (The Scarlet and the Silver).

The School Song is also featured in a recent online video that we’ve posted, entitled “What Do I Get for $150?”


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