AUDCENT (1942- )
John wrote this his own brief Auto-Biography
I was born on June 29, 1942 in Bristol as part of the war effort. My forebears were French Catholics on my father's side, and English Quakers (Bridport, England) on my mother's side with a dash of Scot (McPherson) thrown in for good measure. An idyllic childhood was spent in Bristol and Lytham St Anne's and later Preston. I have fond memories of both and of visits to Grandmere and Grandpere at Selwood House in Clevedon & to Uncle Jacques and Aunt Sylvia's home at Corazon where I frolicked with my three cousins, Tony, David & Paul.
When I was ten, our family emigrated to Canada. Mum was born in Canada and both parents felt that career opportunities would be better for Mark (my two year old brother) and I in Canada.
On our arrival, we spent three months at the Kenway family home in Winnepeg, Manitoba with Grandma Kenway and then repaired to Montreal where Dad had a job with Palm Publishers, which produced books and a small Catholic newspaper, the Ensign. I was promptly enrolled in a Catholic boarding school Mount Holy Names, as a day student, for the good of my soul. The devout nuns sought my soul diligently but unsuccessfully, by applying odd-shaped pieces of wood to various parts of my anatomy. I learned to spout gibberish but to look holy when any imprecation containing one of the holy names was barked at me in French. Successful mastery of this technique (looking wise and saintly whilst spouting gibberish) was to serve me well in later life.
The family moved from the Cote-St-Luc area of Montreal to the Snowdon area, where we lived on Carleton Avenue where I played a variety of sports and honed my survival skills. On graduating from Mount Holy Names, I was enrolled at St Jeo's Academy in Westmount where I was placed in French language classes in order to master French. My record for the number of mistakes in "Dictee" doubtless stands in the Guiness Book of World Records today. Summers were spent in French (what else?) summer camps where my mastery of the wise-saintly-gibberish Technique (hereafter called w.s.g.) resulted in my being initially placed in positions of leadership (until my followers discovered that I didn't speak much French).
In 1958, Dad successfully competed for a job worthy of his talent (a mastery of both French and English) i.e. that of a Translator for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. The family was moved to Ottawa and I was enrolled at Ottawa University High School, run by the Oblate Fathers who were well versed in w.s.g. I spent two happy years developing my expertise at baseball, football, table-tennis and pool. In between these joyous activities, I applied myself more or less industriously to my studies. Luckily, on the whole, my teachers were interesting and the work not overly exacting so I was successful. At that time, I made two friends, Mike McNally and Dave Stewart who have remained my closest friends to this day.
At graduation, my vocational aspirations were theoretical physicist, chartered accountant and teacher in that order. Consequently, I applied to the Faculty of Science at Ottawa University as a member of the Regular Officers Training Plan for the Canadian Navy. After two pleasant months of playing bridge, listening to rock 'n roll and attending class, I found to my dismay, at the first set of exams, that they actually expected one to know something; w.s.g. was not adequate. It certainly upset my applecart! After a more-or-less successful adjustment to the new realities, I spent the summer training to be a naval officer at Victoria, British Columbia. The highlight of the summer was trip to Japan. Many of the officers had developed w.s.g. to a fine art using alcohol as a lubricant. As I was not impressed with the results, I decided to discard w.s.g. as a "modus vivendi". After two years of mutual frustration, the Navy and I parted company, however I continued my studies at Ottawa University graduating with a BSc in Theoretical Physics.
Although I continue even today to have an interest in physics and metaphysics, particularly in cosmology, I decided against a career as a physicist. In 1963, I then spent a year as a student in accounts with McDonald, Currie & Company where I rubbed shoulders with several avid practitioners of w.s.g.; vocational aspiration nnumber two was promptly eliminated.
1964 saw my debut in my third potential career at my old alma mater, Ottawa University High School. Luckily, I knew from the very beginning that Grandpere's hat was a good fit. I loved teaching!
In 1965, came the most significant event of my life meeting my future wife Mary Pat Plunkett. After six months of courtship, we became engaged and were married in August 1966. In 1970, I completed a Masters Degree in Education with a specialisation in Counseling.
In 1970-71, I took a sabbatical leave from teaching to complete my course work and design my thesis for my PhD in Education. During that year, at the behest of my employers, I also led a team which designed the laboratories and wrote a unique curriculum "Unified Sciences" for a new school being built that year, Ecole Secondaire Charlebois.
My first daughter, Karen, chose that moment to come into the world, December 1971. My plans to write a thesis came to crashing halt. I returned to work as Science Head at the new school. I had many occasions to interact with experts in w.s.g. at school staff meetings.
In 1974, my second girl Tobey was born. As her head was peeking out as we arrived at the hospital, we cut our arrival a bit fine.
The remainder of my working career was spent, half as Science Head; half as Guidance Head, at Ecole Secondaire Charlebois. During the last three years I was asked to act as Co-ordinator of Mathematics, Science and Technology and requested to set up partnerships between local companies and the school. As a helpmate, I was given a W.S.G. machine to facilitate my work - a computer. Its mot d'ordre was GIGO: garbage in, gibbrish out. Luckily had a lifetime of experience, deluded souls decorated me on two occasions. The first was for designing, with two of my students, an experiment which tested the use of mirrors in zero gravity. As a prize for having won a national competition, sponsored by Telesat Canada, we were flown to Florida to witness the departure into space of our experiment aboard the space shuttle Columbia. On the second occasion, my work in establishing partnerships between the school and seven corporate partners was recognised by the Ottawa-Carleton Learning Foundation as Partnership of the Year.
In 1995, the school that I help design, Ecole Secondaire Charlebois, was closed and the building transferred to another school board against the wishes of students, staff and parents. I became aware that there was another breed of cat out there: politicians, people who confuse w.s.g. with reality. When aliens say "Take me to your leader", they are attacking our society at its weakest link. I retired!
In 1977, Mary and I decided to try out luck in another arena where w.s.g. holds sway: wine tasting. In successive years, I won the championship of Ottawa and Ontario. On my third attempt, my opponents were a little less lucky than I, and my efforts were rewarded by my winning the championship of Canada. The prize was a trip to California for my family during which we met many producers. Barney Fetzer of Fetzer Winery stand out in my memory as being a particularly amiable host. On our return, I entered into partnership with Nico van Duyvenbode (also a Canadian champion) and Roberto Gualtieri to form Wine Consultants of Canada. We published a wine newsletter "Wine Tidings", held tastings and consulted with restaurants on their wine lists. In 1986, I left the partnership in order to spend more time with my wife and adolescent daughters.
Our summers were spent camping when the girls were babies. When they progressed into childhood, we purchased a cottage, which we still own, at Little Lake Bitobi, near Gracefield, about sixty miles north of Ottawa. The last twelve years, we have rented (or attempted to rent) our cottage and spent a period from two weeks to a month at an ocean cottage at Darnley, Price Edward Island. In 1999, we celebrated Mary's retirement by staying for two and one half months. Dawns on the beach are a live symphony of sound and color. Dusks can also be magnificent.. Out hosts, Roscoe & Jean Pendleton, have become our friends.
I am currently in a transitional state working on problems such as the use of icons as a means of communicating with the sprititual plane, the nature of beauty, the essence of classical music .. You get the idea . Whilst awaiting the retirement of my wife (August 1999) and awaiting the universe to manifest its plans for me. I am very happy.
If descendant, you find me a trifle strange and a tad loquacious, the more kindly of my friends would sigh and nod in agreement.