Sum­mer of a hun­dred years ago

Stanstead Journal - - FORUM - Don­ald Fisher Spe­cial Col­lab­o­ra­tion

To­day’sweather is a de­gree or two shy of what it was in 1914 and we will guess that most people who were read­ing The Stanstead Jour­nal were, for the most part, en­gaged in what we did then dur­ing the sum­mer: work. The leisure so­ci­ety was not yet born and, apart from the rich who va­ca­tioned on the lakes, pri­vate trains bring­ing them to here or North Hat­ley from the South of the USA, most of the res­i­dents of the re­gion were hard at work. As it was else­where around the world, al­most ev­ery­thing re­volved around agri­cul­ture. Here in Stanstead, a big commercial and in­dus­trial hub, things were a bit dif­fer­ent ob­vi­ously. We were then the Whip Cap­i­tal of the World, or at least Canada. A rather new coun­try, Al­berta and Saskatchewan had be­come prov­inces less than a few years ear­lier, it was still very much a Bri­tish Colony, ex­cept in Que­bec, nat­u­rally.

This was all to change in the next few weeks. Two weeks be­fore, one hun­dred years ago, the Arch­duke Franz Fer­di­nand of Aus­tria had died from an as­sas­sin’s bul­let in Sara­jevo; we all know now that this was the de­ci­sive mo­ment that would start World War One.

Here, it did not reg­is­ter much. We were still in the horse and buggy pe­riod even if the first car built in Canada had been built here. In less than five years, the first me­chan­i­cal war would re­tire the horse as the main power of in­di­vid­ual trans­porta­tion and whips would not be much in de­mand. What was a ‘nov­elty’, not wor­thy of much commercial hope, the air­plane would be­come com­mon. Two men of vi­sion who would em­brace the me­chan­i­cal war, Win­ston Churchill and Charles DeGaulle, would change the art of bat­tle for­ever by back­ing tanks.

If we write that the horse and buggy still ruled the world, maybe it was less so in Stanstead. In the is­sue pub­lished one hun­dred years ago, there are two ads on the front page on cars. One from the po­lice­man Ge­orge Cross of Rock Is­land re­mind­ing all that he would en­force the speed limit in town, all 14 miles per hour of it, and True and Blan­chard of New­port, a Ford dealer, telling us that his fil­tered gas was 18 cents a gal­lon. We were at a cross­roads and no­body seemed to no­tice. As we are to­day. The United States me­dia, al­most ig­no­rant of his­tory and se­man­tics, prefers to call the or­gan­i­sa­tion con­trol­ling a lot of Iraq the Caliphate of Iraq and Syria. The real name is of Iraq and the Le­vant and we guess that, in Is­rael, they know what it means.

The world is as un­sta­ble now as it was a century ago. Ev­ery­body is try­ing to place it­self in the best po­si­tion on an ever chang­ing chess­board. The United States is un­able to im­pose its will. It is as pow­er­ful as Bri­tain was in 1914, not know­ing that by the end of that war, the Colonies, as they were still called, would in fact rule the world.

So, this is a quiet sum­mer, as it was a century ago. And we will be off for the next two weeks. See you in Au­gust.

Be­forewe pro­ceed with our MCI Gor­don Kohl award, we would like to take ad­van­tage of this mo­ment to con­grat­u­late Gisèle for win­ning the Prix d’ex­cel­lence en en­vi­ron­nement of the Fon­da­tion Estri­enne en en­vi­ron­nement in recog­ni­tion of her 25 years of ef­fort pro­tect­ing the en­vi­ron­ment of Estrie. There is not a sin­gle in­di­vid­ual in Québec who is bet­ter de­serv­ing of this salute! Con­grat­u­la­tions, Gisèle !

We would like to read a won­der­ful short para­graph writ­ten by Gor­don Kohl in 1987. Gor­don Kohl; one of the MCI founders. The man who graces our award with his name. This is what he wrote 27 years ago:

MCI with its mod­ern, well- equipped of­fice and its ex­cep­tional ref­er­ence li­brary, stands af­ter 20 years of ef­forts at new heights. This will con­tinue so long as we are for­tu­nate enough to have with us a Ste­wart Hopps. For those of us who have been priv­i­leged to work with him, the ex­pe­ri­ence has been one of a life­time.

Now, let’s take the lib­erty of slightly up­dat­ing Gor­don Kohl’s mes­sage and read it again.

MCI stands af­ter 47 years of ef­forts at new heights. This will con­tinue so long as we are for­tu­nate enough to have with us a Gisèle La­casse Benoit. For those of us who have been priv­i­leged to work with her, the ex­pe­ri­ence has been one of a life­time.

We know Gisèle will not be dis­com­forted with a com­par­i­son to Ste­wart Hopps. He was one of her he­roes and the first per­son to win the Gor­don Kohl award.

Gisèle’s con­tri­bu­tion to MCI can be split into two time zones: 1990 – 1996 fol­lowed by 20022014. We will be talk­ing mostly about her sec­ond 12-year ten­ure dur­ing which time she served as pres­i­dent for 8 con­sec­u­tive years. Maybe there were a cou­ple of ded­i­cated 4-year MCI pres­i­dents if we go back to the early days but for some years now, prior to Gisèle, the norm of a MCI pres­i­dency has been 2 years in of­fice.

So….. Gisèle ruled as prési­dente for 96 months and it seemed with each month a build­ing block was added to her con­cept of what MCI should stand for in the com­mu­nity.

Be­fore I for­get, as an aside, un­like most other kinds of vol­un­teer work, work­ing with the en­vi­ron­ment can also in­volve the law. Sev­eral times Gisèle has been forced to re­port to the mu­nic­i­pal­ity when a cit­i­zen has de­cided to ig­nore the en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion rules in­stalled by that mu­nic­i­pal­ity. These are un­pleas­ant mo­ments and can have the po­ten­tial of do­ing dam­age to old friend­ships. It is times such as these that Gisèle prob­a­bly wishes she had cho­sen to be a vol­un­teer for her old univer­sity in­stead of MCI !

To con­tinue… In a nut­shell what Gisèle wished for the com­mu­nity was to pro­tect the wa­ter­shed of Lake Mem­phré­m­a­gog and be ready to fight any­one or any­thing that en­dan­gered that un­der­tak­ing. Pa­trolling the lake and test­ing the wa­ter was just a start. In the long run, the lake would only be ca­pa­ble to re­flect the health of its own wa­ter­shed and it was time to give that wa­ter­shed a health check.

Back in 1990 and 1992 Gisèle fought to pro­tect (a) Ma­gog Bay from the con­struc­tion of a gi­gan­tic ho­tel on the bays of the lake and (b) fought to con­test a plan to cover the beaches of Ma­gog Bay with ar­ti­fi­cial sand. To help, she took a lead­er­ship role to help re­gional en­vi­ron­men­tal groups who were pre­sent­ing briefs to BAPE hear­ings. The re­sult? Vic­tory! both (a) and (b) dam­ag­ing ini­tia­tives were aban­doned. (BAPE stands for Bureau of Au­di­ences Publiques en En­vi­ron­nement).

In De­cem­ber of 2004, two years fol­low­ing her re­turn to MCI, Gisèle par­tic­i­pated ac­tively in pre­sent­ing a brief to BAPE to op­pose the idea of a pro­moter ex­chang­ing parcels of park­land in or­der

Photo cour­tesy

Seen here at the AGM were (l. to r.) Madeleine Saint-Pierre, past MCI Ad­min­is­tra­tor; Claude Bernier, MCI Pres­i­dent; Gisèle La­casse-Benoit, MCI Past Pres­i­dent and Gor­don-Kohl 2014 award win­ner; and Don­ald Fisher, 2004 and 2005 MCI Pres­i­dent.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.