Ben­e­fit New book sets out to chron­i­cle Mu­tual Life’s sto­ried his­tory

Pro­ceeds from Jack Reynolds’ fourth book ben­e­fit the Child Wit­ness Cen­tre

Waterloo Region Record - - Front Page - BRENT DAVIS Water­loo Re­gion Record

WATER­LOO RE­GION — It was quite the send-off.

It was Dec. 17, 2001, Jack Reynolds’ last day at Clar­ica Life In­sur­ance Co., and em­ploy­ees had gath­ered in the au­di­to­rium at the com­pany’s Water­loo head­quar­ters.

But they weren’t there to fete Reynolds and a 33-year ca­reer at Mu­tual Life of Canada, re­named Clar­ica in 1999 af­ter it de­mu­tu­al­ized. They were there to learn the com­pany was be­ing ac­quired by Sun Life Fi­nan­cial, with the loss of 1,500 jobs in the process.

It wasn’t quite the re­tire­ment party Reynolds had en­vi­sioned.

That story and dozens of oth­ers are cap­tured in Reynolds’ new book “Life was a Mu­tual Af­fair,” an anec­do­tal his­tory of Mu­tual Life — the ti­tle plays off a for­mer ad­ver­tis­ing slo­gan.

“Mu­tual was a very unique com­pany in so many ways and I thought it was a story worth telling,” said Reynolds, who held five vice-pres­i­den­tial po­si­tions and served as cor­po­rate sec­re­tary dur­ing his time there.

It’s a book he first con­sid­ered writ­ing while he was still with the com­pany, but never got started. Now in his third re­tire­ment — since 2001, he served for a decade as ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Child Wit­ness Cen­tre and also helped to es­tab­lish a small book pub­lish­ing firm — he per­sisted and com­pleted the project, his fourth book.

Reynolds con­ducted dozens of in­ter­views and poured through old pub­li­ca­tions and an­nual re­ports in com­pil­ing sto­ries about Mu­tual’s 133-year his­tory. “It’s kind of an in­ter­est­ing walk down mem­ory lane.”

Reynolds shares tales of fel­low “Mu­tu­al­ists,” from co-founder, trav­el­ling pol­icy sales­per­son and politi­cian Moses Springer, to the quirky co­in­ci­dence that saw at least four sets of three sis­ters work for the com­pany.

He walks read­ers through the con­struc­tion of the land­mark King Street South build­ing that opened in 1912 at a cost of about $235,000.

And he out­lines the com­pany’s lead­er­ship in ar­eas rang­ing from tech­nol­ogy to em­ploy­ment eq­uity. “When I landed there in 1967, there was, as in most com­pa­nies, bla­tant dis­crim­i­na­tion against women,” he said. “We made a very con­scious de­ci­sion to change that.”

Pro­ceeds from the book, which is avail­able at Words Worth Books in Water­loo for $22.95 plus tax, will ben­e­fit the Child Wit­ness Cen­tre.

Serv­ing Water­loo Re­gion, Guelph and Welling­ton County, the cen­tre sup­ports young peo­ple who are vic­tims of, or wit­nesses to, crime.

It’s also a part­ner in the Water­loo Re­gion Child and Youth Ad­vo­cacy Cen­tre.

“The work the agency does is so vi­tally im­por­tant in our com­mu­nity,” said Reynolds, who’s striv­ing to com­plete a book on child vic­tims in Canada’s jus­tice sys­tem. “I felt re­ally, re­ally for­tu­nate to have had that sec­ond ca­reer.”

Last year, the Child Wit­ness

Cen­tre worked with nearly 2,650 young peo­ple and their fam­i­lies, and re­ceived 590 new re­fer­rals to help chil­dren nav­i­gate the in­tim­i­dat­ing and stress­ful court process.

In­creas­ing de­mands for the char­i­ta­ble or­ga­ni­za­tion’s ser­vices mean in­creas­ing fi­nan­cial pres­sures.

“I’m in­cred­i­bly grate­ful for the sup­port we’ve had to date, but we’re never done,” said Laura Muir­head, Reynolds’ suc­ces­sor as ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor.

Muir­head said Reynolds’ book rep­re­sents the meet­ing of two “labours of love” for him — writ­ing and the Child Wit­ness Cen­tre. “It’s amaz­ing to see those two things com­ing to­gether.”


Jack Reynolds holds a copy of his new book about Mu­tual Life of Canada out­side the com­pany's King Street South head­quar­ters in Water­loo.

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