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Letters to the editor, August 2018

Letters to the editor, August 2018

Towards peace

Alison Gordon, Arts'64, at the 1964 peace vigil at Queen's. Photo: Tricolor 1965 yearbook

The young woman holding the “Towards peace” sign was my sister, Alison Gordon, member of Arts’64. She was quite active in campus politics, including the peace movement, and also had a jazz records program on CFRC.

Alison, who died in 2015, never graduated from Queen’s, but had a wonderful career as a writer and broadcaster. She is perhaps best known for being the first woman beat writer in major league baseball, covering the Toronto Blue Jays for the Toronto Star from 1979 to 1983. She is being honoured this year at the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame as “a courageous pioneer who broke down barriers for female sports reporters across North America.”

After leaving the baseball beat, Alison turned to novels, publishing five mysteries with a baseball theme. She was also active in PEN Canada, supporting writers around the world.

Charles Gordon, Arts’62

I have just received my copy of the current issue of the Queen’s Review. The lovely young woman in the photo on page 38, taking part in a silent vigil for peace on Nov. 11, 1964, is Alison Gordon. We were roommates at the time, sharing an apartment at 59 West Street. She left Queen’s before graduating, to become a civil rights activist in the United States, and was later a novelist and sports writer at a time when sports reporting was an exclusively masculine purview. She died in February 2015 at the age of 72.

Indra Kagis McEwen, Arts'66

Re: the photo of the Remembrance Day vigil: I was there! That is Alison Gordon in your photo, who later became a mystery novelist.

We were enjoined to dress very conservatively, ladies in skirts despite the cold weather, so we would not be dismissed as “hippies.” People accused of us insulting the war dead, and we were at pains to point out that on the contrary, we wanted to prevent such horrors from happening again.

Thank you for bringing this back.

[photo of Alison Gordon interviewing Blue Jay centre fielder Rick Bosetti]
In this 1979 photo, Alison Gordon conducts a post-game interview in the Blue Jays locker room with centre fielder Rick Bosetti.
Photo: David Cooper/Toronto Star 

Jeannie Rosenberg, Arts’68

What a pleasant surprise to open the Review and see an old friend of mine from the ‘60s, Alison Gordon, the mystery woman on page 38.

Alison was a member of the Queen’s chapter of the Combined Universities Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CUCND) which became the Student Union for Peace Action (SUPA) in December 1964, shortly after the photo was taken. The head office of CUCND/SUPA was in Toronto and in the spring of 1985, SUPA rented a large house from the U of T for their new office called Peace House. The rest of the rooms were rented to SUPA members and workers. As a SUPA worker, I lived there, and Alison moved in that spring, probably after her exams were finished at Queen’s.

Although her room was just down the hall from mine, our close association was short-lived, because in an odd twist of fate, I was headed off to Kingston! The Queen’s chapter of SUPA was preparing for a summer community organizing project and I was recruited to be the director of the project, because I had had “previous slum experience.”

The project was called the Kingston Community Project (KCP) and it became the model for the soon-to-be-formed Company of Young Canadians, a kind of domestic CUSO/Peace Corps developed by the federal government (and led by another Queen’s grad, Stewart Goodings).

Dennis McDermott, MEd’88

Printmakers at War

I am heartened by the fact that the Agnes Etherington Art Centre will host Printmakers at War, 1914–1918 later this year. How fitting. The sheer volume of “war art” of all forms created both during and after the First World War – prints, paintings, sculptures, memorials, and so on – was indeed unprecedented and served a multitude of purposes from recruiting to commemoration. I do, however, wish to note an error of fact in the article announcing this promising exhibition: the Canadian National Vimy Memorial does not list “the names of 11,285 Canadian soldiers killed in France,” but rather memorializes those Canadians who died in that country and, through the sad misfortunes of war, have no known grave. Incidentally, the article’s use of the adjective “mechanized” to describe the fighting of the Great War is also problematic and unfortunate; a better word might have been “industrialized.” The former suggests a war of movement using armoured fighting vehicles, like tanks, that – although present at times – was not a defining feature of the war, while the latter connotes, in part, the development, large-scale production, and employment of the many technologies of war (and the mass, anonymized casualties that resulted therefrom), something for which the Great War is most certainly known.

Craig Leslie Mantle, MA’02 (History), PhD

[cover graphic of Queen's Alumni Review, issue 3-2018]