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Letters to the editor, May 2018

Letters to the editor, May 2018

[photo of a man walking down a Kingston street after the 1998 ice storm]
Queen's Archives Ice Storm '98 fonds: Kingston Whig-Standard photo

Remembering the 1998 ice storm

We ran this photo from the 1998 ice storm in Kingston in our last issue. A Kingston Whig-Standard photo in the Queen’s Archives, this photo was picked up by media across Canada at the time. However, we didn’t know who was in the photo. Now, thanks to Kathryn Derby, Arts’64, Ed’77, we do: it’s her son, Michael Braby, Artsci’91. Michael was snapped on Nelson Street as he was checking on his tenants in the storm’s aftermath.

My spouse, Robert Luke, (MA'97€, [English])and I had our first date (a whole string of them really) during the ice storm. A week of cancelled classes provided plenty of time for long walks and romantic makeshift dinners by candlelight. The ice storm’s strange, brief respite from "normal" life gave us the space to imagine a future together. Twenty years later we look back on that time as magical, a bit surreal – and the beginning of a lifelong shared adventure.

Sandra Neill, MA’98 (English)

Looking back on the ice storm, I distinctly remember two things: shooting a couple of rolls of film to document the storm, and looking for some of my fellow history grad students in An Clachan whentheir power went out. These were the days before cell phones; there was no way to reach anyone once they were not home.
What turned out to be interesting about the photos is that a year later, while living in Calgary, I had scanned my shots and put them on a web page hosted by my ISP. In the early days of search engines, my shots were found by a couple of magazines, an ad agency, and a publisher putting together a geography encyclopedia; I licensed several shots for publication. It has taken me until the last two years to pursue photography as a career change choice, but I’m doing that and thinking fondly of the way the urge to document the storm turned into paying photo work. These days my work can be seen at www.g-3.ca.
Robert Pearson, MA99 (History)
Pointe-Claire, Que.

Here’s a look at my experience from the 1998 ice storm. I had an eating disorder throughout my time at Queen’s. And yet those four years in Kingston are full of happy memories. Even during the infamous ice storm that swept across Ontario and turned Kingston into a ghost town, I’d venture back to my student house to exercise while it was light. On my way there was never a soul in sight. The army had come in, issued a state of emergency, and ushered everyone out. But I stayed at a friend’s apartment above a shop on the north side of Princess Street, on the only string of buildings that had power for miles around. A group of us found each other, and short-term shelter turned into a seven-day sleepover. We all had Jody in common. Her front room became a patchwork of pillows and blankets stripped from each of our beds. Poor Oscar, her cat, spent much of the week sitting on top of an opened door, shocked by the state of his Kingston.

Each morning I’d cautiously slide across campus toward my abandoned street. Every surface was encased in ice. The world felt quiet and still and void of anything living. I’d climb over huge, century-old trees that criss-crossed the roads and walkways (unknowingly awaiting wood chippers) to get back to my trusty NordicTrack. Gripping the handles, my arms and legs raced on the spot and I’d see my breath in the air. It was the closest I got to outdoor skiing. Then I’d have a cold shower and my hair would freeze as I headed back through the deserted student ghetto, to rejoin the slumber party. By the end of that week my cheeks hurt from laughing. And I had new respect for Mother Nature. Saying goodbye felt like the end of the movie Stand By Me. We’d really been through something together. We said we’d stay in touch. Then we joked about bumping into each other 20 years later and how the ice storm would still be our big story. Then we went our separate ways.

What I want you to know is the ice did melt. The roads were cleared. Campus slowly came back to life and I eventually got healthy. No matterwhat you’re going through, hold on and keep your chin up. Good or bad, nothing lasts forever. And all the meaningful memories stay with you.

Many thanks to Queen’s Student Health Services,in particular Dr. McNevin, for helping meget back on track.

Kelly Clark, Artsci’98

Kelly Clark runs a blog about healthy eating:the10principles.com.

[1998 photo of Kingston trees covered in ice after an ice storm]
Bing Wang captured the beauty of the ice storm aftermath at the corner of Union Street and University Avenue.


During the school year of 1997–98, I lived in a nine-bedroom apartment in Princess Towers on Princess Street. It was one of very few areas in the city that didn’t lose power at all during the ice storm in 1998. At that time, I was a physics graduate student. Stirling Hall, where the physics department was located, also had power (probably from its own power generator). The department of course was closed when all classes were cancelled across the campus. However, as graduate students,we still had access to Stirling Hall. I therefore was able to work in the department during those days.A few graduate students, who did not have power at their houses, slept on the floor of undergraduate labs. The washroom in the basement of the building had shower facilities, and so they were able to take showers. The biggest theatre in the building for large lectures and classes had a VCR and a drop-down screen. So those graduate students could also watch movies there at night. It was my first ice storm experience. Although it caused serious damages, the aftermath effect could look pretty through a camera lens.

Bing Wang, MSc’98, PhD’03 (Physics)

Aquaculture research

Thank you for the report on growing tilapia in tanks at Queen’s. A very similar project in the Ark on PEI was one of the reasons I decided to move from U of T to UPEI in the 1970s. I am delighted to see this important research is being continued.

Peter Meincke, Sc’59 (engineering Physics)
President Emeritus, UPEI

Dr. Meincke is a physicist and sustainable technologies expert. The PEI Ark was an experimental bio-shelter built in 1976 at Spry Point, PEI, as “an early exploration in weaving together the sun, wind, biology, and architecture for the benefit of humanity.” The family home included an attached greenhouse incorporating anaquaponics system.

Remembering Gerald Tulchinsky

Gerald Tulchinsky, Professor Emeritus (History), died Dec. 13, 2017.

Gerald (“Gerry”) Tulchinsky taught me Canadian social and economic history in the mid-1960s. In a time of social ferment when professors were apt to be academically indictable for the Crime of Opinion,his staunch socialist idealism shone brightly in his lectures. Tall in learning if not in physical stature,and not one to drone at a lectern from last year’s notes, he left footprints – and not only on minds.As he lectured ex tempore he would grip the ledge of the chalkboard behind him with both hands, bend one knee, planting the sole of his shoe on the wall, and bounce up and down on the ball of the other foot, becoming taller on each stressed syllable. By term’s end a row of footprints graced the wall like inverted exclamation marks. Almost four decades later his publications inspired me to send a congratulatory note, and we had a pleasant exchange of letters. His idealism and intellectual energy had not dimmed over the years. I am sureI am not alone in remembering him with respect and affection.

Yes, Gerry Tulchinsky left footprints.

G.W. Stephen Brodsky, CD, Arts’69
Sidney, B.C.

Remembering Grant Sampson

Just having received noticed of the departure of Grant Sampson, I feel compelled to share my joy at having shared time with him.

Grant had a delightful and delicious dry sense of humour that motivated one to strive to match his. As well, being a true gentleman he always made sure that everyone felt that when they were with him, they were special. He was a true Renaissance man. His breadth of knowledge of all the arts, from his professional studies of 18th-century English literature to music (as director of Queen’s Performing Arts Office); discussions we shared as secretaries to both the Dunning Trust Lecture and the Senate Committee on Fine Arts Public Lectures; and his music soirees in his apartment left all of us in appreciation of his gifts and insights.

I first met Grant in 1984 when I joined him in the P.A.O. and subsequently succeeded him as director. There are countless personal anecdotes I could share of him from our times together in the Queen’s Performing Arts Office or life in general; the best gift to me was his love of life and the arts and watching him share them with his friends, colleagues, and students.

He was a bridge to the small personal moments of a Queen’s that had passed on, delighting in reminiscing about the people that made Queen’s special, the undergraduate dress code, or opportunities he took advantage of to use the facilities – like playing polo on the parking lot of McArthur Hall using his sports car instead of a horse.

When a deep and momentous decision was to be reached in the P.A.O. he would start the discussion with “Now Peter, we should decide …” and a lengthy discussion on the merits of the daily special at the Faculty Club or getting a sandwich from the JDUC dining hall commenced.

Grant always advised me to buy tickets to live performances in the front three rows. He felt one gets value for dollar by seeing the artist work and sweat for their payment.

The Queen’s community has been blessed and so were we who shared the pleasure in life that was Grant

Peter Sudbury
Director, Performing Arts Office (1987–96)

The water issue

It was such a nice surprise to see the topic of water as a key focus area for the most recent issue of the magazine. Thank you for shining a light on a topic which I believe is, and will continue to be,one of the world’s greatest risks to economic and social development. I’m delighted to see Queen’s taking such a collaborative and interdisciplinary approach to tackling this global challenge, and I hope this will inspire even greater efforts at the Water Initiative for the Future conference that will be held in Kingston later this year.

Alex Mung, Sc’02
Head, Water Initiative, World Economic Forum

[illustration of Queen's students in 1918 wearing army uniforms and Queen's students in 1968 at a peace rally