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Letters to the editor: November 2018

Letters to the editor: November 2018

War and peace

Our war and peace issue (May 2018) brought back memories for some of our readers.

Before this group of Queen’s graduates fades from living memory, it seemed appropriate to me to place on the university’s record my recollections of a very special group, the class of 1945. I do not propose to speak for all my classmates, since my opinions are derived from a purely engineering perspective.

Without knowledge of class statistics, I expect we were a smaller-than-normal group, since our complete academic experience (including senior high school) was spent in national wartime conditions, unlike any before or since.

With mandatory military training for male students, we all enrolled in the Canadian Officers’ Training Corps. My recollection of military service is not unlike that of any of my classes. There was a series of tests to be passed. For that reason, I go into hiding during Memorial Day ceremonies. My contribution to the defence of Canada is not comparable with that which was necessary to restore peace.

I have been unsuccessful in describing to subsequent generations (including my children) the unique campus environment for the class of ’45. There were no intramural sports. Sadie Hawkins Day was the big social event of the year. Male students were expected to be studying. Those who had a failing grade as freshmen were conscripted.

I am not advocating the return of warlike conditions to the campus of Queen’s, but I would recommend a review of the resumés of this group of male students for their outstanding achievements upon graduation. They may have been constrained in those areas popular on campus today but they invested their Queen’s years wisely to make a considerable contribution to Canada’s recovery from the Second World War./p>

Hugh Wilson, Sc’45
St. Augustine, Fla.

Ice storm memories

My wife, Amanda, and I both graduated from the University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia, in 1992. After several years working in industry, Amanda was offered a two-year secondment to Alcan Research Centre in Kingston, Ontario. What a wonderful opportunity!

I left my job, and we packed our bags and headed over to Canada. That was March 4, 1997, a very memorable date, as you’ll discover.

Before the trip, I applied to Queen’s for entry to the Master of Science program. I was fortunate enough to receive an interview not long after arriving, and then to be accepted into the program, with Mike Cunningham (Queen’s) and Phil Bates (RMC) as my co-supervisors.

Then, in January 1998, the ice storm hit!

This was our first Canadian winter. We had never even seen snow before coming to Canada. So, we actually didn’t realize how severe or unusual this weather event was. After all, we came from Queensland, which seems to have cyclones all through the summer season, so we thought this might just have been the Canadian equivalent. How wrong we were!

One may understand our misguided belief, as we were quite lucky. We were living in a flat on Bay Street, which (apparently) was on the same electrical grid as the Kingston hospital. As such, we only lost power (and heating!) for about two hours total.

We woke up the next morning and prepared for our walk into work/university. We stopped by a colleague’s house to collect her for our walk. “Stay home. There is no work today!” she said.

We continued on, marvelling at the ice sculptures that nature had created for us. It wasn’t too bad walking along, if we made sure there was some snow under the ice to provide some grip.

After work, we took many photos, while staying away from the most dangerous areas (under trees, near power lines) as we were constantly being instructed by police and radio. After several days, many houses (including in the student ghetto) were still without power and heating. Another cold front was coming through and the prediction was that the temperature would drop to -17°C.

“Could you house a few students at your place?” we were asked by a friend. “Sure!” We had power, heat and a Jacuzzi in the basement. What a time we had!

After several more days, the front had passed and power was returning to more and more areas. I truly don’t know how the electrical crews did that work in such atrocious conditions. We do get some severe weather here in Tasmania, but not the depths of cold experienced in Canada. All-in-all, we were very lucky and awed by the experience.

We continued on, completing our two years in Canada. I finished my studies, completed my thesis, successfully defended and submitted the requisite four copies to the university, virtually on the way to the airport … as the visa expired on March 4, 1999. Nothing like a deadline to focus one’s effort!

Thank you for the trip down memory lane. Keep up the excellent production!

Daniel Taylor, MSc’99

Remembering Millard Schumaker

The Rev. Dr. Millard Schumaker, Professor Emeritus (Theology), died June 20.

It was with deep sadness that I read the notice of Dr. Schumaker’s death in the recent issue of the Queen’s Review.

I had the good fortune to take Millard’s class on “Interpretation of Religion” in my first year at Queen’s (1974-75), where he introduced me to the contemporary thinkers of religion, especially Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Martin Buber, and Paul Tillich. It was that course in particular that switched my focus from mathematics to theology, and guided me to ministry in the United Church of Canada. What a debt I owe to Millard for his humour, his patience, his clarity of thought, and his ability to convey both joy and hope as I worked my way through the various theological and religious streams that he unfolded for us in his course. I well recall him showing us a black-and-white film of Paul Tillich, responding to a student who protested that Dr. Tillich had not answered his questions. He said, “It is not my task to answer your questions. My task is to help you discover the right question, so that the answer will become obvious to you.”

I give thanks for a wonderfully gifted professor who, in his turn, has helped me over the decades since to discover the right questions!

Rev. Dr. Tony Thompson, Artsci’78, MDiv’81
(DD, St. Andrew’s College)
Prince Albert, Sask.

Maybe my affinity with Professor Schumaker had something to do with the fact that, like him, my father had also had polio, and that both of them had moved a long way from home to carry on their lives. Whatever it was, there was something special about him.

The word “gentleman” comes immediately to mind. Not the stuffed-shirt genteel kind, rather a man who was gentle. Someone who was genuinely polite, courteous, and considerate.

There was a certain ambience in his classes. A respected acceptance. He was prepared not just to teach, but to listen. But make no mistake, his relaxed openness did not mean students could put one over on him. No sir! Because he respected us and expected the best from us, we soon learned not to so disrespect him. He listened, and you knew you were heard, but he could also challenge you to think harder, deeper, broader, clearer.

One would not likely describe him as being a sharp dresser, but his choices were part of his authenticity. No putting on airs for him. He had a delightful, if somewhat subtle, sense of humour. His exercise of equality knew no bounds. His loyalty and concern were trustworthy.

An ethics professor who practised what he preached, he was, I have no doubt, a much admired, as well as highly valued, member of the medical ethics teams. His contributions, including time, to various charities were considerable. As a “mature” student (and thus closer to his age) and also a co-worker of his wife, Elizabeth, I was privileged to also know him out of school, and after graduation, as a friend. He was one of the rare few with whom I could still vigorously discuss theology and ethics. He was humbly grateful for the things in his life, which he saw more as gifts than accomplishments. And he dearly loved his family.

I am fairly certain we’ll never know the full number of students, or others, whose lives he touched, on whom, in his own quiet way, he made a lasting and deep impression. Queen’s Theological College, his students, his colleagues and friends, the community – we were all blessed to have had Dr. Millard Schumaker among us. A light has gone out. He will be missed.

Beverley Burlock, Artsci’79, MDiv’88
Port Mouton, N.S.

Remembering Russel Code

Dr. Code, who taught chemical engineering at Queen’s for many years, died June 25.

Russel Code taught the undergraduate course in reaction kinetics to my 1959 class, and he became my MSc thesis adviser. His guidance style, the very opposite to breathing down one’s neck, helped me very much in supervising my own graduate students years later. His advice for choosing my PhD school was invaluable and l have been extremely grateful to have followed it.

Russ was not an easy person to warm up to, but when you came to know him beyond formal boundaries of professional relationships, you were touched by his not immediately obvious gentleness. I will always remember him fondly.

Thomas Z. Fahidy, Sc’59, MSc’61
(PhD, University of Illinois)
Waterloo, Ont.

Dr. Fahidy is distinguished professor emeritus (chemical engineering) at the University of Waterloo.

Remembering Jim Brown

Dr. Brown was the dean of the Faculty of Applied Science from 1964 to 1970.

I was saddened to read of the passing in June of Professor Emeritus Jim Brown in the latest issue. A graduate (Science ’50) in metallurgical engineering, he returned to Queen’s after obtaining master’s and doctoral degrees from MIT in mineral processing under Tony Gaudin. When mineral processing was moved from Metallurgical Engineering to Mining Engineering in 1971, Jim became a mining engineering professor and taught a class called “Economics of the Mineral Industry.” I was a member of that class in 1971-72, my senior year. His class was more of a graduate-level seminar than an undergrad class and included a combination of his lectures and student project presentations. Jim was progressive and enthusiastic and his class was very stimulating as we were encouraged to think outside the box. As a consequence, the student presentations in that class were very forward-looking, as evidenced by the following titles:

  • Nationalization of the Asbestos Industry by a Separatist Québec;
  • Providing Satisfactory Living and Social Conditions at the Raglan Mine in Nouveau Québec;
  • The Use of Breeder Reactors for More Effective Nuclear Power

Breeder reactors have still not been adopted in North America although they were already in use in the U.K. and France by the late 1960s. Raglan was one of the first “fly-in/fly-out” mines in the Far North, and the Péquiste Government did indeed nationalize the asbestos industry, with the exception of Johns-Manville. The problems with lung cancer and mesothelioma came over a decade later.

Two concepts that Jim emphasized were “sustainability” and “social responsibility.” It is only in the past decade or so that these concepts have become buzzwords within the worldwide mining industry.

Jim became dean of Applied Science in the mid-’60s at a time when universities in Ontario were expanding in response to the number of baby boomers going to college. During his tenure as dean, several faculty buildings were either completed or initiated – Dupuis Hall, Jeffery Hall, and Goodwin Hall, He did a good job of leading the science faculty during that period. Requiescat in pace.

Doug Hambley, Sc’72 (Mining)
(MBA, Lewis; PhD, Waterloo)
Lakewood, Colo.

[illustration for 'the public health' issue of the Queen's Alumni Review]