We were scheduled to go to Ceylon to take up the post of Director of the Columbo Plan Bureau, and went by boat, This was not such an odd way to travel as it has since become. It had the advantage that we and the two children could stop off in Cairo, where I had some statistician colleagues, who received us (and dined us--no wine) with the usual Arab courtliness.
It was also a chance to see the Sphinx and the pyramids at Giza. I remember the children taking a camel ride in the desert around about. One of the pyramids was open for a visit and Robert, led by a villainous-looking guide, disappeared into it and we wondered if he would ever emerge. Would we have to pay some large ransom to get him back? But then he emerged, his same highly verbal self.
After that we continued by boat through the Red Sea, and it was HOT. The only escape was an air conditioned lounge that the boat housed, and Beatrice, looking as though she was going to faint at any moment, remained in that lounge, gasping until the boat passed into the ocean again.
I represented Canada as head of the Colombo Plan Bureau in Colombo for about a year and a half about 1956, and the job consisted mostly in travel to the dozen or so countries stretching from Laos to Pakistan. These are described below.
In 1948 the countries of the British Commonwealth had a conference in London and decided on a plan to provide aid to the less developed of the member countries. This was as much residue of "Empire" as the times would permit. The more fortunate countries, Britain, Canada and Australia, along with a non-member, Japan, were to be donors. Though the aid was bi-lateral, a Bureau was established in Colombo for whatever coordination was needed. The Director of the Bureau was chosen from the donor coutries in rotation.
First Britain nominated Geoffrey Wilson of the Treasury to head up the Bureau. Then came Australia in the person of Mr. Curtin, member of one of Australia's eminent families.
In 1956 it was the turn of Canada to name a head of the Colombo Plan Bureau, and I was named. There was a formality of election by the Council in Columbo consisting of the Ambassadors to Ceylon of the several member countries. My boss, Herbert Marshall, then Dominion Statistician, gung-ho for the Empire in its time, was not going to turn down a request by the Commonwealth, and so I was released.
The job consisted mostly in ceremonial, visits to the dozen or so countries stretching from Pakistan to Laos. This "showing the flag" of the Commonwealth had a purely diplomatic function.
As on an earlier occasion our children, Barbara, now aged 10 and Robert aged 8 didn't like leaving Ottawa, and again we made the mistake of not adequately explaining what we were doing and why. Here I was starting out on a diplomatic assignment, and forgetting all about diplomacy in my own home.
Within a few weeks of the scheduled departure I was putting some books in the back of our car when I turned sharply, twisted my back, and suffered great pain. We called in a doctor and he prescribed bed rest. We called another doctor, a surgeon by the name of Dr. Killam (I am not joking) and he ordered up an ambulance to take me to the hospital. Once there he examined me at length, and said the only thing to do was operate. We had two friends who underwent that operation, and on one it worked, on the other it left the person crippled. .I said nothing doing, and he was disgusted, and immediately had an ambulance take me home. So here we were, between two doctors, one of whom recommended doing nothing, and the other doing too much. What was the next step?
In bed with the pain, I was visited by a number of people, all of whom were sympathetic. But one of them, Elsie Ralston, was more than sympathetic: she urged me to call an osteopath, Dr. Parsons, (I am sad every time I recall that some time later, Elsie was smoking in bed, started a fire in which she was fatally burned.)
I barely knew of the existence of osteopaths but was desperate enough to try anything, and Dr. Parsons came to the house with his portable table. Believe it or not, that was the only house call required. He manipulated my back, loosening up the parts of the backbone that were held rigid , and within a day or two I was able to get up and walk around slowly. After half a dozen visits to his office I was ready for travel.
To avoid strain on the trip I took BOAC's flight to Britain that had a few cabins with bunks. My family sat up.
When we arrived in Colombo we were met at the plane by Canadian Ambassador James Hurley, whose first words were "Call me Jim." Based on that our children always referred to him as "call-me-Jim".
He took us to Bank House, located on a main road running down to the harbor, and a block or so above the Galle Face Green, a grassy park bordering the ocean. At Bank House we met John, the prince of servants. He spoke good English, and was in charge of a cook named Paul, and a houseboy. John and Beatrice got along famously, and he was happy to discuss my predecessors and their wives, sometimes delivering himself of spicy tales of philandering while husbands were away working.
When I got to the office I found Sharif from Karachi, Goonitilike, a Singalese, and Dorothy Abeywardene, secretary and financial officer, also Singalese.
My job was essentially to travel the circuit of the member countries, which were mostly the ex-colonies of South and Southeast Asia. My visits to Delhi, Singapore, Saigon, Pnom Penh and Vientiane, lasted a few days or a week each, and I did my best to make the receiving countries happy with the Plan, and with the aid they were receiving from one of the more advanced members.
Of the travels I have spotty but colorful memories of the graceful dancing girls on show in Pnom Penh; (less pleasant) Indonesia in the waning days of Sukarno; Saigon, looking for all the world like a French provincial town, with queenly women in traditional costume going about their business in it. ..
That was before the French attacked to reduce a political regime they didn't like, and were fought to a standstill by the Vietnamese. Not heeding the French example, the Americans took its turn to attack. They were spurred on by imagining they were fighting the danger of Communism and Chinese domination. In fact the Vietnamese had no love for the Chinese and would have fought a Chinese invasion. We had a series of images to support our invasion--there was a "domino effect" by which the fall of VietNam would lead to the fall of other countries to Communism and to the Chinese; as things got discouraging our politicians kept seeing "light at the end of the tunnel". After protracted and destructive fighting, with the usual heavy bombing, the Americans saw they could not win; the war was terribly unpopular back home, especially with the younger generation. Fifty thousand Americans were dead and perhaps a million Vietnamese. The war came to an indecisive end. But at the time I visited, all this was in the future, and I could see Vietnam and indeed the whole territory peaceful and moderately well-governed.
The most primitive of the three parts of French Indo-China was Laos. When I got to Vientiane I was duly met by government officials, with whom I talked repeatedly during my stay. (When I visited most places I was given a car and driver; in Vientiane I had to do my own driving--they had no one who could speak English or French and was able to drive.)
There was a good deal of American aid going into Laos considering the size of the country, and the Laotians made no secret of where the aid was going, i.e. into their individual pockets. At the end of my stay I reported to the official in charge of the US aid mission about what I called waste of money,. "Not at all," was the reply, "we have to keep the natives loyal to us" In fact he was not keeping the 'natives' loyal but only a few people in the very top ranks. One could surmise how much loyalty that money was buying. Such mal-administration weakened the American support for foreign aid.
When I got back to Colombo and looked into the operation of the office, I found that my assistant Sharif really had no function. Or if he had one it consisted in opposing all changes I suggested.. I am afraid that my instinct for economizing got the better of me, and I asked Sharif to resign. He refused.
I asked advice from the Ambassadors to Ceylon of donor countries who formed the Advisory Council to the Colombo Plan office, and was told that I had better get professional advice from London. On contact with the UK Treasury, I was offered a representative who would come out, examine the organization of the office, and advise whether the saving was worth the ill-will we would incur by firing a Pakistani. Gordon Crichton was the person; he came and spent a week with us, talking to me and to Sharif, and in the end reported that we should go ahead with the dismissal. Crichton was a solid bureaucrat, not conspicuously imaginative, but that quality was not needed for this task.
There is a sequel to this. Sharif bore no grudge and when later I was in Karachi threw a party for me. He was an excellent host and the food was good. The only thing bad about that party was taking a spoonful of rice and curry and then feeling something moving in my mouth when I took a spoonful. Removing it I found a cockroach, badly damaged but still alive and moving its legs. I spat it out and without saying anything left the plate in a corner where the servants would pick it up. No harm was done, but I kept asking myself whether that insect was there in the natural course of events or whether it was put there..
Altogether there were some 25 or 30 consultants, experts in various fields, and once a week I invited them to a meeting in Bank House. Outstanding among them was Bill Lantz, head of the Canadian fisheries project. Someone had had a great idea--providing a ship and instruction how to operate it and fish effectively. The Ceylonese were given thorough training. The only trouble was that those tropical waters do not harbor many fish.
But what was useful was having the foreign experts meeting one another and talking about their problems. That was a great help to morale.
The term of my assignment was 36 months, and after 20 I began to feel that there wasn't much more I could do, and we packed up and left. I was criticized for this, but it couldn't have been a terrible offense--that year I was awarded the medal of the Professional Institute of the Civil Service of Canada for my work in Ceylon. It was handed to me by Governor-General Vincent Massey at a dinner meeting of the Institute in the Chateau Laurier.
It remains to mention that an ultimately tragic turning point in the history of Ceylon occurred during our time there. The population of the country was and is mostly Singalese, but it includes a sizable minority of Tamils. The latter had been brought in some generations back to pick the tea crop. Owners of the plantations, ever alive to costs, found it was cheaper to import Tamils, paying their passage from Tamilnad in south India, than have the crop picked by the fun-loving Singalese. Up to the time we arrived the two ethnic groups had been getting along reasonably well, even though the Singalese were Buddhists looking in cultural matters to Burma, while the Tamils were Hindus looking to Tamilnad.
However one man changed this harmony, and started the disorder that continues to this day. It was Prime Minister Bandaranaike, an especially pious Buddhist, who never opened his mouth without making a plea for peace. I remember the time he came to Bank House on Colombo Plan business, dressed in his white sheet. (Upper-class Singalese dressed western style, with jacket and tie, but left-leaning politicians found it politic to identify sartorially with the masses. And Bandaranaike was far left. I promised I would transmit his message to London with my favorable recommendation, and he left. I gave him no sign of how I felt about his anti-Tamil policies. It could have gotten me and Canada into trouble if I had asked him just what the Tamils were doing that was so harmful.
I never learned Singalese, but Beatrice did, at least to the point of reading the daily press. I still remember her sitting in a comfortable alcove and drinking tea while reading the morning paper. The paper was full of speeches by Bandaranaike expressing outrage at the government jobs held by Tamils, that should have gone to Singalese. A government job was the most prized career, and Singalese thought that all these belonged to them.
The Singalese are light-hearted folk. The elite among them who have been educated at Oxford bring back a schoolboy language and mode of behavior that sound odd in this distant ex-colony.
One episode shows the idea. When confrontation got bitter a number of Tamil leaders, officials and businessmen of dignity and distinction, held a Satyagraha on the Galle Face Green, which slopes down to the ocean. This consisted in their sitting on the grass and saying silent prayers, a non-violent unspoken rebuke to the majority. While it was going on young members of the Singalese elite descended on the Green, carrying the unresisting Tamils to the water and throwing them in.
Bandaranaike spoke of peace at the same time as he unleashed a savage civil war. Early in the 19th century a missionary, Bishop Heber, wrote of Ceylon that "every prospect pleases,/And only man is vile."
Most of the people we met were Singalese, but our next door neighbor was Arumugam, a Tamil, a hydraulic engineer, evidently very capable. On such a dry island settlements were mostly located under dams, and traditional wars took the form of breaking open the opponent's dam and starving him into subjection. So hydraulic engineers were very important. Karl Wittfogel wrote extensively about Oriental Despotism, claiming that the urgent need to protect their dam made people accept absolute rule.
Our neighbor had a charming family, including a girl of about 10 who performed the graceful South Indian dances. The older of the girls played the Veena, an Indian instrument resembling a cello, while the other girl played by striking with a stick on a set of porcelain bowls filled with water to different levels. It was a pleasure to associate with a family not superficially imitating the culture learned in their stay at Oxford, but expressing a deeply felt indigenous tradition.
I am sorry that I never had a chance to see them again or even to correspond with them. I can say no more about Ceylon, since after leaving in 1957 we have never visited or been in touch, but the newspapers report that the northern part of the island is all but governed by the Tamil Tigers and Singalese don't go there. Partition that small island? Shri Lanka will insist on maintaining the integrity of the national territory that it has done so much to divide.
Two years after getting back from Ceylon my time at the Bureau came to an end.
After 23 years in the Canadian public service I had a phone call from Dean Vincent Bladen, with an offer from the University of Toronto that was to open a fresh life for me.. It appeared that the new job would have no fixed hours, the duties nothing but study, writing and teaching, that is to say acquiring and teaching the best of existing knowledge and discovering new knowledge. To me as a civil servant that seemed like fun rather than work; it was what I did out of hours and during week-ends in the civil service.
True the pay was no better than the public service, but would be more than compensated by the pleasant associations with others similarly engaged. And all of us together would make a harmonious community in which it would be sheer heaven to dwell.
All that was just what I wanted, and I accepted while Dean Bladen held the line. The first person I told was my faithful secretary Jean Duffus, who was regretful but not surprised.
As mentioned earlier, I joined the Dominion Bureau of Statistics (DBS) in Ottawa as a clerk in the 1936 census, and over the course of 23 years climbed the public service ladder in not untypical fashion, reaching the post of Senior Research Statistician. During that time I worked in several of the DBS divisions, and had an opportunity to see its methods evolve from the routine collection of data using home-grown paper-and-pencil methods for supposed "complete enumeration" to more sophisticated procedures of household sampling, quality control, computer processing, assembly of the Gross National Product. Most important of these for a statistician was probability selection of samples that permitted estimates of error. . In the development of several of these I had a part. Thus there were some advances made in my 23 years, but the biggest advances were to be made after I left.
In my new job in Toronto I had great colleagues: S. Delbert Clark, Oswald Hall, Jean Burnet, Leo Zakuta, Jim Giffen, as well as excellent students, students from whom I could learn. I remember that after a lecture one of the students came up and asked if I had looked at a new journal called Daedalus . I had not heard of it. It had just been established by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and ably edited by Stephen Graubard. Since that commendation from a nameless undergratduate at the U. of T. some 40 years ago I have been a constant suibscriber to Daedalus. Just one of many directions in which a student has led his professor--me.
I also had colleagues outside of the Sociology group--Brough Macpherson and Gordon Skilling in political science, Tom Easterbrook and Burton Keirstead in economics, Dan DeLury and Donald Fraser in statistics There was no substantial graduate school, and hence no opportunity to teach a subject as specialized as population, but I did give a well-attended course in general sociology, especially on the work of Emile Durkheim and Max Weber.
But what about the harmonious community of scholars? I suppose we had as much of that at Toronto as anywhere, but it was certainly not perfect. One of the odd features of life is that we really don't want perfect harmony--everyone agreeing with everyone else on every subject. If we all thought the same way, we would have nothing to discuss. Recognition of important problems can only arise in discussion among people who do not agree with one another. Differences stimulate thought, colleagues strike sparks off colleagues. While that is everywhere recognized, yet I have had more than one colleague who failed to separate disagreement and debate from personal feelings.towards the person with whom one disagrees. They think "Professor ABC disagrees with me because he doesn't like me; well I don't like him."
Even more obviously we don't want complete disharmony, with no one listening to others, no one ever agreeing with others, no one using the work of others and continuing that work forward. Total narcissism, egoism, is to be avoided equally with total harmony. And not every institution can arrange the amount of narcissism that drives the person to create without also driving them to isolation from colleagues. .
The nice balance required here that would provide lives of scholarship and creativity is not always attained.
In moving over to a university after 23 years as a public servant I had several lucky breaks, unforeseen events working in my favor, especially changes of a demographic nature, age categories that became abnormally large and others that shrank. In 1959 the pending increase of students as the post-war baby boom came to college age was presumably what the U. of T. authorities had in mind in hiring me to begin with.
I had no sooner joined the University of Toronto than I was offered a seasonal appointment at the University of Buenos Aires. This was not yet as a demographer, but as a sociologist. Buenos Aires, conveniently lying south of the Equator, has its winters when we have our summers, So I was able to take my summer holidays teaching in B.A. in 1960. There among other people I met Fausto Toranzos, an older man, somewhat old-fashioned and greatly admired by his ex-students. In his entourage was Carlos Garcia-Tudero, young, bright and knowledgeable; with him and his wife Malicha, Beatrice and I formed close links. He saw my trusting nature and offered to be something of a guide, which he was indeed,
I remember others in the circle--Portnoy, Lopez, and their wives.
Many an evening we agreed to meet Carlos and other friends at a restaurant, Corrientes Onze, at 10:00 p.m. In case you think that is late for dinner, it was only the nominal time for congregating in a community where punctuality is no virtue. If everything went on what might loosely be called "schedule" we would start eating at midnight. Was it worth the waiting? It sure was, the food was superb, and the talk brilliant. We tried to get back to our hotel in the Calle Junin by two o'clock.
Argentine has had a stormy history. Juan Peron was elected by a large majority in 1951 on a populist platform, and in 1955 was upset by a coup, and driven into exile in Franco Spain. A democratically elected liberal government under Dr. Arturo H. Ilia came into power shortly after our time, .If I remember right our friend Carlos was Minister of Finance in the Ilia government.
On one of these occasions Beatrice was delayed, as she later explained to us, by somehow getting mixed up in a meeting that was broken up by the police. Argentina was undergoing difficult times--Peron, a fascist, though one of the gentler fascists, was gone but there was a revival of Peronism under Eva Peron. The police used tear gas to disperse the crowd protesting her, and Beatrice got some of it. Later things got worse and many of our colleagues fled to quieter Latin American countries, but that was after we had left.
Carlos shared a similar upbringing to Beatrice--both grew up in a home bakery. That of Carlos was a little brighter, a little more scrubbed, but the commonalities were many, including a baker arriving about 4:00 a.m. so the bread would be coming out of the oven about 8:00 a.m.
I stayed in communication with Carlos for years afterwards, not all of them good years for an outspoken liberal in the Argentine. But more recently we have lost touch, and I have not been able to find a phone number or address. Information connecting us again will be received with sincere thanks.
On one occasion I attended a lecture by a distinguished foreigner (I forget both the person and the subject) and seated beside me was a well-dressed, well groomed, man, past middle age. We got talking and it was not hard to see that he was very very rich. In the Argentine that meant owning square miles of grassland. Grass means cattle, and cattle mean beef, the core of Argentine wealth. Cattle on the plains grassy plains require men on horseback to tend them, and a rich cowboy culture seems to have been common to North and to South America.
One American who has settled there and now has written a successful novel in her adopted language of Spanish, is fascinated by the "experience and sensation of national identity and belonging." In our shorter stay that is what we also felt.
Carmen Miro was the Director of a school offering instruction in population for Latin America functionaries and she invited me down to lecture on population during the summer of 1963. I am ashamed to admit that I remember nothing of that school or of my lectures it it or what I was doing during the three months I was there.
Growing up in Montreal, second only to Paris in the size of its francophone population one would think that at school I would have spoken French as well as English, would have French as well as English friends. Nothing of the kind. It seemed that everything was being done, at least on the English side, to discourage English-French contact. As though the winners of the battle on the Plains of Abraham of two centuries earlier were reproducing their victory in the 20th century. For one thing the two groups went to different schools. What school one attended depended on one's religion--francophone children,Catholic Schools, that were mostly French, and Protestant children, schools that were English. Nothing equals the importance for youthful associations at school for defining one's world. Who one talks to, who one walks home with from school, at older ages what girls one takes to movies--these associations almost all start in school and often continue through life. The English mythology went so far that Franco-Canadians were not considered competent to teach French in English schools. And the two groups were separate geographically with English mostly on the west side of St. Lawrence Main and the French speakers on the east side.
But the best way of bringing the story up to date is with the talk I gave on the occasion when I was honored by the University of Quebec in Montreal. (Given in French, translation by Beatrice Keyfitz.)
My ties with French Canada began in earnest when Guy Rocher, at that time chairman of the Department of Sociology of the Universite de Montreal, invited me to spend a year (1962-63) as professor of demography in his department. I would work with Jaques Henripin, a demographer who has since become widely celebrated. I was delighted with the idea and accepted on the spot. The first twenty years of my life had indeed been spent in Montreal, but in an English corner of Notre Dame de Grace, and my acquaintance with the city was essentially confined to Sherbrooke Street between Boulevard Decarie and McGill University, at most about a quarter of the city. One met a French speaker when one bought household supplies or needed a plumber. The streetcar drivers spoke French. "Here", I said to myself when I received Guy Rocher's offer, "is my chance to meet the other three quarters of my native city."
And those three quarters were full of surprises. My colleagues in the Universite had no resemblance whatsoever to the humble little Canadiens of my youth. At departmental meetings and luncheons outside they were giants. No doubt their enlargement had something to do with the nationalism that had begun to flourish at about that time, a phenomenon which had drawn notice elsewhere: with nationalism had come the rise of an intellectual class that supported the new national configuration and was supported by it.
But this was only the dawn of the nationalist movement. We were still in an intermediate condition--when an English speaker joined a francophone group the language changed. It was preferable to discommode ten French speakers rather than one anglophone. The anglophone was courteous; he expressed regret for his incapacity, but he did not regret it enough to learn French.
The new pride of the francophones--at least when they were among themselves--was only the first of the surprises than awaited me. I had thought that given the diminution of anglophone influence the Province would seize the occasion to orient themselves even more towards church and family, towards all that belonged to the past, as was suggested by their watchword: "Je me souviens." The little farms along the roads and rivers would once again be the heart of their economic life. Quite the contrary: they were turned towards the future--towards technics, towards industry. They were open to the outside world, and especially towards France, which until then had often seemed too little Catholic if not atheistic.
But how to run their affairs without anglophone capital and managers? Business would surely be in trouble. For years the anglophones had stressed how they were needed for the division of labor in the province. But in fact under francophone management business experienced an expansion as never before.
Education also saw an unforeseen growth in quality and importance, at least unforeseen by me. The old system tended to form a thin layer of elites who boasted less of their utility than of their elegance. Under the banner once more of nationalism the system grew enormously. We witnessed the creation of CEGEPs, of new universities, among them the University of Quebec, the host of today's ceremony.
As I have said, I was invited to Montreal to teach demography, but in fact it is I who have benefited from instruction--on how modernization takes place, on the link between modernization and nationalism, and on the role of language in these two movements.
During the past ten years I have watched Quebec, of necessity from Europe, and above all through French television. What I have noticed is the rapid evolution of a new culture which is not the metropolitan culture of France, but which is respected for its distinct qualities. When one listens to the news or a film about French Canada, one recognizes that it is not France, that it is not inferior or superior to France, but simply different.
But I realize that I am saying things that you undoubtedly know better than I. It is left to me to thank you from the depths of my heart for having invited me to become a member of the University of Quebec.
Growing up in Montreal, second only to Paris in the size of its francophone population,one would think that at school I would have spoken French as well as English, would have French as well as English friends. Nothing of the kind. It seemed that everything was being done, at least on the English side, to discourage English-French contact. As though the winners of the battle on the Plains of Abraham of two centuries earlier were reproducing their victory in the 20th century. For one thing the two groups went to different schools. What school one attended depended on one's religion--francophone children,Catholic Schools, that were mostly French, and Protestant children, schools that were English. Nothing equals the importance for youthful associations at school for defining one's world. Who one talks to, who one walks home with from school, at older ages what girls one takes to movies--these associations almost all start in school and often continue through life. The English mythology went so far that Franco-Canadians were not considered competent to teach French in English schools. And the two groups were separate geographically with English mostly on the west side of St. Lawrence Main and the French speakers on the east side.
And what doesn't start in school starts in the neighborhood. In Notre Dame de Grace, notwithstanding the name, the neighbors were mostly English. (I remember the New Yorker having itself a good time with the Notre Dame de Grace Kosher Meat Market, that I did not find in any way anomalous, "Notre Dame de Grace" being simply the (never translated) name of the ward.)
I did my personal best from a very early age to overcome the drawback of the (artificial, one might say contrived) monolingual culture I was living in. La Presse came into the house when I was a boy and I looked at it and picked out the words I recognized. I remember my father's spoken French as pretty good. Later I read French books, often going down to Sherbrooke Street East, to Lafontaine Park, to borrow books from the French library there. But no amount of reading could match speaking French in a living context.
Then I went to Ottawa, which was largely anglophone, except that the hiring rules of the Civil Service Commission did permit the entry among my associates of a man by the name of Rochon, and especially of Raymond Lewis. Lewis, notwithstanding his name was thoroughly Francophone, and we met often for dinner with him and his charming wife. And Edgar Gallant, a young diplomat living in Hull, and his wife with whom Beatrice and I more than once dined.
Among the books that I knew was Everett Hughes French Canada in Transition. Hughes was on the faculty at the University of Chicago when I had my year there as a graduate student. He had chosen Drummondville for the classic study of the social effects of industrialisation. I attended classes by Everett in 1942-3 and was glad to catch up him and his wife Helen when I came to Harvard and Everett, having retired from Chicago, taught at Boston College.
But the climax of my acquaintance with French Canada came with an offer of appointment of a year at the Universite de Montreal Department of Sociology. It came from Guy Rocher, sanctioned by Doyen Garigue, and promoted by Jacques Henripin, a polished demographer, student of Alfred Sauvy at the INED in Paris, the world's best known institution of demographic research. I knew Jacques when he was a beginning college teacher, and I have kept in touch right up to the present time.
I was overjoyed when the University of Toronto gave me leave after just three years of service. We rented an apartment on Maplewood Avenue just opposite the U. de M. took our Barby and Robert, and moved in.
The year was no less happy than I had anticipated. I had brilliant colleagues--not so much in their research publications, which were less than plentiful, but in their talk. It was almost as though Jacques Dofny, Denis Szabo, Jacques Henripin, Guy Rocher, Marcel Rioux published orally, in talks with colleagues. An outstanding member of the Department was the Abbe Norbert Lacoste, whom Beatrice and I came to admire enormously, A selfless man, Norbert, distressed by the fewness of recruits to the Church in this materialistic age and was doing his best to fill the gap with older men who would perform some of the functions of the clergy part time--what a change from when the smartest boys of each village were candidates for the priesthood.
A great company these, and when they assembled for lunch in a local restaurant the conversation was brilliant. They did not all love one another, but when someone attacked it was not with a bludgeon, but with a rapier. They expressed their opposition to some outrageous assertion (perhaps by myself) not with brusque denial but with irony and wit.
I remember one day on which the faculty assembled for lunch. The separatists had blown up a mail box the previous night, and we talked about the incident. Dofny, a Belgian, and Szabo, a Hungarian, said "Great, this will help you get your freedom." But the idea of getting freedom by violent means, familiar enough in Europe, struck us Canadian-born, French speaking as well as English, as repulsive. What entered all our minds without anyone saying was that freedom obtained by violence would most likely be followed by a regime of violence. And few Canadians are ready to welcome a regime of violence.
The U. de M. campus was on the other side of Mount Royal from McGill. But between the two campuses there was little communication. No surprise to one who was brought up in Montreal, a situation that I understand has changed in the years since I last visited. Hiring across the anglophone-francophone boundary has become more common than it then was.
The year was successful in that I had good students and congenial associates. But when I was invited to stay a second year I decided against--the separatist movement was gathering force, and I did not want to be made an issue between my liberal friends and the separatist hawks.
Over the years our friends included Jean-Charles Falardeau and Maurice LaMontagne, both of Laval University in Quebec City. They had been the students of the Dominican, Father Levesque, one of the most remarkable men I have ever met. I remember a glorious evening when all of us sat on the rug and heard Father Leveque, handsome in his white robe, discourse on everything from books he had read to Quebec politics, on which he held strong views. Always liberal, always level-headed, never trite.