Sim, Ken #69

Ken Sim of Canor2009 honoured by Natalie Gauthier (no story).  “Thank you to Natalie Gauthier for honouring Ken Sim and for being a part of the park”

Hickey, Michaela Joan #5 *

Michaela Joan Hickey,  honoured by Michael and Joan Hickey

High Flight
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds, – and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of – wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence.  Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air…
Up, up the long, delirious burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace\Where never lark, or ever eagle flew –
And, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.
–John Gillespie Magee, Jr

Bartlett, Dr. Lloyd C. #15 *

Honoured by Dr. Rod Johnston

In my teenage years, my only desire was to be a disc Jockey on a radio station.  I played the music for dances all through high school, enrolled in the 3 year Radio and Television Course at Ryerson  in Toronto, and managed to get a summer job as the all night disc jockey at a radio station(CKDM) in Dauphin, Manitoba.  I was in heaven at the age of 18, and felt  that  this was my life.

I had to get a medical exam for school for some reason, and stopped in Winnipeg to see my family MD.   This was Dr. Bartlett.  He was asking me what I was up to and when I told him about being a DJ with some pride, he said “you could do better you know,  you could get into medicine if you wanted to.”  I protested that I had only 60’s and 70’s in high school, and that you had to be SMART to get into medical school, and besides, I loved being a DJ.  He then said “  I know people with IQ’s of  98 that got into medical school and became doctors. Many of them didn’t have  good marks in high school, so you could do it  if you wanted to.”

As I became disenchanted with working in a radio station and then later in a television station in Hamilton,   his words resonated with me many times,  the idea germinated and began to grow.  Two years after that meeting I went back to University, starting  all over, and eventually graduated as a dentist.

After choosing Dr. Bartlett as my inspiration, I searched  his name, and much to my surprise found he was still practising in Winnipeg.  I corresponded with him, and discovered that at the age of 93 he is still practising, working 5 days a week, and doing  minor outpatient surgery! He works out regularly including running  at least 1 hour every day, and still loves what he does.

He graduated from London Ontario in 1941, did his internship in Ottawa where he met and married his wife Desta, a nurse.  They immediately went  to Northern Ontario to Favorable Lake, an isolated mining town north of Red lake, and practised there for 7 years. Not only did he service the local population, but he also served the surrounding native population and he travelled by foot, dog team, canoe, and airplane to reach his patients.  TB was rampant at the time and he introduced the first BCG vaccine into this northern part of Canada, which led to a marked reduction in the death rate due to TB.  He also did refractions for glasses, dental extractions and fillings, most of his own lab work and x-rays.  He introduced a new discovery at the time, fluoride, to prevent dental caries.  He also immunized the native population against diphtheria and other infectious diseases.  There was no hospital in the native community, so he built a large log building into which a patient could move with their family who acted as the staff.   He developed the first cannulated needle for intravenous infusions, now used world wide.

When the town of Favorable Lake closed, he and Desta moved to Winnipeg where he enrolled in General Surgery and Pathology.  During this training period, he developed tube feeding formula and techniques which he made available to the pharmaceutical industry, and are now available commercially.  Among his other inventions he developed a device for gastric suction which was used in Winnipeg hospitals for many years.

Upon his graduation, he became the Director of  Post Surgical Education at the University of Manitoba from 1959-1967.  He developed tutorial and teaching methods which are still in use today.  He later held posts of Chief of Surgery at the Misericordia General Hospital, and Staff Surgeon at Grace General Hospital, both in Winnipeg.  Over the years he created many more inventions, and was president of the Manitoba Medical Association from 1982-1983, as well along with various other  positions.

He was very involved in lobbying for compulsory seat belt and motorcycle helmet legislation in Manitoba, and was also instrumental in anti-tobacco legislation.

Dr. Bartlett is still married to Desta, has 5 children, 9 grandchildren, and 4 great grandchildren.  His hobbies include the family cottage, reading, photography tropical fish, and of course,  inventions!

If it was not for Dr. Bartlett suggesting that I could do better, I would not be a dentist today, and would not have enjoyed the amazing life that I have had.  Because of him, I often suggest to young people that they can do better and returning to school to explore their dreams is well worth considering.

They say that some people are meant to appear in your life at very important moments, and even though I have not seen Dr. Bartlett since I was 18, he inadvertently changed my life, and is now a great  mentor  for me!  I hope to work well into old age as long as it is fun, and I will be forever grateful to him.

Cooper, Jack & Lois Cooper #4 *

Honoured by Carol and Chris, Marcia and Barry, Diane and Don, and Laurie and Steve.

Lois MacDonald Cooper is an inspiration to all who know her.  At 90 years of age, she continues to be a wonderful role model. She was born and raised in Ottawa, the only child on Elwood and Mabel MacDonald.  In 1943, at the age of 23, she enlisted in the Canadian Red Cross to work in England, Belgium and France as a Welfare Worker in Canadian Military Hospitals.  Lois felt the need to serve her country and the world, putting herself at risk in many very difficult situations and having many wonderful experiences along the way.

Our father, John Sidney Cooper, was born in Toronto, October 14, 1912, one of eight children.  His parents died early and he and his sisters raised their younger siblings.  With much determination, Dad completed his Civil Engineering degree at U of Toronto during the Depression.  He enlisted in 1943, and served as Lieutenant Commander in the Canadian Navy, aboard the HMCS Ottawa.  Lois and John both returned to Canada in October, 1945, married and moved to North Bay in January, 1946 when our father secured employment with the ONR.  He retired 34 years later as Chief Engineer of the ONR.

We remember our dad for his devotion to us all.  He was a true family man, whose spare time was spent at our cottage on Trout Lake, or skiing most winter weekends with all of us.  We have always known that we were our parents’ first priority.  This joy of family time continued with our husbands and children; “nanny and daddy-dee” have very special places in the hearts of their sons-in-law and nine grandchildren.  Having struggled through the Depression, Dad took his job as father and provider very seriously.  He was a real “Mr. Fix It”, who would tackle any household job, including building our family home and cottage.  Dad passed away during the summer of 1997.  He handled aging and illness with dignity, patience and a sense of humour.

Mom continues to be a real inspiration as to how to embrace and live life to the fullest.  She has met each stage of her life with enthusiasm, each challenge with creativity and persistence, each new individual with compassion and love.  After the war, she worked as a full time homemaker, caring for her four daughters with passion. Her purpose in life is to provide joy, security and comfort to each of us. She has always been there to “cover our backs” when a difficulty arose, to share our times of joy, and to ease our lives.  She continues to show us how to grow old with grace by accepting the death of our father, the loss of many friends, moving out of our family home, and into a retirement home, and ongoing medical issues.  Lois is the ultimate giver, who cares for those around her rather than dwelling on herself.  We are especially proud of her accomplishment of writing and publishing her book, “Wartime Letters Home”, a chronicle of her wartime experiences.  She accomplished this task while in her eighties, and was honored by the Canadian Red Cross upon the completion of the book, which has provided a special legacy for us all.

We love you, Mom and Dad.  Welcome to the Leaves of Inspiration!                                             Carol, Marcia, Diane and Laurie

D’Agostino, Rocco #21 *

Mr. Rocco D’Agostino D.O.B. August 21st 1920, honoured by John D’Agostino.

My father passed away on November 14th, 1993. It was one of the most difficult days of my life as I had only then realized that with his passing, the man who I admired most in life was gone, as was the person who passionately inspired, encouraged and challenged me to achieve to know and do more.

My father left elementary school in his native Italy at a very young age – not as a choice, but rather as a result of severe economic times in the 1920’s and 30’s.  While in school, he excelled at all the courses he studied. Learning was his passion and he truly loved school because it was a place where his knowledge grew.  At his bedside a few days before he died, my father told me that the biggest regret in his life was not being able to pursue his education.

Out of necessity, as the oldest child in his family, he became the major breadwinner for his family as a very young teenager.  All but forced to abandon school, he started out his working career as a mason’s labourer – hauling buckets of cement, bricks, and blocks from dawn to dusk.  He didn’t complain too much about his unwanted career and continuously brought home enough money to help raise his brothers and sisters.

After World War II was over, he used his masonry skills to help rebuild a war torn Southern Italy.  He quickly became proficient at building, repairing and renovating virtually anything that he chose to tackle.  Bridges to homes, he was a perfectionist and this trait showed in the quality of his work.

He married the love of his life, my mother, Angelina Morabito, in the early 1950’s and went on to have four daughters while still residing in his native Italy. Not satisfied with the working and living conditions in Southern Italy, and being concerned about the future of his children, he decided to follow his brother’s lead and make his way to North Bay in 1957 at the age of 37.  He left everything he knew and loved in the hope of finding a better life for his family.  My mother and four sisters remained in Italy until 1960 when he was confident that he could properly care for them in Canada. He learned a new language, a new culture, new construction methods and new business techniques in a short period of time

While in North Bay, he quickly found work as a mason and steadily proved that he was an able and skilled tradesman. After a few years of working for others, he decided to start his own masonry company. His business quickly flourished as a result of his perfectionism and ambition. With the addition of three sons to his family, he was even more determined to make certain that none of his children would ever experience the denial of an education like he had experienced.  Being driven by this, he took well calculated risks and began a home building business. Over the years I am certain that he built hundreds of homes in North Bay and Area.  He made sure that we would never have to quit school because he could not afford to send us.

And so I grew up; with a determined and able father in the construction business.  It was there that I really learned what hard work is all about.  I worked in the family business six days a week when school was out. Ditches and trenches were dug, blocks and bricks were laid and cement and concrete was mixed and poured…all backbreaking jobs…over and over.   My father would often say: “do you want to do this for the rest of your life? If you don’t want to have a sore back every night after work, stay in school.  That way you don’t have to do this for a living.”  He also drilled into our heads an old Italian saying: “il più che sai, il più che vale” or “the more you know the more you are worth”.  He put each of his seven kids through school to a point where we had all completed at least two university degrees.  Education was literally drilled in our heads: “Once you have it, no one can ever take it away from you”.

Growing up on construction sites, I saw the good and the bad of what hard labour can result in.  I am sure that my back troubles today come from my years of working on the construction sites.  “Use your head, not your back” he would regularly say to me.

My father earned a good living by this type of work, and seeing this, at one point after completing my first university degree, I had decided to remain in the family business and not accept a position in law school. “If you have an education, you can choose not to use it. Without education, you do not have a choice for your future”.  He convinced me to continue my education and go to law school on that basis. “If after you have completed your degree, if you still don’t want to be a lawyer, you can always be a home builder.”  I hear these words in my head every time I encourage my own children to try their best at school. I never really understood that my father didn’t want me to follow in his footsteps and take over the family business.  He had no choice. He had to be a mason to feed his family; that was all he knew.  He would have loved to have been given the opportunity to become a teacher, an engineer, a doctor or a lawyer but the choice was not his.

I have come to realize that he lived vicariously through us as we pursued our quest for higher education. Through the satisfaction of seeing our successes in school and our professional lives, he too succeeded.  His legacy lives on in our minds and souls and no one can take away his legacy from us.  So dear father, your children’s lives are what they are today because of the relentless encouragement you gave us to pursue higher educations. The degrees earned by your children are your crown jewels not ours.  You are not just a leaf in my life, you are the tree. Thank you for inspiring me.

Penner-Piché, Caroline #9 *

Caroline Penner Piché, honoured by Laura Piché

My aunt by marriage, my friend by choice and my firstborn’s Godmother by honour, Caroline Penner-Piché has been a steady, guiding light throughout my adult life.

My first meeting with Caroline found me admiring her long, long dark hair, her large eyes and a smile so wide it filled Memere Piche’s kitchen. She was, to me, my comrade, a fellow Anglophone swallowed by a typical everyone-talks-at-once large French Canadian family. She was just a few years older than me and wonderfully sharp witted.   I learned she was a brilliant academic from her school of pharmacy and a trusted professional pharmacist for her own drug store on Manitoulin Island. I was immediately comforted by her presence and it was only then I noticed her need of arm braces to help her walk. In her 20s, newly married, Multiple Sclerosis became a part of Caroline’s life and it was unrelenting.

My children have known Tante Caroline as one of Disney’s staunch fans; a follower of baseball, of country music, of the game show Jeopardy, an online shopper and a maker of hand-made greeting cards.  They remember her taking walks for ice cream and they know her patience. Her wheel chair, numerous pills, accessible doorways, audio book library, hospital furniture and rigid schedule of home care though seem to be invisible and have subliminally increased their sense empathy. For this character building alone, I am eternally thankful.

MS can seem unfair – but it is not to be pitied. Never have I pitied Caroline. I have been humbled by her strength to live and accept such a debilitating disease. I am most certain, if she could, she’d briskly walk a mile in my shoes…yet I’m not convinced I’d last a mile on her wheels. To have the ability to walk, run, have clear vision, normal hearing and personal privacy robbed by an incurable disease and replaced by public inaccessibility, judgment, and medical red tape, reduces my everyday gripes to dust.  This is my constant reminder that juggling the many balls in my every day air space is, for the most part, my CHOICE… and not my necessity. This is my reality check. Hopping in my car to go to the mall, a night out dining with my husband and friends at the restaurant of our choice, traveling the globe, a refreshing dive off the dock at the cottage, climbing stairs of my home, choosing when I lay my head on my pillow seem so everyday…but they’re an unattainable luxury for someone living with advanced Multiple Sclerosis.

For me, Caroline’s ability to make me stop what I’m doing; pause and breathe – even for the duration of a phone call, out weighs any of her disabilities. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve simply sighed and said to myself, “Caroline” and by doing so, she has brought me perspective, grace and energy.

“With much love, laughter and respect, Caroline….”