Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Newfoundlander and a Grand Banker

“Never for one moment have I forgotten that I was a Newfoundlander and a Grand Banker, or been less intensely proud of it. My roots are here. Whenever I come back I say to myself, “I’m back in my own country and with my own people.” A year ago I was saying, “I’ll never get back to Newfoundland except perhaps in my coffin.” Then you gave me this delightful invitation, and the effect was to rejuvenate me … This has been a very wonderful and heart-warming experience for me. I shall be joining shortly in what I know by heart and have known all my life, the Ode to Newfoundland.”
- The late Eugene Forsey, from a brief address to the 1987 Grand Bank Tricentennial celebration.
The above quote is contained in the book, Eugene Forsey, Canada’s Maverick Sage, by his daughter, Helen Forsey.

Forsey was raised a Conservative before converting to social democracy in the 1930s and joining the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (now the New Democratic Party). Later in life, he became a Senator and sat as a Trudeau Liberal.

He was also one of Canada’s foremost constitutional experts.

The official book launch was held Monday in the House of Commons in Ottawa, with a reading from Helen (seen in the picture above), who wrote for me when I was editor-in-chief of The Independent newspaper.

Helen Forsey was one of the best writers and sharpest minds I’ve ever worked with.

She still freelances, including an article in the November issue of The Monitor (Chronic fishery management Confederation's dismal failure), a publication of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, on my call for an inquiry into the NL fisheries.

Eugene Forsey was a constitutional force to be reckoned with, and a Newfoundlander to the core.

Make no wonder.

His father, Eugene Sr., was a Methodist minister who worked on Newfoundland’s southwest coast, but ended up moving to Mexico for health reasons.

When his wife, Florence Elvira Bowles, became pregnant, Eugene Sr. sent her back to Newfoundland  – a place she had never seen – to have her baby.

“She travelled alone, by ship, from the Mexican port of Vera Cruiz to Havana and then New York; from there she sailed to St. John’s, where she took the coastal steamer south and westward along the rugged coast to Grand Bank. There, in the Forsey’s outport home, she gave birth to a son,” Helen Forsey writes of her father.

A Newfoundlander and a Grand Banker above all else.


Jan Slakov said...

Very moving tribute to a man I never knew, but who I have gotten to know thanks to his wonderful daughter, Helen.
Thank you, Ryan!

New Catholic said...

I read her book "Caboose at the Cape" and much was revealed about this lady. Her latest book about her father will Definitely be in my collection. He was a man who had a huge influence on Canada but who little is known about. This book should solve that problem.

New Catholic said...

I read her book "Caboose at the Cape" and learned much about Helen. My wife and I also met her at the Cape for a brief visit. This lates book should help show Canadians what influence her father had on the Canada we live in today. It will definitely be part of my collection.