Parrywinkle, September 15, 2016

Over the years as a member of the Fourth Estate, I have interviewed so many fascinating people in - for me at least - some most unusual locations.

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MEMORABLE MOMENTS - The Captain of the ocean liner Queen Mary II on the legendary vessel's bridge, for example, while crossing the Atlantic from Southhampton to New York with my beautiful Sunshine in celebration of my 65th birthday a few years ago.

A mule skinner called Mike while descending and ascending the South Rim of the Grand Canyon in Arizona riding what had to be the most stubborn and orneriest mule in the whole wide world called Lightning while Mireille rode Lucky. And with certificates to prove it confirming that we are members of the renowned Order of the Master Mule Skinners of the Grand Canyon Trails “with rights and privileges to boast of this accomplished feat forevermore.”

Also a top tourism official for Newfoundland while we stomped in a bucket of freezing seawater and seaweed and imbibed a bountiful taste of local rum as I was inducted into the Royal Order of Newfoundland Screechers.

The unilingual German captain of a freighter carrying clinker and slag for road-building in my own halting version of the language of Goethe while ploughing across the North Sea from my home town of Middlesbrough, England, to Hamburg, Germany. And in a Force 8 gale no less just days before Christmas which I thought I might never see.

And then, also in England when I was covering the industrial beat for my alma mater, The Middlesbrough Gazette, there was the belligerent union official who hated the media and always shunned interviews. Until I discovered that, in private life, he was a fanatic about billiards and when I called him for an exclusive interview I just happened to mention that I was too.

Intrigued, he agreed to meet me at his favourite pool hall the next day. And I asked my first question while trying to figure out which ball, if any, I could at least hit, let alone sink into a pocket. It was immediately obvious to him that I'd never held a cue in my hands in my life. Which was a fact. But he said he admired my cheek and, over a couple of pints later, I got my exclusive interview to the astonishment of my editor!

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TAKING A PEW - All of which is to say that I have never before conducted an interview in an empty church. Until this past week, that is, when I sat in the front pew of St. James' Anglican Church in Hudson to introduce myself to the newly-arrived Minister there, the Rev. Sophie Rolland, for the purposes of this column. And what a truly remarkable and fascinating lady I discovered her to be.

PHOTO BY JAMES PARRY

Together with some of the church leaders at St. James’s Anglican Church - Laurie Tomita, Wilf & Bernice Hall, and Sue Campbell - the Rev. Sophie Rolland and her big pet pooch, who celebrates his 18-month birthday today (Thursday, September 15), take time out for the YLJ camera.

Born in Montreal, her Francophone father a Roman Catholic, her Anglophone Mom, Presbyterian. A graduate of the Université de Montréal. A scuba dive master in Thailand. For 15 years, a resident of Vancouver, B.C. where she studied law and would subsequently practice employment and labour law. Before deciding her real calling was the church, spending a year teaching in Jerusalem, and that the Anglican Church best reflected her personal beliefs in that it did not have strict dogmatic rules but rather, in her own words, that “if one prayed together one could come together.”

Oh yes, she also loves knitting, is taking woodworking courses, is following a workshop in mushroom identification, and is the proud owner of a magnificent 'gentle giant' Short Hair St. Bernard currently weighing in at 150 lbs., attending obedience classes at Guides Canin in St. Lazare, and celebrating his 18-month birthday this very day, Thursday, September 15!

Asked how she felt about her coming to Hudson to represent the Anglican Parish of Vaudreuil-Soulanges which also includes St. Mary's Church in Como, following her seven-years at the Church of the Resurrection in Pointe-Claire, Sophie told me she has already discovered it to be a very special beautiful part of the world. And, that very morning, she had also discovered 10 different types of mushrooms growing while walking her pet pooch and which she was going to research and identify by name. And that she planned on being here for quite a while!

At which point, interview concluded, I headed out to the volunteer-run, people-packed annual St. James' Consignment Sale in search of my own discoveries. Which I found. But that, dear readers, is another story!

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THE VALLEY MEN COMETH - Meanwhile, over at another church in Hudson, with a reference back to Newfoundland, and if you are a fan of choral music with a twist and more particularly of male choirs, then Wyman Memorial United is the place to be this Saturday, September 17, when The Valley Men will be giving a free performance starting at 4 p.m.

Based in Ottawa, this amateur choir, 20-plus members in all, will be offering a varied selection of songs, from Broadway to sacred music to traditional and folk, and everything in-between. Perhaps including The Beatles' Michelle, Mac Beattie’s Log Driver’s Song, Let There Be Peace On Earth, or even Fauré’s Cantique de Jean Racine. And, of course, their signature piece, We Are the Valley Men.

Intrigued to learn from Wyman secretary Doris Elliott that The Valley Men have been doing what they do for quite some time. Founded in 1994 for the specific purpose of 'taking a musical message of hope to areas of Newfoundland and Labrador devastated by the closing of the Cod Fishery,' they were so inspired by the success of this venture that they elected to keep touring. Inspiring local fundraising as they went. And that was 22 years ago.

Since then, their travels have taken them all through the Maritimes, across Quebec, and deep into Ontario, as far as Sault Ste. Marie and Sudbury. Their goal, their basic purpose, is pretty simple. To help local charities raise funds by doing what they do best and enjoy the most. Namely performing.

Moreover, they do so at no cost to the sponsors, covering all their own travel and other expenses. To encourage maximum participation and in the spirit of the 'No One Left Behind' principle, they do suggest, however, that, all things being equal, their 'preferred method of fund-raising' is a free-will offering rather than set-price ticket sales.

Regardless, all revenues remain with the sponsoring charitable organization which, in this case, is Wyman Memorial at 513 Main Road. As someone who cannot warble a note, even though I have been likened to Willie Nelson without a voice over the years, can't wait. And hope to see you there!

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MOVING MOVIES - And still on the entertainment scene, Hudson cinephiles, Clint Ward, Jamie Nicholls, Susan Corbett, and Roy Vuorela are in Toronto this weekend checking out the latest releases at the internationally-acclaimed Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) for possible screening here at some future date at the Hudson Village Theatre.

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CAT-ASTROPHIC - In closing, let's move on the wildlife scene. A few weeks ago, I bumped into a staunch supporter of preserving our feathered friends in the region. House cats, she told me, are creating carnage among our aviation population and she was seriously considering proposing to Hudson Town Council that a by-law be introduced that would keep the furry felines indoors. Every day. Twelve months a year. I nodded politely, silently thinking to myself well good luck with that one lady!

Well blow me down with a feather if I didn't read in the National Post this week that two ladies by the name of Laurel Woodhill and Hilda Littman who live in Kitimat - and I'm not making this up - out in B.C. are proposing that very same thing to their local council.

Contending that with some 500 cats in their town that, if they kill two birds a day each, it adds up to 1,000 birds daily. That's 30,000 birds a month. Totaling 360,000 birds every year just in their small community.

Don't want to be catty. But waddya think?

And that's a wrap!

E-mail: creation@videotron.ca

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