“I was at Beck from 1928 until I graduated in 1933. I think Mr. Langford came to Beck in 1931. He’d been teaching in Sudbury.

            “As a student, I admired Mr. Langford tremendously. I think if you like a teacher, you usually do much better. For instance, I wasn’t very good in Mathematics. I passed all right, but I wasn’t very good. English, I really loved, and with a good teacher, I always did very well. I don’t know how to put it, but if you’re an English teacher and you have a student who loves English, I’m sure the teachers feel just as differently toward you as you do toward them.

            “Now I came from a working class family. My father was killed in W.W.1. My mother was a widow and worked in a hosiery mill. That meant we were REALLY a working class family. The way I put it, I appreciate things MORE than someone who’d been given things when they were younger. Our holiday was, once a year my mother would take us to Port Stanley on the train. We’d go quite early and spend the WHOLE day at Port Stanley, and we LOVED it!

            “One day at Beck --and I can almost tell the formation of the clouds that day -- Fred said to me: ‘If you are ambitious and wish to gain social mobility, there’s no better tool than a good command of the English language.’

            “That made such an impact on me, because I WAS ambitious, and I really took that to heart. I always try to speak well and to write well. I credit Fred for that.

            “In W.W.2, I served with an armored regiment. When I was in Rome, I went to the Protestant Cemetery and picked a shamrock from John Keats’ grave. I put that shamrock in a letter and sent it to Mr. Langford. He talked about that many, many times.

            “When I came back after the war, I had an younger brother at Beck. I saw Fred then and on many different occasions in the following years, especially when he became a widower.

            “Fred had a brother named Clancy. Clancy was a retired English teacher who lived in Toronto. When I had to make a call in Kitchener or maybe Burlington, I’d call Fred up the night before and say, ‘Listen, Fred, I’ve got to go to Toronto. I’ve got to stop in Kitchener for a few minutes and make a call, but I’ll have you at Clancy’s before lunch’.

            “I’d leave Fred with his brother, and later we’d meet in front of the Royal York Hotel. I’d maneuver things so that I’d drive in front of the hotel at 5:30 or maybe on some occasions, 6 o’clock. I’m not saying I did it a hundred times, but I did that a LOT of times. He loved that, because he had a chance to visit with his brother and then spend a nice day with me. Through that, we became very good friends.

            “Then when ‘I’ retired, we took trips together. He was good company. He was also a great man and a most interesting person and highly respected by every one. Without doubt, his proudest moment was graduating from Queens. It was paramount to him.

            “Fred was born in Lucan. His father owned a lumberyard, ‘Langford Lumber’. It’s still there. Isn’t that something! Langford Lumber is still in business. Fred’s other brother carried on the lumber business.

            “When Fred was married to Ottes, they lived on Riverside Drive opposite the Thames Valley Golf Course. After Ottes died, he got sort of a bachelor place that was owned by Sifton’s. Fred lived until he was 98 years old. I think he died in 1996.

            “Now, Mr. Dolan was Beck’s first principal, and he was also principal when I went there. I never had any trouble with him, but I didn’t particularly like him. No one else liked him either. He was a bit cold.

            “One day when Fred and I were driving back from Toronto, Fred told me something about Mr. Dolan. This was typical of Fred. ‘Ian,’ he said, ‘ Mr. Dolan is quite a wonderful man in his own way.’ Mr. Dolan had some money, and Fred told me at least a dozen Beck Collegiate students were put through university by Mr. Dolan. They wouldn’t have had that chance unless Mr. Dolan had done that.

            “Long after Mr. Dolan was retired, I happened to meet him in Jimmy White’s downtown barbershop. The barbershop was downstairs and on the opposite side of Dundas Street from the Capital and Loew’s theatres.

            “As I said, Mr. Dolan was there, and I stopped and talked to him. I don’t know exactly what I said, but the idea of it was this: ‘Mr. Dolan, you weren’t a hero of mine at the time I went to Beck, but you are today.’

            “Mr. Dolan had recognized me right away. ‘Oh Ian, why did you say that?’ he asked. I explained I was a good friend of Mr. Langford. ‘Mr. Langford told me that at least a dozen worthy students would never have had a college education without your help. That makes you a hero in my eyes.’

            “Mr. Dolan was visibly moved.

            “Isn’t it wonderful how you can change your mind! I still didn’t have any warm feelings toward him. He just wasn’t a warm man, but thanks to Fred, I came to respect what Mr. Dolan had done.”



            “Did you know Fred was in the Air Force? He was a pilot in the First World War and served in the Royal Canadian Air Force.”

            “You know an interesting thing about Mr. Dolan’s daughter, Katie, Beck’s first librarian? Katie left one MILLION dollars to Queens University when she died. Like Fred, she was a Queens grad."

Colonel Ian Haldane - Additional war information:

            “In the Second World War, I went to an officer’s training camp in Gordon Head, B.C. In March 1943 I was sent as a reinforcement officer to 8NBH (abbreviated for 8th Princess Louise's New Brunswick Hussars) in Crowborough, England. I served in Italy in November 1943 and NorthWest-Europe early 1945. The regiment was equipped with Sherman tanks, but I never had to drive one.

            “Being in that regiment was one of the luckiest things that ever happened to me. I made a lot of wonderful friends. The war did some good. In training, for instance, we gained knowledge of other parts of Canada. People from Ontario (as in my case) went to the Maritimes and somebody from the Maritimes went to a British Columbia regiment.

            “What I saw --what all of us saw, if you survived-- well, it was the greatest experience of your life. Of course, the trick was to survive."





Copyright Carol Lowe   August 16, 2004


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