Captain RF (Richard Francis) Fawcett was the first islander my husband and I met on the very day we moved to Wolfe Island 22 years ago, a cold November day. It was 'RF' who told us about the tightly knit community we had come to, about loyalty among families, and about the island way of life we had chosen to be come part of. And about the ferry. ” It is a way of life. You will either love it or hate it,” he said. (He also got our moving truck unstuck after unloading-he was that kind of neighbour!)
Throughout the ensuing years, it was he who told us about the people and life on the island in the old days, his time on council, growing up on the farm, his dedication to the Anglican Church community, fishing- commercial and otherwise, and of course the development of the Wolfe Island ferry service, where he served as 'Captain' for more than 30 years (retiring in 1988),
RF shared the home he made with his wife and best friend Marette (LaRush) and his family with us, with everyone in fact. Their door was always open, the kitchen table beckoning and the coffee at the hand. And of course the history and stories of the island he loved so much, flowed…
Captain RF Fawcett died (Dec.9th in his 90th year) quietly while waiting with Marette by his side in the line-up for the ferry. Leaving to mourn are their children, Barry, Heather, Kelly, Semoine, Annette and their families, grandchildren and great grand children..
At this moment the flags on the Wolfe Islander III and at the terminal are at half mast, acknowledging his passing. “The signal pennants up forward read: Romeo, Foxtrot, 2nd Repeater for: R F F,” according to Brian Johnson, Senior Captain on the Wolfe Islander, who speaks often of RF's influence in shaping his career. “It is the end of an era,” he said. “But, oh the memories, RF let me steer the older boat when I was about five years old, I wouldn't let go of the wheel! I guess I never did! I will miss him -“
Most recently RF's picture graced the front page of the WI Historical Society's newsletter honouring his service on the ferry and to the community. One of Captain Fawcett's last public appearances was at the island's annual November 11th Remembrance Day Service, where he placed a wreath together with fellow Canadian veteran of the Merchant Navy WWII, Vernal Yott. The funeral service was held at Trinity Anglican Church. RIP.
Afghanistan has been battleground at the crossroads of Asia since the time of Alexander the Great (700BC) according to Wolfe Island resident, a member of Canada's military, Colonel David Patterson. “As a society Afghans are stressed out,” he said likening their state to post traumatic stress disorder.
Patterson recently returned from a year-long tour serving with the (US) 10th Mountain Division (Fort Drum N.Y.) in Southern Afghanistan where he was the Executive Officer to the Deputy Commanding General for Operations at Regional Headquarters, and also Chief of Operations and intelligence and Senior Mentor at the Operations Coordination Centre. He was speaking at a meeting of the WI Historical Society where he presented first a brief history of Afghanistan governance, noting that Afghanistan has had many governments and regimes. They knew a stable period between 1940 -1970's, a communist led revolution in 1978 followed by the Soviet invasion in 1979. Following the departure of the Russians in 1989 , a seven year civil war ensued which eventually led to the rise of the Taliban, who eventually became more severe in their interpretation of Islam. “
“So for 33 years and counting, Afghanistan has basically been at war which really colours peoples' perceptions,” Patterson said. ” But it was the 9/11 attacks on the United States which led to the initial 2001 US led invasion of Afghanistan in which Canada participated, and the Taliban's initial defeat setting the stage for a new government.” (The city of Kabul was ISAP and NATO territory while the rest was US). ” However the Iraq invasion in 2003 took away resources from Afghanistan which led to the Taliban reasserting their control particularly in the south in 2005, ” he said adding that between 2003-06 NATO began to expand its influence over the mission and Canada returned with larger force always with a development focus (schools,infrastructure, roads)and of building the Afghan army and Police force. It was in 2009 that US President Obama announced a surge of troops by 30,000, from 70,000 to 100,000 into the south. While the Canadian mission has come to an end, Canada still has some troops in a training role with a focus on development. The Afghan army (12,000) and Police force (9,000) continues to grow in Kandahar province.
Colonel Patterson went on to describe his personal experiences, the people he has met, their love of family, their formality until they know you, their love of gardens, (turning in one instance what was a soccer field into a garden), picnics ( “roads make it possible now”), love of clothes and celebrating feasts. He spoke also of the challenges facing Afghans, literacy, health care, dependency, education, poppy growth or not, who to trust and the practicalities of life housing, transportation, getting produce, cantaloupes, pomegranates, (“best in the world”), to public markets, developing mineral resources, etc. He spoke also of Pakistan and of the Afghan's distrust.
David noted the return of elders into the communities. He spoke of his job including his relations with the Afghan army and police, their increasing numbers, training and housing them. He noted their improving ability to take the lead in many situations but cited literacy (“task to get them to grade 3”), and money drying up as an ongoing problem.
“Afghanistan is a frontier at a crossroads,” Colonel Patterson said. “Between now and 2014 Afghan's must generate forces, and take more control. The next year 2012 is critical for them. As American and NATO troupes leave we must be able to reassure them that there will continue to be support across the region,” he concluded A lively question period followed. Colonel Patterson has now been assigned to 1 Division at CFB Kingston.
Around Town: A great Christmas Tree has been erected in the Town Square on Wolfe Island. The tree was a gift from resident Theresa James and was cut and put in place by Roly Jensen.
Coming Events: * Smoking Cessation WI Community Medical Clinic Thursday December 8th, 7PM Speaker: Vince Martin (Kingston Family Health Team) *The W.I. Santa Claus Parade Saturday, Dec. 10th leaves from the Fire Hall at 3:30 pm. Festivities following the parade take place at the Opening of the RINK at the Community Centre grounds. * Frontenac Island Council meets on Howe Island, Monday, Dec. 12, 2011 at 6:30 pm
Wolfe Island's Christmas Elves have been out in full force decorating Marysville in anticipation of Christmas. The hanging of the green Christmas wreaths, this year's predominant theme are everywhere brightening up this rather dreary time of year creating a sense of expectation.. At the Wolfe Island Town Hall the lighted Nativity scene in a small glass case sits on the top step for all to see and to think about as they walk or drive by.
And in our local churches last Sunday, the season of Advent, marking the four weeks before Christmas (a time of hope) which has as its focus the celebration of the birth of Jesus the Christ was acknowledged with the lighting of an Advent wreath's first candle.
And on that same Sunday at Sacred Heart of Mary Church Fr. Raymond De Souza celebrated Mass using for the first time a new more formal version of the Roman Missal slated for introduction on this 1st Advent Sunday, which marks the beginning of a new liturgical year in the RC Church.
The Ecumenical “Advent Lessons & Carols Service” this year will be held at Sacred Heart of Mary Church following the 9:30 Sunday Mass on Dec. 11th , with parishioners from the WI United Church and Trinity Anglican. It will be led by a guest choir from Newman House in Kingston
What other news of Wolfe Island?:* A very successful Christmas Market took place at St. Margaret's Hall where local artists, knitters, hookers, sewers and crafters, as well as candy/chocolate makers and bakers presented a wonderful variety of items for sale. Where also the winners in the 2011 Wolfe Island- Camera Kingston photo contest were also announced at the Market . Please note names and winning photos will be posted on the www.wolfeisland.com website as they become available. * Unfortunately the annual Turkey Supper at St. Margaret's Hall had to be cancelled, * It is fundraising time for the Wolfe Island Early Years Centre as it is all the time. They recently held a Mom 2 Mom sale of gently used children's clothes-furniture-toys-books-movies. Recycling is big on the island. * The WI Historical Society's speakers series continues on Nov. 30 when WI's Colonel David Paterson who recently returned from a year-long tour serving with the 10th Mountain Division (U.S.) in Southern Afghanistan, presents, “Inside the Surge: A Canadian Perspective.”Colonel Patterson has over the years been an active citizen and faithful contributor to the success of the island's Remembrance Day service on the island, this year standing together with fellow islanders also Afghanistan veterans Corporal Simon Berry, and Master Corporal Jamie Sanford * The Wednesday Lunch Bunch “Travel Around the World” series sponsored by the WI Network for a Healthy Community has been a tremendous success . The series continues until Dec. 14th The Shanti Yoga Retreat continues with a very busy schedule of events 613-385-9912 www.shantiretreat.ca. Since their arrival owners Wendy and Darin have opened the centre to the community for specific local events. * As of this date the ferry continues to operate from the dock in Marysville. Much work has been going on in preparation for the installation of a new passenger waiting facility. According to MTO, lowering water levels at this time of year are watched very carefully. If the ferry was damaged as result of hitting something there is no backup ferry available. Then what? Thus the generally inevitable move to the winter dock. COMING Events: Welcome to a Wonderful Family Friendly Event, the W.I. Volunteer Fire Department invites you to their annual Santa Claus Parade, Saturday, Dec. 10th The parade leaves from the Fire Hall at 3:30 pm winding its way through Marysville. Floats are welcome. Festivities after the Parade take place at the Opening of the RINK at the Community Centre grounds where it is hoped the artificial ice maker will be up and running. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: JAMES WHITE 613- 385-2449, TIM HAWKINS 613 -385-2329