Some days after Church I walk Eleanor to her apartment. As we walk we share stories of many kinds. The other day she was remembering what her mother told her about how she came to be named Eleanor. Some of you will remember that Eleanor’s mother, Lydia (Kilrea) Skuce (long time member of St. Martin’s and founder of the Nearly New Shoppe) was a prolific reader.
While she was expecting her baby, Lydia was known to have read some books by a woman named Elinor Glyn, née Sutherland (1864 – 1943) a British novelist and scriptwriter. This Elinor was born in Jersey, but came to Canada with her mother at two months of age after the death of her father. Elinor’s arrival in her grandparents’ home in Guelph, Ontario allowed her to be schooled in the ways of upper-class society which gave her an aristocratic sense of style. This served her well when she worked in Hollywood during the 1920’s and in 1928 Elinor even made a cameo appearance as herself in the film ‘Show People’. These accomplishments and the romance of it all led Lydia to name her daughter Eleanor. I am sure that you will agree that Elinor’s name sake has many similar talents and a flare for style. Eleanor laughed as she recounted that her husband’s half-brother Eddie Glynn also married an Eleanor, although there is no hint that the sister-in-law was also named for Elinor.
Eleanor grew up in Ottawa where she attended St. Mathews. She remembers attending Lisgar Collegiate where she was in the same year as Jean Chapman and Don was a few years ahead. Years later, the Director of Camp Pontiac (Vera Reynolds) invited Eleanor, Music Director at the time, to be her assistant. When Vera retired, Eleanor became the Director and ran the camp for many years. Each summer she would take her sons there as staff children. They enjoyed their time immensely and her son Greg became a good friend of John Chapman, now Bishop of Ottawa. Eleanor is still very saddened, but has accepted the reality of the camp being sold.
During her years at St. Martin’s, Eleanor ran quite a few bazaars with her good friend Enid Xhignesse. She has also delivered Sunday morning Bible readings, offered the Prayers of the People and been a Lay Administrator. Until recently she has been responsible for gathering the donated Campbell Soup Labels, stamps and drink can tabs and putting them into the system. She also played a key role in the Seder suppers which we have enjoyed over the years.
When Father John Organ arrived at St. Martin’s, he told Eleanor that he grew up in Newfoundland and that the evening before his first day at St. Martin’s he had watched a movie, set there called ‘The Rowdyman’. Eleanor then shared her story of being in Corner Brook for a weekend during the filming of that same movie and that her husband Tom Glynn had been the production manager for it and a Vice-President of Crawley Films. Many of the actors in the movie are well known to Canadians, for example Gordon Pinsent, and Will Geer who later played Grandpa on the Walton’s. When the movie premiered in Ottawa her son Rick convinced the hotel manager where Gordon Pinsent was staying for the event to let him into his room so that he could put a poster on his bed. This would never happen today and was probably a stretch then much to Eleanor’s amusement.
Eleanor has some favourite stories of her weekend in Corner Brook which included a drive out the Humber Arm to the sea with Tom, their children safely back in Ottawa with Lydia. Another is that a local restaurant completely closed down one evening so that the owner could put on a special dinner for the cast and crew of the film.