We crossed paths on the sidewalk in my neighborhood in front of a church. He spontaneously commented “This must be a Newfoundland Church, dedicated to the Glory of Cod.” It took me a moment to catch his humor as he pointed to the cornerstone (see comment photo) “To The Glory of God.” I burst out laughing, partly at his irreverent quip and partly at it having been so unexpected, coming from a complete stranger. (For non-Canadians, Newfoundland is one of Canada’s maritime provinces, known for its reliance on cod fishing.)
I was intrigued by this stranger’s wit and also thought he would be an excellent portrait subject for my project so I introduced myself and my project and he said “I have no problem with that. How do you want to do it?” Meet Peter, who thought I would want to move him to the bright sunlight but I explained shade was best and suggested using the brick corner of the church as a background because it was near and I felt the tones would suit his complexion and jacket.
Photos taken, we chatted. Peter is 77 and came to Toronto as a young man from his native New Brunswick. When I asked what brought him to Toronto he explained that he had written a coming of age novel and was invited to Toronto to arrange a publishing deal with McClelland and Stewart Publishing. He explained that the publication of his book led to a career as Vice President of Marketing with the publishing house. The book is Whatcha Gonna Do Boy… Whatcha Gonna Be? It has subsequently been republished by Fitzhenry and Whiteside Publishing. It was also turned into a move and a radio play by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. You can read Peter’s bio here: w3.stu.ca/stu/sites/nble/t/taylor_peter.html. I told Peter I wanted get the book from the library and read it. He has published other works and said he is currently writing on a biography of Jack McClelland, an icon in the Canadian publishing industry and past President of McClelland and Steward Publishing. “He was a lovely man.” (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_McClelland_(publisher))
Peter’s advice to his younger self? “Write more.” His biggest challenge in life? “I was a single parent for a dozen years and as rewarding as it was, being a single parent is also a big challenge.” His advice to the project? “Enjoy life. We are only here once.”
As we were completing our chat, a man came our way from the other side of the busy street and Peter called out to him and explained to me that it’s a friend of his. The man chastised Peter, saying “Don’t ever distract me like that when I’m crossing a busy street.” Peter’s reply (with a mischievous smile) was “I was kind of hoping you’d get hit by a car.”
Thanks, Peter, for taking a few minutes to get acquainted and for taking part in my Human Family photo project. I look forward to reading your book and I’m glad you initiated our interaction with your quip about the church cornerstone. It was a pleasure meeting you.
This is my 328th submission to The Human Family Group on Flickr.
You can view more street portraits and stories by visiting The Human Family.
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