Rosemary Ganley The Peterborough Examiner July 15, 2021
Peterborough Flood 2004
Would you like the serious or the playful story first?
OK, the playful.
A few are old enough to remember the Peterborough Flood of 2004. It was a sudden, severe downpour that backed up all our sewers, flooded hundreds of basements, and made national news. There was even a photo of a beaver waddling across George Street.
Mayor Sylvia Sutherland knew of the misery experienced by poor families and individuals in basement apartments. There was no loss of life, but lots of sodden furnishings that couldn’t be saved.
She called together a group of older women to brainstorm how we could help. Having just seen the British movie “Calendar Girls” about a group of Englishwomen of a certain age raising money for cancer research, she determined we should make a tasteful but somewhat provocative calendar of photos of local women, all well- known and possessing a sense of humour, unclothed from the waist up. But with artfully placed props.
After some cups of wine at Erica Cherney’s house, we studied one another and offered suggestions. For example, “In this town you are known for care of babies.” That was the well-loved Dr. Joyce Barrett. “We’ll need to find some small children for you to hold.” Done.
For her play-writing and for founding Showplace, Beth McMaster appeared as Miss April 2005 in front of an old-fashioned typewriter. For me, I was often referred to as “the Jamaica lady,” so a large globe did the trick.
We had a talented Peterborough photographer named Michael Cullen. He said, “I’ll take the pictures in black and white, and I’ll do it in memory of my mother. (And no, she wouldn’t have done this). I’ll bring my 15-year-old daughter to the shoots so you won’t be nervous.”
Mayor Sylvia talked business leader Ross Smith into assuming the costs of the project, and she planned a gala launch at the Red Oak Inn, where we all wore black and pearls.
It turned out to be a community hit. Sold out. Young men bought them for their mothers and grandmothers. Doctors wanted them for their offices, and for the mammography clinic. Josephine Mewett, a minister who posed with a strategic clerical stole, was calm. “I’ll just leave town for a few days,” she said.
Funds raised were $200,000.
Seventeen years pass. We lose some Calendar Girls. A pandemic prevents tea parties. Then in June, we gather outdoors, since we are fewer than 10, all over 80 years of age.
A neighbour offers to do the refreshments and asks that we donate to the Kawartha Wildlife Centre.
Such a shallow grasp those trustees have of the basics of their faith, and the example of their prophet. Such a misreading of the spirit of the times. Such an inability to see that they are hastening their system’s demise.
These trustees had received more than 200 letters in support of the Pride flag. Chair David Bernier said it was the most divisive issue he had seen in 20 years. Matters of sex will do that, especially for those on the wrong side of history.
I often cover the Catholic Church because I have known it so long and in so many contexts: some positive, some negative. Religion remains an important reality, in personal lives, in families and in politics.
The American Catholic bishops even more than our own, are busy self-destructing over whether Good Joe Biden should present himself to receive communion. In such times I despair of the institution and its celibate, exclusively male, leadership.
Many voices are calling for a reset of the Catholic understanding of sexuality, away from doctrine and dogma, and toward the lives and commitments of real people.
Better theology is the start.
"Gleanings" is Rosemary Ganley's new book. You can purchase directly from the author at at firstname.lastname@example.org or from >Amazon<