Following are the comments I made at a memorial service at Beechwood Cemetery in Ottawa on Saturday May 17 for Ed Kinsman - a friend, teaching colleague and neighbour.
When Ed Kinsman retired from teaching in June 1998, I was asked by some colleagues to say a few words about Ed’s life and career at the OSSTF Annual meeting. I felt honoured to do so. I was told to keep my remarks brief, which I ignored.
I said at the time that this was not the definitive life and times of Ed Kinsman. Rather it was “Impression of Ed” from a colleague, neighbour and friend. What follows is an adaptation and updating and slight condensation of my remarks 10 years ago.
I don’t know a lot about Ed’s early life in the Annapolis Valley, but I do know he worked in a bank for a time. At one stage he considered taking courses in animal sciences. He dropped that idea when he realized that he would be spending much of his life, as he said, “looking at the wrong end of a cow.” He told me the story of how he embarked on a career in the military, deciding to enlist while spending a few hours one day in Halifax waiting for a train back home. I remember asking him how he liked the military, and was a bit surprised by his enthusiastic response “I loved it” he said “All you had to do was your work – everything else was taken care of.”
In the early 1960’s Ed had transferred from the army to a government agency and was living and working in Ottawa, where he met a young Ottawa woman, Pam Irvine who was working at Carleton university. Pam & Ed married in 1963 and later Ed worked on his degree at Carleton, graduating with a B.A. in Geography.
Ed began his teaching career at Smiths Falls D.C.I. in September 1969. I know he saved the clipping from the local newspaper showing all the new teachers. Normally I would find it hard to believe that somebody started teaching that long ago and stayed at the same school for his entire teaching career before retiring in 1998. However, I am also in the same photo - & I retired 2 years after Ed. Other colleagues who are in the same photo include Peter Au, Pat Tobey and Fred Hesketh, familiar names to some of you.
In his career as a geography teacher and Department Head, Ed was probably best known for his Grade 11 field camp in the spring – an experience that combined the talents of other colleagues and departments to provide a popular cross-curricular experience for hundreds of students. For several years, Ed served his fellow teachers as one of his school’s representatives on the federation’s collective bargaining committee. Along with John Parnell, he organized two cross-Canada bus tours and he also organized the first Students Against Drunk Driving chapters in an Ontario high school. For his efforts with SADD he received an award from the Attorney General of Ontario.
Away from school, Ed developed an expertise and business sideline in the field of antiques. I remember waving to Ed countless times as he drove past our home especially early many summer mornings, most likely on his way to another Joynt auction. He was also an accomplished painter.
For about 20 years our 2 families lived fairly close to each other – for much of that time within a mile of each other on Hunter Road. Along with many others we enjoyed their hospitality each Christmas season, when Pam & Ed opened their home to friends and neighbours. This is a tradition that continues on the road today, but on a rotating basis and with much less potent eggnog.
One of the most important aspects of Ed Kinsman’s life was that he was from Nova Scotia. Not only from Nova Scotia, but of Nova Scotia and it was to Nova Scotia that he returned on his retirement. When I mentioned Ed’s passing to a former student, Greg Anderson now a teacher at Perth DCI, what he recalled first about Ed was love for Nova Scotia. “He talked about it every day” Greg said.
Ed retired to the beautiful community of Mahone Bay on the south shore, where he continued to be interested and involved in many activities including Chairman of his Condo Association, a Volunteer with the Annual Wooden Boat Festival, the Scarecrow Festival and the Antiques Show. He was also a member of the local Genealogical Society, the Planning Advisory Committee and the Conservation Association. Liz & I had the pleasure of visiting Pam & Ed twice in his early years of retirement. They were wonderful hosts and Ed was a great ambassador for his community and province.
Ed Kinsman was highly regarded by his students, friends, colleagues, neighbours and community. The following short poem expresses my sentiments about Ed's influence.
When we no longer move within this life
echoes of us within the air resound
crows forever wakeful at their task.
- E.D. Blodgett
Echoes of Ed Kinsman will resound for a long time.