Tuesday morning at 11:00 a.m., I visited Government House for a Courtesy Visit, hosted by His Honour the Honourable John C. Crosbie, Lieutenant Governor of Newfoundland and Labrador, and his wife, Her Honour Jane Furneaux Crosbie. I had the privilege to meet IODE members, Cindy Butler, Edna Duffet, Alicia Eaton and Elizabeth Laverty prior to our formal introductions to Their Honours. Once refreshments were served in a formal sitting room, we visited with Their Honours, discussing various aspects of IODE and His Honour’s project of raising funds for monuments to commemorate tragedies which occurred in 1914, when 252 of the country’s sealers died in two separate but simultaneous disasters involving the SS Newfoundland and SS Southern Cross.
During our conversation, Her Honour spoke of a tree that has recently been planted on the grounds of Government House, and invited us to see the gardens. Once back inside, we toured various rooms to view magnificent art work and see Their Honours mementos on display. One item of note was a portrait of King William IV by Helen Parsons Shepherd which was commissioned by IODE members of the province in commemoration of the Silver Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, dated 20 November 1978.
Her Honour has not met Janet McNaughton, the winning author of the 2012 IODE Violet Downey Book Award who lives in St. John’s, but seemed very interested in her writing. I offered to send her a copy of Dragon Seer’s Gift for her and her grandchildren to read, and she accepted.
Immediately after our visit with Their Honours, I met Janet McNaughton for lunch at the Hungry Heart Café, a few blocks away from Government House. We discussed Janet’s many books which were and are written mainly in the morning, accompanied by her pet parakeet, Merlin. Janet informed us that she had written a prequel to Dragon Seer’s Gift, entitled Dragon Seer, which was shortlisted for three awards: the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award and both the Young Adult Book Award and Book of the Year by the Canadian Library Association. Janet is a member of the Board of the Children’s Book Centre and volunteers with many other groups. Following lunch, I drove Janet home, with plans to meet with her again on Thursday evening for the IODE dinner. Janet presented me with autographed copies of both Dragon Seer and Dragon Seer’s Gift.
On Wednesday and Thursday, I investigated several hotels and possible venues for optional tours for the 2015 National Annual Meeting and Convention. Following these meetings, I visited The Rooms, a beautiful, glassed museum and art gallery high on a hill overlooking downtown St. John’s, where we enjoyed an excellent lunch in the Red Oak restaurant. For those who have not read Dragon Seer’s Gift, it is to be noted that part of the story line takes place in The Rooms and in the Kirk which I could see from the restaurant. Late that afternoon, still foggy and raining, I picked up Janet McNaughton at her home and drove to the Lion’s Club Den on Mineral Road in Conception Bay South for a Jigg’s Dinner with IODE members from the area.
Before dinner, I had the opportunity to visit with forty members and their many guests in attendance. Alicia Eaton, Chair of the Coordinating Committee introduced the head table: National Councillors Edna Duffet, Barbara Eddy, Bertha Powell, and guest Janet McNaughton, Carrie Gosse, Ellaline Smith and your President. Kerrie Gosse-Eason, daughter of Carrie Gosse arrived shortly after with her young daughter.
Following a blessing for the meal, given by National Councillor Bertha Powell, a most hearty Jigg’s dinner was served, followed by a pudding with a special sauce for dessert!
I had the privilege to introduce Janet and while doing so, projected the covers of her winning IODE Violet Downey Books, To Dance at the Palais Royale, 1997, and Dragon Seer’s Gift, 2012, along with the cover of the prequel to Dragon Seer’s Gift, Dragon Seer.
Janet spoke briefly about her writing process and how thrilled she was to receive from IODE her very first book award. Janet gave a brief synopsis of the lineage of the characters in Dragon Seer’s Gift and the location of the story in the residential area around The Rooms.
Following the presentation of the National Membership Campaign speech, Making Connections, and a visit to each table to distribute the membership invitations cards with a request that each member ask one woman to join IODE, we left for our drive back to St. John’s on a clear evening.
Friday, I flew home, very happy to have experienced the friendship, warmth and hospitality of our Newfoundland members. I thank Alicia Eaton and the Presidents of IODE Caribou, Father of Confederation, Shore of Nine Points and Sir Wilfred Grenfell Chapters for their invitation to visit St. John’s, a most unique and colourful city. I had a wonderful and memorable trip to Newfoundland.
The National Membership Campaign has now been heard coast to coast and in the Yukon. It is my fervent hope that our members embrace the message that each must become a Membership and Public Relations ‘Officer’ to ensure the longevity of our organization. I truly believe that each member can make a difference. Growing membership by Making Connections is the key to the future of IODE.