January 26, 2016




Lets continue last week’s writing conversation.


The Inside Story


The Inside Story


The Special Olympics And A Special Wedding

I represented Red at the first Special Olympics ever held in Quebec, on St. Helen Island in Montreal.  Then we flew to Washington to attend two events hosted by the Kennedy Foundation.  The first was a seminar on the rights of intellectually handicapped, attended by Senator Edward Kennedy and Mother Teresa.  The second was the presentation of a Kennedy award to Jean Vanier, son of the former Governor General and founder of l’Arche community homes for the intellectually handicapped.  Some time later we flew with a television crew to West Palm Beach to interview Rose Kennedy.  The footage was used as part of our campaign to raise money for the Special Olympics in Canada.

But the highlight of my time with Red Foster did not involve big names people.  It involved the intellectually handicapped themselves.  One event stands out – the first Canadian National Special Olympics, which were held at the CNE and Ontario Place in June 1971.  Enormous preparation had gone organizing these games and teams had been entered from all ten provinces.  On a warm June evening, the opening ceremonies took place on the track in front of the grandstand at the CNE grounds.  There they all were – the dignitaries, the Lieutenant Governor in the gold braid, Premier William Davis and his wife, city officials, aides in their glittering uniforms, the milliary, bands and cheerleaders.

Then I looked down the track.  A band came into view, its martial music reverberating through the grandstand.  Next, from each of the ten provinces came bearers with their banners and flags gently flapping in the warm breeze.  And behind the banners came the special athletes, the Olympians, carrying in their hearts their special oath:  “Let me win.  But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”  Some of them stumbled a bit, others walked haltingly, still others tried to do a little jig, but all waved and smiled at the rest of us in a kind of happy blessing.  I smiled back at them, these special people.  I looked at their faces warm in the setting sun and watched them dancing to the music – and suddenly I reach out to them, to respond to their courage and their love.  And I started to cry.

During this exiting period working for Red Foster, I had plenty of time to socialize and make new friends, such as Bill Belyea who helped me navigate the workday world.  Denise and I saw less and less of each other as I tried to put old patterns behind me.  My counsellor at Southdown, Mark Eveson, warned me to make no major decision for at least a year.  But that left plenty of room for action.  I took up ballroom dancing, joining a group called Hiatus which billed itself as an Arts and Letters Society with a sense of humour.  And I met several women with whom I had brief relationships but no commitments.

Not until the beginning of 1972, that is, I was hosting a social evening for Hiatus at my house.  The speaker was Professor Ramsay Cook, probably English-Canada’s leading expert on Quebec nationalism.  In the course of the evening I met another member of Hiatus.  She was tall and slim, had blond hair and striking blue eyes, and her name was Catharine Fleming Turnbull.  Some time later we met again on the dance floor at another Hiatus party.  I was intrigued and asked her out for dinner and more dancing.  I sensed that somehow Catharine was different from other women.  We had a long, inconclusive discussion about appropriate sexual behavior and that is where we left it.

Six months later the phone rang in my office.  It was Catharine calling from her office.  She was a speech writer with the Ontario Ministry of Education at Queen’s Park.  Had I seen the reference to my Hepburn book in The Globe and Mail?  Indeed I had, which was not important.  What was important was the phone call unleashed an emotional avalanche that moved with blinding speed and quick engulfed us both.

To be continued…

Visit the book shop!!! click here

Jean P.












January 21, 2016

Here is another episode of EXCHANGE, Neil’s radio show on CJAD.

This episode talks about reincarnation.


Jean P.


January 20, 2016




Since I recently decided to stop smoking, why not an old post from Neil on the subject.



Today is the  first day of Quebec-Tobacco-Free Week.  As of now fewer Quebeckers are trying to quit smoking.  And get this:  28 Quebeckers a day die from smoking.

Now consider the world scene: six  trillion cigarettes are sold a year  – an all-time high.  Six  million people die each year from smoking – more than from AIDS, malaria and traffic accidents combined.

Professor Robert Proctor is coming out with a new book in which he advocates banning cigarettes.  Education he says is not enough.  “Tobacco control policy too often centres on educating the public, when it should be focused on fixing or eliminating the product.

Professor Proctor wants two things to happen right away: the nicotine in cigarettes should be limited to a level at which they would cease to be addictive.  Smokers who want to quit would find it easier to do so.

Secondly, regulators should require that cigarette smoke be more alkaline, making it less easily inhaled and harder for it to reach the lungs.

As Professor Proctor says not guns or bombs are the deadliest artefacts in history.  If we want to save  lives and improve health nothing else readily achievable would be as effective as an international BAN on their sale.

Second  hand cigarette smoke hurts those who don’t smoke.

A ban on cigarettes would not be like Prohibition.  After all, millions would be delighted to get off the weed.

This week Quebec’s union workers are being urged every time they come across a smoker, they will do a quick intervention, just three or four minutes long.

Would you intervene with a friend or acquaintance to stop smoking?

Should cigarettes be banned?

Jean P.






January 19, 2016

The Inside Story

By Neil McKenty


The Special Olympics And A Special Wedding

Early in November, 1969, I went to see the Jesuit provincial’s assistant, Father Ed Dowling, to tell him of my decision to leave the Jesuits.  He was understanding and supportive – as were the provincial himself, Father Angus Macdougall, and all my other Jesuit friends and associates.  There was no hint of blame, no mention of the enormous sums of money the Jesuits had invested in my education and my health through a period of twenty-five years.  Quite the contrary – I was invited to stay in my old room at Hawthorne Gardens until I could find a job.

So it was with optimism and enthusiasm that I began my job search in mid-November.  Far from being stressed, once I had made the decision to leave the Jesuits, I experienced a feeling of peace, energy and well-being, in a word – liberation.  This was perhaps the first mature decision I had ever made, mature in the sense that it was not dictated by the expectations of other people.  So, looking for work, sometimes lining up as many as three or four appointments a day, was an adventure.  Within six weeks of my forty-fifth birthday I was excited as a teenager about what exciting prospects lay just around the corner.

I looked where I thought I had some strength – communications and publishing.  An editorial position with a large publishing house fell through at the last minute as did another at TVOntario.  I declined an entry-level reportorial job at The Globe And Mail.  Then, at the suggestion of Father Gordie George, I went to see Harry E. ”Red” Foster, the founder and owner of the successful advertising firm bearing his name.

Red Foster, then sixty-four, was a big man in body – he had been a star football player on the Balmy Beach Grey Cup champions – and a big man in spirit (a dynamic, ebullient mixture of business tycoon E.P. Taylor and Mother Teresa).  In memory of his intellectually handicapped brother, Red Foster had established a foundation to advance the cause of the intellectually handicapped across Canada.

I went to see Foster, not about his advertising agency, but about his Foundation for the Intellectually Handicapped.  I had heard that he could be as tough as nails, but I liked Red Foster right away and I think he liked me.  After several searching interviews, he hired me as the first executive director of the Foster Foundation.  It was the first real paying job I had ever had.  I well remember the salary, $12,000 a year.  Then for good measure, Red threw in the keys to his old family home at 4 Oaklands Avenue, just below De La Salle College, where I could live rent-free.

As I packed my trunk at Hawthorne Gardens in early March 1970, I could scarcely credit my good fortune, but it was tinged with a sadness for what was ending.  In the trunk was the last official document I would ever receive from the Jesuit order.  It was just three words relating to a decision already ratified in Rome about my dismissal from the society of Jesus:  Litteras dismissionis acceptit.  So few words to end so long journey.  Then Father Logie drove me the few short blocks to my new home at 4 Oaklands.  We wrestled my trunk up to the second-floor living room.  Logie left and I sat down and looked at the telephone, thinking to myself I could ring up the world.  And I laughed out loud.

Working with Red Foster for the next two and a half years was like working for a threshing machine.  There were speeches to write and sometimes deliver, meetings to attend and events to organize.  But by far the most exciting element of the job was Red’s association with the Kennedy Foundation in the States.  The Foundation was headed by the late President’s sister Eunice and her husband, Sargent Shiver.  As a result of this connection, we introduced the Special Olympics for the Intellectually Handicapped into Canada and convinced the Kennedys to accept floor hockey as part of the Special Olympics program.  Red persuaded the National Hockey League to support floor hockey and we convinced Prime Minister Trudeau to throw out the puck at the first floor hockey tournament, which was held at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto.

To be continued…

Visit the book shop now, and get your copy: click here

Jean P.




January 18, 2016

Let’s take a look back in history and see what happened on January 18th.




Did you know that,




In 1535, Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro founds Lima, the capital of Péru.


In 1670, Henry Morgan captures Panama.


In 1778, James Cook is the first known European to discover the Hawaiian Island,  which he names the “Sandwich Islands”.


In 1896, An X-ray generating machine is exhibited for the first time by H. L. Smith.


In 1911,Eugene B. Ely lands on the deck of the USS Pennsylvania  stationed in San Francisco Bay the first time an aircraft landed on a ship.


In 1919, 3 events to note.  -First, WW1 Paris Peace Conference opens in Versailles, France.     -Second, Ignacy Jan Paderewski becomes Prime Minister of the newly independent Poland. -Third, Bentley Motors Limited is founded.


In 1958, Willis O’Ree the first African Canadian National Hockey League player, makes his NHL debut with the Boston Bruins.


In 1993, Martin Luther King, Jr Day is officially observed for the first time in all 50 states.


And in 1997, Borge Ousland of Norway becomes the first person to cross Antarctica alone and unaided.








Jean P.



January 15, 2016


Brain teaser!!

Put yourself in the detective’s shoes to solve the cases.

1- A man went into a party and drank some of the punch. He then left early. Everyone at the party who drunk the punch subsequently died of poisoning. Why did the man not die?

2- A man walked in the house. He was about to hang up his coat when he heard his wife say, “No John! Don’t do it!” There was a shot and the woman was dead. There was a police officer, a doctor, and a lawyer standing next to her. The woman’s husband knew that the police officer did it. But how did the husband know?

3- There is a man found dead in a circular mansion. The detective interviews the cook, maid, and babysitter. The cook said he couldn’t have done it because he was preparing the meal. The maid said she couldn’t have done it because she was dusting the corners. The babysitter said she couldn’t because she was playing with the children. Who was lying?


1- The poison from the punch came from the ice cubes. When the man drunk the punch, the ice was fully frozen. Gradually, as the ice cubes melted the poison was released into the punch.

2- The police officer was a man while the doctor and lawyer were ladies. John is a man’s name. The husband’s name was David. So John was the police officer’s name. David’s wife was saying, “No John! Don’t do it!” to the police officer and the police officer shot her anyway.

3- The maid. There are no corners in a circular mansion.

Have a good weekend!

Jean P.





January 14, 2016



Here is an episode of Exchange with Neil on CJAD.

This episode is on welfare.





* Adjust your volume.

Jean P.


January 12, 2016



Lets continue last week’s writing conversation.


Building Community


Much to my surprise, I received a letter back from Neil within a week.  He just assumed that my husband and I had the necessary strength of spirit that it takes, and would manage through this rather frightening time.   His words gave us hope, and his assurance that the Montreal Children’s Hospital was a wonderful health care facility gave us confidence.  We began our journey through the process of repairing Erin’s lip.

As time went on, I would update Neil on Erin’s progress.  I sent him pictures of my beautiful girl.  Life has a way of getting in the way, and years slipped by.  Then I was looking at wedding pictures of Erin and her husband, and remembered Neil, and that it had been a while since I had had any contact with him.  I sat down, put pen to paper, and filled Neil in on what had transpired, and how we loved our new son-in-law.  Neil always replied to my letters and appreciated the pictures and updates.  I felt that he was my friend.

Neil touched my life as I am sure he did with many of his friends and listeners.  His letters showed compassion and understanding and encouraged me when I needed encouragement.  Watching your child disappear into an operating room, spending hours in the waiting room, can leave one feeling helpless.  Having support is vital.  I was blessed in that I had a strong connection with my husband and family.  But having support from someone outside that circle is important too.  The whole process was foreign to us.  Today, when I look at my lovely daughter (artist, wife, and mother), I know how lucky I am.  That Neil took such an interest in an anonymous caller added to our coping skills.

In 1982 Frank Gallagher nominated Neil as a ”Great Montrealer.”  ”He is the host of one of the city’s leading talk shows.  His ability to handle all types of subjects, and give his audience the time to express their opinions, is always handled in the most gracious manner.  His tolerance with the senior citizens, who are often very nervous when on the radio, is very heartwarming.  Whenever he speaks with children, he never talks down to them and always treats them as equals.  May callers keep his lines blazing.  May he never run out of fuel.”

A Christmas to Remember

One morning just before Christmas 1983, Neil was having breakfast when he heard that, as a result of corporate funding cuts, Ville Marie Social Services would be unable to provide food baskets for about 4,000 families.  Neil immediately decided to do something about it.  But he was aware of the risk.  What if he raised the issue on ”Exchange” and no one called in?  Among his first callers were his neighbours, Gail and Gerald Fellerath, who had both served in the Peace Corps.  They phoned in to say they would open a drop-off food depot at their store called Folklore on Sherbrooke St. in Westmount.  Then the superintendent of an apartment building in the east end said he would do the same.  A woman from Rosemere said she would drive people down to that depot.  (A third of Neil’s listeners at the time were francophone).  The appeal snowballed.

Stoph Hallward, a grade school student, volunteered to go door-to-door with a friend to collect canned food.  He recalls that Neil’s efforts set off a chain reaction throughout the city.

”Neil McKenty stood out among my parents’ friends when I was growing up,”  Hallward wrote.  ”It was exciting to know someone I could hear on the radio, but when I think back on it, he never sounded any different hosting his own show than he did challenging my family in friendly banter around the dinner table.  His being so so himself was probably what gave me the confidence to call him on his show, once.  My friend Roddy and I, who went door-to-door in our neighbourhood collecting canned food.  It was an easy sell and everyone gave generously.  Neil and Catharine drove down to Ville Marie headquarters where they were met by a social worker, tears streaming down her face.  ”I’ve never seen anything like it,” she said.  That Christmas, thanks to Neil, four thousand families were fed.”

Jean P.








January 11, 2016



This year Canadians were asked what resolutions they really wanted to commit to:

Lose weight 26 per cent; Save more money 16 per cent; Have a better sex life 12 per cent; Be nicer to friends and family 10 per cent;  Get a better job 9 per cent; None.  I’m not making resolutions 27 per cent.  What about socially conscious resolutions: Choose organic meat or eggs the next time you shop.  Just one time and already you are  healthier, the animals are happier and the environment is cleaner.  Or turn down the thermostat and throw an extra layer on to compensate.  You’ve saved money, fought climate change and made Grandma happy because you’re wearing the sweater she made.

Do you plan any New Year’s resolutions?

Do New Year’s resolutions make any sense?

What do you think?



Originally posted by Neil.

Jean P.


January 7, 2016



This is an episode of Exchange, Neil’s radio show broadcast on CJAD.


This one is about drunk driving.


Jean P.


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