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Canada’s most roundly admired sportsperson – Terry Fox – didn’t run against another person or a clock. He was his only competition.The Canadian Press

Hope is alive

Re “More than just hope” (Opinion, Aug. 26): Excellent article on one of Canada’s greatest heroes. In 1980, Terry Fox ran a marathon a day. For 143 days. With one leg. Let that sink in for a few seconds.

His Marathon of Hope inspired and unified the country and has helped raise nearly $1-billion for life-saving cancer research. One name stands above the list of great Canadians heroes. Thank you Terry Fox for your courage, vision and the hope you have given us for a world free of cancer.

Paul Alofs Board member, The Terry Fox Foundation Toronto

A friend of trees

Re “The quest for an ancient colossus” (Aug. 26): This article might have mentioned the central role of Randy Stoltmann in hunting, identifying and cataloguing B.C.’s largest and oldest trees, and drawing public attention to big trees and the importance of wilderness protection.

He was one of the first British Columbians to systematically do so, from the 1980s on. That work led to his book Guide to the Record Trees of British Columbia (1993), and eventually became much of the basis for the work of the B.C. Big Tree Registry.

Mr. Stoltmann was also a formidable mountain explorer, who sadly died in a backcountry skiing accident in 1994.

Anders I. Ourom Vancouver

A century of China

Re ”Canadian anthropologist was awarded friendship medal by China’s Xi” (Obituary, Aug. 24): Whatever you thought of her politics, Isabel Crook was an impressive woman.

One of the last of the Canadian “mish kids,” she was born in 1915 to missionary parents in the Chinese province of Sichuan, where she also did her anthropological research. A direct participant in key moments in the history of the People’s Republic of China, she was loyal through its highs (1949) and despite its lows (Cultural Revolution and 1989).

Many of the older generation of Chinese diplomats I met as a junior diplomat in the 1990s had been taught English by Ms. Crook and her husband. In 2014, I attended a small ceremony in Beijing where the University of Toronto’s Victoria College honoured her – marking the 75th anniversary of her graduation.

Sarah Taylor Bangkok

Words and action

Re “Canadian’s ‘tireless work’ helped shape country’s linguistic landscape” (Obituary, Aug. 24): So very sad to hear that Keith Spicer is gone. He was very much a part of the conscience of the nation – that part which cares for French-English unity, and also that part which cares about the proper use of both languages.

I was once on the receiving end of Mr. Spicer’s love, and mastery, of the English tongue. As a lawyer, and at the same time a huge fan of the Bard and other greats of Anglo literature, I felt rather proud of my drafting and grammar abilities. I came into conflict with him and received, in so many terse sentences, a postgraduate course in both writing and thinking. He tore my writing apart, and rebuilt it brilliantly. If I ever doubted the need for a good editor – and in my hubris I did – he purged me of my contempt. He was gracious enough to gift me with his books on thinking on your feet, treasures I retain.

Mr. Spicer deserved to be better known by Canadians. While he was one of the most influential Canadians of his time, it was in capacities that don’t receive the attention they deserve. Editors, publishers, heads of administrative bodies – they shape our lives while remaining largely unseen. A legion of writers and business leaders will attest to Mr. Spicer’s massive influence.

Tom Curran Prince Edward County, Ont.

As described in the media coverage of his death, Keith Spicer has substantially enriched Canadian life in several different areas over the past six decades. However, one significant part of his legacy deserving more attention is his inspiring leadership as a founder of the Canadian overseas volunteer movement in the early 1960s.

At a time in history when colonialism was ending and Canadians were starting to take note of the emerging Third World, Mr. Spicer, while doing research for his PhD thesis on Canada’s new foreign aid program in Asia, became fired up with the idea of sending young Canadian graduates to work, when invited, with host country schools, institutions and development projects.

Enlisting a few graduating University of Toronto students, supportive professors and one Toronto MP to help him, Mr. Spicer planned and organized recruitment, fundraising, logistics and host country connections. In August, 1961, 15 young members of Canadian Overseas Volunteers departed for one or two years in India, Sri Lanka (then known as Ceylon) and the Malaysian state of Sarawak. I was one of them. We used to brag that we had started working in the field before JFK’s much heralded government agency, the Peace Corps, got there and we resented being called the “Canadian Peace Corps.”

Canadian Overseas Volunteers soon merged with similarly motivated groups in other Canadian universities to become the Canadian University Service Overseas. CUSO is still a large and active non-governmental organization, with volunteers, including many host country nationals, serving in many countries. They are still largely motivated by the same objective, to serve and to learn. Many of the now thousands of former Canadian volunteers subsequently have pursued related international careers. Mr. Spicer could well look back with pride at what he put in motion.

Stephen Woollcombe Ottawa

Best of public service

Re “Distinguished Conservative enriched Canadian political life” (Obituary, Aug. 19): As someone who shared an old-fashioned Red Tory outlook with Hugh Segal, crossed paths with him occasionally (when we were both active in a bygone Progressive Conservative Party), and admired him constantly, I want to thank John Ibbitson for an illuminating and well-written tribute to a very good man.

It is easy to say that one is a democrat, or to say that one believes in the public or the innate value of every person. Mr. Segal’s convictions went beyond words and easy choices. His convictions were deep – sometimes sacrificial – and he leaned into the very best of public life, on behalf of democracy, community, and individual well-being. Mr. Segal lived his life with integrity, good humour and a bias for inclusion, justice, imagination and creativity.

Canadians, even those who are unaware of the loss, will miss Mr. Segal.

David King Victoria

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