Memoirs, Or Shadows Of What Has Been
By Peter Landry

Chapter Twenty-Seven, SCUBA, New Practice & England, 1976

On January 21st, the first commercial Concorde flight took off. The first laser printer was introduced by IBM (the IBM 3800). California's sodomy law was repealed. So, too, it was in 1976 that Israel commandos rescued 110 hostages, mainly Jewish, at Entebbe airport in Uganda. In the fall of that year, November 2nd, the U.S. presidential election was carried out: Jimmy Carter, a peanut farmer from Georgia, defeated incumbent Gerald Ford and became the first candidate from the Deep South to win since the Civil War.

In Canada, on July 14, 1976, the House of Commons passed Bill C-84 on a free vote, abolishing capital punishment from the Canadian Criminal Code and replacing it with a mandatory life sentence without possibility of parole for 25 years for all first-degree murders. Canada had given up executing prisoners for a number of years prior to 1976. There were 710 executions in Canada between 1867 and 1962. The last execution was carried out on December 11, 1962 when 2 men were hanged in Toronto, Ontario. Between 1879 and 1960, there were 438 commutations of death sentences. Hanging was the only method of execution used in Canada. Even after 1976, the death penalty was retained for a number of military offenses, including treason and mutiny. However, up to 1976, no Canadian soldier had been charged with or executed for a capital crime in the previous 50 years. To complete the picture, we should say, on December 10th, 1998, the last vestiges of the death penalty in Canada were abolished with the passage of legislation removing all references to capital punishment from the National Defence Act.


I was invited to become a partner with Horne Langille after having been with them but a year. My legal billings, due to my extensive practice involving cooperative building societies, was high for such a new lawyer. The firm, Horne Langille, understandably did not want to lose me. The deal that was offered was not acceptable and they were not prepared to raise the anti; so I resigned with the view of striking out on my own. There was a relatively new sky-scraper in downtown Dartmouth, the only one to exist in Dartmouth, indeed yet today: Queen's Square. I took space; hired one of the secretaries that worked with me at Horne Langille; bought the furniture, equipment and supplies; then opened my office to practice law totally on my own hook. Things were just about set when I received a call from Maurice McGillivary. Maurice was just a year behind me and had completed his Articles at Horne Langille. Horne Langille did not hire him on, after his articles, so Maurice went to set up an office on his own in Halifax. Hearing that I was setting up shop on my own, he asked, "Could he come and practice with me?" He specifically said he did not need his name on the billboard; but I said if he was to come (and I was agreeable) he would come as a full partner with me. On April 1st, we announced our partnership with offices at Queen's Square.


Having signed up for a SCUBA course at the YMCA the previous year and having received a bronze designation, I took up the hobby of SCUBA Diving. The first of the dives (honouring, as I did, the buddy system) was with Maurice Muise, an ex-navyman who learned SCUBA diving while in the navy. Mo and I went for a number of dives together. Our favourite spots were along the eastern shore, at places like the islands just off of Ecum Secum and Marie Joseph. The other favourite spot was Portuguese Cove just south of Halifax. At Marie Joseph we would talk a fisherman into taking us out to the islands, he would receive half the catch (scallops) for himself and his boat. At Portuguese Cove we dove on a wreck, The Humboldt. She was an American sidewheel steamer making her way from Europe to New York but felt obliged to make for Halifax so to take on more coal. Her navigator made a bad decision as she approached the entrance to Halifax Harbour. The Humboldt struck the Three Sisters Shoal, near Sambro Island. They managed to get her off the Three Sisters and to float her over to nearby Portuguese Cove where she sunk just off shore. This was on December 6th, 1853. She was made of wood so at the time I was diving her, nothing much could be seen. What is noteworthy is that she was carrying bolts of material and a load of buttons and trinkets for the clothing markets at New York. It was a good diving depth, 20 to 30 feet; at the bottom was sand. There was a particular place known as the "button hole" where one could turn up little treasures by waving one's hands back and forth and catch the glitter of a button or a little cross, and alike.

I only dived for a couple of years, and, I should say, one of my dives was Louisbourg Harbour to see the remains of the French War Ships that had sunk there in 1758. I dived for a couple years, then gave it up after reading one too many accounts of well exercised SCUBA divers losing their lives. I went on to safer hobbies.

The Selfish Gene is a book on evolution by Richard Dawkins, published in 1976. We turn to Wikipedia:

"It builds upon the principal theory of George C. Williams's first book Adaptation and Natural Selection. Dawkins coined the term 'selfish gene' as a way of expressing the gene-centred view of evolution as opposed to the views focused on the organism and the group. From the gene-centred view follows that the more two individuals are genetically related, the more sense (at the level of the genes) it makes for them to behave selflessly with each other. Therefore the concept is especially good at explaining many forms of altruism, regardless of a common misuse of the term along the lines of a selfishness gene.
An organism is expected to evolve to maximize its inclusive fitness the number of copies of its genes passed on globally (rather than by a particular individual). As a result, populations will tend towards an evolutionarily stable strategy. The book also coins the term meme for a unit of human cultural evolution analogous to the gene, suggesting that such 'selfish' replication may also model human culture, in a different sense. Memetics has become the subject of many studies since the publication of the book.
In the foreword to the book's 30th-anniversary edition, Dawkins said he 'can readily see that [the book's title] might give an inadequate impression of its contents' and in retrospect thinks he should have taken Tom Maschler's advice and called the book The Immortal Gene."
As the Pictures will show, in the summer of 1976, we returned to one of the cottages at Crapaud, Prince Edward Island. We first went over in 1974, as mentioned in a previous chapter. We continued going there for a couple of years in a row.

It was in 1976 that Louise and I took our first overseas trip. On August 18th, I see, our passports were issued. In September we touched down in England. There is a complete series of letters of this trip that I wrote day to day, to each of the girls telling them of our adventures.

Movies of 1976:
All the President's Men, a 1976 Academy Award-winning political thriller where reporters Woodward and Bernstein uncover the details of the Watergate scandal that led to President Nixon's resignation. It starred Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford. (Trailer) Then there was, Network. It was about a fictional television network. It starred Faye Dunaway, William Holden, Peter Finch and Robert Duvall. The film won four Academy Awards, in the categories of Best Actor (Finch), Best Actress (Dunaway), Best Supporting Actress (Straight), and Best Original Screenplay (Chayefsky). (Trailer) Then there was Taxi Driver, an American psychological thriller film directed by Martin Scorsese. It was set in New York City. It starred Robert De Niro and Jodie Foster. It was nominated for four Academy Awards. (Trailer) And to wrap up this rather spectacular year for dramatic movies: there was Carrie. It was about a mousy and abused girl with telekinetic powers who gets pushed too far on one special night. It starred Sissy Spacek, Piper Laurie and Amy Irving.

Music of 1976:
You Should Be Dancin' by the Bee Gees; Takin It To The Streets by the Doobie Brothers; Fernando by Abba; and Still Crazy After All These Years by Paul Simon.

[Pictures, 1976]

[Pictures, PEI, 1976]

[Pictures, Xmas, 1976]

NEXT: [Chapter Twenty-Eight, New House On Wilson Drive, 1977]



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Peter Landry