In Memoriam

Late members of our Society.
They are greatly missed.


 

Patrick Campbell, M.Bt.

Patrick James Campbell, Sovereign Emeritus of The Bimetallic Question, died in Montreal on November 5th, 2017 at the age of 94. Patrick came into the Society in 1987 through Bruce Holmes, our Resident Philatelist and Sherlockian stamp expert, philately being their common interest. An aeronautical and marine engineer, Patrick was still working at that time, in connection with the Canadian Patrol Frigate Program, and told Bimetallic Question co-founder Wilfrid de Freitas that he was systematically reading his way through the Sherlockian Canon during his lunch hours. We have proof that this indeed was the case, for Wilfrid still has a photograph of Patrick sitting at his desk, book in hand. He then proceeded to throw himself into the Great Game, with gusto. Almost immediately he was writing papers for Canadian Holmes, and on his frequent trips to the UK would research aspects of the stories that he found contradictory or puzzling. Then, in 1997, came his first collection of pastiches, Shades of Sherlock, followed in 1999 by a play, Tides of the Wight, and latterly, in 2000 a novel, Holmes in the West Country, all published by The Battered Silicon Dispatch Box. Patrick also joined The Bootmakers of Toronto in 1989 to later become Master Bootmaker of that Society, earning the initials M.Bt. following his name, of which he was very proud.

Patrick served as Bimetallic Question Sovereign from 1989-1993 and from 1998-1999, and sat on the organizing committees for the two Bimetallic Colloquia, held in 1990 and 2000, which were three-day events held on the campus of McGill University, and brought in scores of Sherlockians from all over North America and the UK. Even after declaring in later years that he would be slowing down in his Sherlockian activities, Patrick nonetheless distinguished himself at meetings as a frequent winner of our often fiendishly difficult canonical quizzes, and further challenged us by setting even more devilish ones for the poor suckers at the next meeting. Speaking of devilish, his treasure hunt, (designed for a Society garden party) and car rally clues left practically everyone guessing. We can add to this portrait of Society involvement his dedication as a tireless worker behind the scenes, stepping in to carry out assiduous record keeping and archivist duties.

However, Patrick's crowning Sherlockian achievement was supervising the installation of a proper brass plaque (known as the Reichenplaque ) at the Reichenbach Falls in Switzerland in 1992, with the co-operation of Marcus Geisser of the Reichenbach Irregulars, the Swiss Sherlock Holmes Society. Not only did he accompany the plaque on Swissair, Patrick ensured its installation with 12-inch brass bolts into a concrete bed - secure enough to deter even the most ardent souvenir-hunter! By the way, for those who don't know, the actual spot at The Falls where the confrontation between Holmes and Moriarty took place had hitherto been marked only by a primative white painted metal star, without any indication as to its raison d'etre. (See The Adventure of the Reichenplaque, Canadian Holmes, Michaelmas 1992.) His Sherlockian pastiche play, Tides of the Wight, was performed by Bimetallic Question members in Westmount in 2012, under the direction of Susan Fitch. The event raised funds for a Montreal Greyhound Rescue group, identifying another of Patrick's interests, a lifelong fondness and concern for animals.

Patrick was born in Selkirk, Manitoba in 1923. Following the deaths of his father and mother, he went to live in England in 1938 at age 15, attending school in London. Campbell worked in England in civilian aviation often on military-affiliated projects throughout the Second World War and its aftermath, returning to Canada in 1952 to continue his career in civil aviation here. On his retirement, he became a founding member of the Montreal Aviation Museum, where he worked as a dedicated volunteer from 1999 to 2017. Patrick was predeceased by his first wife, Elaine, his second wife Pierrette, his son Timothy, his sister Marjory and brother Colin. He leaves his daughters Lorraine, Frances, and Claude, as well as six granddaughters and five great-grandchildren.

 

Mac Belfer

Bimetallic Question members are deeply saddened at the passing of Mac Belfer in Ottawa in January 2015. A Society member of many years' faithful attendance, Mac was a successful Montreal importer and businessman, who in his leisure time wrote touchingly meaningful poetry on nature and social justice themes, and brilliantly crafted short stories. Born in Europe, his family was tragically caught up in events of the Second World War, his mother and one sister perishing in the Holocaust.

Friends recall his faithful and always elegantly attired presence at Society meetings, to which he contributed many original and creative toasts. A devoted husband and best friend to his wife Florence, Mac was cherished and adored by his three children and four grandchildren. An erudite European gentleman of the old school, the world of Sherlock Holmes was one in which Mac was entirely at home.


 

Bruce Holmes

Our good friend Bruce Holmes passed away in Nova Scotia in November 2011. A long-time Montrealer, Bruce was one of the founding members of The Bimetallic Question, and as Sherlockians we could be forgiven for envying him his so fitting and formidable a last name.

It was Bruce's wife Bonnie who introduced him to the hobby of stamp collecting, which he combined with his scholarly interest in Sherlock Holmes to become one of the leading Sherlockian philatelists in the world. So comprehensive was Bruce's award-winning collection that he was able to bring stamps to our meetings related to whatever quiz story might be chosen. More than this, he brought his exquisite sense of fun and ever present good humour to all Bimetallic gatherings he attended. In a world often enough dominated by the dark forces of Moriarty, he knew how to lift our spirits and was truly always a fun guy to be around.

Following Bruce's passing Bonnie donated his entire collection of Sherlockian stamps, first-day covers, postcards, souvenir pages, original monographs, and other related materials to the Arthur Conan Doyle Collection of the Toronto Public Library, where they represent a highly valuable legacy for Sherlockian scholarship today.


David Kellett

Members of The Bimetallic Question regret the passing of our friend David Kellett in June 2011 after a decade of faithful attendance. David delivered many toasts at our meetings but none were as passionate as those he proposed to The Society. He took seriously the portrayal of Sherlock Holmes and would enthusiastically debate the merits and drawbacks of the latest interpretations of the Master on screen, TV or radio. David's favourite story seemed to be A Scandal in Bohemia and, like Sherlock Holmes himself, he remained fascinated by The Woman. Nevertheless, David enjoyed most of the other stories immensely and his keen mind enabled him to win the Annual Quizmaster Award four times.

David rarely failed to attend Society outings and, pursuing his other great passion, organized billiards nights for kindred spirits at The Bimetallic Question. Perhaps most importantly, David cheerfully volunteered his considerable photographic skills to ensure that The Society's history and events would be suitably recorded for posterity. David shared his passion for The Bimetallic Question with his fellow Sherlockians and we remain grateful for his friendship.


 

Stanley Baker

We are greatly saddened to mark the passing of Stanley Baker, our Recruiting Sergeant, on November 1st 2010, aged 87. Stanley was, for more than twenty years, an active member of The Bimetallic Question. During that time, right up to a month or two before his death, Stanley was indefatigable in his efforts to introduce people to the Victorian world of Sherlock Holmes by inviting them to attend one (or more) of our meetings: no one was immune from his enthusiastic appeal to come along and see what it was all about. If you were in the Jane Austen Society, the Westmount Lawn Bowling Club, the Westmount Historical Association or the Commonwealth Society (to name but a few of the organizations to which Stanley belonged) or, indeed, you were the person he'd just met at a party, you were fair game.

Stanley moved through life with joy, enthusiasm, and a momentum fuelled by a desire to contribute to the betterment of peoples lives and to their societies. He walked into every room with a sparkle in his eye, a good word for everyone who came up to him, and an eagerness to embrace the moment. His mirth and enthusiasm were infectious. He seemed unstoppable. How appropriate that among his last words to his close family some were in the trademark melange of Yiddish and English: What mishigoss (craziness)! I was having such a good time!

 

Colin Semel
"The Galloping Major"

Our friend Colin Semel died on October 24th 2005, age 72. He was, at heart, a Thespian and he has now gone to the ultimate green-room, for a well deserved rest. An active former member of the Montreal West Operatic Society and the Montreal Welsh Male Choir, he also sang in his synagogue choir. But we of The Bimetallic Question, The Sherlock Holmes Society of Montreal, will remember him fondly as The Galloping Major, in whose persona Colin often entertained us at our annual dinner, resplendent in high collar, waistcoat and handle-bar moustache. Goodbye dear friend, we will miss you. Colin Semel: born in England 1933, died Montreal 2005


Charles Purdon

It is with great sadness and a deep sense of loss that members and friends of The Bimetallic Question (Montreal's Sherlock Holmes Society) mark the passing of the singular Charles Purdon in August, 2002. He served as Sovereign, Shilling and valued adviser for over 15 years and was a driving force in calling out the troops to such functions as our two colloquia, annual birthday dinners, billiard nights and airgun shoots. Charles recently tallied up our accounts as our treasurer and was a great sounding-board and doer in our Society. To paraphrase Doctor Watson, Charles was one of the best and wisest men we have ever known: he will be sorely missed. Thank you, Charles, for making our Society so much richer.


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