My Breakfast Club
- The Members -
Many mornings since I retired, I’ll meet various close friends in a restaurant for breakfast. Over
the years this has evolved into almost a ritual, something far more and
much deeper than I could have imagined. We meet one on one, in
communion over our bacon and eggs. I confess I shape the conversation,
and most who sit opposite me seem willing to follow my lead. Rants of
any kind, about bosses, mates, government, whatever, I limit to one
minute, a bit longer if they are fun or amusing. No discussion of
politics or sports, but weather is allowed. If they have a personal
connection, movies are more than acceptable. Listening is good;
questions are golden; advice, helpful suggestions, verboten!
Paul McMillan, 1948
Banker and professional clown. Boyhood friend, the kid up the lane. I'd walk to his house, ask his mom if Paul could come out, and we’d get on about our day, "doing nothing." It's still my best skill. As teenagers we'd go off to school dances, neither of us able to pick up a girl, then head over to Fran's Restaurant. There I experienced my first adult pleasure – drinking coffee and eating toasted Danish pastry. Feel lucky I still have him in my life.
Janet Somerville, 1961
Member of the Order of Canada; former producer of CBC Ideas. We met in the students lounge at Saint Michael's College, U of T. Magical champagne breakfast with her mother and sisters after midnight mass on Christmas Eve. A unique intimate gathering of goodwill and joy! My first experience of what a family could be. Years later, when we reconnected, I realized what grace and commitment to others is like when it is lived fully in this world. Admiration and affection best describe my feelings for her.
John Dorsey, 1969
Coming down the hall at Brockton High School was this young guy, long hair, khaki shorts, sandals. I stood there, dark suit, shirt and tie, my hands on my hips. "Hi, I'm John, the new science teacher.” Learned he had just come back from traveling the Far East. Ignoring the war that was going on, he'd hitchhiked through Vietnam. A gifted musician, songwriter, teacher. Yet it was his love for the outdoors and adventure that drew me to him. We became partners in the cabin, canoed together, flew into the Chilcotin in BC to ride horseback though the mountains. Good, long-time friend. Sometimes see him as Chingachgook to my Hawkeye.
Jeff Baker, 1971
Student at my first lecture to three hundred students at Humber College. As I remember it, I was given a huge round of applause and Jeff, coiffed like an early Bob Dylan, ran after me and demanded he be in my class. Followed his amazing career as a classical ballet dancer and soloist with major ballet companies in North America & Europe. Recently invented the Baker Light Integrated Star System, which offers deaf and hard of hearing children a new way to study/perform classical ballet. Teacher, inventor, brat, rebel, genius, dear friend.
Chris Coleman, 1971
Chris and I would meet every few months at Butler's Pantry on Roncesvalles and catch up on each other's lives. Chris was one of my office mates at Humber along with Richard and Kitty. Often we would go up to the cabin, sit in front of the fireplace, drink scotch, and solve the problems of the world. A few years ago Chris moved out into the country and we haven't seen much of each other. I miss the friendship we had. Hope he can come to my birthday.
Richard Rumball, 1972
Long ago he introduced me to my now favourite greasy spoon, the Bloor-Jane Diner (see bottom of page), for which I am forever in his debt. A fellow teacher at Humber College, he became the brother I never had. The one friend I could hang out with all day, nattering about whatever or nothing at all. More recently, I have to admit it's a bromance. At least on my part. Never says no to a breakfast invite.
Kitty Pote, 1973
The office quartet was christened by Kitty as follows: Chris was the Knight, I was the Monk, Kitty, the Courtesan, Richard, Wayfarer. We helped each other to ripen and to deepen our joie de vivre by means of many marvellous laughs and rich confidences founded in mutual affection and trust. Kitty kept us sane during our time as teachers at Humber College, mostly because she was den mother, sister, confidante. That was so long ago. More recently she and I have bonded over our love of Nikos Kazantzakis, the author of Zorba, the Greek. Kitty lives a little beyond easy reach, and I'm waiting for a time when she and I can meet for our first breakfast. So much to talk about.
Margaret Carney, 1973
Fellow Therafudlian. Watching an elephant go by, I sat opposite Margaret, wondering what we were doing in Kathmandu. Planning to hike in the Himalayas, of course. Through Ireland, the Holy Land, India we searched for enlightment, only to find how much fun it was to travel together. Remember walking down the middle of Brunswick Avenue on a snowy Christmas Eve, playing “Silent Night” or was it “Good King Wenceslas” on our violins. As befitting such world travelers we do lunch on the Danforth rather than breakfast at the Bloor-Jane Diner. Best editor on the planet.
Marilyn Melville, 1980
I have been blessed by one of life's greatest gifts: the love of a woman.
Went to breakfast with her one cold winter day in 1980... and have never stopped. Ritual of lattes, muffins and newspapers have been a constant through years of togetherness, chatting, dancing, loving, romancing, kanoodling, cuddling, arguing, laughing, playing, couching, loving – the full enchilada.
Love that woman!
Eric Hellman, 1983
Outstanding first baseman on FNB (baseball) team, avid photographer, lover of nature. A caring and thoughtful life lived within a city often too busy to notice the needs of others. Many long talks over breakfast about spiritual growth, interspersed with puns, some poetic, some groan-worthy. Might have been monks together in some other time and place. Honoured guest at our Thanksgiving and Christmas festivities. Today simply special friends.
Paul Irwin, 1985
Met Paul at a men's group run by a United Church retreat centre. He dubbed me the Infidel, which I took as a sign of respect. We became good friends. Well into his three score and tenth decade, he impresses me by his many interests: still ministers, plays violin, trombone, runs a men's group. We get together twice a year, spring and summer, for an overnight at the cabin. Long personal talks deep into the night, and then into the Huntsville in the morning for a wrap up over breakfast at Louis II, a classic greasy spoon.
"The lady that's known as Lou," 1988
Long before our first breakfast, she took on the job of editing The Waterbearer. Never would have been published except for her help. Breakfasts together meant Mercurio's, a glass of wine, endless cups of coffee and intimate discussion about life, family and dreams. Elegant, worldly and innocent, Louise delights me with her adventures and loves. I sense that I am at times Dutch uncle, wise brother, and more. All of which is okay with me. A long-time dear friend...
Mitch Gold, 1989
I knock on his door and hand him a tape of “The Last One.” He is enthralled by it, and produces a wonderful audiotape of the story (listen here: www.thelastone.ca).
Over the years we have become good friends. I enjoy listening to his tales of projects & schemes that leave me breathless. Dressed in the all-white garb and long hair of a mendicant, guru, wise man, he is often stopped on the street. Summers he lives out of his car in Toronto, breakfasts with Austin; winters in Mexico.
Jerry Hodge, 1990
On Friday evenings the four of us, Marilyn, Jeni, Jerry and I, would order pizza and wine at a local trattoria and unwind. Then it morphed into Jerry and me having breakfast at multiple restaurants.
So many retirement interests: book binding, genealogy, park projects, wine cellars, woodworking, his kids and good conversations. Cabin partner. Scientist to my philosopher.
Joyce Rupp, 1992
Sister Joyce Rupp, O.S.M. Award-winning international writer and speaker.Long ago, I invited Joyce to breakfast at the Empress Hotel in Victoria.
We enjoyed the view of the harbour, a pianist on a grand piano, huge chandelier overhead, food beyond compare, and the deep, soulful conversation of fellow pilgrims. The bill gave me bragging rights to the most expensive breakfast maybe on the planet; it was worth every cent. I think of Joyce often, and always with gratitude for how our friendship came to be. A deep, dear friend I haven't seen in years, but have stayed connected with by the magic of email.
Steve Chadwick, 1995
“You just had your first RBI!” he shouted at me as I hit a line drive up the gap. I had no idea what he was talking about. It was my first season of playing baseball with Friday Night Baseball (FNB), a league made up of friends, which has been going for over thirty years. Steve was shortstop. I never saw anyone enjoy playing more. Plus he has this amazing gift of being able to play especially well with the experts, kids. A warm, insightful friend who comes forward with suggestions that I take to heart. I am mindful of our special friendship. Steve gives workshops with his partner, Heidi, on Mindfulnesss, yet his gift is soulfulness.
Lorne Mitchell, 1995
A long time ago, further back than my memory goes, I got a phone call from a Mr. Mitchell asking that I give a talk at a media gathering in Hamilton. Back then I was (apparently) a rising media guru. Much to his surprise I said yes. Years later we experienced the traumas and triumphs of Therafields, and over the last 20 years or so the joys of Friday Night Baseball; Lorne playing first base, me second. Lorne's life journey is rich in so many ways. Always a joy to drink coffee and beer (not at the same time) with this man.
Walter Weary, 2002
Plays second base for us in the FNB league. Have had good conversations about life and dogs. Only one of my friends who was at Woodstock. He watched the whole show from the stage, holding a screw driver in his hand, because he had convinced Security he was a stage hand. A living source of Woodstock memorabilia. A good man, and so much more.
Michael Walshaw, 2005
My friend Santa Claus. I am delighted to be able to claim this brag. Five weeks of each year, that’s who he becomes. With his playful nature, laugh, beard, what else could he be? His collection of tools fascinates me. His joking as he meets friends, strangers and waitresses endears him to many. Born years apart, but only blocks away, we sense a similar background and sensitivity.
He also is like a brother. We both enjoy strangers.
Scott Simmie, 2008
Multi-talented is the first word that comes to mind when I think of Scott... writer, reporter, world traveler, father, good friend.
Author of The Last Taboo.
He also owns a log cabin in Algonquin Park.
A good man, busy with his life.
Pleasure to be with.
John Laroque, 2010
An amazing man! Knew him for years as a pitcher at FNB, but only recently I finally persuaded him to get together with me for breakfast. His first memory was of a grand piano. Just tall enough to reach up and put his finger on a key, then on another key, he composed his first song. Still composing. So much amazes and delights me about John, not least of which is his profound desire to remain unknown.
Michael O'Gorman, 2010
We met in the men's washroom at the National Art Gallery in Ottawa as our wives waited for us outside. He claims I picked him up. I like to think I did. Discovered we live in same end of Toronto, know some of the same people. Both of us were teachers. Common struggles and interests – loving our wives, the next step in our lives, living in a time of chaos – keep us engaged in extended conversations enhanced with a pint or two at the Dark Horse. More often than not breakfast at the Bloor-Jane Diner.
Michael Hryniuk, 2010
Pastoral counsellor and psychotherapist, former assistant with L'Arche, friends with Mary Jo Leddy and Jean Vanier.
Longs someday for log cabin in the woods. Warm smile and open face makes him a pleasure to sit across from. Looking forward to entering deeper into the mystery of our lives and the places we meet.
James Boddy, 2011
Never met James. Know that he lives in England, and I’ve seen his picture. Yet we have become such good friends I have no hesitation making him a member of My Breakfast Club. A fellow pilgrim, a traveler and adventurer. A man who knows how to live and enjoy life. One day someplace on the planet, I expect to sit down to breakfast with you, James.
Richard Wiseman, 1972/2013
Briefly, when we were both in Therafields, a therapy commune, we shared a writing studio.
Lost touch, but recently bumped into him on the street.
A warm, open man I enjoy talking with. So much in common; so easy to be with. A real back-and-forth of giving and receiving.
A gift and blessing to have met again.
Jonathan Lareau 2013
At fifty he is the youngest member of the club?! A delightful, intense man.
We met via emails around the
He has just returned from a trip to South America. Reminds me of a knight in search of the Holy Grail, which he will find.
John Pollard, 2013
Met John through Joyce Rupp...
Acted in Shakespearean plays at Stratford, Ontario. Easy to be with.
A gentle artistic soul, a dear person whom I am just coming to know as a friend. I look forward to a deepening friendship.
This is where most of it happens.
An authentic "greasy spoon." It is like most of us... not relics from another time, but heritage sites that one can come to, to be reminded of a fabled past, and to be nourished by the (sports) memorabilia on the wall and the aura, the patina of another time.
It is a place that, when you come there, you know you will be...
served a cup of coffee from Christina ("Excellent!")
greeted with a smile from Maria,
and receive from John, a nod of recognition.
John and his diner, when I get there, I want to be part of my heaven.
Friends who because of time or distance are not available for breakfast, but whom I hope one day to share a morning meal and conversation with.
Fellow pilgrim who walked with Derek Walker, the Peace Pilgrim, on many a pilgrimage to distant lands. Over the years we have developed a quiet and deep friendship. She tells me she understands "love-dust." Lives on Vancouver Island. One day we will breakfast and talk.
A gentle open dear man, owner of Banyen Books in Vancouver. He and I have had more than a few good talks over breakfast. Look forward to more somewhere down the road.
A fellow pilgrim, committed to the journey. Shares her life via emails. Hopefully, our paths will meet as they once did years ago during a Camino Conference.
Exceptional landscape painter! We met in the Huntsville library and went to breakfast. Such a profound and intimate meeting that one woman sitting somewhere in the restaurant, Louis II, came over to our booth and commented how touched she was by the depth and feeling of our conversation. This one breakfast felt so complete and whole.
Amazing young man, son of amazing old man, Jerry Hodge. Musical composer, arranger, and so much more I don't know. Look forward to one day doing breakfast with him.
Never met her, a friend of a friend. Sophie, the name of the goddess of wisdom, lives in a mythical country, Greece. I like to imagine us having breakfast in a seaside bistro with the Aegean lapping at the shore a few feet away.
Graduate of Loretta Abbey, scientist, lawyer, sociologist, searcher. Had a breakfast with Cate and find her insights and thoughts deep and personal.
A lovely lady who runs/owns a store in Bloor West Village, who I hope one day to enjoy breakfast with and continue our occasional chats.
Sandi and Lewis
Friendly neighbours who shovel our snow, chat us up and have two wonderful children, Annabella and Julie. Look forward to future breakfasts with them.
Frank and Susan
Fellow teachers, so long ago at Brockton; current members of FNB. Long time friends with whom I don't spend enough time.
Explorer, theology student at Emmanuel college. Common interest: Philip Pullman's novel. Newly minted friend (I hope). At 22 he is the youngest person I know.
To contact me directly, please write firstname.lastname@example.org
Or visit www.austinrepath.com