Thomas Lee, from the column Ginnie Says, Jan. 1961

Virginia Ann Higman (born Bowden), known as Ginnie Higman, had a regular column called "Ginnie Says" covering neighborhood news in the News and Views. In the January 1961 issue she wrote about then Mayor Thomas Lee.

EVERYONE KNOWS Tom Lee as our smiling, affable and very conscientious mayor, but there're a lot of interesting tid-bits about our Tommy not generally known. For instance: do you know he literally thumbed his way to a career as a newspaper man?
Tommy was eighteen, just fresh out of Oakville High with no particular career in mind, only a need for a job. It was 1933 and jobs were scarce. So one morning early, Tommy left his parent's farm and started hitch-hiking to Toronto. Before entering the Big City, he was picked up by a very distinguished looking gentleman driving a very fancy car. The man became interested in the fact that Tommy was on his way to find a job and asked him various questions, among which was what Tom had gotten in high school English. English wasn't particularly Tom's forte, and he said so; nevertheless, the man asked him if he had ever considered reporting as a career... that if he liked the idea to come apply for a job at the Toronto Star. Suddenly, Tom wanted very much to be a reporter! Thus with the added influence of his new-found friend (who turned out to be Mr. H.C. Hindmarsh, at that time Managing Editor for the Star who later became its President!) Tom's future was determined...

For seven years he worked at the Star, first as an apprentice following the reporters around and learning by seeing, then as a cub reporter and finally as a full time, fully qualified reporter with duties including covering parliamentary news at the press galleries of Toronto and Ottawa and acting as Aviation Editor of the Star.

1940 rolled around and, with thousands of other Canadians, Tommy joined the Air Force as an AC2. During his five plus years in the armed services, Tommy served as a flying instructor, wrote flying-training literature, and wound up as a Squadron Leader flying out of India and dropping spies and supplies for the Allied forces all over southeast Asia. But before he left North America, Tom, then a flying instructor at the Brantford, Ontario base, met his pretty blond wife, Edith, and they were married in 1943 in Ingersoll, Ontario, Edith's home.

It was just about that time that a strange coincidence (which took ten years to finalize) began for Tom and his sister, Barbara. Flight Lieutenant Tom Lee was chosen to be the Canadian aide when President Roosevelt came to Ottawa to lay a wreath on the Cenotaph. Exactly ten years later when newly elected President Dwight Eisenhower came to Ottawa to duplicate the ceremony, Tom's sister, Navy Lieutenant Barbara Lee was picked to represent the Canadian armed forces. The powers that be who choose the honored candidates had no inkling of the coincidence. It just happened!

After the war, Tommy returned to his civilian job as reporter for the Star and worked there until 1949; he then bought the Ingersoll Tribune and settled down in that lovely small town 100 miles southwest of Toronto to become a weekly newspaper editor. But though Tom loved his news paper, the activities of a small town editor with a small staff were such that his long hours attending civic meetings and other activities kept him from his family-an unhappy situation for any devoted family man. So, vowing never to get mixed up in municipal affairs again, Tom sold his Tribune and the summer of 1952 found him again looking for a job.

But before getting worried about the situation, Tom decided to get re-acquainted with his growing family by taking a long-dreamed-of 13,000 mile trailer trip up the Alcan Highway to Alaska! So with a wife who had never camped a day in her life, and with seven year old Stephen, Vicki, five and three year old Nancy, off they went. Nine weeks and many mosquito bites and blowouts later the weary but excited and experienced camping Lees returned to Ingersoll where awaited in the mail an unexpected invitation for Tom to come to Montreal and explore the possibilities of taking on the position of assistant public relations advisor for the Canadian Bankers' Association.

In January, 1953, the five Lees moved into their first Baie d'Urfé home at 3 Lakeview Road, and the fall of the same year their first Quebecer, Marilyn, was born. In 1956 they moved to their present location, the lilac-studded grounds and home at 20625 Lakeshore Road.

When Tom's experience as a newspaper man was learned, he was immediately nabbed by the Baie d'Urfé Citizens' Association to help with News and Views, becoming its editor from 1954 to 1956 when he was then drafted to serve on the Town Council. In May, 1957, Tommy became our mayor and has officiated in this capacity ever since, devoting many hours of thoughtful labor in the Town's behalf.

Among Tommy's many contributions to the Town-and it's during his regime as mayor that Baie d'Urfé has experienced what will probably be the period of most rapid expansion in its history, a period full of many problems and tribulations -- the most important service in our mind has been Tom's untiring and so far highly successful efforts in diverting the proposed Metropolitan Boulevard from going through the Oak Ridge section of Baie d'Urfé to Dowker Island, to its present and we hope permanent location at the Ste. Anne-Senneville border.

Tom has always had an avid interest in Canadian art and artists, and a number of his articles along these lines have been published in various magazines, and shortly after his moving to Baie d'Urfé a book by Tom on one particular artist, Albert H. Robinson was published.

His present project, and one on which he has been working ever since moving to our Town, is ferreting out the history of Baie d'Urfé - this includes delving into various archives and having Compte d'Urfé's most interesting and tragic life translated into English. As 1961 will be the 275th anniversary of Urfé's establishing a chapel on Caron Point in Baie d'Urfé as well as the 50th anniversary of the incorporation of Baie d'Urfé as a town, this mimeographed translation, entitled "A Victim of Frontenac", and a compilation of Tommy's historical articles which appeared a year ago in the Lakeshore News, will no doubt be of great interest to both new and old residents of Baie d'Urfé, together they may be purchased at cost (50cent) at the Town Hall. Abbe d'Urfé was a most interesting figure and word by word, Tommy is finding out more about this remarkable man who died 260 years ago. At present a French speaking friend of Tommy's is translating the 17,000 word oration given at Abbe d'Urfé's funeral. This translation eventually will be included in Tommy's compilation.

And so we have a thumbnail sketch of Tom Lee, born in Thorold, Ontario November 2, 1915, a man who combines a deep feeling for family with a desire to better the community in which he lives. What a nice world this would be if there were more of such "Tommys" around....


Images of the original pages from the January 1961 issue of N&V:

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