Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Bill Leach,botanist

The Botany examination final, the first year I was in University was a week after the rest of the final exams. So, to save money and relax, I gave up my boarding house room and took the train home for the week, intending to come back in time to write the exam. My dad was the railroad station agent so I had a pass and my transportation was free. The night before the examination day, I stayed with my nanny and grandfather. I was ready, and I wanted a comforting place with supportive people. When I got to the university in the morning I found that the examination had been held the previous day. I was in a panic. I had misread the examination timetable. I had done badly enough that year anyway despite my best efforts. Culture shock bewilders! Botany was my best course! I thought my putative career was dashed. Nanny said, "Why don't you phone Dr. Leach and tell him what happened? He's a nice man and he goes to our church ". I called Dr. Leach at home and told him my circumstances. I don't think I told him he knew my grand parents, or that I was an Anglican but that's not to say I wouldn't have, as a last resort. Botany was a small class and he knew I was an interested student. Our family were lifelong gardeners and I was also interested in the flora of The Whiteshell. Dr. Leach spent his summers tramping the lower reaches of the Canadian, Precambrian Shield, of which the Manitoba Whiteshell was a part. Despite being in his 60's,Dr. Leach, didn't differentiate his vocation and his pleasures. They were one. The hallmark of a happy man. "Well", he said, "I'll write you a new test and you can come to my office for invigilation today". " Mind", he said, " You won't get a really good mark". The relief I felt, I can still feel today. The blessing that kind man gave me was a precious gift! When you are close to the edge, as I was that year ,the little things are important.

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