Random Acts of Kindness: Julie & Johnnie Spekkens remember their Dad, Dr. Hubert Spekkens
On Dec. 20, 2018, Julie and Johnnie Spekkens took delivery of The People’s Photo Album: A Pictorial Genealogy of the Antigonish Movement. Julie planned to travel from her home in Prospect to the Launch on Dec. 9th and take delivery of two copies of the Album for herself and her twin brother Johnnie but unpassable roads intervened. In the photo above, Julie and Johnnie are responding to the photos on the Spekkens family page (p. 169), which includes the one of their Dad, Dr. Hubert Spekkens, holding them as babies. Julie told me that she attended the memorial service for her father at StFX in 2005 but has no recollection of the eulogies that now appear in the Album on p. 59. She was relishing reading them now and appreciated having this record for her two daughters, who had never known their grandfather. She did remember hearing that the academic procession for her father’s service at StFX was longer than anyone could remember.
Julie and Johnnie made connections to people on other pages in the People’s Photo Album, augmenting the learner’s guide to genealogical method outlined in the introductory text. Genealogical method applied to a social movement differs from historical accounts in that it collects the small stories, often of unsung heroes, as a way of making the connections between different branches, in this case, of the Antigonish Movement. Johnnie was looking at the photo page for The Casket (p. 170), which features Bruce MacKinnon’s cartoons as a grade nine student at Antigonish Regional High in 1975, and spotted the reference to his half-brother Bob Rogers as the badminton club supervisor in the School News. Julie was looking at the photo page for Jeannie (Smith) MacKay, which included photos of the unsung heroes of Theatre Antigonish when she was the Director (1978 to 1980) and when she spotted Allene Doucet as the Box Office volunteer, she exclaimed, “Allene is my godmother.”
The Hubert Spekkens page was a source for more interconnecting branches. When I told Len P. D. MacDonald (see photo page 116) that I was delivering two copies of the Album to the Spekkens’ twins, he remembered that Dr. Spekkens showed up unannounced at his wedding to Betty and audiotaped the entire ceremony and presented them with the cassette, which they treasure to this day. In turn, when I recounted Len’s small story to Julie and Johnnie, Johnnie remembered that Phil Milner had shared with him the story he had written of how Dr. Spekkens appeared at their daughter’s wedding and recorded the ceremony. Dr. Hubert Spekkens exemplifies random acts of kindness, which are the lifeblood of a social movement.