A long time Conserver Society member, Bill Randall died in June, 2002. Jim MacDonald offers some reminiscences of Bill and his contributions to the Conserver Society.
I first met Bill at a CHOP meeting. CHOP (Clear Hamilton of Pollution) was the predecessor to Conserver Society of Hamilton & District. Having been associated with the environmental movement since the early 1970’s, he was one of the early members of CHOP and looked after membership and the newsletter. All his records were kept manually in a small file box and the envelopes had to be addressed by hand, which Bill did faithfully.
Bill edited the Environmental Advocate adding material that he had gleaned from other publications that he thought would be of interest to the items about the organization’s (and later the Chapters’) activities. As he was also involved with a number of other organizations it was sometimes a bit of a chore to get the Newsletter out, but he did—often alone. This was back in the mid 80s. I had an Apple clone computer and suggested that I could do labels for the newsletter. He was most enthusiastic about the idea but always insisted that they be ready on time. He liked to get things done in that way perhaps because of his other obligations. He also issued the Society’s tax receipts for income tax purposes and filed the papers to the Government. At one point he and Ed Smee had to write letters to the Revenue people explaining the organization’s involvement with the Red Hill Combined Hearings. They were able to defend it to the satisfaction of the Government.
Having occupied every office on the Board, Bill was methodical in his ways which provided a counter balance to some of the more “creative members” of the Group. This had a steadying influence on the Board of which he remained a member until his death. When Ed Smee stepped down as Chair, Bill was elected. He served one year and then returned to the newsletter and membership job. Bill was always very thoughtful about matters discussed at meetings and most loyal to the organization and faithful in his duties. He was very tactful in dealing with others and dealt with difficult situations in a considerate and capable manner.
As a principal of an elementary school before his retirement, Bill encouraged and supported his students’ endeavours in enhancing the environment. He was also an active member of the Hamilton Naturalists’ Club, an organic gardener, and a breeder of beautiful moths.
Bill served the cause of the environment for many years doing what he could to carry the message forward through the other organizations he belonged to. He received the Environmentalist of the Year Award in 1990 in recognition of his contribution. Bill’s presence at Board Meetings and his support of environmentalism in Hamilton will be missed.
1912 – February 7, 2002
We are deeply saddened by the news of the passing of Ed Smee in his 89th year. Ed was a true friend of Red Hill Valley and a tireless voice for the environment in the Hamilton area. In 1969 he co-founded Clear Hamilton of Pollution (CHOP) and went on to be its president from 1972 to 1974. CHOP evolved into the Conserver Society of Hamilton and District, the organization that gave birth to Friends of Red Hill Valley. In the early 1970s Ed organized the Federation of Environmental Groups. In 1972 they produced the first inventory of natural areas in Hamilton, which helped spur efforts to stop a proposed expressway in the Red Hill Valley. In 1973, CHOP (with Ed as President) and the City of Hamilton jointly sponsored a public walk in the valley that was attended by city councillors and members of Hamilton’s Board of Control. These efforts led directly to the unanimous adoption of a resolution by City Council in 1974 to “permanently preserve the Red Hill Valley as parkland”.
In 1980, Ed organized the first Environmentalist of the Year awards, and in 1983 was himself honoured with the Dr. Victor Cecilioni Award as Hamilton’s Environmentalist of the Year. He helped establish an environmental trust fund that now bears his name and to which we urge you to make contributions in his memory.
Reflections on Ed Smee’s Life
On February 16th, 2002, over a hundred family, friends and colleagues gathered at the Workers Arts and Heritage Centre in Hamilton to share reflections on what Ed had meant to them. Below, Bill Randall offers some thoughts on Ed’s contributions to this community.
Together with Dr. Victor Cecilioni, Ed battled for a clean air programme for Hamilton, particularly for the city’s north-east sector. As a result, he was so challenged by industry that he found it necessary to gain incorporation and so CHOP (Clean Hamilton of Pollution) was born in 1969. At some time there must have been at least 300 members of CHOP. In Dr. Cecilioni’s name, Ed established the Environmentalist of the Year Award, with both of them eventually becoming recipients of that award.
One of the greatest tasks Ed undertook was to manage a government sponsored HUFFI programme where householders, who had used government-endorsed urea formaldehyde foam insulation in their homes, had the opportunity remove the “old stuff” and have the “good stuff” installed at government expense. He had a number of contractors at his disposal for the task and, with Ed’s excellent management skills, he “got the job done”.
Ed was always able to obtain “work” grants from the government and with these got slide and tape shows created for CHOP dealing with topics such as SWARU and its emissions and the Glanbrook Landfill site and its leachate. These presentations are still in the Conserver Society archives.
CHOP was renamed the Conserver Society of Hamilton & District (1984) after Ed gave a series of talks on what a “Conserver” society should and could be. To him the 3 R’s were like a commandment. For those of us on the Executive or in Committees, Ed was our mentor and educator, providing tapes and material for our education. We could be surprised during a meeting when, having remained silent for a while, he would come forth with some gem of an idea or information. At times he seemed clairvoyant and could anticipate an environmental opponents next move or thought. I cannot think of the Conserver Society without remembering Ed’s zest for a better environment and his tenacity for solving the issues at hand. It was with his guidance that the Chapters were developed. Some might say that his greatest achievement was the formation of the Environmental Trust which exists today as the Ed Smee Conserver Society Environmental Fund under the Hamilton Community Foundation.
I personally became a disciple of garden composting after visiting and observing what Ed was doing in his own garden I wonder if that old gnarled Elderberry bush on his front lawn still produces. I was given a sprig of the bush. It thrives as a great producer and if I can beat the birds to the mature berries , I will make elderberry jam in his memory. I have one regret. Ed and I had discussed going trout fishing on more than one occasion. For one reason or another this never occurred. So I missed a chance to learn more from this great human being. Edgar Smee was respected by peers and opponents alike. We have all been fortunate to have known and learned from him. He was an environmental pioneer. Eds’ legacy is a healthier environment for Hamilton.