‘I consider my life to be a book’
Roger Bacon, the farmer, premier and philanthropist, was honoured by the Amherst Curling Club during a fundraising dinner to help the club.
© Darrell Cole - Cumberlandnewsnow.com
Former MP Bill Casey shares some stories while former premier Roger Bacon looks on during a dinner in Bacon's honour. Proceeds from the dinner supported the Amherst Curling Club.
AMHERST – Roger Bacon never wanted to be a politician, but he wouldn’t trade his experiences of the people he met for anything in the world.
Speaking to supporters during a dinner in his honour at the Amherst Curling Club on Tuesday, the 87-year-old former premier of Nova Scotia said he managed to accomplish a lot during his life because he worked with some amazing people who supported him in whatever he did.
“Life has been very interesting for me,” Bacon said. “I consider my life to be a book, it has many chapters and each one of them has been so interesting with so many fond memories of farming, auction sales, blueberries, municipal council and being in Halifax as the MLA.”
A fundraiser for another of Bacon’s passions, the Amherst Curling Club, the former Cumberland East MLA who was premier from 1990 to 1991, was feted by several of his friends including former Conservative and independent MP Bill Casey, longtime family friend and lawyer Morris Haugg, Gwen Kerr from the Cumberland Health Care Foundation and curling friend Dr. Alan Baldock.
Bacon said in 1958 three people came to him to convince him to run for municipal council in District 1. While he was hesitant, he agreed and until 1970 he served on Cumberland municipal council – including a stint as deputy warden.
When Dr. Jim Langille announced his retirement from politics, Bacon was asked to run for the Progressive Conservatives and held several cabinet posts in successive John Buchanan governments until becoming the interim premier after Buchanan’s retirement to the Senate and the party’s selection of Donald Cameron to lead them.
Haugg called Bacon a great neighbour in the traditional sense that he looked out for those around him.
The retired Amherst lawyer said he worked on the farm that neighboured Bacon’s when he first came to Canada as an 18-year-old. Knowing that he was alone in a foreign country, Roger and Clara took him under their wing, took him out to meet people in the community and encouraged his studies when he decided to go to school to eventually become a lawyer.
“Roger Bacon is the man the good neighbour concept came from because he was the quintessential good neighbour in the truest sense,” Haugg said. “That was one of his main characteristics and he has practiced it his entire life. That’s what makes him so special. He has been a good neighbour to so many people.”
Casey shared several funny stories about how Bacon attempted to give him guidance when he was first elected to the House of Commons in 1988.
The former MP said he would talk to Bacon about an idea and would be met with a bunch of questions. That’s when he knew that his idea wasn’t as good as he first though.
Casey said Bacon taught him about politics and how to work with the people who elected him.
“I always enjoyed my meetings with Roger because there was never a meeting that I left that I didn’t learn something new from him,” Casey said.
Casey said Bacon had a great reputation in Halifax and was even admired by the media. He also brought order and structure to the cabinet table..
Baldock called him a great ambassador for the sport of curling, adding his and Clara’s leadership and philanthropy helped the club through the years.
Kerr said Bacon’s involvement with the Cumberland Health Care Foundation began when Haugg and Blake Daley approached him about being the first chairman in 1993. He also took an active role in the Above and Beyond Campaign that raised $7.5 million for the new hospital and was honoured with a Distinguished Service Award.
Following the death of his wife Clara last October, Bacon made a substantial contribution to the foundation. This money will be used to support health care staff enrolling in educational or skills training programs.
“The Clara Bacon Fund will be a lasting testament to Clara and to Roger,” she said.