It was with a heavy heart that George Clarke received his Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal from MPP Mike Colle last week.
Clarke’s wife of 45 years, Brunetta, is gravely ill in hospital and he was thinking of her throughout the ceremony. The Barbadian immigrants met in England in 1962 and were married when they came to Canada five years later.
“I am humbled by the award even though it comes at a difficult time for me,” he said, choking back tears.
The retired sales manager has been active in the York South-Weston community, where he was the federal liberal association manager.
“George is a proud Canadian and tireless volunteer all his life,” said Colle. “He organizes community picnics and barbecues for seniors and fundraises for his church and local charities. He is always there offering support and giving of his time.”
Besides his wife, Clarke is also keeping a close watch on Postal Station K, which Canada Post is considering selling. Located at Yonge St. just north of Eglinton Ave., the station sits on the site of Montgomery’s Tavern, where William Mackenzie organized, launched and ended the Upper Canada Rebellion in 1837.
“This is a historic building and an important component in our society,” said Clarke, who comes from a family of successful Barbadian lawyers.
His father, Cecil, was one of Barbados’ youngest scholars at age 16 and an Oxford graduate while his late brother, Alfred, was a Queen’s Counsel. Clarke’s nephew, Brian, is also a lawyer. He delivered the eulogy at Prime Minister David Thompson’s funeral two years ago.
Businesswoman and community worker, Letna Allen-Rowe, was also the recipient of a medal.
The 1977 Clarendon College graduate taught from kindergarten to the tertiary levels before migrating to Canada in 1993. She spent her last nine years in Jamaica with the Stony Hill Heart Academy, a vocational and technical institution.
Allen-Rowe has been actively involved with her alumni association and with the Alliance of Jamaican Alumni Associations of which she was a vice-president. She has also done a lot of community work with Toronto Police 13 Division and with the York-Eglinton Business Improvement Association.
When she’s not working in the community, she’s on stage making people laugh. Trained at the Jamaica School of Drama and the National Institute of Broadcasting in Canada, Allen-Rowe appeared in several Little Theatre Movement pantomimes in Jamaica. Her credits include Against His Will, You Me An Mi Taxi, Mr. Garvey, Black in Time, Full House and Oliver & Cinderella.
She has toured internationally with Oliver Samuels, considered Jamaica’s King of Comedy, and appeared locally in several Marcia Brown Production plays, including Rosetta, where she played the role of a fiery Miss Mini.
Following the death of Louise Bennett-Coverley in the Greater Toronto Area in July 2006, Allen-Rowe has stepped into the role, inspiring audiences with her Miss Lou imitations.
“The spirit of those gone before me has left an everlasting mark on my life,” said Allen-Rowe, who is the product and business development manager at Rapid Remittance Money Transfer. “They gave me the confidence and the courage to be doing what I am doing.”
Colle said Allen-Rowe is a special person in the community.
“Letna brings joy, laughter and many fond memories through her own sharing of experiences as a young girl growing up in Jamaica,” he said. “She’s a very generous and committed community worker.”
Clarke and Allen-Rowe were among 14 community representatives presented with medals to mark the ascension to the throne on Feb 6, 1952 of the second longest-serving monarch in British history.
“We are honouring people here tonight that don’t get recognized in the media and there are no books written about them,” said Colle. “They are people typical of what makes Canada the incredible country that it is. They are the unsung heroes, the day-to-day people who deserve recognition.”
By RON FANFAIR