Thursday, November 02, 2006

Michel Pharand

My father, Donat Pharand, introduced me to his old Dalhousie University classmate when I was a teenager. I met Ron a number of times over the years and, fortunately, got to know him better while living in Toronto in 1991.

I was surprised to discover that, for someone who devoted his life to the exacting study of the law, he was very well-read and knew all about Joseph Conrad, whose novels he greatly admired. Most striking of all were his consideration and his stately, gentlemanly demeanour. He possessed (in the words of F. Scott Fitzgerald describing Jay Gatsby) a smile "with a quality of eternal reassurance in it that concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favour." When Ron spoke to you, it was as if you were the only person in the room.

The last time I saw Ron was a few years ago in Ottawa, at a celebration for my father's eightieth birthday, where he gave a tribute whose wit and eloquence moved us all. This is how I will remember him: charming, articulate, and tremendously vibrant.

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