The pair of blue birds that I saw in our garden on the day that John died .. Iis such a happy omen - John would have loved to see that they have settled down in one of his nesting boxes and are busy feeding their offspring. What excitement when they fledge. I`ll keep you posted.. Mary B.-B.
Web message for the John Bull memorial site - including the words that I spoke at the "Remember John Bull Memorial" May 8th 2010 held at the Arboretum, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario plus some excursions down memory lane. The Family was thrilled to welcome some 220 friends of John to this celebration held on a wickedly awful spring day with frost, hail, torrential rain, winds to 80K , thunder, lightning and brilliant sunshine - but not all at the same time! Friends - our friends - WELCOME. Nearly all of our North American Family is here and we wish that our family from the other side of the Pond could be with us too. However - there is a message from the UK which Sarah is going to read in a few minutes. Today we have Rachel and Carl with Emily, Sebastian and Brigitta from South Carolina - only Lucy is missing; Mark, Danielle and Pascale from Toronto and Sarah, Rob, Rowan and Evan also from Toronto. Wonderful to see them all. When I was a little girl in the middle of the last century (actually quite a bit before the middle of the last century!) my beloved Grandma Elizabeth Ann used to read me stories - usually Victorian novels and the dead heroines were always dubbed as "RELICTS". The OED defines a relict as" the widow of a man" - well - I did not like the sound of that word and, aged 6, I remember stamping my foot and declaring "well I am NEVER going to be a relict". The recent event of John`s death has proved me WRONG. I have received so many messages of condolence and love since John died and many tell me that John was " a dear good man"," a fine man", "a totally good person" and, from a true Brit (obviously) "such a fine chap". As I am from South Wales I have to present MY accolade (shared with my dear friend from the Uni days at Aberystwyth) "he was a really good BOYO". Of course I have so many memories of John gleaned from our 41 years of married life. My very first visual impact of John was at our initial meeting (at 60 feet down: sorry 20m) while scuba diving on a coral reef on the north coast of Jamaica. We were both living in Jamaica in the 60`s - I was at the U.W.I and John was building the Sandy Gully - a flood control device at the west end of Kingston harbour. Even in a mask and flippers here was this bronzed and quite beautiful man - and the rest is (as THEY say) HISTORY. We had some 2 years "back home" in the U.K. in the late 60s before fate brought us to Canada - I was extremely fortunate to be appointed to a faculty position in the Zoology Department of the University of Guelph and John came to join me at the end of 1968. John imagined he would spend some time learning to enjoy winter sports and and really conquering the ski slopes - WRONG! John actually found employment in the Engineering Department of the City of Guelph in week #1 of his Canadian sojourn! John and I were married in December 1968 and eventually (1972) moved to our little farm in Puslinch. By this time Rachel and Mark had joined us as had Sarah who was born in Guelph in 1969. We had a family interest in horseback riding - an interest that was not really embraced by John - he complained that equines bumped into him in the doorways and changed gear without warning when he tried riding them. On one memorable day at a dressage competition where Sarah was riding her great big horse (Dozent) John was looking after the horse while Sarah and I vanished to go to the wash room. Sarah happened to look out of a window and said (in a shakey voice) "don`t look now but Dotsie is lunging Dad!). John was so fully supportive of all our aspirations - they are too numerous to list - from sailing to Beagling, to an attempt at farming with totally inadequate equipment and little else but enthusiasm and the energy of youth. John always enjoyed entertaining - Pony Club camps and BBQs, cross country ski expeditions outa the back door, and after our retirement in 1995 numerous parties including our annual Christmas Soup and Cheese party to cut Christmas trees (when they were small enough). In 2000 we moved our "stuff" (some of it in wheelbarrows) down to the bottom of the hayfield to our new house designed by the family architect Rachel. This has been a constant joy with the development of the garden AND John`s POND. John bought me a plaque that says "under gardener" while his says "head gardener" - was he joking? We always imagined we would have a whole lot of "golden years" after retirement and we were lucky to have 15 when we travelled and enjoyed life -and watching the grand kids growing up into adulthood. With John`s death I am so aware of the importance of LIVING every day to the full. I remember Lily Chatterji in "The Jewel in the Crown" who advised everyone to "BASH ON" - I intend to do that as John would have wished. I owe John a huge debt - he gave me patience, love and fun - we did have a lot of fun. John would want us to live life to the full and so we will try. Finally - John really enjoyed being right and 2 things come to mind: Firstly - when we got married we had matching , planished rings made. John`s is lovely with a rather square top side. He never wore it as he said it was too big, heavy and not comfortable. I always said he just didn`t want to be seen wearing THAT ring! Well now I am wearing it and - you know what - it IS an awful ring to wear - he was right and - I cannot get it off! Secondly - some years ago we were delighted to have bluebirds nesting in the boxes John built for them in our garden - three broods one year - magic. Sadly for the last 2 years they came and looked but did not stay. THIS year the day before John was taken into hospital he said to me that he thought he saw a blue bird on the Bur Oak. I did no really believe him BUT on the day that John died - there they were - a pair and they have moved into one of the boxes. I have seen them almost every day that we have clement weather - what a lovely omen. Mary Beverley-Burton - John Bull`s Relict.
Growing up, one of John’s oft repeated maxims to me was ‘if a job’s worth doing, its worth doing well’; I think it is ingrained because I frequently ignored it, so it was frequently repeated. Nonetheless, I appreciate the most that John, through his support, guidance and example, provided a hugely positive influence on me and on our family. As a father, person and friend his relationship is valued beyond measure. Almost 40 years ago my parents started looking for a place in the country. Of the couple of properties I remember, the first considered did not suit; apart from the fact that it is now at the bottom of Guelph Lake, it was going to be a custom built fully finished house with aspect over the Speed River. While it looked great to me, it clearly did not have enough ‘fix it’ projects for John. The second property similarly did not suit. A stone ‘century farm’, with flat fertile fields and finished house was a little too ‘done’ for our ambitious engineer. Eventually they found the property we ended up affectionately calling the ‘farm’; now there was a challenge that John could embrace! An unwanted narrows left over from the county survey, sitting squarely atop a steeply rolling ground moraine; this small, steep and rocky parcel was clearly unsuited for any sort of farming. So of course they bought it, and proceeded for the next 25 years to thoroughly enjoy trying to do just that. If there weren’t enough farming projects to consider, the house and outbuildings themselves were daunting enough to give the bravest pause. The house was an insul-brick covered shack with linoleum floors and a dirt shed attached, from which the previous decades worth of garbage had been pitched out the back door. I sometimes wonder if John’s fascination with landfill manifested, or was because of, the fact he bought one to live on. Over a few short years John accumulated a poxy assortment of harrows, rakes, bailers, wagons, seeders and a ’58 Nuffield Universal tractor. Apparently, the tractor/bailer combination was particularly tricky to operate, because only John could drive it while the rest of us ran around in the summer heat stacking the bails. At least that’s what he claimed. I have an enduring memory of John sitting on that tractor, half turned around admiring his work --and his workers --, soaking up the sun and grinning broadly. John also has a knack for making it all sound so adventurous, so much so that for the first couple of years he’d actually convince his friends to come out and help. Nonetheless, even his powers of persuasion seldom convinced them to come back twice. Beyond the various adventures in livestock, John also built up a tool box of some envy, with winches, pulleys, shovels, saws and a collection of hammers from ½ pound to 20. And we banged together stables, decks, kennels, and – John’s favourite—the ever useful fence sty. I still wonder about John’s magic pile of wood; I rarely saw him go to what in those days was Beaver Lumber, but rather just head to the pile and pull out what he needed; his penchant for recycling was long standing. With John’s lists of projects, the farm came together; fence posts were sunk into what I can only describe as tilled bedrock, stables were built, vegetables were planted, the lawn, garden, woods and orchard were all tamed and the house was gradually added to and expanded. It was a huge transformation, refelecting years of work, commitment, and, most importantly, enjoyment. All this is full of fond memories, with corn roasts, water trough ‘swimming’, riding, and whatever next adventure John was about to tackle; and through it all, he was seldom frustrated, he was singularly positive and, he was singularly energetic. But it is more than this to me. It is the influence that he so ingrained in us that made our family. It is not by chance that each of Rachel, Sarah and myself tackled multiple house renovations, rather than buy someone else’s finished development. It is not by chance that professionally I try to work with my team as a coach rather than a taskmaster. It is not by chance that our family gets outside and gets active as often as possible. It is not by chance that there is a collective view that life is to be embraced and enjoyed. As John often said, life’s too short for sitting around, and for him it was. We will deeply miss him, but a little of him is with us every day.
((presented by sandy Middleton at the Memorial for John Bull on May 8, 2010) I met John many years ago as the spouse of my colleague, Mary. Like so many others, Ann and I were the recipients of the Bull, Beverley-Burton hospitality, first at the farm and latterly at their beautiful property on Concession 11, a property that bears the indelible stamp of both John and Mary. Over the years John and I got to know each other well. As our acquaintance grew, we discovered that we shared many things. For example, we have the same birthdate, we shared many similar experiences of growing up in wartime and post-war Britain, we both enjoyed classical music, and both shared the wonder of birds. However, there was one special part of our friendship that few knew of. Many years ago British Airways had an advertisement on TV that featured the rotund actor, Robert Morely, sitting on a park bench and inviting people to visit the UK. As Morely faced the camera he opened the ad. with the words, “I am a pudding man”. It didn’t take long for John and me to discover that we, too, were pudding men. As we sat around the dining table, following a good meal, we often reminisced about those wonderful British desserts, or puddings, of our childhood. We recalled such suet-laden delicacies as Rolly-Polly pudding, Spotted Dick (no comment), and Apple dumplings, along with many less artery clogging items such as Queen of puddings, Eve’s pudding, and deep Gooseberry pie. As John and I hinted that the meal might have been improved through the inclusion of one of these treats, Ann and Mary simply rolled their eyes in disbelief. The love of such desserts was probably related to both the British climate and the aftermath of wartime austerity. But, there was another item that was important to us; the shared liking of sweetened condensed milk. Where John developed this taste I do not know. In my case it was because in the relative absence of cream and sugar during the war, my father was always able to obtain a tin or two of sweetened condensed milk from the local fishermen. This became the treat that was added to fresh fruit in season, that remains my preferred topping, and I suspect was John’s, to this day. The significance of sweetened condensed milk in our lives was celebrated on John’s 70th birthday, when I presented him with 7 different varieties of sweetened condensed milk, i.e one brand for each decade of his life. Every time I spike another tin of condensed milk I will think of John. On a more serious note, however, John was a good friend. I will miss his cheery phone calls and e-mail messages. I will miss his queries about, and our discussions of birds. I will miss his lively interest in the world around us. And, I will miss his jovial, open hospitality. John was someone who loved life and lived it well. John, it is hard to say “goodbye”.
(presented at John Bull's Memorial May 8, 2010) John’s rapid decline and death came as a shock to us. He was such a vigorous, forward looking man, happy with his role in life. We have known John as a friend in many roles: as a devoted husband, a farmer, a host, and as a retiree. As a farmer he was proud of his land where he produced animals from which we enjoyed delicious meat. Eventually, he and Mary severed off some of the land for their new home site. As a host he was unflappable making his guests feel important and loved. I am particularly grateful to John and Mary for their hospitality and support during the evening last June when my mother was dying in England. He was a role model as a retiree! He grasped the opportunities with all his considerable enthusiasm, and excelled in his pursuit of new experiences. We found that his meticulous planning was a valuable guide as we made the hard decisions of what to see on our own Australian Odyssey. John and Mary were keen and discerning film watchers, and we could usually count on seeing them at the screenings of the more cerebral films at the Bookshelf; it was a joy to hear his incite full comments on the plots. We must all be impressed by the expedition to Tanzania, stoic in the face of an unwelcome diagnosis. Sadly we will never enjoy the accounts of this last trip embellished by the inimical Bull! John will be missed by many people for many reasons, but we should all cherish his memory as a successful retiree who kept challenging himself with new and enriching projects.
Here in the UK it is hard for us to grasp that John has gone; never to pop in and see us again. We would like to have been able to join you, to share in your remembrance of him and to hear the tributes of his family, friends and work colleagues in Canada. We will be holding our own remembrance of him, at the same time as you, in the UK. He leaves numerous cousins, aunties, children and grandchildren, as well as his brother; who will all miss him so much. John’s mother was one of 6 sisters; he was the second oldest and first male of the cousins. From a very young boy John created quite a stir amongst his aunties. Perhaps, being 6 sisters with no brother, the aunties (and his mother) were not used to such a boisterous, noisy, bundle of energy. None of the subsequent male cousins ever achieved the same aura of having such untameable energy or being so difficult to handle! Yet at school he was a model student. His mother could never reconcile the glowing school reports with the child she knew at home. The war years formed a large part of his early experiences. He lived in Dartford, which was known as “bomb alley” because it was so often hit by German bombers. School lessons were often in a bomb shelter with an air-raid going on overhead. Sometimes, on the way home, the siren would sound and John would have to find the nearest shelter. (His mother would cycle through the raid, trying to discover where her off-spring had got to!) But for a young boy the convoys of tanks, guns and soldiers that passed the end of his road, on the way to the coast, and the aeroplanes overhead, were both terrifying and exciting. After bombing raids he would go with his little gang (which he led) to look for toys amongst the bombed out buildings. Despatch riders trained on Dartford Heath, 5 minutes away, so John and his friends followed and copied them, cycling down steep tracks into the gravel pits. He was 10 when the war ended and the family moved to Portsmouth where he attended the Northern Grammar School. John loved school where he excelled at sport; eventually representing his school in football, cricket, athletics, tennis and swimming. He was very influenced by his father who was a civil engineer (several uncles were also engineers) and it is certain he was more in tune with practical, applied knowledge rather than academic study. He never questioned or looked back on his decision to be a civil engineer and was proud to have been at Bristol University. After graduation he left England with his young family to work in Aden and never worked again in the UK. In later life his UK relatives always looked forward to his regular visits. He usually came on his own and developed an effective itinerary to see as many family members as possible. Arriving at Gatwick on an overnight flight, he would hire a car and go straight to Southampton where he would fight off jet lag while he spent the first night with Auntie Ena. Then on to daughter Caroline in Dorset en route for his parents in Plymouth. From there he would go via second daughter Rosemary in Bristol to friends in Wales, on to his brother Tony in the North West before travelling down the East coast where several more friends and Aunts lived, before finally staying with Auntie Joyce, who conveniently lived near Gatwick. It was often said he saw more of the family in the UK than they saw of each other! He could only stay 1 or 2 nights in each location -being pressed to complete his circuit in the time available. Having an overseas visitor for 1 night meant that everyone pulled out the stops - he was always royally entertained at each place. No wonder each visit was memorable! John was always sociable, friendly, even-tempered and interested in everyone. He loved travelling and was such an enthusiastic explorer, always planning the next trip. We will remember him as kind, thoughtful and straightforward. Although we will all miss him, his approach to life was positive and easy-going and that produced many happy memories for both him and us.
[Presented by Norm Moore at the John Bull Rememberance Gathering at the Arboretum, UG, on Saturday, May 8, 2010. ngm] In 1972, “the Bulls,” moved across the road from the Moore farm, which was operated by my parents, Keith and Sadie Moore. Mistakenly, we Moore’s assumed that all five of our new neighbours had the surname, “Bull.” We found out much later this name applied only to two of them. Regardless, for convenience’s sake, the Moore’s and many of the locals have continued to refer to the entire family as “the Bull’s.” John Bull and his family, were, to put it politely, city folk. They did not come from a farming background. In fact, they were an exotic breed…they didn’t dress like farmers, speak like farmers, or think like farmers. Why, they kept animals for pleasure, not for profit! The Bull’s fit into a new category of county dwellers who were sweeping our local countryside at that time—farmers were disappearing from the horizon and doctors, consultants, engineers, and even European royalty were taking their places. Whatever was happening to the neighbourhood? It did not take long for the Bulls and the Moore’s to become friends. Although our worlds were concentrated at the farthest ends of any continuum, we had an admiration for each other’s way of life. John and my father got on especially well. The two of them developed a mutual respect for each other. John brought a world’s perspective to farming, whereas my father provided a glimpse of a farmer’s world to John. John was interested in part-time farming, and my father wondered if John could know exactly how arduous this way of life could be. John would rush home from the office, transform himself from shirt and tie into farm apparel to continue, with gusto, an endless number of tasks. My father’s daily jottings for July 5, 1972 read as follows: “Was talking to John Bull. He is anxious to get [started] haying.” I have no idea if John had a tractor this early in his rustic life, let alone the other implements necessary to commence haying, but he was enthusiastic. Both he and Mary learned that farm work is never done. It is a continuous, undulation of headaches (and sometimes heartaches) that can, eventually, lead to happiness and satisfaction. There were always fences needing mending, trees needing pruning, soil needing tilling, and…well, you get the picture. My father’s October 20, 1972 journal entry reads: “John Bull came down tonight to get some link chains for [the] baler.” Almost always, something brakes down on every farm. Well do I remember John’s old red tractor, just lik our old red tractor, in need of repair. John would come by, sometimes to borrow tools, for advice, or just a chat. In the intervening years, we were invited “over the road” to John and Mary’s. John was always the consummate host and attentive bartender. His jovial laugh, constant smile and dancing eyes demonstrated that he was always ready for a good time. He had a kind and gentle way to approach everything. His great sense of humour must have come in handy around Hallowe’en—for some mysterious reason, he might find his wagon sitting in a stone outbuilding, bales of hay stuffed under his vehicle, or the wheelbarrow perched in the hayloft. I, of course, admit to knowing nothing about such events. On every Christmas Day, at some point, the Moore family was always invited to come to the Bull’s for an open house—where there was always something amazingly different going on. Etched in my memory was the Christmas Day eel, stretched out in its entirety, on the dining room table, cut into bite-sized portions for our discerning palates. Certainly, from the Moore’s traditional perspective, this was unusual Christmas fare. These are happy memories, upon which our two families can look back. In preparing this tribute, it has been a privilege and pleasure to think of those wonderful times. After the death of my father in 1987, John and Mary were both wonderfully attentive to my mother. When she died in 1993, and my sister moved into the small house on the hill, John and Mary were constantly supportive to her. They were, I believe, the very best neighbours one could have. So, Mary, Rachel, Mark, Sarah, and respective families, after 38 years of country living, without hesitation, I can hear my parents saying that John lived and loved his rural way of life, and successfully achieved his goal in becoming, in every sense of the word(s), a gentleman farmer.
We met John sometime prior to the engagement of our son Robert and his daughter Sarah. As others have said he was always so very positive and filled with the joy of living. He made us, the in-laws, immediately feel like one of an extended family. John and I travelled to Africa on a safari. He had told us that he was going, and when I asked if I might tag along his response was an instant yes. During those two weeks we shared many morning and afternoon trips looking for wildlife. We shared more than the odd beer and much discussion over the pictures we had managed to take, and arriving home we both took great pleasure in showing one another some of our better shots. The world is a better place because of John, and we who knew him are privileged to have had him come into our lives.
My wife Mari and I met John when we came to Canada in 1969 and we visited with him and Mary regularly. What comes to mind most about John was his consistently pleasant and up-beat nature. I remember how he found humour in so many things and never once did I see him other than always very happy with life. It is one's good fortune to know a person like that and I will miss him very much indeed.
Heather & I know John & Mary through Alan & Val Williams via my parents. We used to enjoy coming down to 'Bryn Tierw" (Mary , please forgive the spelling) to assist with some of the work projects that needed to be done on the farm. This was fun for a young teenager, replacing a beam in the barn basement, planting a field(and getting to drive the tractor!). On one of these trips we had need to take some trash to the Dump, and it was a Dump, just up the road from the farm. I can remember John's comment s about how badly this dump was being operated and that it was destined to be closed soon. How little did I realize that this was just the tip of the iceberg, and the implications it would have for me and the rest of Guelph. We actually moved to Guelph in '96, discovered the joys of a two (now three) bag system for garbage, also discovering that our Scout group could actually buy bulk compost, bag it and sell it for a profit. All because of John's vision. John's vision helped send 16 Scouts to the UK in 2001, a trip none of them have ever forgotten Thank you John, from all of them. Heather & myself.
MEMORIES OF JOHN It was in 1962 that we found ourselves living in a flat above John and his young family. Alan had been appointed resident engineer to build three ‘dolphin’ oil fuelling platforms in Aden harbour and John was one of three young assistant port engineers seconded to the project. John had already been there for four years and was well integrated into the multi cultural life of the colony. He quickly introduced us to his wide circle of ex pat, Arab and Indian friends and our lifelong friendship began. On one memorable occasion, through his friendship with an Arab contractor, we were included in John’s invitation to visit his home – a rare honour. This involved a twenty mile drive along the seashore before heading inland to the isolated irrigated farmland in the desert. When we arrived we were greeted with the sound of chattering female voices coming from the shuttered windows of the second storey and were conscious of being observed by what seemed like a flock of twittering unseen birds. The women of the household never appeared, but all day long we were aware of their inquisitive behind the scene presence. We were lavishly entertained to lunch seated round the room on white sheeted mattresses on a floor carpeted with Persian rugs. The highlight of the day was watching our Arab host proudly flying his pet falcon for John’s special benefit. On the occasions we caught up with John on our visits to Canada and his to the U.K., he seemed little changed over the years from the young, affable, laid back engineer we got to know so well in Aden days – still eager to experience all life had to offer and share it with others. On what was to be his final visit to West Wales with Mary last year, when we had a cold but enjoyable spring day at Aberglasney, he was as full of energy and life as usual and that is how I will always remember and miss him - John you were a great guy. Val Williams
KJB and DTB shared a curious English tradition of the silent first name, one that was never spoken unless it was a parental admonishment. When I first started working for or with, I could never quite establish that heirarchy, though he did summon me into his office with that booming voice and wicked smile. He wanted me to tell him my first name and explain why I didn't use it...I stammered and mumbled about a Limey tradition and he shared his life story with me. This would be one of my many encounters with this inquisitive man as we broke new ground in Guelph with a revolutionary way of looking at waste as a resource. John encouraged brainstorming and thinking outside of the box, his staff were young and fearless as we bought into his vision. Those heady days were exciting and ground breaking! His retirement came as a shock to all of us, what would we do without him at the helm, he told us to keep up the fight and carry on. He mentored me at the beginning of my waste management career and he was interested in my family, my reading habits, gardening, fishing and supported my local community diversions such as TVOntario, Communities in Bloom, Wyndham House and Guelph 2000 which gave Guelph a vibrant pulse with like minded people sharing in a common vision. This is John's legacy, the people he touched, guided and mentored and Guelph is a better place for it.
We have many fond and happy memories of time spent with John over the years. The last time we saw him was when bringing in the New Year 2010. Welcoming the New Year with John and Mary was an annual event established on Dec 31st 1999 when we waited with bated breath in front of the TV for the fireworks in New Zealand to signal that Y2K had been rung in with no catastrophes. We always looked forward to sending out the old year and bringing in the new in the company of John & Mary, and Jac & Tony Richardson. John’s champagne opening prowess will be sorely missed (see May 2 album photo 2002-12-31 #24). An amusing incident occurred on New Year's Day 2008 in Meaford when we went to a favorite view overlooking Georgian Bay. Tony Richardson, in Jac's 4 wheel drive Subaru, drove a little too far off the road and got stuck in deep snow. But John came to the rescue - with his towing cable and his Toyota RAV 4 he pulled Jac's car safely out of the ditch! We fondly remember John's great glee on this occasion (see May 2 album photo 2007-12-31 #08). Perhaps his joy arose from the fact he was a Bristol engineer coming to the rescue of an IC engineer? Another of his engineering feats was the pond he installed at the Puslinch home. Surely Master Gardener Mary, an ICENAE, will agree that Bristolian John’s pond is a work of art and an engineering masterpiece! Even Monty their dog liked to go in for a wade (See May 3 album, photo 2005-08-20 #02 & #08). John was a true friend, always with a smile on his face, the epitome of patience and with a ready welcome for all and sundry, whether new acquaintances or longtime friends… a GENTLEman. With our sincere respects, Ros and Mike