A generation of change

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Mr. Jamieson’s office was by any definition quaint. Aside from having a Gestetner duplicating machine and antique looking heavy black telephones, there was also an oil burning stove which needed to lit and re-lit regularly as it kept flooding itself (the remedy for which was the insertion of an entire roll of toilet paper to sop up the excess fluid). This particular emergency chore was invariably handled gingerly by Mr. Jamieson’s erstwhile assistant, Mrs. Evelyn Barker, widow of the late Mr. Jack Barker who was himself a former Registrar of Deeds in Almonte. Nothing however topped the bathroom for quaintness. The bathroom (for which there was a small sink with only cold running water) was located on the third floor of the building, an area which had at one time been occupied by a local fraternal association, something like the Independent Order of Odd Fellows as was apparent from their escutcheon emblazoned on the ceiling. When properly seated in the bathroom, if one looked directly down between one’s legs, there was a hole in the floor from which one could see the top of Mr. Jamieson’s desk below. Mr. Jamieson told me that in years gone by that section of Mill Street was known as “Barristers Row”. All the law offices were on the second floor and apparently the lawyers communicated in code with one another by tapping on their adjoining walls to signal when it was time, for example, for a coffee break. In those early days the lawyers regularly worked Saturday mornings and took off Wednesday afternoons.