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People and organizations

Johnstone, John Francis

John Francis Johnstone was born on November 25, 1838 in Kirkburton, near Huddersfield, in West Yorkshire. His father William was a tea merchant; his mother was Anne Whitehead.

In official birth registration documents for his children, J.F. is described as a teacher, but it is not known whether he taught just music. According to family lore, his future wife, Mary Curtis was at boarding school where she was sent by her parents who lived in Jamaica (Timothy Curtis was a Methodist minister/missionary who spent his career in Jamaica, moving from parish to parish). However, Mary Curtis was 18 at the time of her marriage, and in spite of family tradition was probably not a schoolgirl when she wed Frank. The family appears to have moved around a bit but always within the small circle of Bradford and its environs. Mother to five children, Mary Curtis died in 1877, three years after the last child was born, and soon afterwards J.F. married Catherine McGregor who was born in Scotland, and according to the census of 1881 was ten years older than her husband. In 1880 the family emigrated to Toronto where J.F. is described in the 1881 census as a music teacher. According to family lore Catherine returned to Britain.

J.F.’s obituary in the February 25, 1913 issue of The Toronto Daily Star gives further details of his life. “Mr. Johnstone was a well-known figure in musical circles in Toronto during the past 35 years. He had for many years his studio at the corner of Spadina Avenue and College Street. He was organist of Broadway Tabernacle and Christ Church, Lippincott and College, for a number of years. He was organist of Surrey Lodge, S.O.E. [Sons of England], of which he was a member for thirty years and was secretary of the Hospital Committee for the Sons of England for a number of years. In this work, which took him into the hospitals, his kindness and cheery face made him beloved by all who came in contact with him.”

J.F. Johnstone is given an entry in The Encyclopedia of Music in Canada, and although some of the facts about his early life are incorrect, the text does mention that “he was associated with the CNE” and “taught privately.”

What is not mentioned in reminiscences or in documents is the many compositions and songs that J.F. wrote (just the music – not the words). These were published for voice, or piano or both, and usually in collaboration with the poet/publisher John Imrie.

Benzmiller, Patricia

  • Person
  • 1924-2018

Pat Benzmiller was born on September 25, 1924 in Queens, New York. She participated in charitable work throughout her lifetime in Queens, New York; Brookline, Massachusetts; and Gaithersburg, Maryland. She died on June 17, 2018.

Victoria University (Toronto, Ont.). Alumni Affairs and University Advancement Department

  • Corporate body
  • 1975-

Throughout much of the University’s history, matters of alumni and fund raising were managed by the President, Bursar, and Board of Regents. Beginning in 1975, a separate office was created to manage these responsibilities: the Department of External Relations and Development, name changed to the Alumni Affairs and University Advancement Department in 2002. Another name change occurred in the 2010s and the office became known as the Office of Alumni Affairs and Advancement. A committee of the Board of Regents continues to monitor and encourage matters relating to alumni and advancement.

Beausoleil, Gerard Louis

  • Person
  • 1924-2008

Father Gerard L. Beausoleil, M.M. was born on January 16, 1924, in Plainfield, Connecticut. He served as a Maryknoll priest in various capacities for 56 years. He served more than 45 of those years in Japan. He died on August 8, 2008.

Simms, George Richard

  • Person

Dr. George R. Simms is Professor Emeritus of Family and Community Medicine at Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine; he was a family physician for 39 years and Medical Director of Pinnacle Health Hospice for 10 years. He earned a Ph.D. in Human Behavior from the United States International University, a Master’s degree in Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School and a fellowship in Medical Ethics from Harvard University.

Sidorak, Stephen J., Jr.

  • Person
  • 1950-

The Rev. Stephen J. Sidorak Jr. is a United Methodist clergyman who attended Yale Divinity School, earning his Master of Divinity degree in 1975 and a Master of Sacred Theology degree in 1976.

Blachford, Frank

Franck Blachford was a violinist, teacher, conductor, and composer. He was born on December 28, 1879 in Toronto, Ontario and passed away on June 24, 1957 in Calgary, Alberta. He studied at the Toronto Conservatory of Music (TCM) with Bertha Drechsler Adamson and graduated with his ATCM in 1897, before continuing his studies at the Leipzig Conservatory with Hans Sitt and Carl Reinecke, graduating in 1901 with the Helbig prize. He then studied in Geneva, Switzerland with Henri Marteau and in Berlin, Germany. He returned to Canada in 1901 and taught at the TCM until his death. He was also concertmaster of the Conservatory Orchestra (1906-1908) and the Welsman Toronto Symphony Orchestra (1908-1918), and was a first violinist with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (1932-1946). He also performed as a solo violinist. As a chamber musician, he founded the Toronto String Wuartet in 1907; performed with the Schumann Trio (1902-1905), the Conservatory Trio (1926-1928); and, conducted the Conservatory String Orchestra (1914-1925) and the Victoria College Orchestra (1920-1930). In 1932, he formed the Blachford String Symphony, a group of 16 musicians from the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. Blachford's compositions include pedagogical works for violin, and transcriptions of baroque and romantic music for string quartet and orchestra. He also wrote a number of songs.

Hart House String Quartet

The Hart House String Quartet was founded by violinist Geza de Kresz, violist Milton Blackstone (formerly Blackstein), cellist Boris Hambourg, and violinist Harry Adaskin. They gave their first performance in 1924 at Hart House Theatre, and its success of the concert led to the groups permanent establishment with funding by the Massey Foundation. The quartet continued to perform internationally until 1945. They performed 10 annual concerts at Hart House and 10 annual concerts at Convocation Hall, University of Toronto, as well as performing across Canada, the United States, and two tours of Britain and Europe.

Geza de Kresz left the quartet in 1935 and was replaced by James Levey; Harry Adaskin was replaced by Adolph Kodolfsky in 1938, and then Henry Milligan in 1942; and Milton Blackstone was replaced by Allard de Ridder in 1941 and Cyril Glyde in 1944. Boris Hambourg remained with the quartet throughout its existence.

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