Hart Devenney: Retirement Years

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The Friends of Bark Lake: Ontario Camp Leadership Centre, Irondale, Ontario, Canada

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The following article was researched and written by Richard Devenney. More contributors.

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Hart Devenney: Retirement Years (1968-1976)

Researched and written by Richard Devenney © R. A. B. Devenney on February 16, 2008

Retirement Years (1968-1976)

Hart’s retirement from the Ontario Government began in July of 1968 when he reached age 65. At first, he must have found it somewhat like going from 60 mph. down to 10 mph. - in about three seconds. His hair, which had retained at least some black in it up to that time, became almost snow white in six months.

Yet, it was not long before he was taking night school courses at the high school just half a mile down the street - walking to them of course. And he also returned to the oil and watercolour painting hobby he had begun some thirty years before - even taking some courses about it that were facilitated for seniors through the local public library.

But Hart did not leave his physical education colleagues totally. He soon became Managing Editor of the bi-monthly CAHPER Journal magazine for the period from 1969 to 1971; he also sat on its Editorial Review Board, and was particularly pleased to have been asked to be the Special Editor of the “History of CAHPER Commemorative Issue” which was published as May-June 1974 Issue (Vol.40, n.5). A copy of this magazine was saved by his wife. It recounts relevant events of the first 40 years of the organization. He wrote an introductory essay for that issue, which featured many other essays by people like Jack Passmore, ‘Blackie’ Blackstock, Bryce Taylor and Kirk A, W. Wipper who were long time colleagues or friends. Privately, Hart began research and work on a history of physical education in Canada as he had experienced it.

But more than anything, he was pleased to be asked by Kirk Wipper, his long-time friend and colleague, to assist in the running of Kandalore Camp that Kirk operated near Dorset in the Haliburton Highlands for several summers. This development allowed Hart and his wife Rena to return for major portions of each of those summers to that beautiful part of Canada again - just as they had during the Bark Lake years,

In July 1973, Hart had turned 70. He and his wife Rena often spent a lot of time with her sister Laura and her husband Owen, who lived a short drive away from their home. The two couples had been very close since they had first met more than 40 years earlier. An occasional movie or play was also taken in. He read as voraciously as he ever had, making thoughtful notations in the margins of almost all his books as he read them - all while also watching the evening news on TV or even Hockey Night in Canada. So too, there were delivered and read, the Globe & Mail in the morning, and the Toronto Star at night, and often ‘Le Devoir’ from Montreal in between. He often went to the popular speeches program of the Empire Club, if only to get downtown; and, no doubt, from time to time, to visit and catch up with old colleagues.

In time, not surprisingly, he had developed an appropriate daily physical program for himself walking for more than 30 minutes most days whether rain, snow or sleet, and in summer and in winter. At family dinners, he was as jovial as he ever was - always eager to discuss the news of the day, sports, politics and world events. This essay’s author enjoyed one of these on July 29, 1976, just 3 weeks to the day after Hart’s 73rd birthday. He was very happy and in fine form. But over night, he suffered a serious heart attack while still in bed at about 4:30 am. and was taken to the hospital, where he suffered a second, and passed before 10:00 am. The cause was coronary artery disease, a condition that is now known to run in the family. It was July 30, 1976.