Jack Knox: A mystery (partly) solved, the last meat draw and other stories

Tying up some loose ends from earlier columns:

• The Albert Schweitzer photo mystery has been solved.

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Sort of.

In May, I wrote about a photo found inside a book donated to the Times Colonist Book Sale.

Volunteer (and published poet) Rhonda Ganz found the black-and-white image — two women flanking an old man with a big moustache and a pith helmet — tucked inside a copy of The Light Within Us, a slim collection of Albert Schweitzer’s philosophy.

What really caught Ganz’s attention was the handwritten note on the back: “My daughter and I with my father in one of the last photographs taken of him.”

Ganz appeared to be looking at a photo of the legendary humanitarian, his only child Rhena Schweitzer Miller and one of her three daughters. It might have been taken at the hospital he founded in Lambarene in what was then French Equatorial Africa.

The question: How did a photo signed by the daughter of Schweitzer — Alsatian-born theologian, philosopher, physician, writer, musician, Nobel Peace Prize laureate and the subject of an Academy Award-winning documentary — end up at the TC book sale?

The answer: Dunno, but we can confirm that it’s genuine.

A bit of sleuthing led to Schweitzer’s granddaughter Dr. Christiane Engel — who we thought was the young woman in the photo — in the U.S.

No, Engel wrote, the picture was actually of her younger sister, Catherine Eckert, posing with their grandfather and mother shortly before Schweitzer’s death in Lambarene in 1965.

And yes, it was Rhena Schweitzer Miller, who died in Pacific Palisades, California, in 2009, who wrote on the back of the photo. “The handwriting is authentic from my mother,” wrote Engel, a Swiss-raised physician and concert pianist known for her own good works. She offered no hint as to how the photo came to be in Victoria, though.

As for this year’s other big book sale mystery — the identity/motivation of whoever donated a box full of brassieres — someone else can take a stab at solving that one.

• If Martin Scorsese were directing this documentary, he’d call it The Last Meat Draw.

The final chance for the public to say goodbye to the century-old Britannia Legion will be Sunday, when the 780 Summit St. branch throws a bash from 11:30-6 with free hot dogs and discounted bar drinks before closing its doors for good.

This isn’t a surprise. More than a few Legion branches — including ones in Esquimalt, Whalley and North Burnaby — have sold or done joint venture real estate deals recently. Nationwide, Royal Canadian Legion membership is half what it was 30 years ago, and more than half of those who remain are over age 65.

In Britannia’s case, it was manpower, not money (the branch was actually doing OK financially, albeit trending in the wrong direction) that led to the decision to sell the building and an adjoining parking lot. There just weren’t enough younger people to take over from the older volunteers.

The property was sold to an Ontario numbered company. Britannia president Keith Yow said the money from the sale will be invested, with the interest funnelled to community causes such as the Wounded Warriors and Colwood’s Cockrell House for homeless veterans.

As for the contents of the building, chairs and tables are going to the Trafalgar Pro Patria branch on Gorge Road. Ali Baba Pizza bought the 35-foot flagpole in a deal that included pies for Legion members. Other bits — pool tables, kitchen appliances and whatnot — will be offered to non-profits first, then to businesses and the public.

• Metchosin’s David Kirkham, the great-grandson of the British policeman killed by rioting Canadian soldiers in Epsom, England, on June 17, 1919, says Monday’s ceremonies marking the event’s centennial were moving.

“It was very emotional when the trumpeter played The Last Post,” he wrote from England.

Kirkham brought his great-grandfather’s medals from Metchosin to give to the mayor of Epsom.

• After a column about the slogans on car licence plates, a reader pointed out that Manitoba’s read “100,000 Lakes” until 1975.

“Then somebody counted.”

• Let’s get this straight: Justin Trudeau A) OK’d the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, then B) spent $4.5 billion of your money (and jeopardized Liberal seats in B.C.) to make sure it gets built and C) will push it through cabinet again today. Even then, Albertans will think he’s the antichrist.

He could deliver $100-a-barrel oil, a cup for the Flames and Free Beer Fridays, but in Wild Rose Country, a Trudeau is still a Trudeau.

• Monday’s Raptors parade is over. You can go back to despising Toronto now.

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