By Joyce Barkhouse
"Twelve months in anywhere, my pal, is sort of a weary whereas And turns out extra like a century whilst lived on Sable Isle ..."
So wrote Thomas Raddall on the age of eighteen, now not dreaming that decades later Sable Island -- that "hell in the world" -- would supply a romantic history for one among his maximum novels, The Nymph and the Lamp.
Traumatized by way of the horror of the good Halifax Explosion of 1917, in a couple of months by way of the demise of his father in conflict abroad, Tom was once pressured to go away tuition on the age of fourteen.
This short account of his lifestyles tells of his early adventures and of ways he grew to become certainly one of Canada's most famous storytellers.
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Extra info for A Name for Himself. A Biography of Thomas Head Raddall
ARCON controlled the fate of all Canadian wireless operators. A message from ARCON was a word from God. ARCON could snatch a man from a ship and station him ashore on some desolate island or cape in the sub-Arctic, or, if pleased with his work, might put him aboard a smart new freighter bound for far-off romantic places — Africa, India, Australia. Tom worked conscientiously, never missing a watch. One night the War Karma was caught in a violent storm, and Tom almost lost his life—but he told of the experience with humour: … I was on my way back to the radio cabin with a sandwich and a mug of hot cocoa when the ship rolled deeply to starboard, and a huge sea came out of the darkness … In a moment I was neck-deep in the North Atlantic and would have been dragged over the rail if I hadn’t been able to fling one arm about a stanchion and hang on.
He went out alone and sat on the doorstep in the sunlight. Although he had been brought up in a devout Christian home, he could not pray. He could not believe that an all-powerful and all-merciful God would permit the awful suffering he had witnessed after the Explosion, or the agony and death of a good man like his father on the battlefield. Filled with bitterness, anger, and grief, he vowed he would never trust either God or man, but would be totally responsible for himself. Many years later he wrote a poem for his lost father: Where the dead lay thickest, there they found My father with the sunset on his face Amid the wheat.
A few minutes before nine o’clock Thomas Raddall picked up his books and walked down the street to nearby Chebucto School. He was warmly dressed because there was a war-time shortage of fuel in the city and the janitor was under orders to bank the fire in the coal furnace every night. Only the oldest students in the top class, Grade Nine, had to attend at the usual hour. All the others came at ten o’clock, when the classrooms were warmer. (Courtesy Dalhousie University Archives, Thomas Raddall Papers) Tom was at this school on Chebucto Road when the Halifax Explosion occurred.
A Name for Himself. A Biography of Thomas Head Raddall by Joyce Barkhouse