Monday, 16 May 2016

(Part C) Islands in a Time of Civilizational Decline: DDO&P

 4. Canada's David Dunlap Observatory and Park (DDO&P): Retrospect

Quality assessment: 

On the 5-point scale current in Estonia, and surely in nearby nations, and familiar to observers of the academic arrangements of the late, unlamented, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (applying the easy and lax standards Kmo deploys in his grubby imaginary "Aleksandr Stepanovitsh Popovi nimeline sangarliku raadio instituut" (the "Alexandr Stepanovitch Popov Institute of Heroic Radio") and his grubby imaginary "Nikolai Ivanovitsh Lobatshevski nimeline sotsalitsliku matemaatika instituut" (the "Nicolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky Institute of Socialist Mathematics") - where, on the lax and easy grading philosophy of the twin Institutes, 1/5 is "epic fail", 2/5 is "failure not so disastrous as to be epic", 3'5 is "mediocre pass", 4.5 is "good", and 5/5 is "excellent"): 4/5. Justification: There was enough time to develop quite a few points to reasonable length, admittedly while having to change the idea of issuing  this essay in three installments  (2016-05-03, 2016-05-10, and finally 2016-05-17) to doing it in four (2016-05-03, 2016-05-10, 2016-05-17, and finally 2016-05-24). 

Revision history:

  • UTC=20160517T1415Z/version 1.3.0: Kmo made some minor tweaks, but also made an important addition of substance, to a length of a few sentences: there is now a comment on the University's (puzzling, newspaper-reported, 2008) change of lawyer, from Cassels Brock to Goodmans (the latter being also the lawyer for impending new owner "Corsica"). 
  • UTC=20160517T0401Z/version 1.2.0: Kmo added section on Grey Eagle and the possible portent of an owl, analyzing the theological and legal implications. 
  • UTC=20160517T0001Z/version 10.0: Kmo uploaded base version; and he then planed to continue producing, in a way not documented here, minor tweaks, as version 1.0.1, 1.0.2, ... .
[CAUTION: A bug in the blogger software has inserted inappropriate whitespace at some late points in this essay. If a screen seems to end in empty space, keep scrolling down. The end of the posting is not reached until the usual blogger "

Since 2007-09-10, at the start of what has emerged over the years as Canada's weightiest heritage-conservation case, I have written perhaps one or two hundred thousand words on DDO&P, both in documentation and in advocacy. 

Much of what I have written is in public space. Salient here are an essay at; and my various submissions to municipal meetings over the years, many of them duly archived as annexes-to-meeting-minutes, for instance as correspondence which Town Council has kindly voted to receive, at; and, with reference to a troubling localized political matter that might be thought of as comprising even a tenth or a seventh of the aggregate caseload, at my pair of whistleblowing sites and

Another slab of what I have written is in semi-public space, at This site is under password protection. The protection, while prudent a few years ago, persists for only a rather banal reason. It is imposed now simply because my work on that server continues to be work-in-progress. Anyone wishing to inspect my writing in its unfinished state is welcome to log in, under username jessie and password accuracy

But - and this a significant caveat - much of what I have written is in a genuinely secret document, my "Astrogate Papers". I expended much effort on the "Papers" in 2013, in between the two Ontario Municipal Board hearings of 2012 and 2014, and some months before the Divisional Court effort of 2013. Today I find, through my Linux  /usr/bin/wc tool, that the "Papers" in their current, partly polished, form comprise just over 87,900 words. What I write here will be largely the result of excerpting from that secret material, with occasional tweaking or condensing or expanding. 

As always, I remind my various readers, especially those who are lawyers or pro-development politicians, of the following points: 

  • Having lost 500,000 CAD or 550,000 on the DDO&P conservation case, without managing to save a single tree, I have now exhausted the bulk of my life savings. 
  • Being in a position of financial insecurity, I cannot contemplate retaining a lawyer, although I am receptive to the idea of letting some lawyer help me pro bono
  • But, mindful of "Open Society" ideals (as I believe have been articulated by, among other analysts, Sir Karl Popper), I assert my willingness to defend myself against defamation suits in open court, acting as my own lawyer. With civil jurist Dame Hazel Genn (while I have not read Sir Karl Popper, I have studied Dame Hazel's Hamlyn Lectures), and on the strength of what I have noticed in working on the DDO&P file, I now assert closed-doors "mediation" to be inimical to the Open Society ideal. 
  •  This blog serves in part as a buffer, or safety bulkhead, in the event of court action. It provides me with a backup in case I am in my mild autism temporarily rendered tongue-tied, or am temporarily reduced in emotional overload to screaming, in the courtroom. 
  • I am specifically mindful of two legal points when writing: (a) The Fair Comment defence was usefully articulated by the Supreme Court of Canada in 2008, in WIC Radio Ltd v Simpson. (b) A successful deployment of the Truth Defence stops a defamation suit, dead and cold in its predatory tracks. It is, in other words, sufficient for a writer to show, through the subpoena of witnesses (be they willing or unwilling), through the production of e-mails (optimally, e-mails right on some big commercial server, with full timstamped header intact, beyond the scope of private forgery), through exhibiting screen shots (optimally, incorporating such helpful things as imagery of a Linux digital clock, and of the BBC headlines-of-the-hour), and through similar appeals to evidence, that what was written was true.
  • My opponents are free, and in an Open Society spirit are herewith even earnestly entreated, to post their own arguments on this blog. In doing so, they will be secure in the knowledge that I have in my 2016-04-14 posting set up moderation rules safeguarding them from censorship, provided their language meets the ordinary Globe and Mail op-ed standards of courtesy. 
  • Incoming legal complaints (for example, incoming lawyers' papermails and incoming lawyers' e-mails) will, in an Open Society spirit, be published in this blog, as will my replies. I am proposing to follow here the open-process model I have established in respect of Mr Jason Cherniak (at the Bar of Ontario, representing Councillor Cilevitz) in my posting of 20141216T162316Z on that earlier blog, or blog-wannabe,


The 1935-through-2008 DDO specialized in optical-wavelength spectroscopy. DDO was one of just thirty or twenty or so observatories around the world that could produce medium-dispersion spectroscopy, with a telescope of aperture exceeding 1.8 metres, with a liquid-nitrogen-cooled camera delivering a signal-to-noise ratio good enough to render the taking of noise-subtraction "dark frames" unnecessary on most nights.

Within this already small grouping, DDO was one of the very few observatories having the additional capability of rostering long observing runs - not the mere five or ten nights that could be devoted to the typical programme at some overburdened, oversubscribed Mauna Kea, but (provided a good astrophysical case was argued by the would-be "Observer", or scientist-in-temporary-command, to the DDO time-allocating authority) even in excess of fifty nights.

It is true that DDO has for several decades been compromised by urban light pollution.

The situation aroused some alarm within the Government of Ontario in the 1950s and grew worse into the 1970s. From the 1980s, the light pollution was in a state of chronic, rather steady-and-stable, nuisance, which I would suggest is destined to improve slowly as global fossil fuel supplies contract and an eventual Greater Toronto Area energy crisis deepens.

What has this meant in practice? Observing conditions at a minor outpost, Caledon, provide a standard of comparison.

Caledon is a rural area, reasonably dark, an hour's vehicle drive from Toronto.  I have used my amateur 20-centimetre Dobsonian reflector there with a friend on a couple of occasions, finding spread-out spiral galaxy M33 attainable, without being trivially attainable.

When the world's great desert or mountaintop observatories were able to take full advantage of the post-1980 electronic-detector technologies and push down to stars shining with the strength of a mere one or two hundred thousandths of the strength of naked-eye Ontario-Caledon objects (i.e., down to stars shining with a mere 1x10e-5 or 2x10e-5 the brilliance of a Caledon naked-eye challenge-star), DDO, even while applying the same powerful new technologies, could not follow them. DDO for its part was constrained to work on targets not much fainter than thirteenth or fourteenth magnitude, i.e., on targets not much fainter than one or two thousandths the brilliance of a Caledon naked-eye challenge. 

So as a (very) rough rule of thumb, DDO is constrained to work on targets a hundred times brighter than the faintest of the targets observable from a dark site.

However, the population, even as a small fraction of our galaxy's two-or-five-or-so hundred thousand million stars, of objects surmounting that brightness threshold, and additionally peculiar enough to call for astrophysical investigation, is immense. Whether the DDO skies have been rural, as in 1935, or have been compromised from streetlights outside the DDO&P 77-hectare dark-sky preserve, as in the post-1980 era, DDO has been kept steadily occupied.

With DDO research spectroscopy taken offline, Canada can deliver spectroscopy at a broadly comparable standard only at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory near Victoria. It is true that excellent work is done at Mont Mégantic in Québec. However, this facility specializes in the near infrared, not practicing the general wide wavelength coverage routinely delivered from 1935 to 2008 at DDO. The closest international spectroscopy facilities superior to DDO are far away, not much closer than Victoria - on the one hand, at the Canary Islands off Spain, and on the other hand in the arid and mountainous far west of Texas.

One proof of DDO's spectroscopic capability is a widely cited sequence of 15 papers, under the general title "Radial Velocity Studies of Close Binary Stars", from 1999 July to 2009 March, in the eminent publication Astronomical Journal. The series was prepared under the leadership of the then DDO Associate Director, Prof. Slavek Rucinski.

In the decade leading up to the 2008 sale, DDO hosted guest observers, working in some cases on the big Rucinski project, in other cases on individual projects of various sizes (including the NASA Kepler exoplanet mission), from the USA, Poland, Slovakia, Turkey, and elsewhere.

The principal DDO telescope was in use on every adequately cloud-free night in the decade leading up to the 2008 sale, apart from of a couple of major holidays (such as Christmas eve and Christmas night) and various maintenance periods. These maintenance periods, each of them typically lasting for three or four or so days, occurred on average perhaps a little less frequently than once in twelve months, and so did not constitute a grave interruption of the normal steady tempo of observation. 


I have since at least the North-America-and-Europe academic year 1973-1974 taken a personal practical interest in timelogging. Since January of 1997, I have used one or another of my successive Linux computers to good effect, in a cyber timelogging formalism that has stayed reasonably stable. (The detailed 2004 writeup, in a timelogging-and-timestamping essay in the "Literary" section of my, remains pretty accurate, even in most of its smaller details.)

Here is how my timelog, with its initially-so-transparent English, and with its nowadays-more-cryptic Estonian, and with also a tiny bit of my usual timelogging Latin to give things the right juridical touch, looks for the DDO&P heritage-conservation crisis. I start by exhibiting just the first few lines, and part of another line. I then leap forward to the last few lines in the timelog as it currently stands, as of its 2016-05-14 update:

20070910=00h02->0000h02__read press release in downtown inet cafe
20070911=04h20->0004h22__made emerg trip downtown:
                         * paper note to Dean's Office (Felicia)
                         * query re HR
                           to Ellen Brikaras
                           __her answ to my query
                             re reassurance of Charter freedom
                             to speak was
                             ((QUOTE)) we'll look into it
                         * meeting with press release author
                       __paritipated in convsn Bln office,
                         with ((SNIP))


20160502=01h10->5049h09__maailmavõrgu "tahvel", kusjuures esitlan
                         oma kirja suurtele, tahvlit reklameerides                          
20160510=00h04->5059h54__uuendasin *parkpunktsiinneriik* dmeen
__hic finitur 20070910T110953Z____ddo_defence

This log makes vivid the first big thing that happened in the case, so far as the case reached my desk - namely, the publication of a press release by the University of Toronto. The press release was in my judgement inaccurate. 

As soon as I saw what had happened, I made an emergency journey from Richmond Hill to the University's St George campus, to learn what I could. The press release author, University public-relations specialist Ruta Pocius, was pleasant and helpful. It was clear from the ten or so minutes of chat that she was able to spare for me that she was not deeply informed on DDO. I therefore formed the working hypothesis that she had written the press release on the basis of second-hand information, supplied to her from elsewhere in the University.

Over the next few weeks, I did what I could at, both to correct the inaccuracies and to put the press release into its wider administrative and astrophysical context. Working in haste, I finished a first version of "The Future of the David Dunlap Observatory: Corrections in Language from the University of Toronto Press Release of 2007 September 10" at UTC=20070914T103920Z. Much revising and polishing followed, with a rather mature "version 5.0.0" ready by UTC=20071027T063349Z, in time for the University of Toronto Governing Council meeting of 2007-10-30.

I do hope my arguments in rebuttal of the 2007-09-10 press release will ultimately have their readers within the walls of the Attorney General, of the Ontario Provincial Police or RCMP, or of cognate authorities. Without rehashing the arguments here, I quote simply the press release itself - incorporating the modifications that (as I argue at are required by a due regard for accuracy, and showing also the inaccurate before-corrections version, unfortunately disseminated by UofT:  

As the relevance of the David Dunlap Observatory to the overall astronomy strategy of the U of T diminishes, the legacy of the donation made by Jessie Donalda Dunlap to U of T in the late 1920s in memory of her husband, David, will live on. The university is pleased to announce that it has reached an agreement with the Dunlap heirs to begin the process of establishing the Dunlap Institute. The Institute will supplement and strengthen existing U of T astronomy arrangements. The Institute, to be located on U of T's St. George campus, will be realized through funds endowed from the sale of the David Dunlap Observatory and the surrounding 76.9-hectare property in Richmond Hill. As is normal in such transactions at U of T, a donor-confidentiality arrangement protects the Dunlap heirs from public scrutiny of any financial sacrifice or financial benefit that the transaction may entail for them. The original placement by Jessie Donalda Dunlap was made as a covenant-conditioned gift having a 2007 value, to one significant figure, of 8 million Canadian dollars. [BEFORE CORRECTIONS: As the academic and research relevance of the David Dunlap Observatory in Richmond Hill draws to a close, the legacy of the gift donated by Jessie Dunlap to U of T in the 1930s in memory of her husband, David, will continue to live on. The university is pleased to announce that it has reached an agreement with the Dunlap heirs to begin the process to establish the Dunlap Institute to support astronomy in the 21st century. The institute, to be located at U of T's St. George campus, will be realized through funds endowed from the sale of the Dunlap Observatory and the surrounding property in Richmond Hill.]

"We have worked closely with the grandchildren of Jessie and David Dunlap to determine an appropriate means by which to honour their vision and tremendous gift to the University more than 70 years ago," says Professor Pekka Sinervo, dean of arts and science. "The Dunlap Institute will be as relevant in this century and of the same standard of excellence that the David Dunlap Observatory was at its peak in the past century." Sinervo points out that light pollution caused by immense urban growth in the GTA has diminished the research suitability of the Observatory, precluding most extragalactic optical astronomy; that current optical telescopes of the first and second rank, all outside Canada, but all adequately accessible to U of T researchers under currently feasible air-travel arrangements, are in the eight-or-ten-metre and four-metre aperture classes, in contrast with the 1.88 metres of the largest David Dunlap Observatory telescope; and that the U of T cannot afford the upkeep of the Observatory if it is to maintain its current overall astronomy research strategy, committed as the optical-observational portion of that strategy is to vigorous extragalactic efforts and to the vigorous use of first- or second-ranking optical telescopes. Currently, the university spends $800,000 annually towards the upkeep of the facility. [BEFORE CORRECTIONS: "We have worked closely with the grandchildren of Jessie and David Dunlap to determine an appropriate means by which to honour their vision and tremendous gift to the University more than 70 years ago," says Professor Pekka Sinervo, dean of arts and science. "The Dunlap Institute will be as relevant in this century and of the same standard of excellence that the Dunlap Observatory was at its peak in the past century." Sinervo points out that light pollution caused by immense urban growth in the GTA has rendered the observatory unsuitable for academic and research purposes for quite some time. Currently, the university spends $800,000 annually towards the upkeep of the facility.]

In order to proceed with the sale of the property, the university will be recommending to its Governing Council that the lands be declared surplus to academic need. That process will get underway at next week's planning and budget committee meeting. "As Canada's largest research university our first priority is to deliver on our academic purpose and we must leverage our investments in a manner that facilitates education, research and discovery without an added burden to our students or taxpayers," says Sinervo. A final vote on the matter is expected to take place at Governing Council's Oct. 30 meeting and if approved a request for real-estate development proposals will follow shortly thereafter. [BEFORE CORRECTIONS: In order to proceed with the sale of the property, the university will be recommending to its Governing Council that the lands be declared surplus to academic need. That process will get underway at next week's planning and budget committee meeting. "As Canada's largest research university our first priority is to deliver on our academic purpose and we must leverage our investments in a manner that facilitates education, research and discovery without an added burden to our students or taxpayers," says Sinervo. A final vote on the matter is expected to take place at Governing Council's Oct. 30 meeting and if approved a request for proposals will follow shortly thereafter.]

The Dunlap Institute will focus on research, teaching and advanced training and public outreach. Its multifaceted objectives include the creation of an international centre of research excellence in astronomy and astrophysics; participation in the development of scientific instrumentation for world class observatories; and leadership and promotion of interactions to create major national and international research collaborations.

Current operations of the observatory, including public tours, will continue until further notice.

The unhappy meeting of 2007-10-30 of course saw Governing Council approve the sale. The feeble debate did feature two or three sincere, yet inept, speeches attempting to defend DDO. As I believe is usual in such a University quasi-parliament, the proceedings had the aspect of a rubber-stamping, I suspect formally legitimizing decisions already worked out in committees.

Doing what little I could, I observed the proceedings from the public seats, as did the Richmond Hill Naturalists and Richmond Hill Ward Six Councillor Mr Godwin Chan. This was the first day of what proved to be a long and fruitful collaboration with the Naturalists. 

I had a placard ready. I am not sure if I was able to exhibit it in the chamber itself. My policy is not to disturb the work of a deliberative assembly, and indeed not knowingly to breach such an assembly's rules regarding public observers. But I did show the placard, politely, to the dignitaries leaving the chamber after the business of the day was done. I had selected a quote from Canadian philosopher-theologian Jean Vanier, which I now paraphrase as follows, from memory: The history of humanity is the history of the strong oppressing the weak.

Absurdly, one of the exiting dignitaries made polite conversation with me regarding the placard, thinking me to be some kind of benign publicist. He possibly thought that I was undertaking a bit of public outreach for Jean Vanier's principal philanthropic undertaking, the "l'Arche" network of homes for the developmentally challenged (in which theologian Henri Nouwen has also been prominent, very particularly at "l'Arche Daybreak" right in Richmond Hill). As far as I could make out, he had failed to draw a connection between placard content and the just-concluded chamber business.

Also notable in the aftermath of the meeting was a light, reassuring touch on the back which I received from former Ontario Premier, and then University Chancellor, Mr David Peterson (P.C., Q.C., O.ONT., C. ST. J., C.L.H., D.U., L.L.D.), accompanied by the words "Don't worry; everything will be all right." A similar back-touching gesture, with similar language, was received that afternoon from Mr Peterson by Ms Marianne Yake, of the Naturalists.

A formal probe will have to consider whether Mr Peterson was obliged to recuse himself from that day's vote in Governing Council. He did have connections with the law firm Cassels Brock. An  snapshot of  for 2007-10-17 shows Mr Peterson to have been a member of the firm then. The live Web site, as at UTC=20130323T020458Z and again as at  20160516T210320Z, shows Mr Peterson still to be a member of the firm. Awkwardly, Cassels Brock were involved in the 2008 sale of DDO&P (with firm member Mr Stanley Makuch, for example, addressing the Mayor and Council of the Town of Richmond Hill in connection with the sale on 2008-01-28).

It is, on the other hand, true that later, as reported at, the University changed its DDO-relevant representation from Cassels Brock to Goodmans LLP. Here there is a different kind of close connection. Goodmans has among its members Mr David Bronskill, the principal legal face of developer "Corsica" at the 2009 Conservation Review Board and all or virtually all subsequent legal proceedings (right up to 2015-04-30, when a successful, and in my personal view malign, claim for "costs" was argued by Corsica against the Naturalists). (How odd, I think now in 2016: the news story, reporting that the relevant UofT lawyer was changed from Cassels Brock to Goodmans, came out in June of 2008, and the sale was in July of 2008. Can there be a connection between change-of-lawyer and sale? Was it found convenient to have one and the same firm both handling the University's side of the case and handling the purchaser's side? Is there any potential legal problem here? I would be pleased if the University could now e-mail me some legal comment, in an "Open Society" spirit, for publication on this blog.) 


It will now be asked, especially by readers following the stresses put upon the world's big observatories in this stage of our cultural decline: Why did the University, so dependent on public good will, take such gigantic risks? Granted that something had to be done about DDO&P, why did the University not proceed along the more public-spirited lines of the University of Chicago, which has had to map out a future for its own troubled Yerkes Observatory? Why was there in Toronto such a dearth of what in Chicago has been evident - namely (duly reported) committee work, public consultation, and public debate? 

In my twenty-five minute closed-doors (one-on-one) interview of 2008-02-15, University of Toronto Vice-President (Business Affairs) Catherine Riggall made one good point: the University had an enormous burden of "deferred maintenance" on its empire of properties. I seem to recall dimly, though I could be wrong, that the figure she cited was on the order of two hundred million Canadian dollars. I have also at some point early in 2016 or late in 2015 noted from a University of Toronto student newspaper, possibly Varsity, that the current deferred-maintenance bill is much higher - perhaps (though today, in the haste of blogging, I have not had time to check my hardcopy mountain) something like four hundred million. If the student newspaper is accurate, then the problem of 2008 never did get solved. 

Although I have not had time to research the state of the University of Toronto pension fund, I do note from the Globe and Mail of 2010-11-28, in an article by James Bradshaw, that the fund lost 29 per cent of its value in 2008.

On the strength of this pair of points, I privately and subjectively speculate that by the summer of 2008 the University was in a state of financial desperation.

I also speculate that the financial situation cannot have been made easier by an ambitious building programme. The decade leading up to 2016 has brought such things as an expansion at the Rotman School of Management on St George Street (it now towers over the Catholic Chaplaincy in black glass, like a citadel of Mordor), and the creation of new towers in the medicine-pharmacy enclave by College Street and University Avenue, and the construction of a new Bora Laskin Law Library, and the erection of an enormous sports palace (this recalls less Tolkien than the erstwhile, sports-crazed, German Democratic Republic) opposite the gorgeously renovated Stadium.

Investigative journalists will want to probe deferred maintenance, the pension fund, and the building programme further.

It will next be asked: Was the sale juridically and ethically licit? 

Under the 1932 Deed of Indenture from Jessie Donalda Dunlap, the donated land was to revert to the donor's heirs in the event that it ceased to be used for astronomy. The University filed against all three of the donor's grandchildren in Superior Court a little after 2000, seeking freedom to sell the land instead of handing it back to the heirs, and asserting (according to the National Post of 2007-12-12) that the original "reverter of the lands" to the family was "void and unenforceable". Because all three of the heirs eventually surrendered, the case did not proceed to trial.

Of the three heirs, the two in the end somewhat favourably disposed toward the University, namely Moffat Dunlap and his brother David, received honorary doctorates at the Convocation of 2011-06-10 (as reported in the Web publication U of T News for 2011-05-24). Their less favourably disposed sister Donalda Robarts had for her part expressed her feelings to National Post reporter Peter Kuitenbrouwer in a 2007-12-12 story: "I would call it confiscation."

I seem to recall, additionally, some talk in the press about pressures exerted by the University in the years leading up to 2008 on the three heirs, with an allegation of crude language used on the telephone in a call to an heir from some senior personage in Simcoe Hall, and also an allegation of an offer to pay large sums, perhaps one million each, to the children of Donalda Robarts. But to confirm this, I will have to find time to go back through newspaper archives. 

Were the University's proceedings juridically licit? Without a court trial or some other formal proceeding, such as a judicial inquiry, we cannot be sure.

Were the University's proceedings ethically licit? I do not, as a matter of private and subjective opinion, find them so, and I cannot recall any of the various University alumni with whom I have discussed the case finding them so.

It may or may not be that the current owners, namely "Corsica" (a subsidiary of the entity known until 2015 April as "Metrus", and thereafter known as "DG Group"), who had as much access as anyone to the National Post and other press coverage, are in a juridical sense the knowing purchasers of stolen property. I would suggest, however, as a matter of private and subjective opnion, that they are at any rate in an ethical sense the knowing purchasers of stolen property, and I would congratulate the property developer(s) who backed off from the University's 2007-2008 "Request for Proposals". Perhaps, for all I know, the camp of the backers-off was successfully discerning, in addition to the onsite springs, the nearby (Hillsview Drive) basement flows, and the other hints of dangerous hydrogeology in the eastern Trapezoid, a looming business-ethics problem.

The awkward question whether the 2008 sale was legal will have to figure in the information packet that I shall eventually have to distribute at the envisaged sales centre, in the Administration Building, in my legal (informational, not traffic-blocking) picket. If, that is, the real decision-makers, the DeGasperis and Muzzo directors of "Corsica", fail to pull back from their project. If and when they do pull back, very different things can happen - a hauling of compost by ordinary citizens, and an eventual restoration of the wrecked forest. 


In discussing, in a 2016-05-10 posting to this blog, Estonian diaspora homes as an archipelago of cultural conservation, I had much to say about the Hitler war and Estonia's 1944-through-1991 Soviet occupation. The crisis at DDO&P mirrors, in miniature as though from a severely convex mirror, those larger miseries. Tolstoy reputedly said that whereas happy families are all alike, every unhappy family is unhappy in its own distinctive way. Perhaps, however, in the broader social sphere, an assessment contrary to Tolstoy's is in order: Might it not be that at some suitably high level of abstraction and generalization, all unhappy societies are alike - Estonia from 1939 through 1991; the Middle East today; the troubled USA in perhaps just a few years from now; Canada itself, its historical standing as a kind of transatlantic Switzerland notwithstanding, in the not-too-distant future, soon after the USA goes dark; even Rome and North Africa, in the troubled days of Jerome and Augustine; in miniature, the city of Detroit since 1967 or so; on a still smaller scale, Camden and Flint and other USA rustbelt cities, since 1980 or so; and on a truly nanometre scale, even DDO&P, in the wake of 2007-09-10?

We at any rate did (as I will now explain) have our own super-miniaturized Edvard Beneš, our own super-miniaturized equivalent of crisis diplomacy,  and even our own nanoscale versions of the bleak gulag-or-Gitmo theme of "Interrogation". 

We, the public, began our so-to-speak "Observatory Resistance" in a small way on 2007-11-08, with my leading a rally of about 50 individuals outside the Town offices.

More intense rally work followed through the winter and spring, for instance with a petition of some thousands of signatures deposited with the Legislature and - as documented at - with the University of Toronto.  (This YouTube clip is an upload of "jrthomson1", dated 2008-01-21, entitled "ddo protest". I believe it is the petition, or some manageable part of that big stack of paper, that I am holding up to the camera as the crowd chants "What does democracy look like? Here's what democracy looks like.")  When this clip ends, Vice-President Riggall (Business Affairs) is seen beating a somewhat undignified retreat, with the crowd chanting "Shame! Shame! Shame!" Although I am innocent of having started that latter chant, I cannot, even in calm retrospect, greatly blame the crowd for indulging in it. 

In the light of everything that has happened since then, it is appropriate for me to stress here how helpful, at this early stage in our "Resistance", was the politician Karen Cilevitz - however gravely she sullied her public record by accommodating the developer, and betraying the grieving Marianne Yake, from 2011 onward. We owe it to Ms Cilevitz that our work at the Legislature and at the University's Simcoe Hall was accompanied by a bagpiper. I have been told that one or two University administration faces, peering from a Simcoe Hall window, looked positively white, in shock, when those bonnie pipes first spoke. And we owe it to Ms Cilevitz that one of our big rallies at DDO&P - the one on 2008-03-28, the day of the first internationally celebrated Earth Hour - had among its orators one of the more eminent federal Canadian politicians in recent decades,the late Mr Jack Layton. 

I additionally have to thank Prof. Tom Bolton, not only for testifying at the Conservation Review Board in 2009 and at the Ontario Municipal Board in 2012, but also for speaking at more than one rally, very especially as documented at (upload by YouTube user "jrthomson1", on 2008-02-10, under title "David Dunlap Observatory sale protest", to a duration of 2:39). The following are some highlights from that Bolton speech, on the steps of the Administration Building at DDO: light pollution has been asserted by the University to be a problem for DDO research, when it is not (0:26); for 15 years, resources were consistently withdrawn from DDO by the University (0:46, with cries of "Shame" from the crowd); many colleagues have "expressed their disgust" with the way the University has acted (1:36); Prof. Bolton, following Martin Luther King, "has a dream" of the land as parkland, and of the observatory continuing high-quality research with a realistic support staff in independence of the University (1:56).

On the Day of Braw Piping (here, too, Prof. Bolton spoke, although we seem to lack a video record), I managed to extract from Vice-President Riggall what she seemed to have hitherto been ducking, namely a commitment to a face-to-face meeting. I have already remarked on the one good point to come out of our 2008-02-15 private chat, namely, that the University was in big trouble with its bill for deferred maintenance, on its hundreds of buildings across Toronto and the Toronto suburbs. 

The rest of our closed-doors meeting was unproductive.

Vice-President Riggall proved, to my surprise, to be a person not at all of the intellectual cast normally encountered in university settings. She had made a career in the business world, with such things as the development or marketing of hardcopy business forms. She now assured me that she was "reading Chaucer". Examining her in a suitably low and unchallenging key, I found that she was reading her relatively easy author in translation.

We did converse briefly in French, in which language I think she does better than I. I also think she is better travelled in France than I ever succeeded in being, back when I was in my late teens and early twenties, and not inclined to worry about the environmental consequences of travelling for pleasure over obscene distances, at stratospheric heights, in kerosene-burning public conveyances. ("Aeroplanes," I say these days to all and sundry, as a friend of rail and of stay-at-home, generally low-bytecount, telecommunication:: "Aeroplanes: so painfully over, so excruciatingly twentieth century.")

When Vice-President Riggall underscored the University's commitment to the environment, I rather astutely managed to say little, but simply to look up at her ceiling. There, in all their obsolete, twentieth-century glory, was a vast array of 40-watt (at least) fluorescent tubes, lighting up every corner of that palatial office as though abdominal surgery was in prospect. Vice-President Riggall, to her credit, did realize the meaning of my ceiling inspection, and she did manage to make some suitably chastened remarks about energy consumption or some such thing.

Our environmental jousting also led us somehow to touch on food, at which point Vice-President Riggall suggested hydroponics as a way forward. I politely remarked that a hydroponic facility typically needs artificial lighting, kilowatt upon kilowatt glaring down on those high-technology benches. I believe President Riggall replied, to her credit, that she had not thought of the entailed energy budget.

The lowest point in our interview came when I asked, again, whether the University might not consider relaxing the relentless scheduling of its Request-for-Proposals process. A concession here, I suggested, would give the hard-pressed Richmond Hill environmentalists a chance to group themselves and consolidate, so as to do their work more efficiently. Was this not, I asked, an opportunity for the University of Toronto to show moral leadership?

The reply was (I remember this, first typing it into the Astrogate Papers on 2013-03-02, and revisiting it from 2016-05-16 onward, as clearly as if it had been yesterday): "We don't do moral leadership." Astounded, but keeping my composure, I threw out a lifeline, pretty much in the following language: "Well, Prof. Riggall, if word of your position were to get out around the Greater Toronto Area, it would do quite a lot of damage to the University's reputation."

It will be clear from my remarks on Chaucer and the like that this Vice-President did not come across as 'Varsity. Here was, rather, the voice of Bay Street, Canada's unpleasant little equivalent of Monument-and-Bank and Canary Wharf and Wall Street. Nevertheless, I would suggest that it is a mistake to hold a Vice-President's exotic background against her. A university must have an officer in charge of business affairs. Such an officer might well be recruited from corporate ranks. Although I cannot say how things were managed in my own college in Britain, I would not have been, or at any rate should not have been, surprised or resentful to find some key official in the rooms of my college Bursar to be a worldly, pinstriped, City gent, shuttling in First Class, via Paddington, with thin black brolly and pigskin briefcase, between the university and the Monument-Bank corner of London.

It remains, at any rate, the case that persons from the higher ranks of commerce understand nuance just as much as university people do. So I am inclined to think it deliberate, and not a mere unhappy upshot of exotic breeding, that Vice-President Riggall failed to grab my lifeline. She should have said, "Well, goodness, let me clarify that remark for you, Dr Karmo: I of course mean, not that we are moral cynics, but merely that we cannot zacka-zacka, since our rooble is glooble; I am sure you will understand here, as I indeed was pointing out to the Lieutenant Governor just last month, you know, that circumstances force us to be something of a flim-flam-blim-blam". To this I would then have said, "Well, yes, quite, Vice-President Riggall, I do realize that the Queen's Park Realpolitik puts you into a tight bind, and after all you do have budget targets to meet for Governing Council, and as I used to say to Sir Richard and Lady Southern at college, you know, the flim-flam does back in Canada tend to become quite the blam-plonque; now if I might perhaps change the topic . . ." She, however, said nothing useful.

I now think the public interest best served by my brutal kiss-and-tell, in these publicly blogged extracts from my "Astrogate Papers". If Simcoe Hall, whose lawyers will be reading with a magnifying glass, have an expression of retraction or clarification, or whatever, to convey, I will incorporate it in revisions, with due attention to the revision-history paragraph at the top of this present page. 

There is a detail here which is quite relevant to my kiss-and-tell, and which reflects actual credit on the University. Rather early on, I think well before the end of 2007, I received, I think from the Dean of Arts and Science, a reassuring written reply when I asked whether I enjoyed the rights of free speech normal in a 'Varsity setting.

It is also to the credit of UofT that we had no interference as we carried out our various subsequent conservationist actions later that winter and in the ensuing spring - for instance, with our human chain around the main dome -  on DDO&P grounds rather than at the Legislature and the downtown campus. It was reasonable and fair of the University to exercise police surveillance at DDO&P. This was done in a transparent, low-key, markedly correct style, with a cruiser now and then decorously parked to check on what was going on.

I even managed to bask in the glow of congratulations from another DDO staffer, "LMN", for having finally induced the UofT police to visit our grounds. "LMN" and I had been the de facto DDO parkland police since late 2006, dealing (of course unarmed) with among other interesting things armed poachers (one claimed, falsely, to the Associate Director's household or to the Associate Director's guest to himself be in the police) and a small unattended woodland bonfire.

"LMN" in an earlier, solo, career in de facto DDO policing had had even more interesting casework, the high point perhaps being an incursion into the woodlands by a coven of pentagram-drawing, candle-burning witches. Witches are fine, and so are pentagrams. Candles in a woodland, on the other hand, lack merit.

Both of us had hitherto had to labour on our parkland casework in the knowledge that although the UofT police formally possessed jurisdiction, they would not send us a supporting cruiser. So, as I say, getting a cruiser onto the grounds in the winter-cum-spring of 2008 counts as an achievement, of sorts. 


I must now comment on the eeriest event in that winter. 

David "Grey Eagle" Sanford, a Mohawk, and therefore rooted in the Six Nations of the Grand River, took an early interest in the DDO&P case. 

He was, admittedly, outside the grouping which has real historical jurisdiction, the Mississaugas (and with whom I have dealt more extensively than with Grey Eagle, forming a high opinion of their seriousness). 

Grey Eagle's most significant action was a First Nations liturgy. Several dozen individuals took part. I was myself among them, having obtained a telephone or e-mail assurance from an astrophysicist priest at the Vatican Observatory Research Group in Arizona, well experienced in aboriginal affairs through his own Hopi work, that my status as Catholic layman would be consistent with my respectful participation.

At the start of the ceremony, Grey Eagle entered DDO&P from the Hillsview Drive gate, with the crowd following. Both Ms Karen Cilevitz and I were at the front of the crowd, just a few metres behind Grey Eagle's back.

A thing then occurred which I have not encountered before or since at DDO&P: although it was a cloudy-bright early afternoon, an owl swooped down from a tree on one side of the entrance driveway, perhaps two or three metres in front of Grey Eagle, flying or gliding less than a metre from the asphalt, thereupon regaining tree height and perching in a tree on the other side of the road. This happened suddenly,  in plain view of Grey Eagle, of Ms Karen Cilevitz, of me, and of a good part of the crowd behind us. Grey Eagle thereupon addressed the owl, both in English and in (what I believe to have been) Mohawk. The owl observed him calmly from its rather safe perch. 

Grey Eagle then carried on as planned, conducting us to the site of his liturgy (on the owl's side of the road) and duly lighting his self-prescribed fire. In doing so, he explained that he considered the owl a portent, of a guarding and a welcoming rather than of a hostile character.

I must at the same time concede that although I have never, before or since, seen an owl swoop across the entrance driveway (not even at night, let alone in the early afternoon), ornithologists within the Richmond Hill Naturalists are by no means unaware of an owl's presence: a DDO&P owl which to my untrained eye might be of the same species we saw with Grey Eagle, and for all I know might be the very same owl, is nicely displayed at the end of the conservationist YouTube "Earth Hour 2008" video,

Ms Karen Cilevitz's own assessment, in private speech to me some weeks or months afterward, was that the appearance of the bird at the instant of our starting our liturgical work was coincidental. I for my part do not concur in this, preferring instead to take a neutral and agnostic and open-minded stance. 

I would myself be disinclined, from what I have heard and read of Ontario aboriginal affairs, to take Grey Eagle fully seriously as a legitimate political representative of any aboriginal grouping. He for his part indeed at one stage gave me something of a private dressing-down, correctly considering me at that stage an ally of Ms Karen Cilevitz. This dressing-down he delivered despite his previous private salutation of me as "brother", in repeated private meetings. I would, however, insist that the "brother" stands, as a thing not easily revoked - it stands with his inducing me to share the ceremonial peace emblem, the Pipe - and I additionally would insist on the need for keeping an open mind on the owl.

I assess the owl's flight as follows: a person can be silly - can set himself up, ceremonial headdress and all, as a "spokesmen" for First Nations, in flashy pieces of theatre, and later make himself difficult to sincere and well-intentioned conservationists - and yet be doing the work of the One referred to in Catholic theology as the Father and in Canadian aboriginal theologies as the Great Spirit. I additionally suggest that such a person can conceivably receive validation through an external sign, such as the anomalous daytime flight of an owl, and that it can be in the very nature of a sign to be ambiguous, inviting the assent of faith without compelling it.

Since a correctly sober philosophical understanding of the province of faith (neither affirming too much nor affirming too little) is here essential, I will bolster the point I am here making by citing the Russian-Canadian Catholic social activist Catherine (Ekaterina Fyodorovna) Doherty (1896-1985). Ms Doherty recalls an incident in her Mass Preparation notes of 1971-10-23, as quoted by Fr Denis Lemieux on pp. 127-128 of Going Home: Reflecting on the Mercy of God with Catherine de Hueck Doherty (Ottawa: Justin Press, 2012). Ms Doherty had in prewar Toronto known a street preacher, a Mr Friday:

[He was] a pint-sized guy, of some kind of offshoot relegion - it was none of the Protestant religions that I know - but he was preaching every day on the P&G soapbox. He was too small to be able to preach without it. One day he was preaching the Lord with his whole sincere heart, and this big drunk was standing in front of him. "Ah," he said, "horseshit!", and he hits the little fellow on one cheek, and he was small and fell down, and his cheek got all bruised. So he got up and he said, "Brother, here is my other cheek."

And a hush fell over all the audience. It was depression time and there were quite a few hoboes and people like me, and that big man fell on his knees and started kissing the feet and the hands of this Friday.

God means the symbols to be taken literally. It changes things.

I cite this incident because it helps one see one of the possibilities concerning the DDO&P owl:  the street-preacher episode, arguably like the flight of the owl, constituted a sign for those willing to see. 

Its validity as sign is unimpugned by what are to my somewhat street-smart mind a pair of probable, and embarrassing, facts. 

On the one hand, I conjecture, "Mr Friday" was a ranter - as much a social outcast, outside the pale of respectable Catholicism (or Protestantism, Judaism, Islam, or whatever), as the inwardly tormented Bible ranters we today sometimes today encounter at Yonge and Dundas. 

On the other hand, I conjecture, the "big man" was lachrymose and sentimental, as people can be in the more advanced stages of intoxication. 

Had we here (i) two silly people acting out a sign to Toronto, as sodden clay in the hands of God, or had we only (ii) two silly people acting out? Neither answer is forced on us. There is, in other words, an intellectual territory in which we are invited to decide a momentous question one way or the other; in which the very delivering of the rational-seeming, alternative-(ii)-as-opposed-to-(i) response is a firm (a firmly negative, a firmly nihilistic) decision; in which logic and evidence are powerless to guide us; and in which the stakes are infinite.

So much, then, for theology. There is, however, more - this time a point of interest not to theologian but to lawyer.   

Realtors  labour under the need to maintain a look-out for what they call, in their grey professional language,  "Stigma". 

Suppose you are contemplating the purchase of the pleasant prewar bungalow which is Number 7, Propriety Crescent. All looks normal in that quiet, leafy neighbourhood of geraniums and Volvos. But appearances are deceiving. Quite a while ago - let us say, on 1958-12-24 - a death,  deemed by a 1959 coroner's inquest to be a suicide as opposed to a murder, occurred in the master bedroom of Number 7. What are your realtor's legal responsibilities? 

The house has, awkwardly, even after all these years, "Stigma". 

If the realtor does not give you its full history when you are contemplating purchase, he can later find himself in a delicate legal position. Many would-be purchasers shrug off suicide-or-murder stories, as some shrug off aboriginal liturgies with possible bird omens. And yet sensibilities of purchasers, including even their possible tendencies to superstition, have to be respected. So it is the realtor's professional duty to tell you everything, in an exceptionally neutral way - to brief you, in the most neutral tones, on the event of 1958-12-24, and even to mention, in the most neutral tones, the inquest verdict of 1959.

I will have to monitor (working through the appropriate regulatory agencies, perhaps) any briefings given by realtors to prospective home purchasers in the malign DDO&P subdivision, should the DeGasperis and Muzzo families allow their commercial operations to go so far. 

Should they do so, I here write, in a studied use of the hypothetical subjunctive. It maybe that their own griefs  (the unhappiness surrounding Mr Alfredo DeGasperis, to which I have referred in my "Sorrow" essay posted here on 2016-04-26, and more recently young Marco M. Muzzo's prison sentence, discussed in the same essay) - coupled with what I have now written about Grey Eagle, and perhaps coupled with other things that I will never know about, and will never even want to know about - will lead them to a change of heart. The change of heart requires a sacrifice harsh for them, and less harsh than what others among us have in our own ways brought to the altar of community service: what is required is only that they, anchored as they are in the ranks of Canada's Wealthiest Fifty (or so), walk away from a commercial development. At that point, the ordinary citizenry can be left to restore the destroyed 32-hectare greenspace.

And I will have to take care to mention the liturgy - it was in the stand of Norway spruce, Picea glauca, with small sacred fire in a clearing just off the gatehouse-to-dome forest path, on your right as you walked away from gatehouse toward dome -  in properly neutral tones, in my own information packets for prospective purchasers, at the time of my envisaged informational picket, if the envisaged malign sales centre is created.

Whether the site of the fire has been destroyed in the recent felling of trees for envisaged McMansion lots, or whether it has just barely escaped, I do not yet know. Some day soon, though, I will be able to take an educated guess, walking in the soon-to-be-established municipal rump park, and if necessary using binoculars. 

I cannot leave the topic of Grey Eagle without commenting, briefly, on a happier matter, namely the ceremonial name this would-be shaman was pleased to bestow on Ms Karen Cilevitz.  (Their big falling-out - with compliments, as Horace Rumpole Q.C. would say, mutual - came later). The name, so wonderfully evocative, was "Endless Water". At the time it was conferred on her, Ms Cilevitz professed delight. I remember clearly her saying, "I like it; yes, I like it very much," and my memory of this in 2013 - and again on reviewing the Astrogate Papers in 2016 - is so vivid as to make me confident that I am quoting her very essentially verbatim.

Through the winter, spring, and early summer of 2008, normal astrophysical work continued. The UofT was not at all troublesome, except possibly on a point of surveillance. At some point in that winter or spring, it was asserted to me by a member of the Richmond Hill Naturalists that a camera had been installed in the Administration Building basement, so as to monitor the area at the foot of that staircase which links the foyer to the men's washroom. I was a bit too nervous to investigate the alleged installation, though in retrospect I think I should have investigated. (I would simply walk past the spot, many times in every 24 hours, pretending to the possible lens that DDO life was normal.)

Investigators other than I will some day have to check into the 2008 history of possible University surveillance operations: was there any camera, whether at the foot of the foyer stairs or elsewhere? was the privacy of e-mail passing through University mail servers, such as, respected? was there any other form of surveillance, such as a DDO library microphone? (I was always nervous about the DDO library, where we had endless crisis-diplomacy meetings, but I never went so far as to search - not even in the obvious places, such as the rear surfaces of the art works, or in the various small recesses available around the fireplace.)

We on the conservationist side used this period for a kind of surveillance of our own, establishing a photographic record of everything, room by room, wall by wall, corner by corner, in the Great Dome, in the Administration Building, and in the circa-1865 grand Associate Director's residence, Elms Lea. The Operations Manager was a little uneasy at giving us permission to work with the big 1930s presentation photo album, locked into a display case in the corridor in the manner of a book of remembrance in government premisses. Here, however, the Associate Director convened a little three-way meeting with the Operations Manager and me, making it clear to him in cheerful terms that a key really did have to be loaned out.

Our photography consumed portions of many nights. Since Associate Director and the Operations Manager were working day shifts, our work did not at all disturb them. A rather young, but in scientific terms rather senior, astrophysicist "TUVW" from the pleasant European Union juristiction of "LMNO" did have to see the mildly subversive photography operations, since he was present in the nights, but this proved not stressful. "TUVW" and I had long had a happy relationship, in which I would ply him for information about particular stars to as to build up my grand KGB case files. (One really did have to profile star upon star, and of course some stars can be thoroughly troublesome: as I used to explain to many people around DDO, putting on the correct heavy Cold-War continental accent, "Pleione [in the Pleiades; spectroscopy has shown this naked-eye object to have ejected "shells" of incandescent gas at various points in the twentieth century] ve keep under STRIKT surveillance.") "TUVW" and I developed - or I should rather say that I developed for "TUVW", with his concurrence - a helpful DDO jargon:
  • l'auberge David Dunlap: the particular place within DDO where the hardworking "TUVW" would sleep in the daytime, so as not to waste time walking over to his digs at sunrise and walking back at sunset; my promotional language for this ran, "l'auberge David Dunlap - an Old World hostelry of character and charm"
  • Baden-Baden: the sinks in the darkroom, where "TUVW" and additionally one of the daytime staffers were accustomed to wash, with many a noisy splash, typically at times when I would myself be off DDO duty and trying at my nearby desk to concentrate on some mild astronomy studies
  • le restaurant "les deux Étoiles": the kitchen, where "TUVW" would and I would cook one or another thing, in my case not terribly well (deux étoiles, or "two stars", carries not only some significance in the Guides Michelin but also refers to the Rucinski-era DDO research interest in short-period, common-envelope, "contact binaries")
Europe, I decided, really could not be Europe without a Sûreté. So when "TUVW" stumbled across our photography operations, as he so often had to, I would convey the necessary assurances with more language in this same spirit: "Izz Secret Police. Izz very good." "TUVW" entered thoroughly into the spirit of these Continental exercises.

A night came on which the photography team, cornered, were forced to be bad citizens. With our work nearly complete, we found we still had to do some (follow-up?) photography on some contents of the rare-books cabinet in the library. This was not a minor matter. In a lower part of the cabinet, behind opaque doors, were guestbooks, both for the common folk and for the VIPs. There was, in particular, a book showing the 1935-05-31 signature of Opposition Leader William Lyon Mackenzie King. In an upper part, behind glass doors that were most emphatically locked, were many treasures, including venerable tea-things, I presume in high-grade silverplate, or even in sterling silver; a delightful little 1925 privately printed volume entitled Shahwandahgooze Days, autobiographically recording the outdoorsmanship of David Alexander Dunlap, in whose memory the widowed Jessie Donalda Dunlap created DDO for the University, working from the late 1920s to 1935; the bound three-volume typescript autobiography of founding Director Clarence Augustus Chant; a laboratory exercise book of Prof. Chant's, from his Victorian student days; a circa-1665 Opera Omnia of Galileo (in two volumes, in leather bindings, with the leather perhaps rather dry, but nevertheless intact); and a circa-1605 exposition of Tycho Brahe (in disintegrating binding). Our photographic record had to be complete. Somehow, by hook or crook, I had yet again to extract my protective gloves from their library hiding place (we had obtained the gloves earlier on, to secure Galileo and Brahe against my skin oils) and get one last bit of work done.

But for just this one night, the Associate Director had become somewhat nervous and had declined us the key we needed. How to proceed?

After a hasty consultation, our little team put it to me that we should be bad, pulling the cabinet away from the wall and detaching its back panel. That panel was fastened only with light nails. The proposal was that we would from the opened back remove, then replace, whatever it was that now needed to be photographed. I concurred fully in the proposed irregularity. We got the panel nailed in place once more, and I later explained to the unimpressed Associate Director, in a confidential daytime chat, that an irregularity had been forced on us.

Or, rather, my explanation was that an irregularity had been forced on me. In my confidential briefing, I chose my words so as not to lie, but nevertheless so as to gloss over the fact that this operation had involved DDO staff in addition to myself. I chose my words in such a way as to make myself what the underworld calls "the fall guy".

There were no administrative repurcussions.

It may be that "TUVW" did not stumble across our specially exciting photography night. If, however, he did (my memories are not sharp), I would no doubt have said, as usual, "Izz Secret Police; izz very good," and he would as usual have been cheerful.

This photographic record eventually served as a source for a Richmond Hill Naturalists submission, entitled "An Enduring Memorial: The David Dunlap Park & Observatory - As Found Photography, 2008", to the 2009 January Conservation Review Board Hearing.

We did have one minor, and yet not negligible, failure in "Secret Police" work. In the course of our study or cataloguing or analysis of 1930s blueprints, we removed a blueprint (I think of no deep significance for DDO instrumentation), with the intention of having some kind of large-sized photocopy made, and lost it. I was not directly involved in this loss.

To the best of my knowledge, the "Secret Police" work, and all other aspects of the DDO&P grassroots conservation effort, have led to no other loss or damage.


When the end of research astrophysics came, it came with a brutal suddenness, in my view recalling on a nano-scale the vaster crises of city-wide breakdown in legitimate governing authority, as in insurrection or coup.  

The night of 2008-07-01/2008-07-02 was happy, with Cracow visitor Michal Siwak (since 2008 October, Dr Siwak) taking a steady stream of spectrograms under clear skies. The occasionally temperamental equipment entered into the spirit of our labours by extending its unstinting cooperation to both of us. (I was rostered as Dr Siwak's Telescope Operator. I might add that the more senior Telescope Operator, Mrs Heide DeBond, was in those days in the habit of affectionately patting the 1.88-metre telescope upon conclusion of a night's observing run, but that I tended to regard the telescope with a certain wariness: to pat it was in my estimation to pat a creature that was often less a loyal dog than a balky mule or an opinionated camel.) I believe that Dr Siwak went so far as to take a few photos, as if commemorating a distinctively prosperous night. I closed down and locked up in the sunrise as usual. I breakfasted as usual in the late afternoon. Upon walking the two kilometres down to the DDO gate from my Richmond Hill digs, I was greeted by a courteous stranger-in-uniform. It was a security guard. He allowed me to proceed on to the Administration Building. A letter in my pigeonhole there thanked me for my services and advised me that I would be paid for what would have been the nocturnal duties of 2008-07-02/2008-07-03. Nothing could be done at sunset to meet Dr Siwak's ongoing astrophysical requirements.

In the following few days, I witnessed two scenes so unhappy as to lie outside the range of ordinary middle-class experience.

On coming in to continue, somehow, on conservation casework in the morning of 2008-07-03, I found a staffer literally immobilized at his desk with grief.

Not long after, I found a DDO scientist literally in tears on the front step, in process of being ejected like a bum. I had for some months steeled myself for the worst by secreting in the telescope control room, and on suitable occasions practicing, the Dies irae. It was therefore easy enough for me to make my way into the dome, to open the catwalk door, and to use the mighty reverberation of the dome to amplify my already-strong tenor so that the grieving scientist could hear also, even stationed, as he was, some tens of metres away: Dies irae! Dies illa/ Solvet saeclum in favilla . . . ("Day of anger, that day! It will dissolve the world into ash;" and so on and on, for nineteen pitiless mediaeval stanzas which outdo even the Finlandia hymn's powerful "Oi Suomi, katso, sinun päivas' koittaa".)

The University was fortunately not at all brutal in the schedule it imposed on us for packing up our effects. I made what use I could of the time, taking an inventory of blueprints or other readily accessible DDO papers instead of attending diligently to my own packing.

I believe that the keys which I had at my disposal gave me access to absolutely every room, including private offices, barring only the huge ground-floor walk-in safe. Nevertheless, I did not experiment with irregular room access. There was in my de facto police terms little to be gained from snooping within offices. Further, a de facto police operation, like this one, has its own rules which constrain.

It was, on the other hand, fair game to check the contents of the soon-to-disappear filing cabinets in the Administration Building north vestibule. Here I made the fairly promising discovery of three or four or half a dozen sheets giving details of funds, earmarked in perhaps the 1950s and 1960s for this DDO purpose and that. Since our photocopier was still functioning, with its usual log sheet on which to record and pay for one's private copies, I managed to take a copy. This material in due course found its way into the archives of the Richmond Hill Naturalists. I hope that in coming years the Naturalists will be able to supply it to whatever authorities are inspecting the DDO bookkeeping, and that it will prove at least a modestly helpful adjunct to whatever the specialists can do to check that all is well with the Walter Helm bequest.

Mr Helm died on 1960-06-05, leaving a bequest discussed in the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada Journal 54 (1960):

Mr. Helm has left substantial capital bequests to the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada under the terms of his Will. It will probably be many years before the capital bequests become operative in so far as the Society is concerned, since interest from the capital will go to certain of his descendants in their respective life times. Upon their deaths certain amounts of capital will be freed until eventually a large sum will have been paid and transferred to The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada in order to create a fund to be known as The Walter Helm Endowment Fund. At today's values, this sum approximates [dollars]400,000 according to The Canada Permanent Trust Company, an Executor and Trustee.

The clear annual income from The Walter Helm Endowment Fund shall be used "by the said Society for the general purposes of the David Dunlap Observatory located in the vicinity of Richmond Hill, Ontario, and in the event of the destruction of the said Observatory at any time then unless and until the said Observatory has been rebuilt the said income shall be used by the said Society for research in the Science of Astronomy."

Whatever may be the case with the papers I was able to photocopy in the days following 2008-07-03, the Helm fund is at any rate large. The sum of 400 000 CAD in the currency of 1960 is by the Bank of Canada online inflation calculator equivalent, to two significant figures, to 3.3 million CAD in the currency of 2016.

Along with my work on vestibule filing cabinets and the upstairs blueprint-cabinet drawers came much e-mailing. I was therefore quite taken aback to find, on coming in to DDO on one of those harsh days, that my own computer (left running at all times, but with monitor off when I was absent) had become unresponsive. I cut the power to the recalcitrant machine. On powering up again, I heard a loud pop, such as a firecracker would make, and I smelled smoke from the power supply unit (the PSU).

Proceeding carefully, I have retained the machine, in case forensics are needed in, say, 2018 or 2020 or so. I speculate that one way to fry a PSU is simply to block its fan for a few minutes, by holding a crumpled plastic bag against the grille. But I cannot discount the possibility of death from natural causes. It is significant that my computer died at the same time as my own big box fan, which I kept in the window by my desk, died. Perhaps what had happened was nothing more sinister than a spike in the local electrical supply.

As the University proceeded in emptying the Administration Building, I raised a concern, I think somehow writing to the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, regarding the papers of the late Prof. Karl Kamper (1941-1998). In the years leading up to his death, Prof. Kamper had been the main local authority for optical engineering at DDO. Of all the DDO scientists, it was he who had the deepest knowledge of the optics both of the 1.88 metre telescope and of its principal instrument, the grating spectrograph.

As rather bad luck would have it, some of his materials, I think in the form either of one or more looseleaf binders or in the form of one or more hardcover lab books, or perhaps in both of these forms, were shelved in a place of no great distinction, a general document repository in the big workroom where I myself had my computer and desk. In this repository (the shelving one one's left, by the door, as one entered from the corridor; this shelving was by one's left shoulder if one proceeded from the workroom to the old photographic darkroom) were many things of only slight value, such as 1990-era or 1995-era computer manuals. Monitoring the emptying of the shelves as well as I could, I formed the definite fear that all this repository was being emptied in one fell swoop, with its entire contents categorized as discards. If I recall correctly, the Department did note my concern, but I do not know if the Kamper material was, in the end, rescued. A formal investigation will eventually be needed.

The time eventually came, perhaps around 2008-07-10 or 2008-07-15 or so, when I was able to get my own quite bulky shelving and book collection out of DDO, hiring for the transport to my place of residence a taxi-company van. I was told that from this point onward I must not enter the Administration Building.

Security continued to be in the hands of the outsourcing firm retained by the University. With access to the Administration Building now forbidden me, I kept up monitoring duty at the ellipse by the Adminisration Building main entrance, noting down and photographing what I could, generally from just after breakfast (now taken at the normal civilian, as opposed to Telescope-Operator, hour, in the morning) until the early evening. The University seemed to be moving items out of DDO only from, in terms of the ordinary civil clock, 09:00 or 09:30 or so until about 17:00. It therefore seemed safe enough for me to leave by 18:00 or so, leaving DDO under the overnight watch of a security guard, with no moving trucks expected again until the following morning.

For prudence, I maintained my guard not only on all weekdays but also on Saturdays, and at least to some extent also on Sundays.

The outsourcing firm was cheerful and friendly. I was perhaps a little uncomfortable being perpetually invited to sit in the vehicle of one of the outsourcing guards (it was better to be under the open sky), but his conversation was interesting enough to make up for the mild emotional discomfort: we had much interesting discussion of computer hardware (having asssembled at least one machine himself, he knew hardware better than I did that summer), and of Iranian affairs, and of classical Persian poetry and Iranian music.

I cannot hold it gravely against the outsourcing security firm that, like perhaps any competent policing authority, they colluded in trying to trap me. On one particular day, everyone seemed to disappear for lunch. The movers were nowhere; the University of Toronto police were nowhere visible; and the outsourcing security had gone off also, perhaps seeking some Tim Horton's coffee or some submarine sandwich. With everything so pleasantly quiet, the front door of the Administration Building was left wide open. The door stayed in that condition, if I recall, for ages, perhaps for a full hour. I came very close indeed to walking into the trap, putting my foot right onto the forbidden threshold.

Regard for the public interest requires me also to disclose at this point the Associate Director's painful self-accusation of cowardice regarding his general handling of the DDO conservation file, in one of our confidential conferences, and my own incorrect reproach, in which I compared him with Vidkun Quisling.

Whether the self-accusation was accurate or exaggerated I unfortunately could not say at the time, and cannot even now say. I need more facts.

It was only a half-year or year or two years or so later that I realized the unfairness of my own contribution to the interview. I managed to secure a further exceedingly brief conference, in which I set matters right as best I could. In this hasty follow-up conversation, I said that if parallels with the 1940s were to be pressed, then the appropriate parallel would be not with Quisling but with Edvard Beneš.

In so far as the DDO&P conservation crisis is the work of the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, rather than of the central University administration in Simcoe Hall, its guiding mind is Prof. Peter G. Martin, in the years leading up to 2008 nominally the "Director of the David Dunlap Observatory". (The post of "Associate Director" was a creation of Prof. Martin's. Previous administrative arrangements had provided only for the position of Director, and it was the Director, rather than the Associate, who in unbending tradition lived on the grounds and was in a position of day-to-day supervisory command.) I do not know enough about this individual to make satisfactory assessments of motives and character. I do gather that his graduate students have had a high opinion of him. Graduate students are not fools.

I myself can recall seeing Prof. Martin at DDO just once, on an evening some time before the start of the conservation crisis (could this have been, perhaps, in the summer of 2007?). I was at this moment in unaccustomed blue jeans, dirty with soil, and he looked less at than through me.

I did also have the honour of meeting the Director socially, back in the Christmas of 2007, at what was our the last in the long tradition of DDO Christmas lunches. On this poignant occasion, we gathered at a Hungarian restaurant in Richmond Hill. I led the long table - we were a company of about twenty - in singing a local update to Bing Crosby, which I had composed in part with the aim of discomfiting Prof. Martin:

I'm dreaming of the stars this Christmas,
The very ones we've come to know;
Where the treetops glisten, and children listen
To hear wildlife in our snow.
I'm dreaming of the stars this Christmas
With every Christmas card I write:
May your days be merry and bright;
May you find your guiding star tonight.

(A significant part of night work in the control room is "guiding", i.e., keeping the converging cone of light from the star of interest exactly centred on the roughly 300-micron-wide spectrograph entrance slit, by actuating one or another from a set of four pushbuttons. The work is supported by a spectrograph-monitoring television camera which feeds a closed-circuit television screen at the controls. This is one of the more solemn approaches one can in the present life make to Eternity, with the stars slowly wheeling overhead, with midnight long past and dawn still hours away, and with the stellar photons traversing an abyss, from photosphere to spectrograph slit, typically some hundreds of lightyears deep.)

As either chance or someone's cunning design would have it (in this instance I vote, tentatively, for mere chance), I found myself seated at the long table, in our specially booked restaurant room, right opposite the Associate Director, with the Director seated at my right shoulder. Here was an opportunity not to be missed. The Associate Director and I entered into it instinctively, easily. Ignoring our Director, we chatted through the lunch between ourselves, across the table, on that perennially interesting theme, the Party: Party membership formalities, Party bosses, Party discipline. (I hope I managed to point out, while inquiring politely about Poland, that in the Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic there had been a "parteiline noomitus", or "Party rebuke"; and a "vali parteiline noomitus", or "severe Party rebuke"; and also some kind of "parteiline noomitus tagasiulatuva jõuga", or "retroactive Party rebuke".)

With the lunch concluded, and our collective homage to Party and Bing Crosby paid, I did take some notice of our Director, shaking his hand and wishing him a merry Christmas.

But now, in 2008 July, with DDO staff ejected from the Administration Building, it was necessary for Prof. Martin to obtain staff keys. My unhappy colleagues surrendered theirs. I dug my heels in when approached by the Associate Director, pointing out calmly but firmly that the Associate Director was being sent by the Director to do the Director's unpleasant business. If the Director was anxious about the key, I said, he could confer with me himself. I hope I added, but am not now certain that I was recollected enough to add, that I would not undercut Polish honour by surrendering the key to the Associate Director. I rather think the Associate Director tried twice. I do not think he tried three times.

There was additionally an attempt by a lady helping with Departmental adminstration at the downtown campus, to whom I replied quite firmly, albeit quietly, that she was being asked to do the Director's dirty work.

A well informed individual, "GHIJ", has not only helped me to see that any 1940s parallels I might care to draw must be drawn with regard to Beneš, not Quisling, but additionally to see how Canadian administration differs from administration under the Party. "GHIJ" points out that Party functionaries were, although detested, respected. Respect came from their willingness to do dirty work themselves, in person, without delegation.

Since they never did get the key out of me, the question now arises, and may well be posed by some provincial or federal public servant, as inquiries mature: How did I dispose of the key?

A key can be handled in various ways. One way is to archive it, unharmed, among one's papers. Another way is to convey it to some quasi-official personage in Estonia who can duly liaise with government workers in Canada, as future occasions may require. A third way is to convey it to an appropriate colleague of Segretario Generale, Città del Vaticano, whether on the Italian peninsula or in the Vatican Observatory Research Group in Arizona. Further possibilities open up if, speaking hypothetically, the key is rendered auditable-but-unusable through being cut in half with a hacksaw: one half can, for instance, be retained in Richmond Hill, while the other half makes its secure little Purolator journey to a remote jurisdiction.

If interrogated by the University regarding my ever-so-careful handling of the key, I will answer as soon as the University establishes that it has an ethical right to be heard.

If interrogated by an appropriate branch of government or police, I will answer provided that I can be satisfied regarding the absence of corruption. Such worries are in practice, speaking very generally and without concrete reference to any particular municipality, less acute at a federal level than at a municipal level.


I must now continue with my detailed account of events in 2008 July.

At some stage in that tense month, the then Head of University of Toronto Police, Mr Sam d'Angelo, became a familiar presence at DDO&P. I even found him accompanying the outsourced security guard on one Sunday.

I did what I could to establish a friendly rapport with Mr d'Angelo, but was on the whole unsuccessful. Mr d'Angelo gave me to understand that I was doing something wrong (he was never able to nail the wrongdoing down in concrete terms), and he said that far from continuing to monitor the University's moving operations at DDO, I could end up in prison. Although I took this to be impertinent bluff, I believe I omitted to do what the case really required, namely, to ask under what provision in the Canada Criminal Code I might expect to be incarcerated, and to ensure that I was running a voice recorder, visible and known to Mr d'Angelo, when I asked for these "further and better particulars".

One of my three worst encounters with Mr d'Angelo was on the afternoon of the Saturday which was 2008-07-12. As I was walking up the drive toward the Administration Building, with the gatehouse some tens of metres behind me, but the Administration Building itself not yet in view, Mr d'Angelo appeared, accompanied by the kindly Iranian outsourcing security guard. Mr d'Angelo embarked on an odd line of questioning.

What, he asked, was my source of income? (I believe I avoided giving details: I probably said that there was some income from blueberries, at least in a good crop year, and that there was something from interest and dividends, but I think I avoided communicating any portfolio particulars. I at that time still had the bulk of my life savings intact.) 

He additionally remarked that it was of interest that I had lately made a will, and I believe he added that I had in other ways lately discussed arrangements in the event of my death. These remarks were accurate: I had pondered the matter of a will, somehow, and had not too long before that summer made arrangements for my mother's and - as was my thinking at that time, since revised in the light of a Tartu family consultation - my own internment at Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery, and I had thought it prudent in the DDO&P conservation crisis to brief the Associate Director on these points.

Still more alarming, however, was Mr d'Angelo's line of inquiry regarding sex. Was it true that I was sexually attracted to rubber boots? I replied in the affirmative. Was I now in possession of a pair of rubber boots of the kind to which I was attracted? Here I was fortunately able to give a very definite denial, since it had been perhaps three or five or six or so years, perhaps even seven (but I think not as many as nine) since I had last made the disgusting, illicit, purchase-followed-by-disposal-followed-by-Sacrament-of-Penance.

I did what I could to counter the attacks, pointing out to Mr d'Angelo that he was himself Catholic. Here I took a sheer guess, but since he did not deny it, my guess had to have been right. How, I pointed out without raising my voice or being in any other way at all menacing, could he in conscience act as he was acting? For this, I argued, was material requiring him to seek the Sacrament of Penance.

Although my memories of the afternoon were vivid when I first typed up this part of my memoirs, on 2013-03-06 (and they remain vivid upon my review, in the period from 2016-05-16 forward), I do not recall Mr d'Angelo's exact reply. I think the general tenor was somehow to the effect that he did not discern pastoral material requiring action on his part.

As providence or luck would have it, there now appeared on the driveway quite a reasonable group of  civilians, numbering roughly five. (It was of course normal for strangers, not knowledgeable about astronomy or heritage conservation, simply to wander through DDO&P greenspace in the daylight hours. A fine Saturday afternoon made the grounds especially inviting for a stroll.) I hastily explained the essence of the situation to the visitors, accompanying them up the drive to the Administration Building. My last sight of Mr d'Angelo on that afternoon was satisfying. He had his head buried in his hands, and was I think rocking back and forth, in mortification at his failure.

I sent a detailed account of the 2008-07-12 operation (or in the parlance of Gulag and Gitmo, interrogation) to President Naylor's team at the University, in circumstances which were themselves somewhat tense. Having now no functioning computer, it was necessary for me to e-mail from the Richmomd Hill Public Library. To my astonishment, I found my normal webmail interface, which at that time was through, failing.

Was this a subversion of a (probably Montréal-based) webmail server? I am inclined to answer in the negative, appealing to what I call the Addendum to the Rule of the Duck. The Rule of the Duck, appropriate to all political affairs east of the River Elbe, is the following: If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is not a duck. The Addendum (the final irony) is this: The Rule notwithstanding, what probably is not a duck is in some special cases actually a duck.

But fake duck or real, I was at all events without functioning e-mail, at a time when it was important to get a writeup of perhaps 1000 or 2000 words to President Naylor's team. I will long be grateful to the information technology people at the Richmond Hill Public Library for showing me how to set up a new webmail account, at a service then unfamiliar to me, so that I could get the job done.

So far as I know, President Naylor's team did not reply.

The second of my three particularly bad encounters with Mr d'Angelo came shortly after the sex talk, quite possibly on the Monday which was 2008-07-14. I took up my usual monitoring position by the front steps of the Administration Building. Inside, in a place I was forbidden to observe, was intense activity, with the library being packed up into cardboard boxes by the Departmental Librarian and some helpers. I was somehow not standing but crouching or sitting, as I vividly recall just by the more southerly of the two big concrete planters that I would in each horticultural season fit out with a tall ornamental grass and a few low bedding plants.

Mr d'Angelo leaned down, his mouth very close to my ear, and also sufficiently close to my nostrils for me to smell something disagreeable, such as garlic or halitosis. In place of speaking, he shouted: "Leave. Leave! LEAVE! LEAVE NOW! LEAVE NOW!" This went on for a while. Somehow, however, I managed to make a cellular-telephone call to one of my principal handlers in the monitoring operation, Ms Karen Cilevitz. She drove over quickly from her residence, a few kilometres away in Richmond Hill Ward Five. Mr d'Angelo said to her (I think he was trying to argue psychiatric infirmity) that when he had been shouting at me, I had reacted by "shaking like a leaf". Ms Cilevitz was unimpressed by this line of argument. She took him aside, far out of my sight and hearing, and they had some kind of interview. The upshot of their confidential interview was that nothing much happened with Mr d'Angelo for a while. The next real trouble came only on 2008-07-24, as the third of my particularly bad encounters.

I will be long grateful to Ms Cilevitz, despite her subsequent abandonment of conservationist principles, for whatever forthright, and yet confidential, intervention she made on my behalf on the day of the shouting.

Of these three major unpleasantnesses from 2008 July, only the encounter of July 24 is documented on YouTube. The relevant clip, at, is of duration 4:15, is uploaded by PenOpticon, is entitled "Moving Day at David Dunlap Observatory", and is dated 2008-07-26. This particular "moving day" was of particular interest, since it involved the removal of the DDO art collection.

I have commented on the "moving day" film elsewhere on this blog, but may as well comment again, more fully. 

We tended to take DDO art for granted. In retrosepct, I can see that it was a collection of some heft, comprising as it did water colours and oils, conceivably also a bit of acrylic-on-board or acrylic-on-canvas, a bit of soapstone carving, and perhaps a few additional minor objets d'art. In Elms Lea was at least one signficant landscape. In the Administration Building were large traditional portraits, in a somberly Edwardian Royal-Academy idiom, of David Alexander Dunlap (over the library fireplace) and Jessie Donalda Dunlap (at the rear of the auditorium).

At the front of the auditorium hung a quite interesting modernizing treatment, in luminous whites or pastels or light greys, of our major 1960s benefactor Walter Helm.

In the Associate Director's office was a strong treatment of the observing floor at the 1.88 metre telescope, with stylized human figures dwarfed by brutal, looming, machinery. Here was captured the essence of the harsh night routine, in much the same line and colour as we have come to appreciate in Canada's official World War I and World War II combat painters.

In the corridor upstairs were a couple of watercolours of the Royal Greenwich Observatory, donated by the the Astromer Royal, Sir Frank Watson Dyson (1868-1939), when he attended the 1935-05-31 DDO opening

Somewhere I believe there was at least one (minor?) Group of Seven.

The DDO family was represented by at least one canvas from our sole significant painter, Prof. Ruth Northcott. Northcott died at the age of 56 in 1969. Her obituary in the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada Journal 63 (1969) makes due reference to her skill as an artist, mentioning formal training at the Ontario College of Art and Design, and additionally refers in moving terms to her attachment to nature: "She was part of the awesomeness of remote galaxies . . ., yet she was also part of the here and now to be found in bird song and the flash of wings and the quiet beauty of the opening of a bud."

On art-removal day, I had my modest Walmart digital camera, with which I obtained both stills and moving images once the pillage proceeded from Elms Lea to the Aministration Building. (I stayed at the Administration Building, not keeping a proper watch on Elms Lea.) I also had a hand-held voice recorder, into which I narrated what I was seeing at the Administration Building. This recorder, fully visible to Mr d'Angelo, picked up some of what he had to say.

It was from these various materials that a conservationist and I, working together on an evening later that same week, assembled the uploaded video.

At 00:24 or so is the first view of the principal vehicle in the art-transport operation, a blue air-conditioned truck from transport specialists PACART ( I at first tried to keep an exact inventory, on my voice recorder, of what was being loaded, but soon lost track in my count. The "small piece" being loaded at 0:30 is too small to be one of the major portraits. A portrait is quite possibly, on the other hand, emerging at 00:33. Mr d'Angelo makes his first appearance at 00:38. A flowerbed in all its July glory (our beds were at their best-ever level that summer) can be glimpsed at 00:52. At 01:06 is a particularly good view of Mr d'Angelo (in charcoal suit, white shirt, and a tie of an approximately Oxford-blue colour, as appropriate when significant oils are being abstracted from Canada's most elegant scientific premisses). 

At 01:30 or so, Mr d'Angelo makes the mistake of saying that I must stand in a place of his choosing. (I of course did not go near the load, and I made this clear in speaking my distance estimates into the recorder microphone.) He says that if I do not comply, he will "take the camera away". This cannot have been legal, and I instantly had the idea of examining him: "Is your specific threat that you will confiscate the camera?" 

The outsourcing firm obstructs the camera lens with a hand at 01:41.

Mr d'Angelo asks me to leave the property, quite audibly saying "I ask" (not "I order"). This request I ignore.

The vast bulk of the PACART truck is apparent around 02:15. It is now evident (as I remark into the voice recorder) that not art alone but also furniture is being moved.

The furniture load surely comprised, at least in part, the exquisite pieces from the library: heavy prewar tables, and chairs to match. Some of those chairs can be glimpsed from the 1935-05-31 opening ceremony microphone-stand photography. Legal and forensic attention will later have to be given to the fact that some furniture at DDO (I do not know whether present in this load) was decorated in relief with motifs echoing the building facade. Are such items legally removable under the Ontario Heritage Act, or does the repetition in woodworked relief of building-facade masonry medallions cause an elegant table to become a building fixture?

The "large orange box being wheeled" at 02:24 (at which point the stills give way to moving images) is not particularly sinister, comprising merely the private tools of the Operations Manager.

At 02:44, I note into my recorder, "Admin Building door now closed". Almost immediately after is a shot of the convoy, with police cruiser and PACART truck and other machines, heading out to Hillsview Drive.

I must thank my conservationist assistant for his inspired idea of colouring our stills in sepia toward the end of the clip, and for his help in procuring the Wagner (Pilgrim's Chorus from Tannhäuser - here performed in English - at the beginning of the clip, and the Walkürenritt instrumentally, from die Walküre, as the action hots up).

What, then, did not get filmed? 

As I was on guard, Mr d'Angelo came up and asked, ever so casually, with an eye to my knapsack, "Tom, can you lend me a pair of scissors?" Fool that I was, I did not get his intent. Fortunately, however, I did not on that day have a pair of scissors in my knapsack, and so I truthfully said that I regretted not being able to help. I added that there should be a pair of scissors in the librarian's desk.

Mr d'Angelo then asked, "Well, do you have a knife?" I still thought, as a fool, that this constable was in need of help, being for some legitimate policing reason required to cut something like twine or cardboard. But as good luck would have it, I also had no knife in my knapsack (I must have packed a meal that required no real cutlery), and I told him this without giving the matter any deep thought.

The real intent of Mr d'Angelo's pair of questions became clear just after the convoy rounded the bend, as shown around 03:18 in the clip. I stopped filming and raced through the stand of Norway spruce, along the path where that past winter Grey Eagle of the Mohawks had in a liturgy inducted his audience as "Rainbow Warriors", to intercept the convoy at the gatehouse. I was just in time to catch the very end of the convoy, picking up speed on its eastward trajectory along Hillsview Drive. At the very rear I believe I saw something I had not seen earlier in the day, a vehicle which I believe had been waiting on Hillsview Drive, parked, and had joined the convoy tail only at the end of the operation. This vehicle was white and box-like, too bulky to be a conventional van, and yet not bulky enough to be a truck such as movers would use. On its roof were some lights. I am 70 per cent certain that what I saw was an ambulance.

If the vehicle was an ambulance, the otherwise odd questions regarding scissors and knife would make sense. Mr d'Angelo, I suggest, had hoped that I would in all innocence produce from my knapsack some kind of cutting implement, such as a madman might use to slash a canvas, and that he could then apply the bracelets and call on the ambulance for support. Had I lost my composure at that point, Form One could be invoked under the Ontario Mental Health Act, yielding for him my compulsory detention in a secure psychiatric facility for 72 hours.


I am not quite sure how to date the saddest moment in that  month, the absolute Low Point. But although I do not know the date, I know what the moment is. I was winding up a day of monitoring, accompanied by the friendly outsourced Iranian security guard, "XX",  and one of his colleagues, "YY".  Nothing much was any longer happening, since the removal of effects from the buildings by the University tended to wind up by suppertime. Soon I, too, would be headed home. But then "XX" and "YY" gave me to understand that "Sam is coming." 

What could I now do? I was a kilometre or so from even the nearest accessible ordinary residential house. I had brief thoughts of something very bad happening, leading perhaps to my spitting out some blood and  some of my teeth. I remember the failing early-evening light, and unlovely weeds poking up through paving near the sundial. But what made this the Low Point was not my sense of personal danger. In the end, Mr Sam d'Angelo never did show up. What made it the Low Point was, rather, something subjective - the realization, sharper and clearer at that instant than at any other, into what squalor the 1935 philanthropic legacy of Prof. Chant and donor Jessie Donalda Dunlap was now being plunged. 

The dominant emotion was not fear, and not  grief, and not anger, but shame. 

[To be finished, finally, in the NEXT installment, with principal uploads at some point or points in the four-hour interval UTC=20160524T0001Z/20160524T0401Z: it remains to remark on the possible future evolution of DDO&P, and then to make concluding, more general, remarks on the theme of islands-in-a-time-of-civilizational-decline.] 

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