15 Dec
History Has Been Altered


This Christmas, my husband, the boy from the Get a Bigger Wagon stories, has been able to right a wrong from his past. Thanks to technology and the Dean of the Murray Edwards School of Business, the boy’s mother is satisfied and at peace as she approaches her 96th birthday.

My husband, Gordon, made a series of decisions in the late 60s and early 70s that created a mystery that lasted for decades and seriously upset his mother. The question that needed to be answered was, did J. Gordon Haddock actually attain his Commerce Degree in 1972? The fact that there was little evidence to support his claim for such an education really didn’t bother him. It made his mother sad because she valued education and always wished for the opportunity to attend university. It puzzled his daughters when they attended university because they couldn’t find his photo in any of the framed graduating classes. Dean Taras of the Edwards School of Business saw Gord’s diploma while visiting the Haddock home. It clearly says that J. Gordon Haddock attained his Bachelor of Commerce, and it is dated May 30, 1972. Dean Daphne Taras teasingly asked if it was a forgery.  

Gord has often told me that in business, it is never the first or the second mistake that leads to a mishap. However, adding a third misjudgement can bring a good plan to ruin. Certainly, his missing photo was the result of a compilation of poor choices. 

Gord’s classes and credit history would likely have caused a computer shutdown today, but he graduated before computers were commonplace. His attendance at the University of Saskatchewan began a year after his grade twelve graduation because his average was a little lower than was required in order to be admitted that first fall. He confesses that he spent more time playing pool, basketball, and working than he ever spent studying while in grade twelve.  

After his gap year, I suggested that Gord take a summer school class before actually going to university, in order to get accustomed to studying. He did, and he managed to get an A in that class. The summer school A saved him, when, after his first year attending University, he appeared to come up a little short of credits. He had to tell the administration to look back at the summer school records to find his previous credits. Gord’s story told in movie format would require ominous music, at this point, to indicate an obvious foreshadowing.

By the time we were married in December of 1970, Gord had only three semesters left to complete his degree. My care and feeding of my new husband seemed to settle his study habits. He attained some excellent marks. Now, instead of staying the course, he became truly enthused about his academic abilities and set some new goals. He planned to complete his requirements by December of the 71-72 academic year, and this would allow him to get a jump on the job market in Calgary. Therefore, in an era when there were no computers, Gord’s student records became even more complicated.

Gord had failed to get his graduation photo taken in the fall of his graduation year. His absence had something to do with going to the bar with friends, who, by the way, had already had their sittings. As his wife, perhaps I should have been more diligent about monitoring his activities, but I was teaching school, keeping house, and paying the bills. His mother, who had always wanted her boys to be well educated, was aghast when she discovered he had failed to pose for his graduation photo. She suggested he have his photo taken in his robe, even though it was much later in the year.

Gord finished his academic requirements by Christmas of 1971, but the Calgary job market proved to be a disappointment because most firms only hired in the spring. He finally got a job in Calgary in February. In late May, we returned to Saskatoon to celebrate Gord’s convocation. We had missed his graduation dance in the winter, where the composite photo board had been presented to the presiding dean and where Gord was so obviously missing. We, possibly, could have changed fate, then, if we had been there to notice. Clearly, though, his name became lost in a void somewhere between two graduating years, and not even a marker was added to indicate no photo was available for the infamous J. Gordon Haddock. His photo isn’t in the yearbook either, although he can be found in candid shots. That is proof he attended but not proof he graduated.  

Forty-three years later, in the fall of 2015, Dean Daphne Taras took time to show us some of the innovations at the Murray Edwards School of Business. We were impressed with the computer that houses the records of all alumni of the college. Dean Daphne typed in the name J. Gordon Haddock and up came his name and the year 1972 below a faceless head and shoulders marker. The Dean asked if there had ever been a graduation photo taken. I assured her there had been, and it had even been digitalized. She suggested I send it to her. We spoke with a computer magician who was sure that J. Gordon’s records could be updated. He even thought it might be possible to add the photo to the group composite of graduates of 1972. I was far more excited than Gord because I was thinking of his mother. I love happy endings!

Gord is now proudly attached to his graduating class, at least on the computer. Of course, he will remain missing from the photo on the wall. His mother, soon to be 96, lives with moderate dementia. I reminded her about the missed photo opportunity, and although she had forgotten about the incident, she was, again, furious with her son. That wasn’t my intention, but it made me smile.

I placed Gord’s graduation photo on the table in front of her.  She looked at it for a long time and then said, “He sure needs a haircut, Maureen.” She said that a lot to him in the 70s. When I showed her his photo inserted into his graduating class photo, she smiled with satisfaction. She talked about how much she had wanted to attend university. Amazingly, she noticed his photo appeared near the end of the class, not in with the other Hs. Our computer magician didn’t want to move every photo. We concluded that when history is altered, a clue should be left behind. Besides, Gord loves to be unique, and in his graduation photo, his H comes after W and before Y. He never did like to stay in line.

Gord with his parents on May 30, 1972.

Gord's mom on December 13, 2015.





Comments (8)

  • Joy Crawford
    May 9, 2020 at 11:12 am

    Great story, Maureen and Gord. Thanks for sharing.

  • Helen Davis
    May 9, 2020 at 10:18 am

    Great story. The Haddocks continue to keep us entertained. ??

  • Sakina Madini
    March 20, 2016 at 12:52 pm

    Very lovely and interesting story Maureen. I really enjoyed reading it. Love, Sakina

  • Bev Gardner
    December 19, 2015 at 11:15 am

    Great story Maureen! Bob is in exactly the same position, having no photo and even missing his fall convocation as we had left for Australia! Had we but known they could have altered history together!

  • Marion Murawsky
    December 19, 2015 at 10:49 am

    Oh Maureen, Brings back memories. Life was and still is always interesting, right? The best. Love, Marion

  • Verla Schmirler
    December 17, 2015 at 11:20 am

    What an interesting story! Life would be so dull without the twists and turns that create stories like these. Just think, as others see Gord's H after W and before Y, I'm sure it will always trigger the question: WHY? Merry Christmas!

  • Carol Senger
    December 15, 2015 at 06:44 pm

    Lovely read as usual! Merry Christmas to you both!

  • Rauncie Kinnaird
    December 15, 2015 at 11:32 am

    A kindness to your mother is always a great gift.

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