John William Clarke

Passed away on May 25, 2014 at Stevenson Memorial Hospital, Alliston, following a brief battle with cancer. John W. Clarke practiced law for over 30 years in the town of Alliston. He is survived by his partner of 21 years, Monika Castaldi. Remembered by his aunt Grace of Kitchener, family and friends. John will be fondly remembered by Ed Murphy and the Friends of Wanapitei.

If so desired memorial donations in John’s memory to the Canadian Cancer Society would be appreciated.

Camp Wanapitei Remembers John Clarke

Bruce Hodgins – John Clarke first went to Wanapitei in 1961 (before that he was a Wabanaki camper) as a camper and in that August he went on our first canoeing Bay Trip to James Bay, on the Matagami-Moose.  The trip was all male.  I was the trip leader and John Scott the Assistant.  Ted Moores and John Clarke were participants.  See the picture of the group returning by train (Wanapitei on Temagami, 2006, blue cover edition, page 59, or the white edition p.64, 1996).  Then for several years he was on staff leading many trips.

Professionally, with a Master’s Degree, he became Registrar of the new Laurentian University.  Then later he studied law at Queen’s.  In the mid-sixties, John Clarke, Tom Roach and myself were the triumvirate running Wanapitei, all on the Board.  Carol was running Trip Stores.  John would appear at Camp to examine Life Saving candidates.

Later John was practising law in Allison and helped out Wanapitei as a Board member.  John, Tom and I made and cleared out the Red Squirrel trail from the end of the cutting (jack pine) road to our Camp site.  Milne had ceased cutting there in 1971.  Before leaving Sudbury for Queen’s, John acquired for us the refrigeration system for an expanding Wanapitei.  Up to that point we had used ice blocks cut and hauled out of the frozen Bay and put into the Ice House, slowly decaying.  Dick Twain was in charge; we helped.

In 1971, Alistair Thomas and two other staff led a large group of Intermediate Boys, including four Hodgins,  Glenn, Shawn, Dan and Eric, plus others including Bruce Flemons, on what was to be a trip to Killarney Bay.  The trip moved carefully to the south west but slowly.  No contact with camp of course.  John Clarke flew in with his shared owned old sea plane.  He and I, John the pilot and myself, took off and searched to the south west.  We flew through heavy rain.  No sight.  Finally we landed on a small Lake on the route amid a thunder storm.  No sight.  We called and called and horned.  Finally, a faint reply.  The group portaged back one lake and found us.  Great joy.  The group on our advice cut the length of the trip at the village of Wanapitei (now inside Sudbury).  We returned to Camp and sent cars to transport the trip south and west to Georgian Bay.  The group paddled to the Cecil Hodgins site in Killarney Bay.  All was well.  High morale.  Most of the participants became Wanapitei Staff members and shareholders and Board members—later of course.

All thanks to John Clarke.

Bruce W. Hodgins,
Tom Roach.

9 thoughts on “John William Clarke”

  1. John William Clarke; an integral member of the Wanapitei family for 53 years.

    John Clarke passed away at 3 AM on May 25, 2014 at Stevenson Memorial Hospital, Alliston, following a brief battle with cancer. He had been taken to Toronto General about three weeks earlier, apparently with throat problems.

    John’s main family. besides his partner of 21 years, Monika Castaldi, was Wanapitei and his wish was for his ashes to be spread up there, which will happen this summer.

    John graduated with an MA in English from his home-town, Waterloo, in 1969, took a position as Registrar at Laurentian U in Sudbury, where he stayed until 1974. He then studied law at Queens, after which he made his home in Alliston, where he established a law practice for over 30 years.

    During his time at Laurentian he had a junior share in a float plane, which he flew into camp several times. He sold his share after the plane froze on a winter trip into camp to meet up with Bruce Hodgins and Tom Roach. (He flew home, but the senior shareholder of the plane was nervous that he might eventually lose the plane.) For the three summers John was in law school, 1975 – 77, he was Program Director at Wanapitei and worked for the camp and the Chateau during the springs of ’75 – ‘78.

    The original group that talked about purchasing Wanapitei from the senior Hodgins was Bruce, Carol, John Clarke, Joyce Relyea and myself. By the time the first Board was created in 1971 there were 15 of us, but John and Bruce are the only two Wanapitei Board members who have been on the Board consistently since it was formed.

    John went to Wabinaki for a few years, then his first year at Wanapitei he was on the first Bay Trip, (1961) and was then on staff from ’62 – 68, and again in the mid 70s. He and I were co-counselors in 1963, when we led the likes of “Vin” Norris, Gary Norris, Alister Thomas and Tommy McCullough on various and sundry trips. John remained very active in camp business until well into the 90s when he slowed down a bit to nurture his law practice. He wasn’t very active recently in camp business but he could always bring the wisdom of his 43 years of Board history and his sharp legal mind to the game. I’m very sorry to see him go, especially so fast and so young. I believe he was about to turn 69, or just had recently.

  2. One summer, John was leading a trip of people only just younger than himself. The group came to a long portage over boggy ground. John was in the lead, carrying a canoe and a pack when he accidentally stepped into a hole and found himself up to his neck in mud with the ends of the canoe bridging the hole. He was about to throw-off the canoe and use it to climb out of the mud when there was a bump and the canoe was pressed down further in the mud.  The person behind him had stepped on to the canoe and then walked along its bottom, getting off on the solid ground at the opposite end. A cheerful “Thank you, John!” rang out. I believe each member of the trip followed this lead and thanked John loudly before continuing on leaving John to extract himself and then catch-up.

    Years of working for the Chateau as a teen, resulted in John having local knowledge like few others. Driving at full speed in a boat powered with a 40HP outboard, he could drive up and down the Red Squirrel river at night scorning the use of lights. An experience definitely NOT for the faint at heart.

    One summer afternoon, I discovered that our Bear Island staff were, in the near future, planning a party. As the party would interfere with the presence of 250 young people, it had to be stopped. I ordered John and his senior programme staff, to meet with the party holders and ensure that all the alcoholic beverages were consumed before the party got really going. This they did at the expense of some colossal hangovers the next morning. The Bear Island side, however, were not happy but all were fully functioning. I was very grateful!

    As Program Director, John was fantastic. He took a lot of the load off of Bruce and myself. His efforts resulted in a large increase in the number of campers in the years he held the job and subsequently.

  3. John was the rock of the programme staff of the mid- and late 1970s. His big personality, his big laugh, his inexhaustible supply of Wanapitei lore, his Northern Ontario warmth, all made the lives of new staff of the day so much easier. His Stan and Laura-Belle Hodgins (and Leander) anecdotes from innumerable springs working at the Chateau were legend. No one wore blue jeans and suspenders, and a t-shirt, in all weather, with more elegance and comfort. He was the Lord of Mountain View for many summers. He loved a cold beer (from the Ice House) and a lively game of euchre. His calm and good humour stood the staff well when Bruce and Tom would get themselves worked up (i.e., into a spitting lather) on the matters as consequential as how many Wanapitei hooded sweatshirts of what colours and of what sizes ought to have been ordered, and were in fact delivered, or who was responsible for the latest wiring failure of the White Camp Van and the big green canoe trailer. He could tell you for the past ten years which trips had used which canoes (never needing the white file card box that came to reside in Charles Paradis and used to record such minutia in the day). John was my mentor at Wanapitei. He guided me through my first summer (1975) and I never looked back. He was a rock. What a guy.

  4. I remember many scenes with John Clarke as an actor, but the one I remember best took place at the end of the 1977 season, when two brash young staff members, Mark Isaacson and Louis Heavenrich challenged two legends of Wanapitei, Marcus Bruce and John Clarke, to a canoe race from the pothole to the bridge. The old timers won, but only because they cheated.

  5. How like John not to bother us with the seriousness of his condition. I am glad he is being brought back to Wanapetei. I think in many ways he was the happiest at camp, and among us. He was kind, forgiving and generous.

  6. I am deeply saddened to hear of John’s death.  I didn’t know he was in the hospital but was aware he was not well.   I grew up at Wanapitei with John around. He taught and tested me for my Master canoeist and Wanapitei tripper. Thinking of him brings back a lot of memories. It is hard to believe he is no longer with us.

  7. JC  and  his cohort (Ted)  saddled me with a lengthy lengthy Latin handle in 1963. I forgave him that once I learned how to respect  his appreciation of W.C. Fields. He was my counsellor, co – leader, friend  and occasional partner-in crime over the course of many years .There are so many incidences that I could cite and yet not one will suffice to describe his all encompassing importance to the esprit de corps of Wanapitei. To Mark I say: we won not so much because we cheated but rather because we knew how to do so properly , appropriately  and with incredible panache, all of which can be attributed to Mr. Clarke.

  8. During my years on the Wanapitei Executive, and especially when I was Vice-President, John and I became close friends – for the most part by way of lengthy, long distance phone calls as I sought advice on potentially sensitive issues. We didn’t always agree, but we were always able to settle our differences prior to board meetings. On critical issues,
    I could always count on his support. But my lasting impression of John was his deep and abiding love of Wanapitei, gleaned from long discussions on the beach when he regaled me on more than one occasion with tales of his early years as a camper then as a trip leader. Inadvertently, or perhaps purposefully, he taught me that Wanapitei was far more than just summer
    camp, but a spiritual entity that spread across the years through friendships and experiences gained in the Canadian wilderness. I will miss John dearly, but he will remain forever in my fond memories of Wanapitei.

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2841 Red Squirrel Road
Temagami, ON
P0H 2H0


Wanapitei recognizes and acknowledges that we operate within Daki Menan, the traditional homeland and unceded territory of the Teme-Augama Anishnabai.

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