The Octagon – August, 2022

Greetings all….

July has been a very busy month! We held our Fintry Summer Fair on July 10th, where we had a record 26 vendors, wonderful musicians entertaining us all day long, and although attendance was down due to so many other events that same weekend, everyone seemed to really enjoy themselves. Our next event is this Saturday, August 6th from 4-6 pm, when the Okanagan Symphony Pocket Orchestra will be playing on the Manor House deck. The audience is invited to bring a lawn chair and picnic and listen to some wonderful music. Funding for this event courtesy of the Government of Canada.

On Sunday, September 11th we will be holding our Fintry Fall Fair on the grounds of the Manor House so mark your calendars. It is promising to be another great day with vendors, the Vernon Girls Trumpet Band and so much more!

This past week we were privileged to be a stopping place for the Military Police National Motorcycle Relay. They travel every year from coast to coast, travelling over 10,000 kms with stops along the way raising money for blind children. The group was delighted to have a tour of the Manor House and a swim in the lake….. because as you can imagine with all their gear in this heat, they were rather warm!

Also last week we were honoured to have a lady and her husband visit the Manor House on a trip down memory lane. Now living in California, this couple spent part of their honeymoon at the Manor House in 1955 and had the pictures to prove it! It was a lovely visit and we were delighted to give them a special tour while they reminisced about some of the features of the house which brought back many happy memories.

Curator Dan has been delving into some interesting history….

“Many of our visitors have had the impression that Fintry was a very remote and isolated place when the Dun-Waters lived here. From the Manor House, the lake is visible, but only from the dining room bay window, and almost all our guests arrive by road, so the isolation idea is not surprising.   However, the fact is that the lake was essentially the highway of the Valley in earlier times, the sternwheeler ships providing efficient and even luxurious transport.    The interconnection with the railway system opened easy access to and from Fintry for goods and passengers.

              The outside world doubtless was of continuing interest to the Dun-Waters and other residents of the Estate.  Newspapers were available, and we know that the ” Illustrated London News”. “Punch”, and the “National Geographic” were subscribed to, and these, over and above personal correspondence would have kept the Estate abreast of the times.

               The world went on beyond the Valley, and it is interesting to consider what was happening elsewhere while the daily chores of the Fintry Estate were being attended to.     In a previous Octagon issue, we gave a list of events with dates that were contemporary with the Dun-Waters era at Fintry.     

Recently I came across a biography of a very remarkable man who was a contemporary of James Dun-Waters (1864 – 1939).

              Rufus Daniel Isaacs (1860-1935) was born to Jewish parents in the east end of London. His father was a fruit merchant, and a successful one at that.    Of his two sons, Rufus was the one less easily managed, one might even say a young hooligan.    He left school at fourteen, and tried several avenues for a career, but found difficulty in staying with any one of them.   He had an episode of life at sea, and endured the harsh treatment of those junior members of merchant crews.  His ship left Calcutta to return to England after an extensive voyage, but nobody in India paid any attention to the departure of the lowly Rufus in 1877.    On his return however, in 1921, all eyes and ears turned towards Rufus as thirty-one guns fired a salute to him as the newly arriving Viceroy. In 1904 he became a Liberal Member of Parliament for Reading, (rhymes with ‘wedding’).    In 1910 he was knighted, and made Solicitor General. 

Rufus Isaac dressed in his Vice-regal robes in India
Rufus Isaac and second wife Stella

Six months later he was promoted as Attorney General.  He had taken his law studies seriously, and he presided at the trial of the murderer, Frederick Seddon, and the suffragette, Emily Pankhurst. He also sat on the Board of Inquiry into the “Titanic” disaster.

He was appointed to the Privy Council in 1911, yet his involvement with the Marconi Company shares scandal did not derail his career, though he did suffer some adverse publicity over what some accused him of, insider trading, but another promotion came his way: Lord Chief Justice of England.

1918 saw him in the United States as Special Envoy and British Ambassador, charged with gaining the financial support of the United States for the Allies, and this while still in office as Lord Chief Justice.     In 1921, perhaps while our James Dun-Waters was looking at hunting prospects in Alaska, Rufus Isaacs became Viceroy of India, a post also once held by Lord Willingdon, (portrait in the Manor House).      On his return to England in 1926 he became the only commoner since the Duke of Wellington to be elevated to a Marquisate, and the only Jew ever to have held such a position.

            From an unruly childhood with little formal education, Rufus Isaacs did well:  First Marquess of Reading, GCB, GCSI, GCVO, PC, with five peerages, five knighthoods, the Belgian Grand Cordon of the Order of Leopold, Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, and recipient of Honorary Degrees from the Universities of Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Columbia, Toronto, Calcutta, Cambridge and Oxford.

            Readers who recall the Octagon issue for March 2020, will be aware of the photograph in the Red Room of the John Hoppner painting of Richard Humphreys, the bare-knuckle boxer. The painting is now in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, but at one time belonged to Dun-Waters, and hung at Fintry.   It was the Jewish boxer, Daniel Mendoza that defeated Humphreys so decisively that it ended Humphreys’ career.   Rufus Daniel Isaacs, 1st Marquess of Reading Etc. Etc.  was Daniel Mendoza’s great nephew.

Simon Rufus Isaacs is the 4th Marquess of Reading, and is very much alive.

Don’t forget to come listen to some wonderful music from the Okanagan Symphony Pocket Orchestra this coming Saturday (August 6, from 4-6pm) on the front lawn of the Manor House.

Kathy Drew,

Friends of Fintry Provincial Park

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