The Octagon – February, 2022

Greetings all,

With much of the animal kingdom in hibernation over these winter months, rest assured that the Friends of Fintry have not been curled up in their burrows, although with this continuing pandemic it is tempting to do so! We have been sniffing out as many grants as we are eligible for with the hope that this coming season will have a sense of normalcy. As well as our Fairs, we are hoping to have exciting new events every month from May to September, so stay tuned, make sure your membership is up to date and regularly check out our website at

One of our grant applications was to Canada Summer Jobs for two students, so we are hopeful that (a) we will be able to have tours, and (b) that we get this funding. Last summer’s students were an incredible asset and certainly took a load off our volunteers.

Heritage Week (February 21st-27th) will soon be upon us and I encourage you to check out the Heritage BC website at and our local Heritage Week Facebook Page, where you can find out what’s happening this year.

Those who have toured the Manor House may remember that on the desk in the Red Room is the photograph of a gentleman. What follows now is an incredible story of coincidence by our Curator, Dan Bruce which I am sure you will enjoy………..

” Presumption now hath made his masterpiece . . .”

                                                                            with apologies to The Bard

The portrait that is now on James Dun-Waters’ desk in the Red Room is of Philip Gordon Cracknell, my grandfather. It might indeed be thought presumptuous to draw attention to a personal connection to Fintry, but the fact remains that when I began work as Curator of the site, I had no knowledge of what follows.

Sometime early in 2009, my mother mentioned that she regretted not having a larger copy of her favourite photograph of her father.  The locket-sized portrait had sat in its silver frame on her bedside table for years.   I suggested that with the technology now available, it should not be a problem to enlarge even one so small.  Lynda Miller was kind enough to do some work on it, and created a very clear 8 X 10, which was then framed and presented. This led to a lengthy reminiscence, much of which I had heard previously, so the situation was not unusual, listening with one ear, I was occupied with other trivialities in the living room at home.  Unexpected and new information brought me back to reality, and I asked for a repeat, and more detail. 

The story came out as Philip Cracknell told it to his children. He was involved in the Gallipoli episode in the First World War, after which he continued in the Royal Navy, but was shipwrecked in the Mediterranean and ended up on the Greek island of Mudros. He was rescued from there, and taken to Alexandria. Not severely wounded, he was for a time in the care off the field hospital set up by James Dun-Waters, his wife, Alice and Katie Stuart.

After his recovery, he returned to England, and re-enlisted, this time in the army. My mother said he would never speak of his experience in France, but was quite forthcoming on his time in the Navy.

Needless to say, I was surprised, to put it mildly, to discover this after having been Curator at Fintry since 2002.   My mother was aware of the basic history of the Fintry Estate, but it seems, had not realized the Alexandria connection.

Philip Gordon Cracknell was the younger son of the Rev. Thomas Cracknell, whose fluency in Latin and Greek assisted Christopher Wordsworth, Bishop of Lincoln in writing his commentary and notes on the Bible, published in 1880.  He was named Gordon, like so many others at the time, after General Charles Gordon, killed at Khartoum in 1885.  He became a pharmacist and dispensing chemist with his own business in London.  His older brother, Parkinson Cracknell came to Canada and enlisted in the NW Mounted Police, based in Cochrane, Alberta, (ca. 1910).   Park went back to England at the start of the war, and was an early casualty in France.

When visiting the Manor House this year be sure to look for this photograph on the desk in the Red Room….another piece of history with an interesting story behind it.

Stay safe everyone….

Kathy Drew,

Friends of Fintry Provincial Park

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