Category Archives: Rochester NY

August 19, 2017 – Final James Vint Laughland Segment

James, Margaret and the two boys returned to Canada via NY City in 1924. They passed through Ellis Island where the records reflect that they were going to Canada. But first he went on a lecture tour for several months which included speaking at Cooper Union, Ford Hall, Harvard Liberal Club, the House of Commons in Ottawa and several Unitarian Churches in Chicago and Montreal.  These presentations were all set up by the Open Forum Speakers Bureau of Boston.

From one of his letters it appears he had left wife and kids in Ottawa while he was out touring.  He became ill while out touring so at some point decided to engage with the Presbyterian Church in Canada and they sent him to Richmond Ontario to the Presbyterian Church where he served as a fill in pastor for a period of time.   There is a booklet about the Church with pictures of JV and his family. My dad was around 15 then.

A year or so later they moved on to Amherst Island on Lake Ontario near Kingston to again a Presbyterian Church.  This information was why I always thought he was a Presbyterian minister.  Guess he kept evolving depending upon his needs. They were on Amherst Island for four and a half years. During their time on Amherst Island my Dad finished High School at Stella and was accepted to the University of Toronto to study pharmacy.  He did well there, made friends which I am sure he was good at from all that moving around.  He got an internship or placement at Bests Pharmacy in Kingston and at some point met my mom who was at Queen’s University or maybe she was just graduated. She went to University when she was 16 so graduated quite young.

In May of 1930 James Vint and Margaret moved down to Rochester NY.  Their second son ended up going to St. Lawrence University in Canton NY at some time after they moved to Rochester.  In Rochester, James again affiliated with the Presbyterian Church and continued to preach and give lectures in that area.  He also had a radio show during the depression years.  In his letter from 1940 to the Unitarians he leaves out about working for the Townsend Plan during the depression and setting up labour exchanges so people could barter work for food etc

The letters only provide one other picture of his life from the time he was going to leave England and then during the 30s and 40’s.  James Vint wanted to get back into the Universalist Society and start preaching again and there were people determined to prevent him from doing this.  His Unitarian friends in Rochester who had known him for years by 1940 tried very hard to get him reinstated but they resisted passionately to keep him out.  And in the end, he was not accepted back into the fold. Mainly it appears because of his passionate style and lack of acceptance of others who disagreed with his more socialist leanings.  The comments, by those writing to keep him out for actions which occurred when he was in his 20’s, were unforgiving.  They had totally tainted views of his behavior and did not consider he might have matured over time and calmed down.  It would be interesting to find comments about him which reflected how others saw him as he matured.  His Unitarian friend David Rhys Williams gave the eulogy at his funeral and was totally positive about him and by then they had been friends for 30 years or so.

Reading these letters from the Harvard collection have been quite eye opening to me.  As I have said before I wish I had been old enough to find out something about James before he died. What fun it would have been to speak with him about this time in his life.  And my grandmother who was always judged so harshly for her attitude and some of her behavior, I can see how she might have been angry with this man she loved.  He had not made life easy for her.  I was not a youngster when my grandmother died so I could have if I had known anything asked her questions or encouraged her to speak to me about this time in her life. But alas, I knew nothing to ask.  And I never thought to ask my Dad either. In fact, I doubt if anyone of my siblings had a clue about so much of this. Will have to ask them.

Picture of Margaret and James Vint with my dad in front and his brother behind.

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