By Rosemary Ganley – The Peterborough Examiner
January 18, 2024
Ted Ingram, age 83, came to Peterborough in 1975 to teach French at Lakefield College School. He was a droll, humble and cultured Irishman with great wit, especially clever with puns. He loved cricket and I can see him, in a flapping white coat and wide hat, umpiring the boys at LCS, in one of the world’s most popular games.
Ted had a quick eye for the overlooked or struggling student — and for the new teacher. When I arrived to teach English in 1981 at this all-boys school, he gave me a warm welcome and showed me the ropes of independent schooling.
He was a feminist before the word was used, and cheered on his wife, Daphne Ingram, in all the ways that secure men do. They had two daughters. Daphne worked in early childhood education and gave many dedicated hours to the human rights organization Amnesty International.
The service, conduced by Rev. John Runza, was Anglican-inspired, and featured fine old hymns such as Abide with Me and Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah. A large group of the Peterborough Singers, accompanied by the brilliant Syd Birrell, sang Amazing Grace. Ted Ingram had been a member of the Singers for 30 years. The service was deepened by a beautiful soprano duet by Pamela Birrell and Catharine Mead.
Ted left an Irish blessing, “May the Grass on the Road to Hell Ever Grow Greener for the Want of Your Feet.”
A few days later at Highland Park Funeral Home, there was a moving service honoring Helen McCarthy, 73, who had been a progressive Catholic educator for many years, and then co-founded the Abraham Festival 20 years ago.
She was teaching world religions at the time, and invited Muslim leader Elizabeth Rahman to speak to her class. The problem was that it turned out to be a “snow day,” and no students attended. The two women had the time to develop the idea of increasing understanding among the three great faiths that originated with Abraham of the Hebrew scriptures.
Never have I experienced Peterborough more united in its religions and in its sorrow through multifaith prayer and respectful remembrance.
After retirement, Helen McCarthy became a school trustee, and successfully brought about recognition of LGBTQ2S people by leading the movement for PRIDE flags. The story was told about former chair of the board, Braden Leal, presenting Helen with the system’s first PRIDE flag.
Many leading Peterburians took part in remembering Helen. Poet Zizhah Von Bieberstein spoke for the Jewish community and read from the Torah. Elizabeth Rahman paid tribute to her longtime friend. Imam Habeeb Ali, a supporter of the Abraham Festival, came from Toronto, led prayers in Arabic and read a poem he had composed.
Catholic faith animator Teresa Cosentino introduced the speakers – all four of McCarthy’s sons, and her spouse, Jim. Fr. Paul Massel gave the final blessing. Danny Bronson sang “Out on the Mira” and “Peace is Flowing Like a River,” and in a duet with Massel, “I Believe in Angels.”
At this time when some incidents of hatred among so-called believers are seen in Canada, this multi-faith gathering in Peterborough, which came out of a long period of education, understanding and warm friendship, demonstrated the opposite: integration, familiarity, the valuing of difference, and the recognition of other’s humanity.
An example for the country.