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Dr. A.C. Hunter

He was a Yorkshireman ever loyal to his roots. He was also a true Newfoundlander if the criterion be not that of birth but of benevolence and affection.

He was still a young man when he came here -- war service, Oxford and the Sorbonne behind him -- and he and Mrs. Hunter became quickly at home in St. John's both with its people and its environs. They explored on foot all the paths and by-ways of the surrounding "country", much of it now either part of the University or of the city's enlarged boundaries -- Campbell's woods, the Sand-pits, the short cut through the trees to Logy Bay, the track over the Southside hills down into Freshwater.

Dr. Hunter was one of the first to express enjoyment in the intricate patterns of our fish-flakes, and in the architecture that was purely local in design; he "collected" village fences and vegetable cellars and striking outport houses. And his students while studying Ruskin were taught to look afresh at the things their forefathers had created and to take pride in their functional beauty -- a killick, a dory, a "salt-box" house surrounded by a white picket fence.

He had a special affection for our small and delicate wild flowers. Their lovely names took on a new loveliness in his beautifully modulated voice, each vowel and consonant getting its just value -- Speedwell, Sun-dew, Pyrola, Star of Bethlehem, Solomon's Seal. A series of stunning photographs bears happy witness.

Brigus knew him; Salmon Cove knew him better, for it was in a small house near that remarkable sandy beach that he spent many summers studying, writing, tending his little vegetable patch on the hill, immersing himself in the affairs of the village and of the island that he now called "home".

Whatever interested him absorbed him completely and he gave to it the best efforts of his mind and pen, whether it were a plea for the preservation of the sand dunes of Salmon Cove, the re-habilitation of ex-convicts, the establishment of public libraries or the direction of growth of the University. His many wise studies of Newfoundland affairs published in the local newspapers were, for good reason, under an assumed name, but many readers were quick to recognise the style, the vocabulary and the ideas as Dr. Hunter's peculiar hallmarks. The welfare of this country, especially when it was in jeopardy, engaged not only his intellect and his knowledge but also his heart.

A master of writing himself, he was generous in encouraging local authors. When invited to do so, he gave kindly criticism and often wrote forewords or introductions to their published works. He was never known to refuse a request for help of any kind; there was always time in his busy life for that. The editor of The Newfoundland Journal of Aaron Thomas, Able Seaman . . . written in the years 1794 and 1795, says that but for the encouragement of Dr. Hunter the Journal might never have seen print.

His own last published writing was a 44 page Glossary of unfamiliar and other interesting words in "The Newfoundland Journal of Aaron Thomas". In his forwards to the Glossary, Dr. Hunter poses the question: "What should there be in the language of an able seaman to warrant a study?" The answer might well be; A great deal, when the student is A.C. Hunter and the 'language' pertains to Newfoundland.

Dr. Hunter, and Mrs. Hunter too because any tribute to him cannot fail to be a tribute to her, entered into a particular kind of relationship with this country, its rocks, its marshes, its waters and its meadows. Newfoundland was never and never became an object, a thing, an "It" to be exploited and manipulated, but rather a "Thou" to be contemplated, understood and cherished.

by
Sarah Organ Dixon

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