Prince Edward County’s Newspaper of Record
April 23, 2024
0° Partly Cloudy
Columns
February 28, 2024
Volume 194 No. 9

The Gentlemen’s Book Club

Traditional book clubs can be fraught with tensions, from the choice of books, to interpretations, to which film adaptation, to not having read the book. We know how much men dislike confrontations, to say nothing of emotional turmoil. No such disagreements at the GBC, although there might be some jousting over the last waffle.

Traditional book clubs can be fraught with tensions, from the choice of books, to interpretations, to which film adaptation, to not having read the book. We know how much men dislike confrontations, to say nothing of emotional turmoil.  No such disagreements at the GBC, although there might be some jousting over the last waffle.

The County is at the forefront of social innovation, and no one knows it.

As liberal democracies get challenged all over the world, we quietly get on with civilized living in our island society without raising much of a fuss.  An assembly few have heard of, The Gentlemen’s Book Club, practices their fellowship and camaraderie under the radar.  Not only are there no books, no reading, and no rules, one might argue there are no gentlemen, except in the widest of non-aristocratic definitions. But there they are, some 50-odd men who gather once a month for breakfast. No agendas, no fees, no hierarchies. They simply enjoy one other’s company.

It might be said that all members, although they are more co-vivants than members, share the adage that they would never join a club that would have them. Although transparent and in plain sight, the GBC shares one of the characteristics of the famous secret societies — the Opus Dei, the Masons, and Yale’s Skull and Bones. There is a reluctance to admit membership, not exactly a denial, more a nod of acknowledgement upon meeting a fellow traveller, accompanied by the equivalent of the secret grip, a muffled hail-fellow-well-met chortle.

What do they actually do, these mold-breaker adherents of the GBC?  Well, for one, they are good talkers and even betters eaters. The larger the breakfast the better. Bacon, eggs, sausages, pancakes, toast. Away from the home front, all diets are forsaken. These chaps know how to hunker down over gallons of coffee and endless streams of banter, news, County gossip, and new friendships. After a 9am start when Chapter Caretaker Richard Leash, aka Richard II, has rung the welcome bell, en amikeco, everyone digs in.

By mid-morning, all head off to a full day of County living, feeling better about themselves and their world, civility and bonhomie having won the day.

Traditional book clubs can be fraught with tensions, from the choice of books, to interpretations, to which film adaptation, to not having read the book.
We all know how much men dislike confrontations, to say nothing of emotional turmoil.  No such disagreements at the GBC, although there might be some jousting over the last waffle.

After sixteen comfortable years at their home site of Gus’s on Main Street in Picton, where Hostess Shantelle remembered all our orders, the GBC moved to the Waring House after its sad epoch-ending closing.  

It all started  in 2009 when four newbies to the County, Richard Brzozowski, Graham Metson, Kemp Stewart, and  Hew Elcock, started having breakfast together and inviting others as a way of meeting other men who had recently moved here. Richard Brzozowski, a retired Superintendent Detective Inspector on the Ottawa Police force, was the firebrand who made it all happen.

While not demanding anonymity, GBC members prefer the shady side of the limelight. I reluctantly admit to being a participant, somewhat occasional — but there are no sanctions for absence on that first Friday of the month. I may not be invited back now that I have outed the names of the four founders and the current Caretaker (note ‘Caretaker’ — not President or Secretary General) but there is a surefire way to identify a GBC member. If you happen upon Greg or Claude, Robert  or David, Don or Barry on the Waring House campus mid-morning on the first Friday of the month with a satisfied countenance and a jaunty step,  you can be pretty sure the GBC has finished their monthly convivium.

Historically the County has exported commodities to the rest of Canada, barley, canned peas and tomatoes come to mind, and more recently hospitality, wine, and entertainment packages. Someone suggested we try to monetize the innovation of the GBC, a community of communities, as a radical form of unstructured assembly. But none of the members knew how to harness social media. So companionship and good conversation carry on while we try to work out how to export our breakthrough fraternizing structure.  

 

This text is from the Volume 194 No. 9 edition of The Picton Gazette
Spread the Word
Related Tags

Keep in Touch

Share your email address with us to receive our weekly newsletter and exclusive content direct to your inbox.

We will not share your email without your permission.

Advertisement

Sitemap

Canada’s oldest weekly newspaper
© 2024 The Picton Gazette
Since 1830
Funded by the Government of Canada
Ontario Community Newspapers Association