After marrying Jean in Charlottetown, PEI, he gave up writing poetry as well as the civilian life when he went into the navy during World War II. Afterwards he got very busy, as only a remarkable man with many talents can, and didn’t have much spare time.
He went back to poetry when his wife died in 2005.
The dog came along in the mid 1990s. His wife found it at a Prince Edward County shelter. When Hart first saw it, he commented, “That’s a scruffy-looking dog.” Scruff became its name. It was a coarse-coated Jack Russell that Hart took for regular walks in the Rumsey-Millwood neighbourhood for close to 15 years.
When Scruff died he sold his home on Rumsey. But he didn’t move out of Leaside.
In 2010 he moved into SAHIL (Stay At Home In Leaside), the development at the corner of McRae and Bayview.
“We were happy here (in Leaside),” he said. “It became our home. We put down roots here.”
George and Jean had moved to Rumsey from Montreal, along with their sixth child, Jennifer, in 1975 when Hart became the executive director of the Social Planning Council of Toronto. He had been no slouch before that:
As a young man, he enjoyed acting in little theatre and was part of a production that won the Maritime provinces division of the Dominion Drama Festival. He taught school before heading to Acadia University in Wolfville on a scholarship to earn an MA in English. During the Second World War he became an education officer, mostly stationed in Londonderry.
After the war, he had a strong feeling that we had to create a new world – so he headed off to Halifax to study social work and held a number of positions in Halifax. On the side, he was manager of the Halifax Symphony Orchestra.
He then became executive director of the Community Funds and Councils of Canada, before heading to Montreal to help volunteer leaders put together a united fund.
Then he moved to Leaside.
And now, in SAHIL, as fellow resident Edna Beange says, he has much improved the level of conversation at residents’ gatherings.
Sometimes he talks about the old days. After all, 2013 is Leaside’s 100th birthday, and Hart has things to say about those days. He was born on Oct. 15, 1914 in Charlottetown.
A MURDER OF CROWS
A murder of crows happened in Leaside:
They single filed the telephone wires
And commandeered the trees.
Flapping, swerving, changing places;
Each look alike strutted
And had his say with others.
Here was merriment to mock the world.
An old man threw back his head in laughter;
He was a boy again.
At the front door a women clapped her hands
To drive away the raucous intruders.
GEORGE EDWARD HART