Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Post 1896 - Looking For Ada

I am a member of an FB group called Halifax Radio Memories.  Every day, people post interesting messages to the group, fascinating pictures, even some videos and audio, from the golden age of radio in Halifax.  I visit that group every day.

A recent discussion thread has been about Ada McCallum, the notorious Halifax madam of the post-war years, up until her death in 1986.  Known for her discretion, and respected for it, she didn't exactly record her memoirs or anything.  Much of what is known about Ada is through rumour and the tales of the older men who visited her girls back in the day.  Ellen Page, the actress, when she was on the David Letterman Show a few  years ago, let it slip that she lives in an old brothel.  I think it was one of Ada's old places, likely the best known one on Windsor Street.  I drive past it every day on my way to work.

Another one of her establishments was at 51 Hollis Street, pretty much at the corner of Hollis and Bishop, behind Government House.  I don't work downtown any more and can't therefore state if that is still a parking lot, but many years ago, before and during and after the war, it was a brothel.  Ada McCallum took over the brothel from another madam named Germaine Pelletier around 1946 and ran her business with aplomb for 40 years.  She's buried in Lower Sackville.   Say what you want about former Mayor Walter Fitzgerald.  He at least had the guts to attend her funeral.

Anyway, I mentioned that not much is known about Ada McCallum, for obvious reasons.  But, back in the Spring or so of 1998, there was a documentary on the History Channel which discussed her life and misadventures.  We watched it back in the day and enjoyed it a great deal.  I moved and packed most of my tapes away and haven't been able to lay my hands on the tape in years.  I am 99% sure it is not here in my media room.  

Fast forward to this evening.

On this FB group, Duane Lowe, who used to be on tv if you recall, wrote me privately to tell me that she would love to see this documentary.  She is friends with Lulu Keating, the woman who wrote and directed the documentary.  She did the doc for a production company that no longer exists.  Lulu Keating doesn't have a copy of this show!

How many people watched the show in 1998?  How many people taped it?  How many then watched it, recording over it afterwards?  How many others kept it all these years?  Probably not very many.

All of a sudden, my search for this elusive vhs tape is becoming important to me again.  If Lulu Keating doesn't have a copy, and others want to see it, and the production company is no longer among the living, then how extant is this interesting piece of Halifax history?  I don't know.  I do know that I wouldn't have recorded over it.  We loved the show too much to do that.  I just hope that I can find the tape, and that the tape is still playable.  Lots of older vhs tapes don't play after a period of time.

Let's hope for the best.

Wish me luck!!


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