Sunday, February 9, 2014

Tribute to David Onley, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario and Science Fiction Writer

Photo: me with His Honour David Onley, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, and Her Honour Ruth Ann Onley, Commonwealth Sunday service, St. Paul's Anglican Church, Toronto, March 11, 2012.
David Onley will be retiring as Lieutenant Governor of Ontario sometime in Spring 2014. The Monarchist League of Canada held a luncheon in his honour on Accession Sunday, February 9, 2014, the closest Sunday to the anniversary of the accession of Queen Elizabeth II, at the Doubletree by Hilton Toronto Downtown Hotel. I was one of seven persons who gave a tribute to His Honour. One person talked about his advocacy for disabled persons, and five other persons talked about his service to the Queen. However, I talked about his short-live career as a science fiction writer before he worked for City TV:

Your Honour, most people will praise you for your service to Queen and country and Breakfast Television. But I'm going to thank you for writing a science fiction novel entitled Shuttle and for opening the Ad Astra Science Fiction Convention in 2011.

Not many people know that you had an early career as a science fiction writer before you went to City TV, but I knew. Both of us were at Ad Astra Science Fiction Convention in 1984, when you were promoting Shuttle, and I was recruiting people for a Doctor Who fan club.

However, you switched careers from science fiction writing to weather reporting. Trust me, it was a good decision. The royalties on my latest book amounted to only five dollars last year.

Ad Astra is an annual convention, and it would celebrate its thirtieth anniversary in 2011. I wondered how your then-Chief of Staff, Nanda Casucci-Byrne, would react when I asked her, "His Honour wrote a science fiction novel in the 1980's. Do you think he'll want to come to the opening ceremonies of a science fiction convention?"

Well, she thought it was a great idea, and Ad Astra's attendees were thrilled that you came back after a twenty-seven year absence. We were really glad that you didn't give us the typical speech by a public dignitary. Instead, you talked about assembling the model kit of the flying saucer from the TV series The Invaders. You also talked about Lost In Space and Land of the Giants. And to show that you're keeping up with current affairs, you compared the original Battlestar Galactica to the reboot.

One of the convention attendees told me, "He's got geek cred. That's great. I thought he was just the weatherman on City TV before he became Lieutenant Governor."

So, Your Honour, as you retire from public life, thank you for your contributions to Canadian science fiction, and live long and prosper. 

(I gave him the Vulcan hand salute.) 

After the tributes, His Honour spoke to the audience and thanked them for their tributes – and singled me out for comment: "Derwin, you didn't mention that my book is out again as an e-book on Amazon, with a new introduction. You can buy it now."

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