Originally from Atlantic Canada, Bill Blakeney obtained an Honours degree in English from the University of Kings College and an LL.B through Dalhousie Law School. Here, he shares his thoughts on tomorrow night’s Single Malt Tasting and Dinner event in Toronto to support the Jesuits of Canada.
What is your own ethnicity/heritage?
Most of the Blakeneys in the Maritimes are originally from the Belfast area and came to Canada from the Carolinas after the Revolutionary War. I understand that my Father’s Irish relations are originally from Dublin. My Mother’s family are MacDiarmids – originally from Breadalbane in Scotland. They immigrated to Canada in the early 1800’s. At some point, they became teetotalers, so whisky only came out at wakes and funerals.
How and when did you get involved with this gathering?
We are good friends with Ed Patrick, the President of the Companions of the Quaich Scotch Whisky Society. Over the past 15 years, Ed and I have worked together on a number of nosings to raise money for the Canadian Breast Cancer Research Initiative. Ed has a delightfully irreverent attitude, especially towards the clergy! Thankfully the Jesuits are quite capable of holding their own.
What are your roles and responsibilities with the event?
I am donating the whisky and the costs of the Albany Club. And I had the fun of picking out the Scotch that we will be nosing together!
What is the event’s mandate?
The mandate is to raise money and awareness of the Jesuit missions in Canada and abroad, and to give supporters the chance to spend an informal evening with our colleagues from the Jesuit Development Office.
Why is it important for the community there?
The media has been widely reporting on the wonderful ways that Pope Francis is shaking up the Vatican. At the same time, the public rarely has a chance to meet the Jesuits and hear about the great work that they are doing in some of the poorest communities in the world. At a time when vocations are down around the world, the Society of Jesus still manages to attract intelligent and devoted individuals to the priesthood. This is a great opportunity to come and meet Jesuits in training – and our friends in the Jesuit Provincial.
Who is attending and what can they expect?
Our guests can expect a light hearted gathering of good people enjoying the Distiller’s special “double-matured” editions of some of the most popular Scotch whiskies. And really good food – no one has ever accused the Albany Club of serving a “rubber chicken” dinner.
Will you be involved in the years to come?
We are hoping that this is the first gathering of what will become an annual tradition.
How else are you involved with the Scottish/Celtic community there?
We have been involved in traditional Celtic music since the late 1970’s, and hope to continue for many years to come!