A couple of days ago, my elder brother Ed passed away, in Edmonton, Alberta, after a long illness. He was 73.
Born on 7 July 1946 (in Congleton, Cheshire in the northwest of England) he was the third child (of four) of Fred and Lilian Jackson, and christened Edgar Lionel, presumably ‘Edgar’ after our Dad’s younger brother Edgar, and ‘Lionel’ after Lionel Head, proprietor of The Congleton Chronicle where Dad was staff photographer.
Ed was just over two years older than me, but three academic years ahead. He and I were post-war ‘baby boomers’. Our eldest brother Martin was born in September 1939 (just three days before the outbreak of WWII), and our sister Margaret was born in January 1941.
Here we are in about 1951/52 and again in November 2006.
When I started school in 1953, Ed looked after me as we took the bus from the High Street in Congleton (not far from our home on Moody Street) a mile or so southeast of the town to attend the village school in Mossley. And we’d travel together every day until we moved from Congleton to Leek in April 1956.
In Leek, our parents enrolled us in the local Roman Catholic primary school, St. Mary’s, just a short walk from where we lived (above our father’s photographic business) on St Edward Street. Together, we joined the Cub Scouts, 5th Leek – St Mary’s.
And we had one more thing we enjoyed together: playing skiffle.
And this image was used for a number of years (sadly no longer) on one of the exhibits at The Beatles Story museum in Liverpool.
Later in 1956 or, more probably, September 1957, Ed won a scholarship to attend the Roman Catholic grammar school, St. Joseph’s College, in Trent Vale, on the south side of Stoke-on-Trent, a 28 mile round trip every day.
So, by 1957, our paths in life had already begun to diverge. I also attended St. Joseph’s College from September 1960, and by then, Ed was already headed towards his ‘O Level’ exams. In 1964 he’d applied to university and was accepted to study geography at the London School of Economics and Political Science (the LSE). His ‘A Level’ exam results for admission were not promising. He achieved a D grade in geography, E in Latin, and an ‘O Level’ pass in economics. Certainly no indication of what was to come.
However, in July 1967, he graduated with a First Class Honours BA degree in geography, apparently one of only two Firsts awarded that year in geography across the whole of the University of London! Comparing that with the situation today when, in some university departments, up to half the degrees awarded are Firsts, Ed’s achievement is especially remarkable.
Moving to Canada
Not having expected to accomplish so much academically, Ed took a job in marketing in London (with Unilever, I believe) after graduation but he soon realised he wanted to pursue graduate studies. He applied to study for a master’s degree at the University of Calgary in Canada. So, in August 1968, and having just married Christine (his first wife) they set off for a new life in Canada. Ed eventually became a Canadian citizen.
By 1972, he and Christine had separated and ultimately divorced. After completing his MA in Calgary, Ed transferred to the University of Toronto to study for a PhD, undertaking research on the west coast of North America (in California and Alaska) to evaluate population responses to earthquake hazards. He was awarded his PhD in 1974, and after a short spell teaching in Toronto, secured a permanent position in the Department of Geography at the University of Alberta in Edmonton in 1975, where he remained until retirement in 2007 as a Full Professor.
In Toronto he met Linda, and they married before moving west to Edmonton. They had three children together: Patrick, Nicholas, and Katherine.
Life at the university
As Graduate Chair in the Department of Geography for several years, he was a member of the committee which managed the merger with the Department of Geology to become the Department of Earth & Atmospheric Sciences in 1995.
I recall that Ed—as a human geographer—was increasingly isolated in the merged department among geologists, atmospheric physicists, and the like. Human geographers were in short supply. His research ‘focused upon a variety of topics related to leisure and recreation, including the relationship between outdoor recreation participation and attitudes to the natural environment, satisfaction in outdoor recreation, and conflict. In the last twenty years of his appointment he concentrated largely on constraints to leisure participation and enjoyment, an area in which he published many journal articles, book chapters, and contract reports for the Alberta government.’
I hadn’t, however, appreciated just how highly regarded Ed was in his chosen field.
‘He was an Associate Editor of the Journal of Leisure Research from 1988 to 1995, Secretary of the Canadian Association for Leisure Studies (CALS) for two three-year terms (1987-1993), and President of CALS for 1996 to 1999. He received both the Allen V. Sapora Research Award and NRPA’s Roosevelt Research Award in 1995. He was elected to the Academy of Leisure Sciences in 1989 and was President of the Academy for 1995-1996.’
One of his most important contributions to the field of leisure research was the 2005 book Constraints to Leisure, which he edited.
Earlier today, I came across this appreciation, written by Peter A. Witt in the Journal of Leisure Research at the time, I believe, when Ed received the Roosevelt Award: ‘Ed Jackson is the leading figure in North America, and indeed the world, in promoting an understanding of constraints to recreation and leisure participation. Over the past 15 years, he has not only undertaken pioneering conceptualization and research in this area, but has also stimulated the research of others and helped set the agenda for future constraints research. No piece of research will be published any time soon that does not use Ed Jackson’s work as the foundation for its contribution. This assertion could only be made about the contributions of a few people from our field, most of whom have already received this award.’
Icelandic geography and jazz
Ed had two passions (apart from his family): Iceland and jazz.
At the end of his first year at university, Ed was one of the leaders of a 1965 student expedition from the LSE and King’s College London Joint School of Geography to Iceland. Over following decades he returned to Iceland on a number of occasions, making many friends there.
Ed put together this impressive collection of photos taken around Iceland.
Turning to jazz, Ed was an aficionado of the music of Duke Ellington, and I guess he must have had most if not all of his recordings. But I’ll remember Ed for the other jazz love in his life: the music of trombonist Chris Barber and his band. This was a passion that went back more than 50 years. Together with colleagues in the UK and Switzerland, Ed helped develop and curate the Chris Barber web site, although his participation as one of the web masters tailed off in recent years as illness incapacitated him*. Read, in Ed’s own words, about his involvement in that project, but why he became such a devotee of Chris Barber’s music.
Jazz is not my thing but Ed did introduce me to some of Chris Barber’s music, and one track in particular, on Elite Syncopations (originally released in 1960), became a firm favorite of mine.
I can think of no better way of remembering Ed than through listening to Chris Barber (double, triple or more tracking, and accompanied by Lonnie Donegan on banjo) playing Cole Smoak (composed by Clarence H. St John in 1906). Just click on the album cover to listen.
The last time I saw Ed was in November 2006 when he and Linda and their children came over to the UK for a ‘farewell visit’. Linda had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer earlier that year. We met up at a reunion of cousins near Derby; I flew back from the Philippines for the event. What a wonderful evening we had. Sadly Linda passed away in mid-2007. It was not long after that Ed himself was diagnosed with prostate cancer. It was the treatment that caused him so much distress and his slow decline over the next decade or more.
Ed and I had never been particularly close, apart from those early Mossley school and skiffle days in the 1950s. After he emigrated to Canada, we saw each other on just a handful of occasions. In July 1979, Steph and I (and 15 month-old Hannah) attended a conference in Vancouver, and then traveled by road to Edmonton, staying with Ed and Linda for a few days before traveling home to Costa Rica where we were living at the time. On another memorable Christmas in 1986, Ed and Linda, and young son Patrick, came over to the UK, and all the family got together at my sister’s house in Newport.
In recent years I had seen, from various photos that Ed had posted online, just how the aftermath of cancer and surgery had ravaged his health. He was often in great pain. He’s now at peace.
Yesterday I contacted Patrick who replied: ‘My father had been suffering from a long list of medical conditions and complications for a long time. His health was in steep decline over more recent months. In retrospect, it seems as if he was preparing for this by getting various affairs in order over the last few months. It is my strong belief that he was ready for this, and wanted to be free from pain.’
I can’t finish this tribute to my brother without recounting an act of heroism by Ed more than 60 years ago. It was a fine summer Sunday afternoon, and Ed and I and some friends were enjoying ourselves on the banks of the River Churnet, about a mile from home in Leek. I fell in and, out of my depth and unable to swim, was in serious danger of drowning. Hearing the cries from friends who saw me slip, Ed sprinted along the river bank and dived—without hesitation—into the river, dragging me to safety.
Thanks, Ed. So long . . .
* Andreas Wandfluh, Ed’s co-webmaster posted this tribute on the Chris Barber web site.