Levi Eaton and his Brigantine the George Henderson – 1860
Pugwash, Nova Scotia was a bustling harbour, and its abundant lumber enabled many shipbuilders to prosper in the late 1800s. Cyrus Eaton had two well-known ancestors who were shipbuilders: Levi Woodworth Eaton and Donald McKay. Levi’s brother, Stephen Eaton, was Cyrus Eaton’s grandfather, so Levi was Cyrus’ great uncle on his father’s side. McKay was great uncle to Cyrus’ mother, Mary Adelia MacPherson. Levi Eaton was born on August 23, 1811, in Pugwash, Nova Scotia, and migrated to New Zealand while Donald McKay was born on September 4, 1810, in Shelburne, Nova Scotia and migrated to Boston where he designed and built clipper ships.
The 171-ton brigantine, the George Henderson was the last ship Levi Eaton built in Pugwash. Because he believed the era of wooden shipbuilding was ending, he decided to journey to New Zealand with his wife, Sarah Bigelow, two sons (Albert and George), two daughters (Lydia Ann and Sarah Jane) and Lydia’s husband.[i] Additionally, five Bigelow family relations of Sarah accompanied them: Annie, Sarah, Anna, John Bigelow, and John Bigelow, Jr.
John James, the ship’s captain, had previously “carried followers of Norman McLeod, a rather messianic leader, and five boatloads of people, mostly of Scottish descent, from Cape Breton to New Zealand. They eventually settled in Waipu, New Zealand. Captain James, an investor in Eaton’s ship, was instrumental in convincing him to pick up roots and emigrate to New Zealand.[ii] Levi’s younger brother, Alpheus Eaton, followed him to New Zealand a few years later around 1866 after working in California.[iii]
No complete passenger or crew list exists of those who set sail. Captain John James was married to Lydia, daughter of Levi and Sarah Eaton. The first mate George Eaton, Levi’s son, was married to Mary Anna Crane. Reverend William Hobbs, a Baptist minister, accompanied them with his wife[iv]. Malcomb and Murdock MacLean, two brothers, with wife and children joined them from the South Shore. One child was Annie MacLean.
The crew consisted of Captain James, mate George Eaton, second mate William McKenn (probably McKean), Richard Leadbetter, George Page, Thomas Severn, Archibald Dawson, Thomas Dawson, and Albert Eaton. Instead of the typical steward, a stewardess Isabella McLennan accompanied them to keep the cabin tidy and organize the food.
[i] The Eaton Family of Nova Scotia by Arthur Wentworth Hamilton Eaton, 1929 (Privately Printed)
[ii] A History of the Pugwash Estuary, Friends of the Pugwash Estuary Assisted by NCHS, 2016
[iii] The History of Pugwash by James F. Smith, 1978, Published by the NCHS (North Cumberland Historical Soc)
[iv] The History of Pugwash by James F. Smith, 1978, Published by the NCHS
Joseph Rotblat (Manhattan Project Scientist, Signer of Russell-Einstein Manifesto, Heart of the Pugwash Conferences, and Nobel Peace Prize Recipient)
Joseph Rotblat, Nobel Peace Prize, and Impact of the Pugwash Conferences
From the first Pugwash Conference on Science and Human Affairs held at Thinkers Lodge in 1957 until his death at age ninety-six on September 2, 2005, Joseph Rotblat played a pivotal role in the struggle to eliminate nuclear weapons. At the second Pugwash Conference in Lac Beauport, Montreal, Rotblat quoted from the 1957 Pugwash Statement. “It cannot be disputed that a full-scale war would be an utter catastrophe. In the combatant countries, hundreds of millions of people would be killed outright, by the blast and heat, and by the ionizing radiation produced at the instant of explosion. If so-called “dirty” bombs were used, large areas would be made uninhabitable for extended periods of time, and additional hundreds of millions of people would probably die from delayed effects of local fall-out radiation.”[i] In the twenty-first century, we need to heed this dire warning, and we need to take steps to prevent its occurrence.
Rotblat returned to Thinkers Lodge numerous times as guest and friend of Cyrus and Anne Eaton. In 1995, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize medal, which “hangs in Thinkers Lodge, as Rotblat intended, so that all who come to this place will gain inspiration from those early pioneers of the nuclear age. That medal is a reminder to us all of the work yet to be done to fulfill the mission set forward when Einstein added his signature to the Manifesto in what would be the final public act of his life. That medal is a reminder that great accomplishments can come when we work together in creative ways.”[ii] Rotblat in his Nobel Peace Prize lecture urged his colleagues, "The time has come to formulate guidelines for the ethical conduct of scientists." Pugwash "was a major East-West communications channel at a time when most channels, even official ones, were very badly plugged or nonexistent," noted Herbert York, the first director of the Lawrence Livermore nuclear weapons lab.
The medal, prominently displayed in the Lodge, inspires visitors. In his acceptance speech of the Nobel Peace Prize, Rotblat said, “The quest for a war-free world has a basic purpose: survival. But if in the process we learn how to achieve it by love rather than by fear, by kindness rather than by compulsion; if in the process we learn to combine the essential with the enjoyable, the expedient with the benevolent, the practical with the beautiful, this will be an extra incentive to embark on this great task. Above all, remember your humanity.”
The path that led Rotblat from a Warsaw ghetto to becoming the heart of the Pugwash Conferences and an avid peace activist was arduous. “Experiencing first-hand the near-insane intolerance and injustice generated as a political condition of war, these years forged Rotblat's unswerving ideals of world peace and of the use of science for the benefit of man and the planet.”[iii] His message of hope for a war-free world is inspiring.
Joseph Rotblat was born on November 4, 1904, in Warsaw (then part of Russia) to an Orthodox Jewish family.[iv] During World War I, he and his family, fearing for their lives, lived in a basement and subsisted on potatoes as a mainstay of their diet. His family spiraled from affluence to extreme poverty. By 1916, when Rotblat was twelve, there was no money, so his family urged him to do practical studies that would quickly provide him with income and a career. He studied electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, and basic arithmetic. At fourteen, he became an apprentice to an electrician, a job he detested. However, he was grateful he could help support his parents. As a Jew, he could not be officially admitted to Warsaw University, but he earned his degree there unofficially.
[i] Joseph Rotblat - Nobel Lecture, The Official Web Site of the Nobel Prize, 1995[ii] “Canadian Pugwash, Existential Threats to Humanity, and the 60th Anniversary of the Russell-Einstein Manifesto” by Sandra Butcher, The Lobster Factory, Thinkers Lodge, July 11, 2015
[iii] Obituary of Sir Joseph Rotblat - The Guardian, Friday 2 September 2005
Cyrus Stephen Eaton (Pugwash Born Eaton Revitalizes Pugwash & Founds Thinker Lodge: Retreat for Scientists and Educators)
Cyrus Stephen Eaton
Cyrus Eaton, born on December 27, 1883, not far from Thinkers Lodge in Pugwash River, Nova Scotia, became a wealthy industrialist, a generous philanthropist, and a passionate advocate for peace between communist and capitalist countries. In the 1950s and 1960s, he hosted and funded some of the early Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs in his hometown of Pugwash and in other locations. In 1995, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded jointly to the Pugwash Conferences and physicist Joseph Rotblat.
Cyrus Eaton’s father was Joseph Howe Eaton, descended from New England Planters.[i] In their early years, the family owned one farm and barely could afford to pay a ‘hired’ man. Joseph acquired three farms, managed a general store, and ran the post office.
Cyrus’ mother, Mary Adelia MacPherson, descended from Scottish born Empire Loyalists,[ii] was a devout Baptist who encouraged her son to study for the ministry and to read extensively in literature, history, religion and philosophy. Before Cyrus was born, the couple lost their first three children, Parker, Gertrude, and Frank, to diphtheria. Heart-sick, four-year-old Cyrus watched his older brother, John, succumb to the same disease.[iii] Eva, Florence, Alice, and Joseph joined the family, and Cyrus, always generous, was supportive of them and his parents in his adult life.
When Cyrus was four, his father trusted him to drive a horse and wagon to Conns Mills in order to have the flour ground for his mother to bake bread. By five, he was tending his own cow which he spent hours rescuing when it didn’t come home one time. Cyrus, who waited upon customers at his father’s general store, weighed flour, sugar and raisins, and carefully counted change. His father used to boast, “When Cyrus was six, I could leave him in the store for hours alone and he never failed my confidence. His qualifications for big business are brains and absolute trustworthiness.”[iv] At twelve, his father sent him out to measure the logs his lumbermen were felling, and he earned fifty cents for a ten-hour day.
After the family moved to Pugwash Junction, his father inadvertently broadened his son’s understanding of the international community because one of his jobs at the post office was to sort newspapers from Boston, Providence, Halifax and London. Cyrus recalled, “By the time I was ten, I was pretty well experienced in business and world affairs – my father was postmaster and I used to read all the newspapers that came in to subscribers.”[v]
Cyrus attended a one-room schoolhouse for eight years under the instruction of Margaret King in Pugwash Junction, before studying at Amherst Academy in Amherst. For being top of his class in science, Cyrus was presented at graduation with the complete works of Charles Darwin and Thomas Huxley.[vi] Framed photographs of the authors now hang in the Cyrus Eaton room at Thinkers Lodge. The evolutionist and the biologist undoubtedly sparked his interest in science and his desire to nurture the environment and prevent it from being irrevocably destroyed by atomic weapons.
[i] The Eaton Family of Nova Scotia by Arthur Wentworth Hamilton Eaton, 1929, Privately Printed
[ii] “Cyrus Eaton as a Lad” by Margaret Eaton – unpublished manuscript
[iv] “The Boy Who Listened to Rockefeller” by McKenzie Porter, Maclean’s National Magazine, May 1, 1953[v] ibid.
[vi] “Communists’ Capitalist” by E. J. Kahn, Jr, the New Yorker Magazine, October 10 and October 17, 1977
Author’s Journey: Interviewing Pugwash Residents & Sharing Stories of Thinkers Lodge:
In 2010, my best friend, Adele Wick, and I commenced our journey from New Hampshire to Pugwash to begin a series of interviews with people who worked behind the scenes at Thinkers Lodge over the last half century. We acquired a digital recorder from Craig Cushing and stopped in Moncton, New Brunswick, where distant cousin, Margaret Eaton, provided tips on how to conduct interviews.
Our next helpful advice came from Bob Messenger, the fire chief who helped save Thinkers Lodge when fire threatened to consume the building. He shared the idea that memories about the fire were “stories,” not histories. This observation helped me realize that we were not recording history. Instead, we were collecting stories from people about their experiences that might have occurred sixty years ago or in the last few years. Memories are not necessarily factually accurate, but instead are formed from glimpses and interpretations of the past that have stayed with us. While researching the people, events, and buildings connected to Thinkers Lodge, I have utilized information I have read in newspaper and magazine articles, biographies, and interviews. These also are stories because they are formulated by reporters or authors who share what they hear or observe tinged with their agendas and preconceived notions.
Bob Messenger also asked what Adele and I planned to do with the interviews. We had no plan. All I knew was I wanted to preserve the stories of the people who worked behind the scenes before they disappeared. Our process evolved. Vivian Godfree, historian at the North Cumberland Historical Society, put us in touch with people to interview. Adele and I interviewed these folks at Thinkers Lodge. Next, Mandy Jamieson from the Wallace Museum and I transcribed the interviews and gave copies to the North Cumberland Historical Society in Pugwash. Fortuitously, Susie Chou, daughter of 1957 Pugwash Conference attendee Pei-Yuan Chou from China, and speaker at the “Building a Culture of Peace Conference,” took marvelous photographs to document the people and Thinkers Lodge that July week in 2010. Paolo Brenciaglia also shared his photographs.
Sadly, my beloved friend, Adele Wick, can no longer share this quest. Cancer stole her life. I mourn her loss but celebrate her adventurous spirit. Therefore, I had to go it alone. Over the next few years, I reconnected with some of the people we interviewed and gleaned more memories and details. Each summer, I interviewed additional people. I tried to ask open-ended questions like “Take me back to the day of the fire” or “Tell us what it was like to wait on tables at the conferences.” My brother, John, suggested we put photographs of the participants and brief quotations that captured the essence of their experiences on the Thinkers Lodge official website. However, I’m all about stories, and always I am fascinated hearing about people’s lives. Some suggested I write a book, but that seemed daunting. Besides, I knew there would be more people to interview, more stories to hear, more articles to read.
Twice a year, I spend a few days at the Western Reserve Historical Society in Cleveland, Ohio, where Cyrus Eaton’s papers are archived. I discovered an unpublished biography of Cyrus Eaton by Fred Knelman. I located the Lenin Peace Prize now displayed at Thinkers Lodge, and I discovered numerous photographs that have become part of the interpretative displays. Each trip, I bring home to New Hampshire hundreds of pages of new material, which I scan and have begun organizing in notebooks. I suspect these notebooks will find a home at the North Cumberland Historical Society or upstairs at Thinkers Lodge where I have created a library. Perhaps someday, curious people will climb up the stairs, sit in comfortable chairs, and journey back in time to peruse the fascinating stories.
Finally, it dawned on me that I could create a website where I could share all the interviews, articles, speeches, activities, and photographs – newly snapped or mined from the Western Reserve Historical Society or shared by other photographers. Creating a website involved a major learning curve. Over the years, I have added massive amounts of material (interviews with over 60 people, 50 articles and speeches Cyrus Eaton made, 32 letters he wrote to the editors of the New York Times, 110 articles about him, interviews, articles about Joseph Rotblat, Bertrand Russell, the 22 scientists, Yuri Gagarin, Charles Eaton, Anne Eaton, the Pugwash Conferences. Then, I began adding current stories like the contributions and activities of the students from the high school, like the 2017 Climate Change Retreat held at Thinkers Lodge. As I added more materials, I tried to create a site that was user friendly and not overwhelming. This is a work in progress. Luckily, the website has a search function which helps users locate useful information. I have created a thorough index that eventually will allow visitors to click on titles and link to a specific article or interview. I want the information to be accessible to anyone who has an interest. I even made a short video on Thinkers Lodge.
Oodles of pages still need to be scanned and added to the website. My grandfather’s archives are a treasure trove. One could dig forever.
In 2017, Teresa Kewachuk, Pugwash history teacher and onsite manager of Thinkers Lodge, came up with the idea to have short segments written and taped as part of a virtual tour that visitors to Thinkers Lodge could access from smart phones, so I wrote and recorded a dozen. This triggered my confidence to write this book.
What will I do with this book? Good question. After publishing both print and e-book editions, we will make copies available at Thinkers Lodge, the North Cumberland Historical Society, the Pugwash Library, Pugwash Schools, and interested family and friends. Copies will be sold at Thinkers Lodge.
I miss my friend, Adele, who left this life with so much living to do. However, I’m not really alone in this project because so many people generously share their memories of Thinkers Lodge. I never know when someone is going to knock on the door of the Lodge with a fascinating piece of the puzzle to add. I am thrilled when I receive an unexpected email with a new story. Members of the North Cumberland Historical Society help me find more people to interview, unearth photographs for me and answer my questions about the history of Pugwash. Teresa Kewachuk involved her history students in the project by guiding them to interview people. She also reaches out to Nova Scotia teachers about how to incorporate Thinkers Lodge into their curriculum and encourages them to use the website for research their students tackle.
I hope you will contact me at Eatonmurph@aol.com and tell me your stories and memories about Thinkers Lodge. To learn more about this fascinating history, go to Thinkerslodgehistories.com.
Cathy Eaton, June 18, 2018
Both Craig Cushing, my teaching colleague, and Margaret Eaton, poet and journalist, have continued to support my journey with their insightful editing assistance. I am very grateful to them for helping making my manuscript flow. Others, like Vivian, Lisa, Glenda, Bob, John, Giovanni, and Thelma have checked for accuracy. Sandra wrote two sections. It takes a village. Paolo, Susie, and many others have contributed photographs.
In 2010, Thinkers Lodge was designated a Canadian National Historic Site in Pugwash, Nova Scotia, because it is the birthplace of the Pugwash Movement, a global initiative for nuclear disarmament. In July 1957 at the height of the Cold War, Pugwash native and US citizen Cyrus Eaton, an industrialist and philanthropist, hosted at Thinkers Lodge, 22 scientists from both sides of the Iron Curtain in response to a plea from Bertrand Russell and Albert Einstein.
In 1955, they, along with nine other eminent scientists had penned the Russell-Einstein Manifesto, charging nuclear scientists around the globe to come together to articulate the peril of nuclear weapons and to take responsibility to speak out and take action against nuclear proliferation. “Thirty-eight years later, after that first conference was made possible by the generosity of Cyrus Eaton and the good will of the little Nova Scotia town that welcomed the scientists, the Nobel Peace Prize was jointly awarded to Joseph Rotblat and the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs for their efforts to diminish the part played by nuclear arms in international politics and, in the longer run, to eliminate such arms." In 2003 at a public presentation, Rotblat donated his Nobel Prize medal to Thinkers Lodge.
Rotblat in his 2003 address at the 53rd Pugwash Conference said, “The Manifesto ended with a call to scientists to get together in a conference to seek ways to avert the danger. One of the first responses was the famous letter from Cyrus Eaton, offering to pay all the expenses of the proposed conference, if it were held in Pugwash, Nova Scotia. But it took two years before we actually came here. You have to recall that we were at that time at the height of the Cold War, with all its mistrust and fears, and hostile propaganda. In the United States, the malodorous McCarthy witch hunt was still in the air. Anybody ready to sit down with Soviet scientists, and talk about nuclear weapons and disarmament, was immediately branded as a fellow traveler, if not an actual member of the Communist party.
For many American scientists, participation in the conference might have spelled the end of their professional career, let alone obtaining travel funds from their universities. There were no foundations willing to provide funds for such an enterprise. It was only a fearless person like Cyrus Eaton, who broke the taboo, and made the Conference possible. Cyrus Eaton was a truly unique personality. He must have had a streak of the hard capitalist in him: he made a million at a young age, lost it, and made much more soon afterwards. But at the same time, he was quite eager to go along with the communist system in the Soviet Union, by advocating closer relations with the Soviets at a time when this was seen as an almost treasonable offence in the United States.
It was really extraordinary that, in one and the same year, he was chosen US Business Man of the Year, and awarded the Lenin Peace Prize. And with all this, he was also a scholar. He was a voracious reader, including books on philosophy. In his famous letter to Bertrand Russell, inviting us to come to Pugwash, he said: "I have read all of your fascinating books again and again." He had a great respect for scientists. This is why he set up an educational trust here, in the Eaton Lodge, for scientists to come for relaxation and to sharpen their thinking. This is why this house is also called "The Thinkers Lodge".
Rotblat’s Nobel Peace Prize medal and Eaton’s Lenin Peace Prize medal, both symbols of life-long commitments to peace, are displayed at Thinkers Lodge. The Lenin Peace Prize was awarded to Cyrus Eaton for his efforts to encourage communist and democratic countries to coexist peacefully.
Forty-six years after attending the first Pugwash Conference, Ruth Adams spoke at the 53rd Pugwash Conference held in Pugwash. She said, “Looking back…the 1957 gathering of scientists in Pugwash still stands out for the bold and forward-looking message it carried to the world. We remember most immediately, of course, the international consensus of scientists it enunciated in the substantive area of controlling nuclear weapons. But no less important was the breakthrough in the relationships and depth of communications it embodied, at that time especially among scientists, across not only international borders but social systems, political regimes, and hemispheres.”
“In 1954, on his 71st birthday, Cyrus Eaton remarked on the urgent need for new ways of thinking in this exciting but perplexing nuclear age and announced that he was dedicating his Pugwash property as a meeting place for scientists, authors, scholars, statesmen, labor leaders and businessmen. His plan, he said, was to give thinking men from all over the world an opportunity to ‘relax together, exchange views, sharpen their own thinking and design formulas for us to live by in this brand-new world.’” At the conclusion of the first session in 1955, Sir Julian Huxley (biologist and first director of UNESCO) and the “Thinkers” presented Mr. Eaton with a scroll that proclaimed, “It was your inspiration to bring together in fruitful communion men and women of the most diverse attainment, men of action and men of thought, writers, businessmen and scholars. We may well have witnessed the birth of one of those ideas which are destined to open up every-increasing possibilities of good.” Eaton’s staff assistant, Betty Royan, said, “Conference attendees participated in Pugwash Conferences as individuals, and not as official representatives of their countries’ governments. This has been an integral feature of the Pugwash plan, to enable full and frank consideration of touchy topics, free from the artificial restraints and restrictions that necessarily characterize formal diplomatic exchanges.”
In his autobiography, Bertrand Russell, co-author of the Russell-Einstein Manifesto, wrote about the pivotal 1957 meeting. “Most important of all, it was held in an atmosphere of friendliness. Perhaps the unique characteristic of this and subsequent Pugwash Conferences was the fact that members consorted with each other in their spare time as well as during the scheduled meetings and grew to know each other as human beings rather than merely as scientists of this or that potentially inimical belief or nation. This most important characteristic was in large part made possible by the astute understanding of Cyrus Eaton of the situation and what we wished to accomplish and by his tactful hospitality.”
This internationally significant site was renovated between 2010 and 2013. Today, tourists from many parts of Canada and around the globe visit and learn about the impact these scientists, the Pugwash Conferences, and Cyrus and Anne Eaton made in global peace initiatives. Thinkers Lodge and the Lobster Factory Dining Hall continue to host conferences, workshops, meetings, and retreats on peace-making, climate change, writing challenges, the role of art in society, environmental issues, and local business initiatives. In addition, weddings, anniversaries, and the Pugwash District High School proms are held in this serene setting on the Northumberland Strait.
As Pugwash Park Commissioner, John Eaton, grandson of Cyrus Eaton, has with fellow commissioners Giovanni Brenciaglia and Colin Dodds raised funds that restored Thinkers Lodge and the Lobster Factory and established it as a national historic site. Due to their efforts, people again gather at the Lodge to breathe in its peace and put their efforts into bettering our world.
Thinkers Lodge: Its History and Legacy by Cathy Eaton book available soon and eBook available now through Bookemon
Here are links to 29 letters to editors of the New York Times that Cyrus Eaton wrote from 1940 to 1972. https://www.thinkerslodgehistories.com/letters-to-nyt-editors-by-cyrus-eaton.html The subjects range from Einstein, Berlin, Kennedy, Communist China, Laos, Cuba, Wall Street, Nixon, Elections, Spying to Nuclear War. I wonder what he would write today????
Please contact Cathy Eaton at Eatonmurph@aol.com if you want to share some stories. Please post your stories or memories that relate to Thinkers Lodge, the Dining Hall (Lobster Factory), Joseph Rotblat, the Conference Participants, Cyrus or Anne Eaton, or Eaton Park.
|Thinkers Lodge Histories||