A Family's Tribute to their Father

A Tribute to Daniel P.M. Brownlow...

I had the honour and pleasure to recently work on a number of frames which paid tribute to the late Daniel Brownlow.  Although I never personally met the man, after working on this framing project for the Brownlow family and hearing many interesting stories about Daniel from his son, I came to know how well-loved and admired a man he was.

These frames tell stories which encompass Daniel's life... from his humble beginnings in Ireland; emigrating to Alberta, Canada in 1927; having a successful career in the military and public office; enjoying a life-long love of learning, being a devout Roman Catholic; but above all, he was a man who loved his wife and family dearly.

Daniel joined the RCNVR (Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve) in 1939 as an Ordinary Seaman, eventually rising to the rank of Captain in the RCNR (Royal Canadian Naval Reserve). He served on a number of ships during his naval career (H.MC.S. Annapolis, H.M.C.S. Huron, H.M.C.S. Granby, H.M.C.S. Quinte, to name a few) and was awarded numerous medals for his service to Canada. After retirement from the Navy, he remained in the RCNR and eventually became the Commanding Officer of H.M.C.S. Scotian.

His political career began in 1963 when he was elected alderman of Dartmouth's Ward Four.  He was alderman from 1963-1973 and 1975-1976.  In 1976, he was elected Mayor of Dartmouth and served in this position for the next 9 years until his retirement.

Daniel was actively involved in the community, serving on numerous boards and committees.   His Roman Catholic faith was very important to him.  He was active in many church ministries and was a 4th Degree Assembly 2223 Knights of Columbus.

He earned his Bachelor of Education from the University of Alberta, was awarded an Honorary Degree as Doctor of Civil Law from Saint Mary's University in 2004, and was one course shy of completing a Master of Arts Degree in Educational Psychology at Mount St. Vincent University. He had a life-long desire to expand his knowledge, even memorizing poetry late in life.


General comments about the frames:

The three frames with the blue suede matboard incorporated a stacked frame design in order to provide the necessary depth to accommodate the thickness of the various memorabilia.

All items were mounted with an archival method (e.g. clear polyester film, hand-stitching, use of existing pins on various items, etc.)

Original photos were used whenever possible.  All the photos (except those with possible copyright issues) were scanned into the computer to provide backup copies.  Many of the photos required  restoration work (some more extensive than others) to repair damage, adjust the size, or change the colour to a consistent black and white tone.

All the frames have Tru Vue's Museum glass to provide the best UV protection (99%) and clarity.

This shadow box focuses on memorabilia from Daniel's naval career.  It includes photos, a few cap tallies, Daniel's medal rack, a brass navigator's divider, a couple badges (one from 'JJ Division'), his shore patrol arm band which he wore while serving in Newfoundland during World War II, and his station card from HMCS Annapolis (green cover colour denoted Member of the Starboard watch; "G or T" stood for Grog or Temperance).

This shadowbox touches on many aspects of Daniel's life:

  • His childhood (photo of Daniel as a boy in Ireland wearing boxing gloves, photo of him with his parents on the farm in Alberta)

  • His military career (rank collar tabs, General Service pin, Royal Canadian Legion pin, RCNA pin,  and the Korea War Service pin)

  • His love of learning (mementos from the University of Alberta, Saint Mary's University, and Mount Saint Vincent University)

  • His political career (official photo of Daniel as Mayor of Dartmouth)

  • His community involvement (Canadian Red Cross pin)

  • The love of Daniel's life, his wife, Genevieve (favourite family photo of Daniel and Genevieve holding hands, Superintendent pips from Genevieve's involvement with St. John Ambulance)

  • His deep Catholic faith (photo of Daniel and Genevieve meeting Pope John Paul II ( now canonized as Saint Paul II) during his visit to Nova Scotia in 1984, Daniel's rosary beads and his Knights of Columbus pin)

This shadowbox focuses primarily on Daniel's military career and political career, but does display a few other pieces of memorabilia.  To showcase his military career, Daniel's ribbon bar, a couple cap tallies and an HMCS Quinte crest (Daniel was the Commanding Officer of this ship when it was commissioned and first slipped into the waters of Quinte Bay) were displayed.  To showcase his political career, his alderman medallion, along with the City of Dartmouth crest and Daniel's City of Dartmouth parking pass when he was mayor were included.  Photos of Daniel with his wife, Genevieve, along with photos of his life in the navy and politics were float mounted at different levels to provide an overview of Daniel's life in a less formal manner.   Other memorabilia displayed were a couple of CFL pins and a few of Genevieve's St. John Ambulance Superintendent pips.

With permission from Daniel's son, an excerpt from the eulogy at Daniel's funeral best describes the sentiment behind this shadowbox...

"He also recently shared with us his love of poetry and recited for me one day, couple of months ago, the 13 verses of his favorite poem, The Brook, by Alfred Lord Tennyson, which was written in olde English. Dad’s brook that ran under the stone bridge by the church and behind his ancestral home in Ireland was officially called Upper Ballinderry River. It, like the poem, was a metaphor for the journey of life. I will end my recollections of our dad’s life by reading that poem and for today, I have added, with editorial license granted by dad, a final stanza. "

This poem, along with Daniel's hand-written glossary of definitions for some of the olde English words, and various photos touching on his Irish roots, his family and careers, all help tell the story of Daniel's journey through life.   

Daniel received his officer's commission when he graduated as part of the JJ Division Class of 1943 at H.M.C.S. Kings (University of King's College was renamed and considered a stone frigate during World War II) in Halifax, N.S.

The following are a few examples of the "Before and After" photo restoration done on some of the photos in these shadow boxes.