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Mr. Cyrus Eaton (1883-1979)  - Thinker's Lodge and the village of Pugwash




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 ...It was his love of the company of intellectuals that brought Cyrus and his remote Nova Scotia birthplace to international attention. Cyrus had become an American citizen in 1913, but in 1929 he grew worried about his birthplace. Pugwash had declined as steamships superseded sail and two great fires devastated the village. Cyrus established the Pugwash Park Commission to work for community revival and bought the home of the Pineo family (now Thinkers’ Lodge) for his sister to run as an inn. But by 1954 the inn was losing money, and Cyrus decided to use it to advance his passion for education.

In 1955, Cyrus’s inaugural conference was attended by North American and British academics. The event was co-organized by British biologist Sir Julian Huxley, who introduced Cyrus to the philosopher Bertrand Russell. Like many intellectuals, Russell was worried about the growing threat of nuclear weapons. The U.S., the USSR, and their allies were recklessly testing the H-bomb. People worried about radiation poisoning and feared that nuclear war would destroy the human race.

Russell decided to invite top scientists from both sides of the Iron Curtain to meet and start a dialogue, and in July of 1955 he and Albert Einstein published a call-to-arms. Signed by nine leading scientists, the Russell–Einstein Manifesto described nuclear weapons as the most “stark and dreadful and inescapable problem” and made the following heartfelt plea: “We appeal, as human beings, to human beings. Remember your humanity and forget the rest.” Cyrus offered to host and bankroll the conference, and Russell agreed. Scientists from around the world were hand-picked to attend, 22 of whom accepted and three of whom were Nobel Prize winners. Einstein wasn’t among them; he died in 1955, and illness prevented Russell from attending, but the delegates arrived in Pugwash for the three-day event in July of 1957, transported from Montreal by Cyrus’s private plane and cars.

According to John Eaton, the scientists had something in common. “Not one of them believed their own government, especially about the dangers of atmospheric nuclear testing,” he says. It was a stance to which Cyrus could relate, as he often considered the opposite of conventional wisdom to be the likely truth. He felt that U.S. foreign policy was built on stoking fear of Communist countries...


The conference was a success, but it caused problems for Cyrus and some of the other participants. Cyrus was accused of being a Communist sympathizer. His name was smeared by the Internal Revenue Service, and Congress wanted him investigated for un-American activities, a demand they dropped after Cyrus declared that he would welcome the chance to state that the two sides should talk.

Doubts about Cyrus grew in 1960 when the Russians awarded him the Lenin Peace Prize, which was presented in a ceremony in Pugwash. Village residents had been supportive of the Pugwash Conferences over the years, even billeting participants in their homes, but some began to suspect that their local hero was indeed the Communist sympathizer his adopted country accused him of being.


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  • 11 months later...

The White Man in That Photo




I always saw the photo as a powerful image of two barefoot black men, with their heads bowed, their black-gloved fists in the air while the US National Anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner,” played. It was a strong symbolic gesture – taking a stand for African American civil rights in a year of tragedies that included the death of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy.

It’s a historic photo of two men of color. For this reason I never really paid attention to the other man, white, like me, motionless on the second step of the medal podium. I considered him as a random presence, an extra in Carlos and Smith’s moment, or a kind of intruder.


... that white man in the photo is, perhaps, the biggest hero of that night in 1968. His name was Peter Norman.

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