A unique calling

The Grant Mansion has a unique place in Atlanta's history, if it can be preserved.
The Grant Mansion has a unique place in Atlanta’s history, if it can be preserved.

It’s rather unassuming, yet quite historic. It doesn’t dazzle with extraordinary colours or flashy architecture. To the contrary, its simple lines, modest proportions and utilitarian features speak more of its being a family dwelling than a historic building. But in the City of Atlanta, the Grant Mansion has a unique distinction. It’s one of the few Civil War period buildings not destroyed in the burning of the city 150 years ago by Union Gen. W.T. Sherman. Initially, its survival is attributed to one odd factor.

“Because Union troops found Masonic paraphernalia in the house,” documentation at the historic site explains today, “(soldiers) were instructed not to harm the houses of Masons.”

Gift of serving

Police officers file toward the Toronto Convention Centre on Jan. 19 to attend the funeral of Sgt. Ryan Russell. As many as 12,000 law enforcement and emergency response officials from across the continent attended the event. Photo courtesy Octavian Lacatusu.
Police officers file toward the Toronto Convention Centre on Jan. 19 to attend the funeral of Toronto Police Service's Sgt. Ryan Russell. As many as 12,000 law enforcement and emergency response officials from across the continent attended the event. Photo courtesy Octavian Lacatusu.

Like many, I found myself drawn to the real-life drama of two families coping. In the aftermath of Sgt. Ryan Russell’s senseless death in the streets of Toronto, last Wednesday morning, I watched the policing family try to come to terms with the loss of one of its own. Then, on Tuesday afternoon, I listened and watched his widow Christine Russell put her mourning into words in front of 12,000 people.

“Ryan always put others before him,” she said at the Toronto Convention Centre funeral Tuesday. “On Jan. 12, it cost him his life.”