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Montreal, September 13, 2018 – The Montreal Bahá’í Community was delighted to welcome Cliff Huxtable, a Knight of Bahá’u’lláh, from St. Helena Island where he and his late wife Catherine have been settled for last fifty two years. This remote volcanic island, is located in South Atlantic Ocean.  It is one of the most remote islands in the world, and was uninhabited when discovered by the Portuguese in 1502. It was an important stopover for ships sailing to Europe from Asia and South Africa for centuries. St. Helena measures about 16 by 8 kilometers (10 by 5 miles) and has a population of 4,534 (2016 census). It was named after Saint Helena of Constantinople.

At a college freshman dance, Cliff Huxtable spotted a lovely young lady sitting across the room. Approaching her to ask for a dance, he saw to his dismay that she sat in a wheelchair. Unsure what to do next, he cut in on a fellow-student who was dancing with one of the lady’s friends. "Come over and meet her,” the friend invited. “She is just like everyone else." The young lady was Catherine Heward, confined to a wheelchair because of muscular dystrophy. Doctors had given her twenty years to live.

Despite her physical limitations and waning strength Catherine developed into a self-reliant young woman of diversified interests. She attracted to her a widening circle of friends who accompanied her to concerts, ballets, theaters, art galleries, and lectures. She became a gifted writer and an accomplished artist in needlepoint. Against all odds, she and Clifford Huxtable got married in 1955, embraced the Bahá’í Faith in 1951, travelled the world during Shoghi Effendi’s great Bahá’í pioneering project of the Ten-Year Crusade, adopted a teenager and have a son, all before Catherine’s death at the age of thirty-five. 

Both Catherine and I were born in 1932, said Cliff, met each other in 1950, joined the Bahá’í Faith in John and Audrey Robarts’ living room, Forest Hill Village, Toronto, served on the Spiritual Assembly of Toronto and then pioneered to Regina end of 1957 – 1959. They continued their services to the Faith and settled in the virgin territory of Canada’s Gulf Islands, tucked inside Vancouver Island, in autumn 1959 – autumn 1965 combined with alternative trips to Anticosti which had proved untenable then, followed by a farewell tour of Bahá’í Communities from Victoria to Montreal.

When the call for pioneers in the Nine-Year Plan was raised in 1965, again the hearts of Catherine and Clifford Huxtable were touched. They volunteered to settle on the lonely volcanic island of St. Helena, final prison and resting place of Napoleon Bonaparte. Arrived on April 1966 where there was only one Bahá’í. On October 25, 1967, just nineteen months after arriving at St. Helena, Catherine passed away. "The end came suddenly after only one day of discomfort," Clifford said. "Her last words were an earnest but not anguished payer, 'I want to die.'"

Quite some time after Catherine passed on, Cliff said, he was surprised to learn that he and Catherine had been both named Knights of Bahá’u’lláh for the Gulf Islands.  Cliff is still living in St. Helena, married to a St. Helenian lady and both serving on its tenuous Spiritual Assembly! There are now nineteen Bahá’ís on the island!

Cliff is in Montreal for two weeks to encourage the area Bahá’í friends to consider wintering in lovely St. Helena, befriending its ‘Saints’ and strengthening our bonds with them.  Then he goes to Bromont for a weekend family reunion of 60 relatives from all over North America before returning to his special island by September 29. (He had spent his childhood summers with his grandparents, uncles and aunts in their Eastern Township homes.) 

For information about St. Helena: http://www.sthelenabahai.org

 

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