Jock McIntyre, more a Nineteenth Century Scottish Adventurer than a Contemporary Figure

November 26, 2011 at 3:49 am (Commentary, expatriates, Papua New Guinea, Peter Johnson)

I first met Jock McIntyre in 1963 when he was the patrol officer in-charge at Dreikikir Patrol Post in the East Sepik District of Papua New Guinea – a tall good-looking Scotsman from Glasgow or nearabouts with a wealth of experience at Glasgow University, Canada, New Zealand, and the Western District of PNG.

His soft Scottish brogue and impregnable good manners, combined with a forceful individual nature in the company of men gave colour and attractiveness to his personality – men respected him and women liked the look of him. There was perhaps nothing that Jock liked more than to be surrounded with friends in long- drinking sessions.

John, to use his baptismal name, was a good healthy Presbyterian with the usual sectarian attitudes of the time, but the orange and the green didn’t influence who he would drink with. One of his best friends was Fr John O’Toole, the resident priest at Dreikikir. A Fenian or  even an American as O’Toole was, who liked a drink was good enough for Jock, even if at times both were more than forthright with each other.

At the University of Glasgow, where Jock studied veterinary medicine for a couple of years, he was a little put out with the fact that a Fenian beat him in the last round of a boxing match for the championship of the university. He did, however, concede that the Fenian was a better boxer than he was.

In the logging camps of Canada and in various jobs in New Zealand he worked hard but also played hard. He liked and respected the women he met, as I’m sure they liked and respected him. A fine figure would measure up to a good malt, but perhaps the fine malt would have at times beaten the fine figure.

He was a gentle giant in his work and dealings with the Papuan New Guineans – always fair and good humoured with them.

Jock was one of Kennecott’s early field officers, and I remember him arriving in Angoram from the Star Mountains laden with rock samples indicating the presence of vast amounts of copper and other metals in the Mount Fubilan area.

Perhaps a man for all seasons, but more a character out of the 19th century who lived in the 20th century.

He often said to me that his ideal was to live a full life overseas, but eventually return to mother Scotland, marry a Scottish lass, live as a respectable family man and keep holy the Sabbath Day.

Over the years I lost track of Jock, and I often wondered if he had achieved his ambition of returning to Scotland. Then someone said to me that he had died. It appears that he did marry a lass, I don’t know if she was Scottish, but apparently she owned a pub on Thursday Island. If this is true, in a way, it would put Jock in a second heaven, and I’m sure if he had died he’ve gone out with a good malt in his hand.

I often picture McIntye and O’Toole in the afterlife, for I know Fr O’Toole SVD has moved on, having a convivial drink together in the best Presbyterian and Catholic style.

Peter Johnson, an old friend of Jock’s, has in his possession Jock’s Oxford Dictionary, a small memento that continues to remind us of his life.

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