Dr. John Stubbs
Surgeon, politician.
Born December 18, 1932

Dr. John Stubbs was the driving force behind the landmark 1994 law that decriminalised gay sex. His achievement capped a political career that began in 1965 when he helped to get the fledgling United Bermuda Party off the ground.

Stubbs, a former Rhodes Scholar, was respected by politicians of all stripes for his intellect, his energy and his vision for racial harmony, and for the role he played in helping to shape modern Bermuda.

His interest in medical matters extended beyond the operating room and brought him to the attention of leaders outside of Bermuda, among them U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy. Stubbs is also credited with introducing laparoscopy surgery to the island.

In December 1993, he was inspired to lead a campaign to change the island’s homosexuality laws after listening to a gay-bashing sermon at a funeral.

By May the following year, he had marshalled his forces and brought a Private Member’s Bill to the House.

On May 13, 1994, despite strong opposition from religious groups, Parliament approved the bill by a vote of 22 to 17.  A month after that victory, Stubbs lost his battle with prostate cancer.

SourceThe Renaissance Man—The Life and Times of Dr. John Stubbs Compiled by Robin Stubbs, Andrew Bermingham and Barbara Fullerton.

 

Hamilton Hotel destroyed in fire of the century
December 22, 1955

The “most spectacular and biggest fire” ever seen in Bermuda ripped through Hamilton Hotel three days before Christmas 1955. Hundreds got out of their beds and headed into Hamilton to watch the flames, streets were cordoned off and people evacuated from nearby buildings.

The fire blazed all night, and the building—located on the current site of Hamilton City Hall—was totally destroyed. There were, however, no fatalities or significant damage to neighbouring buildings in the blaze The Bermudian called “Bermuda’s bonfire of the century.”

It was an ignominious end to a city landmark that had opened as Bermuda’s first major hotel in 1861, but whose importance had been eclipsed by newer hotels like the Princess. Hamilton Hotel had in fact become a white elephant and was not even operating as a hotel at the time of the fire. Government had taken it off the Corporation of Hamilton’s hands 19 years earlier and moved  some of its departments into the building.

There were suspicions that arson was the cause, but the investigation was hampered by the widespread damage. In January 1956, Parliament approved £11,5000 to be spent on demolition. In 1960, a brand-new Hamilton City Hall opened on the site.

SourceThe Bermudian, February 1956; Another World: Bermuda and the Rise of Modern Tourism by Duncan McDowall


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