Saturday, March 30, 2013

Sins of the Father

Canada Day 2006 in Greenfield Park, Quebec, Canada
Canada Day 2006 in Greenfield Park, Quebec, Canada (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Issues with Quebec have loomed large over my life.

I was a teen-ager during the FLQ crisis and terribly frightened
by the bombings, the murder of Pierre LaPorte, the kidnapping
of James Cross, the martial law and the knowledge that troops and tanks
were in Canadian cities.

I was just as frightened during the first Referendum when Quebecers
voted by a skinny margin to stay within Canada.

The second referendum made me angry and the endless insults and
rumblings of discontent since that time made me realize by 2012 that
I no longer cared.

I blogged about it.

I said it would be so easy in this wireless age to keep the rest of the country
together without Quebec.

And maybe it would be.

But I've changed.

In November I went to Ottawa with my brother to honour the memory of my
father and all veterans at the national Remembrance Day Ceremony.

While I was there I went through the Museum of Canadian History,
(aka Museum of Civilization).

I went in disillusioned and came out with the most astonishing understanding
of the struggles that went into building the country. 

I came out feeling, not so much that we owe the people from the past who
forged such a peaceful democratic nation - although that was a big part of it.

Of greater importance, I came out feeling that we owe

the people of the future.

As a result of my 'epiphany' I decided to blog about Canadian history.

To find out how it happened that we are where we are today,
with another separatist government in Quebec and too many
English-speaking Canadians fed up or not caring.

The great thing about blogs is that they are short and I must
say I am having a lot of fun with this project

although the underlying intent is serious.

But I think I've reached the first critical point in our story.

You and I know what is about to happen
but there is no way we can reach back in time and warn them
to be careful. 


To think about us.

New France is about to fall.

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Friday, March 29, 2013

French Tit for English Tat

Cape Breton Island
Cape Breton Island (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sacré bleu! 

The French were worried.

Acadia, the lands around Hudson's Bay and Newfoundland
were handed over to Britain in 1713 by the Treaty of Utrecht.

The fur trade was going strong and men like explorer
LaVerondrye, (the first European to reach the Winnipeg basin),
were finding it more and more difficult to avoid the British

or their Indian allies.

So the French built a big scary fortress called Louisburg on
what later became Cape Breton Island. 

This was happy-making for the disgruntled Acadians.
They tweeted Louisburg constantly.

They did not tweet London.

So the British unffriended them saying they were hostile and

refused to swear loyalty to the English Monarch.

The not swearing of loyalty thing REALLY irritated the Brits.

Big time.

They were so pissed off they built Halifax in 1744
just to get in the face of the French King at Louisburg.

(Not that he actually lived there.)

And that was it.

The dye was cast.

The building of Halifax it made it inevitable that the antagonists
would have a major confrontation sooner rather than later.

The cataclysmic last years of the 18th century

were upon them all.






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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Canadian Bacon

English: Map of the location of major tribes i...
English: Map of the location of major tribes involved in the Beaver Wars laid against a period map showing colonial settlments (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Way back in December I left the English in New England,
the French in New France and the Iroquois in the land between

It was the end of the 17th century and if they weren't exactly
singing "Happy Trails" to each other everybody was more

or less behaving themselves.

As a matter of fact in 1701 things were so jolly that the

three groups got all weepy and sorry and signed a

'cross-my-heart-and-hope-to-die-if-I'm-lying' peace treaty.

But England and France can only feel the love for so long so
a year later they declared war on each other.


You know, I really think Canada would have had a better chance
if our two founding nations had been North and South Korea.


It was the usual thing. 

In 1704 the French destroyed the English settlement of Bonavista
and in 1707 the English marched up from Massachusetts

and destroyed Port Royal.

Lots of other nasty stuff happened but the main thing for us

to note is that when the war ended in 1713 and

everything wad divvied up by the Treaty of Utrecht,

England was handed Acadia.

And if the mention of Acadia falling into the hands of the Brits doesn't

just fry your historical bacon then... well,

you just aren't Canadian, eh?

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Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Red Fleurs of Quebec

Since 1759 we've liked our Quebecers French.

But not too French.

I mean we want them to change their laws

and get those road signs en anglais aussi

so we can look like we know where we're

going when we visit, eh?

But if they won't change their signs, well,

c'est la vie,

we don't go there that often anyway

and Quebec is, well ... ... Quebec.


Toujours cranky.


No big deal.


But to Quebec's minority English speaking community

language is a big deal.

And maybe we should be paying more attention.


If you live in Ontario you've probably met some people

who used to be a part of the Anglo community in

la belle province.

These new Ontarians don't look like your grandparents

looked when they got off the boat from Hong Kong or the

Ukraine in 1903 - all tattered mismatched clothes, bare feet

and empty bellies.


Quebec's refugee Anglos look like us.

They sound like us too,

just more pissed off.

Meanwhile inside Quebec the struggle for justice

and a unified country goes on

by people who believe in Canada.

And I'm afraid that if it isn't our battle now,

it will be when the next referendum rolls around.


For a grassroots commentary from the Anglo community

in Quebec you can follow

@redfleurquebec on twitter



Friday, March 22, 2013

As Luck Would Have It


Brodeur's Store on Oakdale Ave was quite upscale for a little kid

from my part of Merritton, but I used to go in after school


Brodeur's  sold a lot of things. 

Things that were important t to a little girl.

Like those hose big red wax Marilyn Monroe lips.

And pastel coloured candy necklaces that were strung on long

pieces of elastic.

And chocolate chunks that were touched by dozens of grubby hands

and pooped on by 10 bizzillion flies while they sat unwrapped

on the counter for days before some kid coughed up a nickel and

became the envy of us all.

And double bubble chewing gum, which wasn't a great chew,

but came with a cartoon.

But most importantly,  Brodeur's sold lucky rabbits' feet.

And a lucky rabbit's foot was the one thing for which I would have

gladly traded one or two brothers.

My dad hunted rabbits, so we ate them and I was used to seeing

their carcases in the basement but I would never have asked Dad

for a leg.

After all, those were unlucky rabbits or they wouldn't have

been lying dead in my basement.

Lucky rabbits lived in some faraway land where they didn't need feet.

But even without the rabbit's foot I did have good luck enough

to have never had the money to buy one.

And I grew up in Merritton.

Which is about as lucky as a kid could get.


Monday, March 18, 2013

The Jokster Pope-ster

Antichristus, a woodcut by Lucas Cranach of th...
Antichristus, a woodcut by Lucas Cranach of the pope using the temporal power to grant authority to a generously contributing ruler (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The other day a friend of mine said she was surprised

that I hadn't blogged about the pope.

I said that I supposed that I didn't

because I didn't think there was anything to say.

I figured that I was beyond caring.

And I am.

But not beyond a good laugh.

According to the Grant Rant, (by Grant Lafleche), which I read with

my own little eyes in the St. Catharines Standard tonight

Pope Francis the Oneth actually wrote this:

Women are naturally unfit for political office. 
Both the natural order and the facts
show us that the political being par excellence is male;
the scripture shows us that woman has always been
the helper of men
who thinks and does but nothing more.


Ya gotta give the guy some credit.

That's pretty funny stuff.

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Saturday, March 16, 2013

Gimme Some Advice, eh!

A now-abandoned lock of the Second Welland Can...
A now-abandoned lock of the Second Welland Canal in Merritton, Ontario. The photo shows the previous location of one of the two lock gates. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hello, fellow bloggers and beloved lurkers!

I'm probably going to post a little less in the next while,

(but don't count on it, bwa ha ha),

because I've been busy setting up another blog.

But you don't have to rush over there because it is
intended to be a spot where the people who grew up in my
now non-existant hometown of Merritton, Ontario
can post memories and stories.

Has anyone had any experience sharing a blog?

According to blooger up to 100 people can share a site.

Any hints for success
or pitfalls of which I should be wary?

How can I encourage people to write?

(It's pretty hard to put yourself out there the first time.)

I'm going to post advice tomorrow.

What would you say?

To your mind what is the most important thing about blogging?
And what makes a blog post successful?

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Thursday, March 7, 2013

Sicko Shmicko

Cover of "Sicko (Special Edition)"
Cover of Sicko (Special Edition)

My father's last year of life was difficult.

At one point I took him to Emerg and was told the wait

would be 4 or 5 hours.  He couldn't sit in the chairs and

they told me if I took him home and came back in 4 fours

he would lose his place in line.

I took him home because there was no other choice and

later he went back by ambulance.

This week a friend told me that she had just taken her 77

year old mom to the hospital where she was admitted after

sitting in the waiting room for 6 hours.

However there were no beds available so she was going to

have to spend the night sitting in a chair in Emerg.

I was so irate I made a comment on face book.

One of the replies I got was from a distant cousin named

Mike who lives in Texas.

I know that many American politicians who want to change

their health care system hold up the Canadian system as the

be all and end all. 

But the American people are suspicious.

And reading my comment Mike saw the dark underbelly of our

Any Canadian, from the richest to the poorest, can get the finest

health care in the world. 

Ten years ago I had major eye surgery 3 times, twice in Toronto

and once in Hamilton.

The cost to me? Nothing.

The wait? Months.

If you saw Michael Moore's movie Sicko, you may have wondered

where he found that Canadian hospital with nobody waiting,

nobody in crisis.

You may also have been horrified to the point of wanting to shut the

borders at the stories of financial ruin inflicted on middle class

American families by their health care system.

Probably the truth lies somewhere in between.

Canadians are not likely to give up universal health care, the

importance of the welfare of the group over the importance of the

individual is just too ingrained.

And Americans value the individual over the group. 

That isn't likely to change either.

But right now, we both have shitty health care systems.

Is there not some common ground?

Can we not look at the best of both systems,
borrow a bit here and there?





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Sudbury Will Never Be the Same

Farewell, Stompin' Tom Conners.

Friday, March 1, 2013


Wet (Canned) cat food example (Fish flakes in ...
Wet (Canned) cat food example (Fish flakes in jelly) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I dropped my 97 year old aunt off at the senior's

residence where she lives.

Just as I was leaving a little old lady with a walker

shuffled into my line of vision.


"Excuse me," she said,

"Do you know where I can buy some cat food?"

She was so terribly bent over that she had to twist

her head to look up at me.


I offered to take her to the store but you

mustn't think it was like Mother Theresa

eager to wait on the dying lepers.

In truth it was more like mean old

Eddie Haskell agreeing to drag the Beave

someplace for Wally.


Anyway I bundled her into the spy car and we

sped off to the little strip mall two blocks away.

I managed to get 'Elizabeth' out of the car and

opened her walker for her.


We started off but almost immediately she

stopped and looked down at herself.


"Double-u-tee-eff?" I wondered as I watched

her pull off her gloves on such a cold sleety day.

She carefully laid them on her walker and

then unzipped her long purple winter coat. 


I was in a bit of a hurry, but after so many years of

looking after my old Dad, I've learned that there is

no rushing the elderly.


I mean you can try it, but you'll be sorry.


They guard the little dignity they have left the

way the cherubim with the flaming sword guards


So I looked on as she let go of her walker with

both hands and yanked her droopy pants up.

Then she slowly zipped the coat and

pulled her gloves back on.


It took a few more of these pit stops but  

eventually we reached the store.




I was at the counter fondling an interesting

green squishy thing and fingering all of the candy

I wasn't going to buy when it occurred to me that

she was taking a long time to locate the tinned

cat food.


"Do you know where the mumble mumble are?"

she said when I found her.


"Pardon?"  I bent down to try to hear better.

She raised her voice, "Do you know where the

mumble mumble are?"


"I'm sorry, Elizabeth," I said, "I just can't catch what

it is that you are looking for."





She was 85 and bent over with arthritis but her lungs

were great!


And her reproductive system was apparently ageless.


"Are you sure you don't want something for..."  I waved

my hand trying to think of a tactful way to suggest what

I suspected was her real problem.


She shook her head with a frown.

So I sighed and we shuffled off to the feminine hygiene

department where she bought a 12 pack of maxis.


With wings.


Happy now, she twisted her head up to look at me.

"You can go now, dear" she said.  

"I don't want to be a bother so I'll walk home by myself."



And I could kick a few puppies on the way.




At the door to her building we waved at each other

through the glass and I saw that a bunch of her

old lady friends was eagerly waiting for her.

Each one bent over a walker.


"Please tell me she isn't bringing home supper,"

I prayed as I drove away

more fearful of the future than I had been a few hours ago.

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