(Note: This story is mostly based on actual events, to the extent that they are known. The rest is speculative.)
Toronto, 1935, looking north on downtown Yonge Street. A City of Toronto Archives photo
The boy was 12 years old in the summer of 1935 during the depths of the Great Depression when a big, black car with unusual licence plates pulled up in front of a rooming house on Brock Avenue in the west-end of Toronto.
It was one of the city’s poorest streets, dubbed “bedbug row” at the time, in the midst of the Great Depression. A tall, slender, impeccably-dressed man slowly emerged from the driver’s door. With one hand resting on the roof of the car he paused for a few moments to stretch his neck, before opening another door to reach in for a briefcase, of the fine, leather style a barrister might carry or, as in his case, a special kind of private secretary. He locked the car carefully and, with the briefcase in his right hand, walked the few steps onto the sidewalk, and then turned up a concrete walkway leading to the rooming house. He walked rather slowly, seeming to put each foot down with an odd tentativeness, as if a visitor from another world. There was some kind of emblem on his jacket, over his heart. A coat of arms, perhaps? Hard to tell from a distance. Continue reading
The popularity of the Bruce Peninsula National Park has taken off in recent years, as this Parks Canada photo taken at one location shows
It was another busy day at Grey County Provincial Offences Court, which also acts as the court for such offences for Bruce County. Most of the dozens of people waiting for their turn in court that day in early December were charged with Highway Traffic Act offenses and had decided to plead “not guilty.” A brief consultation with the Prosecutor before court might lead to a resolution; otherwise they were heading for a trial, time permitting, or adjournment to a later date if not.
Several people in the crowded waiting area were charged with excessive speeding, also referred to as “stunt driving,” on Provincial Highway 6. Those charges involved a long stretch of that highway on the Bruce Peninsula leading to Tobermory that has suddenly become especially infamous after five people died in collisions last year.
Only in recent years has traffic on that section of highway become such an urgent problem. It coincides with a tremendous increase in tourist traffic heading to the two national parks in the Tobermory area. Continue reading
Let’s try to look on the bright side for 2018.
That’s easier said than done though, isn’t it?
Like, for example, I just looked at the weather forecast for our area here in greater Hope Ness, and there’s no relief in sight for an end to the current deep freeze, and a lot more lake-effect snow. I ventured out onto the wind-swept Eastnor Flats to get some diesel fuel for the tractor, and I might as well have been at the North Pole. I understand it was almost as cold there.
(Note to Donald Trump who just tweeted sarcastically about the need for a little of that good, ol’ global warming: It IS about global warming, and climate change, throwing the longstanding stability of the jet stream out of wack. This is why parts of Alaska are warmer than Hope Ness, and maybe even Washington, D.C. for that matter. The science-based facts about it are just a few keys over from twitter, Dear Donald. Give it a read some time before tweeting the first ill-informed thing that comes to mind – and that’s putting it nicely.)
But getting back to why it’s no so easy to look on the bright side about the New Year: Continue reading
I subscribe to the theory that we nine billion-plus human beings are all descended from a small group of ancestors who, millions of years ago, faced with an environmental crisis of world-changing proportions, learned fast the value of cooperation and making the best use of everyone’s particular skills.
Some were creative and innovative, some had a gift for organization, others had extraordinary intuitive powers, still others knew how to raise spirits when things looked dark, and finally there were those who were especially fleet of foot and physically strong. Everyone’s effort was valued and appreciated as they desperately searched for a place that offered the hope of life. They found it: at the shore of a life-giving, great river, or of a sea, or of an ocean teeming with food. There’s a reason, after all, why we humans are so drawn to waterfront homes. It’s in our formative genes.
But more to the point, I also believe there’s an essential goodness in what we are as human beings. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be here now; we wouldn’t have survived that critical moment millions of years ago. But we did, because we learned the value of working together, of a diverse and broad collection of skills, and of intelligence. Continue reading
Dark-rye pizza with multinational topping
When in doubt, make pizza. And make it from scratch, otherwise it doesn’t count in the greater scheme of things. I mean, anybody can squeeze pizza sauce out of a plastic bottle, or chop onions, red pepper, mushrooms, green and black olives, and even spinach. There is to be sure a certain, patient skill to grating pizza mozzarella and even crumbling feta cheese on top. Oh, and yes, a sprinkling of Oregano. Continue reading
I was talking a few evenings ago to my young friends, a well-read, pleasant couple with hope in their hearts, about the state of the world. We settled for a while into a discussion about the troubling, political situation in the U.S. where exploitation of a significant portion of the population by a populist demagogue with dangerous dictatorial tendencies is leading that great country, and the world, down a dangerous path.
Suddenly, as often happens, a recollection of a memory that seemed relevant to the discussion came to my mind. In this case, it was a scene from the 1951, British-made movie A Christmas Carol, based on the short story of that title by the great 19th Century English writer, Charles Dickens. Continue reading
A nice loaf of bread if I do say so myself.
Traditional yeast prepared the usual way, sort of;
Two cups of warm water, in a large bowl;
Pour in some extra virgin olive oil, about a quarter cup, give or take,
Some salt – I dunno, maybe a teaspoon.
(This is a slight variation of a basic pita bread recipe;
Simple, to say the yeast.)
Once, in the basement of a house I rented many years ago when I was much younger I found an old dresser in the unfinished, stone basement — in a dark corner, among the cobwebs.
Covered in dust, it’s drawers littered with mouse droppings, I brought it out into the light and proceeded to restore it, or so I thought in my foolishness. Continue reading
(Author’s note: Among the several province’s in Canada that own and operate nuclear-powered, electricity-generating stations, Ontario has by far the most reactors. They are located on the shores of two of the Great Lakes, on Lake Ontario, east of Toronto, and Lake Huron, near the town of Kincardine. Ontario Power Generation (OPG) is the publicly-owned, provincial Crown Corporation proprietor of Ontario’s nuclear plants. They include the Bruce Nuclear plant near Kincardine, which is operated under a long-term agreement, by a private company, Bruce Power. Highly radioactive nuclear waste, including a growing stockpile of used fuel, is stored on-site at Ontario nuclear plants, as it is elsewhere in Canada. But that is not considered a long-term solution. Canada’s federally-appointed Nuclear Waste Management Organization several years ago proposed an Adaptive Phased Management approach to that issue, including development of a Deep Geological Repository. The NWMO is currently conducting a lengthy site-selection process to find a suitable site. Meanwhile, OPG is awaiting final approval of a separate but similar deep-rock facility at the Bruce Nuclear site for low and intermediate-level, radioactive waste that it first proposed at least 13 years ago. Such waste, is now routinely transported to the Bruce site for what’s also regarded as temporary, above-ground storage. As might be imagined, the idea of burying nuclear waste in close proximity to the shore of one of the Great Lakes, which are shared by Canada and the U.S., has proven controversial.)
Bruce Nuclear site
I’m not kidding. Well, maybe a little. But I can’t help but wonder if there’s a special room set aside at Ontario Power Generation (OPG) headquarters in Toronto, or its Western Waste Management Facility at the Bruce Nuclear site, where managers go to pound their heads against a wall. Continue reading
A big-hearted smile from a Canadian “Mountie” was a little refugee’s first experience of Canada after crossing the border from the U.S. last winter.
I know I’m not alone in this: the feeling of being fortunate, relieved, and proud, to be a resident of this good country called Canada, as the sands run out for the otherwise deeply troubling year of 2017. Not that prospects for 2018 hold much promise of being better.
There are other good places to live, countries and communities large and small where people who believe in human decency are doing what they can to keep that light on; people who know in their hearts that unless we can learn to live together and celebrate our diversity, rather than hate it, there is no hope for the future. Continue reading