Sharing with you things that are on my mind...Maybe yours too. Come back to Wrights Lane for a visit anytime!

29 December, 2012


I have been sitting at my computer for at least 30 minutes trying to think of something really profound, original and noble to say to my friends about the coming New Year, but sad to say adequate words escape me.  Maybe I'll try something a little different by letting some others express themselves,  albeit slightly off-the-wall for the most part -- funny with a grain of truth in some instances.
A New Year may be a significant event for many. But the absurdities of the celebration cannot escape a skeptic. What better way to start a New Year than with a hearty laugh?  Here is a collection of New Years quotes, some of which you too may want to share with friends.

Mark Twain
New Year's is a harmless annual institution, of no particular use to anybody save as a scapegoat for promiscuous drunks, and friendly calls and humbug resolutions.

Brooks Atkinson
Drop the last year into the silent limbo of the past. Let it go, for it was imperfect, and thank God that it can go.

Bill Vaughan
Youth is when you're allowed to stay up late on New Year's Eve. Middle age is when you're forced to.

P. J. O'Rourke
The proper behavior all through the holiday season is to be drunk. This drunkenness culminates on New Year's Eve, when you get so drunk you kiss the person you're married to.

Jay Leno
Now there are more overweight people in America than average-weight people. So overweight people are now average… which means, you have met your New Year's resolution.

James Agate
New Year's Resolution: To tolerate fools more gladly, provided this does not encourage them to take up more of my time.

Eric Zorn
Making resolutions is a cleansing ritual of self assessment and repentance that demands personal honesty and, ultimately, reinforces humility. Breaking them is part of the cycle.

Bill Vaughan
An optimist stays up until midnight to see the New Year in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves.

Charles Lamb
New Year's Day is every man's birthday.

Oprah Winfrey
Cheers to a New Year and another chance for us to get it right.

Mark Twain
New Year's Day now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual.

Judith Crist
Happiness is too many things these days for anyone to wish it on anyone lightly. So let's just wish each other a bile-less New Year and leave it at that.

Many people look forward to the New Year for a new start on old habits.

Joey Adams
May all your troubles last as long as your New Year's resolutions!

Anais Nin
I made no resolutions for the New Year. The habit of making plans, of criticizing, sanctioning and molding my life, is too much of a daily event for me.

Oscar Wilde
Good resolutions are simply checks that men draw on a bank where they have no account.

Robert Paul
I'm a little bit older, a little bit wiser, a little bit rounder, but still none the wiser.

A New Year's resolution is something that goes in one Year and out the other.

Leonard Bernstein
From New Year's on the outlook brightens; good humor lost in a mood of failure returns. I resolve to stop complaining.

G. K. Chesterton
The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul and a new nose; new feet, a new backbone, new ears, and new eyes. Unless a particular man made New Year resolutions, he would make no resolutions. Unless a man starts afresh about things, he will certainly do nothing effective. Unless a man starts on the strange assumption that he has never existed before, it is quite certain that he will never exist afterwards. Unless a man be born again, he shall by no means enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.

Dick Wright
Oh no!  Here we go again my friends...Let's all resolve to turn 20"13" into our luckiest year ever.

26 December, 2012


The question had been hanging over us for weeks.  "Would my wife Rosanne be well enough to travel to daughter Cindy's home in Caledon East on Christmas day?

Finally at 10:45 a.m. on Monday (Dec. 24) it was mutually conceded that "no", we would be unable to make the two-hour drive on Tuesday.  Rosanne's delicate and weakened condition had not shown sufficient improvement, in fact if anything it had worsened.  It was a painful and inevitable concession for both of us.  Rosanne comes from a traditional Ukrainian background where Christmas was not only celebrated by her family on the 25th of December but on the 7th of January as well. Ever since we were married 10 years ago, her Christmases have been spent with my two daughters and their families.  This would be the first time in 50 years that I would not spend Christmas with my girls.

After breaking the news to Cindy in a hasty and difficult telephone call, I realized I had to get my butt in gear if we were to have anything resembling a Christmas dinner the next day. I had no choice but to join hundreds of other frenzied grocery shoppers scrambling to beat the early Dec. 24 closing deadline.  My priority purchase, of course, was a turkey but a frozen bird was out of the question at that late date.  The store had sold out of the already cooked and stuffed variety, so I opted for a fresh young turkey breast that would do Rosanne and I quite nicely.  Stove top turkey dinner dressing was the next item on my list and thankfully the store was still well stocked.  After a quick stop in the frozen foods section, I headed to bakery goods for some minced fruit tarts -- a poor substitute for my all-time favorite minced meat pie.  Since Rosanne does not like anything minced, I picked up a mini cherry pie for her.  Next was a visit to the meat department for a cottage roll of ham, an essential for Boxing Day dinner, along with leftover turkey.

I must have picked up a few other incidental items as well, because my bill came to $101.86.

Upon unpacking the groceries at home I realized that I had typically forgotten some items.  So back I went for poultry seasoning, a can of gravy (I always like to top up my turkey drippings with either canned gravy or cream of chicken soup) and some spaghetti for that evening's supper.  I made it just by the skin of my teeth (an old family expression) as the store was about to close.

The impulse was to sleep in a bit the next morning but after all, it was Christmas and I had a lot of things to do.  As I prepared Rosanne's toasted bagel and cheese, I had a strange craving for a bowl of porridge.  "Good idea for Christmas morning breakfast," I thought.  "We always have Quaker Oats on hand" -- wrong!  Well, we had a bag alright, but with no more than a table spoon of oats rattling around on the bottom.  Come to think of it, the last time I had oatmeal for breakfast was about a year ago.  Disappointed, I settled for my usual raisin bran muffin with coffee.

Still not over the oatmeal let-down, I had another craving, this time it was for my mother's tomato aspic, another Christmas dinner tradition in our family.  Again, "no problem", I thought confidently, remembering a packet of lemon jello mix I had purchased several months before (lemon jello and tomato juice are the two main ingredients in my favorite recipe).  As I was about to rip open the small jello box, the word "pudding" bounced out at me.  God help me, it was pudding mix that I was about to dump into the already steaming pot of tomato juice on the stove, not the required jello powder.

"Don't tell me that this is the way my day is headed!" I grumbled aloud.  I needed a break and thought that I would make another coffee and join Rosanne in the living room for a while.  While I was at it, I inserted a Dolly Parton/Kenny Rogers Christmas tape into our 1980s portable radio, just to add a little seasonal atmosphere to our morning.  The first song, believe it or not, was "I'll Be Home for Christmas".  Rosanne and I looked at each other, both thinking the obvious: "Oh ya, tell us about it!"  Rosanne asked me to turn off the tape several songs later.  It was obviously bothering her -- and keeping her from her customary extended morning nap.

"I think that I might die before the day is over," she said with a weak voice.  "I don't want to, but..."
"Is that right," I interjected off-handedly, thinking to myself  "Thanks for the warning Rosanne -- no pressure there!"

I made some broccoli soup for lunch and let Rosanne sleep (in between several telephone calls from family) for most of the afternoon.  Thankfully, preparation for our turkey dinner later that evening went relatively smoothly and it turned out extremely well too, if I do say so myself.  Rosanne has not been able to make it to the dinner table for the past few months and I served her on a TV table in the living room. I too, collapsed into an easy chair with my dinner on a TV tray and subsequently fell asleep between courses (I think we both did) and woke up about an hour and a half later, but never too late for dessert, even if it was 10 o'clock at night.

Rosanne had her cherry pie and I had my minced tart and a glass of egg nog while begrudgingly cleaning up the kitchen.  Somebody had to do it, right?

I started writing this post just before midnight and we went to bed around 2:15 a.m.  We fell asleep counting our blessings -- we made it through the day and we were both still alive.

First thing on my to-do-list for morning was to go out and buy a package of lemon jello mix, this time being very careful to read the labelling...I am determined to have my tomato aspic on Boxing Day.  Better a day late than never!

19 December, 2012


As the days dwindle down to a precious few before December 25, the media gives constant updates on dollars spent on retail sales.  We are reminded that there are fewer days of shopping left and made to feel guilty if we do not shop 'til we drop.  At the same time we increasingly see and hear the salutations "Seasons Greetings" and "Happy Holidays."
The late Pat Salmon
For some reason, the past dozen years or so I have been holding on to a clipping of a newspaper column written by veteran journalist Pat Salmon.  I always enjoyed Pat's take on issues of the day and was particularly impressed by this one piece: "Please keep Christ in Christmas".  Pat's stand on this subject, in truth, was the best that I have ever seen.  We often chatted about things that he had written, particularly nostalgic, homespun pieces which were Pat's forte.  He was published in a number of weekly community newspapers, including the Brampton Guardian where I usually picked up on him.

Pat wrote that it seemed to him that the word "Christmas" had become synonymous with shopping and our most sacred Christian festival celebrating the birth of Jesus had been reduced to "Tis the season to be jolly."  "Too many of us think that Christmas Spirit is a product sold by the LCBO," he stated.

"In our rush to please everyone, we are losing our heritage," he contended.  "I know that Canada is not a 100 per cent Christian nation, but on other festive occasions like the Feast of Eid or Ramaddam or Channakuh or Roshashanna, no one tries to water down the tradition.  I am sure that no religion in the world objects to the simple message of Christmas -- 'Peace on Earth and Goodwill towards men.'

Pat made no secret that he doubted the Virgin Birth, but did believe a very special prophet was born in Bethlehem at that time and He had a special message for us all.  "That message has been confused by theologians over the ages," he said.  "The Golden Rule has been turned into 'he who has the gold makes the rules' and 'do unto others before they do it to you'."  He simply felt that cynicism should not stop decent people from being decent.  "The detraction from the message given so long ago points to a major malaise in our material national thinking."

We agreed that society was becoming molecular in as much as our current philosophy was one of listening to single purpose viewpoints.  Fashion a decade or so ago, as is the case even more so now, dictates that if one molecule in a mass objects to the behavior of any other molecule (or the mass itself), the the objecting molecule is right.  That means the mass as a whole is wrong.

I am especially offended, too, by the fringe few who take up causes simply because of some sick self-serving need to be heard. They delight in upsetting tradition and the beliefs of others.  In taking away, they contribute nothing in return.

This new law of behavior allows single purpose groups to prevail over established customs without regard for the good of the whole.  Kind of like the tail wagging the dog.  This establishes the dangerous tyranny of the minority and imprisons the thinking and voice of the majority.  How many cases of this happening today can you think of?

Our so-called leaders, in their haste to displease no one, end up pleasing only a few.  We have no leader with a genuine opinion; we only have elected mutes who are paranoid about having their say for fear of a tirade of objections from a vocal minority.  They exclusively spew scripted party lines.  Political oneupmanship is the dominate modus operandi.

For the majority of the country that was founded on Christian faith, we should be celebrating Christmas as the religious festival that it is and not the commercial binge that is taking over this most sacred time of year.  Pat Salmon truly had a single purpose cause and it was called "Canada".  He wrote always in favor of his adopted country.  He demonstrated his love and did not care who knew it.  He believed that developed potential in this country is enormous if only the current populace would view the mass and not the molecule.

I'll let the words of Pat close out this post:

"I wish all readers a very Merry Christmas with Tidings of comfort and joy. It seems we have turned our backs on the Queen...Please don't try to shut out God.  We aren't that strong!"

07 December, 2012


Believe it or not, I have been asked to play the "Innkeeper" in a "Night Before Christmas" pageant performed during an upcoming Sunday morning church service.  My brief appearance in the pageant consists of only a half dozen lines (87 words), but I take my Thespian  role call seriously.  After all, I would not want to be out-performed by a cast of  angelic characters, some of whom will be 70 years my junior...Would I?
Out of interest and in the name of authenticity, I have been thinking that it would behoove me to research the role of an Innkeeper during the time of the birth of the biblical Jesus.  The Scriptures are silent about there even being an innkeeper, but we must assume that an inn would have someone in charge. The Bible is also silent about the character of this person but, again, we must make assumptions.
I am struck by the harsh reality that the coming King of Kings was turned away from the little town of Bethlehem's possibly only local lodging establishment. Certainly the unnamed innkeeper did not know that the as yet unborn Messiah had just shown up at his doorstep, but just what kind of person would turn away a pregnant woman who was well into labor? Sure, the inn was full of visiting guests, but was the Innkeeper so heartless? Was the guy really that cold hearted?  In the end, he did offer the desperate couple shelter in his stable, didn't he?
Here is how I think the Innkeeper would explain the unusual and historical circumstances he found himself in that most famous of all nights.
So you want to hear THE STORY.  You want to hear about the CHRIST CHILD.  Am I right?

Well, I am the one to tell it to you, for it was I, the Innkeeper of Bethlehem, who was there to witness it all.  And it was at my Inn that the Christ Child was born.

It was a cold and dark night.  My wife Ramada and I were going to bed.  She was mad at me again. The Ruler of Rome had declared a Census to be taken.  Therefore, everyone had to go to his home village to be counted and taxed, so Bethlehem was full of people!

It was a very happy time, and a very sad time. It was happy, because my inn was full. There was no more room at all. It was sad, because I had to turn away so many cash customers.

It was happy, because I was charging triple rates and putting up three families in each room besides. It was sad, because at the end, a great, wealthy man and his wife had come and offered me more money than I could refuse, so I rented them our bedroom. This is why my wife was mad at me, for we were sleeping in the kitchen that night.
It was late. We had cleaned ourselves and bedded down by the hearth with a little fire still going, since it was so cold. Our kitchen faces the courtyard, right across from the gate, so it is sort of in the open, and rather drafty. After we had gone to bed, we heard a knocking at our gate. I ignored it. I knew if we did not answer, they would go away. My wife, however, was most insistent that I get up and see who it was. But what was the point? I would just have to tell them to go away. We were full up, and there was no more room at our inn.

But she insisted, so I got up and ran across the courtyard barefoot, having misplaced my slippers. "What do you want, banging on my gate this time of night?" I yelled.  "Please!" came the answer. "We have gone everywhere looking for a room. My wife is expecting a child any minute and we need a place to stay!"

I could plainly see the young man and his wife in the night, for some bright star was overhead and it was as light as a full moon outside. She was sitting on their donkey, and she may have already been in labor. I thought of their relatives and somehow I knew not to ask.

What to do? What to do? They needed some privacy, at least. But first, they needed to be out of the cold night air. Certainly no place to have a child!  I found myself saying "I have a clean stable down below the hill behind the inn. You are welcome to use that."

Now, you will not tell on me, right? I did not take the young man's money. He tried to push it on me, but I refused. Besides, I had washed my hands for bed, and did not want to touch money. More than that, I did not wish to offend our God. I had no room for them in the inn, but at least I was not sending them out into the cold. How could I do otherwise? I just did not have anything else to offer them.

So they headed for the stable and I went back to bed.

I did not sleep long, however. Sometime in the early hours of that morning, a long time before sunrise, there was more pounding on my gate.  My wife again insisted that I get up and answer it. By the nature of the noise and pounding, I knew they would not go away, whoever they were.

Indignant, I did get up again, but this time I looked for my slippers first and I put on my heavy coat before going to the gate.  "What is it? Who are you banging on my gate this time of night!"

"Please. It is us. We are looking for your stable. Do you have one?"

Shepherds at my gate? Dirty shepherds! "Why are you not out on the hills with your sheep?" I asked them, indignantly.

"Angels sent us here," they replied.  "We were out on the hills, and suddenly we were surrounded by thousands of Angels. They were singing and rejoicing and it was they who told us to come here. We are looking for the Christ Child!"

I was beyond amazement at this. Taking a lantern from the wall, I went with them down the winding path to my stables. I had to see this thing for myself!

It was as the shepherds had said. There in the stable was the young man and woman that I had sent there. In the woman's arms was a newborn babe, wrapped in strips of cloth, as is our custom to do.

Not a word was spoken. None needed to be said. The shepherds took off their hats and knelt down in worship before the child. I did the same...Me!  The Innkeeper of Bethlehem. Never before had I seen such a sight as this, for the mother and child were beautiful and peaceful beyond description. It was as if God had come down into that humble place and we all were bowing before Him!

We did not stay long. After all, we were in the presence of Royalty and you don't linger there.

After the shepherds went back to their flocks, I went to my bed and tried to rouse my wife to tell her what I had seen, but she was in a deep sleep. You can know full well that early the next morning, even before sunrise, I was up and bringing the young couple some bread and cheese, along with what milk I could find.

I did not allow them to stay in that stable a minute longer than it took my wife and I the time to clean out our very own bedroom again. Our rich guest was unhappy to be put out at sunrise, but he gladly took back the cost of his room.

Then the little Lord Jesus, and his mother Mary, and her husband Joseph became our special guests at our Inn. The Inn of Bethlehem.

And you know, more than once I got to hold Him. The Christ Child! And I sat in wonder and awe that God should come among us as a tiny, helpless baby...

That's my story anyway, believe it or not.

04 December, 2012


I swear, the world is conspiring against me to give up drinking coffee.

For years doctors have cautioned me against drinking too much coffee.  I now have two cups a day -- one decaf with my breakfast and another around 4:30 in the afternoon when I pick up Rosanne's daily 12-grain bagel (she's addicted) from Tim Horton's.  I admit that late afternoon cup of java is a "fix" in my rather humdrum existence, but I enjoy it and look forward to it.  So does Rosanne.
A couple of years ago a local charity suggested that I put aside the equivalent of a cup of coffee every day ($1.25 at that time) for their annual fund-raising blitz...And I did.  My insurance company advocates the same thing -- putting aside the price of a cup of coffee daily to offset the cost of increased coverage and the associated premium hike...And I have.

A money management consultant recommended recently that I attempt to "save at least the cost of a cup of coffee every day" from my meagre fixed income...And I have tried.  Since Rosanne and I are a team and combine our incomes in order to provide for the necessities of life (mine an old age pension and her's a disability benefit)  I have tried very hard to put aside the cost of two Tim Horton's coffees each day.

Now my church is the latest to jump on the "save the price of a cup of coffee" bandwagon.  This past Sunday, at a congregational meeting following the worship service, a well-meaning but misled spokesperson promoted the supposedly brain-wave idea that we all could put aside $1.65 (inflation affects coffee shop prices too) "every time we have a coffee at Tim Horton's."  The thought being that if we all "bought" into the concept we could virtually wipe out the church's budgetary deficit inside of a year's time.   For me, that was the last straw.

Taking into consideration the local charity, my insurance company, the money management guru and now my church (which I already budget for each week), I am now looking at roughly $4,000.00 that I would be required to put aside each year from a fixed income that does not fully cover cost of living expenses each month as it is.

I have come to the conclusion that I can no longer afford to drink coffee, thanks to the commitments that I have been lured in to by special interest parties.  As a way out of this "put aside the cost of a cup of coffee each day" bind, and without a pang of guilt, I am going to give up my daily coffee and start drinking tea exclusively.  No one out there is suggesting that I "put aside the cost of a cup of tea each day".  Not yet anyway.

P.S:  I have yet to break this news to Rosanne...I can just hear her now: "If anybody puts aside anything now Mister, it will be for your funeral which may come faster than you think!"  Wish me luck!

02 December, 2012


The attached link connects to a touching and phenomenal piece of work well worth listening to and watching. The wonderfully rich baritone voice of Andrea Bocelli and the choir alone, are worth the listen.  It is American in context but most assuredly applies to we Canadian neighbors north of the border too. The music is "The Lord's Prayer" with words being written as you watch. Then they tumble and start all over again, ending with ll Chronicles.  If you are not interested, then just hit the delete button... But you will be missing a unique opportunity to settle your heart and concentrate on the only One who can change our North American society today after He has heard our repentance and plea for mercy.  Please seriously consider the message. Our world as we know it rests in the balance. It is never too late. We are all in this life together. What applies to one applies to the other!

27 November, 2012


Before the death of her 16-year-old twin daughter, Sarah, Caroline Flohr says she was living under some major misapprehensions.  “Like so many, I believed that tragedies happened somewhere else, to other families, and were something we only read about,” she says.

On Aug. 23, 2004, it happened in her community – to her family. Sarah died in a car accident. It would take Caroline several years to come to some kind of peace.  “I believed that death came after a life had been fully lived, when one was long past childhood. I was wrong,” says Caroline who writes about her family’s spiritual journey in the memoir, “Heaven’s Child,” (

On the fifth anniversary of Sarah’s death, her friends and family agreed to gather enmass in order to set Caroline free. She would be released from her family’s pain and grief, powerful emotions that ensnared her spirit. The family accepted her loss in a celebratory ceremony at Sarah’s grave.  “I’ve allowed my heart to mend, to hold onto Sarah’s memory but not the pain of her loss,” she says, adding that she has become a more complete and spiritual person since the death of her daughter, and explains how her faith made that possible:
“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” – Martin Luther King … What does a bereaved mother do with the rest of her teenage daughter’s life, which has moved on to the next stage? After a few weeks, Caroline cancelled Sarah’s cell phone, and the family slowly returned to a regular routine. Caroline lights a candle during dinner, with a picture of Sarah and her twin sister placed nearby. Though she can’t see Sarah, she feels her presence. It may be in the kindness of a stranger, the sudden appearance of something that was lost, the smell of a certain fragrance. Faith is believing in that which you can’t see – and not ignoring what you can feel.

• The present is a present: Within weeks of Sarah’s death, the family dog, Emmett, died. After so much loss, the family welcomed a yellow Labrador, which would be named Lady Brooke. While witnessing the joy the dog brought back to the household, it became abundantly clear that experiencing joy in life was a gift. Indeed, every moment given to us should be considered a gift, including the memories of loved ones no longer physically in our lives.

• Interweaving death with life: In the five years from Aug. 23, 2004 to Aug. 24, 2009, Caroline learned how to weave the reality of death into her daily life. Death is no longer one heavy fact that cuts through life but rather a part of life that makes joy sweeter and relationships richer. By interweaving death with life, we are always reminded of what is important.
NOTE:  Caroline Flohr was a busy wife and mother to five children when her 16-year-old twin daughter was tragically taken from her. She was forced to dig into the deeper meaning of existence and came away with profound edification. Flohr lives with her husband and children on Bainbridge Island, a suburb of Seattle. She will be a participating author at Seattle University’s Search For Meaning Conference in March 2013.

Thank you to a friend for bringing this story to my attention.

24 November, 2012


AUNT FANNY, 1856-1938
I was very pleased to be able to scan successfully the above tintype portrait of my Aunt Fanny (Perry) Pike taken in 1874 when she was 18 years of age.  "Tintypes" have become precious collector's items and I learned the hard way not to attempt to clean them with anything...Not even a damp soft tissue.  Touching the tintype in any way (i.e. rubbing it) will destroy the image, as was the case with another prized tintype in my possession that I thought I would "clean up just a little".

I will now post "Aunt Fanny" on my Perry family web site and place the tintype in an envelope for safe keeping.  It is remarkable to me how it survived 138 years virtually unprotected, rattling around in a collection of family photographs.  I never met Aunt Fanny.  She died as a result of burns suffered in a Strathroy house fire in 1938 when I was just a baby, but I am the benefactor of a number of her personal belongings, including a family bible.
Tintype photography falls between the invention of the daguerreotype in 1833 and the introduction of rolled film in 1888.  In the mid-19th century, the tintype provided an inexpensive technology for the masses to capture their loved ones on film.  They were widely popular or a few decades, but remained in use right up to the 1950s.
A tintype -- also known as a ferrotype -- is an image produced on a thin metallic sheet that is not actually tin but coated iron. The name "tintype" may refer to the tin snips used to cut the sheets apart. Or the name may have generically referred to a cheap metal -- anything other than silver. A tintype is a form of ambrotype, which is an under-exposed negative that appears as a positive image when placed on top of a dark background. Tintypes were a major step forward from glass plate negatives, which were fragile and more time-consuming to produce.

Adolphe Alexandre Martin of France invented the tintype process in 1853. Tintypes were extremely popular among Civil War soldiers, who loved to have their pictures taken in uniform to send back home. Tintypes were also commonly used to photograph the dead, a practice that was popular throughout the 19th century. Itinerant photographers would make tintypes from their tents or horse-drawn wagons. Town photographers used them in their photo parlors.

To create a tintype, the photographer coated the metal plate in collodion or gelatin and other chemicals. He would allow the plate to dry until it just became tacky. Next he dipped the plate into silver nitrate. The photographer had to take the picture before the plate dried completely. It took about five seconds of exposure, so photographers often provided a headrest for portrait sittings to help the subject remain still. The tintype was then mounted and coated with varnish before being presented to the customer. The image on a tintype appears "backward" because it is a negative. Objects held in the right hand appear to be held in the left, as if looking into a mirror.

Tintypes were sturdier than ambrotypes, so they could be mailed or mounted in an album, yet they were thin enough to be cut into smaller shapes for brooches or lockets. Tintypes were also less expensive to produce than other technologies available at the time, making them more affordable for the working class. Before tintypes, only the wealthy were able to create images of their cherished friends and loved ones.

Read more: History of Tintype Portraits |

16 November, 2012

Hey turkey, we cross here!
Saugeen Shores has to be the Wild Turkey capital of Canada.  The savvy birds can be seen just about everywhere this time of year, especially in farmers' fields.  Averaging in the 20 pounds range, the turkeys suddenly take cover during the open hunting season in April and May.  Mother Nature equips them well.  The pedestrian birds in the above photo follow the leader in crossing the road -- and they took their good time doing it.  Wild turkeys were pretty much wiped out in Ontario in the early 1900s through unregulated hunting and deforestation. In the mid-1980s, the province embarked on a restoration program with contributions of wild turkeys from the U.S. Approximately 4,400 wild turkeys were released at 275 sites across Ontario and the turkey population now has exceeded the numbers projected by the Ontario Wild Turkey Management Plan.  The province-wide population currently exceeds 100,000.

05 November, 2012


I was taken by a little item tucked away at the bottom of an inside page of a newspaper this morning.  It "talked" about the joy in doing something right.

True enough, when things fall naturally into place, we cannot help but smile.  The universe clearly loves us.  The cosmos is on our side.

But, wait a minute...What about the times when things do not seem to work out so well?  We figure we must be in receipt of punishment for some terrible choices we made at some point along the way.  Rarely, if ever, is it all quite so simple, however.

So we should not take it all too personally the next time we find ourselves entering a series of situations that bring a great sense of pleasure and satisfaction and leave us feeling as if we must be doing something right.

Right is right and wrong is wrong.  Never the twain shall meet.

I'm not sure what I just said.  Ever have days like that?  Hopefully you get my drift though.

I'll get back to you after I have had a chance to think about this a little more.

28 October, 2012


The Beatles (remember them?) once sang:  "I don't care too much for money, money can't buy me love."

It was just around the time of the release of that record (we called them records in those days) that colour television sets came on the market and we could no longer see the world in such a black and white manner.  We know, of course, that love and money are not mutually exclusive...It is perfectly possible to have both. All that is required is an understanding that the two are not necessarily connected.

We are the wealthiest when we have love in our hearts!

Personally though, I'll take a liberal dollop of legal tender mixed in with all my "love" diet recipes.  It is the ingredient that binds, so to speak.

26 October, 2012


In the above spectacular photo, fishermen just south of Southampton formed an almost perfectly-spaced line just off the east bank of the Saugeen River this past weekend.

Measuring a fine specimen

While the river was shoulder-to-shoulder with hundreds of  fisher persons from all over Ontario, the Lake Huron Fishing Club (LHFC) and Steelheaders moved 50 adult Rainbow Trout in a "live tanker" up the Saugeen River to spawning beds.  It is a commendable spring-and-fall ritual.
During the spring, the volunteers move salmon up-river and, now, in the fall, they do the same with rainbow trout.  According to sources, the fishing on the Saugeen this year is the best in over 20 years -- thanks to the dedicated volunteer members of these organizations.

There ya go, me beauty!
Details of each fish are individually documented for the government.  They are measured and a scale sample is taken.  Fertilization in the hatcheries is generally 70 to 80 per cent while in nature it is only approximately four per cent.

Not every fish taken has sperm or eggs because they are too young.  These "green" fish are subsequently placed in two portable tanks, one for females and the other for males, and taken to sites further up the river to tributaries where the water is cooler and more conducive to the development of sperm.

Regardless of weather conditions, anglers will be out in droves on the Saugeen again this weekend.

23 October, 2012


School in Dresden attended by my parents and their son, demolished
 in 1960s. 
I have been involved in research recently that has impressed upon me just how much our education system has changed in the past 100 years.  No question that the school that my parents attended at the turn of the 20th century was not as much fun and as exciting as the schools enjoyed by their great grandchildren in the 21st century.

You only have to look at vintage news reels to see that our parents' and grandparents' generations suffered a tawdry, monochromatic education, dismally devoid of colour and imagination.  It is not too surprising that many students dropped out before ever making it to high school.  Of course, apprenticeships were readily available in many vocations in those days and economics were also a factor...Out of necessity, young people (boys in particular) were required to start making a living for themselves as soon as they were physically able.  School start times were also adjusted to accommodate farm kids who were required to work in the fall harvest.

Punishment and discipline were high on the agenda too.  Not learning math or neglecting homework often resulted in teachers administering the strap for insubordination.  If work was not up to standard, students were actually failed and held back a year...Just ask me!  I failed a grade when my father passed away during my first year in high school...An embarrassing  and belittling experience that haunts me to this day, forever carrying the stigma of the "dummy" label.  There was a certain regimentation too and the old school in Dresden (see photo above) that both my parents and I attended was no exception.

Extra curricular activities were virtually non existent.  The biggest "social" event of the school year was the annual commencement exercises.  An activity highlight was "track and field day" held in October of each year.

During elementary years, boys were assigned to one side of the school yard, and girls the other.  Heaven help anyone who ever strayed beyond that invisible dividing line. Students also had separate entrances at the back of the school.  Upon graduation (moving up) to high school on the second storey, boys and girls were privileged to use the same front entrance to the school as a first exposure to co-ed, co-existence in the society that awaited them.  For most kids, it was a rite of passage -- an "I have finally arrived" sort of thing.  Teachers, of course, had their own private entrance.

Children in my old hometown spent a good 12 years going to the same continuation school with primary grades on the first floor and senior grades (high school) on the second.  This may account for why so many of us have a special feeling for our old schools.  Kind of like our second home, in a way.  We spent almost half of the first years of our life walking those familiar halls of learning.  A place where our minds and personalities were formed, for better or worse.  By my rough calculations, I figure that I and my dad each walked 7,200 miles over the Sydneham River Bridge, to and from the same school in our formative years.
It is interesting too that there is a good possibilty that at some point in time I actually sat in the same desk as my mom and dad during their days at school some 35-40 years earlier. The photo to the left shows school desks that were common in the first 40 years of the 20th century.  They were bolted to the floor, so there was no moving them around.  Note the intricate iron frames and oak wood seats, backs and desk tops with ink-well holes for ink bottles.  Stock pens with replaceable nibs and fountain pens were the allowed writing tool of the day....No such thing as today's ball-point pens which came on the market only in the mid 1940s.  Penmanship was actually a mandatory course on the curriculum.

Slate board and slate pencil.
When my mother and father went to school (1905-1915-'16) paper was at a premium and not readily available.  "Scribblers", when available, were reserved for higher grades.  Each child actually had their own slate board to write on and to do arithmetic calculations. Slates and slate pencils were very handy (see photo to the right) in the early grades in particular.  Children were able to write on the boards, show their work to the teacher, and make corrections without wasting paper.  You could just wipe old work off your slate with a cloth, hand or shirt sleeve, and start all over again; hence the expression: "starting with a clean slate", so often used in conversation today.  Slate boards made it easy for teachers too.  With old work erased, all they had to do was move on to another lesson.  Not a bad idea then, or now too for that matter!

Just imagine how many trees could be spared today by re-introducing slate boards to the education system.  Guess we won't hold our breath on that one...!

Remarkably, schools in the first half of the 20th century turned out many brilliant minds and top scholars, so don't get me wrong.  There were redeeming features.  There will be a few (like me) reading this post who were virtual products of that very system; so I choose my words carefully.

18 October, 2012


I have fun following the curmudgeonly astronomer Jonathan Cainer.  There are times when he makes absolutely no sense at all and there are other times when he is eerily close to the mark. He was talking about people's life stories the other day and he struck a chord with me.

Just think about it for a minute.  We all have amazing life stories to tell, if only we were so moved.  Some publishers would no doubt reject many of our life tales because they feel that they are just not believable enough.  Other publishing brain trusts may determine that some of our stories are beyond belief, perhaps better portrayed as fiction.

Of course, certain aspects of our life experiences would require selective self-editing and may not bear repeating publicly.  But that's another story, right?

For some of us, there have been so many uncanny coincidences and inexplicable developments in our life stories.  Even with all the nuances and details accounted for, we still find it hard to explain exactly why and how some things have happened to us.

Once we simplify some of those details, it all starts to seem faintly miraculous, doesn't it...Great stories that most of us will ultimately take untold to the grave with us, and that is a shame.

But you know what, if you are reading this post, your story is not finished yet.  What miraculous next chapter is just around the next corner for each and every one of us?  Exciting thought, isn't it!

If I were a publisher today, I'd love to hear all about it...Keep your pencils sharp dear friends.  You may yet have a best seller on your hands.  Keep living the tale and adding exciting new chapters as you go!

Make your life story a long and good one.

16 October, 2012


After writing yesterday's post about the depressing four consecutive
Sun piecing through clouds and branches of
towering pine tree in our front yard.
"dreary, wet fall days" we had just experienced in Southampton, I could not help but keep repeating in my mind the hauntingly delightful and promising words from the ever-popular Broadway show "Anne": "The sun'll come out tomorrow.  Bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow there'll be sun!..."

Finally, full sun this morning revealed colors
of autum on our street.
Well, sure enough, this morning we had sun ever so hesitantly finding its way through thick, gray clouds that had hung overhead for almost 100 hours.  As the warm rays continued to penetrate and open up the heavy cloud cover to a clear blue sky, I swear I could hear a heavenly crescendo piercing the fall air: "...Tomorrow!  Tomorrow!  I love ya.  Tomorrow you're always a day a way."

15 October, 2012


If there is anything that I hate more than a dreary, wet and windy day in October, it is four consecutive dreary, wet and windy days in October..  It doesn't help that Rosanne and I are at different stages of struggling with bouts of pneumonia.
Make it a quick one, Lucy!
At the best of times, fall is the most depressing of the four seasons for me, but this is ridiculous.  Enough already!  I've had it up to my over-stuffed sinuses!

In the old days you might say that we have "walking pneumonia".  We're able to be up and about (most of the time), but most of the time why bother.  Sleep is a better option, providing you can stop coughing long enough.

Yesterday (Sunday), with plans to attempt to go to church, I got up at the usual time, showered, shaved and -- subsequently tossed in the towel.  One look out the window convinced me that I was making right decision.  It was just not a fit day outside for man nor beast.  Even Lucy needed gentle persuasion to venture off our back porch step in order to perform her routine morning duty.

The rest of the day I rotated prone positions on my recliner chair and the couch.  Rosanne continued to be a permanent fixture on her recliner, moaning, hacking and coughing her way around the clock.  At about 4:30 in the afternoon I reached the point where I'd had enough.  "I need some fresh air in spite of the weather,"I reasoned.  "I need to see people.  Maybe some Tim Horton's coffee will help liven us up."

You could shoot a cannon down the main street of Southampton...Not a soul to be seen, which was not a surprise to me, given the kind of day that it was.  The parking lot at Tim Horton's was vacant and there were no customers inside.  "Just one of those off days," commented the young pony-tailed clerk with a yawn.  "Except for breakfast, it's been quiet like this all day.  People are staying home where it's dry, I guess."

Just one of those days, to be sure.  But God help me, not four in a row.  I'd check the weather report for the next couple of days, but in truth I simply do not have the energy right now.  I'd rather just make it through today and rely on the philosophy that "tomorrow will be another day" -- and take my chances.

Henry Wadsorth Longfellow kind of hit the nail on the head with the following poem written in the mid 1800s:

The day is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
The vine still clings to the moldering wall,
But at every gust the dead leaves fall,
And the day is dark and dreary.

My life is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
My thoughts still cling to the moldering Past,
But the hopes of youth fall thick in the blast
And the days are dark and dreary.

Be still, sad heart! and cease repining;
Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;
Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life some rain must fall,
Some days must be dark and dreary.

Thanks Henry.  I think we all needed that!

12 October, 2012


I have talked and written frequently on the subject of death.  It is an area in which I have had more experience than I would have liked but it is, nonetheless, unavoidable in all of our lives and will most certainly catch up with every one of us in the end.

Someone once said:  "It's not that I'm afraid to die -- I just don't want to be their when it happens."  That is probably how many of us feel, but the fact remains, death is as much a part of life as life itself.  Every family faces death at one time or another.  Death reminds us of how tender and fragile life can really be.

Death can take the form of a reward for a life well lived.  It can also be a blessed release from a devastating and debilitating illness or the ravages of old age.  Death is hardest to take for loved ones when it comes unexpectedly and prematurely.

I am thinking especially of an acquaintance, my same age, who died in an unthinkable plane crash this past weekend.  What must his family, in particular his widow, be feeling and thinking at this very moment.  It hurts the heart to even speculate on such personal losses.

If we are religious, we can gain a degree of solace from The Book of Ecclesiastics:  "To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven; a time to be born and a time to die."  It also says in another chapter:  "The day of death is better than the day of birth."...Try wrapping your mind around that one, if you can.

Regardless of the circumstances, it is fair to say that we are all the same in one lament when a loved one passes away.  We are left with things unsaid and things undone.  We experience knawing doubts.

There is a lesson here for all of us...We should be more open and forthcoming with our feelings.  We should not save them for another time and place because another time and place may never come.

The specter of death reveals our relationships to be our most precious possessions.  I'm sure that virtually everyone reading this post has lost count of the number of times they've met people who have expressed deep regret over things they wish they had said before a grandparent, parent, spouse, sibling or friend, passed away.  They cannot change what was, but without fail their regrets have fueled a healthy resolve to say what needs to be said before it is too late -- to clear away hurt feelings, to express deep emotions, to connect in profound ways with the ones who mean the most to them.

Relationships, even the most loving, have occasional rough spots.  We assume that people we love know that we love them, even if we've had disagreements and tense moments.  It is so easy to forget that when there is nothing of profound importance left unsaid, relationships tend to take on a glorious aspect of celebration.

A deep, natural drive to connect with others lies at the heart of what it means to be human.  We need not wait until we or someone we love is seriously ill.  By taking the time and by caring enough to express our feelings, we can renew and revitalize our most precious connections before another day passes.

Take it from someone who speaks from experience.

07 October, 2012


Home of my birth on Sydenham Street in Dresden.  A water
 colour painting of how I remember it, circa 1945.  Note:
original front door key, inset.
I was talking to a group recently about memories in the context of things that are seen as opposed to things that are unseen.  The point being that things that are seen are transient and the things that are unseen are eternal.

It was with a degree of surprise that I learned that a number of others knew exactly what I meant and the majority related it to memories of the home in which they grew up.  I don't mind saying that there was comfort in being in the company of kindred spirits on this particular occasion.

With self-admitted resolve, I mentioned that the sad reality of visits to old homes is that they change.  They do not look the same and they do not feel the same.  They are not our homes any more -- they belong to someone else.

But you know what, no amount of paint, structural changes and landscaping can ever change our fond memories and what remains in our hearts of the home in which we grew up -- of the home we shared with loved ones, of the home that was our adolescent refuge from a world we had yet to understand, of the home where we could just be comfortably ourselves.

Indeed, places change and people change, but the memories that are etched on our hearts are indelible.

I was born and raised in an old brick home on Sydenham Street in Dresden, built by my grandfather Wesley Wright in 1878.  Both sets of grandparents (Wes and Louise Wright and Nelson and Harriet Perry) died there, as did my mother and father.  When my mother Grace passed away in 1994, I had no choice but to sell the property with mixed emotions.  The new owners have done a wonderful job of remodelling the century home and I am happy that they have taken pride in much needed upgrading and renovations.  In essence, they have made it their own, as it should be.

I have been back to Dresden numerous times in the past 18 years, but I now purposely avoid Sydenham Street.  I passed by it again just two weekends ago.  In fact the surroundings at the corner of Sydenham and North Street (Highway 21) had changed so drastically from what I remember that I was well on my way out of town before I realized that I had passed the old intersection.  I did not turn around and go back.

I resist the impulse to "see" the house as it is today.  I prefer to cling to the "eternal" memories of my old home as it was -- our comfortable front porch where we spent so many summer evenings drinking ice tea and visiting with neighbors and family, my bedroom where I listened to Lux Radio Theatre, Jack Benny, Amos and Andy, Hockey Night in Canada, and Detroit Tigers broadcasts on my Northern Electric table radio when I should have been doing my school homework, the living room where my father roled back the carpet to allow me to pound nails into the hardwood floor when my mother was out for the evening, the lingering smells of my mother's pot roast dinners, the large back yard where I played catch with my dad and grandfather Perry and helped tend to a substantial vegetable garden; the laughter, tears, times of prayer, Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving family gatherings.  A place where my imagination and sense of creativity was allowed to develop quietly and freely, unencumbered by the influences of the outside world. 

I can, and do, visit often, however -- in my mind and in recurring dreams too.  I imagine the old home on Sydenham Street as being unchanged with the passage of time.  It continues to be the home of my youth, even though I do not live there anymore and someone else does.

I now live in what may well be my last home and, be it ever so humble, I love it just as much as that first grand old place on Sydenham Street in Dresden.  With all its cracks and blemishes, it is me.  It is my contentment.  There is no place I would rather be at this stage of my life.   It helps to have Rosanne and Lucy there too.

28 September, 2012


I was doing some work on a special project recently and was reminded of an era in Canadian history that is all but gone and forgotten.

The 1920s and 1930s were unquestionably the leanest and most difficult period of the 20th Century.  The country was still in the throes of getting back on its feet after World War 1 when it was plunged into more than a decade of The Great Depression.  No one escaped the devastating effects of the depressed "Dirty Thirties".  Unemployment was at an all time high and there was a general tightening of the belt at all levels of society.  People out of necessity learned to make do with very little, relying on thrift and resourcefulness for survival.
Many who lost their jobs in the 1930s, women included, were forced to leave their homes in search of a better life.  In most of the cases they felt like a burden to their families or felt ashamed because they had no jobs and no money.  As they drifted across the country, they relied heavily on the generosity of others for subsistence.  It became the era of the "hobo" (not to be confused with tramps, bums or yeggs).  Hobos were simply people who were down on their luck through no particular fault of their own.

As a youngster growing up in Southwestern Ontario in the late 1930s and early 40s, it was not unusual to see at least one or two hobos passing through my hometown of Dresden every day, carrying their worldly possessions in a sack flung over their shoulder.  Most of them "rode the rails" and would come into town on Pere Marquette freight cars, a dangerous mode of travel to say the least.

The Canadian Division of Pere Marquette included lines in Windsor and Sarnia via Dresden and Blenheim through to St. Thomas and (via trackage rights) east to Buffalo, so our hobo friends came from a wide area of the country and from both sides of the border.

One hot summer evening around supper time, we had a knock at our front door.  I saw the unfamiliar, dishevelled figure of a middle aged man on the other side of the screened door. "How can I help you?" ask my mother.  "I was wondering, lady, if you could spare a sandwich...I haven't had anything to eat since yesterday," came the reply.

My mother invited him to have a seat on our front porch, brought him a large glass of ice water and proceeded to fill a plate with hot roast beef, mashed potatoes and gravy and vegetables -- exactly what we ourselves were going to have for supper that evening.  She finished off the handout with two pieces of bread and butter and a generous slice of lemon meuringe pie (there'd be no seconds for my dad that night).

In no time at all, our guest(?) was knocking on the door again with empty plates in hand.  "Thanks very much lady," he said.  "I feel just as good now as if I'd had a full course meal."

My mother was speechless, hardly knowing how to take the comment.  We sat silent as the man made his way down the sidewalk.  When he was out of hearing distance, we broke out in uncontrolable laughter over what was truly a lefthanded compliment.

From that day on, I never finished one of my mother's meals without saying, "Thank you very much lady...I feel just as good now as if I'd had a full course meal."  It became a family saying that did not go away with the passage of time.

I'd give anything today to be able to repeat that hobo's words just one more time.

24 September, 2012


I cannot believe that feminism continues to be a contentious issue a dozen years into the 21st century.

With all the talk of a “war on women” during this explosive election year south of the border, the notion of feminism is once again in the news – and open to debate, especially among women.  Nothing illustrates that better than the rash of commentary following the recent death of sexual-revolution era author Helen Gurley Brown, says Heather Huffman (, a 35-year-old author whose newest book, “Devil in Disguise,” continues her tradition of upbeat romances featuring strong female protagonists.

“Some writers took her to task for advocating sexual freedom for women,” Huffman says about Gurley Brown. “They say she wasn’t a ‘feminist’ because she was all for promiscuity, not women’s rights, and her actions led to an explosion of single moms and STDs. “Others viewed her as the ultimate ‘feminist,’ a heroine who chopped through a cultural thicket to break down repressive social mores.”  The truth is, Huffman contends, that Gurley Brown did important work on behalf of women.

“While I don’t advocate promiscuity, I do acknowledge that Gurley Brown’s boundary-pushing stance brought the topic of women’s rights to the forefront, paving the way for change,” she says. The problem is, she sugessts, that when people hear the word “feminist,” they picture a woman from another time, like Helen Gurley Brown. They don’t see themselves at all.

“I hear some women say, ‘I’m not a feminist!’ They think a feminist is a strident, angry man-hater who gets up in arms over any perceived slight,” Huffman adds. “That’s too bad, because the world needs feminists as much as it needs any group that advocates for human rights.”

Feminism changes with the times, she says. So what is a 21st century feminist? Huffman offers her observations:
She (or he) supports a woman’s right to be a mom – or not. When women won acceptance and equal rights in the workplace, they were released from one box and plopped right into another one. “We went from raising children to raising children and working. Too often, that’s the expectation now,” Huffman says. Feminists support a woman’s right to choose her life’s direction, whether that’s staying at home and being mothers, choosing never to become mothers, or some hybrid of work and motherhood. “Having equal rights is having the freedom to choose our life’s direction without being subjected to discrimination because of what other people expect our role to be,” Huffman says.
 Supports removing double standards. “You still see, in the workplace and at home, the tough guy gets praised, and the tough woman, well, she’s a ‘witch’ or worse,” Huffman says. More smart, savvy women have earned respect professionally and that’s progress, but we still have work to do. “Professional women still get criticized about their hair style, their fashion choices. Rarely are professional men snubbed for these things.”
Understands what rights are being legislated and by whom. We all know the hot-button “values” issues that polarize voters. “The reality is a politician’s party affiliation doesn’t paint an accurate picture of who they are or what they stand for. Voting records, corporate associations, and actions are much more telling. As citizens, as women with a voice, we must do our homework to ensure our values are being reflected. And, in truth, feminism is more than a political movement – it’s the empowerment of women to live the life they were created for.”
Heather Huffman is a women’s advocate, writer, former human relations specialist and mother of three. She and her family are currently homesteading 10 acres in the American Ozarks. She is the author of seven novels, including “Throwaway” and its prequel, “Tumbleweed.” A portion of proceeds from sales of her books benefit groups fighting human trafficking.

19 September, 2012


I have the distinct honor and pleasure of being asked to conduct a Memorial Service in Chatham on Saturday, Sept. 22, for the late Dorothy Jeanne (Elgie) Ellis, a native of Dresden, ON.

Mrs. Ellis passed away in her 97th year at Windsor Regional Hospital on Sunday, October 16, of last year.  She was the daughter of the late James and Mary Jane Elgie of Dresden.  She was the beloved wife of the late Clarence Alvin Ellis (1966) and mother of Roy and his wife Katherine of Kearny, Missouri; Lynda Ellis, Susan Ellis and husband Jim Pugsley, all of Windsor, and mother-in-law of Judith Ellis also of Windsor.  She was predeceased by a son Douglas, sister Charlotte Sanders and brothers Charles, Alfred and Allan Elgie.  Lovingly remembered by four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

The focus of the Memorial will be Mrs. Elgie's lifelong fondness for her formative years growing up in Dresden, 1915 to 1935.  By invitation only.

14 September, 2012


This is a story you won't read in your daily newspaper or see on television.  It deserves wider coverage.  The Canadian public needs to be aware.
For some First Nations people, memories bring back the reality of life...A life that was taken away from them in order to impose a new way of living.

Last weekend, Saugeen Ojibway Nation (SON) held two days of Truth and Reconciliation ... "Minjimendaamin" or "We Will Remember". The weekend was part of a national healing to recognize the sad legacy of residential schools throughout Canada.

Every red ribbon seen here represents a
residential school child of Saugeen and
Cape Crocker First Nations.

In the 1800s, the Canadian government thought it best that the country's aboriginal peoples be educated and assimilated into the European way of life and established schools that would do that by completely abolishing everything "native" in the children.  An aggressive assimilation program saw government agents remove children, aged four to 16, from their homes and taken to the new boarding schools.

Although federally operated by the Department of Indian Affairs, the schools were given over to churches for supervision. All native children were forced to attend.  They were given no choice.   In the beginning, approximately 1,100 students attended 69 schools but, by 1931, there were 80 schools in Canada and then, finally there were approximately 130.

Almost 150,000 aboriginal, Inuit and M├ętis children were eventually taken from their homes.  Many experienced severe physical and sexual abuse. They were also forced to speak either English or French and, if caught speaking their first language they would be severely punished.  The children of residential schools lived away from home for 10 months of the year in below standard living conditions and, once they returned home, they no longer spoke their native language or understood family ways.

Siblings from the same family would be separated from each other by gender and students often became ashamed of their native heritage. Saugeen First Nations had 90 children removed by the government and taken to schools on the north shore of Lake Huron and to Manitoba. Some returned home, some did not -- they died at school. On Saturday, red ribbons for those children removed from Saugeen and Cape Croker homes were tied on cedar trees that will be planted in their memory.

The government has, over the years, worked with the Catholic, Anglican, United and Presbyterian churches to design a plan to compensate the former students with a formal $1.9 billion compensation package being established.  As of April of this year, there were 75,800 cases with $1.55 billion paid out.

Acceptance of the CEP payment automatically releases the government and churches from any future liability relating to the residential schools, except in cases of severe sexual or physical abuse.  The two-day SON event featured many moving moments, including "honour drumming" and survivor stories by those brave enough to recount them.

Unfortunately, many survivors of residential schools still cannot talk about their experiences, let alone come out publicly to make an application for compensation.  In the end, what would the money buy them anyway and how long would it last?  Regretfully, no amount of money can ever buy back 
what was taken away.

Sad but true, I am convinced that the ill-advised government of the day actually thought that it was doing the right thing and what was in the best interests of the native children.  Lessons were learned the costly way. 

Talk about man's inhumanity to man...There has been far too much of it in the history of our country.  We certainly have nothing to be smug about as we continue to live and learn.
With thanks to the Saugeen Times

09 September, 2012


Ever since I passed myself off as a newspaper ad salesman in 1975 in order to attend a motivational seminar conducted by Zig Ziglar, I have been a fan of his.

"Zig" Hilary Hinton Ziglar is an amazing man. The 10th of 12 children, he was just six years old when his father died suddenly of a stroke. He began his career working as a salesman and transformed that career into a motivational speaking career with emphasis on Christian values.
Highly entertaining and with uplifting energy he remains a master story teller. He is now 86 years of age and still going strong.  His southern charm, common sense and sharp wit always come through in his stories that each offer great insights for a better life.

I recently picked up on a tape from one of his latest talks in which he used a hand water pump to illustrate what he termed "the story of life, the story of success."  Pumping vigorously on the pump, he empasized the need to prime it with a cup of water before ever expecting to get anything out of it.

"Just like in life, you've got to put something into it before you can get anything out of it," he added.  "If you pump long enough, hard enough and enthusiastically enough, eventually the reward will follow the effort and you will have more water than you can ever use.  Once that water starts to flow, all you have to do is keep a slow steady pumping action going in order to keep the water coming." he said. "The deeper the well, the sweeter, cooler and purer the water."

"We'll never know how many kids missed out on a scholarship because they did not study just 10 minutes more a day.  We'll never know how close we came to a promotion because we quit too soon.  We'll never know how much success we could have had if only we had pumped a little more."

He said there is a prevailing "reward me now and I'll produce later" line of thinking in society today.  "It just does not work that way.  You've got to put something in to get something out."

"Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly...until you can learn to do it well."

You have to think about that last line a bit but, as with everthing that comes out of Zig's mouth, it does make a lot of sense.

06 September, 2012


Peter Petrik lives just a few blocks from us on Grey Street South in Southampton.  In the summer months he is a regular on downtown streets with his pride and joy "Brindle", a Boston Bull Terrier.  Brindle, with her favorite red and white kerchief around her neck, rides majestically in the carrier of Peter's three-wheeled bike.  I simply could not resist sharing this photo.  I never get enough of watching Brindle.  She always makes my heart smile!  Thanks to the Saugeen Times.

03 September, 2012

Don't make this your "LAST" long weekend

It's Labor Day Weekend. The last long weekend of Summer.  Let's not make it the last long weekend, period.  Please be alert on the highways and biways, dear friends.

Labor Day weekend is one of the deadliest for drivers.

Since 60 per cent of people admit to driving while drowsy.  This is a major cause of accidents, so stay safe by having a good night's sleep before heading out on the road.  And of course, skip the booze, before you get behind the wheel.

This from Arrive Alive Canada:  "Writing to wish everyone a great safe, most awesome, last long weekend of summer. In the last long weekend of 2011 there were several serious, even fatal, crashes. This, despite the fact that everyone knows not to drink and drive! And we have been raising awareness to fight this cause since the late 1980’s.

"So...this long weekend, we are hoping for an empty-stretcher weekend with no injuries and no fatalities.  You are already helping us – but in case you need more ammunition to help us achieve our goal – here is some information to engage your followers and motivate them to plan ahead for a safe ride home and maybe stop a friend from driving impaired as well..."

One “over .08” drink drive charge and conviction (WITHOUT A CRASH) carries the following MINIMUM consequences:

Minimum (immediate) consequences for drivers when CHARGED with operating a vehicle with a BAC over .08, or refusing to provide a breath sample are: Immediate 90-day licence suspension. Immediate seven-day vehicle impoundment.

Minimum consequences for drivers upon CONVICTION of impaired driving; operating a vehicle with over .08 BAC; or refusing to provide a breath sample are:
  • Criminal Record
  • Minimum fine paid as part of federal consequences ($1,000)
  • One-year driver licence suspension (reducible to three months under certain circumstances)
  • One-year ignition interlock condition on reinstatement (“offender pay” about $1,350)
  • Back on Track program (alcohol assessment and education) (“offender pay” about $578)
  • Licence reinstatement fee ($150)
  • Increased insurance premiums ($5,000 annually x minimum three years = $15,000)
  • Legal costs (if retained; paid to your own legal counsel) ($2,000 - $10,000)
Repeat offenders face greater consequences and longer licence suspensions.  Impaired boaters face the same consequences as impaired drivers.

Note also that since May 1, 2009, Ontario toughened the consequences for driver with a BAC from .05 to .08. New consequences are licence suspensions from 3-30 days – the escalating sanctions include education and treatment and the six0-month ignition interlock condition (the occurrence is noted on your driving abstract).

Thankfully, most of us drive sober.  Certainly none of the above applies to any of my readers(?).  I'm just saying...

30 August, 2012



George Mogridge (1787 – 1854) was a prolific 19th century writer, poet and author of children's books and religious tracts.  I have written extensively on Wrights Lane about his "Old Humphrey" character.

George Mogridge
In 1833 The Religious Tract Society of London invited Mogridge to contribute "articles on a variety of familiar topics treated in a popular manner." Mogridge chose to write these under a new pen-name, "Old Humphrey".  He originally intended "Old Humphrey" to be no more than a pseudonym, but with the unexpected popularity of the articles, the public were soon keen to know more about "Old Humphrey", and the author's identity became a matter of popular speculation in the press. In response Mogridge began to imbue his pseudonym with the character of an elderly, kind hearted gentleman, responding to one newspaper's article, "Who is Old Humphrey?" with an enigmatic description beginning:

"If you see an elderly-looking man parting two passionate boys who are fighting; giving twopence to a poor girl who has by accident broken her jug, to make all right again; picking up a fallen child out of the dirt; guiding a blind man carefully across the street; or hesitating for a moment if an importunate beggar is an impostor or not and then deciding in his favour; if you see such a one, so occupied, he is not unlikely to be Old Humphrey."

The 'Old Humphrey' articles proved so popular with the public that Mogridge was eventually to write 46 articles and books under that name over a period of 20 years.

From the time I began putting pen to paper, I adopted "Old Humphrey" as my alter ego.  His homespun philosophy and unique 19th century writing style completely captivated me and I have patterned much of my work after him.  I have even concocted imaginary conversations with him.  In fact, I visited him during a quiet spell this evening and we chatted about  a number of things, most notably the "changing times".  Typically, it was a rather one-sided conversation -- me the listener and he the talker.

Knowing full well that I was touching a nerve, I marvelled at how much times have changed since Humphrey was a young man at the peak of his writing career.

"We're always talking about the changing times; but though we moralize much, I fear we mend but little," Humphrey remarked, almost scolding me for bringing up the subject.  "It seems to be kind of privilege, charter and birthright among aged people to praise the past times, and deplore the present.  The shadowy future is not so frequently the subject of conversation."

"In my day, the pulling down of old houses and the building of new ones; the deaths of old men; alterations in the customs and fashions that once prevailed, and the changes in opinions of mankind, have so altered the world that it is indeed other than it was.  We used to take matters quietly and move about more at our ease, but now bustle is the order of the day..."

I took the opportunity to suggest that older people, in particular, might do well to remember that they too are changing.  "You're absolutely right," replied Humphrey.  "My limbs used to be more active than they are; and my brow was once free from wrinkles.  Whether I regard it or not, these grey hairs tell a tale to which I ought to listen.  

"Have the years through which I have passed been many?  You bet, and the fewer then are those that remain to me and the stronger the reason for my thinking less of seasons gone by and more of those that are to come.  

"Let me, then, amid the alterations of the times and the sundry and manifold changes of the world, look to Him who changes not and fix my heart where true joys are alone to be found."

I'll be darned if you haven't done it again Humphrey.  Time stands still for no man, but It is never too late to seek spiritual stability in our lives and we do not have to look far to find it.  Hope you don't mind if I quote you on this, old friend.
"Thoughts for The Thoughtful" by Old Humphrey,  a book left to me by my grandmother Harriet (Peck) Perry.  It was given to her when she was "a little girl", approx. 1865.