Sunday, December 31, 2023

No, Arthur wasn't called "Canada's Most Patriotic Village", at least not in 1942

 I did a story in 1995 for the Toronto Star about Arthur, Ontario (p. A10, August 4, 1995) - it was holding a Homecoming for WWII veterans, and people there were saying that the Star had called Arthur "Canada's most patriotic village" - I look at the November 2, 1942 front page story and it only called it "patriotic" - my editors put in that the press had called it "Canada's Most Patriotic Village", although I could not find any contemptorary reference to it being called that, but that was what they were putting on the plaque that day.  Some internet chatter yesterday reminded me of this.

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Dottie enjoys Boxing Day.

Dottie enjoys a sunny Boxing Day

Friday, December 22, 2023

No, a woman didn't ride in a hearse smoking a pipe in Quebec City.

The story of a live woman in a hearse riding around and smoking a pipe in 19th century Quebec City that's been circulating on the Internet for a few years likely never happened. The sole source for it is from The Illustrated Police News, a sensational Victorian newspaper published in England that reads like the Weekly World News - fiction and fact mixed together. The short article gives no source for their story, no date and no name for the woman.

The Société historique de Québec (Quebec City Historical Society) called it "Fake News" in a Facebook post  after having searched all Quebec newspapers from several years of that period and finding nothing about it. The mystery woman's actions, as well as the owner of the hearse, would have attracted a lot of attention, and probably legal action. The street they were supposed to have driven on leads to the Cathedral of Notre-Dame, the oldest church in Canada, and they could easily have faced criminal charges. Professor Brigitte Garneau, who has written several books on the funeral industry in Quebec in the 19th Century, said she has never heard of it.

The churches were powerful in Canada - in the 1880s, at the request of the local curate, two shopkeepers were charged in Montreal after putting reproductions on display of statues by Michaelangelo, Night and Day, two nudes which are on the tomb of Giuliano de Medici in Florence. Jehovah's Witnesses were prohibited from distributing tracts in Quebec City (see Saumur v. Quebec City) in the 1940s and even as late as the 1950s Elvis was banned from performing in Montreal at the insistence of the church. One of my teachers told me that in 1950s in Toronto that the police would show up to disperse kids playing ball on Sundays because that was against the law.

April 11, 1872, "The Illustrated Police News
 London, England 

"A Quebec Woman Creates a Sensation, Riding Through St. John Street in a Hearse, Reclining on the Coffin-Bed, and Smoking a Pipe.

What will women do next to distinguish themselves, we wonder! A female in Quebec, the other day, perpetrated a ghastly joke, mocking death in his own domain, by lying down in a hearse and smoking a pipe in a funeral chariot was driven through the street.

If this exhibition had been made in the United States, our neighbours at the North would have made it the subject of very strong animadversions."

The "What will women do next..." is obviously refering to the growing women's suffrage movement, aimed at getting the vote for women in the UK. Quebec women were the last in Canada to get the vote, in 1940.

I'm nor sure what the last line refers to - perhaps it's a joke about some event that was current at the time.

Sunday, December 17, 2023

Halloween Decoration at Christmas

You don't have to take down your Halloween decorations! Giant skeleton as Santa. Lancaster, Ontario


Thursday, December 14, 2023

Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Algoma Equinox upstream


Algoma Equinox upstream, December 5, 2023, 1.30 PM. Just discovered my Micro SD card was counterfeit and only held 2 GB rather than the 32GB it had marked on it, and so had trouble getting this image off!

Monday, December 4, 2023

First snowfall


No, Elizabeth Taylor didn't have a 'double row' of eyelashes.


Elizabeth Taylor in classic eye makeup as Cleopatra

Actress Elizabeth Taylor was famous for her violet blue eyes and smoky eye makeup, but a claim has been circulating for several decades that she had a 'double row' of eyelashes on her upper and lower eyelids. Her lifelong friend Roddy McDowell said of her "Who has double eyelashes except a girl who was absolutely born to be on the big screen?” and in Slate in 2011 it was suggested that she had a mutation of the FOXC2 gene, which can cause this condition, called distichiasis.  It is associated with more serious conditions including congenital heart defects. Taylor died at 79 from congestive heart failure, but I could not find any reports it was due to a congenital condition. Close up photos of her eyes show only the usual single row of lashes. The second row of eyelashes in distichiasis grow from the meibomian glands that provide lubrication for the eyelids, and often grow inside of the eyelid, not outside, an uncomfortable condition that can require surgery. Medical article on the condition which has illustrations that may make some readers uncomfortable. An acquaintance has this condition and did go for surgery once but now just pulls them out herself.

Sally Morrison, Ms. Taylor's publicist, told me "...though the "double lash" story was widely repeated, I do not think it was true.  From my perspective it was likely propagated by a studio publicist early in her career!"

Saturday, December 2, 2023

Last Pogo 1978-2023

Riled up after watching The Last Pogo (1978).

Stacey showed a 16mm print of The Last Pogo - it was a punk show in 1978 at the Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto, the last punk show for a while there that ended in a small riot. I was the only one in the room old enough to have gone to it! I think I even knew it was going on, but I didn't go.


Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Last passionfruit of the year

Last passionfruit off potted passionflower - I got four this year - I brought it indoors and let it ripen until it fell off. Tasted good. I don't know what variety it is - I bought it at Canadian Tire and it didn't have label.


Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Technology Memories - Pocket Fax

 In the early 90s I saw a CITY-TV news crew with this little cellular fax viewers - a small box like a slide viewer which were like this, but had a screen inside:

Credit: In Memoriam: Gilles Péris y Saborit,

It probably worked like the Faxview, made by Bolton Engineering in 1997.

They could receive faxes from CITY-TV and read them on it. CITY-TV was big on cutting edge technology and had an online presence years before other channels.

Saturday, November 25, 2023

Thursday, November 23, 2023

Raven's Roost

Ravens roost at night in huge colonies in the winter - I don't know why some are sitting on the ground - some would fly up into the trees - they have a social structure and they may be waiting on the ground for their sleeping mates. They also are thought to exchange information on good scavenging places, and they make lots of noise before they go to sleep.


American bittersweet, orange berries, Summerstown Forest

Orange red berries, American bittersweet, Celastrus scandens, a climbing vine, Summerstown Forest, near Williamstown, Ontario.


Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Rites of late fall - septic tank installation


Sunny day, bright yellow crane, putting in a new septic tank before the ground freezes.

Saturday, November 11, 2023

Two Women at War

John McCrae's medals at his house in Guelph, Ontario.

Nov 11, 2023 - Our teacher taught a drafting class for adults. He told us a story: he said he was walking in the countryside with a friend and talking to him. He turned away, and when he turned back his friend was lying dead on the ground. It was World War II, and they were Canadian soldiers in northern Italy. Everyone else hit the ground. There was a small hut in a field a distance away from them, and that was the only place a shot could have come from. They all hugged the ground until a machine gun was set up and filled the little hut with bullets. When they got into the hut they found a sniper’s rifle next to a beautiful blonde woman in a dress who the machine gun had cut in half. They found nothing there that could tell them who she was or why she’d chosen to end someone’s life as well as her own. Was she an Italian who still was for Mussolini after Italy had changed sides, or a German following their army which had moved into northern Italy?

The other woman was in her 60s when I danced with her at a party at Tai Chi club in Guelph around 1982. I said I’d been to Dún Laoghaire, a suburb of Dublin, and she said she used to dance at the Royal Marine hotel there. She asked me if it was still there. I think she hadn’t been back to Ireland since she left to join the ATS and became a physical education teacher for the British Army, drilling soldiers in exercises. She told me she joined the British  Army because "I felt that the Nazis were absolute evil and I wanted to do something to help”, even though Ireland was neutral and soldiers who left the Irish army to fight for the allies were blacklisted for government jobs and were worried they could be sent to prison after the war. She stood straight but flexible like a spring as we danced.

Sunday, November 5, 2023

Comedy Night

Simone Holder, MC Tavis Maplesden and lead Bobby Knauff.  Yuk Yuk's comedy night, Joel Steele Community Hall, Winchester, Ontario. it was so strange to see comedy in the exact same place as I did in 2019 just before Covid-19 shut everything down. Everything was the same but my mother is gone and Krystal, who I didn't know well then, is gone after a terrible last few years of life,

Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Happy Halloween

Pumpkins on Bridge, Martintown, Ontario

A Halloween Story

Once I was walking through an old part of Guelph that had been the centre of the Italian neighbourhood when there was still a lot of discrimination against them in the 1920s. A door was open to an old apartment building and there was a long wooden staircase that I could see going up inside it to the second floor. I saw something moving at the top of the stairs. It was a baby, floating in the air, bobbing up and down. I took a step forward and two yellow eyes watching me came into view. Another step forward and I saw they belonged to a black Labrador that was wagging its tail at me. It was holding a very realistic doll it its mouth.


In Cornwall:

Optimist Halloween party

Sunday, October 29, 2023

Eyes OK, flu vaccine, but not the new COVID-19 vaccine.

 Tried to get the latest COVID-19 last Friday but contrary to what the US CDC recommends, the pharmacist showed me Health Canada guidelines that said someone should only get the new XBB vaccine six months after their last Covid vaccine, so I could only get a seasonal flu shot. And right afterwards went to get my eyes examined. My mom had wet macular degeneration so I do the drops in the eye (ouch) and then photos of the retinas - they looked OK and the ocular pressure is good as well. Couldn't drive for hours and walked to Starbuck's to wait. The barista handed me my cup from the counter as I could not read my name on it. Feel a bit fluey, that's about it.

Saturday, October 28, 2023

Moon rise

Tonight's moon - unfortunately I was too far west to see the partial eclipse!


Thursday, October 26, 2023

Lewiston, Maine

Lewiston, c. 1915, via Wikimedia commons

 I know I've been to the LL Bean store in Freeport, Maine, but I think I went past Lewiston on my way to or from there. The name sounded familiar when I heard the news about the mass shooting there today. 19 people dead including suspect.

Monday, October 23, 2023

The late Chris Wilson's house.

Church converted into a home. It had a different design on the transom over the door in 1975 - as I recall it was sort of the silhouette of a glowing person. Chris Wilson was a very flamboyant gay man who taught at St. Lawrence College and who put on film festivals with Fellini, Bergman, Kurosawa, sci-fi. He gave me my first job, as a projectionist, and I showed Pink Flamingos at the age of 14! My parents should have been more attentive. This is where I took my first girlfriend on my first date. The interior had this amazing collection of things - thousands of LPs on the wall, crystal chess sets, posters, and Persian cats.


Friday, October 20, 2023

Early Halloween, Dollarama Store

I was very impressed that they arranged themselves into this composition for the photo!


MV Hamburg

Cruise ship MV Hamburg passes Stanley Island in St. Lawrence River bound downstream. Ship is on round the world cruise, including stops in Antarctica. PA system audible from shore, I think it's in German, English and French.

Thursday, October 19, 2023

Punaise de l'érable négondo, Boisea trivittata, Boxelder bug


Punaise de l'érable négondo, Boisea trivittata, Boxelder bugs swarming trying to find somewhere to overwinter

Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle looking over the St. Lawrence on a tree branch. Haliaeetus leucocephalus,  aigle à tête blanche, Pygargue à tête blanche


Monday, October 2, 2023

Saturday, September 30, 2023

Convenience Store Kitty


National Day of Truth and Reconciliation, 2023

The National Day of Truth and Reconciliation remembers things like the Residential Schools that took many native children away from their families and subjected them to abuse. 

Lamoureux Park, Cornwall, Ontario
Stomp Dance, Cherokee dance adopted by Haudenosaunee dancers

The wood of the black ash splits easily into long strips

which are woven into


Friday, September 29, 2023

Thursday, September 28, 2023

MS Hamburg in St. Lawrence Seaway

MS Hamburg in St. Lawrence Seaway - on cruise from Hamburg-Norway-Iceland-Greenland-Canada-USA-Antarctica-Africa-Istanbul Prices start from USD 43246 (double occupancy rates), for an 11 month tour.


Sunday, September 24, 2023

Dany Laj and the Looks

 Sept 22 - This was a nice antidote to the Peter Gabriel concert, which was depressing, in a huge arena, way too expensive, looking down on the stage and the rich people in the front row, and Gabriel acted like he was sick of doing concerts like this. 

Fun punk band!  Dany Laj and the Looks . Lead Dany Laj, bass Jeanette Dowling, drums Victor Tremblay-Desrosiers

Tiny venues are fun, Cornwall Stamp Co. - Rock & Roll Print Shop, owner Stacey Case, left

Everybody dressed like this at punk shows in 1977!

Saturday, September 23, 2023

Little Free Library, Cornwall, Ontario

Free Library, Cornwall Stamp Co. - Rock & Roll Print Shop, 1116 Paul St, Cornwall, ON K6H 6H5, Stacy Case, owner (seated) - Library is behind what used to be called Leduc Shopping Centre, now Maplewood Plaza and is set back from the road.


Friday, September 22, 2023

Toilet Paper Coffee Filter

I don't know why she's filtering coffee with toilet paper. It's not like filters were expensive. It was in the tourist area of Quebec City and there were no convenience stores nearby. Sometimes in 1988 or 1989.


Thursday, September 21, 2023

Quebec City roofs, late 80s


Roofs, Quebec City 

Quebec City has some of the oldest buildings made by European colonists in North America. 

Wasaga Beach, off season, 1991


Wasaga Beach, after season, c. 1991, probably 63 Beach Drive. Wasaga Beach is a resort town on Georgian Bay, Lake Huron. It's mostly people who can't afford to fly anywhere who go there, high school and college students. After the summer it gets boarded up and they don't remove the sand that blows in from the longest freshwater beach in the world.

Friday, September 15, 2023

Peter Gabriel

View from the nosebleeds at the Bell Centre, Montreal

 I went to see him on Sept 13 at the Bell Centre. Honestly, I didn't like it and left early - the seat was way up in the nose bleeds and on the edge so I was looking down from way up and the sound, although better than the old Forum which had a lot of exposed steel beams that made a cacophony of echoes, was still not that good, and I realized watching it on TV would be a lot better. Gabriel just looked like he wasn't that into what he was doing. I walked back to where I was parked along Dorchester (I don't want to honour evil) passing skyscrapers with pretty young women going in at night, I guess working with offices in Asia. I thought back to 1985 and it just seemed the same. A beautiful blonde woman walking barefoot in the rain along Sherbrooke.