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Tossing Pebbles in the Stream

This blog is my place to sit and toss pebbles into the stream. The stream of Life relentlessly passing before us. We can affect it little. For the most part I just watch it passing and follow the flow. Occasionally, I need to comment on its passing, tossing a pebble at it to enjoy the ripple affect upon Life's surface.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Happy Canada Day!

This is Canada's 142 year.

This video I thought was a cute celebrations of things Canadian, appropriate for today. I love the line about if you want to become a Canadian the first two things you must do is "Give up your gun , , , buy a canoe."

Below is an instrumental version of "O, Canada" with the lyrics in English and French printed on it. Over the years the lyrics have been dickered with. Over all I like the lyrics as being modest and celebratory of our vast country. I like that it is not filled with militaristic and nationalist references as so many National Anthems are.

At first I considered a rendition by Celine Dion. She began fine at first with respectful modest tones but later soared with lots of vocal coloration as only Celine can do. This might be appropriate in the land of "with bombs bursting in air",but it is too over the top for we more modest Canadians.

It is interesting to know that "O Canada", both the tune and the lyric were created by French Canadians. Here is it's history.

Canada's youngest region is Nunivut, the vast Arctic region of the Inuit people (this is redundant as Inuit means "the people"). Inuktitut is one of the official languages and spoken widely among the Inuit.

Below is a version of " O Canada" with the lyrics in Inuktitut in both the Latin alphabet and syllabics.

I trust everyone will have a wonderful Canada Day. It is good to live in such a beautiful country and be part of a Nation which has become so well respected in the World. By most international measure Canada is one of the best and most progressive countries in the World.

In our history, we have steadily improved as a country. We need to continue to hold ourselves to a high standard for there are many more improvements which need to be made.

May we always be to the "True North strong and free".

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

La Fete de Saint-Jean-Babtiste

Today is the historic holiday of La Fete de Saint-Jean-Babtiste. In Quebec it is now officially known as La Fete de Nationale du Quebec. It has been celebrated in French Canada since the French colonists arrived in the 17th Century. Over time it has been transformed from a religious holiday to a holiday of all things French to the special holiday for French Canadian Nationalists, a secular statutory holiday in Quebec. For some it is seen as an exclusive holiday for those who aspire for the creation of an independent separate French Nation. We were reminded of this when a few booed the couple of English speaking Quebec bands performed at a concert. Eventually it may come to be a celebration of Quebec culture which includes Quebeckers other than the Quebecois: the anglophones and allophones and the First Nations people.

The Quebec Flag

The Franco-Ontarien flag.

This flag was developed here in Northern Ontario and first flown at Sudbury University. Today in recognition of Franco-Ontariens and Saint-Jean-Babtiste Day it if flown over the Ontario Parliament Buildings.

The flag is in two parts, representing the two founding cultures. The green and white also stands for the two seasons of Summer and Winter. On the green panel is a fleur-de-Lys and on the white segment is a stylized trillium, the official flower of Ontario.

Today I am reminded of a discovery of mine a few years ago when I was doing work at the local museum. I was sorting through a box of material of an organisation with the initials OJC on it. It was little more than a few lists of names, of local families and some ceremonial banners. I asked around of the other people at the museum as to what it was all about and what did OJC stand for. No one seemed to know. Finally, I discovered on a scrap of paper "Ordre de Jacques Cartier."This was the name of the organizations to which these materials belonged. I had some difficulty finding out what kind of organization it was.

I was discussing this with a woman in our little village who had deep roots in the area. She is a bit of an amateur historian. Finally, she told me that it was a secret French Canadian organiztion. And, it would still be hard to find anyone who would discuss it with me. She told me of an older person in the area who she knew had been a member and he might talk to me about it. I never did locate him but in time I learned it was a men's organization, organized like a religious order. It was so secretative that some men did not even tell their wives that they belonged. It was connected with the French Catholic Church as most French groups were in those days, I imagine the priests had some leadership role or at least were very influential.

The OJC was an organization founded to promote French language culture: social, educational, political. It involved such things as helping a promising Franco-Ontarien student get to University to help organize and work in French language institutions: Caisse Populaire, (Credit Union), Richilieu Club ( social and philanthropic club), Saint Jean Babtiste Society, Association des Jeunnesse Francaises, Les Chevalier de Coulombe (Knights of Columbus). etc.

One needs to know that in 1926 French Canadians were a much oppressed group, treated as second class citizens in Canada. Even in Quebec, the minority English were the managers and the professionals while the French were the workers and labourers . Canada was still a predominantly rural country with most people working in farming, foresty and mining, particularly the French.

At a time when Canada had an official policy of cultural genocide toward First Nations' people, the French , outside of Quebec,(where they had some rights under the British North American Act, as to their language, culture an civil law.) struggled with the French language and culture officially discouraged. This too was a form of cultural genocide.The best example of this was Regulation 17 which limited the teaching in the French Language.

Canada was a very different country in 1926 than it is today. It was in this context that the OJC was founded to quietly promote the French agenda of the broadening of the acceptance of the use of the French language and recognition and strengthening of French culture.

The OJC was founded in 1926 in Vanier, Ontario under the leadership of Cure Barette. It eventually was established across Canada in French speaking area. It lasted until 1965. Ironically, it ended as an organization with the rise and militancy of the Quebec Separatists. Outside of Quebec the French Canadians decided they wanted to remain part of Canada. Over the years they had struggled and continued to struggle to win a place where they could be comfortable within Canada and maintain their French language and culture. They did not want to be part of a separate French Nation. To this day, French Separatists have written off French Canadians outside of Quebec as a lost cause, to be obsorbed by English Canada, that they should not waste their time over and try to speak for all the French Canadians in Canada. For them French Canada is Quebec.
Canada being declared a Federal bilingual and multicultural country under the leadership of Pierre Trudeau those French Canadians ouside of Quebec were rewarded. I suspect the work of the Ordre of Jacques Cartier behind the scenes had an important part to play. French institutions they helped create were ready to serve a growing and thriving French community. As an example in our area we have strong French institutions that serve all the people. I bank at the Caisse Populaire, I shop at the Regionale Cooperatif de Nipissing, and if I want to learn Spanish I would have to go to College Boreal. We have a French language high school, Franco Cite as well as a bilingual high school. Our small hospital serves us equally in French and English. When I sought some counseling I went the the L' Alliance. Retail stores are fully bilingual and of course there are French speaking social and philanthropic clubs. One would not dream of holding a public meeting without everything being done in two languages, even though virtually all French speakers are fully billingual. The spirit of the Ordre de Jacques Cartier group is reflected in all this.
While the OJC contribution to the evolution of Canada to what it is today may never be fully known I suspect without them Canada might not have become what it is and may have even split over the separatist forces.

That there was group in this rural area gives witness to the extent of it's influence throughout French speaking Canadians.

This is about the only book written about the OJC. It is only in French as far as I can find out. In fact, virtually all the important articles on the OJC are in French and in the archives of the French speaking Universities. English Canada knows little or nothing about this organization and its place in Canadian History.

For those who speak a little French here is a video of on L'Ordre de Jacques-Cartier from a recent broadcast of Panorama on French TV.

Note: I always feel I must apologize for dropping the accents on the French words. I cannot find a way Blogger will easily allow you to include the accents. I do recognize that the accents are important parts of the words. The only way I know I could include them is too time consuming. It requires the writing the accented letters on a page in Word, or another word processing program and then copy the letter from there and paste it into the Blogger text. If anyone knows another way that works I would appreciate hearing from you.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Catching Up

I have been shut down from the Internet for a weeks thanks to my problems with Bell Canada and AOL. I pride myself on being laid back and mellow but when it comes to these two companies I easily find myself ranting at them over the phone. Their tech people in India must think I am a crazy person. The only other times I have become a crazy person was when I jumped to the defense of Parker, when he was little. I remember at these two occasion: one facing down a Principal of a school and the other taking a strip off a doctor. Perhaps, more about my latest rant later.

Someone asked me to post a picture of the Lilacs when they are in bloom. Well here is the one on the east side of the verandah which gets the morning sun. It is doing a little better than the one on the other side of the house. They smell so nice this time of year. We also have a small white one which is blooming for the first time.

Here is a sad bit of news. I may cut a nice bouquet of Lilacs and sent them off to Dave in the hospital. My friend, Dave, who shares my house along with his wife, June is in the hospital. He has begun the process of dying. Dave is 87 years old and for a couple of weeks he has slept a lot and stayed in his room. He went off his food and drink and finally when he began to get dehydrated June called the ambulance to take him to the hospital. June finally realized that she was not really able to cope with his conditions. I had been prodding her for a few days to take Dave to see the doctor. Well! his organs are failing. His kidneys don't function any more and his heart is very weak. He is very weak and stays in bed. He also is not always fully aware of everyone. The doctors have told us they will keep him comfortable but do no heroic efforts to interfere with nature taking it's course. June is comfortable with this. So we wait.

Prior to this past week, my pig, Ruby, the one on the right, the Red Duroc pig, (you cannot tell by her colour for the two of them have been lying in a mud hole to keep cool.) went for another walkabout. She was gone for a whole week. It was 4 days before anyone called me to tell me they had seen her. Every time someone called and told me where they saw her I went to look and could not locate her. She was somewhere in the neighbour's hay field on the other side to his pastures with all the electric fencing. I figure Ruby got over there and could not find her way home around the fencing. Being a herd animal I figured she was spending some time near the other animals in the pasture; cows and calves, horses, the donkey and the Llama. I did see a spot along the fence where she had laid so I went over at 4:30 one morning at first light thinking I could locate her. No Ruby! Finally, my neighbour, began to relocate his animals to the other pastures on the other side to me. He stopped and said the pig was coming down the road. He must have let her into the pasture where she could get out onto the road. I jumped into the car to find her just on the other side to the hill . No Ruby! I came home and as I got out of the car I called her in my classic, Arkansas Razorback call, Sooooooo. EEEEEEE! And there she was across the road, she had cut cross the bush side of the hill to get home. She is back in the field with Babe and seems content to stay for now. I hope this wandering is not a monthly quest for boar companionship? My neighbour just may find her a place in his freezer if she shows up there again.

(Click on the photo to enlarge)

Here is a pictute of my sister (two years older than I am) on her last adventure of hiking the Camino de Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage trek in Spain. She did not hike it all but did manage to do 190 km. She may go back and hike some more of it another time. In the picture, she is with her youngest son, Donald, who shared in her adventure.

Here is another old photo my son sorted out of my big box of photos. It is one of my class pictures. You may not recognize me for it was taken before I grew a beard. I was a bit of a
towhead back them. We certainly were not the snappiest of dressers back then. A lot of the kids were farm kids and we were all rural and of modest means. I am not sure what grade this is. . . .third grade perhaps. I don't see my best friends, Peter Clancy and Dickie Grebeldinger, in this photo and I think we were in the first and second grade together.

Peter and Dickie and I were fast friends up into high school. Peter went off to the private University of Toronto High School and Dickie and I muddled through the local Port Credit High School.

Sadly, Peter died in a motorcycle accident along with an other friend of ours, Joe Olexy, not far from our house. He was the first of many friends I had die from accidents before I was twenty.

Dickie is still my oldest friend., my American friend. They came from Montana. They were the only people I knew who owned guns. (Go figure!) There are tales to tell. It is a wonder we survived! We do not always see a lot of each other but when we do we just pick up where we left off with no apologies.This is how I know It is a true friendship.

My mother dressed me in beeches back them. We called them breeks. They were woollen and were cut like riding breeches, flared at the thigh and close fitting around the lower calf. There was a laced section to tighten them at the bottom Long socks were pulled up over them. How I hated wearing them! You would at least think if I had to wear jodhpurs, I should have at least been able to have a pony.

I am in the front row, the third from the left.

This posting is getting long so I will pass on my rant about the Bell Telephone Company and AOL. It could get really ugly and long.
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Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Some Family Photos

My son has been going through my large box of photos. (I have never to been good at keeping things in good order.) Unfortunately, most of my photos of my youth are on slides. So far I don't think you can go from negatives to digital positive photos on a personal computer, yet. Perhaps, I will have some of the best printed into photos. If I can get my scanner going, I may scan more pictures to save on the computer.

Parker just emailed the photo's below.

This is my maternal grandmother, Lavinia Beeston, (nee Whaley). I fondly refer to her as the little old Methodist lady. She was what is known in Britain as "chapel": not of the established Anglican church. My memories of her are as a kindly, quiet, gentle woman who always had some candy in her purse as a treat for us when she came to visit.

She had become a teacher when at 16 she was the best student in the class they made her the teacher. She always had little words of wisdom to teach us. I thinks this is where I learned such expressions as. "A penny saved is a penny earned." Take care of your pennies and your pounds will take care of themselves." "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all"." My favourite which I only heard once but found it memorable. "When you are feeling down, remember you are part of the British Empire!" (I guess she caught me at a depressed moment). Even at my young age I found this a little preposterous.

Not everything was postive, she held some negative views of the Irish, not uncommon for her generation. It has tainted my view of the Irish which I have tried hard to resist all my life.

My grandmother and grandfather came to Canada from England in 1903. To do this they left three of their children behind until they got established. My mother and her youngest sister were born in Canada. We were all British subjects, myself included. It was not until the late '40's that Canadian citizenship was formalized. It took my grandmother about thirty years and three trips back to England to finally decide she was a Canadian.

My grandparents successfully had, and raised, five children, a son and four daughters. My uncle, Charles Beeston became an architect and moved to the US marrying an American. This is where I came to have American relatives, which now includes cousins, second cousins. my brother and his family and even my son Parker, who was born in Cambridge, Ma. and holds dual citizenship.

My grandmother died when I was 12 or 13, I think. Her death was a kind of coming of age event for me as I was asked to be one of the pall bearers, along with adult men of the family. Her death was the first of many deaths of close friends I experienced at a young age. My teen years, dealing with death, I think contributed to my interest in religion and ultimately, the ministry.

This is a picture of the three of us: my little brother, Richard, 3 years younger; my sister, Penny, 2 years older, and me. I think I was 9 or 10 here. I just remembered that this was taken when we travelled to Connecticut to visit my Uncle Charlie. My cousin Jane took this picture. This was a great adventure for us a year after my father learned to drive. We crossed New York State on Route 20, for there was no New York Thuway. I remember Howard Johnson, Chicken in the Basket, and Burma Shave ads along the way.

My parents had a first girl child, who died as a SIDS baby. I was always vaguely aware of this. My parents did not talk much about it in front of us. My sister, the replacement child, was more affected apparently.

(click on photo to enlarge)

This is my mother, Bessie Robinson, (nee Beeston) elegantly sitting on our front stoop. She was in her early 30's . She was a wonderful mother, who has affected me more than anyone else.


This was the modest house I grew up in. My parents bought it for $8,000 in the late forties. They paid in off over 20 years at 4% interest. I am not sure who the kids are . My sister, with the pigtails is standing and the tow- headed one is my brother, Richard. The older person seated could be my Aunt Billie, my mother's youngest sister.

There next house, a more stylish ranch style house, was on the street behind, which you cannot see though the trees as the street had not been put through by then. Our house was in the woods and really quite rural. We lived here for several years without a car. We walked. I can still remember as a very young child coming out to the house with my father when it was being built and walking two miles up to Cooksville over the electrical permit and then two miles back to the house. My father walked the mile to the train to go into Toronto to work as an electrician. We came to attend the Presbyterian Church because we had a neighbour who offered to drive us.
Otherwise. we would have gone to the United Church. (the union of Methodist, Congregationalists and half the Presbyterians in the '20's)

This was a great place to grow up with the woodlands to explore in. My sister even got lost in it once. As more families located in this area there were lots of baby boom young children in our neighbourhood.

We never worried about safety. Our house was never locked and we came to roam widely to play in creeks and the river and even down in the small town of Port Credit, on the lake. Our walk to school was 1 or 1 1/2 miles. My first day of school I fearlessly walked home at noon thinking it was over for the day. Sadly, it was longer and I had many years to go. I don't ever remember being afraid of strangers. I still am not. My first reaction to strangers is curiousity. My experience and my mother's open acceptance of people different from us has left its mark on me.

It is interesting how a few photos can refresh one's memory.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Heidi's New Friend

I have been absent from blogging lately due to having to have a new operating system installed in my computer. I was suffering from "shrinking free space" on my hard drive. I did all the tricks I knew, and could research, to increase the free space, to no avail. I even got rid of some important programs on the computer in order to gain enough space to do emails and the occasional blog entry.

I don't know enough about this aspect of my computer to fully understand it. I finally decided that I had a lot of malware on my computer that was shrinking the space and slowing the computer down. A trip to the tech guy was in order.

I have an illegal version of Windows XP. It was installed once when I had a friend of a friend work on my computer. When I told him, the Tech Guy he said my problem is probably being caused by Microsoft which must be installing malware to corrupt my system and force me to buy a legal copy of their operating system. He also said he would not install any illegal software. Well they won. I did: I paid for a copy to Windows XP. Yesterday, I finally got my computer back and I have been customizing it to my liking ever since.

I have had several ideas for blogs in the last while but as time passed they became less topical so I probably will not post them.

I did want to do something for the 65th Anniversary of D-Day but that got past me, too. I did spend yesterday reading a bit more about this history and watching some of the tributes on TV.
The focus of the Canadian effort on that day was Juno Beach. There is an interesting Canadian Museum there and of course, the Canadian War Cemetery
It is a little annoying that the Queen was snubbed by not being invited. It is hard to imagine someone accidentally doing this. The British Royal Family had their finest hours during the war. They stood their ground, stayed with their people and did what they could to inspire and rally the people. Even the princesses, Margaret and Elizabeth, worked to help the injured.

I was also surprised, and disappointed, that Prime Minister Harper went to Normandy for the occasion. He is just Canada's government leader. If you follow what is going on with the British Parliament Prime Minister's are just functionaries that can be sent packing at any time. I think it would have been more appropriate to have the Governor General, The Right Honourable Michaele Jean, represent Canada.

For those who are a students of history the Archives of the CBC is a wonderful place to listen to the old radio broadcasts during the war as well as radio and TV programs about the war. They are all fascinating and a great resource.

I particularly find the German prisoner of war camps in Northern Ontario an interesting story. German prisoners were treated rather well and security was light for to escape a prisoner would have to survive the cold in Winter and the biting flies in the summer. Few prisoners wanted to escape, their war was over and life was pretty good in the camps. Many former prisoners returned to Canada later as landed immigrants. The camp in Kapuskasing was particularly remote. I often wonder what the German prisoners thought when the train passed though our northern town of Swastika
It is too bad none of these camps were maintained as museums. Like most building and town in the North, when they have lost their purpose they are torn down. We have lost so many interesting ghost towns this way as forestry and mining operations (and prisoner of war camps) have moved on. Our history is hard to find and appreciate sometimes.

Here are some pictures of Heidi for those of you who enjoy my lovely dog. A small black cat has decided that Heidi and she could be friends. It took a while. At first, Heidi would move or even relocate if the cat got too close. Occasionally, she would vocalize a low throaty sound of warming.
Finally, she came to just ignore the cat.

Black Cat began by just trying to sleep close on the outside.

Then she decided it was safe to rest her body up on Heidi.

Now, like an old married couple Black Cat likes to spoon herself in tight against Heidi.

When outside this little cat comes over and rubs herself against Heidi's legs. I am not sure Heidi share this affection but is willing to accept it. And whenever Heidi takes up her position on the chesterfield it is not l0ng before Black Cat is there too.