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The past wasn’t always kind

1.   Sending children away from home for school.

   a.   In rural eastern Ontario during the Depression, both my parents were sent to another town for school

      i.   My mother (a farm girl) attended a one room elementary school about 2.25 km (1 1/3 mi) from their home.  In order to even out grade sizes, she was advanced a couple of times and finished at the age of 11

         She was shipped off to town at the age of 12 to attend highschool where she boarded by the week. One of her stories was when she went to a butcher to buy bacon, she was asked “what kind, back or side?”. Her answer was “I want if for my breakfast”.

      ii.   My father (from a merchant background) attended elementary school in a neighbouring (they’re now incorporated together) hamlet about 1.5 km (1 mi) from his home.

         He too was shipped off to the next town for highschool. One of his friends said they used to head off on Sunday evening (by sleigh in the winter) with their week’s supply of food to last until Friday noon.

   b.   Again in rural eastern Ontario, I worked with an up-through-the-ranks patrol supervisor. He’d started work right out of elementary school.  His family didn’t have the money to allow him to board in the “high school” town. School bussing was started the year after but he was working. 1949 was a year too late.

   c.   Sir John A MacDonald’s father wasn’t the most successful in business. The family ended up in Hay Bay south of the town of Napanee. When John was 10 they had scraped up enough money to send him (aged 10) off to school.

   Sending children away for schooling was not a foreign concept when Canada was being envisioned as a country from Atlantic to Pacific.

2.   Unmarked graves of children

   a.   My Father was born during the first world war.  He was the third child of my grandparents.

      i.   The first two lived long enough to be named. One was Barbara and I’ve seen a picture of her being held by her grandfather. The other was Ida.   My father remembers his dad in tears thinking about them.

         I know the cemetery and the general area where they’re buried but the graves are unmarked.

         I had living 5 uncles and aunts. The infant mortality rate in my father’s generation was 25%

      ii.   My grandfather’s family (again in eastern Ontario) suffered child deaths.  There were 5 (infant to 5 years old) who died between 1861 and 1876,

         Their names are inscribed on a 3 generation family monument; no individually marked graves.

         I had 4 great aunts and uncles. The child mortality rate in my grandfather’s generation was 50%.

   Infant and child mortality is sad, even gut wrenching. Unfortunately it was not uncommon. I was born at the end of the second world war and remember the fear of measles, mumps, whooping cough, polio and TB. It is during my lifetime that vaccination for these disabling and killer diseases became common. As a society, we’ve forgotten that life has perils.

The Plaidneck

The Great Outdoorsman

The other day, I saw the unfortunate image of the great outdooorsman (yes male)

I saw a vehicle pulling a trailer loaded with a side by side UTV

The vehicle was a crew cab Ford F 250. The added features that caught my attention were a wilderness scened full width mud flap. The picture depicted the bottom of a treeline and that treeline’s full reflection in a very still body (assumed it to be a lake or large pond) of water. It also had a back window decal of another wilderness scene. This one was a forest clearing with a couple of deer browsing on brush.

The trailer was decently built.

The trailer was carrying a sport model side by side Utility Terrain Vehicle (UTV), which appeared to be a Kawasaki KRX. The trailer was built to the maximum width and the UTV took most of the available width.

It appears that the outdoorsman, for his recreation, drives to his the terrain of choice in a vehicle using 17.5 l/100 km (about 16 miles/imperial gallon). When there he fires up and drives his small engined machine as a means of getting around. Although small engines are improving, they still don’t have the pollution control of an automotive engine. When finished, he will then load up and drive back home.

I live close to one of the local ATV trails. These machines aren’t quiet. When walking a trail, skiing or snow shoeing (in season) it’s amazing how much you take in by listening. The din of recreational vehicles diminishes that enjoyment. I wonder how much natural sound gets in through the CSA approved helmet?

One of the recommended ways of maintaining a reasonable level of fitness is walking. The simplest MO. is to walk about 30 minutes a day, every day.

So our great outdoorsman ??

The Plaidneck

Remember Francis Fox



Back in the late 1970s a federal cabinet minister Francis Fox got into trouble.

He tried to assist a friend obtain an abortion. My memory is that the father’s signature was required, but that person wasn’t in the picture. Although Minister Fox was just a friend, he chose to be helpful and signed instead. He was caught.

Mr Fox resigned his position as a federal minister.

This was true parliamentary practice. Err, own up, resign the position and take your chances.

Mr. Fox wasn’t caught abusing his position. He didn’t gain from the action. He was trying to help a friend. He still took full responsibility for the action (I think it was considered forgery on an official document) and resigned.

In the end, his political career was slowed, but not damaged. He was again appointed to cabinet, and, I believe, maintained a good reputation. I tend not to vote Liberal, but consider him a worthy representative of his (riding’s) people.


We have lost this ethic. Our politicians make equally bad (if not worse) choices and do not take responsibility. They defend, deflect and in a term we used to use where I worked tap dance and cling to their position

Their leaders also defend, and tap-dance. No wonder we the voters/citizens have little respect for those who purport to represent us.

I respect Francis Fox. I am either losing or have completely lost respect for our “leaders” who tout one thing and blatantly do the opposite.


It is time for our parliamentarianss to return to the earlier more honourable ethic of conduct.


The Plaidneck

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