Category Archives: essay

I will always remember

Saturday, the twenty-sixth of May, I had the privilege of attending the fifty-fifth anniversary celebration of the Lockerby Legion. As I sat there enjoying good fellowship among new friends, and old, an excellent meal, a few cold beers, and great entertainment, I took a little time to reflect on the ones who made, not only the amazing evening possible, but my freedom, and the freedom of every Canadian as well.

I owe our brave and gallant soldiers everything I have, for without their great sacrifice, I would not have the freedom to enjoy anything. I can do nothing for those whom have gone beyond the mysterious dark veil, but remember them, but I can speak out for the maimed, the wounded, the blind, and the lame.

I can try to shame our politicians, who sent them off to war, and then discarded them like trash, when they come back, missing arms, legs, and suffering from PTSD. I can hope and pray that they will give our soldiers everything they need, everything they deserve in order to put their shattered lives back as best they can. All of the shame, all of the blame doesn’t rest on the back of the government; we too carry our share, because we don’t speak out on their behalf.

I urge, no I beg everyone who reads this to write, or email your MP, and tell them unless they do something to help our wounded, our broken vets, and do it soon, that they better not come knocking on your door, asking for your vote when the next election rolls around, because you won’t give it to them.

To new Canadians, I bid you welcome to your new home, your new life, your new freedom, from whatever oppressive regime you came from. I ask you to pray,  at the rising and the going down of the sun for our soldiers who’ve been wounded, and who’ve died to provide you and your family with a fresh start. Without their gallant bravery, without their selfless sacrifice, you would still be suffering at the hands of some despot.

I urge you to embrace all that Canada has to offer, and not try to change our customs, or our faith. It is because of our inherent decency, because of our Christianity that we welcome you. I understand that you come from lands with different customs than we have, but before you start demanding that your wife and children have to follow the old rules, stop; reflect and ask yourself why you came to Canada in the first place. If your answer is, you came to have a better life for them, then let them embrace that better life. Let them enjoy every freedom that we have to offer.

If however you wish to cling to the old oppressive ways of your former country, perhaps you should consider returning to it, because it will be far easier to control your children and wife or wives there, than it is here. It will be easier to tell them how to dress, how to act, who to have for friends, and who your children are to marry as well.

If you stay here, you can expect that your girls will to want to be popular, want to wear makeup, want to dress the way Canadian girls do, and want to have boyfriends, because it is in their nature to do so.

Once again I bid you welcome, because you are, but only if you truly want to be a Canadian.

One last thought before I end this open letter. I make a promise now to the fallen, the forgotten, that as long as I draw breath, I will remember you. I will remember your great sacrifice, and be thankful. I also promise not to forget the soldiers coming home from another far off war, and do whatever is in my power to help them, even if it is no more than my poor attempt at writing poetry in their honour.

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Heads in the Sand

Tons of flotsam and jetsam, wending its way across the expanse of the Pacific Ocean have reached pristine Alaskan, and Canadian west coast shores, bearing unknown hazards, unknown risks, threatening to destroy fishing industries that have existed for decades , threatening the food supply, and the livelihood of first nations people, and whites alike.

Large buoys, small ones, buoys made from plastic, made from metal are flooding into inlets, washing up on sandy and rocky shores, and the worst of this rubbish, are the buoys made from Styrofoam, because small flakes falling off are ending up as dinner for the sea creatures at the lowest end of the food chain.

Without proper nutrition, they won’t have the strength to eluded larger predators, or have immune systems strong enough to fend off any disease this deluge of trash might carry with it, and in time, perhaps a short one, they’ll become extinct. This will have a catastrophic effect on the salmon, crabs, lobsters that depend on this food stock for survival, and in turn, it will deprive, whales, sharks, and even bears of sustenance.

It’s not as if this is an overnight phenomenon, because we’ve known about it since the tsunami washed over Japanese shores, smashing buildings, destroying villages, ripping fishing boats from their moorings, and dragging the resulting debris out to sea, as the contaminated waters receded.

To date, neither the American government, the Canadian government, or the Japanese government have come up with a policy or concrete plan to deal with this disaster, like all governments before them, it seems they’ve decided to play ostrich, stick their heads in the sand, or in some other place I won’t mention, and do nothing.

We the citizens of these three great countries have no reason to crow either, because we’ve sat idle on the sidelines, twittering away, playing our online games, texting meaningless messages, watching movies, indulging in other unimportant things, instead of protesting. Once upon a time people cared about the world around them, and made an effort to change things for the better. However, unfortunately for us and for the future it seems we’ve become nothing more than a self-serving, generation, intent on, bent on self-destruction.   It’s time for every one of us to pull our heads from the sand, or wherever else we’ve shoved them, and do something. At the very least we can write to our members of congress, write to our senators, write to our members of parliament, and let them know in no uncertain terms  how displeased we are with their inaction.

If a little brown-skinned man could free his country from the might of the British Empire,   without firing a shot, and a young black skinned preacher’s speeches ended segregation by peaceful means, just imagine how much we the people of three countries could change things, if for once we spoke out with one mind and one voice

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Filed under Article of Interest, essay, Literary, nature

Assault on our Canadian Identity

Another school board has decided to deny Canadian children the right and privilege of receiving a free bible because they want to appear politically correct, and not upset new immigrants whose faith differs from our own. The authorities seem to have forgotten that it is because of our Christian heritage, and only because of our Christian heritage that we welcome people of all faiths, all colours, and all cultures to our shores in the first place.

 

All we ever ask in return is that they respect our culture, our way of life and not try to make our country like the one they left.

 

During my working life, I have met many new comers to Canada, and when I’ve asked them what made them travel thousands of miles to a new land, and in some cases face dangers that I can’t even imagine, their answer for the most part has always been, “To provide a better life for my children.” This laudable motivation is something I understand, something most Canadians can understand, because for the most part this is what gets us out of bed in the morning, carries us through the work day, and brings us home at night.

 

But how can you provide your children with a better life when you still cling to ideals that limit their freedom to make their own choices when it comes to clothing, friends, marriage and religion. The answer is, you can’t, and as long as you live the way you always have, your children can never embrace or experience the freedoms that Canada has to offer.

 

Some of you or perhaps all of you who read this will consider me a racist, a bigot, but before you tilt your lance and charge away on your high horse, consider this for a moment, how many, if any non-Christian countries would consider opening their doors, stretching out the welcome mat for people of another faith? How many of them would permit us to practise our faith openly? Personally I believe the answer is, there aren’t any.

 

Canadians are the first to open their purse strings when disaster strikes anywhere in the world. We send our young men to fight and die for the freedom of others, and ask nothing in return. We are the first to defend the right of others to live and worship as they please. We do not deny anyone the right to pray five times a day, but we will deny our children the right to receive a free bible.

 

I feel that it is a privilege and a blessing to be a Canadian, and a large part of what makes us unique in the world is our Christian heritage. If and when we lose this, I wonder will we still welcome immigrants so warmly?

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My Sudbury

On an April day forty-years ago I became a permanent resident of Sudbury and an employee of one of the largest nickel producers in the world, Inco. My first sight of the desolate, moon-like landscape, red slag piles lighting up the night, and smoke pouring into the air from three stacks made me wonder what was I getting into, and I made up my mind to spend as little time as possible here.

My first day on the job, and my first taste of the flavourful sulphur dioxide gas that hung in the air of the smelter complex only heightened my resolve to shake the dust of this place off my shoes as soon as I possibly could. Fortunately events and circumstances kept me here far longer than I intended to.

Sudbury grew, changed and mellowed over the years that sped past me like a comet through the night, and I have changed with it, my dislike of this Nickel City has faded, and been replaced by a genuine affection, a pride in it being my home.

I love to walk through the downtown core, and gather inspiration for writing. Many of the old stores are gone, yet vague memories of Zellers, Kresges, Woolworths, Silvermans, the Nickel Range Hotel, and other places push through the many years. New business have replaced the old, and in some-ways have made the heart of the city more enjoyable.

As I pass by places like Frank’s Delicatessen, Respect is Burning, Simons Gallery Grill, Nibbler’s, my olfactory senses drown in the mouth-watering aromas drifting out every-time their doors open. Even the most jaded pallet must surrender to the promise of delectable delicacies offered up by friendly and lovely waitresses.

I have several favourite spots where I pass idle moments writing a new poem, a short story, or a chapter of whatever book I am working on. The Fromageri on Elgin is a delightful place to spend part of an afternoon, trying out cheese from around the world. Whatever my taste is at the moment, whatever my craving is, whether it is for a sharp cheddar, or something of a milder nature, it is always available, and to wash it down, a cold beer or a glass of wine does the trick
quite nicely.

On a warm summer day I enjoy stopping at Peddlers for pint or two of Guinness, and if my stomach grumbles when the delicious odours coming from the kitchen overwhelms my senses, all it takes to put things right again is a burger, a steak sandwich, or one of their other offerings.

Another gem, another oasis where I while away an hour or two over a hot coffee, and a delicate, delightful piece of pastry, is The old Rock on Durham, and sharing this building is The Grand Ciel Bleu, a French bookstore and library. Every time I look at the stacks and stacks of books, with their seductive covers, some written by local authors, I wish that I had of taken the time to learn Canada’s other official language.

One thing that always surprises me is that the place isn’t overrun with teachers, parents of French and French immersion children and bilingual students from our university and college.

I don’t believe for a moment that young people no longer read, or that parents and teachers don’t encourage their charges to read. Perhaps why so few avail themselves of this hub of Francophone culture, the plethora of French novels and magazines, is that they don’t know about it.

Beneath the hustle, beneath the bustle of this made over city, there lingers a touch of that mining camp, of that boom town I once knew, and I hope it is always with us, because it would be a shame to lose such an important part of our heritage.

The next time you are downtown, spend a little time exploring the many things that our beautiful city of Sudbury has to offer.

 

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Filed under Article of Interest, essay

The Charity of Islam

Death is running through Somalia like a weasel through a hen house, cutting a wide indiscriminate swath through the population and leaving weeping parents to bury their dead children. Don’t waste your tears on these unfortunate mothers and fathers, because in no time at all they will be joining their children in the bone yard.

In this blighted land on the horn of Africa, like so many other places, it is the young who are the first to fall beneath the grim reaper’s savage blade. I, who live in a land of plenty, a land filled with grocery stores bursting at the seams with fruit, meat, vegetables and other things too numerous to mention, can only watch in horror as this human tragedy unfolds, and wring my hands at the senselessness of it all.

There is no need for all these people to die, not in this day and age anyway, because we have the means to halt this famine in its tracks. There is plenty of food, water by the bucket full, and medicine by the boat load to be given to these unfortunate wretches. What is lacking, or seems to be lacking is the political will to do anything about it.

I don’t mean the will of the western countries, the Christian nations of the world, because they are doing their part. All across North America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, people are sending in their pennies, nickels and dimes. Food, water, medicine are piling up in warehouses and being shipped to Somalia, and this is where the flood life’s necessary things comes to a crashing halt.

The rebels, the Islamic fundamentalists, the ones who are fighting for control, the ones who want to be the next government are preventing aid from getting to the people they want to rule. The Ironic thing in this senseless catastrophe is that the rest of the Islamic world doesn’t seem to care. Not the African league, because though the world food bank has only a three week supply, they do not intend to meet until two weeks from now.

They wealthy Arab nations, with mattresses overflowing with oil money seem to be keeping their purse strings drawn and their pockets buttoned tight. I can’t understand their silence, their reluctance to reach out a helping hand to their Muslim brothers, sisters, sons and daughters. Where is the Red Crescent in all this? Have they taken an extended vacation until eleven million people die?

What is keeping them from doing the right thing? Is it because the ones who are starving are Sunnis, and the ones with the shekels are Shite, or vice-versa? Even if that is the case, why should it matter? Isn’t Mohammad the prophet of both sects? Isn’t Allah the one true God of Sunni and Shite alike? Is this difference in belief worth bickering over when, so much is at stake?

Personally from the outside looking in, I don’t see why it even matters. Such small details are always unimportant to a Christian. We too have our theological divisions. There are so many different Christian faiths, that most of us would be hard pressed to name them all, and each one of them practices Christianity in a different way. But when it comes down to one group needing help from another one, we put are differences aside and do all in our power to help our Christian brothers and sisters.

Why is it that every time a world calamity like floods, earth quakes, tsunamis, fires and famines occur, it is the Christian nations of the earth that are expected to give until it hurts? The Arab nations, or at least most of them have the means and money to send soldiers in to quell the rebels and provide safety for the aid workers, so why don’t they. After all it is followers of their religion who are suffering and dying every day.
I have an answer to the above question, but I have no intention of telling you what it is. I prefer to let you do a little leg work and find it for yourself. Here is a clue, the answer to this question can be found in the pages of the New Testament, as well as so many other worthwhile things.

Before I climb down from my soapbox, I have a question for Muslims around the world. When you stand before Allah on judgement day, and He asks why you didn’t do everything in your power to save the Somalia’s from starvation, what will your answer be?

It is not my intention to cast disparaging remarks at the Islamic religion, or to question its beliefs, because Muslims are entitled to practise the faith of their choice in their own way. What I want to know is how so many people that have so much money can stand by without lifting a hand to help those less fortunate than they are, no matter their belief, the way most Christians do?

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Filed under essay, famin, hungar, neglect

What then is Love

What then is love, is the question of the ages, and is asked time and again by philosophers, by the wise, by fools and common man alike. It is on the lips, in the hearts and minds of Kings, courtiers, rich and poor. We dream about it, right poems about it, pine when we are without it, drive our selves crazy when we have it, yet does anyone of us really know what it is?

We all know the Hollywood version, because we have seen it time after time on the silver screen. It goes something like this, boy meets girl, boy wants girl. Boy and girl rip the clothes off each other, spend a torrid night of love, and live happily ever after. Nice gig if you can get it, but for the most of us it is never quite that way, never so cut and dried.

Love is a much deeper mystery than this; at least I believe it is. We’ve all been struck down by the arrows that cupid indiscriminately shoots among the crowd. We’ve all felt that first exhilarating rush of chemicals that starts our hearts beating like a trip hammer, that causes our palms to sweat, that make us invincible, and feel ten feet tall. We promise undying devotion to the dear object of our affection, build castles in the sky, and plan out our lives down to the smallest detail.

For a while we live in the fantasy of our creation, look at our love through rose-coloured glasses, but when the first blush fades, and they no longer measure up to our exacting standards, we fall out of love faster than we fell into it.

We pine, we sulk, we drown our sorrows in alcohol, swear off of love for good, but this only lasts until once more we see a face or some other part of the anatomy that sets us off down the road of heartbreak again. Is love really no more than feelings of lust, the desire to possess, a fleeting obsession, or can it be more these mundane things?

If it is more than these things, then what is it? Let us begin our quest with the authority on so many things, the Bible, and the teachings of Jesus. You may believe He’s the Son of God. You may believe that He was prophet, a teacher or just the son of a humble carpenter; or you may doubt that He ever lived at all.

No matter your opinion of who He was or wasn’t, you can’t deny the wisdom of the words He was supposed to say, because they have stood the test of time. Among the many profound things attributed to Him, is this simple, elegant, eloquent statement, and I paraphrase it a little, “No greater love has anyone than the person who would give up their life for a friend.”

Think about this for a moment, “There is no greater love in the world than the love someone would have by sacrificing their life for just a friend. Profound and thought-provoking words, aren’t they?

As a father of two grown sons, I think I can speak for most parents, if not all, and say that we would give up our lives for our children, without any hesitation at all. I do wonder though, how many couples that believe they are totally devoted to each other would willing die for their partner?

I came face to face with this question when my wife was dying from cancer, when her body was wracked with pain and wasting away before me. It was then I fully understood the words of Christ. It was during that time, I began to understand a little of what love is.

As parents, we will always love our children, no matter what they do, no matter if the never live up to what we expect of them. How many of you who are reading this article can say the same thing about your spouse?

Willy Shakespeare had his two cents to add to the topic of what love is, and I quote, “Let us not admit impediments to the marriage of true minds. Love is not love which alters, when alteration finds. How many relationships have ended when one partner or both wake up one morning, take a close look at their love of twenty some years, and think they never knew them?

Human beings fall in and out of love at the drop of a hat, but how many really ever care to know what love is? How many girlfriends and boyfriends are best friends? For the most part it seems that a woman’s best friend is another woman, and a man’s best friends are his beer buddies.

It is just my opinion, but I believe that in a marriage, a man and wife should be each-others best friend. After all they spend more of their time together than they do with anyone else, at least they should.

Here is another relationship question. How many couples genuinely like each other? This may seem an odd thing to ask, but think about it long and hard. Do you like the person you are married to? Personally I believe that it is just as important, or perhaps more important to like the one you are with as it is to love them.

It is a shame, but true, most people will put up with more crap from a friend than they will from their partner, and many friendships last a lifetime, but many marriages don’t. It is also true that most people like their friends and enjoy spending time with each other, while many married couples can’t stand looking at each other, and get their kicks by provoking fights.

Falling in love is delightful, wonderful and an experience we should all have at least once during our lives, but love is a thing that lingers long after ones partner dies. Love is selfless, more a knowing than a feeling.

As I end this, I have one bit of advice for you dear reader. The next time you fall in love and think about getting married, ask yourself these questions. Do I like this person? Is he, she my friend or are we only boyfriend, girlfriend?  Would I give up my life for this person? If the answer is no, or don’t know for certain to anyone of these questions, then perhaps they aren’t the right one for you.

Kisses are far sweeter
than the nectar
from a honeysuckle vine,
far more intoxicating
then any kind of wine.

Our lover’s gentle touch
sends shivers of ecstasy,
of wondrous anticipation
racing up our spine.

Loves new flames
burn brighter, burn hotter
than the fires of the sun.
Being in love consumes us
with its overwhelming desire.

We give into our needing,
to our hunger for each other.
We build our own world.
We build fairy castles in the sky.

We laugh as we lie,
encompassed by each other’s arms.
and when one of us is hurting,
both of us will cry.

But cruel time passes,
Bright warm flames dim,
until only a few embers glow.

Yet deep, deep within
there is a joyous remembering.
Though our memories fade,
love light still shines bright
in our lover’s eyes.

Love may be quieter now,
and yet its strength
still binds two as one.

Now at the edge of ending,
one may at long last wonder
what then is love?
Is it passions bright, burning flame?
Is it moments of glory,
moments of tenderness and lust?

Or is it that which now remains,
after age has cooled the fevered brow?
The answer lies before us,
waiting to be discovered.
Its sweet meaning at last revealed,
to those who are forever lovers.

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Filed under essay, Literary, narrative, non-fiction, Poem

Vancouver Sunday

I caught my first glimpse of that beautiful city by the sea on a mid-April Sunday. My great journey into the unknown had brought me far from my northern Ontario homeland, still clutched fast by winter’s chill hand, brought me through the Canadian Shield, over pancake flat prairie land, through passes surrounded by rugged snow peaked mountains, along the Fraser River Valley, past Hell’s Gate and into summer.

Bright blooms of flowers I never knew existed decorated the landscape. Pretty girls in shorts, miniskirts, and colourful dresses were everywhere I looked, adding their own perfect beauty to the scenery.

The sweet music of bells form churches, from cathedrals peeling throughout the city, echoing back from towering mountains, with jagged peaks clad in snow, greeted me when I stepped off that greyhound into my new life. I think it was at that moment I fell in love with Vancouver, and fore ever after, when I hear bells ringing out, calling the faithful to worship, I am transported back to not only to my first, but all of my Vancouver Sundays. I have tried to put my feelings about those special days into the following poem.

Beautiful city
girded by mountains,
your soft sandy shores
brushed by the sea.

Church bells ringing,
echo back
from snow hatted mountains.
Sunday blankets you
deep with its grace.

I look down
from my perch
high on Grouse Mountain.
down through wispy white clouds,
sailing over your beautiful face.

Stanley Park,
sparkling emerald green
in the distance,
beckons me down
from my towering place.

I leave my eyrie,
descend from the mountains,
journey once more
across Lions Gate.

I wonder through wild woods,
stay in their fastness.
Birds sweetly singing
brighten my mind,
and all of my worries erase.

Time flows
like water, from
a spring on the mountains.
English Bay
sparkles with
frothy foaming waves.

Boats, with sails
coloured like a rainbow,
prance across the water,
dance towards me.

The face of the sun
touches the ocean,
setting a great fire over the sea.

I linger until
the final fingers
of flickering flames
ebb away on the tide,
linger long after
a haunting, melancholy
loon call, fades on the wind.

With regret I turn away
from fairyland enchantment.
My mind fills with wonder
of this Vancouver Sunday,
as I walk east on Hastings.

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Filed under Article of Interest, essay, narrative, non-fiction, Poem