South Keys Deserves Better

Headline writers in Ottawa need a lesson in map reading. The peaceful south end community of South Keys suffers all too often from media reporting of criminal activities occurring outside rather than inside its borders.

Case in point: South Keys double shooting kills man, injures woman. Thus blares the June 7 edition of Your Community Voice: Greenboro/South Keys, a journal that by its very name surely ought to know better. The story in question describes a May 27 incident in which a man tending a barbecue was fatally shot on Patola Private off Cahill Drive. This location is, however, in Greenboro, not South Keys, as it lies east of the Albion Road which marks the boundary between these two communities. So why didn’t this community paper call it a Greenboro double shooting?

Fall day in South Keys

Fall day in South Keys

This was but the latest of many media reports in recent years identifying violent crime activities with South Keys. It seems that reporters, either from ignorance or sheer laziness, like to use the term for anything that happens in the south end of the city,

One of the worst examples was an Ottawa Citizen story some years ago which proclaimed: South Keys, Bayshore areas top spots for gang activity, report finds. Few details were given in that city report but a police inspector attributed much of the problem to armed gang members’ involvement in distribution of crack cocaine and in prostitution of young girls. The report incomprehensibly identified the South Keys area as bounded by Bank Street, Heron Road, Russell Road and the railway right of way.

Wrong. First of all, South Keys is entirely south of the railway tracks that run east-west north of Johnstone Road. The name “South Keys Village” was coined by the Campeau Corporation in the mid-1960s to describe a housing development in the south part of the city between those railway tracks and what were then the southern city limits at Hunt Club Road. The South Keys housing development was entirely within a triangular piece of land bordered by Bank Street, Johnstone Road, and Albion Road. Heron Road and Russell Road are miles away! The Campeau property did include the site, on the west side of Bank Street, of the South Keys Shopping Centre which was not built until 1996. Development of the area east of Albion Road between Hunt Club and Johnston Roads was called Greenboro.

Sadly but truly, shootings and gang violence have erupted in once-placid neighbourhoods throughout the city of Ottawa, and many too close to home no matter where we live. Yet let those in our news media be carefully accurate in pinpointing where these frightening incidents occur. Just as residents of areas as prominent as Rockcliffe and Alta Vista would strenuously resist being named hotbeds of crime and violence, so too should lesser communities undeserving of such damaging generalities. Painting specific neighbourhoods without cause as hubs of violent behaviour is totally unwarranted and harmful to their reputation, let alone property values.

Relics of a Bygone Era

carbon papere cover sheet

carbon paper cover sheet

Nostalgia freaks among us may readily recognize these flimsy relics of that earlier age when the term digital meant something to do with fingers. Labourers in the media and communications world many decades ago resorted often to the use of this stuff – messy black carbon paper – to file away copies of their deathless type-written prose. Secretaries and stenographers were doubtless the principal users but many if not most reporters found them handy when they wanted to keep a copy of text for whatever reason. Letter writers, another nearly extinct breed nowadays, occasionally slipped in a sheet so they’d know what they had said when replies arrived.

carbon paper inky side

carbon paper inky side

Carbon paper is described by one authority as “thin paper coated with a mixture of wax and pigment that is used between two sheets of ordinary paper to make one or more copies of an original document.” Offices of all kinds used carbons constantly with manual typewriters and they only fell into disuse when replaced by word processors and photocopiers. Few if any lamented the loss, relieved of the often messy routine of inserting and removing carbons and filing of dark stained flimsies. (Yet the term cc still commonly used in correspondence to denote copies actually derived from the term carbon copy.)

In my early journalistic days, working primarily in radio and TV in Newfoundland, I had little practical need for carbons, but used them often to keep copies of my stories, since originals stayed with station management. Well did I appreciate this custom when, decades after abandoning journalism for the dark side of government communications and then retirement, I decided to write a book (Yesterday`s News) about my news media career. Being able to quote verbatim from carbon copies of dramatic news stories lent the narrative a base of authenticity which mere reminiscence could not possibly achieve.

Coming upon these unexpected carbon sheets in a seldom opened subject file, my thoughts dredged up a far less pleasant recollection of many miserable hours spent in a student days summer time job in Montreal. As a temporary clerk, posted from one Canadian Pacific Railway office to another, I endured a full week doing nothing but removing carbon paper from copious office files. It took hours every night to wash away those dirty carbon stains.

The Outlaw Nation

Isn’t it time for Canada and all other western nations to face reality and declare the United States as an outlaw nation with which diplomatic relations are no longer tenable? As long as that country is led by its power mad egomaniac President, it is impossible to conduct any reasonable interaction with the grotesque Trump regime, so let’s not even try.

We can only hope that the American people will realize before it is too late that their cherished democratic republic is rapidly deteriorating into a wildly untramelled dictatorship no less dangerous than the Nazi Germany of Adolph Hitler. Surrounding himself with far right zealots and ambition-blinded military leaders, the increasingly autocratic leader rejects all hitherto friendly allies while cozying up to despotic regimes in Russia, China and North Korea.

War Correspondents Memorial, Maryland

War Correspondents Memorial, Maryland

Chaotic outbursts on trade wars and G7 deliberations are but the latest in a mounting eruption of hostility toward all time honoured principles and practices of living in a civilized world. Insulting attacks on Canada’s Prime Minister on his first, and hopefully last, visit to Canada, testify to the shallowness of character of America’s political leader.

One can only pray for a latter day Martin Luther King to inspire massive demonstrations throughout the United States to denounce the destructive and dictatorial actions of the Trump regime. If there was ever a vital need anywhere upon the globe for regime change, that time has surely come for the United States, and indeed the entire world, to survive its present crisis.

A Little Bit of History

A small snippet of political history which has been in my possession for more than 60 years is outbound by mail this week to the Newfoundland Archives in St. John’s. Musty from nearly forgotten confinement in a filing cabinet, the folder contains meeting notes and correspondence on the 1949-50 drafting of a constitution for the newly formed Progressive Conservative Association of Newfoundland. It came to me when I served as acting Secretary of the Association in 1958-59.

Militant opponents of Newfoundland’s 1949 entry into Confederation and the Liberal provincial government led by Premier Joey Smallwood hastened to form the Newfoundland Progressive Conservative Party. While struggling to fight the Liberals in early elections, organizational efforts began with drafting of the new party’s constitution.

Documents show that preparations began with approaching the Dominion Headquarters of the Progressive Conservative Association of Canada in Ottawa, seeking copies of existing constitutions. National Director R .A. Bell complied with this request in letters March 18, 1949, to Hon. J.S. Currie, Editor of the “Daily News”, and Harry Mews, Manager, North American Life Assurance Co. He provided copies of constitutions of the P.C. Association of Canada and that of the P.C. party of Ontario which he said might be of some value to them. Other provincial parties also sent copies of their constitutions. Harry Mews, later to become Mayor of St. John’s, was the first Leader of the Newfoundland Progressive Conservative Party while Hon J.S. Currie was Honourary President of the Nfld P.C. Association.

The folder label reads “Constitution – 1st draft – Currie, Browne, Furlong.” Of particular interest in its contents are hand written minutes of the Consultation Committee of the P.C. Association held November 8, 1950 over the signature of Secretary A.B. Butt. Attendees, identified in the minutes mainly by surname, were Messrs (John T.) Cheeseman, John G. Higgins, (W.J.) Browne, (Frank) Fogwill, (J.W.) McGrath, Pinsent, Stick, (R.S.) Furlong, (Bill) Perlin, (Harry) Mews and (A.B. “Bert”) Butt. It was decided after discussion to produce a constitution for a provincial association rather than limiting it to a St. John’s organization. The minutes were written on Press Message form paper of the Anglo-American Telegraph Company Ltd.

Another hand written note dated Nov 5, 1950 listed by surname the following as P.C. Association officers:
Hon. President – Currie
President –           Cheeseman
Vice-Presidents   Duffy, Finn (?), Sparkes,
Secretary              Hollett
Treasurer             O’Dea

Members included McGrath, Dawe, Furlong, Doyle, Perlin, Mews. Harrington, Higgins. Fogwill, Fahey, Jackman, Browne, Higgins

Several of the participants later served in the Newfoundland House of Assembly or in the Canadian Parliament. R.S. Furlong became  Chief Justice of Newfoundland.

Something to Celebrate

Just a quiet dinner out marks a notable milestone for this family – the 50th anniversary of moving into out modest South Keys bungalow on May 28, 1968. There was nothing but mud covering the building lot surface as we gingerly stepped on rough boardwalk leading up to the front door. Not a blade of grass, nor any other kind of vegetation  was anywhere to be seen, and only a handful of neighbours. Our house was among the first group to be built in this new Campeau development. We were in fact the fifth family to move into South Keys, and the third on our street and, as some have moved on, we may have lived here longer than anyone else.

home sweet home 1968

home sweet home 1968

But we remember well that first day, moving in with a small apartment’s worth of furniture and two young children, though there was one consolation. The actual move didn’t cost us a lot. We had ferried a lot of stuff from our Henry Farm Drive garden home by car in previous days. Saving the big stuff until the last day, we hired a U-Haul trailer which was hitched to our bumper, paying the princely sum of $8.03 for eight hours use. Good friends pitched in with the heavy lifting of fridge, stove, washer and bedroom furniture, so the job was done in three or four trips.

Outside the house was far from ideal, surrounded by masses of that gunky mud caked with the disastrous leda clay that undermines so much of the local landscape. Kids being kids, however, made the best of it in outdoor play by grabbing up gobs of the stickier stuff to fashion crude but imaginative sculptural creations. Topsoil, front lawn sodding and other improvements followed eventually, while settling in chores whiled away a busy but enjoyable first year. Then barely within city limits, the south end community has bloomed into one of the capital’s more desirable neighbourhoods.

 

 

Foreign Stamps in My 1940s Collection

distinctive foreign stamp design

distinctive foreign stamp design

At the height of my short lived stamp collecting career in the 1940s, I had accumulated, not only some 5,000 Newfoundland stamps, but also a colourful array of stamps from 126 foreign countries. Unhappily, this entire collection disappeared following my departure from home in St. John’s to attend St. F.X. University in Nova Scotia from 1950 to 1952.

One memento survives in a hand written listing I put together of those countries from which I had gathered quite a rich cross section of colourful national stamps. Most were of the standard rectangular format, but a few countries had adopted triangular and other offbeat designs.

many French colonies issued their own stamps

many French colonies issued their own stamps

These were naturally among my favourites. See a few samples from a current on line catalogue.

triangular stamps are uncommonly attractive

triangular stamps are uncommonly attractive

It may be interesting to check how many of these countries have since changed names or been otherwise altered with the passage of time. Here is that list:

Abyssinia, Algeria, America (United States), Angola, Antigua, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Barbados, Bavaria, Bechuanaland, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, British Guiana, Bulgaria, Cameroons, Canada, Cayman Islands, Ceylon, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Cuba, Cyprus, Czechoslovakia, Dahomey, Denmark, Dominica (British), Dominican Republic, Dutch (Netherlands), Dutch Guiana, Dutch Indies, Egypt, England, Equador, Finland, France, French Equatorial Africa, French Overseas, Germany, Gibraltar, Gold Coast, Greece, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Italy, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Uganda and Tanganyika, Latvia, Lebanese Republic, Leeward Islands, Liberia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malay, Malta, Martinique, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Montserrat, Mozambique, New Caledonia, Newfoundland, New South Wales, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Northern Rhodesia, Norway, Oceanic Settlements, Orange Free State, Palestine, Panama, Paraguay, Persia, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Porto Rico, Portugal, Queensland, Romania, Russia, St. Pierre, St. Lucia, St. Thomas & Prince Islands, St. Vincent, Salvador, Senegal, Seychelles, Siam, Sierra Leone, Somali Coast, South Africa, Southern Rhodesia, Southwest Africa, Spain, Straits Settlements, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Tannu Tuva, Togo, Transvaal, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunis, Turkey, Uruguay, Venezuela, Victoria, Wallis and Futuna, Yugoslavia.

How many outdated country names have you spotted?

 

A Newfoundland Nurse in World War One

Alice Fitzgerald (top rrow) on nursing duty in France

Alice Fitzgerald (top row) on nursing duty in France

An intriguing photo of a Newfoundland nurse who served in the First World War is tormenting me because I can’t seem to find any details of her story. What I do know is that she was my Aunt Alice, my mother’s oldest sister, but I only saw her once when I was seven years old. In the photo above, she is in the top row among soldiers resting within the ruins of a war damaged stone wall, apparently somwhere in France.

Alice M. Fitzgerald was born in St. John’s March 22, 1885, the oldest daughter of William B. and Katherine (Hagan) Fitzgerald. Thus she would have been between 29 and 33 years old during the First World War. All that I have been able to confirm about her World War 1 nursing career is that she is listed in the Royal Newfoundland Regiment as a nurse from St. John’s but with no further information recorded. According to a heritage Nfld. account of Newfoundland and Labrador’s WW1 service, there were about 175 women who served overseas as graduate nurses or with the Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) – a corps of semi-trained nurses. So she was most likely one of those graduate nurses.

Alice Fitzgerald (from family Portrait)

Alice Fitzgerald (from famiy porrtrait)

After the war, Alice Fitzgerald married another Newfoundlander, Norbert Burke Dec 18, 1918, at St. Joseph’s Church, presumably in St. John’s.

They settled in North Sydney, Nova Scotia, where Norbert worked with Nova Scotia Steel Company, and raised one daughter, Frances.

Norbert Burke’s family lived in St. Jacques, Fortune Bay, and he too served in the war overseas, one of four brothers who volunteered for active service.

One of them, Leonard, was seriously wounded in the Battle of Cambrai. His other brothers also survived the war – Dr. John Burke conducted a dentistry practice in St. John’s, while Dr. Vincent P. Burke, had a distinguished career in Newfoundand education, and as a member of the Canadian Senate.

Alice Fitzgerald Burke died in North Sydney March 21, 1947 at the age of 62. Her daughter Frances, who married Jerome Rabnett and lived in Belleville, Ont., passed away in 1998.

 

 

Newfoundland Stamps Lost and Found

I thought I had long ago lost all of my Newfoundland stamp collection when someone at home unwittingly threw them out while I was away at university. It was a big one – more than 5,000 stamps in all. That was a long time ago – about 1952, three years after Newfoundland became, controversially enough, a province of Canada.

St. John's harbour

St. John’s harbour

And that was why the monetary value of Newfoundland stamps had escalated because no more were ever to be produced.

Image then my surprise when a couple of hundred of them showed up again a few months ago – 65 years later! I discovered them while clearing out some old boxes containing long discarded memorabilia accumulated over the years and all but forgotten.

King George V

King George V

Easy to miss, because the stamps were wrapped in tiny bundles enclosed by golden hued sewing thread – a method of postage stamp husbandry that would justifiably horrify philately purists in any era. But they did keep them together and in reasonably good shape.

Pity it is that these remnants from the past include only some of the most common low-denomination stamps. Survivor sets consist of 118 grey 1-cent stamps depicting codfish dubbed “Newfoundland currency”, and 100 green 2-cent stamps depicting King George V, grandfather of Queen Elizabeth. Current values except for those in mint condition – which these are certainly not – appear to be minimal.

Codfish: Newoundland currency

Codfish:
Newfoundland currency

My stamp collecting methods were entirely simple and downright crude, soaking stamps from envelopes and bundling them in sets as needed and placing them in envelopes or even Eddy’s match boxes, and keeping them together in larger cardboard boxes which I stored on bedroom cupboard shelves. I recall one of my favourites, a Whitman’s Sampler chocolate box in a design still to be found on store shelves today. Others I liked to use were fancily packaged boxes for cigars my Dad used to smoke.

What I was careful about was in counting all my stamps and marking down the numbers and the places they came from. The listing shown below was hand written in pencil on a note pad sheet dated November 1943, supplied by a venerable St. John’s printer, Dicks and Company. I probably wrote the list in the late ’40s before going away to St. F.X. University in Nova Scotia. It spelled out my complete Newfoundland stamp holdings:

1,394 2-cents, 1,129 3-cents, 1,090 4-cents, 781 1-cent, 426 5-cents, 199 10-cents, 151 8-cents, 54 7-cents, 18 4-cents, 15 15-cents, nine 20-cents, nine 25-cents, two 24-cents, two 9-cents and one 28-cents, for a total of 5,280.

As recounted in my 2015 Gower Street memoir, I wrote about my stamp collecting hobby in The Sentinel, a 1944 grade eight newspaper. I don’t really recall how or why I got interested in stamps, but it probably grew from awareness that Newfoundland stamps were rather unique because we were a small country which produced quite a lot of attractive stamp designs.

Caribou Symbol of Newfoundland Regiment

Caribou
Symbol of Newfounland Regiment

As comprehensively detailed by Memorial University of Newfoundland professor, Dr. Thomas F. Nemec, some 300 different postage stamps were issued by the Newfoundland Post Office between January 1, 1857 and June 24, 1947. Interestingly enough, because they were not demonetized, Newfoundland stamps can still be used legally on mail posted in Canada.

Back to the BlogoSphere

Neglecting one’s blog may be an unforgiveable character fault, but let’s see if comeback efforts can merit yet another comeback. A virtual hiatus since last June came on, not because of illness or other drastic cause, but merely due to preoccupation with other interests.

First, there was an inordinate obsession with tracking down family origins in Ireland, prompted by discovery of digitized listings of birth records for parishes in the vicinity of my great-grandfather Nicholas Wadden’s home community near New Ross, Wexford County.

Birth of an Irish cousin 1845

Birth of an Irish cousin 1845

Eyes glazed from hours of scanning pages and pages of hand-written records, some of them fiendishly rendered in Latin, the time-consuming exercise produced some worthwhile results. But that’s a story for a later blog.

Sated with family history’s somewhat frustrating research, I had fun helping out with publicity for a quite successful photographers’ gathering held in June in Ottawa, organized by the RA Photo Club. The Canada Camera Conference 2017 was the third national conference which our club has organized since 1998, and all three were highly successful and profitable. Co-chair DAVE Haggarty, mastermind of each event, overcame special problems this time for want of major industry sponsors, victims of photography’s transformation to the digital age. “Canada Wild,” a hit audio-visual production staged in Algonquin College’s theatre by the Almonte team of photographer Bill Pratt and musician Ian Douglas, helped a lot in the revenue drive.

More recently, much time has been given to retrieving something else from the past – hundreds and hundreds of photo images originally taken as colour slides. Thanks to the virtues of a trusty scanner, decades-old photos of people, places, events and scenic wonders have been recaptured, edited, and preserved in special event or annual print albums.

from the archives

from the archives

A painstaking chore indeed, but it’s been rewarding to get the best out of images that graphically trace many of the high points of a family’s growth.

Today’s voluminous triggering of electronic images for every moment of the day brings many satisfactions but their very plenitude defies most people’s ability, or indeed willingness, to preserve them in printed form. Perhaps only those venturing into their golden years my feel a desire to bother with prints. Later generations may or may not care, but let us hope that enough people leave something behind to tell who and how they were in days of yore.

In seeking to revive the blogging habit, topics of interest range from the sublime – day dreaming of a world without Trump – to the ridiculous – back to the aforementioned subject. Yet there are plenty of potential items coming to mind, e.g. the mundane concerns of green binning,

compost essential

compost essential

bicycle behavior, the ongoing follies of our own politicians, or the joys rather than the frustrations of noteworthy international travels. And let’s add some tidbits on such offbeat pursuits as stamp collecting, book writing and photography,

Autumn in Ottawa

Autumn in Ottawa

along with a generous sprinkling of photo images to brighten up the mix. More to come soon!

Tweetle-Dum Must Go

CHAOS

CHAOS

When it began, we had to feel acute embarrassment for the American people as the clownish nature of the newly elected president became daily more offensive and bizarre. Ongoing developments only reinforced those feelings of revulsion and ultimately despair at the spectacle of a supremely unqualified, intemperate and dishonourable con man wielding the reins of power in the great American republic.

Ruling, or really making a shambles of attempting to govern, by epithet laden twitter pronouncements, this loosest of political cannons has now demonstrated beyond all question of doubt that he poses the greatest danger to world peace since Hitler. His inflammatory mouth now threatens to start the third and probably final world war.

The only solution is obvious though who can tell how to bring it about: Trump has to be removed from office, and hidden away in some tweet proof cavern, never to be allowed anywhere near the white house, or a golf course, or a cell phone, again.

He is fully ripe for impeachment by his irresponsible behavior in dealing with the only other demented leader who comes anywhere close to matching him in sheer madness.

If it weren’t so frightening, one might well envisage stripping these two overweight loudmouths to loincloths and have them battle, weaponless, to the death, with the winner destined for one-way spacecraft banishment to the farthest limits of the stratosphere.