You've got mail - MoH has information for you

By Staff

September 8th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

You’ve got mail!

The Medical Officer of Health for the Region has issued an amended Letter of Instructions to workplaces to keep staff and patrons safe

The Class Order has also been revised to reflect Provincial directions for case and contact management

Halton Region’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Hamidah Meghani.

Halton Region’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Hamidah Meghani, has issued an amended Letter of Instructions to businesses and organizations to support their efforts to protect their staff and customers/patrons from COVID-19, preventing the spread in their workplaces and our community.

The amended Instructions will replace two existing sets of Instructions issued on May 8 and February 12, consolidating the information and making it easier for businesses and organizations to understand and implement these requirements and current Provincial Rules for Step 3.

The amended Instructions outline key public health measures that workplaces must take to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and also provide guidance to workplaces on what to do if one or more of their workers has COVID-19 presenting the potential for a workplace outbreak.

New in the amended Instructions are requirements for businesses and organizations with 100 or more workers physically present at the workplace (including those working in the community) to:

• Establish, implement and ensure compliance with a COVID-19 safety plan
• Establish, implement and ensure compliance with a COVID-19 workplace vaccination policy

The amended Instructions also provide additional contact tracing measures in certain settings, including the collection and maintenance of customer/patron contact information for places where there is a higher risk of COVID-19 exposure through closer contact or lack of masking.

This will help Halton Region Public Health to achieve prompt contact tracing for high-risk COVID-19 exposures – essential to preventing further spread of the Delta variant, which we know to be highly transmissible and present greater risk for severe illness and hospitalization especially for the unvaccinated.

The amended Instructions are effective Friday, September 10, 2021 at 12:01 a.m.

To read Dr. Meghani’s amended Instructions to businesses and organizations and for more information and guidance, please visit halton.ca/COVID19.

Class Order updated to align with Provincial guidance for case and contact management

Halton Region’s Medical Officer of Health has also amended Halton’s Class Order under Section 22 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act. Effective 12:01 a.m. on September 10, 2021 to reflect new Provincial directions for case and contact management of COVID-19.

Key amendments to Halton’s Class Order, which requires those with or exposed to COVID-19 to self-isolate to prevent the further spread of COVID-19, include:

• Updated guidance for how long people must self-isolate based on their symptoms

• Reducing the length of time people with high-risk exposures must self-isolate from 14 to 10 days

• Relieving people with high-risk exposures who are vaccinated or have recovered from COVID-19 infections of the requirement to self-isolate, at the discretion of Halton Region Public Health

 

Return to the Front page

School board will rename Ryerson school - city will rename the abutting park

By Staff

September 7th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Halton District School Board wants ideas from the public on the renaming of Ryerson Public School.

The city wants idea from the public on renaming the park that abuts the school.

Could they not create a joint committee and come up with a single name ?

Not on your life – there is too much political upside for all the politicians to share this one.

The school will be renamed – as will the park that abuts the property.

The decision to dump the name of Egerton Ryerson was done very very quickly – basically on one delegation from an Indigenous parent.

The statue of Ryerson was toppled shortly after it was splattered with paint. The head of the statue ended up on an Indigenous reserve at the end of a pole.

There is tonnes of research on just what Ryerson did and didn’t do but those documents aren’t going to get much attention.

This is classic rush to judgement and lets pile on a good thing.

Community members are encouraged to submit a suggestion for the new name of the school by Sept. 24

In a media release the HDSB said: “Ryerson Public School was named after Egerton Ryerson for his contributions to the Ontario education system, however, Ryerson was also instrumental to the design of Canada’s residential school system.

Students, families and community members are encouraged to submit suggestions for a new name for the school between Sept. 7 – 24, 2021.

The HDSB recognizes the significance of naming a new school as an opportunity to:

• reflect the geography, history, local environment, culture or traditions of the community;
• consider equity, diversity and inclusion in the school community;
• name a renowned person of historical significance to the Halton community, or a real person whose contribution to society or humanity is recognized and valued across Canada.

Suggestions can be made:

• By completing the online form
• By fax — 905-335-4447
• By mail — Communications Dept., Halton District School Board,
PO Box 5005 STN LCD 1, Burlington, ON L7R 3Z2

Suggestions will be accepted until Friday, Sept. 24, 2021.

Each name that is submitted will be reviewed by a committee which will include parent/guardian representation. A shortlist of names will be prepared and presented to the Board of Trustees who will select the final name at one of the regularly scheduled Board meetings in November 2021.

The selected name for the school will be announced in a news release and posted on the HDSB website (www.hdsb.ca) and social media.

Salt with Pepper is the musings, reflections and opinions of the publisher of the Burlington Gazette, an online newspaper that was formed in 2010 and is a member of the National Newsmedia Council.

Return to the Front page

For parents there is going to be one question: Is my child's teacher vaccinated? Unfortunately - it is not a question you are allowed to ask

By Pepper Parr

September 6th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Tomorrow morning when parents pack their children off to school or clear the dining room table and set them up for a virtual classroom they will begin the third years of living through a pandemic.

Classroom experiences will be different.

The Halton District School Board (HDSB) is as ready as it can be for the start of the school year.

Few fully appreciate that the HDSB has to comply with the guidance that comes from the province in terms of what they are required to deliver in the way of an education to the students.

The Board then has to coordinate with the Medical Officer of Health to ensure that the best practices are in place.

The province for their part seem to be always late getting out of the gate leaving the professionals who have to make it all work to continue to do “last minute” stuff

The Superintendents have to scramble to get the message down the line to the principals who will open the doors on Tuesday.

Board of Education cannot mandate that teachers need to be vaccinated – there is a mandatory vaccination disclosure policy.

That disclosure is confidential.

Don’t ask.

The Boards are required to advise the province how many people have been vaccinated, how many people are exempt and how many people chose not to be vaccinated and are being tested and going through an educational program.

The reporting to the province is done monthly. The first report will be sent in on September 10th.

The requirement to disclose applies to everyone: teachers, staff, volunteers, contract people working for the Board

The Rapid Tests those who chose not to be vaccinated are required to administer can be done at home and are paid for by the Board – they are not cheap.

The testing is to be done weekly.

The School boards report to the province and the province is understood to be publishing that information by September 10th – so we will know how many un-vaccinated people there are in the schools.

A teacher or teaching aide can choose not to be vaccinated.  So we have a teacher who is vaccinated who may have to work beside a teaching aide who has chosen not to be vaccinated and doesn’t have to tell anyone – other than the Board and that information is confidential.

Those who choose not to be vaccinated do have to undergo regular tests once a week – the test can be administered at home.

The testing kits come in boxes of 25 units.  The Board has to find a way to get those test units to those who chose not to be vaccinated without putting their personal private information at risk.

It might be like those sanitary napkin products that were wrapped in plain brown paper when I was a young man.

Councillor Shuttleworth wanted to know how long the Board would continue to pay for the testing kits – no one was able to give her an answer.

Milton Trustee Danielli wanted to know if a kindergarten teacher was vaccinated but the teaching aide was not vaccinated – did the teacher have to work with the unvaccinated person.

The rules are that no one is allowed to ask a person if they have been vaccinated.

Expect some blow back when this situation sinks into the minds of parents who are worried about what could happen to their child.

The Delta variant of Covid19 travels much more easily that previous variants.  The most recent report from the province for Saturday, September 3rd was: 807 new infections – six deaths.

Of those infected 628 were not vaccinated.

The Public Health people believe that the province is into a fourth wave and the Science Table has reported that numbers will rise in October when people will be indoors much more.

To add to the issues that have to be managed are the school buses.

Getting the buses out of the parking yard on time might be a bit of a problem the first couple of weeks.

There are enough drivers trained and in place – the problem is getting buses out of the yard they are parked in overnight.  First Student Transportation has their yard on Dundas where the Region is doing some major road work – there might be some delays in getting the buses out of the yard on time for them to make their rounds

 

 

 

Return to the Front page

Curtis Ennis: Well grounded with a welcoming approach to getting the job done

By Pepper Parr

September 3rd, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Curtis Ennis started his new job as the Director of Education of the Halton District School Board on August 1st.  There was a lot of work to be done and Ennis was confident that the staff he had was more than up to the job.

His job was to get to know them better and to get to know as much as he could about the Halton Region with its 2,934 elementary teachers, 1,373 secondary teachers and 2,500 non-teaching and support staff.  Add to that the more than 200 principals and vice-principals that are on the front line.

Curtis Ennis: From the largest school board in the country to the Director of Education at one of the highest ranking school boards in the province.

Ennis came to Halton Region from the Toronto District School Board.  His first career choice was not teaching – he studied business at Ryerson and spent more than a decade in the financial sector including a stint as an Assistant Manager with Bank of Nova Scotia.

It was when he found himself in front of students while volunteering in a school that he found his true calling.  “The missing link in my life was waiting for me in those classrooms” explained Ennis.

He returned to the classroom – this time as a student at York University where he earned a degree and was ready for a classroom filled with students.

Ennis takes a welcoming approach to what he does. “I made everyone of my students feel welcome; that I wanted them in my classroom and that they knew I was there to help them.

“I said good morning to every student and good day when they left the classroom.  They knew I was happy to see them.”

Curtis Ennis is a Jamaican.  He was born on the northern part of the Island – has four brothers and a sister.

His cultural base is West Indian.  That he was Black became evident when he came to Canada. ” I knew I was different; that awareness is something you learn to live with and adapt to as best you can.

“Yes it has an impact on you but I was fortunate to come out of it with an understanding that I was different but so were they”

“The big lesson for me was that  what matters is that there be a sense of equity – that we are all born equal.

“That has been the driving force that guided me as a teacher and what I took with me when I moved into management with the Toronto District School Board.

“It is what guides me as I get the feel of the people of Halton.”

He is married with four daughters; all study at the undergraduate level.  He and his wife Beverly; 29 years as a couple, face the challenges that every couple experience.

Heading up an organization that has more employees than the Ford motor plant in Oakville is not something you run into.

What you see is what you get – at least at this point: a straight shooter with a well grounded philosophy on what the classroom is all about..

The approach Ennis takes is to know your people at the granular level – that takes time but if you are open and transparent and make it clear that you are there to listen you can lead and you will succeed.

The challenge for Ennis is just that much bigger as he, along with the rest of the province deal with having to operate while the 4th wave of the pandemic is dealt with; the predictions that by October the 4th wave will be worse then the third wave don’t make it easy.

Ennis leaves you with the impression that you take it all in stride.

During his Director’s Report at his first Board of Trustees meeting earlier this week we got a sense as to how he works with his people.

He delegates and follows through.

During the meeting we learned that the Halton District school Board is going to report a deficit for the third year in a row.

We don’t know yet what kind of a spender Ennis will be nor do we know what his big picture is.  Right now he is working with a Multi Year Plan the trustees approved last year.

There are some big issues and still some emotional baggage from the closing of the two high schools.

We learned that the expansion of Nelson High School needed to handle the students from Bateman that now attend Nelson is not complete.  The library is on the second floor and the second floor and the second elevator is not in place yet.

Curtis Ennis will-work his way through the problems; working with his team adapting to the pandemic problems.  We will need a year to get a sense as to just how well he is working with the trustees.

Right now they are as proud as punch with the choice they made.

 

Return to the Front page

Parkinson's in the Park - exercising and socializing

By Staff

September 2nd, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Passion for Parkinson’s Foundation is excited to announce  that our Parkinson’s in the Park exercise programs  will be offered in Burlington as well as Mississauga-

These include –  Tai Chi and Walking/Pole Walking classes. These classes are designed to help those with Parkinson’s get moving , get outdoors and also provides a social environment. Our experienced instructors will ensure  everyone’s  health, safety and enjoyment.

The Passion for Parkinson’s Foundation is a non-profit corporation focused on fundraising to support and enhance the lives of individuals and families living with Parkinson’s in Halton/Peel. Our decision to form the PFPF facilitates our commitment to keeping the funds raised in our Community.

Return to the Front page

Public Pensions are still Banking on Fossil Fuels

By Staff

August 28th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Everyone on a pension or people who rely on the investments to live comfortably – will want the best investment they can find.

If you belong to a public sector pension plan you want them to make wise investments.

Is investing in the fossil fuel industry a good investment?

The dividends are good and the share price is holding.  If the biggest issue we face as a society is climate change how does that square with investing in the fossil fuel business

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives had some comments to make on this conundrum saying that Canada’s biggest public pensions are still banking on fossil fuels.

Two of Canada’s biggest public pension plans could lead the way toward a global transition to a greener, more sustainable economy, but their commitments to climate action may be more talk than walk. The Canada Pension Plan and the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec say they are serious about tackling climate change, however, they continue to bank on fossil fuels, this Corporate Mapping Project report shows.

The Canada Pension Plan has increased its shares in fossil fuel companies since Canada signed the Paris Agreement in 2016 and while the Quebec plan has slightly decreased its fossil fuel shares in the same period, it has over 52 per cent more fossil fuel shares than the Canada Pension Plan. The investment patterns of both plans do not reflect the urgent action needed to address the scale of the climate crisis. Both are heavily invested in member companies of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, which has a history of obstructing the necessary transition away from fossil fuels required for Canada to meet the targets set out in the Paris Agreement.

The authors question why the fund managers of these public pension plans are investing in companies that are actively derailing necessary climate action.

The report includes recommendations for Canadian public pension fund trustees and investment boards and for the federal and provincial governments regarding how Canadians’ pension funds should be invested.

Full report

Return to the Front page

New police SUV recognizes the Black Community

By Staff

August 28th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Pride is breaking out everywhere; this time it is within the Black community that took part in the presentation of a police SUV that was decorated with images that came from the community.

The Regional Police have decorated another SUV – those colours are certainly West Indian.

Earlier today the Halton Regional Police Service (HRPS) Black Internal Support Network and community partners gathered at Police Headquarters to unveil the HRPS Black Heritage Police Cruiser.

Colours just burst from the cruiser.

The cruiser design was conceived by the Queen of Heaven Catholic Elementary School’s Inclusion, Diversity, Anti-Racism and Equity (iDARE) Committee, comprised of Bonnie Wiltshire, Valerie Nelson, Sokomba Effiong, Gabriella Ball, Margaret Keats, Andrea Domenico, Jane Thomas, and Amos Olujide. The group submitted the design as part of a design contest held in February 2021.

“This design concept seeks to lay a foundation for healing and a path forward for the Black Halton community and the HRPS working together with a common understanding and a common purpose,” says Bonnie Wiltshire, Chair of the iDARE Committee, the winning design team.

“The intertwined ribbon design on the cruiser weaves the narrative of enslavement of Black Peoples in North America to the resilience as they fled to safety, whose stories became footprints of success on the landscapes of both Halton and Canada. The words inscribed along the ribbon are just merely some of the ways the Black community in Halton and Canada have contributed to the very fabric of these communities and paved the way for others,” adds Wiltshire. “Further, the ribbon is symbolic of the strong threads that bind the Black community and their allies together as we create new paths to success and strengthen our community as a whole. The ribbon is composed of the colours that represent both Black History Month 2021 and the HRPS to further emphasize those symbolic connections.”

The cruiser also features a quote from Jean Augustine that resonated with the design team for its overarching message about the celebration of Black history. The quote reads, “Black History is not just for Black People. Black History is Canadian History.”
The vision for the HRPS Black Heritage Police Cruiser was created by members of the HRPS Black Internal Support Network and funded by African and Caribbean organizations, who have graciously provided a one-time $2,500 academic scholarship to the winning design team.

The iDARE Committee has presented St. Francis Xavier Catholic Secondary School graduates, Vanessa Broomfield-Bryce and Alisa Robinson, a Queen of Heaven High School Graduate Scholarship in the amount of $1250 each, with the funds from the contest. The two students will use this to help support their post-secondary studies.

The HRPS would like to thank the following community partners for their support:

• African Caribbean Council of Halton
• Black Mentorship Inc.
• Burlington Caribbean Connection
• Canadian Caribbean Association of Halton
• Caribbean and African Coalition of Canada
• Halton Black History Awareness Society
• Halton Regional Police Association
• I am. I can. I will.

These partnerships represent relationships both new and old for the HRPS, and we are eager for the opportunity to learn from their lived experience, not only through this initiative but also through future endeavours.

“I am so proud  says

Jean Augustine – first African Canadian Women to be elected to the House of Commons.

Dr. Jean Augustine, the first African-Canadian to be elected a Member of Parliament, who paved the way for Black History Month in Canada was proud   to “participate in the unveiling of the HRPS Black Heritage Cruiser where the message is around who we are as a community,”

“From police services, to community groups and educators, this work around diversity and inclusion is an important message for people to see. Black history is Canadian history and we all need to recognize that.”

Return to the Front page

A fascinating science project turned out to be a great wager

By Jelena Direct

August 27th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

When Derek Muller had first started his YouTube channel Veritasium, he had no idea it would go viral and that a more significant sum of money could get involved. At the end of the video there is a fascinating discussion, and someone has to pay. No spoilers.

Big Money in Question

Derek Muller: A Physics Prof Bet Me $10,000 that I was Wrong

“Derek, can you just turn Veritasium into a gambling channel where scientists with opposing views put money on the table and face off to try to convince one another of the true answer? I’d watch that.” – is the text of the comment that got 74k likes under Muller’s YouTube video about a physical experiment.

Moves faster than the wind – with no engine

Spicing things up is always fun, right? Although excitement as this science bet on the favourite YouTube science and education channel doesn’t sound as exciting as sports betting, this was not an ordinary bet. Alex Kusenko, a physics professor from UCLA, has challenged Derek Muller to prove that his experiment works and the discussion went viral and brought out a bet from a scientist. However, Derek Muller went for a chance to have its 10 thousand dollars multiplied. That is a lot of money, but probably Muller couldn’t have said no to Kusenko while he claimed his YouTube channel was terrific.

It started in May when Muller published a video in which he is driving the Black Bird, a car powered only by the wind with no motor and no batteries. Additionally, Black Bird has a propeller at its back end. The propeller connects to the wheels over a gear system, and it turns the opposite way of the wind direction.

Fan Mechanism

The propeller on the Black Bird pushes air backward, so it functions as a fan. The wind is driving the propeller, but the wheels are turning. Because of this, it moves in the opposite direction to how the wind is pushing it. That accelerates the car.

Once Muller gets up to wind speed, there is no visible, apparent wind on the vehicle. If the propeller were spinning like a windmill, this would mean that there can be no more thrust. But, since it is operating as a fan, it can accelerate air backward, generating thrust.

The key to this car experiment is that the power is being harvested at a higher speed with lower force and deployed at a lower rate, higher strength. It’s possible due to the existence of a tailwind, and it wouldn’t have worked in still air.

Science Is (Not) All Fun and Games
Science videos are golden Internet content – they can be educational, inspirational, and motivating. Veritasium is one of those channels. That is probably the reason it has got more than 9.5M subscribers on YouTube.

Most people who had watched the first video with the Black Bird just had to watch the latest one, where the severe bet is in question.
When a respected scientist like Alex Kusenko challenges an idea (and the formula), and when he is a big fan of the channel, how could anyone say no to that?

Science can be fascinating, as well as profitable. Muller’s video is the best proof of that. However, when money gets involved, there is always a certain kind of tension. Watch the video yourself, and see for yourself how it all went.

Return to the Front page

Reminder: Public School Board holding a Virtual Town Hall on Thursday

By Staff

August 25th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Dr. Hamidah Meghani, Regional Medical Officer of Health will lead off the Town Hall meeting

The Halton District School Board will be holding a Town Hall meeting on Thursday, starting at 7:00 pm

It is a live stream information session and will be available on the HDSB website where it will be streamed on the school board Facebook channel.

Dr Hamidah Megani Meghani, the Regional Medical Officer of Health will present first, then Board Staff members will answer answer questions that have been submitted.

A form for submitting questions was shared earlier and will be available during the live-stream.

Return to the Front page

Stuart Miller on retiring: he made a difference while Director of Education

By Pepper Parr

August 24th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

It turned out to be a more active and somewhat hectic term of office  for Stuart Miller who retired this month as the Halton District School Board Director of Education.

During the early part of his appointment the decision was made to hold a Program and Accommodation Review (PAR);  a process defined in a school board pupil accommodation review policy, undertaken by a school board to determine the future of a school or group of schools.

It proved to be contentious and divisive and ended up with the closing of two of the city’s seven high schools.

The Bateman high school parents put up a strong fight but the numbers were against them and the trustees did not see the pluses that the school had going for the students.

Miller’s tenure ended in the waning days of a pandemic that threw the education sector into a tail spin from which Miller said he doesn’t expect will come to an end for 18 months to a year.

With the active part of a career as an educator coming to an end Miller looks back at what he managed to achieve and has come to the conclusion that equity and inclusion are the words that sum up what education is about.

Miller is passionate about his view that every student is entitled to the best education we can give them.

“The pandemic highlighted where we are not meeting that challenge” said Miller

Stuart Miller listened to the students and tended to hear what they were saying.

Adding, “the classroom is what makes education real – the casual conversation between a teacher and a student doesn’t happen in a virtual setting.

“There are some subjects, some situations and some students who excel in a virtual setting but that doesn’t and should suggest that we need more virtual experiences.

“There are those that learn a little slower than others; being slower shouldn’t be a reason to be left behind.

Stuart Miller developed staff which was reflected in the classrooms.


“I was fortunate”, said Miller “to have a staff that loved what they do.  It was my good fortune to watch teachers grow into principals and some principals become Superintendents.

“The struggle for my staff during the pandemic “was to find ways to insert some normality into situations that were far from normal.  The mental health of our students is always a concern but this pandemic brought to the surface the struggles the students have.  We had to pivot and find the resources to deal with these situations that began to overwhelm us.

“In a classroom you spot the student who is struggling – in a virtual setting it is another matter.

“The classroom teachers let me see just how professional they are – they were thrown into a situation they were not trained for – in a matter of days they had to learn how to use new technology and come up with different ways to teach. They were no longer able to turn to the blackboard and illustrate – there were no blackboards in that virtual classroom.

“The technology we had at the beginning was pretty rudimentary – that changed over time and going virtual began to be a little easier. Most of the teachers were able to make the leap from a classroom full of students to a computer screen.

It was one of the toughest days of his tenure as Director of Education. He had to explain to the public what he felt had to be done and the best way to do it.

“The students watched as their teachers adapted and in the process learned that they too could adapt.  There were some positives.

During the last week serving as the Director of Education Miller wasn’t certain that the system would not have to once again fall back to a virtual setting – “if that does happen we will be much more prepared.”

Equity has always been an issue for Miller who will say that we are not there yet.  Inclusion is a large part of equity – Miller believes significant strides have been made

Miller talks about what was achieved with the PAR that closed two high schools and emphasizes the upside.

The students who went from Lester B. Pearson to M.M. Robinson had 20 additional course choices and 10 additional extra curricular offerings.

There are now Community Pathway programs at M.M. Robinson and Nelson.

Stuart Miller with Superintendent Terri Blackwell. His support and her drive resulted in one of the most desired high school programs and a shift in direction on how teaching took place.

Aldershot High School, which looked as if it might be closed. is now one of the “hot” schools in the system.  The iStem program that came out of the PAR is now consistently over subscribed and there are now iStem programs in Milton and Oakville.

A program they stumbled into proved to be one of the best things Stuart Miller did – when the opportunity was not much more than an idea Miller and his staff were able to research, build community support and create something that became a stellar program Board wide.

Before Miller got into education he was working with a private company in the food sector and earning $30k a year which was very good money in the 80’s.

He left that work to become a teacher for $18k a year.  “The difference was that I was very happy” said Miller

Stuart Miller is still a young man who will be around education for a long time yet.  There have been some job offers and there is an opportunity in the north with the Indigenous community that he is excited about.

Ward 5 trustee Amy Collard giving Director Miller a hard eye.

The Gazette found Miller to be very accessible. He would never duck an issue – he was quick to realize when he didn’t get it quite right.

He had a board of trustees that held him to account.  He will never forget the day that ward 5 trustee Amy Collard blind-sided him over his decision to close Bateman High  School.  She was passionate about keeping that school open and she wasn’t wrong.

We expect to hear more about Stuart Miller in the years ahead – the world of education isn’t finished with him yet – and he isn’t finished with education.

Return to the Front page

School days - school days - pretty soon. Public school board well prepared

By Pepper Parr

August 19th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Back to School advertising almost assures you that everything is going to work out.

Many parents aren’t all that sure.

The province changes the rules almost daily sewing confusion rather than clarification in the minds of parents.

The Halton District School Board will be holding an on-line Town Hall Meeting on August 26th at 7:00 pm.
Anyone can participate. The Gazette will pass along the coordinates just as soon as we have the details.

HDSB Superintendent Terri Blackwell will handle the setting up of the process that will allow parents to change the mode of teaching they want for their children. In a classroom on on-line virtually.

Board Superintendent Terri Blackwell is stick handling the event that will have the Halton Medial Officer of Health Dr. Hamidah Meghani answering questions live.

People will have an opportunity to send in their questions; the event is to be recorded and available the day after for those who are out of town.

The Board of Education Trustees will hold a meeting on September 1st – this will be the first time the public gets to see the newly appointed Director of Education Cedric Ennis who is spending his time meeting with people in the Region and getting the feel of the District and its schools.

Parents will decide how they want their children taught: In a classroom on virtually on-line.

The Board policy and plans this years’ is to give parents an opportunity to change from one mode to another on September 9th.

Parents have until September 16 to decide if they want to change modes.

The actual change will take place on October 12.

The Board has to take the data they receive and re-jig the distribution of teachers and prepare for the change.

“We’ve done this before” said Superintendent Blackwell,” it’s just a matter of moving resources around.”

Return to the Front page

Meet Burlington NDP candidate Nick Page

By Ryan O’Dowd: Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

April 18th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Burlington NDP federal candidate, Nick Page, championed universal basic income(UBI) as the most impactful solution to Canada’s wealth gap in his interview with the Gazette. Page’s campaign will focus on a more equitable society for all members, he discussed building back a better Canada post-COVID-19, UBI’s role in combating poverty as well as how it benefits the economy, expanding healthcare, as well as electoral reform and how it may be the path to meaningful climate change action.

NDP candidate Nick Page wants Canadians focusing on re-thinking social security to avoid continued difficult economic times in the face of COVID-19 and whatever else the future holds.

Page began with his vision for a post-pandemic Canada, focusing on re-thinking social security to avoid continued difficult economic times in the face of COVID-19 and whatever else the future holds.

“So the big thing for me, for building back better, is finding a way to make sure that everyone has access to the resources they need to have, food and shelter, without needing to worry about having a job that might go away to the pandemic or automation or to whatever is coming in the future. I am very interested in seeing a universal basic income of some kind implemented so that no matter what happens, everyone at least has the safety net they need to survive no matter what the outcome is,” said Page.

As of today, UBI is not on the NDP official party plan, instead what the party proposes is to “build toward” guaranteed livable income, which is not only less committal but also describes a different system.

A guaranteed liveable income establishes a baseline of earnings deemed “liveable,” if someone is not meeting that baseline their income will be supplemented, this process would essentially expand on existing social safety nets. UBI is much more comprehensive, as Page explains, and aims to cycle the money distributed to all citizens through the economy, theoretically helping not just those below the poverty line but small businesses as well.

“UBI should be just a flat amount of money for everyone regardless of how much money you make. So it’s really simple, you don’t have to worry about jumping through hoops to apply. It’s a really difficult thing to get on social support in this country, and just having it be easy and simple would save a lot of bureaucracy and make people’s lives better.

“So the great thing is when everyone has access to the money to buy food and shelter and to spend a little bit on extras like maybe going to a movie once a year, kind of thing, you’re just spending that money. It’s money that’s going from the government to people, to businesses and it’s circling. It’s taking money that is sometimes just spent sitting in offshore bank accounts from the really rich and the corporation’s and just getting it moving, it lets small businesses benefit because there are more people in the community to spend money on small businesses, instead of having to go through Amazon,” said Page.

Nick Page talking with supporters – social distance and masks.

As for how Canada would afford such measures, Page alluded to taxing the super-rich which the NDP official party platform identifies for their current agenda, without UBI, as a one-per-cent wealth tax applied to all households with assets exceeding $10 million.

Page discussed the importance of expanding our healthcare system to cover such areas as dental, optometric, and pharmaceutical. Tying benefits to employment in the current system “screws” the lower class, said Page.

“Right now you can go to the dentist if you have a good job but if you don’t have a good job you neither have dental coverage or the money to pay the dentist, so you’re screwed. If you don’t have a good job, you don’t have optometry coverage in Ontario. And so by decoupling those from jobs, from having a good job, you help everyone out. You also help the businesses not have to pay for insurance employees like that, which is a big expense for some companies like smaller companies who still need to pay benefits to their employees. That’s a cost they don’t need to have, they only really have it because the government doesn’t come through. And it’s interesting because that came about from wage tax in the US back in World War Two. It was a way to get around wage taxes by giving people more benefits, and then it just kind of became how we do things,” said Page.

One of Justin Trudeau’s most often maligned broken election promises was his vow that the 2015 election would be the last under the first past the post system. Page puts forward a case for a proportional representation system which would lead to federal representation more accurately reflecting the popular vote. Page also alludes to the use of ranked ballots which would theoretically diminish so-called “strategic voting,” particularly in conjunction with proportional representation. You would rank the candidates in order of preference so you don’t need to be dictated by who can win, and your vote would be more meaningfully represented in government.

“You have some of the people who are elected to government assigned to specific districts, and some of the people elected to government are assigned from a party list. And you do the normal voting in a district, probably with ranked voting to figure out who represents that district. And then you use the country-wide proportional ballots. So if, for example, the Green Party gets 8% across the country, it doesn’t all have to be focused on their one riding in Vancouver, or Victoria river is exactly to get a seat, they could have 8% votes across the country, and they’d get 8% of the seats, we would bump them up off their party list, and that way that 8% of people in our country would actually be listened to, they have a voice in government, as opposed to right now, where if after the 2015 election Trudeau only had, votes from like 38% of people, but he got to make all of the decisions because of how first past the post, but he should have had to work with people to make decisions after 2015,” said Page.

Page noted proportional representation may be the best opportunity to implement a government to deal with climate change.

“I don’t think any party with a majority would do what needs to be done to deal with climate change so I think proportional representation or some sort of voting change is what it’s going to take to get the environment under control,” said Page.

Standing in the Gazebo at Spencer Smith Park is photo op at its best.

In the 2019 federal election, the Green Party received 6.6% of the popular vote and scored 3 seats out of 337, based on the methodology outlined in the 2016 report of the House of Commons Special Committee on Electoral Reform under a proportional representation system the Green Party would have scored 22 seats from the same percentage of the popular vote.

If we accept more Green Party seats at the table correlates to more climate change action then Page’s correlation between electoral reform and environmental action may have merit.

NDP candidate Nick Page has a Math degree in Computer Science and Combinatorics & Optimization from the University of Waterloo, Nick has worked in data analysis, online content creation on Twitch, and is now doing tech consulting in the board game design industry.

There are no campaign events scheduled as of today for the Burlington NDP candidate but the Gazette will monitor this as it proceeds.

Return to the Front page

Mobile vaccinations teams to park at or near schools to encourage taking the needle

By Staff

August 16th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The snap call of a federal election will muddy up the radar screen and get in the way of news that is critical to people – especially parents who want to know more about just what kind of an environment their children will be walking into when they return to school on September 7th

The public Board of Education will be meeting this evening and we should get some idea from them what the plans are.

The Board is tightly bound by what the provincial Ministry of Education determines. A report from that Ministry earlier today sets out how they see things working out.

This is what it is all about.

The Ontario government is working with public health units and publicly funded school boards to plan and host vaccination clinics in or nearby schools.

Clinics are expected to run before school starts and during the first few weeks of school. The program is part of the province’s last mile strategy to target those who have yet to receive a first or second dose

. “As part of the last mile campaign to reach as many students and staff as possible and to keep schools as safe as possible, we are requiring school boards and public health units to roll out clinics in or close to schools. By making vaccines more accessible, and with a cautious reopening in September following the expert advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, we will further bolster our fight against COVID-19 and variants.”

As of August 15, more than 69 per cent of youth aged 12 to17 have received a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 56 per cent have received a second dose. School-focused vaccination clinics will support increased uptake for eligible students, as well as education staff, and a safer return to school in the fall.

With respect to consent at school-focused clinics, COVID-19 vaccines will only be provided if informed consent is received from the individual, including eligible students, and as long as they have the capability to make this decision.

Health care providers, the school, and families must respect a young person’s decision regarding vaccination. Parents and guardians are encouraged to discuss vaccination with their children prior to attending a school vaccination clinic.

Students waiting for their turn to be vaccinated.

All vaccines delivered as part of Ontario’s vaccine rollout provide high levels of effectiveness against hospitalization and death from COVID-19 and its variants, including the Delta variant. During July 2021, unvaccinated individuals were approximately eight times more likely to get infected with COVID-19 compared to those who were fully vaccinated.

The growing number of people 12-17 who are vaccinated is encouraging – but being in the 55-60 % area isn’t good enough – not when we get reports of 500 + new infections daily and learn that the vast majority of those people have contracted the Delta variable that infects much faster and does serious damage to those infected.

Deaths are lower – but surely that is not a reason for not getting vaccinated.

Many jurisdictions are taking the position that if you are not fully vaccinated you cannot return to work.

Why the province is not making full vaccination mandatory is beyond this writer.

The upside is a safe, prudent choice – the downside will become evident the day we learn that a child has died.

Pressure from parents is what makes this government move.

 

Return to the Front page

Why are we at the point where a fourth Covid wave is expected?

By Pepper Parr

August 10th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

OPINION

I keep hearing about the “expected fourth wave” as if it a certainty.

What would make a fourth wave certain? Because not enough people are fully vaccinated – that’s something we control isn’t it.

You get vaccinated – if you’re not vaccinated you can’t enter a supermarket; you can’t go to work.

No one has the right to decide they are not going to be vaccinated when it is now clear that vaccination stop the spread of the virus.

There is a lot of chatter about privacy and human rights. We are all for free speech – but that doesn’t give someone the right to stand up in a dark theatre and cry out Fire! Fire and leave people scrambling to get out.

There are limits.

During the Second World War men were drafted into the armed forces. They may not have wanted to go to war but their country forced them to go.

There were an unfortunate few that chose to desert – when they were caught they were shot by a squad of Canadian soldiers ordered to shoot them

Tough times called for tough decisions. That’s what governments are in place for.

When a restaurant looks like this – you are seeing dashed hopes and a dismal future for the owners and the employees.

A fourth wave will do huge damage to the hospitality sector. Will office workers be able t return to their buildings?

I shudder to think what it will do to the children who will be returning to classrooms in September

I put the following questions to the Chair of the Halton District School Board:

Does the Board have a policy that requires everyone working in a school, whatever the capacity, to be fully vaccinated before they return to work in September?

Will the Board make any exceptions and if they do – what are the exceptions?

Andrea Grebenc was quick with her response:

“The Board does not have the power to do this. We can’t even ask the vaccination status for the COVID-19 vaccination.

“This has to be a provincial mandate. (MMR. Diphtheria, Tetanus are shots that are mandated, but there are exemptions.

“I assume” said Grebenc “that since the Education Worker Unions pushed so hard in the spring for priority vaccination, that we do have a high percentage of all staff vaccinated.

“Halton has one of the highest vaccination rates in the province (83% one dose and 74% double vaccinated for 12+).”

All true and the infection numbers for Burlington look pretty good (if a disease with the capacity to kill can be described as looking good) but the numbers province wide are not good – we are back where we were in June and nearing the 21 day period for phase 3.
The province is going to want to say something positive – difficult to do when many are talking about the expected fourth wave.

These are the numbers from the Regional Public Health Office for Burlington on August 9th

No word either on just what we are going to do once the kids are back in the classrooms where colds are part of the business.

Andre Picard, Globe and Mail columnist who has been doing sterling work on the Covid19 crisis passed along a phrase he got from a colleague who is Chair of the federal Covid19 immunity Task Force who said ”Nasty fall ahead”.

Is this what we are sitting here waiting for that fourth wave to happen?

Salt with Pepper is the musings, reflections and opinions of the publisher of the Burlington Gazette, an online newspaper that was formed in 2010 and is a member of the National Newsmedia Council.

Return to the Front page

Public school board starts to prepare for the return to classes in September

By Staff

August 10th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Chair of the Board of Trustees for the Halton District School Board, Andrea Grebenc, isn’t pleased with the provincial plans for the start of school in September.

Halton Public School Board chair Andrea Grebenc adjusting her head set during a virtual Board meeting.

She was frustrated to see “guidance in the plan that encouraged boards to pivot to remote learning around inclement weather days (snow days and extreme heat). It demonstrates the lack of understanding of equity issues. Every family does not have a device for each child, nor a strong internet connection, nor parents that can drop everything to facilitate at-home remote learning.

“The direction to easily pivot comes from a very privileged vantage point; if you can’t afford to have a device for each of your children and a great broadband connection, your children don’t get to learn while others progress. Also, many young students end up with grandparents or in daycare situations on these types of days so they will also not be learning remotely.

“The guidance also assumes that a whole day of lesson plans meant for the classroom easily flip to a remote setting.”

Grebenc has always been of the view that the province does not include the Directors of Education when they do their thinking – they aren’t as plugged in to what actually happens in a school and its classrooms.

Grebenc said: “We don’t have all the information from the Ministry yet. Hopefully more information will be coming soon as classes begin in 4 weeks.

There is still a concern about vaccination and how Covid issues will be dealt with when they occur – and the expectation is that they will occur.

Board staff are organizing a Q & A session along with Medical Officer of Health for Halton, Dr. Meghani, towards the end of the month for the community.

Parents will be able to submit questions that will be answered during the session. More on just how that will roll out is expected as we get closer to the actual return to school.

Return to the Front page

Comic book design classes at the library - virtual - Registration full - get on the waiting list

By Staff

August 9th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Next Saturday, August 14th, is Free Comic Book Day, and we’re celebrating by learning about comic design with Intro to Drawing Comics.

What a neat idea – the Library deserves kudo’s for this program.

The sad part is – registration is full – there is a waiting list.

Learn the basics of comic design from artist Christopher Chamberlain in this virtual program.

Use the link to get yourself on that waiting list.

Return to the Front page

Monarch butterflies and pretty girls are what made the Enchanted Tour at the RBG Rock Garden a delightful day

By Maddy Van Clieaf: Local Journalism Initiative reporter

August 8th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Folk music and magical ambiance charmed the Rock Garden at the Royal Botanical Garden’s Enchanted Garden Tour this weekend.

The girl in the blue dress is named Claire, she is 5. The baby is also named Claire, she is 5months.

Parents and Grandparents watched on as the kids, clad in fairy wings and big smiles, learned about the monarch butterfly life cycle from different “magical beings.”

The Enchanted Garden Tour, a full kilometer long, leading through the Rock Gardens and hosting six different stations for kids to learn about this year’s theme, the monarch butterfly.

Five year old Dahlia reaches for a Monarch butterfly.

As described by one of the staff members, the monarch theme is meant to symbolize transformation and adaption, a fitting theme for a year of constant change.

The kids participated in interactive activities led by the “magical beings” at each station and filled in their complimentary colouring books.

Juliette is 2.

At the end of the tour, they were gifted a “Monarch Guardian” pin to signal their newfound butterfly knowledge.

The event took place in the Rock Garden on 1185 York Boulevard, Hamilton ON  where the gnomes, elves, fairies, pixies, and sprites who make the Rock Garden home couldn’t be seen – but they were there.

The historic Rock Garden is considered the birthplace of Royal Botanical Gardens. Following a significant rejuvenation, the Rock Garden reopened in 2016 to embrace sustainable trends in garden design and management while respecting the integrity of its heritage setting. Bold swaths of brilliant perennials provide sweeps of inspiring colour and texture throughout all seasons.

Maddy Van Clieaf is a second year journalism student at Carleton University.  She is with the Gazette as part of the federal governments Local Journalism initiative.

 

 

 

 

 

Return to the Front page

Chief Smith passes away quietly in lonely solitude at the Halton Centennial Manor in Milton. Burlington failed him.

Who Knew 100x100 2015By Mark Gillies

January 24th, 2015

Pic 1 Lee Smith

Lee J Smith, former Burlington Chief of Police

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Lee J Smith was a “Man’s Man”, because of his father
Burlington residents respected and knew their stern but friendly Chief only as Lee J Smith, but that was not the name he was given at birth. The actual birth name was Lein Joseph Schmidt. No one ever knew that Lee was of German descent when he lived and worked in Burlington.

Pic 18A Erdmann Schmidt

Lee Smith’s father was Erdmann Karl Schmidt who was born in Prussia in 1852. In 1858 the family emigrated from Prussia for a new life in Canada.

Lein was the son of Erdmann Karl Schmidt who was born in Prussia in 1852, and in 1858 Erdmann Schmidt and his family emigrated Prussia destined for a new life in Canada. The Schmidt family started life farming in the London, Ontario area.  Lein’s mother was Elizabeth Talbot. Elizabeth was born in Upper Canada in 1846. Erdmann and Elizabeth married in London, Ontario on July 20, 1880. The marriage produced 4 daughters, Helen, Annie, Katharine, Florence and 2 sons, Adolphus and Lein. All were born between 1881 and 1892.

Pic 18 AAA Schmidt first family

Erdmann Schmidt, his second wife Elizabeth Smither and children pose all dressed up in their Sunday best outfits. Elizabeth was a very special mother. For an unknown reason she had no arms from just above her elbows. Their sons Adolphus is on the left, and Lee is on the right, both standing in the back, while the twins Annie and Katharine sit on either side of Florence. Baby Stephen was born in 1895. This was the couple’s first child.

In 1894 their mother Elizabeth died on January 7th from pneumonia. Erdmann who quickly needed a step mother for his young children remarried a few months later on July 11th 1894 to Elizabeth Smither, a young lady at 26, already a widow, who was born in England. The new couple then started another family, with 3 daughters, Jessie, Nellie, Ethel, and 4 sons, Stephen, William, George & Edmund all born between 1895 and 1909.

Pic 19 Schmidt second family

Erdmann Schmidt, Lee’s father, married a second time, and 6 of their children are in this 1903 photograph: (L-R), William & Stephen are in the back, baby George is on the lap of Florence, the youngest daughter from Erdmann’s first marriage, Mary is in the striped dress, and (L-R), are Nellie and Jessie in front. The other children had not yet been born.

What’s really amazing about this new wife for Erdmann, was she had no arms from just above her elbows and all the way down to where her hands would have been. Yet, this remarkable woman functioned well enough to mother all those children. Just incredible.  Erdmann Schmidt was a devoted family man, religious, and a hard working farmer, who was responsibly raising his 13 children. Erdmann was strict, ruled with an iron fist, but was fair and just, which helped shape the straight forward, no nonsense, tough as nails, authoritative characteristics exuded by Lee J Smith his entire life. To better assimilate into the community, Erdmann eventually changed the family surname Schmidt to Smith, and he also changed his own given name to Edmund. The children with the exception of the two boys Adolphus and Lein were given more English sounding names at birth.

Two records that are not likely to ever be broken.
Chief Lee Joseph Smith holds the distinction of two records that will never be broken in Burlington. The first unbreakable record was Lee Smith ended his career as Burlington’s longest serving Police Chief, a total of 40 years from 1916 through to his retirement in 1956. The second unbreakable record was Chief Smith served faithfully under the first 18 of Burlington’s 28 Mayors’ administrations. This is an  amazing achievement, accomplished by no one else in Canada. Anyone would need phenomenal people skills to deal with all of those diverse personalities over a period of 40 years.

The Mayors Maxwell Smith 1915-1916, Fred Ghent 1917, Charles Coleman 1918, Dr. Thomas Peart 1919, Maxwell Smith 1919, Hughes Cleaver 1920, John J. Hobson 1921-1922, Elgin Harris 1923-1924, James Allen 1925 – 1928, E. Holtby 1929 – 1930, Lloyd Dingle 1931 – 1932, J. W. Ryckman 1933, F. W. Watson 1934-1935, George Harris 1936-1939, J.G. Blair 1940-1943, E. R. Leather 1946-1947, N.R. Craig 1948-1950, & E.W. Smith 1951-1956 all had the pleasure to work with Lee Joseph Smith, their outstanding Burlington Police Chief.

An unfortunate reality
What’s really unfortunate, is this great man has received virtually no recognition for his accomplishments. Here was a man who successfully transitioned the Burlington Police Department, starting in an era when the horse & buggy was still the main form of transportation, and served faithfully right up to 1956, just one  year shy of the world launching a rocket off into space. The Chief always adapted to new methods of management, and was a firm believer in embracing all new technologies as they emerged. From buggy whips to rockets, what more could you ask from someone? Chief Lee Smith was undoubtedly, one of Burlington’s greatest leaders. It could also be argued that Lee J Smith just might be Canada’s greatest Police Chief during the 20th century.

Pic 20 Lee Smith Headstone cropped

The Lee J. smith headstone in Burlington’s historic Greenwood Cemetery where he rests beside his wife Alma Edith McKenzie.

Farewell Chief
On November 5, 1973 Lee Joseph Smith, in his 89th year, quietly passed away in lonely solitude at the Halton Centennial Manor in Milton, and after a 44 year separation, the Chief was buried alongside his beloved wife Alma Edith McKenzie in Burlington’s historic Greenwood Cemetery.   Sadly, this was a man who must have known deep inside; he had been completely forgotten by the community he so dearly loved. Chief Lee Smith had always truly believed that his Burlington was the best place to live in Canada. You didn’t fail us Chief. We failed you.

My opinion
I think as a community we have totally forgotten this man. There is more work to do to better preserve the  colourful history  and stories of  our heritage and Lee Smith. This is a sad injustice bestowed upon a local man who championed Burlington’s justice for over 40 years. His efforts to have us all live in a safe community have endured to this day.

New Halton Regional Police Headquarters

The proposed new Halton Regional Police Services headquarters on Bronte Road, should be named The Lee J Smith Building, Canada’s greatest Police Chief of the 20th century.

My recommendation to recognize The Chief
Here’s my recommendation for what I think would be appropriate for the man who laid the groundwork for what was to become our highly respected Halton Regional Police Services. I think it would be fair to state that Chief Smith was for the most part, the “Founding Father” of modern policing in Halton. Could we then not recommend that the new proposed Headquarters for the Halton Regional Police Services be named to respectfully honour this once in a lifetime great Police Chief? A bronze statue of Chief Smith proudly standing at attention right at the entrance would be a great addition to complement the building’s name.

Part 1 of a 4 part feature

Part 2 of a 4 part feature

Part 3 of a 4 part feature.

 

Return to the Front page

Lee Smith: Burlington's police chief for 40 years; he saw it all.

Who Knew 100x100 2015By Mark Gillies

January 18, 2015

BURLINGTON, ON

Burlington is using the month of August to celebrate local history. Sometime ago the Gazette published a series of articles by Mark Gillies, a lifelong Burlingtonian. It is appropriate to re-publish the stories about the people who built this city.

A Burlington History Maker, Like No Other
His name was Lee Joseph Smith, another outstanding citizen of Burlington, and just like Spencer Smith, this individual also made a huge impact on why so many of us choose to live here. What did this man do? As in so many cases with Burlington’s history makers, they have not been properly recognized.

Pic 1 Lee Smith

Chief Lee Joseph Smith, (1885 – 1973). Was this man Canada’s greatest Police Chief ever?

Most residents will not know his name, or at best, barely remember who Lee Smith was, but by the time you finish reading this four part feature, you will better understand this man’s contributions to the safety and protection of our local society. This is for you Lee. This is your story.

Farm Boy joins The Northwest Mounted Police
Lee was born July 26, 1885 in London, Ontario, but spent most of his boyhood years growing up on the family’s market garden farm in Saltfleet Township, which is the Stoney Creek area of Wentworth County. When Lee was 21 years of age, in 1906, he made a decision that was about to change his life, and not knowing it at the time, this same decision would eventually affect the residents of Burlington, even to this day.

Pic 2 Northwest Mounted Police Officer

Here is a typical Northwest Mounted Police officer in full dress uniform around 1911. Lee would have worn a “Mountie” uniform exactly like this one, and then climb onto his horse and head out on patrol.

His decision was to serve the public in law enforcement. Lee joined the Northwest Mounted Police, where they promptly sent him out west, where Lee patrolled on horseback throughout the wild desolate prairie lands of Alberta, only 1 year into becoming a province.

Later, Lee transferred to the Brandon, Manitoba detachment as a result of his outstanding service, having been promoted to detective. When Police Commissioner Aylesworth Bowen Perry introduced annual training classes, Lee was selected as one of his first instructors. No doubt about it, Lee Smith was a good as it gets; a rising star who undoubtedly was destined to one day become a future Commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Officer Smith while out west had some skirmishes and even took a few bullets, fired upon by local rowdies, but the young man survived, and continued to serve faithfully, and grow as a highly respected police officer.

Boy meets Girl
While posted to the Brandon detachment, Lee met his future wife to be. Her name was Alma Edith Mackenzie a lovely young lady from Woodstock, New Brunswick. Alma was a student studying at the Brandon Baptist College. When Alma was 21 years old, she and Lee tied the knot in Brandon on September 27, 1911. The newly wedded couple lived and worked in Brandon until 1914, when personal tragedy struck back home in Ontario.

Lee, after serving with the Mounties for eight rugged years, felt it best if he resigned, and return to his home area of Hamilton with his bride Alma, after receiving the tragic news his younger sister Annie Katherine, at the age of 26, had died on May 17, 1914, from tuberculosis. Annie had painfully suffered for several years with the dreaded disease. The family was grief stricken. Lee, a compassionate man, felt he had completely let his family down with his long absence from home, and racked with guilt, now wanted to be closer to his family, especially at this very difficult and sad time. Home for good, Lee needed to find work as soon as possible. Then he heard about a possible opening as a constable in Burlington.

Lee Smith finds employment in Burlington as a Night Constable
Lee was hired as a replacement night constable a few weeks after his sister’s death in the spring of 1914. Burlington, at that time, had a population of around 2,000 people during World War 1. Most of the young men from town and the surrounding farms had already gone off to war. If you think about it, if about half the population were children, and ½ of the adults were female, this only leaves 500 adult men in town. Burlington did its part, and we sent 300 over to Europe. Only 200 elderly men remained behind. Who was going to keep us safe? The Town Council had recently gone through a series of unsuccessful attempts to hire other men who did not work out to be the kind of Burlington police officer they wanted patrolling the streets after dark.

Lee Smith’s interview was impressive, and Lee was selected to be their new man of law and order. Lee continued to be exceptional at police work putting his Northwest Mounted Police training to good use. Sometime in 1916 Burlington’s first Chief Constable, Charles Tufgar, 36, who lived on Ontario Street, unexpectedly resigned. Lee Smith, without any hesitation by Town Council was promoted to Burlington’s Chief Constable. Town Council wanted to make sure their “all-star officer” didn’t one day suddenly resign, with ambitions to move up the ladder with another police department. As it was, Lee was not about to leave. The Chief strongly believed in loyalty to the Mayor, the Town Council, and the residents of Burlington he served. The truth was Lee and Alma loved Burlington.

The new Chief delivers his first report to Town Council
It was the duty of the Police Chief to provide the Town Council with an annual update of the activities and concerns of the Police Department during the first week of January. In the Chief’s first report in 1917, he acknowledged the resignation of Chief Charles Tufgar, and he also informed the town’s Council they were without the services of a night constable.

The Chief reported that in 1916 there were 475 cases that went to Court. During that same year, the Chief had found 43 doors were unlocked, and advised those residents to have them secured. The Chief reported that Burlington had 5 fires, and 24 accidents were attended. There were two cases of aggravated assault, 76 overnight lodgers, three house break ins, two charges of abusive language, 14 thefts, four common assaults, 12 disorderly conducts, 11 vagrancy charges, 1 trespassing charge, two stolen horses, 49 warnings issued for small offences, 161 local complaints received and investigated, three charges of residents not having a proper license, five charges of riding a bicycle on the sidewalk, three charges of property damage, 3 cruelty to animal charges, one charge for not having sleigh bells, 286 aliens were registered, seven charges laid for being an alien enemy, 14 charges for drunkenness and breach of the OTA, and seven charges laid for breach of the Motor Vehicle Act.

There were 11 arrests outside of points. The Chief also reported that 29 children had not attended school and the parents had been contacted. A total of $1206.20 in fines was collected. Visitations to the two pool rooms and the moving picture theatre were deemed satisfactory and managed properly. The Chief was referring to Burlington’s new Crystal Theatre located on Brant Street, opposite Ontario Street.

The following year in June 1918, the Crystal Theatre featured the two classic blockbuster silent films, “Birth of a Nation” and “Intolerance”, complete with an in-house orchestra. The Chief concluded by saying, “I highly appreciate the valuable assistance given me by Mayor and Council, also that of the Special Constables and other Town officials during the year.” No doubt about it, the Chief had a very busy year in 1916.

The Chief expands his Police Department & hires more officers
When Lee Smith became Chief Constable, he was responsible for additional duties other than police work. It was also Lee’s job to do all the janitorial duties, such as washing windows, sweeping the floor, cleaning washrooms, and to do minor repairs around the municipal office. Lee was receiving $17.80 each week, and that was after his raise, when he was promoted to Chief. This was thought to be good pay back then.

One day, the Town Council under the leadership of Mayor Maxwell Smith, himself a man of great vision, innovation and entrepreneurship, decided that Lee could use some help as the town tried to modernize, so later that year in 1916 Town Council presented Lee with a telephone for his office, something long overdue, since telephones had been in use since their invention around 1877, almost 40 years earlier.

That wasn’t all that changed for the better. The following year in 1917, affable Bert Dunham was hired as a special constable, and it was decided Bert was to work every other Sunday for $2.00 a day. Bert and his wife Ida who had seven young children were living in a very small house at the corner of Pine and Elizabeth Street; and for the Dunham family, this new source of money was greatly welcomed. Lee knew that Bert needed the extra money and this was his way of helping out when he hired Bert for the job.

One thing about Lee J Smith, he really knew people. Bert was grateful for the work, and he wasn’t going to let the compassionate Chief down. Now, Lee was no longer on call seven days a week, but still came pretty close to around the clock duty. Lee not only worked days, but he also worked nights, and it was decided another constable was needed for the still vacant night shift.

Allan Mitchell, a Scottish born family man who was about 50 years old, also could use another job, after hitting some tough times, and like Bert, Allan could use the extra money to augment his irregular income. The Chief puzzled over how Allan would labour during the day with his various odd jobs, and then still work all night. Regardless of how Allan was going to make it work, he was hired as a night constable by Chief Smith, and this brought about some more badly needed relief for this completely overworked Police Chief.

Pic 3 Adolphus Smith

Here is a very dapper Adolphus Smith sporting a fashionable bowler hat, with his wife Susan and daughter Annie around 1918 at their home 2091 Maria Street, near the corner of Martha Street. Doll, as he was known, was the older brother of Chief Smith, and Burlington’s first motorcycle officer.

A Police motorcycle, automobile accidents & possible nepotism
The Burlington Police Department grew to 4 officers in late 1919 when Chief Smith hired his older brother Adolphus as a new Burlington police officer. Adolphus was better known by everyone as “Doll”.  During World War 1, fighting against Germany, Adolphus was probably not the best name to be known by, so Doll thought this shortened version of his name worked better. Doll Smith, a woodworker by trade was working at a munitions plant in Hamilton during World War 1.

Pic 4 Car Accident Highway 2 1923

This accident occurred on the Lakeshore when the driver was heading towards Bronte. The impact was severe enough to snap the power line pole.

When the war ended, Doll who was married, with a young daughter to raise, was soon to face unemployment and began looking for work. As it turned out, Chief Smith, a man with uncanny vision, had been thinking of a way to patrol the Lakeshore Road area. This road was becoming busier all the time, now that automobiles were becoming more prevalent, and wouldn’t you just know it, automobile accidents were starting to happen, a new phenomenon for the department. The population had increased to close to 2700 people. The population was getting close to a 50% increase over wartime numbers in town.  Chief Smith, with virtually no real budget to work with managed to locate a free motorcycle for his department.

The Chief discovered that British World War 1 surplus motorcycles under the Imperial Gift plan, a program set up for all Members of the British Commonwealth to receive some of Britain’s military surplus, on a ruling established by the British Parliament on June 4, 1919 was put into effect. Chief Smith was elated and quickly sent in his application for one slightly used battle scarred motorcycle. When the machine arrived later that year, Constable Smith was assigned as Burlington’s first motorcycle officer.

Pic 5 1918 Matchless

Chief Smith secured a war surplus motorcycle similar to this 1918 Matchless, and assigned his brother to patrol the busy Lakeshore Road, the main thoroughfare for automobiles, trucks, carriages, wagons, bicyclists and pedestrians between Toronto and Hamilton from 1919 to 1930.

Doll patrolled the Lakeshore Road all the way to Toronto and back. Either Doll was hooked on riding a motorcycle, or he thought Burlington was far bigger than it actually was; whatever the reason, this is what Doll did for a few years. Doll left the department in the late 1920s to ride for the Ontario Highway Patrol, and in 1930 he moved over to the Ontario Provincial Police, when they hired 70 constables to begin their own motorcycle division. Doll was one of the OPP’s first motorcycle officers hired, and remained an OPP motorcycle officer patrolling Highways 8 and 20, right through to the Niagara area, until his retirement in 1950.

What about the nepotism? It wasn’t to be a problem. Not many people in that day could even drive an automobile, and far less could operate a motorcycle. Adolphus Smith already new how to ride, or so he claimed. Doll just happened to be in the right place at the right time. Adolphus Smith passed away in 1975 at 92 years of age.

The Ontario Temperance Act
Just when Lee Smith received his promotion to Chief, Ontario went bone dry in 1916. The Ontario Temperance Act (OTA) was enacted and this new law, designed with good intentions, prohibited alcohol sales. The OTA was in force until the Act was repealed in 1927. Needless to say, the Chief and his three officers were kept busy trying to enforce this unpopular law. Quite possibly, Chief Tufgar may have been provoked into his resignation over opposition to this legislation. The Temperance Act was that controversial.

The story of Burlington’s most famous Chief of Police was told in for parts.  The Gazette is re-publishing parts 1 and 4.  Links to parts 2 and 3 are linked below.

Part 2

Part 3

Return to the Front page

What kind of a society parented Spencer Smith? Why was he able to give so much to the city he made home?

Who Knew 100x100 2015By Mark Gillies

January 15, 2015

BURLINGTON, ON

Burlington is using the month of August to celebrate local history. Sometime ago the Gazette published a series of articles by Mark Gillies, a lifelong Burlingtonian. It is appropriate to re-publish the stories about the people who built this city. This is part two of the Spencer Smith story.

Spencer Smith got to Canada as part of the immigration of British children into Canada and Australia. The children were shipped from England by well meaning people but there were some horrific abuses and I believe it is necessary to expand the Spencer Smith story and learn more about how these boys who, without their consent became indentured servants. They were referred to as “Home Children”.

The poem Spencer Smith wrote, it was included in part 1, aches with the longings of a man who missed so much of a natural childhood.

British immigrant children from Dr. Barnardo's Homes at landing stage, St. John, New Brunswick.

Home children on a dock in St. John NB – waiting for trains to take them east.

The concept of Home Children started with honourable intentions; with good people trying to salvage young children from a parent-less home, or incredible poverty. Relocate them to a better life in Canada or Australia, that’s all they had to do. What’s the problem with that?

What made the idea work, was that farmers in Canada and Australia faced a severe labour shortage. They had recently immigrated themselves from Europe, cleared their fields, and grew their crops. Only problem was, who was going to do the harvesting, tend to the fields, feed the animals, and everything else that farmers do in this difficult labour intensive profession?

They didn’t have anybody to help. Governments were perplexed as well; those in Canada and Australia were more than happy to bring in immigrants to open up land and create farms. Sometimes they even gave them free land and supplies, but governments overlooked one part of the equation. Who is going work these large farms? They desperately needed a solution, and quickly.

Gillies Boys FarmNo doubt about it, everyone at the time believed this was a “WIN-WIN” situation. Spencer Smith’s story was a perfect example of one that seemed to have a happy ending.

Featherstone Martindale & Spencer Smith.

Spencer Smith’s sponsor was Featherstone Martindale from Caledonia. If you have ever been to Caledonia, it seems that about every third person you meet has the last name Martindale. They are a fantastic local family and they show up everywhere in Caledonia. Featherstone was born in 1848 in Haldimand County. Featherstone must not have been impressed by his first name, because he always went by the name Fred. He was a good honest man and a hardworking farmer who desperately needed help on his farm. Fred over the years became a father of 8 children and had married 3 times.

The Farmer’s Wife in Spencer’s Poem
In Spencer’s poem, he speaks of the farmer’s wife who influenced him. Spencer was referring to Eliza Mary Shult, who was Fred’s second wife. His first wife Eliza Jane Anderson died in 1881 after giving birth to a daughter named Ann. Fred married Eliza Mary Shult on January 8, 1883, and the new couple proceeded to have 7 children, the first born was Frederick who died in early 1884. Then another son named Featherstone was born in late 1884, and another 5 children were born between 1886 and 1895. In 2 quick years from 1883 to 1885 Eliza had married, and brought along her own small son named Wilfred McBride who was 5 years old from her previous marriage, when her first husband John McBride died from tuberculosis in 1879.

Spencer arrived on the farm May 21st, 1885 when Eliza Mary was just 28 years old. She was quite a busy young lady herself by the time he stepped down from the carriage. This young lady seems quite remarkable to me, since she still had some extra maternal time to still dote on young Spencer, something that helped shape his life.

Pic 23 Eliza Mary Shult & Featherstone Martindale

Eliza Mary Shult, the second wife of Featherstone Martindale had a huge influence on Spencer Smith, and he fondly recalls about her in his poem written in 1911.

I’m sure old Fred would be quite crusty at times, and probably scared the lads half to death many more times, but Spencer’s poem has a softer edge to it, especially towards Eliza Mary. Eliza Mary died in 1895 from complications of the birth with her last child George Martindale. By this time, young Spencer had already left the Martindale farm. If Spencer actually stayed the full 3 years until he was 18, his servitude would come to an end in January 1888. After the death of Eliza Mary, Fred married a spinster named Margaret Anna Peart in 1907.

The Peart family in Caledonia, which is very large in number, just like the Martindale’s is somehow linked to the Peart family in Burlington, my guess is they are probably cousins. It’s only speculation, but the Jacob Peart farm in Burlington is on the land now occupied by Fortinos, Sears and Ikea, so maybe there was a connection for Spencer Smith to come to Burlington, especially if it was initiated through the Peart families in Caledonia and Burlington. The Peart farm was located directly across Plains Road from the Bell homestead. We’ll never know for sure, but we can at least think about it.

Spencer Smith was quite fortunate and did not face some of the severe hardships that other Home Children experienced. Far too many faced a certain hell of an existence.

The Truth about the British Home Children in Canada
Here’s what really happened to most of the British Home Children.
Gillies - Herbert CliffordThis became an economic issue more than anything else. It was strictly a case of supply and demand. Most of these organizations were faced with a huge demand. They had great difficulty in meeting the demand by farmers and governments in Canada and Australia. It was stated at one time that there were 10 applications for every child. So what were they going to do? The answer was simple. Start rounding up any child who potentially was wayward and lived in the area that was to be scoured for recruits. Overly simplified, absolutely, but not by much.

The fact remains, that the original concept was for orphaned children. The reality was that only 2% were orphans. The rest were children in the wrong place at the wrong time. It’s true that during these times some parents had great economic problems, perhaps they were unemployed or seriously ill, and they had no choice but to hand over their children to a workhouse, or some other care facility until they could get back on their feet and then bring their children home. The truth is, these organizations to help meet the demand, decided to ship them overseas without their parents’ consent. Most of these children had no idea what was happening to them. The parents did not know either. The children never realized that they would never see their family again.

Pic 24 Dr Barnardo at Founder's Day Parade July 15 1905 x

Dr. Thomas Barnardo was a very controversial character, and was responsible for exporting thousands and thousands of British children out of England and relocating them mainly in Australia and Canada. Here he is in 1905 leading the Founder’s Day Parade shortly before his death that same year.

The largest organization was run under the management of its controversial founder Dr. Thomas Barnardo.  He somehow convinced the Canadian and Australian Governments to take these children. Once that was established, then other organizations like the Shaftesbury Homes, the Salvation Army, churches, and others also jumped on the bandwagon. Probably, none of these add on organizations realized that down the road, this program was going to spiral way out of control, and thousands and thousands of small children were going to be totally exploited in this moneymaking scheme to supply cheap child labour to Canadian and Australian farmers. You can dress it up any way you want, citing testimonial cases that turned out good, reminding people that they were paid a small amount, some orphans were adopted by loving families, but in my opinion, the bare bones reality was: Canada, Australia and England were totally involved in a repulsive child slavery program.

Whatever happened to the other 32 boys who made the trip to Hamilton?

When I researched for information on the other 32 boys that made the trip to Canada with Spencer Smith, only about 2 boys continued to surface on available records. The Flamborough Historical Society has documented one of these Home Children. That boy went on to marriage, become a father and worked as a market garden farmer in Aldershot. He turned out okay.

Spencer Smith turned out okay. The others, they completely disappeared. We know some could have been adopted and had their surnames changed. As an outsider, it is basically impossible to track them. We already know that conditions for some children were so severe that they continually ran away from the farms they were working on, and many were beaten to a pulp when they were caught and returned. We know with documentation as proof that over two thirds of all the British Home children were beaten severely. We know that many of these children were not allowed to become part of the family that was caring for them. Gillies - Ralph CheesmanThey were forced to live in exclusion on the farmer’s property, and not interact with the farmer’s own children or have any friends of their own. They were not loved or nurtured in any way. We know that they were constantly tormented and bullied by other children at local schools, and even adults participated in this human degradation of these children. We know that many just eventually disappeared. Where you ask?

My guess is some were probably murdered when they were beaten so severely by the farmers, and when authorities came around they just claimed that they ran away. Some children because of horrific living conditions probably became so ill, that they died on the farm, and were quietly buried on the property so as not to draw any suspicion. Others may have committed suicide, and became nothing more than John or Jane Does stashed away in a local morgue, waiting for no one to identify them. Whatever the reason, they’re gone, and we don’t know have explanations. Have a look at this story that appeared in the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix newspaper on April 23, 1930 about a young British Home Child boy named Arthur Godsall who was savagely beaten on a farm in Campbellford by farmer William Albert Hay, age 37.

Pic 25 Saskatoon Star-PhoenixAlbert had just arrived from England with many other British Home children and they all disembarked at Halifax from the ship Albertic on March 17, 1930.

Albert made his way to the Hay’s farm in Campbellford, and less than a month after he arrived he endured this beating and was finally rescued. That’s just one tragic story, there were thousands of stories just like this. One boy was forced to live outside in the dog house with the farm dog. The farmer fed the dog table scraps, and if the dog was full and if by chance there was any dog food left over, it was for the boy to scavenge. Not to mention that this same farmer viciously beat the boy almost daily. Eventually, he was removed from the farm, and as far as I know this farmer did not face any charges. This is unbelievable, but true. This happened in Canada. If you do some basic internet research, you will find these stories and many more.

What’s really disturbing is just how low profile this tragic event in human history was, and just how little we know of it now. But, it is becoming more widely known, and just recently as victims have finally come forward. In Australia for example, the Australian Government were finally brought to their knees by a public outcry after the public learned the truth from these victims, and the government brought forth an apology for their involvement in this hair-brained scheme. Also, the British Government were totally embarrassed by previous governments’ involvement in this tragic situation also came forth with an apology offered by then Prime Minister Gordon Brown. And what about the Canadian Government?

Gillies - Alice SquiresWhere do we stand? Sadly, and unfortunately, the Canadian Government has essentially taken the position that this isn’t really a big deal, and no apology is warranted or forthcoming, even though they backed and encouraged this form of child slavery and abuse under the guise of helping disadvantaged children. Personally, I think that Jason Kenney the Cabinet Minister responsible for these remarks was not that well informed on the situation when confronted with the apology question, and consequently brushed it off as unimportant. I encourage you to contact Burlington’s local Federal Member of Parliament, Mr. Mike Wallace, who is a very decent man, and please voice your concern. I would like to think that Mike can champion this cause and help us get this apology from the Canadian Government. It’s long overdue, and it’s the right thing to do.

Here’s how to reach Mike Wallace, Member of Parliament: Burlington Mall Office, 777 Guelph Line, Suite 209, Burlington, Ont. L7R 3N2. T: 905-639-5757 or F: 905-639-6031
House of Commons, East Block, Suite: 115, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0A6
T: (613) 995-0881; F: (613) 995-1091 or email, mike.wallace@parl.gc.ca

There is an incredible website on the British Home Children. https://canadianbritishhomechildren.weebly.com/
It tells the whole story of the plight of these exploited children. It will break your heart to read and watch some of the videos made by former Home Children, these men and women who are now elderly, who have finally broken their silence to tell the real story of what happened to them. The website also has a form that can be signed. It is a petition to persuade the Canadian Government to offer an apology to these unfortunate people, many still alive in Canada, and still suffering mental anguish.

Add the website to your “Favourites”. It is quite large and takes a fair bit of time to go through it properly, so you will likely have to go back several times. The website also is constantly updated with more unbelievable stories about this shameful part of our Canadian past.

 

Return to the Front page