An incredibly successful program gets hit by the pandemic

By Pepper Parr

August 4th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Food Bank Executive Director Robin Bailey put the situation in plain black and while.

An incredible record of performance

The damage the pandemic has done to the annual Gift of Giving Back food raising event is going to have a negative impact on what the food banks are able to do.

In the past, Jean Longfield and her team have done a superb job of rousing the team spirits of young people involved in sports and using that energy to produce tonnes of food that kept the food banks running quite well.

When Longfield came up with the idea in 2007 it just grew and grew – to the point where she was able to pass the idea along to other communities.

Jean Longfield talking to a television reporter about the success of the Gift of Giving Back program. John Tate is in the background.

This year, there will be a food drive – it won’t use the traditional Gift of Giving Back – instead they will work under the banner of xxx and work with Burlington Centre to create a location people can take food to and have it picked up from the cars parked in the lot.

It won’t be the same – the buzz that always existed around the Giving Back event was exciting; seeing student after student come into the high school gymnasium with cartons of food that other people would need was a sterling example of our young people learning to care for others.

For Jean Longfield this must be an anxious period of time. She put everything into making the program better year after year.

To be stopped in your tracks by a pandemic is understandable – but that doesn’t lessen the disappointment.

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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.

 

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Gillies believes Freeman Station most historic structure in the city: it was a battle to save it from the wrecking ball.

Who Knew 100x100 2015By Mark Gillies

February 2, 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.

Would you like to know who I think was one of Burlington’s great business leaders of the early 20th century? Many great people who lived here before us, sacrificed much to help shape Burlington; in order for us to benefit from our beautiful surroundings today. As a local society, we have in far too many cases, turned our backs on these great citizens of Burlington. This is a real shame, and it doesn’t have to be this way.

As in my previous articles, most of the people I write about will be names that you do not recognize, and are now reading for the first time. These outstanding citizens of Burlington accomplished much locally, but have never been properly recognized. One such person is Henry “Harry” Lorimer.

Harry Lorimer moves up the ladder with The Grand Trunk Railway
Harry was born on the family farm in Norfolk County, February 8, 1861. By 1891, Harry left the family business and pursued a career with the Grand Trunk Railway in Norfolk County. Harry’s first job was a telegraph operator, then he became a Railway Agent assigned to a station in Norfolk County, where he perfected his skills, before receiving a promotion that was about to relocate Harry and his family to a more fast paced location, the Burlington Junction Station in Freeman.

Pic 1

Harry Lorimer was the Burlington Junction Station Master in 1906 when it opened after fire destroyed the previous station in 1904.

By 1897, Harry, his wife Seba, and daughter Gertrude were living in Freeman, and Harry was working as the Grand Trunk Railway Agent. It was very prestigious to be assigned as a Railway Agent to a Junction station. There was so much activity all of the time. Burlington Junction had double track lines running from Montreal right through to Chicago. Trains were travelling both ways. Then, the Grand Trunk Railway had another track running from the Niagara Region, across the Beach, through town, and up to Freeman where it crossed over the double tracks, continuing up to Georgetown, and then up to Allandale.

Burlington Junction also had freight warehouses, which were always busy with boxcars being loaded or unloaded. The responsibility and stress levels were extremely high for Harry Lorimer. The complicated schedules and logistics were unbelievable. Harry was lucky to have a telephone, some needed high tech assistance. The Station Master’s number was easy to remember. Who could forget “2”? Harry was the only Station Master for two different Freeman Stations. One burnt to the ground in 1904, and was replaced by another GTR station in 1906.

Pic 2

After a fire destroyed the original Great Western Railway train station in 1883, this second station was built by the Grand Trunk Railway, which also succumbed to a fire and was destroyed in 1904. Harry Lorimer was Station Master for both railway stations.

Pic 3

This is the historic 1906 Grand Trunk Railway Station photographed just after it had been built. The GTR identified the station as “Burlington Junction”. Our historic station was one of the busiest Junction stations in all of Canada. Now, thanks to the financial generosity of local citizens and businesses, this 109 year old historic building, owned by the City of Burlington, is in the process of restoration and has been permanently relocated to Fairview Street, west of Brant Street.

The city owned 1906 historic station is now under restoration in a new location on Fairview Street, solely at the expense of private citizens and local businesses, who have come forward to save the station from demolition, as recommended by The City of Burlington. The City of Burlington at one time was to receive close to $1,000,000 in stimulus money to finance the relocation and restoration, but Burlington City Council, several years ago, were unsuccessful in agreement on a new suitable location. Subsequently the City of Burlington lost access to all of this stimulus money. Then, their solution to solve the problem on what to do with this magnificent old building, was a decision to have our heritage rich Freeman Station demolished, despite this being one of Burlington’s most historic buildings, and a huge part of Burlington’s colourful heritage. The citizens of Burlington were outraged at their thinking. Some on City Council still continued to fight to save our beloved Freeman Station and have been officially recognized for their outstanding efforts by the citizen organization, Friends of Freeman Station.

The Station Master was a highly respected citizen
The Station Master or Railway Agent in any town with a railway station was always a very influential and prominent citizen in their community. Railway Agents were very well respected, much like the clergy, police officers, doctors or lawyers. One of the reasons for this high level of respect was due to the fact that new families moving to Canada from Europe, arrived on the scene, and knew no one, often standing on the railway platform, suitcases in hand, and not knowing what to do, or where to go. The first person they saw and who offered to help them was the local Railway Agent. From meeting their first friend in Canada, new arrivals, one day, responded in kind. Often times, throughout Canada, the town’s highly respected Railway Agent also became the local Reeve or Mayor.

In 1901, Harry and his family were well entrenched into Burlington’s local community. Some of their good friends and neighbours were John Thomas Tuck and his family, plus the Ghent family, two very prominent local families. We’re all familiar with John T Tuck School on Spruce Avenue, and we all know where Ghent Avenue is located in Burlington. These two families have been recognized locally, but not so for Harry Lorimer.

Pic 4

James S. Allen was the proprietor of Allen’s Hardware at the time it was sold to Harry Lorimer and Gordon Colton in 1912. James S. Allen was the nephew of George Allen, the previous owner, who then moved on to build prestigious homes in the core area of Burlington. James S. Allen, later became the Mayor of Burlington from 1925-1928.

Harry Lorimer changes careers and Burlington wins again
In 1912, Harry, who was just 51 years old, made a career change. He became a hardware merchant and bought into an established business with his son-in-law, Gordon Colton. Together, they bought the hardware store, Allen’s Hardware, from James S. Allen, who at one time served as Mayor from 1925-1928. James Allen had previously purchased the business from his uncle George Allen in 1901.  George had become Burlington’s most prominent home builder at the time, and was responsible for the building of many of Burlington’s historic homes in the downtown core, which was referred to as the Wellington Park area. The former Allen’s Hardware, was now called Colton & Lorimer Hardware store, and was located at the northeast corner of Brant Street and Pine Street. Their retail neighbour 2 doors north, was Spencer Smith’s green grocery store. I wrote about the remarkable Spencer Smith and his accomplishments in my article on January 12th. The hardware store, from the same location, operated as a thriving business well into the 1970s when it was owned by Keith Dale from Aldershot, and Keith operated it as Dale’s Hardware. Keith Dale purchased the store from the Mills family who had operated it as Mills Hardware, after they purchased it from Harry Lorimer.

Pic 5

The Allen’s Hardware name was removed and the Colton & Lorimer name was added to the outside of the building in 1912. The historic building was located at the northeast corner of Pine & Brant Streets. This historic building met a fate all too familiar in Burlington, and was demolished.

The retailing skills of Harry and Gordon were outstanding, as they both realized Burlington was growing quickly. Harry and Gordon understood that they needed to supply all of the local market gardeners with proper farm supplies, implements, and chemicals, plus they were also aware that new housing starts, and new building construction would provide incremental retail sales. To have everything in stock for both farmers and homeowners, and at the same time was a massive retailing nightmare. Big “Box stores” were not in Burlington yet, close to 100 years into the future, but Harry and Gordon knew exactly what would sell and what to stock in their store. Burlington was their market, and their shrewd retailing skills made Harry and Gordon very successful businessmen.

The Colton & Lorimer Hardware store was extremely successful, undoubtedly the most successful retail location on Brant Street, and most residents in Burlington shopped there. If you were lucky enough to have a telephone in Burlington, you could call Colton & Lorimer. Their number was “9”. If Colton & Lorimer didn’t have what you wanted, then you really didn’t need it. Colton & Lorimer had fine-tuned hardware retailing to a science.

Pic 6

Harry Lorimer proved to be a superior retailer, and as a result the Lorimer’s attained substantial affluence. Along with the purchase of a custom made house, built by Burlington’s most prominent builder, George Allen; Harry & Seba also acquired a luxurious automobile and were driven about town by Bob, their chauffeur.

With hard work, comes the spoils, Burlington’s on a roll
Harry and Seba finally decided to purchase a new home. They also decided to buy an automobile, and hire a chauffeur to drive them around.  The hardware business was doing that well. The beautiful home they chose was built by Burlington’s most prominent home builder George Allen. Many of George Allen’s beautiful homes have now been designated as historical. The Lorimer residence was built in 1914 on a lot to the north of George Allen’s own historic house at 1391 Ontario Street. George Allen did not disappoint the Lorimer family. Their new home was stunning. The historic Lorimer family is at 504 Burlington Avenue, and the house just had its 100th birthday.

Pic 7

George Allen built this beautiful home for the Lorimer family, and they moved here in 1914. The house at one time was recognized as historical, but in 2013 it was removed from the Registry by the City of Burlington for alleged lack of historical significance.

City of Burlington insults Harry Lorimer’s legacy 50 years later
This beautiful home was lived in by the prominent Lorimer family for 50 years, from 1914 until 1964, and at one time was recognized as historical and added to the Municipal Register of Cultural Heritage Resources, then was officially removed from the Register in 2013 for what was said the be a lack of historical, architectural, or contextual value. (I know what you’re thinking, I’m not making this up, it really happened). The City of Burlington defends its heritage reasoning found on their website as follows:

What is Heritage Conservation?
“Heritage conservation involves identifying, protecting and promoting the elements that our society values. Heritage conservation has traditionally been associated with protecting the physical or built environment (buildings, structures, landscapes, facts etc.). More recently, the term has also come to be associated with safeguarding the non-physical associations between people and a place (associations linked to use, meanings and cultural or spiritual values).”Taken from Parks Canada Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada

Why is Conservation Planning Important?
The conservation of built heritage is an integral part of the land use planning process at the City of Burlington. It entails planning for the identification, protection and promotion of the heritage resources that our community values. Burlington’s heritage is a living legacy that helps us understand our past, provides us context for the present and influences our future.

Why Conserve our Heritage?
The conservation of cultural and heritage properties is vital to a community’s overall cultural and economic development and it can enrich our lives, inspire us and create a sense of community that can sustain generations. The Heritage planning process in Burlington is overseen by staff in consultation with the Heritage Burlington Committee.

The Passing of Harry Lorimer and his Family
Harry lived to be 99 years old, and passed away peacefully in 1960. His beloved wife Seba died 10 years earlier at 85 years of age in 1950. Gertrude, their daughter died at 76 years of age in 1964, and her husband Gordon tragically died at 31 years of age in 1918 as a result of the great influenza epidemic. They are all buried together as family, in Aldershot’s historic Greenwood Cemetery. All residents of Burlington owe a huge debt of gratitude to the Lorimer and Colton families. These two dynamic families were true genuine pillars of the community and did far more than their fair share in helping to build, shape and drive Burlington’s economic engine so efficiently into the 20th century

Plan to Attend Heritage Days

On Saturday, February 7th at Burlington Central Library, Heritage Days will be in full swing with many wonderful displays of Burlington’s local heritage featured for the public to view. Plan to take the children or grandchildren. It’s free to everyone. There will also be several guest speakers throughout the event. Heritage Days will be from 10:00 AM to 3:30 PM. One display you will not want to miss, will be the Burlington Junction Train Station 1:24 scale model. This beautiful model was handcrafted by Burlington resident, Mr. Bob Chambers. Thanks to Bob’s talents, you will get to see what life was like in 1906 when the historic train station opened, and Harry Lorimer was its first Station Master.

Pic 8

Councillors Marianne Meed Ward and Blair Lancaster, both heritage preservation advocates were recognized by the citizen group “Friends of Freeman Station” for their perseverance and leadership in convincing the others on City Council that the Freeman Station was worth saving.

Pic 9

Mayor Rick Goldring was recognized by “Friends of Freeman Station” for his personal involvement in helping to save the Freeman Station from demolition, as recommended by the City of Burlington. Mayor Goldring received a Lifetime Membership to Friends of Freeman Station from Brian Aasgaard, President of Friends of Freeman Station.

The Friends of Freeman Station will be there to answer all of your questions. Please plan to donate generously to help these exceptional volunteers complete the restoration of this magnificent historical building, something the City of Burlington could not accomplish. Without private financial support, this Burlington Junction restoration cannot be completed. There is no local, provincial, or federal government funding.

My next article on February 9th will be on the Burlington Junction Station, or as it is so often called, the Freeman Station. Find out why I believe Burlington Junction Station is Burlington’s most historical building,  and why we need to make sure this part of our local heritage is preserved for future generations.

Related article:

What the Freeman Station really meant to the growth of the city; it was the key link in the transition of the city

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Mark Gillies writes about families that built the Burlington we have today. Strawberries as a delicacy were made popular here.

Who Knew 100x100 2015By Mark Gillies

Originally published January 5, 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. The pictures are fascinating.

 

I chose Edith Hodge for my first venture into writing about Burlington’s fascinating historical roots.

Edith Hodge

Edith Hodge, 1829 – 1925, a true local pioneer.

Most Burlington residents have never heard of Edith Hodge, but by the end of this article, you will become much more familiar with this wonderful lady, and just how she has positively impacted Burlington.  Edith is the perfect example of how life changed for many people of this era, who for whatever reason, left their homeland, and ventured into the New World as a pioneer, rooted themselves to their new environment, and provided future generations with the foundations of progress for a new society.

Edith Hodge came to Burlington in 1843 when she was only 14 years old, on a sailing ship that set sail from England and arrived in Montreal, Quebec. The voyage across the Atlantic Ocean lasted 7 long weeks. What’s unique about this voyage was Edith actually recalled her travel experiences and had them documented when she was in her 95th year in 1923, when she related the story to Marion North Blodgett (1891 – 1966).

There are not many first hand recorded recollections of life on these ships from immigrants sailing from Europe and settling in the New World. To have such information available from one of Burlington’s earliest residences is indeed quite rare and should be cherished for its historical content.

Weymouth Harbour

Edith, her mother & father, brothers and sisters were born and raised in Weymouth, England. This illustration shows how the village of Weymouth looked around the time the Hodge family decided to leave and relocate in Upper Canada.

Martha Bartlett

Martha Bartlett was Edith Hodge’s mother. Martha and her daughters made all of the preparations for the long and dangerous voyage across the Atlantic Ocean, then upon arrival in Montreal after a 7 week voyage made their way to Hamilton.

Edith was born in Weymouth, England in 1829.  With her mother Martha (1794 -1881), and 3 sisters Susan (1821- 1915), Mary (1825 -1899), & Emma (1834 – 1895) they travelled by themselves on this incredible journey.  Edith’s father William Hodge (1790 – 1870), and her 3 brothers William (1827 -1899), James (1828 – 1897) & John (1837 – 1891) had already travelled the treacherous Atlantic Ocean much earlier, in order to set up a home, find a job, send money back home, and do everything necessary to bring the rest of the family over to a more comfortable lifestyle. It was not uncommon for families to split up like this, in order to better establish themselves in their new homeland.

Edith recalls the sailing ship had 3 masts, and had bricks as ballast. Ships on their return voyage to Europe were basically void of passengers, but were changed into freight ships loaded with lumber and grain, usually wheat, destined for the European market.

Burlington Junction Station 1906

Historic Burlington Junction Station in 1906.

As a matter of local interest, the historic 1906 Freeman Grand Trunk Railway Station now under restoration on Fairview Street has ship’s ballast as decorative stone work on the outside of the building. These are called “Whinstones”, which were quarried in the Midlands area of Scotland. To raise funds for the restoration work, 1,000 Whinstones can be sponsored with a tax deductible receipt for $100.00 each. To find out about sponsoring a Whinstone, just go to the Friends of Freeman Station website www.freemanstation.ca

Travelling by ship in 1843 was not anything like a cruise ship of today. It was not “All Inclusive”. The whole trip was extremely uncomfortable and very dangerous. Sickness and death were rampant. The ships were often called “Coffin Ships”. Burials at sea were an almost daily event. If you arrived alive, it was miraculous.
To travel, passengers had to bring their own food. Edith recalls the preparations that she and her mother and sisters made for the voyage. “We lived near a baker who supplied loaves of bread, which we cut and toasted before starting; also Mother cooked hams and prepared preserved fruits.” This information is quite insightful, as most of us have absolutely no knowledge of how these new settlers sustained themselves on a trip like this which lasted about 2 months.

Pic 5 Cabin 1

This illustration and the one to the right, show some of the horrific living conditions endured by passengers aboard a sailing ship travelling across the Atlantic Ocean, often in perilous weather.

Pic 5 Cabin 3Another family from Weymouth, England were the Judds. They became the travelling companions of the Hodge family, and shared a compartment on the ship below deck. There was a low partition between the 2 families, and bunk beds for both. Edith recalls being mischievous on the long trip. “They used to call me down for everything.” Edith tells of the 2 families reading aloud to each other, often praying and singing.
During a huge Atlantic storm, when water was lashing over the bulwarks, passengers had to be fastened down below deck. The fierceness of the ocean tossed passengers violently on the ship. One of Edith’s sisters became so ill, that she removed her restraints and ventured onto the deck during this fierce storm. This was probably not the best of decisions, since sailing in oceanic storms can be very dangerous.

It was common to exchange food amongst passengers. The captain had fresh meat tied to the mast and sometimes would give the Hodge and Judd families some. The Hodge family had brought salted meat, and this was a welcomed change.

The Hodge and Judd families were very religious and took exception to some passengers playing cards. Edith said, “We didn’t have anything to do with them.”

Aaron Dunham Emory

Aaron Dunham Emory was the man who loaned the money to the Hodge family which allowed them to purchase their farm in present day Burlington. According to Edith Hodge, Aaron Emory was “a real decent chap”.

When the ship arrived in Montreal, the passengers had to stay in quarantine for 4 days, and once they cleared inspection, they were allowed to proceed. The Hodge family then travelled on a small boat which was pulled by a team of horses along the shoreline whenever they encountered rapids on the St. Lawrence River.   Finally, this small boat made its way to Hamilton, and the Hodge women reunited with the Hodge men. William Hodge had already rented a home with a big garden. He began work as a gunsmith. The Hodge family stayed at this home for a short time, just long enough to figure out how to buy their own property. William and Edith then borrowed enough funds from Aaron Dunham Emory (1808 – 1892), to buy some farmland.

The Hodge’s had to remove tree stumps with oxen hitched to chains that were wrapped around the stumps. Edith stated, “You’d think it was a mountain coming up when the stumps gave way.” The cost to remove all of the tree stumps was $300.00, which was a huge amount of money in those days. The first crop planted was blackberries. The Hodge farm also had 2 cows. The family raised money by selling butter and blackberries at the Hamilton Farmer’s Market, which was used to pay off the interest on Aaron Emory’s loan. Edith recalled, “It was a great thing when we could pay off the borrowed money.” She called, Mr. Emory, “a real decent old chap”.

So how does Edith Hodge become more familiar to the rest of us in Burlington?

William Bell

William Bell married Edith Hodge around 1850 and they proceeded to have 10 children . They lived a very good life at their homestead in Burlington.

Around 1848, Edith met a man named William Bell (1826 – 1895) who she fancied very much, and the couple married around 1850.   William Bell was born in England, and made his way to present day Burlington as a young man, and he then became a local farmer. His father Robert Bell and two of his brothers were shoemakers in Hamilton, and William was not interested in pursuing that career. Together, William & Edith Bell had 10 children. They are: James (1851 – 1935), Frederick (1853 – 1939), Elizabeth (1855 – 1936), William (1856 – 1942), Martha (1857 – 1932), John (1861 – 1947), Mary (1863 – 1962), Rhoda (1866 – 1957), Edith (1868 – 1871) & Edith (1873 – 1924).

William & Edith built the Bell homestead, which is still standing in Burlington. Thankfully, it has not been demolished, as so many properties of local historical relevance have been.

Bell Homestead

This photo shows the original Bell homestead photographed about 100 years ago. It is still in existence. This is the home of Canada’s “Strawberry Social”.

What’s extremely important about the Bell homestead, is that William Bell introduced strawberries as a commercial agricultural product to Canada. Previously, people would usually have strawberries growing in a small container, maybe located on their verandah, and as people went by, they would pick one or two to eat.

Bellview House

The Bell homestead is now called Bellview House. Today it is a conference centre. Look for the house when you exit the Ikea & Fortinos parking lot. When you turn left on Plains Road heading towards Brant Street, just look right as soon as you turn.

It was William Bell, who had the vision of much more, and realized that this product could be grown in the fields, especially along Maple Avenue where the sandy soil was perfect for strawberry production, and then harvested, sold locally and also shipped to distant markets. William and Edith Bell were agricultural entrepreneurs who realized you could make a lot of money, just by growing strawberries.

Strawberry Social

Here’s the “Strawberry Social” in full swing in 1916. The three  ladies in front (L-R) are Mary, Martha and Rhoda Bell, three  daughters of Edith Hodge. If you look closely at the photograph you can see a young dashing Spencer Smith in the background.

The Bell family also were instrumental in using the “Strawberry Social”, as a very clever marketing tool to increase the sale of their strawberries.   It became very fashionable to eat strawberries in Burlington, and around the country, thanks to William & Edith Bell.

Some of the Bell children married into many early local pioneer families. James, the eldest son married Jennie Fonger, (David Fonger was one of Aldershot’s first residents), Elizabeth, the eldest daughter married William Arthur Emery, (the Emery/Emory family are United Empire Loyalists), William married Frances Alton, (the Alton name is well recognized in Burlington), and Edith, the youngest child married Spencer Smith, a name known by everyone in Burlington.

Elizabeth Bell

Another daughter of Edith Hodge was Elizabeth Bell. Elizabeth married William Arthur Emery, a successful market gardener in Aldershot.

William Emery

William Arthur Emery who married Elizabeth Bell was the son of Aaron Dunham Emory. Aaron Dunham Emory was born in New Jersey and came to the area as a United Empire Loyalist.

Marion North Blodgett (1)

Marion North Blodgett was the lady responsible for documenting the recollections in 1923 of Edith Hodge and her experiences travelling across the Atlantic Ocean in 1843. This was not an easy task as Edith Hodge died of senility shortly thereafter. Today we know this as dementia.

Ethel Victoria Emery

Ethel Victoria Emery is the daughter of Victor and Marion Emery. Today, we know her better as Vicki Gudgeon, a local historian and past President of the Burlington Historical Society.

Elizabeth Bell and William Arthur Emery had 5 children.   One son was Victor Harold Emery (1883 – 1966).   Victor married Marion North Blodgett.   One of their daughters is Ethel Victoria Emery.   Many will better recognize this lady as Vicki Gudgeon, a former past President of The Burlington Historical Society, and a noted local historian.

Who knew?

My next article will be on Monday January 12, 2015. It will be on Spencer Smith, the son-in-law of Elizabeth Hodge.  We all recognize the man who has his name attached to Spencer Smith Park, a park used and enjoyed by thousands of residents, but very few of us know anything about this very special man. Spencer Smith had an extraordinary life. Find out next week.

Mark Gillies is a lifelong resident of Burlington,  grew up in Aldershot and developed as a local historian, researcher, master genealogist and writer who has a passionate interest and extensive knowledge of the many early pioneer families.  Mark will write a regular column Who Knew?,  about colourful local history introducing Burlingtonians to the people that made this city what it is today.

 

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Race for the Liberal Provincial nomination was a messy affair.

By Pepper Parr

July 30th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

OPINION

Politics can be a cruel mistress.

A number of months ago Andrea Grebenc thought she had grown to the point where she decided she would like to try something bigger in the world of politics.

She was chair of the Halton District School Board. The Burlington Provincial Liberal Association was going to have to nominate a candidate soon and Grebenc thought she could do that job.

The process to the actual nomination of a candidate for the Liberals was messy – sloppy is perhaps a better word.

Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns was coy about seeking the Liberal nomination. She announced; shortly afterwards Andrea Grebenc announced she was also running for the nomination. Kearns withdrew.

The Liberals invited ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns to seek the nomination. After a month or so of saying maybe yes – maybe no publicly, she finally came out and said she would seek the nomination.

A few days later Grebenc announced her intention to see the nomination.

Within 48 hours Kearns withdrew.

By that time there was a third candidate seeking the nomination.

Mariam Manaa announced she would seek the nomination. Ms Manaa, a young Muslim woman had been recruiting new members for the Burlington Provincial Liberal Party since January.

Grebenc chose to wait until May 27th to file her papers. The Provincial Liberals set June 6 as the date for the nomination meeting.

Andrea Grebenc, chair of the Halton District School Board – lost the nomination contest.

Grebenc explained to the Gazette at the time that she was working regularly with Jane McKenna, the MPP for Burlington and felt that it would be rather awkward to be working with McKenna and at the same time preparing to run against her.

Thus the wait until May 27th.

With just 10 days to sign up new members there wasn’t much of a chance to overcome the new membership lead that Ms Manaa had.

“I can tell you that the Manaa supporters were very loyal. I called many of them – they weren’t budging.”

Ms Manaa is the Liberal candidate – she won fair and square – the problem was that the rules didn’t allow those who had been Liberal supporters with Party experience to make a choice.

Anybody could become an instant Liberal.  All you had to do was live in the city and be able to prove it.

The process turned out to be a race to see who could recruit new members – Manaa recruited more than anyone else and won.

The nomination process was unfair to both Grebenc and Manaa – they were limited to a 10 minute speech with nothing in the way of debate between the two women.

Mariam Manaa – Liberal candidate .

Manaa has some very credible experience in the community. Her work for the Member of Parliament was much appreciated by the Minister and the community that she was able to help.

We were indeed in the middle of a pandemic and there were stiff restrictions. But not so many that a debate could not have taken place and streamed live.

Neither candidate was given a chance to show their stuff.

The blame for this rests in the hands of the Burlington Provincial Liberal party executive. They failed the party; they failed the candidates, and they failed the people of Burlington.

Hopefully Ms Manaa will create an election team and keep her distance from the Burlington Provincial Liberal Association – they have proven to be incompetent.

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.

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Rivers offers: A Post Mortem for the Green Party

“I’ve always been fond of dogs, and they are the one animal that knows the proper treatment to give to poles (polls).” (Former PM – John Diefenbaker)

By Ray Rivers

July 29, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

OPINION

We are expecting a federal election call anytime soon. Most Canadians think we don’t need one yet. But the Liberals are stuck in a minority situation and beholden to the other centre-left or left-of-centre parties to bring their agenda forward. So with the polls moving in their favour they will do what political parties do.

The opposition parties are complaining that it has only been two years since the last election and we’re still not out of the pandemic. But the real issue is that they don’t like what the polls are telling them. After all this would not be the first election during COVID. If we can believe the polls, an election today would mean that the ruling Liberals would improve their seat position and possibly even garner a majority.

The Greens are still polling around their traditional 5%, which means they may not do as poorly as they should this time. After all, the party has shown that it can’t even manage itself, let alone the nation.

Greens have always been a fringe party. Their raison d’être has been protection of the environment and mitigating climate change, which today, to their credit, is one of the most important priorities for Canadians. Still, Elizabeth May, try as she did, never got anyone to take their social and economic policies seriously.

Annamie Paul, current leader of the Green Party

In fact, when new leader, Annamie Paul, decided to venture into middle eastern politics, even with a seemingly balanced position, all hell broke loose. The party ended up losing a third of its elected members to the Liberals, falling back to only two seats. As a result, Paul came within a hair of being turfed out as leader and her Green Party membership revoked. An arbitration process saved her skin, though that in itself is now the subject of even more discord.

The Greens need to shake their collective heads. They are supposed to be a party which preaches social harmony, tolerance and understanding. Yet racism, mud slinging, conspiracy and cronyism are in the makings of this internal war. The party executive has even held back funding Paul’s personal election campaign, in what can only be described as a desperate attempt to get rid of her.

Paul is hoping that the existing executive will be replaced at the upcoming party convention, which may end up coinciding with the federal election. But who knows? And with party executive at war with their leader, why would anyone vote for these folks? Unless Paul can pull a rabbit out of a hat they are another political entity on a road to extinction.

Though it’s not certain, the Greens may at least hope to hang onto Elizabeth May’s traditional B.C. riding. Beyond that, no one should be betting on them. Their future is not likely bright. Besides, the NDP and Liberals have already stolen most Green policies, making the Greens more of a postscript rather than a viable electoral option.

From the perspective of the Conservative Party the Greens are, in fact, a political ally. They and the NDP represent votes which, thanks to our first past the post electoral system (FPP), won’t otherwise go to the Liberals. It is little wonder then that the Conservatives have always rejected changing the electoral system.

But a proportional electoral system, as is commonplace in most democracies (94), might even enable the Greens to become a part of a governing coalition, as they have in other countries. So it was unsurprising that some Green voters supported Mr. Trudeau and voted Liberal when he first promised electoral reform in his first election campaign.

Elizabeth May and Annamie Paul.  May was the leader of the Green Party – she was replaced by Annamie Paul.

At best, the Green Party of Canada, which was formed back in 1983, is unlikely to win enough seats to form even a minority government in the foreseeable future, even if Canada changes its electoral system. And, given the internal strife the Green Party is now experiencing, no one would be surprised to see it go the way of Social Credit, Natural Levitation, the Communists and Marxists, the Reform Party, and very likely the People’s party.

The Liberals, to their credit, have seen the writing on the wall, borrowed environmental policies mostly scripted by the Greens, and is undertaking the most massive restructuring of the Canadian economy and society in our lifetimes, in order for this country to become a global leader in carbon freedom. For that the Green Party needs to be recognized for their prescience and forbearance, anyway.

Annaimie Paul has been remarkably self-restrained and controlled through all that is going on, including personal attacks. She deserves better.

As for Paul, who has been remarkably self-restrained and controlled through all that is going on, including personal attacks, she deserves better. One can only hope there is a future for her to bring her qualities and strengths to work in some other way, or with some other political party, for the benefit of us all. But if her party membership really has a point about her leadership failings, perhaps there is some other kind of career opportunity waiting for her.

Next time we’ll take a look at the federal NDP.

Ray Rivers, a Gazette Contributing Editor,  writes regularly applying his more than 25 years as a federal bureaucrat to his thinking.  Rivers was once a candidate for provincial office in Burlington.  He was the founder of the Burlington citizen committee on sustainability at a time when climate warming was a hotly debated subject.   Ray has a post graduate degree in economics that he earned at the University of Ottawa.  Tweet @rayzrivers

Background links:

Election Polls –  Green Party –    Climate Change Polls

Paul –   Green’s Dispute –    More Discord

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Rivers: A Premier for the Lobbyists and Developers?

By Ray Rivers

July 24th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

OPINION

“Despite being the epicentre of the COVID pandemic in Ontario, for-profit nursing homes, from a business point of view, did incredibly well over the past 15 months. The Ford government indemnified them against liability from lawsuits, paid them out at full capacity no matter how many residents they had, and even offered them subsidies for other lost revenues.

The profitability of the long term care sector is astonishing.

In fact, many of the investment-backed, corporate players in the nursing home industry will emerge from COVID-19 in better shape than they entered it, thanks in large part to the province’s aggressive and generous plan to refurbish old homes and build new ones.” (Toronto Star July 2021)

The authors of this in-depth report (link below) concluded that throughout Ontario’s COVID crisis, premier Doug Ford simply followed the advice of the last person he had met with, and those were all too often corporate lobbyists or his friends in the development sector. Apparently when it comes to COVID Ford has one rule for the lobbyists and another for all the rest of ‘his people’.

Construction hours have been extended at the request of the developers.

Why for example, was construction allowed to continue pretty much business-as-usual when so many other businesses with lower COVID transmission rates were forced to shutter? Construction is known to have one of the highest transmission rates of all industries, and yet, curiously, residential construction was declared an essential service.

Meanwhile, in an attempt to appear to be acting tough on public health measures, recreational golf and tennis, which had no previous record of COVID transmission, were banned. Small non-grocery business owners, with a tiny public footprint, were outraged that their big box competition at Walmart and Costco could continue to operate while they had to close.

And despite being among the hottest spots for viral transmission in the province, meat packing, the Post Office and Amazon, were allowed to continue unabated. In the end it took the local medical officers of health, not the province, to shut them down.

The way Mr. Ford has tailored his priorities helps explain why it has taken Ontario so long to get our COVID infection rates down. This policy of allowing high risk activities to continue while curtailing safer options is not just unfair, it’s also negligent.

The opening up of the hospitality sector too soon brought about a third wave from which we are just emerging.

“….since Ontario first declared a state of emergency in March of 2020 the government has made decisions that align with the interests of lobbyists — many of whom have close ties to the premier, his party or both — and the businesses they represent. Those decisions have often favoured certain sectors over others and have, at key moments in the pandemic, gone against public health advice, delaying or fracturing lockdowns. Those decisions have often favoured certain sectors over others and have, at key moments in the pandemic, gone against public health advice, delaying or fracturing lockdowns.?” (Toronto Star July 2021)

If only a lobbyist for vaccine passports or mandatory vaccination for health care workers could make their way over the premier’s office?

Background links

Star Report –   Construction Sector –   Building Trades –  Retaining and Big Box

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Shift in the make up of the real estate market requires sellers to understand the new dynamic

By Rob Golfi

July 20, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

The pandemic era housing market has continued to climb to an all-time high over the past two years with the average selling price of $688,208 recorded this May, according to WOWA. The intense demand of homes during the pandemic has made prices skyrocket, creating a seller’s market. While the market activity was up 103.6% year-over-year, The Canadian Real Estate Association has noted a decline in national home sales by 7.4% on a month-over-month basis in May.

Data – Canadian Real Estate Association

With the high demand of homes and a shortage of properties, frantic bidding wars on low valued homes have become out of control. In March 2021, the peak of the pandemic market, out of 1304 homes sold 1116 sold at asking price or higher and in April 2021 sales were up 245% since April 2020. However, sale prices were down 11% in June with the inventory available at the end of the month dropping to 0.8% which was lower than May. I have noticed that seller expectations are being impacted from how things were in previous months” resulting in pandemic tunnel vision which is preventing people from being able to sell their homes.

Unfortunately, sellers are getting caught up in the previous numbers of the market or hear about a neighbour who sold their house for X amount of money a few months ago, and believe their house is worth the same or more. Many agents in the area are having trouble coaching and supporting both buyers and sellers. Although the market isn’t retreating to a stable level, it isn’t continuing to rise to the previous caliber of March and April. As a result many are realizing weeks later that they botched a great offer and regret becoming overly confident and unsatisfied with the offers they declined. It is difficult for sellers to understand that we are now in an adjustment phase of the market”. Ultimately, sellers need to disregard previous numbers from the peak of the market and realize that it is beginning to settle down.

All things considered, the market earlier this year is a great memory for those who sold, and for buyers it will catch up in 12 months and you will see your equity begin to flourish. However, in this moment it is crucial for sellers to comprehend the shift the market is taking to successfully sell their home, and refrain from being fixated on numbers that are no longer applicable.

Rob Golfi is the founder of RE/MAX Escarpment Golfi Realty Inc. A Real Estate Brokerage operating in Hamilton, Halton, Brantford, and Niagara. The firm has over 200 years of combined experience with more than 1000 five-star reviews on Google, Facebook, and Zillow. The Golfi Team is rated the 7th best RE/MAX team worldwide. The have being en in the top 100 Real Estate Teams for RE/MAX Canada since 2003.

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Rivers: Is the Pandemic Over or Is This Deja Vu?

By Ray Rivers
July 19th, 2021
BURLINGTON, ON

The roller coaster ride with COVID has slowed down once again in this province. Our infection numbers have declined substantially since we peaked at over 4000 cases back a few months ago. Clearly the ‘stay-at-home’ and other public health restrictions have helped, though it’s the vaccinations that have really made the difference. And our governments deserve credit, the feds for securing vaccine supply and the province and local health authorities for rolling out the vaccinations.

Yet Ontario’s infection rate is still hovering in the triple digits and only about half of the adult population is vaccinated . But, the Premier is boasting about getting back to normal soon, much as he did last year. But chances are better than even that he is wrong again.

Normal is a long way off. Over the last few days the provincial infection numbers have either settled onto a plateau, or started inching back in the wrong direction. And Ontario’s new medical officer of health is now predicting another increase in infections come September, just as we saw last year.

If we look at the British and Americans. We see how they had mostly opened up their economies when their vaccination levels were similar to those in Ontario. But the results have been disastrous. COVID cases have soared over 90% across the UK such that their infection numbers are now back to those of last January, when they were in the grip of the Alpha (UK) variant and hardly anyone had been vaccinated.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is prepared to life all controls for the UK: covid19 infections are expected to rise while the PM goes into self isolation.

Medical officials in the UK have characterized Boris Johnson’s COVID policy of ‘living with the virus’ as just creating a breeding ground for new viral variants. In the US, the Delta variant has become the prime enemy of the people, with cases doubling every couple weeks and with increases in infections rising in every state. Authorities are laying the blame on the fall off in vaccination rates.

The virus and Delta variant may be the enemy, but those refusing the jab are its enablers. Just as in Canada, the virus in the UK and America is being spread primarily by the unvaccinated. So why aren’t more people rolling up their sleeves? US president Biden accuses social media of killing Americans by spreading anti-vaccine disinformation.

In France, when vaccinations started slowing down and COVID cases started rising, President Macron made vaccination mandatory for all health care workers. And then he made vaccine passports mandatory for access to congregate places, like bars and sporting events. That was a powerful incentive and a million people signed up almost immediately to get the shot in the arm.

Only two provinces in Canada are even considering issuing vaccine passports and regulating their usage. And Ontario isn’t one of them, despite calls from the mayor of Toronto and the business community to do just that. Premier Ford, while saying everyone should get the jab, keeps muttering about a split society, whatever that means. And also he refuses to mandate vaccines for health care workers.

Quebec chooses to use QR codes as vaccination passports.

It can’t be a constitutional rights or a privacy issue. After all, this is the same premier who instructed provincial police to block people moving across the provincial borders and to conduct random checks of vehicles and ticket those not travelling to a workplace. He is the guy who ordered COVID-safe golf and outdoor recreational tennis facilities and children’s playgrounds, shuttered under threat of thousands of dollars in fines.

The truth is that this pandemic will not be over until everyone, who is able to, gets fully vaccinated. It’s how we eliminated smallpox and for a time, measles. It’s either that or we social distance it into oblivion as New Zealand has done successfully so far. And it is likely too late for that.

With an election coming up next year, one would think Mr. Ford would want to ensure that Ontario’s economy is opened up as quickly and safely as possible – not another false start. Getting everyone vaccinated is the best bet for that to be possible.

After the turbulent series of confusing and often counter-productive provincial policies over the last year and a half, this might demonstrate that Mr. Ford is actually capable of learning on the job and responding to the public will. Otherwise it’s deja vu.

 

Background links:

Step Three and COVID –   French Experience –  

The Next Wave –  Ford Opposes –    Ontario Medical

Mandatory Vaccinations –   England Threat to the World

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City Council starts a six week break - back at it September 6th

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

July 14th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

They waved to the cameras once the motion to adjourn was passed – and with that the seven members of Council were off for the summer.

They return to a thick schedule of meetings September 6th.

Some have set out pretty hectic schedules for themselves; others are taking a break.

Meed Ward - at lectern

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward

Nothing specific from the Mayor – she will network with her tribe and shore up the weak spots.

Stolte May 5

Ward 4 Councillor Shawna Stolte

Ward 4 Councillor Stolte is going to hold Pop Up meetings in parks throughout her ward. We lost count at seven locations. They will take place on Wednesdays from 5:00 to 7:00 pm.

Bentivegna plans on something a little more subdued – he will be meeting with small groups of five or six in back yards to listen and to ensure that they know he will be running again.

AB Apr 20

Ward 6 Councillor Angelo Bentivegna

Bentivegna is very effective in working a crowd; he plunges right in and makes friendly. He isn’t as available for media – basically he doesn’t respond; he used to – early in his first campaign he posed for pictures and talked about his plans as a city councillor. When he didn’t like what we had to say – he stopped talking.

Sharman Jan 2020

Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman

Councillor Sharman is going to focus on his Orchard Park community – it might have to be virtual. He has an annual Appleby Line event that might make it out of the Covid19 social distancing limitations.

Ward 1 Councillor Kelvin Galbraith will be taking part in a couple of community events. The Rolling Horse Tour d’Aldershot is on his calendar. Summer is cottage time for the Galbraith household.

Every member of Council will begin, or have already begun, looking at their election prospects.

Lisa Kearns

Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns

Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns will be doing some Zoom broadcasting. A usually reliable source told the Gazette that Kearns told him she would not be running for the Council seat even if she lost the attempt to gain the Liberal nomination for a seat in the Legislature.

We all know how that event went – she dropped out the day another candidate threw her hat into the ring.
Kearns can be mercurial at times. Will she live up to the statement she is reported to have made?

The long break gives the people elected to represent the interests of the tax payers time to think about what they have managed to get done and what they want to do with the time left in this term of office.

The achievements have been significant – they set a different direction in terms of the development that is taking place and will take place.

They have also come to learn more about the strengths and weaknesses are of their fellow council members and what they can achieve personally.

Some rude awakenings for several.

For those that decide to run again – most of them will – but they aren’t all going to retain their seats.

The Mayor will run again – she loves the job and, truth be told, there is no one out there who can beat her at this point in time.

Also true – she was the best choice the city had for Mayor in 2018

The budget could trip her up – there are too many changes coming on the expense side. Insurance premiums are going to sky rocket for the municipal sector – and there isn’t much councils can do.

Spending on small items will add up –a reported $100,000 for Rainbow Crosswalks comes under the Mayor’s “want to have”. She used to talk in terms of must have and nice to have.

There are two members of Council with Mayoralty aspirations – both realize this is not their time – 2026 might be.

Tim-Commisso-finger-up-hard-eyes

City Manager Tim Commisso

City Manager Tim Commisso has done a fine job of rejigging the way the administration is to operate and put some very qualified people in place. He has a number of top level positions that will see retirements – Legal and Finance might not change while the pandemic has to be dealt with but once things are secure they will want to live different lives.

Will Commisso renew his contract? Probably not – but his work isn’t done yet.

However, his replacement gets better every day.  And a majority of Council thinks she great.  Awesome was the word used by several.

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.

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Council to hold its last meeting until September - much has been achieved - still a lot left to do and some unfortunate practices have crept in

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

July 13th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

City Council meets at 1:00 pm this afternoon for their last meeting until September.

The agenda for that month is loaded.

There have been very few delegations since the first lockdown in March of 2020 – those that did take place left little impression on those listening.

During the period of time the city was in a State of Emergency with its affairs guided by an Emergency Control Group they met whenever it had to –seldom less than twice a week. The City is still in a State of Emergency, which is where the city manager thinks it should remain for as long as possible.

Provincial funding goes to those who are in a State of Emergency.

Last week Council went through an impressive schedule of Standing Committee meetings that were both controversial on some levels and solid governance on others.

The Mayor’s ill-advised tweet about support she got from some of her colleagues but not others was petty politics at its worst – while the comment from Councillor Sharman on the decision by Human Resources to do away with annual performance reports was excellent governance.

Sharman Jan 2020

Councillor Sharman was not amused.

We will let you know when the annual performance reviews are put back in. Sharman will beaver away at this – expect him to prevail.

Will we see that decision as a Staff Direction? That might be expecting a little too much.

City Council meeting - before COVID

We used to get this: City Council meeting – before COVID

The meeting today will be swift – there is next to nothing on the Agenda page in terms of documents that are going to be approved.

Council with clerk

Now we get this. All the Council members were present – they don’t always all appear on the screen at the same time

The City Manager’s work plan – all the things he is going to get done, was not available to media during the Standing Committee meeting.

Some of the narrative in the City Manager’s report was available but the specifics, what was going to get done and when, was not available and the city communications adviser we dealt with said it would not be available.

Public participation was a feature of the Goldring council – there were opportunities to speak – even though they didn’t listen all that well.

This Council is using the pandemic, and the phrase “an abundance of caution” as a reason to keep the public away – and at this point they have succeeded. We no longer hear from Gary Scobie, Jim Young or Blair Smith to name just a few.

During the last Standing Committee  last week we did see some rumbling on the part of Councillor Stolte about finding a way to involve living, breathing members of the public.

Stolte got jerked around but her point was made. The City Clerk did set out his concerns – there were a lot of them, few with much in the way of merit.

Council will wish us all a fun summer and be away from their posts until September. Some will begin thinking about their re-election plans. Two of the seven are at risk with a third in for a surprise once his constituents get roused.

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.

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City council hears from an Indigenous Elder on the matter of renaming parks and schools.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

July 9th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Standing Committee on Environment, Infrastructure and Community Services met earlier this week and almost swooned as they listened to Stephen Paquette talk about why the Ryerson school and the park adjacent to it should be renamed.

The Councillors and the two school board trustees who took part as delegations were like high school students listening to a rock star.

paquette Stephen

Stephen Paquette.

Paquette on the other hand was sensible and balanced.

Sure he took a strong position on the getting rid of the Ryerson name but he said he could live with statues of Sir John remaining providing there was a plaque beside the statue putting the man’s role in context.

Unfortunately many are not as sensible and balanced as Paquette.

He taught the Councillors some important lessons; one being the way we choose to elevate some people and create a statue and put it in a public place without a full understanding of the person. He seemed to be saying the statues were more adulation than realistic accounting of the person.

The fear I have is that we will rename the park and the school and then move on to something else forgetting what the real issue is – first making amends for the harm we created and then giving the Indigenous people what they deserve. Decent housing and water they can drink.

A number of years ago Gord Downie stood on a stage and implored the Prime Minister who was in the audience to take care of the Indigenous people. And how much has been done for those people since that time?

I look to Paquette being the person who keeps our feet to the flame and helps us get to the point where the members of the First Nation are true equals.

I was impressed with the man – he is an Elder serving as a staff consultant with the Halton District School Board. He is an excellent spokesperson for his people.

Joseph Boyden, wrote a book: The Orenda. It is a hard book to read on the relationship between the Jesuits who came to Canada to civilize the “savages”. There was painful cruelty on both sides. Boyden created significant controversy writing on Indigenous people. Boyden is primarily of Irish and Scottish ancestry. A number of Indigenous writers and researchers came forward to publicly state Boyden did not have the right to speak on behalf of any Indigenous community because he was not a First Nations citizen and ultimately not Indigenous.

We are going to be dogged with controversy on the question of how we atone for some time. Hopefully the plight of the Indigenous people gets improved while we squabble.

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.

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Rivers: Who is Going to Pay for Global Warming ?

 

“Exxon worked alongside Chevron, Shell, BP and smaller oil firms to shift attention away from the growing climate crisis. They funded the industrys trade body, API, as it drew up a multimillion-dollar plan to ensure that climate change becomes a non- issuethrough disinformation. The plan said victory will be achievedwhen recognition of uncertainties become part of the conventional wisdom’”.

 (Chris McGreal – The Guardian 30 Jun 2021)

 

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

July 8th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Over 700 people in B.C. alone have died so far this summer from the heat dome that sits over much of that province.  How could any rational person now dispute the link to global warming?  The rising temperature resulted in over 200 forest fires in what was to have been Canada’s biggest renewable carbon reserve.  Instead, the nation’s forests have now become another source of carbon emissions.

Lytton BC fore- street level

Street level view of a burned out Lytton, BC

It is estimated that over a billion marine animals have perished in the fires and heat, and we have no idea about the land animals we’ve lost as well.  And it’s not just Canada.  New Zealand has just recorded it’s hottest winter ever.  Siberia is on track for a repeat of last year’s hottest year ever.  And even Antarctica has recorded 18 degrees last February, the temperature I keep my house thermostat in the winter.

If there are still climate deniers, or those who doubt that human activity is responsible for the rapid change in the planet’s weather patterns, they should truly be ashamed of themselves.  It’s been over a century since scientists first suggested that all the CO2 being emitted would eventually warm up the planet.

In the 1970’s computerization enabled climate modelling which predicted pretty much what we are seeing today.  In fact climate scientists now worry that, if anything, they have been too conservative, have underestimated the speed of global warming.

Then there are the other scientists, the ones employed by the fossil fuel industries who knew what was coming as far back as the 1950’s.   But neither their boys in the upstairs board rooms nor the political leaders we’d elected to protect us seemed to get the memo.   The message was blunt.  If we don’t change we’re all likely headed for a doomsday scenario like we’ve never known.

But profits were good and the oil fossil fuel lobby was powerful politically, so their solution was to muddy the waters, create enough uncertainty so that nobody could be sure.  The answer was to deny global warming and, when climate change became inevitable, deny that humans were responsible.

denial is not policy glob warming

Government did their best to sabotage global efforts at reducing carbon emissions.

It is one thing to unknowingly endanger humanity, but quite another to do so deliberately, falsifying data, outright lying and deceiving the public, as the oil executives did during the nineties and 2000’s.  They and the GW Bush government did their best to sabotage global efforts at reducing carbon emissions, and perverted the serious discussion of climate change.

Bush almost immediately after being elected in 2000 pulled the USA out of the binding Kyoto emissions agreement.  And he and the energy lobby then proceeded to do their best to sabotage the international climate change deliberations.

Canada did sign onto Kyoto, and we might have met our first committed emission reduction, thanks to Ontario closing its coal power plants.  But Stephen Harper, who had been unsupportive of Ontario’s Liberal government’s climate initiative, had done little else to reduce Canada’s growing carbon footprint.  And no sooner had he won his parliamentary majority than he pulled Canada out of the agreement.

When considering the unethical approach of the fossil fuel sector to their business, it is not difficult to look at another industry which profited from misery caused by its poison.   Big tobacco had long been lying about the debilitating health effects of the product it had been pushing, and had deliberately misled the consuming public on its health effects.  Several court actions in the USA eventually persuaded the industry to pay up just under $250 billion for the endless suffering it had caused to so many.

Reagan - cigarette ad

Ronald Reagan, a future president of the United States promoting the use of tobacco. Almost everyone smoked — until we learned how dangerous it was.

There was legal action also in Canada, and hundreds of billions of dollars were delivered in assigned settlements, $300 billion for Ontario alone.  However, big tobacco cried bankruptcy and premiers Legault and Ford, last year, conducted secret negotiations with the companies.  And it now appears that, in a bizarre turn of events, big tobacco might be let off the hook providing they make an effort to get their customers to stop using their products.

There have been a rising number of legal actions in the USA against the oil companies and Big Tobacco is the model they are using since it fits the pattern so well.   But nobody should expect any kind of accountability among the political leaders, who like Stephen Harper wasted ten years, or Pierre Trudeau who helped get the oil sands project started back in the seventies.

And there is his son Justin who promised back in his first election to end public subsidies for the fossil industry and has yet failed to do so, and in fact is building a couple of new pipelines to serve the oil and gas industry.  Subsidies are the other side of a carbon tax – they effectively lower the price of fuel production and thus serve to promote its greater use.   Canada has been named as the G7 nation which most subsidizes its oil and gas sector.

O'Toole smug 4

Mr. O’Toole changed his messaging on the carbon tax

Mr. Trudeau has been outspoken on confronting global warming and that has helped him in the polls, particularly when the opposition party denies the reality of climate change.   That might just be the loud voice of Alberta and Saskatchewan struggling with the last gasps of their dying oil industry sector.   And it was a message we all got more from Mr. Harper and Mr. Scheer than the more moderate Mr. O’Toole.  At least Mr. O’Toole changed his messaging on the carbon tax after the court legality ruling, finally acquiescing, albeit with an unworkable tax model.

There are still many otherwise intelligent people who will tell you that they now believe that climate change is happening, but doubt that humans are mostly responsible.  If nothing else a big fat court ruling may help the misguided find themselves.  And realizing the mess we are creating and leaving it to future generations to start acting responsibly to  reduce their carbon foot print.

Rivers hand to faceRay Rivers, a Gazette Contributing Editor,  writes regularly applying his more than 25 years as a federal bureaucrat to his thinking.  Rivers was once a candidate for provincial office in Burlington.  He was the founder of the Burlington citizen committee on sustainability at a time when climate warming was a hotly debated subject.   Ray has a post graduate degree in economics that he earned at the University of Ottawa.  Tweet @rayzrivers

Background links:

Humans Caused –    Ford Knew –      Heat Dome –      New Zealand –

Trudeau –     Climate Scientists –   Antarctica –     Billion Marine Animals – 

US Tobacco –     Canadian Tobacco –     Oil Company Deceit –    “Air Pollution Deaths”

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How do we want to be defined - our time to be both humane and noble is here now

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

July 2nd, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

What do people mean when they say “that is a defining characteristic”?

What defines Burlington?  Is it the geography – the lake and the Escarpment?

At this time in our history what is it that defines Canada?

I want to suggest that the way Canadians respond to the news of yet another place where the bodies of children have been buried  and what we as a people are going to do about it is what will define this country for decades.

unmarked graves

There are several hundred grave sites like this in Canada

In this country people expect the leadership to make the big decisions.  We have given the power we have to the leaders hoping that they will do the right thing for us.

The tragedy brought about by the creation of the Residential Schools is now in front of us with all the ugliness that neglect heaps on us when we treat one group of people as worth less than the rest of us.

Some 150,000 children were trucked off to Residential Schools with no consent from the parents.  People just came and took them.

Those children who did eventually return to their communities years later, were deeply scarred emotionally, some physically abused, and left unable to cope with daily living.

We are learning now that many thousands did not return but were placed in shallow graves that were unmarked.

The Aboriginal community knew about those graves but no one wanted to listen to a “bunch of Indians”.

Now we all know and decisions have to be made about what we are going to do about it.

The Aboriginal community is pressing the Pope to come to Canada and apologize for the harm that was done and to make restitution as well or at least to live up to the financial contribution all of the religious organizations who operated the Residential Schools agreed to provide.

The federal government has agreed to provide the millions that will be needed to search the grounds of every Residential School to learn if and how many children are laying in shallow graves.

shoes on steps

This just isn’t enough.

How long will the public place pairs of shoes on steps of buildings as a show of support?

Is this just a fad that will pass soon?

The weekly release of yet another grave site will keep this on the public radar for the Aboriginal community who knows they have an issue that has legs.

Downie

Gord Downie did what few of us could so – screamed that the Aboriginal people mattered.

How many remember what Gord Downie had to say to the Prime Minister who was in the audience for that heart rending performance when he asked Justin Trudeau to keep the promise?  That’s been the problem, we Canadians have never kept the promise – we instead jerked them around again and again.

Are we finally at the point where that basic, human fundamental right for water that can be swallowed might be theirs the way it is ours?  Or are we stuck at the placing of shoes in public places to show our support.

There is an opportunity to show the world what we have done.  We have this opportunity to determine how we are defined.

My question to each person reading this is – how do you want to be defined?

 

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Rivers: Canada Day is a Time for Reflection

 

 When a war between nations is lost

The loser, we know, pays the cost

But even when Germany fell to your hands

Consider dear lady, consider dear man

You left them their pride and you left them their lands

And what have you done to these ones

(Now That the Buffalo’s Gone – Buffy Sainte-Marie)

 

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

June 29th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

This will be a tough July 1st for a lot of Canadians.  For one thing there are fewer of us to celebrate this year – over twenty-six thousand of our loved ones have died from COVID.  Another million and a half became infected, a third of whom have been inflicted with long haul issues.

And the pandemic is not over by a long shot, even though the infection and death numbers are down and the vaccines up.  Just look at the UK which thought it was in the clear but is experiencing its highest COVID infection numbers since February, even though their first and second dose vaccination rates are better than ours.

shoes aboriginal children

The first stage of the public response to the tragic news of the unmarked graves.

And then there is the shock and the ongoing tragic saga about the residential schools.  So far a thousand unmarked graves have been located.  But that is on the grounds of only two out of the 150 schools which the churches had operated.

Even if the children had died from TB, Spanish Flu, measles, influenza or some other disease, they were still in the care of the churches.  And the buck stops with the federal government which had authorized their kidnapping and confinement.    Malnutrition, over-crowding, physical stress from manual labour and emotional stress from the abuse, including sexual abuse, all weighed in with deadly consequences.

Nobody should take a child away from their parents without their permission and just cause.  But having elected to do so they needed to ensure their health and safety.  Why were the school records not maintained by the government and disclosed to the parents? Why were parents not even informed of the deaths and/or the bodies returned?  One can only imagine how the parents and the community leaders and the community felt, watching helplessly in anguish and horror, as their children were taken away.  And then to learn that so many were not coming back.

The Prime Minister suggests that Canada Day this year is a time for reflection.  We should reflect on what the original inhabitants of this land are feeling.  To them Canada is that country which took away their lands and their freedom.  Should we really expect them to be as enthusiastic about celebrating Canada Day as Erin O’Toole, the leader of the Conservative party thinks they should be.

O'Toole smug 4

The plight of our indigenous population is something Leader of the Opposition O’Toole does not appear to understand.

Despite O’Toole’s plea to party on July 1st as if nothing had happened, much of the country is heeding the wishes of the indigenous leaders and cancelling fireworks and other celebrations.  Ottawa will be holding a sacred fire and municipalities in New Brunswick, Saskatchewan and B.C. are cancelling traditional celebrations.  They are suggesting that this day be one of reflection for the plight of our indigenous population and of how we can do better into the future.

Mr. Trudeau has called on the Pope to publicly apologize given the huge role the Catholic Church had in all of this, but there is no sign of that happening.  There is some discussion about criminal charges being laid against those responsible for the schools and the program.  And internationally China has used this incident to challenge and embarrass our PM after Justin criticized China’s treatment of its Uighur minority.

Canadians are generally outraged and some will heed the direction of the Prime Minister for a sombre day of reflection.   There are demonstrations planned in protest, this Canada Day.  Catholic churches situated on some reserves have already been burnt to the ground, presumably in protest.  Some people have defaced and destroyed statues of Canada’s founding father, Sir John A. Macdonald.  And, civic authorities are renaming buildings and edifices honouring Sir John A. and Egerton Ryerson, the architect of the school system.

It was the Indian Act which provided the framework for assimilating Canada’s first nations and destroying their native culture.  And the residential schools were part of that framework.  This racist piece of legislation is still in place today, curiously and ironically, because the very indigenous leaders who disdain it also refuse to let it die.   Pierre Trudeau tried to get rid of it back in 1969 and was thwarted by the aboriginal community, who fretted over losing rights that had been conveyed to them under the Act.  Nothing is easy about this.

weeping aboriginal woman

The healing has begun – now we have to find all the cemeteries.

As Canadians we had been taught that ours was a more peaceful treatment of our indigenous population than, for example, the USA.  After all, European settlers arriving in the Americas were responsible for the elimination of an estimated 90% of Indigenous populations, either through the introduction of disease or by outright massacre.   The US government committed as much genocide against its indigenous people as did almost any other nation on earth.  Some 1500 ‘Indian Wars’ later only a quarter of a million indigenous people was all that remained from the estimated 15 million living in North America when Columbus first arrived.

Canada’s approach to evicting its native population from what they considered their lands was less violent and less deadly than our neighbour to the south.  But the indigenous people ended up being marginalized to the same extent.  So there is much to ponder as we reflect on this coming Canada Day.

I for one will not be attending any celebration of Canada Day this year.  I’ll probably engage in discussions among my peers and family about this issue and give a toast for the good things this nation stands for.   Then I’ll take time to enjoy the music of indigenous artists like Robbie Robertson or Buffy Sainte Marie while I take a moment for those lost children whose fate we must all bear some responsibility.

 

 Background links:

John A –   Residential Schools –   Genocide

US Genocide –     Burning Churches –    Cancelling Canada Day

O’Toole on Canada Day –    Canada Day –    Records

Indian Act  –    Indigenous History Makers

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Mariam Manaa has been nominated - now the challenge - getting elected

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

June 28th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

OPINION

Manaa Miriam H&S

Mariam Manaa Liberal candidate in the next provincial election

The Liberals have nominated their candidate for the next provincial election scheduled for June of 2022. Mariam Manaa defeated Andrea Grebenc.

The likelihood of the Premier calling a snap election is high – providing he can come up with an angle that lets him look like the hero he needs to be if the public is going to return him to office.

Dealing with the pandemic put Doug Ford well outside his comfort zone.

The messaging was for the most part terrible; the decision to re-open the hospitality sector in February was a serious mistake that his Science table had warned him about.

Doug Ford is a business person. He believes that business large and small drives the economy and that a healthy economy is what it is all about.

He cannot see beyond those blinders.

Doug Ford covid t shirt

A Premier out of his comfort zone.

His government is at risk. When there is blood in the water the sharks come out. Every riding association is evaluating its prospects. The Progressive Conservatives have Jane McKenna in place. Opinion on Jane is divided and she is her own worst enemy.

The New Democrats have not publicly announced their candidate but if it isn’t Andrew Drummond they don’t have a hope.

The problem for their leader is that Andrea Horwath can’t be elected Premier. Whatever the ingredient is that gets one elected Andrea doesn’t have it.

The Greens may put up a candidate.

Manaa with empower sign

Mariam Manaa: an advocate for women even during her high school years.

The Liberals made a bold choice. The chose Mariam Manaa, a young Muslim woman who wears her hijab most of the time and is active and effective within the Muslim community.

She defeated Halton District School Board Chair Andrea Grebenc who we believe was seen as the favourite.

What was it that had the Burlington Liberals choose Manaa? She got the most votes – does that translates into her bringing more people into Liberal Party membership?

The problem with the process the Liberals used for creating membership was that anyone could become a member. All you had to do was prove you lived in Burlington and you were a member.

Membership in the Ontario Liberal Party is open to all residents of Ontario who are 14 years of age or older.

A savvy political wannabe would call every BEST Friend Forever they had and encourage them to join the Liberal Party and vote for them as the candidate.

It becomes a popularity contest – the candidate with the most members (friends) can expect to win the nomination.

Did Manaa do what any smart politician would do, which is to is get out and round up every breathing body you can find and urge them to become a member?

And once a member, ask them to vote for you as the nominee when the election deciding who the candidate is to be takes place.

Anybody who lives in Burlington could become a Liberal. And I mean anybody.

There was no membership fee, no oath or even a pledge to accept and support a set of principles and objectives.

Liberal party logo OntarioThe idea at the time seems to have been: let anyone become a member and once we know who they are they can be nurtured and grown into a campaign worker, perhaps a financial donor and, heck, maybe even become the candidate in a riding that will take anyone as the candidate because they haven’t got a hope in hell of winning the constituency.

Did Manaa dig deeply in the Muslim community and create more members than Grebenc?

We will never know. The Burlington Provincial Liberal party proved to be very poor messengers this time out.

The election results for nominations are never made public.

Nor does the party association say a word about who brought in the most new members. Those that became members don’t declare who they are supporting.

It would be interesting to know just how many new members the Burlington Liberals brought in.

There isn’t much evidence on which to make assumptions.

The issue for the Burlington Liberals is can Mariam Manaa beat Jane McKenna and if she does, on what issue will she win?

Hate-Suspect-2_B-400x320Will the just-below-the-surface racism in Burlington rear its ugly head and fail to look at the merit of each candidate?

Recent elections in Burlington have gotten very dirty and have resulted in Municipals Act, Elections Act and Criminal Code offence charges being laid.

The objective in politics is to win the seat and hope that the party wins enough seats to form a government.

The Gazette knows of one person who is not and never will be a Liberal – but joined the Party nevertheless in order to be able to cast a ballot against a specific candidate.

Another, who is politically svelte, joined to vote for a particular candidate but would never work to get her elected.
With the membership determined it is then up to candidates who seek the party nomination to convince those members to vote for them as the candidate.

We don’t know if a membership was made available to the candidates.

Facebook likesIt’s a little like setting out to see how many likes you can get on your Facebook page. Do they mean anything?

The process strikes me as devoid of any principles or values. At the federal level those values are difficult to find but that is another story.

We look forward to how Mariam Manaa positions herself and tells her story.

Seeing someone from the diverse (what a terrible word – is there not a better one?) community seeking our vote is progress for Burlington.

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.

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Planning for a federal election that isn't needed is well underway

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

June 26th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

If one follows main line media, the big guys in the bigger population centres, there is a federal election in the making with plans to cause one to take place well underway within the Liberal Party who currently serve as a minority government.

That they have been in place for just two years is an inconvenient fact –this is politics – they call it a blood sport for a reason.  Politics is about power – a majority is a thing of beauty for a government.

Justin Trudeau and his merry band have determined that they can serve us all if they can just get a chance to govern the way they want to govern.

Elections Canada, the organization that runs federal elections has issued documents that include suggestions such as campaigners keeping at least two metres from others and avoiding handshakes and the distribution of pamphlets and buttons.  When that level of detail is issued – you know that the election planning is well underway.

It is the view of the Gazette that Justin has turned out to be less than the politician his father was and that his time as a Prime Minister should come to an end.

We hope that Burlington’s MP, Karina Gould, speaks out against an election at this time in caucus meetings.  That is the one place where she can speak her mind.

In public, she is a member of Cabinet and required to support the team.

Should an election take place in the fall and should the Liberals get returned as a minority Justin Trudeau should do the right thing, fall on his sword and find something else to do.

We should wish for at least that.

We should be demanding that this government remain, do the best they can until the pandemic comes to an end and then go to the people asking to be returned based on how well they got the country through the pandemic, how well they have done with the economy and what they have chosen to do with the critical issue we all face with the Aboriginal community.

We have stiffed these people for far too long.  They need and deserve the water in their homes that we all have in ours.  And they deserve homes that have taps and toilets that use the water.

Some think that as a demographic the Aboriginal community is not as productive as it needs to be.  If that is the case, and it is far from proven, it is because we created the conditions that made them that way.

Every Remembrance Day we celebrate, honour and remember those we lost in wars to defend the democracy we have, yet we seem to be having difficulty doing what has to be done to celebrate, honour and remember those who were laid in graves at such an early age.

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.

 

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Muir: Covid 19 is an 'extinction level' event

opinionred 100x100By Tom Muir

June 22nd, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

covid virus

A graphic representation of what a single virus particle looks like.

The COVID19 virus emerging in the human species globally is what is known scientifically as an “extinction level event”.

It emerged in one place and spread around the world in three months hitching a ride in traveling humans.

The virus then shut down the world more or less.

The virus is microscopic in size: 5um.  One um is equal to 0.001 mm, or about 0.000039 inch.

Tom Muir is a resident of Aldershot and a retired federal civil servant who has worked at scientific analysis most of his career.

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Housing is more than a profit center - it is homes that determine the quality of life reputation of the community

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

June 18th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

OPINION

It was a solid exchange of views between the Chief Executive Officer of the West End Home Builders Association and members of Burlington’s city council.

Meed Ward - tight head shot

Mayor Meed Ward

Lisa Kearns

Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns

Mike Collins–Williams was opposed to the shifting of the Urban Growth Centre boundaries to well north of the downtown core up to the Burlington GO station where there are plans for significant development.

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward had gotten what she wanted and took exception to Collins–Williams suggesting that downtown had been sterilized when the boundary was moved.

Councillor Nisan termed the use of the word sterilize as disgusting, inappropriate and “inflammatory”.

421 Brant

The construction cranes are in place – the building will rise floor by floor in the months ahead.

nautique-elevation-from-city-july-2016

Construction is underway.

It didn’t get any better for Collins-Williams when Councillor Kearns asked him to explain what it was that the home builders association wanted that city policies were not giving them.  She followed this up by asking: “What might we be missing that the policies in place do not address?”

The debate was part of a Statutory meeting taking place at Regional Council last Wednesday.

The debate at the Region was never the kind of debate that took place at Burlington city hall between 2010 and 2018.  The stark differences between the interests of the developers and the intentions of the current council was laid bare.  It was the driving issue in the 2018 election and the voters liked what Meed Ward was offering better than what either Rick Goldring or Mike Wallace had put on the table.

Someone paid a third party advertiser to do what they could to influence the views of the voters – it didn’t work.

The debate heard on Wednesday was never heard in Burlington’s Council chambers in previous Statutory meeting occasions.

When the then Golding council approved the Carriage Gate development that would put a 26 storey tower opposite city hall the then city manager is reported to have gotten up to shake hands with the developer.

Football

If the developers get their way there won’t be much park space for the public in that football shaped property.  There are three developments working their way through the planning process.

The development opportunities on Brant Street south of  Caroline are exceptional, as are those in the football between Lakeshore and Old Lakeshore Road where there are a number of developments working their way through the planning process (clogged up at LPAT hearings at the moment) that will result in a significantly different Burlington if they get built.

Development in Burlington is focused on profit, not on the creation of community. The building of high rise condominiums changes the scale, scope and streetscape, which determines how people relate to the community.

There is little in the way of input from the people who are going to live with the buildings. The condominium going up opposite city hall is built right out to the property line and soars straight up for 26 floors.

Some developers do create designs that embrace the street. The Molinaro group has a development that puts two towers on either side of Brant Street at Ghent, that have slight curves,  which leave the impression the buildings are communicating with each other.  If built they will become the gateway out of the downtown core to a different Burlington that will rise beside the Go station.

Appreciation for architecture rests in the eye of the beholder and what the public is seeing now is quite different than what was built along Lakeshore decades ago.

During the required Statutory meetings the developers set out what they want to do and explain that they are meeting all the required rules.

Collins Williams

Mike Collins-Williams represented the interests of the developers during the required Statutory meeting on the changes being made to the Regional Official Plan.

What doesn’t take place is a dialogue between the architect and the public on what the public would like to see built on the streets they will live, work and play on.

Usually the first time a citizen sees a building is when they look at a glossy brochure.

Architects are hired by developers to create a pleasing looking building that meets the aspirations (and at times the egos) of the developer and doesn’t cost a fortune to build.

Developers are not in the housing business, they are in the profit-making business – and in a capitalistic society that is the way the game is played and accepted.

Selling housing isn’t the same as selling soap.

The homes that are built determine to a large degree the kind of society we have. Human beings need space; the developers refer to that space as amenities.

This isn’t a Burlington problem – it is one that plagues the country. However there is no reason a change cannot at least begin in Ontario. And if Mayor Meed Ward can pull that off – good on her.

 

Related news story

Lobbyist states the case for sticking with old Urban Growth plan

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.

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Ford invokes Not Withstanding Clause to extend the length of time third party advertisers can spend money before a provincial election

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

June 14th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

We get about eight, sometimes as many as a dozen media releases announcing what different Members of Cabinet were doing in the way of public statements.

Anything would justify an announcement – it was difficult to keep up at times.

fORD WITH FLAG

Ontario Premier Doug Ford

Today, the government invoked the “Notwithstanding Clauses in the provincial governance protocols that we have.

The Gazette re-published an opinion published by the Globe and Mail this morning.

We can add to that the statement put out by the Leader of the Liberal Party in Ontario, Steve Del Duca, who does not yet have a seat in the Legislature. He was the Minister of Transportation in the Wynne government that went down to a disastrous defeat during the last provincial election when the Liberals were left with seven seats.

Many feel that the use of the Not Withstanding clause was the first step in a plan to call an early election once the pandemic recovery is in its third stage and the province is close to getting back to whatever the new normal is going to be.

Del Duca issued a statement today saying:

“Today is a sad day for our democracy. In the cover of darkness, Doug Ford has rammed through legislation that will undermine our right to free speech by silencing his critics.

Doug Ford’s power grab is nothing more than an attempt to save his own political skin while changing the rules of an election he’s already running in.

Make no mistake, Doug Ford is silencing the frontline heroes — the nurses, doctors, teachers, essential workers, and personal support workers who are speaking out against his government.

This didn’t have to be today’s reality. In 2018, Ontario Liberals fought to prevent the routine use of the Notwithstanding Clause in Ontario’s governance, but with the help of Andrea Horwath and the NDP, Doug Ford’s majority shut down our motion.”

This is a black day for everyone in the province.

Related editorial item:

Globe and Mail opinion piece.

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