SHARING MEMORIES, WEEK FOUR

In my mind’s eye, when I recall past Thanksgivings, they are all primarily about colour – bursts of brilliant oranges, reds, purples, and mustard yellows, reflected in dark pools of water.  Sort of like a Tom Thompson painting, and even though I know that they couldn’t all have been that intensely colourful, I don’t remember any rainy ones.  To me, they were all full of colour.

In my mind’s eye, the next thing I recall, of course, has to do with the smell of Thanksgiving.  Coming back from long walks in the countryside, to the aroma of cooking turkey and cooling pumpkin pie, is simply….. wonderful.  Everything is ready for family and friends to descend. Lots of people share this memory.

After all the food is consumed, (fifteen minutes later), and we are stuffed to the gills, comes the downside – cleaning up all those dishes!  Reality hits, but even this has its moment – the comradery, the laughter, (usually among the women), while clearing up the mess.  You would miss this if you used paper plates, although it has crossed my mind to do just that.

While most of these memories of Thanksgiving are pretty universal, I do feel thankful to have them, and writing them down has shown me how selective memory can be.  There must have been some illness, or unhappiness, on a few of these days – but I don’t remember.  It appears, as well, that anticipation means more to me that the actual meal itself.

So, what are your memories of Thanksgiving all about?  What do those memories say about you?  Does your tale include the above themes, or is it completely different?  Were there eccentric ancestors, or crazy pets, at your table?  Did you serve turkey, or canned salmon?  Did you have a Thanksgiving day?

Library & Archives Canada : Access Denied?

As we continue this series on the crisis at Library and Archives Canada, and its effect on how any library will be able to provide the people in its community with access to their heritage, here is Professor Ian MacLaren’s letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, from the Edmonton Journal, September 13, 2012:

“As a proud Canadian, proud Albertan and sometime supporter of the current federal government, I recently wrote in distress to Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

I did so as a scholar who has spent years researching and publishing about pre-20th-century British expeditions seeking a Northwest Passage. Canadians know this to be an interest of Harper and his government’s.

My distress arises out of his government’s gradual, imperilling withdrawal of funding needed for the efficient operation of Library and Archives Canada. Staff have been cut and service hours sharply diminished, the purchase of materials has been curtailed and loan policies have been cancelled outright.

Scholars from other cities, provinces and countries coming to Ottawa to do research have had their inquiries go unanswered and their trips to Ottawa end in failure to access any records because of the dearth of staff to either reply to correspondence or fill standard requests to see records.

The organization is in utter disarray. In the past half-dozen years, Library and Archives Canada has so deteriorated, it is failing to fulfil its legislated mandate.

The national library was founded in 1953. Its most recent charter, the Library and Archives Canada Act (2004), states one of its chief purposes is to acquire and preserve “the documentary heritage” of Canada. Books and unpublished manuscripts like letters and other documents are the eyes through which we see our country.

The budget cuts have been so deep and capricious as to suggest no understanding of what Library and Archives Canada should be.

The result will be the devastation of what Canada is, as a concept and an idea and as the very real place in which we lead our lives and raise our children. To dismantle a nation’s library and archives is to shoot a bullet through its temple.

A personal example illustrates the value of the library and archives to Canadians who, like the prime minister, take an interest in this summer’s search for John Franklin’s ships, the Erebus and Terror, off King William Island. Earlier in my career, in the 1990s, I was involved in locating two books of watercolour sketches made by George Back, a midshipman who served under Franklin during the first of his overland expeditions to the Arctic.

These sketchbooks, which I found in a house in Gloucestershire, England, contain the first known pictures of any part of Alberta (the lower Athabasca River and Fort Chipewyan. Some of these were published in a book, Arctic Artist, in 1994).

Because Back had been in the Arctic five times, on canoe trips and ocean voyages, he was the paramount adviser to the Admiralty during the search in the 1850s for Franklin’s lost expedition. With William Edward Parry, Back remains a towering figure of 19th-century explorations of what now forms our Canadian Arctic.

Although private collectors wished to obtain the two sketchbooks, I discussed with their owner the possibility of opening negotiations with Library and Archives Canada so it could bid to obtain them in advance of a public auction. Working with staff, we succeeded in effecting the sale.

These priceless documents and works of art now reside in Ottawa, where they belong. But will anyone ever see them again?

Intentionally or unintentionally, Harper’s government is conducting what amounts to a search-and-destroy campaign against Library and Archives Canada and thus against the cultural memory of Canadians. Think of it as brain surgery performed on us, to deprive us of or deny us access to our memory. That would amount to a shocking withdrawal of our ability to function.

This is an issue of deep importance to all Canadians. The prime minister must be urged to take measures to reverse the brutal withdrawal of the levels of funding needed to keep the national library and archives from becoming a disgrace in the eyes of Canadians and of foreigners wishing to research Canadian subjects.

Surely, Harper is too great a fan of our history, too proud a Canadian to let this happen. Surely, he will not want Canadian history to remember him for this.

Prof. Ian MacLaren, University of Alberta, Edmonton”

SHARING MEMORIES, WEEK THREE

The year was 1971.  I’m in high school, and all the girls are wearing mini-skirts, which I guess everyone really liked – both girls and boys! 

However, there was one big drawback as far as I was concerned, to wearing little skirts like that.  The drawback for me, was having to wait at the end of a long, long driveway for the school bus – IN WINTER!  I remember that when the weather was particularly inclement, I would wear long pants under my skirt, and then change out of them when I got to school.  A very time-consuming, and annoying activity. We girls were not allowed to wear pants around school, but that’s very much what we wanted to do.  It was the 70’s after all!

So, in 1971, there was a revolution at my high school.  Word, (a whisper), went around that all the girls were to wear jeans to school on one specified day.  Not just pants, but jeans.  Very frightening stuff, going against the establishment like that, going against our parents too, although, I’m pretty sure I didn’t say much to them about it, and I guess they didn’t notice what I was wearing that day.  I made it out the door in my jeans, although I was feeling pretty fearful.  Maybe I’d be the only one dressed like this when I reached school……..

Anyway, I don’t know who spear-headed the movement, but as far as I know, no one was sent home, the establishment folded like a deck of cards, and we girls won the right to wear jeans to school.  We were very impressed with ourselves – power to the people, and all that!  In spite of all the fear, my first lesson in the power of a group to make changes ended well.

 So, do you have any ‘revolutionary’ memories to share?  Maybe it was just a revolution to you, but people will want to hear about those exciting escapades of your youth!

SHARING MEMORIES, WEEK TWO

With the weather cooling down, and our  thoughts turning to school and after school events, I thought it might be nice if the second “Sharing Memories” blog was about food;  in particular, after school snacks.  Maybe you don’t believe in after school snacks.  Do your kids prepare their own snacks, because no one is home yet?  It seems to me, as a child, that most of my snacks included milk, bread, or cookies.  At this time of year, I usually arrived home to the aroma of chili sauce cooking on the woodstove – best snack ever was bread & hard butter with some of that fresh sauce on top – messy, but so satisfying!  Of course, along with the snack was some down time with my book of the moment, like ‘The Secret Garden’, or a Nancy Drew mystery. 

So, let us know – healthy snacks, store bought snacks, homemade snacks, no snacks???

SHARING MEMORIES, WEEK ONE

Today I am going to begin a new series called ‘Sharing Memories’ .  Each week I’ll post a topic, a ‘prompt’, on a subject that hopefully will stimulate your own memories about life in Carleton Place and the surrounding areas.  The idea is to have people write down their own memoirs for future generations to read.  Imagine how excited your descendants would be to find a journal written by their ggg grandmother!  It’s easy to leave a comment  in the “Leave a Comment” section at the end of each post, and I hope you will.

The topic today is: “Where were you during 9/11?”

I know exactly where I was that day.  I was at work, and for some reason I was all alone that morning.  It wasn’t until my co-worker came in at 1:00 p.m. that I knew anything about the disaster unfolding to the south.  We were stunned and teary, and I remember we dragged out the TV normally used for programming, and left it turned on all afternoon.  At home that evening, we were glued to the TV, and of course that continued for a long time.  I remember that we all felt like we were under attack, not just the United States, our neighbour and ally.

Lanark and Renfrew Scottish Regiment

 

Lanark and Renfrew Scottish Dot Village With Local Names

From the Carleton Place Canadian, 04 January, 1945

Originally from The Smiths Falls Record News

 

An Italian Village – The Canadian Lanark and Renfrew Scottish are resting and training in this village for the day and will bring new Italian battles.  Their colonel, from Medicine Hat, Alta., says his men are scattered over three villages and three hills, but here is the greatest concentration of them all.

The village is one of story and atmosphere.  It stands on a hill and atop the hill is a great and decaying castle, built by the blue-blooded Maletesta family in the 1300’s as a bulwark against transgression on its Adriatic domain.  Below, the village clings to itself, its sturdy stone houses parted by the tight, cobbled streets filled now with the vehicles of modern war and peopled with a contented human amalgam of men from Victoria and Red Deer, Alta., and somewhere in Nova Scotia, of a few hundred refugees from Rimni and the districts around there and a few hundred more of the normal population.

Here you see a farmer guiding his oxen and cart down the hill to his farm.  There you see the village priest hurrying home.  The Roman Catholic soldiers attend his services each Sunday in the village church.  Here you see a plaque commemorating the dead of the last war.  In front of it hangs an ornate lamp, like something out of a Christmas card of old England.  A few feet away is a plaque to the dead of the Ethiopian war.  Its names have been obliterated by a black smudge authored by someone, sometime.

The Scottish have marked the village liberally with the names common in their new parent region, the Ottawa Valley.  Here is Lanark avenue, there O’Brien’s theatre where Italians and Canadians watch the shows together, here Lennox Lunch (the men’s kitchen), Pembroke Hotel (officers’ mess), there Beamish Stores (the quartermasters’ stores).

Over one door hangs a sign “Royal Bank of Canada.”  Inside Capt. G. L. Matthews, Ottawa, the paymaster, and his sergeant, Frank Rigley, of Verdun, Que., hold down “the warmest spot in town.”  Reading the Montreal Standard over the heat of their little oil stove is Pte. W. N. Barrington, Verdun, Que.

Rigley talks of the excellent feelings between the Canadians and Italians:  “This is the best place we’ve struck yet.  Leave out our clothes and they’ll wash them, press them and have them back in a hurry.  We gave the mother (of the family sharing the house with them) a suit of underwear for the old man yesterday and she nearly fell on her knees thanking us.”

Outside again you meet Capt. R. P. Neil, who has found two others from Pembroke, where “A” company of the Lanark and Renfrew hails from.  They are Ptes. Huntley Munro and Michael Gregg.  In Adanac Inn, the little hole in the wall that is the dry canteen, you meet Auxiliary Services Officer Michael Quinn from Perth, Ont., the regiment’s home town.

From this village and from two others – the troops have called them Smiths Falls and Carleton Place – the battalion sends its men on seven-day leaves to Rome and Florence, 48’s to a leave town on the coast, and also sends them out to train and keep tough in the neighbouring countryside.

On the outskirts, near a little hillside graveyard for the British soldiers who died fighting here, is “Tartan Dive” where the men rally at night to have a drink of wine and listen to the Italian orchestra and chew the fat.  It used to be a Fascist recreation room.  Now Sgt. Harry Jantz, of Saskatoon, is in charge of its nightly activities.

A few miles away, the scout and pioneer platoons are holding a dance.  A Canadian orchestra beats out the music while the soldiers swing it with the farm girls of the countryside.  The colonel and a few of his officers hear Major D. L. Gordon, Toronto, lecture on artillery counter-battery work then jeep over to pay the men their compliments.

There you have the unexpected pleasure of meeting an old schoolmate, and a few of his mates of the platoon, Sgt. Ray Cormier, Halifax, and Pte. Edgar Paischand, Valmarie, Sask.

Smiths Falls Record News

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