By any other name, it’s still theft

It was a case of: She said – She said.

In 2008, Michelle Obama said, “Barack and I were raised with so many of the same values: like you work hard for what you want in life; that your word is your bond and that you do what you say.”

This week, Melania Trump said, “My parents impressed on me the values: that you work hard for what you want in life; that your word is your bond and you do what you say.” [more…]

When it’s wrong, say so

The liner St. Louis, loaded with Jewish refugees, was refused entry to Canada in 1939.

The liner St. Louis, loaded with Jewish refugees, was refused entry to Canada in 1939.

As people often do, a colleague of mine sent me what he considered a joke by email, the other day. I read it and I didn’t laugh. It painted a scenario of an immigrant who, through odd circumstances, had a lot of dependents. Eventually, the man of Arabic background requests assistance from the government. The story concludes with this response:

“I’ve arranged to start mailing cheques … as soon as you arrive in Canada,” signed Justin Trudeau. [more…]

A dog’s life

A boy and his first dog.

A boy and his first dog.

Just the other day, I bumped into one of my acquaintances in the park. Of course, the people I meet in the park generally have a companion with them – of the four-legged variety. Anyway, as often happens among dog walkers, we got talking about breeds, dog compatibility and ages of our pets.

“This Kerry’s a bit older than my last dog,” I said to my dog-walking acquaintance.

“Mine too,” he said. “She’s been with us throughout the lives of our kids.” [more…]

A little taste of Canada in London

Canada House on Trafalgar Square - June 2016.

Canada House on Trafalgar Square – June 2016.

It was one of the quickest checkpoint passages I think I’ve ever experienced. Not that the security officer wasn’t thorough. Not at all. First he asked us about the nature of our visit. We said we wanted to visit the Canada Gallery just beyond the checkpoint. Next, he asked to scan my backpack. No problem there. Then, I offered my passport.

“Canadians?” the security guard said.

I nodded and in we went. My wife and I had just gone through the security check at Canada House, in London, England. [more…]

Duty to say nice things

Maud believed in pointing

Maud Montgomery believed in the pointing of duty.

Earlier this week, in the town where I live, there was a little incident on the main street. A car jumped the curb and ended up sideways in front of a few shops. I noticed it because the police were there. I ventured closer and saw a woman, I think the owner of the car, sitting on a storefront step. What intrigued me was that everybody gathering around had the same first reaction.

“Are you OK?” everybody asked the woman.

She appeared shaken, but otherwise all right.

[more…]

Vimy 100th Anniversary Tour – April 6-16, 2017

VIMY_MEMORIAL_FOR_BROCHURE_EThe Americans called them “an inspiration … for a generation.” The British described what they did as “the greatest victory of the war.” The French declared their achievement an “Easter gift.”

What the world witnessed that Easter Monday morning – April 9, 1917 – was a near miracle of ingenuity, co-operation and courage among volunteers of the Canadian Corps. That day, 80,000 of them – fighting for the first time as a national army – swarmed up that strategic ridge in north-central France and in a matter of hours accomplished what no Allied army had, in nearly three years of blood-letting in Europe. They seized Vimy from an entrenched German army. Some say those young citizen soldiers also breathed life into a fledgling nation – Canada.

Behind.Jacket hlaThe year 2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. So, for 10 days next year, travellers will return to the scene of those historic four days in 1917. Ted Barris, author of the bestselling book Victory at Vimy, will lead his fellow travellers to the centennial observance at the Vimy Memorial on April 9, 2017. But in addition, the tour will visit other important First World War sites, such as Beaumont Hamel and Thiepval, Ypres, Passchendaele and the Menin Gate. As well, in the latter half of the tour, Ted will lead his group to Second World War sites at Dieppe and the Normandy beaches to recognize the significance of the D-Day invasion and beyond.

For the full itinerary, accommodation, travel details and pricing, visit the Merit Travel website http://www.merittravel.com

Or call Georgia Kourakos, Senior Manager, Product Development & Groups, Merit Travel, 416-364-3775 x4259, or 1-866-341-1777.

Soldiers of secrecy

On her first return visit to Bletchley Park, former teleprinter operator Theo Hopkinson searches for her past.

On her first return visit to Bletchley Park, former wartime teleprinter operator Theo Hopkinson searches for her past.

She strode toward the building with a protective rampart in front of it. As I watched her, I sensed she needed to find something, maybe something tangible from long ago. Once inside this rather plain building, labelled simply Block B, her pace slowed. Inside, she passed glass exhibit cases and along walls laden with images and captions from the past. Then, she spotted it.

“There. That’s not exactly the same thing, but it’s like the one I worked on,” said Theo Hopkinson, now nearly 90.

I asked what she was looking for.

“A teleprinter,” she said. “We used them to key in messages.” [more…]

Love in War

Winston Churchill had to be encouraged by his relatives to propose to Clementine Hozier.

Winston had to be encouraged to propose to Clementine …

The two almost did not meet. The couple nearly didn’t marry and become one of the most famous couples in 20th century Britain. But thanks to the intervention of Winston Churchill’s cousin, the 9th Duke of Marlborough, a visitor to Churchill’s family home – Blenheim Palace in England – Clementine Hozier did meet Winston in August 1908. They took a walk in the garden, dashed for cover during a rain shower and he finally proposed.

“I took two important decisions (at Blenheim),” the great wartime leader of Britain wrote later, “to be born and to marry.” [more…]

Reviewing the rank and file

Queen Elizabeth doing what only Royalty can do well - reviewing the troops.

Queen Elizabeth doing what only Royalty can do well – reviewing the troops.

When he called and asked for assistance, it didn’t take me long to consent. My acquaintance, Warren Ralph, needed a guest to perform the duties of the Reviewing Officer at a ceremony recognizing young people in his military cadet corps. I said I had no experience. But Ralph said it was easy. They would lead me through it.

“But I’ve never been the Reviewing Officer before,” I said.

“Piece of cake,” Capt. Ralph said. “All you have to do is walk through the ranks of the cadets with the Parade Commander at your side.” [more…]

Lives in a salvaged suitcase

This briefcase-sized suitcase revealed a unique wartime correspondence story.

This briefcase-sized suitcase revealed a unique wartime correspondence story.

It’s one of the most compelling wartime stories I’ve ever encountered. And I almost missed it. There I was, up to my eyeballs in other stuff, when I got a call from two acquaintances. Jeremy Van Dyke organizes overseas travel tours and Frank Moore, a retired former banker, collects classic cars.

“Ted, we’ve got to meet,” Van Dyke said on the phone from Cambridge.

“I’m really busy,” I said.

“We’ve got a story you’ve got to tell,” Van Dyke insisted.

[more…]