Harbinger of fall

Shelley Macbeth at her Blue Heron Bookstore

Some of the last few nights, when I took the dog for a walk, I noticed that I had to wear a sweater. On other walks up our street, it became pretty obvious that the trees were starting to turn. Then, a couple of weeks ago, Shelley Macbeth’s email arrived.

“Just confirming that you’re all ready for Books and Authors,” she wrote.

That’s when I realized the season had changed. If it’s time for Blue Heron Books’ Books and Authors night, it’s truly the beginning of fall. For those of you who have lived here and have followed Uxbridge’s incredibly lively arts scene over the past 30 years or so, it’s no surprise.

What is the benefit?

Scrabble With The Stars competitors (l-r) Charlotte Moore, Dorcas Beaton and Alan Gotlib. Photo from Performing Arts Lodges, Toronto. April 25, 2016.
Scrabble With The Stars competitors (l-r) Charlotte Moore, Dorcas Beaton and Alan Gotlib. Photo from Performing Arts Lodges, Toronto. April 25, 2016.

It was that time of the night. The host had told plenty of jokes. The volunteers had completed most of the preparations. The event was unfolding the way most had hoped. Even the chair of the fundraising committee had a smile on her face. It was time for the pitch. So, out came the president of the charity that was the beneficiary of the evening to speak.

“Time to dig deep folks,” he said. “It’s why we’re here, right? To make some money.”

To build a birthday party

The Confederation Train in 1967 - Tim Reid Collection.
The Confederation Train in 1967 – Tim Reid Collection.

As I recall, it was a summer morning. It might have been around the July 1 anniversary. It didn’t matter. That whole summer of 1967 had had a birthday feeling to it. In any case, I was just rising from a rare sleep-in. But even in my half-conscious state I remember hearing a sound in the distance. It was the diesel whistle of a locomotive approaching the level crossing in Pontypool, Ont., just south of where I was rising from bed.

“Daa. Daa. Da-da,” the diesel horn announced.

“What the heck is that?” I called out to my folks. And just as quickly as I asked, I realized that it was the first four notes of “O Canada” coming from that train whistle. About 15 minutes later, when I’d arrived at the station, where coincidentally the train stopped for a visit, I discovered it was the Confederation Train.

Gift of art

Stained-glass artists Sue Parkinson presents her work as a gift.

A few months ago, my wife and I were invited to a meeting in downtown Toronto. We thought it was about planning our European battlefield tour for next spring. So, we arrived at the Merit Travel agency on schedule. We were then escorted through a rabbit’s warren of office cubicles and into a boardroom and introduced to a member of the agency staff whom we didn’t know.

“This is Sue Parkinson,” we were told. “She’s got something for you.”

Youth Day

Moderating one of several candidates' debates (photo by Vanessa Brown).
Moderating one of several candidates' debates (photo by Vanessa Brown).

This was perhaps his only opportunity to address the electorate in a debate for the 2010 municipal election. His competitors for councillor in the ward were in the public hall in person. But municipal candidate Joe Amarelo could not be present. A family emergency had forced him to miss the event. He did, nevertheless, have an impact on the meeting. A statement he’d written was read.

“I see unresolved issues in our town, including vandalism,” Amarelo’s statement read. “It’s important to … create a dialogue. Why not have a Youth Day?”