I stood in what seemed thunderous chaos. Horses galloped to the right of me, to the left of me. Lances appeared to whisk past my ears. The ground felt as if it were trembling beneath my feet. And I grabbed my dad’s arm, fearing if I didn’t I might topple over. Just audible above the din of the rhythmic panting of the horses and the pounding of their hooves, I could hear singing.
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.
It took us nearly a lifetime to recognize a lifetime. But we finally did it on Sept. 19, 2009. It was a tribute to one of our own – a photographer, innovator and award-winning artist. And in the days afterward, as the person given the distinction of hosting the evening and interviewing the man being honoured, I received two touching written snapshots of the occasion. One came from the subject of the tribute.
“Thank you for your introduction of me,” Christopher Chapman scribbled on a card a few days later. “And thank you for guiding me through that interview.”
The other snapshot came as an email from Christopher’s wife, Glen.
“How thrilling to have a significant number of family, friends and community there,” she wrote. “We’re still in awe of the whole evening.”
You probably missed it. You can be forgiven because I missed it too. But last Monday the Internet was all a twitter (yes, pun intended) about a birthday event. It’s one that your teeny-bopper kids (or grandkids) probably noticed. It appears that music heart-throb Justin Bieber celebrated his 16th birthday by visiting the Son of a Gun Tattoo and Barbershop in Toronto. There he had a tattoo of a seagull inked onto his left hip.
“That’s a bad area,” the tattoo artist told MTV News. “Justin was nervous, but then he got into it and it was done. It’s very tiny.”