Ronnie’s moment of fame

Ronnie Egan wears her beret and Women’s Royal Navy Service identification in May 2015.

About a month ago, a CBC television reporter from Nova Scotia emailed me with a request. Being sufficiently old-fashioned about these things, I decided to phone him to offer a verbal (rather than texted) answer. He said he and a camera operator had just returned from an assignment in downtown Halifax. He said they had just shot video of the demolition of the Discovery Centre. I didn’t immediately get it.

“You’d more likely remember it as the Zellers store,” Dave Irish said. “It’s a building with much history. … I’m hoping to speak to you about Ms. (Ronnie) Egan saving it.”


I remember a train trip from London to Edinburgh in the U.K. once; after about six hours en route, when we pulled into Waverley Station in Edinburgh two minutes late the conductor apologized profusely.

They issue tickets on the internet now. Unlike at the airport, there’s no window overlooking the tracks to see the trains arriving and departing. In fact, even at Union Station in Toronto – perhaps the busiest passenger rail terminal in the country – you can barely hear the clatter of wheels on steel or feel the rumble of the locomotive in the station. They don’t even blow a whistle on departure anymore. And yet VIA Rail’s slogan still reads:

“There is nothing quite like seeing Canada by rail.”

Cost of lighting the way

Courtesy Fisgard Lighthouse National Historic Site.
Courtesy Fisgard Lighthouse National Historic Site.

On Nov. 16, 1860, George Davies made history. The lighthouse keeper climbed the newly constructed, 15-metre-high, conical tower of Fisgard Lighthouse at the entrance to Esquimalt naval harbour on Vancouver Island. His appointment not only helped the British claim sovereignty of the Pacific Coast, it also made a statement about public investment in literacy. In addition to his salary for the nightly lamp lighting atop Fisgard, keeper Davies received a $150 stipend to purchase magazines and books.

“It is of the utmost importance to the interests of the Lighthouse Service,” the Governor of Vancouver Island stated at the time, “that the minds and intellects of the lighthouse keepers should not be allowed to stagnate in their isolated and … desolate stations.”