The value of teaching music

View from the back of the Agincourt Collegiate band … with music teacher John Rutherford conducting. (May 1967)

Most of the time I sat among the back seats in the rehearsal room. But that’s OK. As long as I kept one eye on the music charts in front of me and the other down front where conductor John Rutherford stood, I knew I’d stay in step with the rest of the group. I just had to wait for Mr. Rutherford’s downbeat and I was part of the performance. And that meant a lot to me. He’d often begin the rehearsal with the same words of encouragement.

“OK,” Rutherford would say. “Let’s make a little magic.”

Trump’s ban, Canada’s boon

Refugees from the Baltic at Pier 21 immigration hall in 1848. Photo Halifax Chronicle Herald.

A number of weeks ago, neighbours and friends gathered in the basement of the United Church in my town. The church auxiliary served sandwiches, cakes, cookies, coffee and tea. A Syrian family had finally arrived in this community and the gathering at the church allowed townspeople to greet and meet them. They kept thanking the town for its generosity and initiatives to help. One thing the couple said that first day we met has stuck with me.

“Thank you for this welcome,” they said.

Memorable mayoral moments

Ontario Premier Leslie Frost, left, and Toronto Mayor Allan Lamport pull the switch to officially start Toronto Transit Commission’s subway service on March 30, 1954.

I guess because they demand the greatest attention on the world stage or occupy the most broadcast time and newspaper space, we tend to pay closest attention to national political figures when they speak.

When, for example, Sir Wilfrid Laurier said, “The 20th century belongs to Canada,” or Pierre Elliot Trudeau said, “Just watch me,” we remember the statement and the speaker. We don’t tend to remember, however, what Toronto Mayor Allan Lamport said about the way his city grew and prospered.

“No city ever became great,” he said, “without a subway.”

Empty Olympics

Courtesy CBC.ca, Susan Nattrass, Edmonton-based trap shooter.

Somewhere in the palatial offices of the International Olympic Committee in Lausanne, Switzerland, they missed something. Yes, they’ve awarded the successful bids: it’s Sochi, Russia, in the winter of 2014 and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in the summer of 2016. They finally got all nations signed on to having women recognized as athletes. That’s all good. But when it came down to the most basic quotient of the games – putting bums in seats – it appears the IOC brain trust has bobbled the baton. The commentators spotted it right away.

“Why are there so many empty seats?” one of them said, Sunday.