Icon at a gas bar

It’s the sort of thing I do mindlessly. Pull up next to the pumps. Pop the gas tank cover lever next to my driver’s seat. Walk around to the pump. Pick up the nozzle. Press the self-serve request for gas. And fill my gas tank. Then, just as mindlessly, I walk into the gas bar booth to pay for my gas. Only this time, when I entered the booth, I was almost bowled over by the music blaring inside.

“There was a time in this fair land when the railroad did not run,” an unmistakable voice was singing from the booth speakers.

And I nodded my head so the booth attendant would realize I heartily approved. And then I asked him why that music, why that loud?

“Because this month is Canada’s 150th,” he said with a pinch of patriotism. “And after all, it IS the greatest Canadian song ever.”

Demonstrating change

Anti-Vietnam War demonstration c.1970.
Anti-Vietnam War demonstration c.1970.

It began rather innocently as a group of students naively wanting change. It was the ninth year of the war in Vietnam. I was in my second year at Ryerson. The U.S. National Guard shootings of four students at Kent State had just happened. On University Avenue in Toronto, we joined others whose agendas were wide-ranging. Some wanted world anarchy. Others were Americans burning their draft notices. Most were like us, just students wanting to change things for the better. Then, things went haywire.

“The police are on horses,” somebody shouted, “and they’re coming at us.”