Nov 18


They come along all through your life; those who influence you, often in small ways, when you need them the most. Even if you don’t realize it at the time. One of them for me was H. H. North, the head mining engineer at Hardy Mines, north of Sudbury, Ontario.

I had been dating his daughter at the University of Western Ontario – now known as Western University. I was to start a second-year summer job at a nickel refinery in Port Colborne when I got a phone call from H. H., as he was affectionately called, suggesting I come up there and learn about the other end of the operation.

There I was, a journalism student among 40-odd engineering types from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. Falconbridge had put us in empty company houses in the tight community. We didn’t last long, after inviting the local young women to a party.

What killed it was putting a red light out on the porch. Parents went berzerk, and we guys were moved to the local arena. I was one of 10 assigned to bunk beds set up in the Women’s Washroom.

H.H North and I became friends. He had a dry sense of humor, took no cockamamy nonsense from anyone. Including me. His daughter wasn’t there; she was working at Cleveland’s House in the Muskokas for the summer.

Her father and I spent weekends fishing in lakes that for all I knew had never seen by humans. We’d park the car and walk into this utter wilderness. I carried the cedar canoe, with strips of wood leaving wide open spaces of fragile canvas between these boards. Be so careful climbing in, he warned me.

I was carrying the canoe, the yoke resting on my shoulders, when we approached a sheer rockface leading down to the small pristine lake. I started down, and tripped. “Drop the canoe, Wallace,” he yelled at me, “and you’ll be walking back, alone, without a compass.”

Author’s comment: I’ll write from time to time about those who’ve been influential in my life, In small yet important ways. Like H.H. North. I ‘m hoping it might trigger you in remembering those who changed your life for the better; when you least expected it.

Posted on November 18th, 2018 by Clarke
Nov 11


What better way to learn the disadvantages of air travel than from someone returning from a trip south of the border. This, from Rosanne Wallace RN at a conference in Indianapolis, Indiana. Coming home she ended up sleeping on the floor of Washington’s Dulles International airport.

She had flown from Toronto last Thursday for a meeting about digestive diseases held the following day. She was caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place when the event ended too late for her to catch a direct flight home.

The alternative? Staying to nab a United Airlines flight from Indianapolis to Washington, deplane and pick up a last Air Canada jet flying back to Toronto, arriving short of midnight.

We all know from experience that ‘the best laid plans of mice and men go aft agley’, as the Scottish poet put it. I’m sure Robby Burns meant women equally so. Rosanne had a carryon with wheels guaranteed to fit in the aircraft’s overhead bin.

Oh yeah? When boarding she found there was no room in the plane’s overhead for her carryon. They’d tuck it in the storage area and she’d pick it up at the Dulles baggage area.

The late arrival in Washington meant she was too late to catch the last Air Canada flight home. United offered her no overnight accommodation. They gave her a blue slip which only some hotels accept with a 60 percent discount. She’d have to find such a hotel on her own.

Rosanne Wallace decided it wasn’t worth it as there was an Air Canada flight to Toronto the next morning. It left at 6 AM. She could sleep on a bench, she was told, and catch the sky train to the Air Canada terminal in the morning. With a warning: the building there was cold.

She headed for Air Canada, telling herself she’d at least be closer for the 6 AM takeoff.

Trying to sleep on chairs with arms was a bust. She stretched out on the terminal floor, used her rolled-up coat as a pillow and clutched her purse close to her. She shoved ear plugs in her ears to drown out the sounds of staff vacuuming the carpets.

Author’s comment: What else did my wife learn from the trip? Most airlines, if not all major ones, will no longer accept wheeled carryalls placed in the overhead bins.

Why not? The PR spin is that the carryall’s wheels cause damage. I’d say they take up too much room when you could pack many more smaller, lighter duffle bags in the same space.

Posted on November 11th, 2018 by Clarke