Jul 29


There’s been a tradition in our family, taking one another on a MMT, the Beatles-inspired Magical Mystery Tour. It might be out for a special dinner, the theater; a Saturday night caramel frappachinno at the Starbuck’s old house veranda on Kleinburg’s main street.

Some years ago, I showed Rosanne a newspaper ad for a transatlantic crossing on the Queen Elizabeth 2. She glanced at it and quipped in her own special way, “I’d rather go on it married.” The remark deserved a quip of my own. “What d’you think I had in mind?”

Roe pulled the entire wedding together in less than six weeks. Family from Timmins. Catered. Dress-up. Men in tux, women in their finery. Married on a train. Flew to New York, boarding the QE2 the next day.

Back to the MMT and last Friday, my birthday. I was told to pack light. A three hour drive to Gananoque, ‘Gateway To The Thousand Islands,’ and the St. Lawrence River.

We would stay in a special B&B; check out Gananoque’s nightlife, with dinner somewhere that would catch our imagination. Early Saturday, down to the harbor to board a boat for a five-hour cruise meandering among the majestic islands, so close to some, I’d heard, you could almost reach out and touch them

Author’s comment: I’m caught between a rock and a hard place. Either I squeeze the rest into two or three paragraphs, or leave it for Part 2. I’ll choose the latter.

We were pleasantly surprised at how a small town of pop. 4,500 – triple in the summer – operates these days. I’m sure Gananoque is no exception. Stores close, five o’clock; six on Friday nights. The LCBO till 8 PM.

It has its share of restaurants and bars. We settled for The Old English Pub where Friday night reservations are the only way to get your butt in the door. It’s packed to the rafters as it should be. And wonderfully noisy, as it should be.

The maitr d’ looked at us, sighed, and mumbled, “out-of-towners, what the hell.” He found us a corner table for two. The entertainment was live, provided by a guy in a red T-shirt and jeans, sandals with socks playing an acoustic guitar and singing songs from the sixties, seventies and eighties.

His day job? The local banker.

Our B&B was a blast. A tad old-fashioned comfy room with a four-poster bed and a hot tub. A TV in the bedroom would’ve been ’way out of place. Next to the bedroom was a billiard table. Owner Don Matthews padded barefoot around the 19th-century Queen Anne-style gabled house, having shucked off his shoes and socks in mid-May, not to be worn again until October. He described the breakfast menu as he showed us our room. We settled for the Eggs Benedict. Cup of fresh fruit. Croissants. Hot coffee in cups with handles.

The trip along the St. Lawrence will come in Part Two, next week. About stopping at one hell of a huge castle built by an American multi-millionaire as a present to his wife. She died before she saw it. He left it never to return.

Descriptions of the many sailing vessels taking the deep six, along the route. The sun, the wind, and the seagulls flying close to us, chirping happily. What an MMT.

Posted on July 29th, 2018 by Clarke
Jul 22


And that’s only the beginning. That, referring to the gas mask invented by Cluny Macpherson (1879-1966). We all know the Canadian who invented the Americans’ favorite sport. Basketball. Dr. James Naismith (1861- 1939) from Almonte, near Ottawa.

I confess, finding most of these in an unheralded section of the Toronto Star. How long would it take to find them on my own? No mention of who(m) to attribute it to. Yet, here was a list of Canadian inventors: when they were born, when they died.

We’ve been a nation of inventors over the years. Take plexiglass: AKA Poly (methy) methacrylate (PMM). A transparent (clear) thermoplastic. William Chalmers (1905-1995).

I’ll throw in here…drum roll… egg cartons which Joseph Coyle (1871-1972) came up with. Imagine juggling a dozen lose eggs without a mostly break-proof container. Just don’t drop ’em.

And what about the plastic garbage bag? Harry Wasylyk & Harry Hanson. The electric wheelchair: George Johann Klein (1904-1992). And these: the fog horn by Robert Foulis (1796-1866); the paint roller. Norman Breakey (1891-1965).

I don’t want you to lose your concentration, but let’s add: five pin bowling, Thomas F. Ryan (1872-1961). My favorite: the square socket screwdriver which doesn’t lose its grip, P.I. Robinson (1879-1951).

Nathaniel Wallace’s favorite, in moderation: the Caesar cocktail concocted by restaurant manager Walter Chell of the Calgary Inn (now the Westin).

Author’s comment: Don’t these Canadian inventions make you feel good? We did it? Well, they did it. To say nothing of the snowmobile, the pacemaker, alkaline batteries and the synthesizer. Holy smoke, what about  Insulin. Trivial pursuit, walkie-talkies, The snowblower.
I’m out of breath!

Posted on July 22nd, 2018 by Clarke