Flowers for Canuckistan -- and my parents

Flowers for Canuckistan, and my parents    Versions of this article were originally published in the Toronto Star and in the Kingston Whig-Standard.   I hated to see my 83-year-old mother with a shiner. She died years ago, after a thirty-five year fight with Parkinson's disease. When she went, she couldn't speak, walk, feed herself or go to the bathroom for herself, and she had been unable to do these things independently for several years. It was sometimes hard to tell what she was feeling, but in spite of it all, I know she kept her indomitable spirit. She had been a pioneer palliative care nurse at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal, and helped establish one of the first units of that sort in Canada. She knew exactly what dying meant. Years before, my parents, sister, wife and I had a night out at a well-known downtown restaurant with a family friend visiting from England. Mother was having trouble feeding herself and I began doing it for her. She c

So, here's a New Year's toast to #MeToo

So, here's a New Year's toast to #MeToo Awhile back, I was having this futile argument with a Trump supporter (my cousin, who ought to know better, but doesn’t, haha). He is a born-again Christian – I like the term Christianist – who loves Trumpworld because he thinks those judges whom the orange grotesquerie is appointing will, in the end, get around to rolling back Roe v. Wade and abolish that biblical abomination -- legal abortions.  To paraphrase my desert island artist, Leonard Cohen, "First we take Washington, then we take Ottawa." When I criticized the way capitalism treats its women and its workers, he brought up Rwanda. When I said I thought that was a pretty low bar to comparing Canada with on the world stage, he said he wasn’t comparing – no, no, not at all. Right. Of course not. So I stumbled across the video link below, this morning – perhaps a better comparator for judging progress in Canadian society than Rwanda! Iceland is

Goliath Is Not Sleeping

Goliath is not sleeping Well, loyal bloggsies, today is rant day against the Big Battalions. A few weeks ago, Boeing (tiny US corporation) charged a Canadian firm, Bombardier, with unfair competition and were awarded 300% tariffs (in an American court -- go figure) because Bombardier had accepted loan guarantees from Quebec and Canada, which Boeing considers to be unfair government support. What is even more chilling is that Boeing doesn't even build an airliner that competes with the C-Series Bombardier aircraft -- they tried to palm off some inferior Air Canada used Brazil-built Embraers on Delta, which they quite appropriately refused. Then Boeing, like the huge crybaby bully they are, went blubbering off to Trump's trade folks, and here we are.    Bombardier Let's take a quick look at this bizarre turn of events. Back in the 1930s, Boeing came out with a twin-engined airliner, pretty much the first of the xx7 line, called the Boeing 247 (photo immediately belo

Ratty was Right Department

I am thinking (having received a strong hint) that my blog should have a title, and I have duly fomented a tentative one although perhaps too prosaic, as follows: Along the Fourth Coast:    Jottings and Blatherings from Canada's Deep South It's probably not the most inspiring thing you ever saw, but hoping it is unpretentious enough to serve as the title for this column, that I don't pretend to be anything but musings from someone with, you know, a somewhat haphazardly functional brain and intermittently, dimly positive spirit. I find myself now to have become, among other  eclectic things  at the age of 67, a writer, student of history and a lover of the Fresh Coast of Canada, particularly my little bit of it here on the (Lower) Great Lakes, but also other places -- mostly, as you will see, water-connected. All I can say about what you will find here is that I will try to lie no more than any other storyteller! Ratty was Right   Department, August 17, 2017* If yo

Perils of Presenting

Hi, folks, Good to be back. I lead off with another gorgeous traditional sailing vessel -- this photo taken by my old friend Chris Howitt at the Bath Tall Ships Rendezvous ten days ago, of the SV Dennis Sullivan out of Milwaukee. This one is a 2000 replica Great Lakes Three-Masted Topsail Schooner -- nicknamed a "Three-n-After" by the old lake salts. They have all been gone since 1934, when the last working schooner, a 60-year-old wooden two-master (fore-n-after) named the Lyman M. Davis , was burned for spectator entertainment on the Toronto waterfront. A year or two before, the Davis had been hauling coal to Kingston and Napanee, reputed to have been the fastest schooner on the Lakes and her last owner was a Kingstonian. In typical Canaydjun fashion, that ephemeral beauty was willfully and deliberately destroyed. Hundreds of her kind had been built on the Great Lakes and many dozens in Kingston alone, but not one finger was lifted to save her. Simple vandalism. My s

July 10, 2017, Kingston

Hi, folks, I suppose it's a good way to start, with a photo of ephemeral history -- the rendezvous of the Three Sisters in 2017. Here they are, at Portsmouth Olympic Harbour. Pathfinder on the left, in white, Playfair in blue, and Kingston's own St. Lawrence II resplendent in black with the ochre "Nelson chequer"stripe. All were designed by noted Kingston Naval Architect Francis MacLachlan as vehicles for "Outward Bound" type youth leadership training, and very successful they have been, since the first was launched in 1953. This will be a new blog, since I can't seem to get back into my old one, but you can still see those long-ago posts at A quick update -- much has happened since 2013 (go figure). Fireship Press has published my first three novels and has the manuscript for number four in hand ( The King's Salt ), which I hope will see the light of day this year. I have begun work