A paper for those of us a little older…
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Editorial by Keith Nymark

Keith grey good

June 2017
I think we all get a lot of drivel in our inboxes. I don’t read most of it but ever once in a while one gets me thinking. The following is one:

Let’s see if I’ve got this right!!
If you cross the North Korean border illegally you get 12 years hard labor.
If you cross the Iranian border illegally you are detained indefinitely.
If you cross the Afghan border illegally you get shot.
If you cross the Saudi Arabian border illegally you will be jailed.
If you cross the Chinese border illegally you may never be heard from again.
If you cross the Venezuelan border illegally you will be branded a spy and your fate will be sealed.
If you cross the Cuban border illegally you will be thrown into political prison to rot.
If you cross the Canadian border illegally you get !
A job, a driver’s license, a social insurance card, welfare, credit cards, subsidized rent or a loan to buy a house, free education, free health care, a lobbyist in Ottawa, millions of dollars worth of public documents printed in your language, the right to carry your country’s flag while you protest that you don’t get enough respect and, in many instances, you can vote.

Now most of us will realize that the summary, at least, is untrue and I suspect much of the rest of it is as well. Only after getting vetted and an honest attempt is made to understand why you came to Canada illegally do we make a decision about what to do.
After all the illegal immigrant may have:
• been persecuted at home
• watched his family killed
• been forced to leave his business because of criminal gangs
• been beaten and blackmailed
• lived in a refugee camp for many years because protectionist old nationalists were unable to understand or show empathy for his situation
• been trying to better his life so he could send money home to his mother and father, wife and kids.
I’m sure there are many more reasons.
Given all the countries mentioned I’m willing to bet the author of this piece is happy he lives in Canada even though (s)he may feel as Canadians, we should behave in a similar manner to these other countries. Luckily his values aren’t the values of the majority of Canadians. We are willing to listen and evaluate before accepting or rejecting illegal immigrants.
The real problem with these catchy missives is that they undermine the values Canadians hold to be true. They make new immigrants feel unwanted. They undermine Canada’s history; for Canada is a nation of immigrants some who have come illegally.
I believe Canadian compassion far outweighs the tough guy approach of the aforementioned countries.
This is our last issue before the summer. We want to wish every one a warm and happy summer with family and friends. We’ll be back in September.

May 2017
Cathy and I had a great time in Portugal. I was going to write about all the fun things we did but…hey…everybody writes about those things.
I’m going to write about how travel takes you out of your comfort zone.
It might appear from this that I don’t like to travel. Others may wonder why I travel if it’s so uncomfortable. So, up front, I’m going to say that while the discomfort, anxiety, fear, expressions of concern are true, they are totally worth the wonders one gets to experience (those things I’m not going to write about). I say this because I would hate to discourage people from travelling.
For example: flying is a black and white thing. You make the plane or you don’t. There is no 70% success, no “let me just try that again.” and it causes me stress.
Some of us have been bumped because the flight was overbooked. Seems airlines care less and less about customer service.
Cathy watched a woman at the airport frantically pulling underwear and other clothing out of her suitcase because she had lost her identification. She didn’t appear to be having fun.
My job is to put our carryon bags in the storage bins above our heads. If you’re late getting on, it is often a struggle to find a spot so I like to get on early. I’ve even been known to join the parents and kids line. Cathy is a last minute person. Sometimes it causes us to have a “domestic.”
Last Saturday as we were leaving the plane I grabbed a black suitcase from the overhead bin. It took the panicked woman almost to the baggage carousel to catch up to me crying, “You’ve got my bag!” Cathy and my sister merely looked and me, chuckled, smiled and said, “We checked our black one, dear.”
So, airports cause stress.
In foreign countries being understood can be a challenge. This trip we got bumped from our hotel in Lisbon and moved to a much inferior one. Needless to say we were upset and it’s easy to dwell on how unfairly we had been treated spoiling a good portion of the day. When one doesn’t speak the local language miscommunition and lack of understanding can cause discomfort… to say the least.
We like to stay in hostels every once in a while. They usually have great kitchens and it is mostly fun because the young people one meets are from all over the world. They bring an energy we find stimulating. However, it’s feels a little awkward when you’re shaving in the common bathroom while the young woman at the sink next to you is putting on her make up.
And finally, there can be anxiety finding your hotel in a big city when driving a rented car. In Faro, Portugal, we parked in a spot we thought was close to our hotel. Cathy saw a yellow building (we had seen a picture of our hotel and it was yellow) in the distance and headed off to check it out leaving all her id and money with me. The first place wasn’t it but as luck (bad luck) would have it, she saw another yellow building and went to see if it was the hotel. This was repeated several times. Short story is that she got completely lost. As luck (again bad) would have it, she saw a police station where no-one spoke English and indicated that they would only start looking for me after 24 hours as was the practice with lost husbands. Finally, in tears she saw a couple of fellows and asked if they spoke English and if they knew where the hotel was. They said they thought they did and offered to drive her. Turns out they were “a little bit drunk” (to use their words), so driving probably wasn’t the safest option but they did find the hotel eventually, as had I. It was a very frightening two-hour experience.
So, while travelling is great and people and cultures around the world are wonderful, from time to time it does take you out of your comfort zone.


February 2017

Building a Canada for our children and grandchildren
Before I start philosophizing (you probably didn’t know I was nicknamed Phil in college because I went on and on about various ideas) about building a Canada for our children and grandchildren I want to welcome two new columnists. Nancy Angus is someone many will know from her days working at the 55 plus centres. She is now happily retired but still actively involved in the community. We’re really happy she has offered to share her passions with us.
If Gail Linklater is as she says “A crazy old lady who lives in the bush with a couple of dogs and 7 cats” we are in for some fun and an interestng read as she shares her many thoughts and life experiences.I know you are going to enjoy both these new columnists and we are very happy they are going to write for the paper.
On to Building a Canada for our children and grandchildren.
Cathy, my wife and I have it pretty good. By this I mean we live a comfortable, middle class existence. We have four children, two of whom live at home. We have an income from pensions and part time work. We own our home.
We are both retired but contribute to the community through part time work and volunteering. We are able to travel and are able to help our children with their education.
We are happy (well there are those days:-).
I tell you this because I want to make the argument that our income and standard of living is the income and standard of living that as Canadians we should strive for, for all Canadians aged 60 years or older.
We know that a guaranteed income works and is possible because we have Social Security, Guaranteed Income Supplement and CPP to prove it. Over 30% of Canadian seniors lived in poverty before these programs came into being. These programs made a huge difference for our older population. Yet it is being argued that that isn’t enough today and I agree.
Elsewhere in the paper, the Coalition to Increase the Social Assistance rate argues that social assistance rates need to increase. The shocking statistic is that people on Ontario Works live on $9660 per year – more than 50% under the poverty line. Surely as a province, we can do better than that! We should be ashamed!
There are people who make a great deal of money and are not happy and there are those who make very little and are happy so money is not directly related to happiness. It is, however, directly related to health and to quality of life.
It is fair to say that it is easier to be happy and healthy if you can pay the bills and have a little left over to dream with. It could be argued that setting a financial goal for the country that would lift citizens out of poverty might be easier than solving some of our other problems. It can also be argued that having financial security might well solve many of societies other problems.
So.. you say! Where in heck is the money going to come from? Frankly… I don’t know but I’m sure there are accountants in Thunder Bay and elsewhere who could tell you.
When I worked at Dryden Paper there were 1200 employees. Now paper mills, if they’re still in operation, are producing the same amount or more with 300 or less employees. For years we have talked about the future impact of automation and technology. Well, the future is here and we need to find a way to distribute the wealth more fairly.
I’m afraid right now we are sitting back watching the middle class shrink and wondering how we can turn this around.
In order to do that we need to set goals that support growing the middle class. This editorial is about supporting seniors because this is a seniors paper however as a society we also need to look seriously at the future of work for younger people. How can we ensure they have enough income to raise a healthy family in a time when reasonably paying jobs are shrinking?

January 2017
Happy New Year! I hope everyone had an enjoyable Christmas with family and friends. While it is always fun to get together with family and friends I like the feeling that comes when it is all over and things get back to normal. A kind of calmness sets over me. It feels good.
It is with some regret that I announce that Gerry Poling isn’t going to be writing for us any more. We have appreciated his sometimes contrarian point of view and I know his column is often the first place many people turned to in the paper. We wish Gerry the very best in upcoming year.
The beginning of January is a time of hope for me. The December solstice has come and gone so the days are getting longer. Spring is just around the corner… well…okay the corner is a ways off. January is a time to dream about what I would like to do in the upcoming year. While I’m not big on resolutions it’s the only time of the year I think about what lies ahead. What I might like to do, accomplish, change or maybe do more of. It’s a good feeling. A bit like being back in control after the chaos of Christmas.
Last year Cathy and I did The Whole30 diet and found it quite energizing. We’re going to do that again. No wine, dairy, carbs or sugar for 30 days. A purifier of the body and the soul! I’m looking forward to it.
The art gallery is holding a class called Urban Sketching that sounds like fun so I’m going to do that with my daughter and a couple of friends. I’m looking forward to that as well.
I’m going to keep working on getting music back into Waverley Park. Our neighbourhood group has been working hard to have a gazebo/pavilion built on the site of the old Rotary band shell. With any luck that will be built this summer to celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary. It will be a wonderful site for weddings, music and a whole bunch of other activities.
Thunder Bay is a great city for community involvement. People really enjoy contributing to making the city a better place in which to live. Whether it be coaching a team sport, helping out at a special event, volunteering at the hospital or just shoveling the neighbour’s drive we seem to be there for each other. It’s what makes Thunder Bay such a great place to live.
As many of you will know Cathy and I love to travel and if all goes as planned we’ll spend some time in Portugal this year. After walking the Camino a couple of years ago we’ve got the bug to do walking holidays and have an 8 day hike along the coast of Portugal in the plans. We’ve talked to lots of people who have been to Portugal and loved it so we’re really looking forward to it.
Remember the movies we used to see where the royalty and upper classes had their winter and summer homes and how that seemed to be so very special. Well truth be told we are blessed that we live in a time when many older middle class folk can spend winters in warmer climates. Not in castles and such but condos and hotels which work pretty well. Wouldn’t it be great if the middle class grew even larger and there were more opportunities like this for more people. It should be the goal of politicians … and well, all of us, to grow the middle class. Right now it is shrinking and we need to reverse that trend.
The year isn’t going to be all fun… and while that is unfortunate it is a reality. Perhaps the down times make the up times better. I do know it’s good to have something to look forward to and maybe that is why I like the New Year season.
Once again we want to wish everyone the very best in 2017.

December 2016
Now that winter is here…and it looks like it’s here for the winter, it probably isn’t the best time to encourage people to walk more. I’m going to try anyway because walking is excellent exercise and a group of us would really like to see Thunder Bay become a walk friendly city. In order to have this happen we need to reach a critical mass of people walking. That means that we have so many people walking that those who don’t walk feel like they’re missing something and so start walking themselves. With your help we can make it happen.
There are a number of shopping centres that encourage early morning walks inside and I know the College, Complex and University have indoor tracks that support walking so don’t let winter stop you. Unfortunately the Dome walkers will be taking a break until it gets repaired.
Those of us who are fortunate enough to be able to travel know that walking is an excellent way to learn about a city or even the country side. Many of our friends are going on walking holidays. We have friends who have done walks in Portugal and Cathy and I did a wonderful 4 day walk in the Cotswolds in England earlier in the fall.
At home I’m a destination walker. I like having a place to walk to. It could be around the Marina or even down to the liquor store to pick up drinks for company.
City administration and council are “on side” when it comes to making the city more walkable. Walking and cycling are front and centre of any new road development and our first walker activated lighted crossover has been put in at Cornwall and Algoma. Two more are in the works for next year.
It’s a great investment for the City because we know that countries that encourage walking and support walkers with walker friendly infrastructure have physically healthier populations. This in turn reduces healthcare costs, makes the city friendlier (people who walk, talk with each other) and if we can get kids walking to school again we will all profit in spades.
I was saddened to hear that Leonard Cohen had passed away. I love his poetry, even though it often reflects a more depressing side of life. His music will be played and enjoyed for years to come. Truly a Canadian icon.
And today, as I write this, I hear that Fidel Castro died. Whether you believe in the value of communism or not, one has to be awed that he made it until 90 years of age when the Americans so wanted him dead. His security personnel have said that there were 634 attempts to kill him.
Jim and Judy Foulds are in Cuba and submitted their column from there. When they wrote the column they didn’t know Fidel was about to die however they offer insights into the struggles that lie ahead for the Cuban people.
And finally we are hoping we will see a new Pavilion/gazebo built in Waverley Park this summer to commemorate Canada’s 150 anniversary. The park was designated a park in 1871, just 4 years after Confederation so it will be a fitting way to mark the birthday of Canada.
This is our Christmas edition so I’m going to take this opportunity to wish everyone a fun filled holiday with family and friends. It’s a busy time of the year so make sure you take a little time for yourself as well.
November 2016
The American Elections have the world in a bit of a tizzy. “How is it possible”, folks ask, “that a person of Donald Trump’s character could be elected President of the world’s leading economic powerhouse?”
Here are some of the reasons I’ve heard. You probably have others.
1. If you worked in a factory, mine or industry 20 years ago you felt secure that you could provide a reasonable living for your family. Companies are moving from place to place more frequently. Those jobs are no longer secure for employees or for their kids. Many in the middle class are feeling insecure.
2. Technology has reduced the number of employees needed to run the factories that remain.
3. The jobs that are available are minimum wage service jobs that are part time and don’t pay enough to get ahead. Many people are finding that going on disability, getting pregnant with a number of kids and living off the system is the only way they can get the money needed to live. The food stamps program serves 45.7 million Americans of a total population of 325 million.
4. One loses a lot of pride if one takes a minimum wage job that hardly pays the bills after working for a decent wage in a factory that has closed.
5. Young people with university education are having trouble finding jobs, leaving those who don’t have an education feeling even more marginalized. Education is becoming too expensive. Students are leaving university with debt that will take years to pay off only to find there isn’t work.
6. Large multinationals have too much influence on politicians and society.
7. The wealth of the nation is controlled by 1% of the population and it is not being used to better the lives of the general population. Trickle down economics isn’t working.
8. Labour unions and organizations that have traditionally been the spokespersons for the working and middle classes have been marginalized and rendered ineffective.
9. Rather than increasing low paying service jobs to a liveable wage the reverse is happening. Pressure is being put good paying jobs with pensions to reduce benefits and pay, in order to bring them in line with the lower wage jobs and to maximize profit for owners.
10. The older white working class are encouraged to believe immigrants and minorities are the cause of the job loss.
11. Governments believe the way out of this malaise is to tighten the proverbial belt and encourage austerity rather than finding ways to more equally distribute the wealth.
Trump, obviously isn’t the answer. If he is elected (and I haven’t counted him out) chaos may result. It is easy to believe that developed countries aren’t vulnerable to political chaos and upheaval. I’m not so sure. One thing for sure is that we need to find a better way of “doing business.” A combination of technology, the shrinking planet, globalization, climate change seems to be creating the perfect storm.
Donald Trump isn’t the fellow to provide the leadership needed to make the necessary changes. He is the way a lot of Americans are going to register their feelings about the state of the union.

Oct 2016

First of all, let me welcome Joan M. Baril to our writing team and to say good bye and thanks to Louise Kondakow who soon be leaving for Victoria BC. Joan will be known to writers (she loves to write) and gardeners alike. A long time resident of Thunder Bay she has a soft spot in her heart for gardens and I suspect more and more, gardens that don’t take a lot of work. Older readers will identify with that.
The end of September brings with it the end of the celebrations being held to commemorate Thunder Bay 55 Plus Centre’s 25th Anniversary. The month was chock a block full of events and the organizers did an amazing job. I’m now looking forward to celebrating the 50th anniversary.
Speaking of aging I stopped in at the Creative Aging workshop held last week at the Thunder Bay Art Gallery. I tend not to go to these events. I worked in the field and feel a bit like I’ve been there, done that and now it’s time to do other things. To a certain extent that is true but I re-learned last week that it can be fun and thought provoking to listen to a good speaker. Kathy Smith, Founder and Coordinator of Creative Age London, (London, Ontario) is such a speaker.
There are some pretty exciting things happening in London. It reminded me of the opportunities Nancy Angus coordinated for older people here at the 55 Plus Centre. The real focus was on the importance of being creative and how we can be so much happier if we let our creative side shine whether it be in music, arts or even in the way we relate to others.
Creative Aging of course applies to everyone. As Kathy spoke I couldn’t help but think of young people today who are so focused on getting a decent job that education has become a means to an end and the end is financial. We think happiness comes with financial wealth. Shouldn’t our lives be more rounded and enjoyable? We all tell stories of fellows (usually fellows) who worked all their lives only to find themselves at a loss for what to do when they retire.
Today people are living darn near as long after retirement as they have worked, so knowing what to do when you don’t have to punch a clock is pretty darn important.
We’ve heard for years how technology is going to bring us more leisure time yet it seems those working in good jobs are working harder and longer hours then ever. Those working in minimum wage jobs are working more than ever because they have to work three jobs to make ends meet. Maybe it’s time to make a fundamental shift in our work life and look at shorter work weeks and more job sharing. Less focus on buying things and more focus on recreation and relationships and community building along with work.
Oh how I can go on. Maybe I should have just said Kathy Smith was a good speaker.
A few of us are working at getting entertainment back in Waverley Park. We’re raising money to encourage the City to build a multi-use Victorian Style Pavilion on the foundation left from the old band shell. If you think it’s a good idea and want to contribute, the information is on page 10.
I do hope you are enjoying the beautiful fall weather. It seems our falls are getting warmer and longer. That works for me.

Sept. 2016

Welcome back everyone. The 1st of another nine issues of Thunder Bay Seniors Paper. I hope everyone has had a good summer and lthat you are looking forward to the fall. I am a sucker for scouring The Key for interesting activities that I might want to consider. Our age group are so fortunate for so many reasons but given that this is the 25th anniversary of the Thunder Bay 55 Plus Centre I want to take a moment and comment on its success.
As many of you know I worked there for the last 15 or so of my working career. We mentioned on the front page that the Centre is really a Thunder Bay success story. More than 500 seniors use the Centre each day which says a lot about the range of activities and opportunities available there.
It’s also worth mentioning that many of the services are provided by the volunteer Board and by the seniors themselves. Many people aren’t interested in taking courses but find volunteering in the Café or for the Centre’s Support Services more to their liking.
In my opinion the working relationship between the city staff and the seniors at the Centre is the key element that has contributed to the Centre’s success. In fact some years ago when the City privatized all their concessions it was the seniors who chose to incorporate a separate Board of Directors and run the Cafe themselves. The Centre has two incorporated Board of Directors, one for the Cafe and one to do programming and work with City staff to ensure the people participating at the centre have ownership for what happens at the centre.
The 55 Plus Social and Fix it Club has also incorporated to manage the wood working shop.
It is quite a place so if you are newly retired or over 55 be sure to check it out. Have a look at the calendar of events on the next page for activities related to the 25th anniversary celebrations.
The Coalition for Waverley Park is working with the city’s Parks Department to have a Victorian style pavilion built in Waverley Park. It will make a great addition to the park for many of the reasons outlined on page 10. Did you know that Waverley Park is the second oldest municipal park in Ontario? I chair the Coalition and we have committed to raising $20,000 to show community support for the Pavilion. We are a registered charity and will provide receipts for tax purposes for donations of $25 or more. If you support the idea and wish to contribute the details are on page 10 as well. Next year is Canada’s 150th anniversary and we at the Coalition feel the pavilion which will complement the Hogarth Fountain will be a great way to commemorate the anniversary.
I’ll conclude by saying that Cathy and I have had a great summer. A road trip to see our granddaughter in Edmonton and my sister in the Okanagan and then another one to Ottawa for our niece’s wedding. Both trips involved visits to wineries which is always fun. We stopped for a couple of nights in Niagara on the Lake and rented electric bikes for the day. Just goes to show one is never too old to learn new tricks.
All the best to everyone for a great fall.

June 16

I’m going to reflect in this editorial on “building community”. I define that as “things that people do to make our community better.” My high school English teacher would cringe at the word “things”, but I think it is appropriate here.
We sometimes don’t give enough credit to the neighbour who coaches her daughter’s soccer team or the fellow who picks up the garbage that has accidently spilled from his neighbour’s overturned garbage can.
I actually saw a fellow walking along our street with a bag picking up garbage the other day. I’m sure he didn’t work for the city and he probably didn’t realize that he was contributing to what I would call the “Critical Mass of Building Community.” I define that as the point when more people are doing those little things that seem insignificant and they outweigh those who aren’t. When that happens, one will notice that people smile at you when you walk down the street rather than looking glumly straight ahead.
I don’t think we have reached that critical mass of building community yet here in Thunder Bay but there is hope. And I might be wrong because there could be neighbourhoods in the city where this is already happening. It really is a neighbourhood by neighbourhood movement.
One of the most important factors in creating or building community is getting out for a walk and greeting neighbours and passers by with a smile and, if they are willing, a few words. I call it going for a stroll around the neighbourhood. Some of the older Italian women in our neighbourhood do it really well.
Each year, Lee-Anne Chevette, the City’s Crime Preventions Coordinator, organizes a bunch of volunteers to lead Jane’s Walks on the first weekend in May. It’s a chance to go for a walk in your neighbourhood, chat with your neighbours, tell stories and generally enjoy the day. Last year our group did the back alleys of our neighbourhood. This year we joined Frances Wesley’s Walk for Healing. Over 500 hundred people walked from Waverley Park to the Marina. I joke that we had 500 people on our Jane’s walk this year.
Jane Jacobs lived in Toronto and wrote about the importance of neighbourhoods and how people are happier, safer and more community minded if they get out and meet their neighbours.
But you know Frances’ walk by the mostly aboriginal community is part of the building community I am writing about. I felt a little intimidated at first joining the Walk for Healing. That ugly “Fear of the Unknown” raised its head as I didn’t know what to expect. However, I’ve always found that when I push back against that fear and step outside my comfort zone life gets a little bit better.
I am a big believer in anything that gets one outside with others. Whether it be to meet other parents at your children’s games, having a block party or a yard sale, or joining us for a picnic on Sunday August 21st in Waverley Park, all of these bring us closer to that critical mass that makes Thunder Bay a great place in which to live.
Have a wonderful summer. We don’t publish in July and August, after all we are retired. I am so happy to see Spring, warmer weather and to be able to walk without putting on layers of clothing.

May 16

A couple of weeks ago I turned seventy. It was different. Different from turning 50 or 60 or 65. I’m not sure what it is that makes me feel this way. I’ve been trying to figure it out. Maybe it’s because the other ages seem to mark a transition that most of us make. You can get CPP at 60 and retirement age has pretty much always been 65. Maybe subconsciously, 70 strikes me as the age when you start to get old. I’ve reached my best before date. Truth be told, the kids probably think that happened a long time ago. I’ve overheard my son’s friends say I look pretty good for being so old. Some of my friends have said the same thing.
Last year when we were planning our winter vacation age was a consideration. “We better take the more challenging trips now because you never know what next year will bring.” We went to Asia instead of Portugal. I’m wondering if we go to Portugal this year does that mean we’re giving in to age?
Funny thing is that I don’t feel seventy. I still think I can do anything. I haven’t stopped admiring attractive women. I still dream about building a more age friendly house. I am less inclined to want to spend 36 hours in airports but that, I think, is just smart.
Because of all those things I realize how very fortunate I am and in many ways we all are. As Canadians we won the lottery when it comes to being born in the right place. I realize of course that everyone in Canada isn’t financially or health wise as fortunate as I am. But the reality is that because Canada has had a large, pretty solid middle class (I think I am pretty much in the middle of the middle class) I’m not alone. There is definitely something to be said for a country that focuses on ways to create reasonable wealth for the majority of its citizens rather than just for a small minority.
Cathy invited the kids home (those that aren’t already living here) for a celebration. What a party she planned for me. The ten of us went to Grand Marais for two nights. She had rented a beautiful house with every convenience one could want. My son brought pies from Toronto and another son from Edmonton cooked up a storm. Our five year old granddaughter was a champion all weekend. I don’t think there was a tear the whole time. My sister came from the Okanogan. We played games, completed a 1000 word jigsaw puzzle and went for long walks. Cathy and I even took in an artist’s talk on Found Objects (in this case cardboard) that was pretty awful. It just doesn’t get any better.
Maybe this is why seventy seems different? They made such a fuss over me. Note to myself. ‘If I make it to eighty no fuss, no muss.’ Just kidding. It was a wonderful time.
Someone said that 70 is the new 60 and if they didn’t I’m going to. I think it is true. More and more people are celebrating turning 100. Unbelievable just a few years ago. The 55 Plus centre averages around 350 people attending each day and I can’t help but think most are older than I am.
Enough of this talking about age. I’m going to walk down to Calico for a coffee.
If you have time to drop by the Thunder Bay and District Health Unit on Thursday May 5th at 6pm please do. There will be a talk by the Walkability Committee on making the City more friendly for walkers and as you probably know walking is the number one way to exercise.

April 16

Cathy and I recently returned from a holiday in Southeast Asia. We feel very fortunate to have been able to explore Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, and Thailand and to have met some very fine people in that time. We had a 20 hour stop over in China which allowed us time enough to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day on the Great Wall.
Many people have expressed interest in travelling to Asia so my editorial will touch on some of the highlights for us. Kind of an introductory course on Asia.

1. Ho Chi Minh City. The city of scooters. There are 3 scooters for every five people in the city and a clear hierarchy with cars first, scooters second, bicycles third and then pedestrians. Sidewalks are built with sloped edges to the road so that scooters can park on them and park on them they do. Crossing the street on foot is a fine art requiring considerable nerve and skill.
2. Asians live outside. Vendors cook and sell their foods on the street or on the back of their scooters and bicycles. Everything from fish to chicken to bowls of noodle soup are available street side and all are quite tasty and incredibly inexpensive.
3. Homes turn into shops each day and turn into living quarters at night. Parking the scooter in the living room for the night is quite common.
4. Men in Myanmar wear skirts.
5. Taxis, Tuck Tucks and local transportation are very reasonable. In Angkor Wat, Cambodia we hired a driver and his Tuck Tuck for three days to drive us around the ruins. Cost was $80 for the full three days and we were told we over paid. In Myanmar we spent 10 hours with a guide and his boat exploring the Inle lake where some 5 villages are built on the water. Kids have to paddle their boat to get across the street to play. This is the lake where the fishermen stand/balance on the back of their long boat, paddling with one foot guiding the paddle while they place their nets to catch fish.
6. Accommodation is very reasonable as well. Our hotel costs averaged out to $25 a night in 2 and 3 star hotels. Before we left Thunder Bay Vietnamese waitress told us we shouldn’t have to pay more than $10 a night however we felt we could kick that up a bit. Our accommodations were great and we had no disappointments. Agoda.com is where we booked hotel rooms and they were very responsive when we needed to change plans.
7. The big cities, Ho Chi Minh, Hanoi, Bangkok were overwhelming, mostly because we chose to stay in the heart of the old towns where the streets were narrow and teeming with people 24/7. Fun at first but a little tiring towards the end of our trip.
8. The people are the friendliest people in the world. Warm open smiles reinforcing the fact that happiness isn’t linked to material possessions or wealth. Very trusting societies with big hearts.
9. Full body and/or foot massages. One hour for $6 Canadian. After a day exploring there is nothing better than having a pretty Thai woman messaging your feet. Complete with a hug and glass of tea at the end.
10. If beaches are your thing then look no further than Thailand. Phuket beaches are clean and truly beautiful.
11. Bagan and Inle Lake in Burma took top billing for us. Bagan has some 144 pagodas of all sizes. We rented an ebike and spent a couple of days exploring and climbing the pagodas.
As I mentioned, we consider ourselves very fortunate to have been able to make this trip and enjoy the hospitality of the Asian people.

Feb 16

February is the turn around month for me. Maybe it’s because I’m older that I set these little weather markers. The solstice in December is important because the daylight hours start to get longer and February means that Spring is just around the corner.
Then I begin to wonder if it is a sign that I am starting to hate …too strong a word… dislike winter? The other day I spent the day in my PJs. Don’t think I have ever done that before. I mean going to noon isn’t so bad but the whole day!
It’s not that I’m depressed although the pros seem to think we might not recognize it in our selves so I might be. But really I just don’t want to go out in the cold.
Now truth be told I do go out and when I’m out I usually enjoy it. Thursday mornings I walk about a kilometer to breakfast with friends at Niva’s and I find that really enjoyable…both the walk and the breakfast. I haven’t been skiing this year yet and chances are I won’t as we are off to Southeast Asia on Saturday and I’m hoping Spring will really be here when we get back.
I shouldn’t grumble and promise I will stop now.
A highlight for me last week was meeting Lynn Johnston. Lynn writes the comic strip ‘For Better or For Worse’. I’m not a follower of celebrities but I found myself looking forward to meeting Lynn. I like her comic strip. It has a down to earth quality that has a ring of truth to it.
I found I wanted to see what this woman who seems so insightful was really like. She was as down to earth as her characters and shy and dismissive of her celebrity status. I’m glad I got to meet her. Even had my picture taken with her just to make my wife jealous.
The show is at the gallery until March 6. It is the history and the stories surrounding the life of ‘For Better or For Worse’. I would recommend taking an hour and enjoying the journey.
As many of our readers know, Cathy and I love to travel. We consider ourselves fortunate to be able to do so. Our winter vacations have tended to be short two or three week excursions to someplace warm. This year we are going to try a longer seven week adventure to Southeast Asia. Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand.
I’m turning 70 this year and while our health has been great one starts to wonder just how long it will be so. We were attracted to Portugal but opted for Asia. When we get older we can go to Portugal.
So we are leaving the kids to look after the homestead and heading out. This also means there won’t be a March issue this year. Another decision we’ve made is to not be tied to the paper. At one point my dream had been to be able to publish the paper from under a beach umbrella in the Caribbean but we have opted to skip the odd issue instead (has something to do with my lack of technical skills).
Enjoy the winter. Get out of your pajamas and get outside. Spring is on the way.

Jan. 2016

First, let me wish everyone the very best in 2016. Aging or growing older in Canada has been a pretty positive experience for most of us. There are not many places in the world where it is possible to live more years in retirement than years in the working world (which begs the question “shouldn’t we be spending some of that retirement time making Canada, our community or the world a better place for our children?”). Not many days go by that I don’t count my blessings for having 70 years of good health, a life free from long term stress and a great partner and family.
I am happy we have a new federal government that is showing signs of being much more caring about the general welfare of all Canadians. I support and am proud that we are once again seen internationally as a caring country.
Over coffee today Cathy and I were talking about her parents’ immigration to Canada. They lived in County Leitrim in Ireland, a relatively poor county in the west of Ireland. They left Ireland for two reasons or so I understand. One was to raise enough money to be able to return to Ireland and build a better life for themselves and the other was because they couldn’t afford to get married in their home town. They were bound by the custom that people would have expected them to invite everyone in the community to the wedding yet they were poor enough that they couldn’t afford that expenses. Knowing Peter, Cathy’s father, I’m sure there was a bit of the adventurous spirit involved as well. A bit of the “should we spend our savings on a wedding or should we use it to head to America where we could make enough money to better our lives on our return”. As has happened to so many, children came along and they never did return to live in Ireland. As also happens more often than not, Cathy’s siblings have all contributed to making their communities and Canada a better place in which to live.
I am sure that many of the refugees we are helping come to Canada over the next year will have a similar experience.
I like the idea of New Years Resolutions. Not that I make many or any for that matter. More because of the reflective nature involved in taking stock. What have I done in the past year that I want to keep doing? What have I been wanting to do but somehow never done? Is losing a few pounds important enough for me to do something about it? I find just taking the time to think about the past year is satisfying and enjoyable.
We spent New Year’s Eve with friends who live a nomadic life. Winters in Arizona, summers at camp in southern Ontario, in between times here in Thunder Bay. Not my cup of tea however given the length of time it has taken me to adjust to winter spending winter in a warm climate is appealing more and more. We’re going to get away for a break this winter and you can bet it will be someplace warm.
Again, all the best to everyone in 2016.

“Let this coming year be better than all the others. Vow to do some of the things you have always wanted to do but could not find the time. Call up a forgotten friend. Drop an old grudge, and replace it with some pleasant memories. Vow not to make a promise you do not think you can keep. Walk tall, and smile more. You will look 10 years younger. Do not be afraid to say, I love you. Say it again. They are the sweetest words in the world.” – Ann Landers

Exercising and the retired male
First off I’m directing this at the retired (or about to retire) male and not the female because I know that all the women with men they think should be exercising more will read this anyway.
Second, I’m not pretending to be an expert in this area despite having worked in Recreation for 30 some years.
I am writing this as a personal note on exercising. What works for me might not work for anyone else but then again it might and well, exercising is valuable. So here goes.
I have a tendency towards chronic lower back pain. By that I mean I spend too much time on the computer, reading and watching Netflix so my back hurts when I get up in the morning. The pain will stay with me until I get moving and forget about it. It’s probably not bad enough to be called chronic but it is there and it annoys me.
My insights and what I am doing follow. If it helps one other person I will consider it worth my time to write this.
Without a doubt the toughest part of exercise is motivation. Whenever I use the “should” word, my mind objects and turns negative, to excuses and wants to ignore it. This usually happens to me when I am laying in bed at 7 in the morning. My solution is to relax back into the bed and smile back at the objections. I’m not the kind of guy who fights these resistant feelings by forcing myself out of bed and out of the house to the gym. I’m not knocking this process. If it works go for it. Myself I’m retired. I want to like what I’m doing so I smile at my resistance. I do a little positive self talk. I tell myself the truth: I like my exercise routine. It is relaxing, gets me to breath deeply (something I don’t do very often), it stretches my muscles and it relieves my back pain.” I talk myself into looking forward to it. All of this before getting out of bed. It’s a trick it took me 25 years to learn from my wife. It works.
I also try and put the exercise in perspective. Taking 40 minutes out of my day should be doable, right. I can easily spend two hours watching silly things on Netflix so, come on, 40 minutes.
I like exercising on my own. I tried going to classes. Once I went to Zumba classes at the 55 Plus centre with thirty some beautiful women. I was the only guy. It didn’t work for me.
I took seniors exercise classes squeezed in between 40 some women all who could do the exercises better than I could. That didn’t work either.
No! I’m now a solitary exerciser and I like it better that way. Many people are motivated by group exercising. For many the social aspect is the motivator and that’s great. My wife runs/walks with a group of friends. The call themselves the “Hot Scones” because they go for scones at Calico after the run. It’s a wonderful thing.
I like to walk for exercise. I’m what one would call a “destination walker”. It’s about a 25 minute walk to my bank, a 15 minute walk to my coffee shop and about an hour if I walk around the Marina. I can walk to one of the greatest recreation facilities in the city (the 55 Plus Centre) in about 25 minutes. If I think about going for a walk and where I might go before I get out of bed in the morning I find myself looking forward to doing it. It doesn’t seem like a chore or a “should”.
Did you wonder about what kind of exercise program I do when I said it was relaxing, encouraged me to breath deeply and relieved my back pain?
A year ago a friend from Dryden asked me if I had ever done Qi Gong. I hadn’t. He said he was doing it and really liked it so I thought I would spend $30 and order the DVD. I’m glad I did. I do it most mornings and find it a great way to start the day. It takes 40 minutes. The DVD has two exercise programs, an AM and a PM program. I only do the AM program. I think it is very well done. It is called Qi Workout AM/PM by Lee Holden and can be order on Amazon.ca. I really should get a kick back for promoting his DVD but as I said I will be happy if it only helps one other person.
The New Year is coming and I know many will be thinking about, if not making New Year’s Resolutions. I wish you all the best.
Have a great holiday season.

Nov. 2015

Canada Gives Huge Sigh of Relief as Conservatives go down to Defeat!
Given that this was one of the longest elections in Canada’s history, one would have thought it would have been easier to predict the outcome. Perhaps it wasn’t, because of the abilities and commitment of the people running for each of the parties, especially in our ridings. I was at a loss to know how the election would turn out.
I would be remiss in not thanking all of the candidates, in both ridings, for running. One has a lot of “skin in the game” when one agrees to run for a party and it helps if the “skin” is pretty thick because we voters often state hurtful opinions without a lot of thought. We should all be thankful that such good people were willing to stand for election.
Congratulations to Patty Hadju and Don Rusnak. I’m a little envious of the opportunities they are both going to have to grow and learn as individuals and leaders. All I want is that they go in with an open mind, listen and learn and then fight like hell to make Canada the best country possible. That’s all we ask. Stephan Harper took Canada in a direction that most Canadians felt was not only wrong but also embarrassing. That is why voters of all different stripes gave a collective sigh of relief when the Conservatives were defeated.
We want a more measured, less aggressive approach to Canada’s position on the world stage. We like being seen as peace keepers. We want a culture built on compassion rather than fear. We want more openness and willingness to work with others especially the provincial premiers and aboriginal communities. We want to see more of a community development approach. A realization that good discussion, sometimes heated, leads to better decisions being made and that always having your own way isn’t necessarily good for the country.
The Conservative government put too much emphasis on the importance of Canada’s natural resources. They are just that, a resource and just one part of what makes Canada’s economy work. We have huge agriculture and manufacturing sectors and we have the potential to be leaders in any sectors we want to put our minds, our research and our money towards. The world’s dependence on oil and gas isn’t going to change any time soon but it is going to have to change if we are going to deal with climate change. Supporting and encouraging research and development of cutting edge alternative energy ideas makes sense.
But I digress from wishing the all the parties well as we move into the future. Our democracy depends on the insights and opinions of all the parties to ensure good decisions are made.
I am also going take this opportunity to thank retiring City Manager Tim Commisso for his leadership over his time with the City. In my opinion Tim is one of the best City Managers Thunder Bay has had. He has had the respect of both City Staff and City Councilors and that can be a tough thing to achieve. Perhaps it is because he respected and valued both staff opinions and Council directives and did his best to encourage what he felt was in the best interests of the City. I’ll always remember him saying to me and I paraphrase, “that it isn’t so much a question of building an event centre or not as it is moving ahead as a City. If a City doesn’t have something to look forward to and move towards, it can stagnate and that is something we want to avoid.”

Oct. 2015

Culture of Fear

Wikipedia definition: Culture of fear (or climate of fear) is the concept that people may incite fear in the general public to achieve political goals. It is also a term applied to the workplace.
Nazi leader Hermann Göring explains how people can be made fearful and manipulated to support a war they otherwise would oppose:
“The people don’t want war, but they can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. This is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and for exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country.”
We are lucky that we’re living in the 21st Century and that we’re well educated and smart enough not to fall for Goring’s simplistic statement on how to build fear and manipulate a population.
Or are we?
Prime Minister Harper has chosen to take the fight to ISIS because if we don’t it will come here…or so he threatens. He has moved Canada from a Peace Keeping nation respected around the world to an aggressor. I believe it is because he knows that we are most controllable and susceptible to manipulation when we are afraid. It’s good politics. He has stopped the long form senses which was recognized internationally as state of the art statistical data collection because it produced factual information that might be contrary to what he would like us to believe. From where I sit he is trying to manipulate me. I’m not buying it and the Conservatives won’t get my vote.
Am I being cynical? Maybe …but I’m not so sure.
Former US National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski argues that the use of the term War on Terror was intended to generate a culture of fear deliberately because it “obscures reason, intensifies emotions and makes it easier for demagogic politicians to mobilize the public on behalf of the policies they want to pursue”
How would you like to be a policeman or woman in the USA approaching a car you have pulled over knowing that chances are pretty great that there are weapons in the car. One has to think police in the States are quite often afraid.
I was picked up for possession of marijuana seeds in 1965. I was acquitted but American Homeland Security at the Border got wind of it and the next six or so times I crossed the border they called me in and asked me to explain what had happened. I ask myself, “what are they trying to accomplish? Why are the country’s leaders encouraging that behavior. Is it because I pose a threat to the USA or is to keep me a little off guard?” I can drive from Denmark to Greece and never have to stop at a border crossing. Is going from Canada to the USA so different?
Living in a fearful society is also expensive. Not only do we spend more on policing, prisons and the military but 30% of our education costs in Canada are for busing our kids to school because we have become afraid to let them walk. This is when our national crime rates are dropping. The Media deserve a great deal of credit for instilling this fear in us. Each night on the news we hear about all the bad things that have happened during the day. This distorts reality and is probably the main reason kids are bused and monitored 24/7.
I don’t know about you but my kids are far more cautious then I was. Maybe this is a good thing? When I was a kid we used to leave home at 9 in the morning on a the weekend with the expressed directions to be home for supper at 5pm or else. Our parents had no idea what we were doing between 9 and 5. In the evenings on school days we’d head to the school yard to play hide and seek, tag or just to tease the girls and hang out. Some of my fondest memories were from those days. I don’t think that happens much anymore.
I’m not going to lose a lot of sleep over these changes but I do think being aware that they are happening is important.

Sept 2015

Where to start? It has been quite a summer. Many people we know have enjoyed a holiday on the east coast and many of the same say “No, we didn’t get to Newfoundland. It was just that little bit too far.” We fell into that category until this summer when we did the road trip…and ferry ride… all the way.
What a great province! Some of the highlights for me were the hikes in Gros Morne National Park. The province has bought red Adirondack chairs that they have placed mainly in hard to reach places. The challenge is to find as many of these chairs as possible. (It’s surprising how a little challenge makes the hike feel shorter.) After a long hike, with beautiful views of the ocean these chairs are a very welcome sight.
At St. Anthony’s we ventured out in a boat to circumnavigate a 200 foot iceberg and were able to follow along with a hump backed whale on the way back to shore.
All along the western shore I marveled at the lives these fishermen lived. It was not uncommon to see five or six houses built on the rocks by the sea without a tree in sight.
The story of Elliston, Newfoundland is inspiring. Elliston was mainly a cod fishing /sealing village and suffered greatly when cod fishing was stopped and sealing stigmatized. The story goes that the community went bankrupt and was without hydro and utilities for two years before rallying and focusing on becoming a tourist destination. The town contains many attractions but some of the highlights include the beautiful beach at Sandy Cove, puffin viewing site, hiking/walking trails, root cellars, an impressive Sealers’ Interpretation Centre; a very moving monument and WWI trench reconstruction.
The John Crosbie Sealers Interpretation Centre is a must see as is the statue of a father and son perishing on an ice floe in the tragic disaster of 1914. Seventy-eight men from the village died that day in a storm because two sea captains each thought the other was picking the men up.
Elliston is also the best place we found to see puffins. There is a small island 100 yards off shore that is home to hundreds and quite something to see.
St. John’s is a beautiful city and we didn’t stay long enough to do it justice. We did go to their amazing art gallery and museum called The Rooms and we got to see the Veiled Virgin housed at a convent next to the cathedral. The Veiled Virgin is made completely out of marble, veil and all. Amazing art work.
It was cool on the island. Folks joked about the weather saying it was Junuary but we found it perfect for our holiday and would highly recommend a visit that way to anyone.
The Fall Key is out and now is the time to make plans for Fall and Winter. No sense is sitting around like a couch potato when Thunder Bay has so much to offer. Not only is it healthy to be involved it is fun and a great way to spend some of our retired time. Browsing the Key is something I look forward to every September.
On a sad note we lost our book reviewer Jim Jack to cancer this summer. Jim had moved to Toronto with his wife Lisa while she studied for her Masters in music. As many of you know Jim loved music and led many choirs when he was here in Thunder Bay. I first met him when he joined a book club I belong to and it was through this club that I asked him to do our book reviews. We have lost a kind spirit and great man with Jim’s passing and our condolences go out to Lisa and Jim’s family.

June 2015

It’s been a rather crazy month. Started off great. Cathy and I led a Jane’s Walk in memory of Jane Jacobs a urban activist who believed that it was really important to know your neighbours and that being able to walk to the grocery store, library and coffee shop made for a life well lived and a safer community. It was an absolutely beautiful Sunday and 65 of us walked through the back alleys around Waverley Park.
It went downhill from there, not completely, but mostly. I decide to paint the cab on our 1985 motorhome. I painted it two years ago but forgot to use a primer so the rust was coming up again. I sanded, bought paint and covered the windows with paper. Then I read the instructions on the spray paint that said I the paint wouldn’t work at temperatures below 16 degrees Celsius. Given that the areas not to be painted were covered with paper I had to go out and buy a large enough tarp to cover the front of the truck in case it rained (which it did).
All was well until the heavy duty equipment moved in to begin to tear up our street. It was our year for a sewer and water upgrade. I waited for a nice day as they slowly moved down the block to our house. Luckily, for me anyway, they hit bedrock and it slowed them down substantially. Two days before they reached the house it stopped raining and warmed up enough for me to paint exactly, 7 days after I had covered the windows with paper.
To top things off, the radio in the old beast gave up. A CD got stuck in it and I made things worse trying to free it with a screw driver. So I bought and tried to install a radio. Being of a certain age, readers will remember that in older vehicles one turned the key backward to turn on the radio when the car wasn’t running. Well no matter what I tried I couldn’t get that to work so I decided I would try to bypass the ignition all together. To date that hasn’t worked either.
Then my mother board shorted. It is the mother board of mother boards because it is my mother board and I was just getting set to layout this addition of the paper. It took the “Geeks” at the computer shop a week to figure out what was wrong.
Now I think it is true that when we get older we are both calmer and, under stress, more excitable, so I should be forgiven for blowing up at my daughter in a restaurant causing her leave before breakfast in a huff. It happens. We’re all human. Luckily I think she has forgiven me.
On a more positive note we went to two fundraising dances at the Finlandia club. One was with Rodney Brown and was to raise money for the Finlandia club itself and the other was for the Speakers School (mentioned on the front page.) An up and coming star by the name of Terry Egan played a variety of music. He’s a late bloomer but really good. If you get a chance to hear him I recommend it.
Our daughter is back living with us so both kids are in the family home again. It’s a mixed blessing as many our age know.
So….we’ve decided to take advantage of the house sitters, beat the road construction by being away and take six weeks and drive to Newfoundland this summer. We’ve never been there but have always wanted to go. My oldest boy’s wife is from there and we plan on visiting her dad and family which will be great. It’s always nice to have a destination. That is also the reason for the stress around getting the old truck ready for the trip.
I want to wish our advertisers, writers and readers a wonderful summer. Special thanks to Jim Jack for writing our book reviews. (He is going to continue on a blog he has set up so please check it out on his column on the next page.)
If all goes as planned we will be back next September.

Cathy and I went to Cuba for two weeks in April. We wanted to get there before the Americans. It was surprising how many people were doing the same. In case you’re not aware, Obama is talking with Raul Castro about improving relations between the countries. When Obama was running for a senate seat in 2004 he, by chance, had a smoke with former Miami City Manager Joe Arriola. Both men were trying to quit smoking. They became friends and Joe invited Barack to many gatherings with Florida Cuban Americans who wanted more reasonable relations with Cuba. Up until that point the very strong anti-Castro Cuban Americans dominated the politics making it political suicide to think of negotiating with the guy who had made them leave their brand new 1957 Chevy convertible in Cuba and flee to the States. That Chevy is still running but is now powered by a 4 cylinder Lada motor.
My expectations weren’t high when we left for Cuba. Might even say they were a little lower than middling. I think it was because I had been in East Germany before the wall came down and I remember it as a depressing grey. I thought Cuba might be like that. Happily I was wrong.
We stayed in Casa Particulares for 12 of our 14 nights. We stayed at a resort in Jibicoa the last two nights.
A Casa Particulare is basically a homestay with a Cuban family, much like a bed and breakfast. The Castro government got themselves in a bit of a pickle when they established a currency for the tourist trade different from the one for the rest of the Cubans. The tourist convertible peso is worth 24 times the peso. As much as the government tried to manage the two currencies, the reality is that those who work in the tourist industry are far better off financially than those who don’t. This two tiered system has worked against the Communist philosophy of trying to make everyone as equal as possible. In 2011 in an attempt to encourage tourism and mitigate the difference, the government allowed anyone with a home to rent out their spare bedrooms to tourists and so casas proliferated. In the beautiful little town of Vinales it is fair to say every third house is a Casa with rooms to rent for anywhere from $15 to $45 a night.
I think I read somewhere that the goal is to work towards one currency.
What did I like about Cuba?
While it is fair to say that women in all the countries I have visited are beautiful, I found young Cuban men particularly handsome. They just seemed to be in great shape. It could be that it was so hot that there were more shirtless men than in any country I have visited but never the less I noticed.
The people were very nice and generous. Even the guy who sold us cigar seconds as first class Monte Cristo cigars in a little back street room in Havana seemed like a great guy.
Our Casa families were exceptional. Kenia in Havana spent an hour with us going over maps of sights to see and where to eat in Havana. Her breakfasts were the best we had.
Cathy loved the community of Vinales. We rented bicycles and rode to a restaurant overlooking the valley that was quite spectacular. Oxen plowing the fields below us, the sun setting in the distance. It was very romantic.
I loved seeing oxen working in the fields and pulling wagons along the road side. Horses were the main mode of local transportation. Nowhere in the world are there so many 1950 vintage American cars. Great looking on the outside, a little more lacking on the inside.
The Cubans are incredibly well educated. There are over 70,000 doctors (the whole of Africa only has 50,000). One risks equating low standard of living with ignorance. The fellow selling me those cigars was probably far better educated than I am.
The beach at Varadero is the most beautiful in the world. I know this because the Serbian staying in our Casa in Veradaro told me so and he and his wife have travelled all over the world. I also agree. It is such beautiful sand and so long that I am sure it would take one from dawn to dusk to walk the length of it.
Jibacoa does not have the beautiful beach but it does have great snorkeling. However be warned that all there is there are two resorts. No community and everyone, well everyone except for us arrives in a tour bus. In order for us to leave Jibacoa, Cathy had to walk up the hill from the resort and use her best charades to ask a non English speaking fellow with a week’s growth of beard, an old straw hat with a sheriff badge on it and a machete hanging out of his old pack sack if he could get us a taxi for manana (tomorrow). He indicated if I was willing to give up my shaving razor he was sure he could arrange something. He did and the next day we headed for the airport in a 1955 Pontiac proudly powered by a Mitsubishi engine. It was a fine holiday

On Suing the City

The problem with becoming older is that one has the benefit or frustration of hindsight. I worked for the City’s Recreation Department for 25 years. In the 1980’s I was the department’s liaison with the City’s 14 Community Centres. As luck would have it, it was a time when the City was very fearful of being sued and it was left to me to make sure that the Community Centre Volunteers were mindful of their responsibilities and of the possibility that they could be personally sued. It created an environment of fear, frustration and confusion.
Well I guess I didn’t do a very good job because that fear has raised its ugly head again.
Fear of being sued hurts the voluntary sector (on which the City’s Recreation Department and our community depends) much harder than it hurts say, the City’s Roads Department. Sure, Council gets down on that Department, “to fix those damn pot holes,” but it doesn’t have the same impact. Being personally sued for a volunteer commitment is pretty scary stuff. It can deter people from volunteering and directly hurt the vitality of our community.
As I understand it, if a volunteer organization is in any way affiliated with the City, the push today is to have that association incorporate and purchase liability insurance. It’s a little easier said than done. For most volunteer groups it is both stressful and costly. I worry that some groups may fold rather than go to the trouble. No matter, it is an act that discourages rather than encourages volunteering.
I had this discussion with a City Councillor. I asked if anyone had ever looked at how many successful lawsuits the city had to deal with when it came to volunteer run organizations and what the costs were. Would it not be better for the City to simply cover the costs of any such lawsuits as a way of supporting volunteering in the city? For the life of me I couldn’t imagine that it would be that costly.
The city gets sued for all sorts of reasons and I wondered if volunteer groups were being unfairly lumped in with all the other causes?
I was told while there was definitely a concern about deterring volunteerism, it was the City’s insurance company that was insisting that volunteer groups affiliated with the City get their own liability insurance. That it really wasn’t a choice driven by our City Council or Administration.
I have to say that this is a pretty good deal for insurance companies. They get to reduce their liability and increase their profits at the same time. The underlying implication is that we, as a city, can’t do anything about it.
There is something wrong with this picture.
Insurance companies shouldn’t have that kind of influence.
What can be done? Oh, should I be so presumptuous as to offer a suggestion? There was a time when a group of farmers (I think they were farmers) felt they were being taken advantage of by the big banks. In response they started a credit union. Is it so farfetched that cities in Ontario get together and form their own insurance company that would be sensitive to the needs of their citizens rather than the next corporate quarter? A little competition might make insurance companies care a bit more about the community.
Let me also add that I think suing the city or volunteers is taking a step towards Americanizing Canada and isolating us from one another. If someone wants to do that they certainly won’t get my respect. We all make mistakes and the negative implications of suing leave a sour taste in one’s mouth a lot longer than being understanding and forgiving.

March 2015
It’s March and one can only hope it will start warming up. I thought climate change was supposed to warm up Canada not make it colder. We used to say that it was impossible to predict what the weather was going to be like. Then, with technology and what not, it appeared that the powers that be thought they could do pretty well at predicting. Well, I’m not so sure. It was supposed to be warmer here this winter…and well, quite frankly it doesn’t feel like it and my son in Edmonton, of all places, said they could see grass for most of the winter. Myself, I am still of the school that says you can’t predict what the weather will be like.
I should take this opportunity to forewarn readers that I am jealous enough of folks that go south for one, two or three months to say that next year there may not be a March issue of Thunder Bay Seniors Paper. I still haven’t perfected the way to publish a paper from a beach chair in Florida so I may just skip a month. After all we did skip October past and I don’t think anyone lost any sleep over it.
On a much more serious note I want to weigh in on the need for an inquiry into murdered and missing First Nations women. While I support the need for an inquiry, there are many, many issues of both systemic and community racism that need to be addressed.  Kids need to grow up with the confidence that they will be welcomed as they move into the world.  Our communities need to become more welcoming.
I grew up in Dryden and all through high school I couldn’t wait for the day I would be able to leave Dryden. Not that Dryden was a bad place… it is just that for many, leaving home is part of growing up.
I know many young aboriginal kids feel the same way and many look to Thunder Bay as a realistic and maybe even an exciting place to head.  I wonder if we, as long term residents of the city, could think outside the box  a little and put in place structures that welcome these kids and keep them safe as we would want other communities to do for our own children.
The problem is anything we do is going to take money and quite frankly I think our society has become obsessed with lowering taxes rather than doing what is in the best interests of all of us. If Prime Minister Pearson had said we don’t need a Canada Pension Plan and if we didn’t have Old Age Security, many of the friends we play cards with at the 55 Plus Centre would be living in poverty. We point our fingers critically at the Americans because they don’t have universal health care yet we think Prime Minister Harper is a great guy even as he allows for a two tier health care system in Canada. It may benefit those of us who have good pensions but I’m not so sure it will do anything for our kids who are trying to make ends meet by working for minimum wages.
There was a day when governments paid for people to do research into things that would make Canada a better place in which to live. Not that many years ago it was decided that private industry could do it more efficiently. Private industry depends on a good next quarter and making Canada a better place isn’t really top of mind for them. If our governments would pay for some of those bright young researchers (both aboriginal and non aboriginal) to look into what would best help us work through this, instead of trying to find ways to lower taxes, we all would be a lot better off.
Feb 2015
I was at a Fix-It club meeting last Wed. when one of the fellows mentioned
the success of the “Dome Walking Program.” “Over 200 people are showing
up to walk on Tuesdays and Thursdays,” he commented. I also know that a lot
of people walk at Intercity Mall.
We all know that walking ranks as one of the best exercises. It doesn’t cost
money, can be done by almost everyone and you don’t need special equipment.
It is has extra value for those of us a little older.
Walking should be encouraged. There is both a problem and an opportunity.
The problem is that Thunder Bay and most cities haven’t been designed for
walkers. If you are lucky you live in a neighbourhood with lots of destinations
one can walk to such as the library, the coffee shop, the grocery store, the barber
or hair dresser. Most of us don’t. Suburbs aren’t designed that way. They are
designed for a car culture. You need to drive to pick up milk or go to a store.
This doesn’t encourage a healthy lifestyle.
The people who should be dreaming about what our city could really be and
who provide the leadership have somehow missed the potential for making the
city more walker friendly. I think we might have three midblock crosswalks in
the city and in many cases we don’t even have sidewalks in our neighbourhoods.
In fairness, it is only more recently that urban designers have started talking
about ways to make the cities friendlier for walkers, bicyclers and exercisers
and there is where the opportunity lies.
It is one thing to walk for exercise, it is another thing to get exercise by
walking. More people will walk if they have a destination that is walkable. If
one can walk to get milk rather than jumping in the car it will improve the
overall health of our community. We need to encourage this type of walking
as not everyone is motivated to walk for exercise alone.
Rather than encourage urban sprawl, city planners and council might
encourage and provide incentive of more housing in our down town cores.
Both of Thunder Bay’s down town areas offer reasonably priced real estate
that could be developed to encourage shopping and residential. There are lots
of building designs that encourage street level shops with housing above the
shops. As Thunder Bay’s boomers retire and downsize this type of housing
could become quite attractive.
We do need to address safety for walkers as well. In many cities one only
needs to put out one’s hand or step off the curb to have cars quickly come
to a halt. I’m not sure how this came about but it would be wonderful if we
could develop this respect for walkers here in Thunder Bay. I expect it has
happened by strict law enforcement and lots of marketing. Wouldn’t it be
great if that happened here in the city.
Valentine’s Day is coming. It’s time to remember that special person in
your life or at least use it as an excuse to get together with friends for dinner.
The days are getting longer. It has been a warmer winter than last year.
All in all life is good!

Jan. 15

January is a time of reflection. It is often too cold to venture outside so we turn to good books, reflections, memories and thoughts of the future for our mental sustenance. New Year’s resolutions have been given a bad rap by many who pooh pooh them as dreaming about things that more often than not are unattainable. Or at least goals we usually don’t follow through on. These nay sayers are wrong because resolutions are the stuff of dreams. Resolutions are hopeful, sometimes motivational and while we may not always follow through they may result in equally enjoyable experiences. That is why they are so important.

Sitting back in a comfortable chair in a warm house when it is 30 below outside and dreaming about what “could be” in the upcoming year is a wonderful way to spend an afternoon.

Can you remember the dreams you had as a young person. I smile when my son talks about going surfing in Nicaragua when he finishes school next year. We went to a Christmas open house full of young people in their 20’s talking about the adventures they were about to embark on. When I left university, I left my home in Dryden to go dingo hunting in Australia. The innocent naivete of that dream got me as far as British Columbia where I spent three amazing years.

Now, as I sit in my comfortable chair, I dream of spending three months at a time living in some of the world’s great cities. Rome, Barcelona, Bangkok, New York. I might even learn the language (My dreams don’t have to be based on reality. I am the world’s worst student of languages.)

So, I am a believer in resolutions and dreaming, all the time knowing full well that I may not follow through. Maybe because they allow me to feel young again. I feel hopeful and that in itself is just fine.

Thunder Bay has two world class cross country ski areas. In fact Kamview and Lappe are considered the best in Canada. They both offer lessons or at least can set one up with an instructor for those who want to give the sport a try. As we get older it becomes more difficult to find outdoor activities. Next to getting out for a walk I find cross country skiing the most rewarding. It is a way to get back into the forest and experience the crisp air, the sun on the trees and best of all the hot chocolate at the end.

I went to the 55 Plus Social and Fix-It Club Christmas luncheon in December and was pleasantly surprised by the great turnout. 2014 was a tough year for the club as they dealt with the closure of the shop, a flood from a leaky roof, incorporation and negotiating a new lease with the city. It is good to have that year behind us.

It seems like ages ago that I worked at the centre so seeing members of the club that I haven’t seen for years was special for me.

The shop has every piece of equipment one could wish for as a wood worker and it is available to any one willing to become a member for the low fee of only $10 a year.

Club members contribute to the community by doing work for various organizations and helping seniors with minor wood working repairs.

I hope everyone had a great Christmas with family and friends and all the best in the upcoming year.

Dec. 14

Christmas is on its way…once again! Is it my imagination or do they roll around more quickly as we grow older? Besides having family and friends around for the holidays I like this time of the year because I tend to think about the year ahead. Sometimes I make resolutions just so I can break them but mostly I think about the New Year because I feel hopeful when I do. I dream of becoming a great guitar player, doing yoga or tai chi three times a week, going to the gym on a regular basis and I dream of foreign travel destinations. Most, if not all of this won’t happen but I do like dreaming about it because…well, who knows… maybe something will rub off. I’ll stop rambling now and take this opportunity to wish everyone a great holiday and all the best in the New Year.

I am happy to see that the Fix-It Club is up and running again after a difficult and tense year. I can only imagine how frustrating it must have been to have just received approval to start up again only to have the shop and much of the centre flooded during the reshingling of the roof.

Magnus Theatre has a Norman Foster production (Ethan Claymore) playing in the theatre from now until Dec. 13th. I’m not a big fan of Foster but highly recommend this play. It is very well acted and the set is nothing short of amazing. There were lots of laughs and a well-deserved standing ovation at the end. It is light but perfect for bringing in the Christmas season with a few smiles and chuckles.

Staying with the arts for a bit I want to recommend a trip to the Thunder Bay Art Gallery. It has been close to 10 years since the gallery has held a juried event. Artists from around the north were invited to submit pieces of their work and the best are being displayed at the gallery until Jan. 4. I have been back three times I enjoy the show so much. Michael Sobota writes more about the show in his column on page 11.

Peter Lang is back this month bringing us an update on Dividend Investing. Peter has written 23 articles on investing for Thunder Bay Seniors Paper and for those interested they can be read on the paper’s website www.tbayseniors.com.

I also want to say bye to Hubert O’Hearn. Hubert has been bringing us updates on his adventures in Ireland and I know he will be missed. Last month was his last column.

As readers of my editorials know I often use this column as my soap box to rant about things I think important. Often as not I talk about the importance of paying taxes and how taxes have been given a bad rap. I’m going to refer folks to Jim Foulds’ column this month because I think he does a great job of expressing many of my feelings.

Christmas is the time of year when most people donate to help those less fortunate. Charities depend on our giving in order that they can, in turn, help the people who use their services. When you’re making up your Christmas list, if you can afford it, add donating. It doesn’t have to be a lot. Folks in Thunder Bay are amazingly generous with their time and contributions. That’s a characteristic that we should be proud of and encourage.

Have a great Christmas and Holiday Season with family and friends.

Nov. 14

As many of you know Cathy and I walked the Camino de Santiago in September and October. We had a great time and if you are interested I have written about our experience on page 9.

Congratulations to those elected to City Council and a big thanks to all those who willingly put their names forward as candidates. As much as we like to be critical of our elected members (somehow it is always easier to say what they are doing wrong than it is to compliment them) it is an incredibly important job. Over the years we have watched the City transition from a mill town to an education/healthcare/shopping hub for Northwestern Ontario. Losing the tax base provided by the elevators and paper mills had the potential to leave this City humbled but thanks to the leadership provided by forward looking City Councils as well as other City leaders Thunder Bay hasn??t stagnated. It has, in fact, prospered. I remember having a chat with City Manager Tim Commisso up at the Musslewhite mine. We were talking about the waterfront development and the event centre. He said words to the effect that a community can??t stop moving forward even if the changes are controversial. I agree and in my opinion that is job number one for City Councillors. So I am okay having so many councillors returning. I think they should be thanked for moving the City forward and it is my hope that they continue to do so.

I had breakfast last week with a couple of friends and we got to talking politics. It always happens. I was wondering if, as the Baby Boomers retire and reach 65, and find themselves without dental care if they might influence government to include dental care as part of our universal health care. (that is if we still have universal health care). I commented that I thought our politicians could learn a lot by looking at the way the Scandinavian countries look after their citizens. One of the fellows commented that we are too influenced by the States and because of that our culture is different from that of Northern Europe. I fear that is true.

I struggle with the way our society looks at taxes as a bad thing. Politicians can never run on a platform of raising taxes even for a valued service. It is political suicide; yet we all know that they all raise taxes once elected because if they don??t our infrastructure and services would slowly or not so slowly deteriorate. What I can??t understand is why we as citizens can??t understand that by paying a bit more in taxes we all can benefit. The comment was that once Canada had a large middle class, the middle class started resenting having to pay for services for those less fortunate. I don??t want to believe that however that is certainly seems to be the way it is in the States and I fear we are lock step with them.

Remembrance Day is just around the corner. It is our chance to pay our respects to the men and women who gave their lives for us. I??ll go down to the cenotaph in Waverley Park. I usually do. The numbers attending have been increasing the last few years. I??m not sure why. We have lost a number of young people to war recently and as a country we have moved from peace keeping to being more aggressive in our relations with those we feel a threat or who aren??t behaving appropriately. Maybe that??s the reason. It is good to see large turnouts. Those who paid the ultimate price deserve no less.

I want to briefly mention our stay Paris and Barcelona. My sister, who came with us to walk the camino, had never been to Europe so we decided to make the best of the trip and spend 4 days in Paris up front and then 4 days in Barcelona after the walk.

In both places we rented great apartments through Air BnB for relatively cheap which made the stay so much better. One can’t beat having a kitchen, dining room and all the amenities for the same price as a hotel room. I recommend Air BnB. Paris is Paris. A big busy city with lots of tourists and lots of places to see. It was actually a bit overwhelming. Barcelona on the other hand felt more manageable with more parks and green space and wonderful beaches. It was Cathy and my first time there and we’ve become a big fans. It would be a great destination for a travel club.

Writing about our travels like this makes me realize how fortunate we are. Both because we have the ability to travel and also because we have such a wonderful city to return to. It always feels great to come home.

Have a great month.


Sept. 14

I do hope that everyone is having a great summer. It seems a while since I??ve sat down to write an editorial. It feels good.

Cathy and I have had fun this summer. We bought weekend passes to both the Blues Festival (which was terrific) and to the Red Rock Folk Festival. We volunteered at Thunder Bay’s first Open Streets event and had a great time. The Red Rock Folk Festival is our favourite festival of the year. Doesn??t matter who the entertainers are because without a doubt there will be two or three or a whole bunch that knock your socks off and the rest are just plain good. The Bros. Landreth (Winnipeg boys) were stand outs for many of the festival goers this year. There are four workshop stages where 4 or 5 musicians from different groups get together and jam and just have fun. For me this is the best part of the festival. Joey Landreth plays an electric guitar and was talented enough to comfortably step in and do a solo on any of the songs other entertainers presented. Watch for him next spring. I think the Folk Society is bringing the brothers back to the Finlandia Club.

My favourite workshop each year is the Sunday morning gospel workshop and this year it was no exception. The Bros Landreth, End of the Road (which reflects their ages) from the Maritimes, Gathering Sparks, a truly politically group (think Pete Seeger), Harrison Kennedy, a talented blues musician, and the wonderful Katherine Wheatley had us wanting them to play on all day. If you can build the Red Rock Folk Festival into your summer next year I??d highly recommend it.

We went on to spend 4 more days at Neys Provincial Park and as luck would have it our seven days away coincided with our seven days of summer. The weather this summer really hasn’t been great.

Municipal elections are coming up in October and I encourage everyone to do their part for democracy. While it isn??t a perfect system when one looks at the rest of the world I??d have to say it??s been working pretty well for us. But it does mean we need to participate.

I don??t think being a member of a municipal council is an easy job. Of the three levels of government it tends to be the one closest to us as citizens and therefore most critically watched. The job is an incredibly important one and you??ve got to be pretty philosophical (or thick skinned) to put up with the scorn that some members of our community can sling.

For the most part I think this has been a good council willing to debate in a civilized manner and move on when that is what is required.

I??ll take this opportunity to thank the past council for their contribution to our city and wish them the best in the upcoming election.

You may wonder why I??m saying all this now instead of in the October issue. There isn??t going to be an Oct. issue for the first time in 14 years. Cathy and I are going to walk the Camino trail in Spain. It is 800 kilometers and it is going to take us Sept. and well into October to do it. The walk itself is a pilgrimage many have made since the 9th century. While there are many routes the destination is always to Santiago where the bones of the Apostle St. James are believed to be buried. Quite a number of people from Thunder Bay have done the walk.

The question that one is asked and perhaps would do well to reflect on is “why!” “Why walk 25 kilometers a day for 35 days.” For my part I can tell you it isn??t for the blisters I??m bound to have on my feet. I think for me it will be having the opportunity to meet and enjoy a meal and glass of wine with people from all over the world. The beauty of walking through northern Spain and seeing it slowly and in a much different way than speeding by in a car or train is a bonus. I??m not a religious person but I do have a spiritual side so I am open to insights in that area as well.

I??ll let you know how it goes in the November issue.

June 2014

Laurie Biggar is retiring. She is the Recreation Supervisor overseeing the operations at Thunder Bay 55 Plus Centre and the Herb Carroll 55 Plus Centre. She??s been with the City for well over 30 years and we worked together for the better part of 20 years. She can be a little stubborn… As an example she has insisted that there be no speeches at the afternoon going away party for her on May 29. She would probably like to have editorial say over this article. But she doesn??t and I??m not prepared to let her quietly retire without some acknowledgment of her time with the City.

It is no exaggeration to say that we have one of the best 55 Plus Centres in Canada because of Laurie. She was the one who recognized the need and, along with Millie Foster, dreamt the dream. I still smile when I think of the day she presented us with her plan for what the Centre needed to look like in order to meet the needs of Thunder Bay??s growing senior population. It was a 50,000 square foot building (the current building is 21,000 square feet) sketched out on a piece of paper the size of a napkin. I had worked with Community Centres in the city and I think it is fair to say that Millie and I had thought the 55 Plus Centre would be more like them. A large hall for dances and banquets, a kitchen for catering and a meeting room for most everything else. Not to belabour the stubborn thing but Laurie wasn??t going to let this opportunity pass and we can all be glad she didn??t.

Laurie has always been committed to doing her best for seniors and that is her legacy. I know that she and Rob love to travel (Greece in June, I hear) and I want to take this opportunity to wish them the best.

Open Streets Thunder Bay

On another note, I am really quite excited that Open Streets is coming to Thunder Bay. On Sunday, July 13, almost 6 kilometers of Algoma Street will be closed to car traffic from 9am until 2pm. Walkers, dancers, strollers, tricyclists, bicyclists, are going to take back the street. It is an opportunity to go for a stroll down the middle of Algoma, chatting with neighbours and friends. In this world of cell phones and tablets there is a strong pull to sitting in front of a computer. Open Streets invites people of all ages to get out and exercise and to enjoy our wonderful city. (see page 8 for more)

Community groups, individuals, instructors are encouraged to lead an activity somewhere along the street that others can join in.

The concept started in Bogota, Columbia and has gone worldwide. Bogota closes 120 Kilometers of street every Sunday year round and averages over a million people participating each day. Thunder Bay is fortunate to have been selected as one of 4 pilot projects in Ontario.

The success of the project will depend on turn out so mark Sunday July 13th on your calendar, round up a few friends and come on down. It will be fun.

It has been a long cold winter. As I write this it is 22 degrees above and I love being able to say above instead of below. Remember that walking is the best exercise there is, so take advantage of the weather. Go for a walk, chat with neighbours and speak positively about what a great city Thunder Bay is.

This is the last issue of Thunder Bay Seniors Paper for the season. There are so many things to do over the summer. Summer in the Parks, the Blues Festival, Canada Day, Red Rock Folk Festival, Murillo and Hymers Fairs, the CLE. I could go on. Don??t forget to go out and cheer folks on at the 30th Anniversary of the Northwest Senior Games June 2nd to 5th.

Thank you to all the column writers who make the paper so enjoyable, our advertisers who make this paper possible and to all of you, our readers. Have a great summer. See you in September.


May 2014

Happy Spring!! I wonder if it is too early to say that? We drove to Edmonton for Easter (something we won??t do again too soon.) It was snowing and yukky from Thunder Bay to Kenora and then again from Saskatoon to Edmonton. Not a pleasant drive but then again I expect we all have stories to tell of driving in winter conditions.
With all the talk about wait times at the hospital and attempts to make our health care system more effective I found it timely that the Unitarian Fellowship via the Ken Morrison Lecture Series, is bringing in a speaker to talk about an experiment that took place in Dauphin Manitoba back in the 1970s. For three years Dauphin instituted a guaranteed annual income. You can read more about this on page???.
As you can see from the front page I am a big supporter of encouraging the use of the bicycle. I know many struggle with the idea and there is certainly a fair share of grumbling as we learn how to accommodate bike lanes. My argument for them is that cities that have embraced cycling seem to be more progressive and have a healthy feeling to them. Biking can be a great way to enjoy being outside and after this winter we need as many opportunities to get outside as possible.? I??d like to see more protected (off road or barrier protected) bike lanes and routes as they are definitely safer for everyone however I think the city has made a good start in making the transition to a bike friendly city.
The Fix it Club at the 55 Plus Centre is still closed which is unfortunate. It is one of the best wood working shops in the city and there is so much potential. I have fond memories of it being an active and vibrant shop. It seems to me women have a much easier time adjusting to retirement than men and that as a city we should be encouraging activities that attract men as they retire. Retiring to the couch isn??t healthy and it seems to me the Fix It Club can provide a unique opportunity especially for men to get involved in the community.
Next weekend, May 3rd and 4th, communities around the world will be holding neighbourhood walks in memory of Jane Jacobs. She was an urban activist who spoke strongly about the importance of neighbourhoods in our communities. Some readers may remember Toronto’s plan to build an expressway through the heart of Toronto from the 401 down Spadina Ave. to the Gardiner expressway. Jane, along with others, mobilized a group of citizens to stop that plan and were successful.
She believed in high density living that encourages people to walk for life’s necessities rather than drive. Grocers, libraries, coffee shops should all be within walking distant of home. That fosters supportive neighbourhoods where people know one another and look out for each other.
Thunder Bay will be holding 8 neighbourhood walks this year (walks are outlined on page 14). The purpose is to give a everyone a chance to talk about their neighbourhoods, meet neighbours and generally have a fun walk.
Cathy and I are leading a walk on Sunday May 4 at 1pm. We are meeting at the fountain in Waverley Park and will spend about 1.5 hours walking and talking. Well we are hoping others will share their stories of that area as we walk past St. Joe’s hospital, the former Land Registry office (now Anishnawbe Mushkiki Health Centre), the old court house, St. Andrews Church and back to St. Paul’s Church for coffee. Every one is welcome so please join us or one of the other walks if there is an area you want to explore.
We are convinced we live in the best part of Thunder Bay (no bias here) and are looking forward to hearing some of the stories folks have to tell.
Our June issue will be our last issue for this season (being retired it is only fair that we get the summers off). Enjoy the spring. I think it is finally here.

April 2014
Two of the writers for Thunder Bay Seniors Paper are retiring and they will be missed. Peter Lang has done an amazing job of telling us how to invest, as safely as possible, in equities and the stock market (all 22 of his articles will remain available at the paper’s website) and Nick Matletzoff has helped us with all things related to our feet. Nick and his wife Joanne are moving to Ottawa. We wish them all well.
For a long time we have wanted to have someone write about what it is like to be a first nations person living in Thunder Bay. Stories that can in some small way bring our two communities closer together with more understanding. A couple of weeks ago I got an email from Peter Globensky, Peter is a former policy advisor on Aboriginal Affairs in the Office of the Prime Minister, and I asked if he and his wife, Beverly Sabourin (Beverly just retired as the Vice Provost of Aboriginal Affairs at Lakehead University), would write for the paper. They agreed, which was just great and we can all look forward to the stories and insights they will bring.
The Editorial:
As a city we are making a mistake by expanding Junot Ave. to four lanes between John Street and Red River Road.
If you drive along Junot Ave. from Red River Road to John Street you will know to slow down because, as often as not, there is a police car with radar sitting at Blucher Street across from the old Forest Park School. The reason for the regular radar speed control is that on one side of Junot Ave. Thunder Bay Housing has 162 units and on the other side of Junot Ave. is a Boys and Girls Club and all the schools the children from the housing units attend.
It is one of the highest density areas of children in the city as identified in the Engineering Report to City Council in Sept. 2013. It also has a higher than average number of seniors.
Two years from now the plan is to increase the car lanes from the current two lanes to four lanes making it even more difficult for the kids in this area to cross the street. The area they live in will effectively become an island, surrounded on all four sides by four lane roads.
As a result of a citizen deputation to City Council expressing concern about this plan, City Engineering Department has recommended putting a pedestrian light at Junot Ave and Windsor and reducing the speed limit along here from 60 km. to 40 kilometers an hour (the speed reduction has been done) as a concession to the kids and residents. This will not make crossing Junot safe.
According to Alaina King and Beth Anne Cryderman of the local concerned citizens group many parents now won??t allow their children to go to the Boys and Girls Club because it is too dangerous to cross Junot. This will not be improved by installing a single traffic light if the street expands to four lanes. The group also expressed concern that it is impossible to stop the 176 people who cross Junot at Blucher on a daily basis.? People will not be willing to walk a block to a traffic light and with four lanes of traffic, it will not be a question of? “if” there will be accidents so much as “when”.
There is an opportunity here. Rather than isolating these young people, why don??t we make it easier for them to access the Boys and Girls Club, the local schools and to go to MacDonald??s for a hamburger. Let??s show them that we care for their safety and we want them to have easy access to recreational activities.
City Council and Engineering should take a serious look at alternatives for this section of Junot.
Here is one suggestion. Leave the two lanes (the business community in the Bay Algoma area asked for this and got it). City Council could take the money designated for the road changes and put in three raised pedestrian crossings (similar to large speed bumps) with pedestrian activated lights; one at Windsor, one at Blucher and one at Walkover. This will slow traffic and probably eliminate the need for tying up police doing radar patrol. Link these cross walks with a wide sidewalk on both sides of Junot from John Street to Red River Road (there is one on the east side of Junot now) and alongside the sidewalks build a standalone cycle path so the kids can ride their bikes safely along Junot Ave. This will get bikes off the road and sidewalk, encourage exercising and it can link into the planned bicycle path.
There are arguments against this idea of course. The plans are made, cars will have to go slower, it is an arterial route designed to move cars more quickly, the EMS is located on this stretch of road (it is about 4 football fields either way to a four lane road).? However, when one compares these arguments against making it more difficult for kids to get to school or the Boys and Girls Club, the cost of radar policing the roadway, doing something for that community rather than making things more difficult, the liability concerns that arise when one knowingly puts kids at risk, the city’s desire to help fight obesity in our youth by helping them become more active, this could well be the better solution for City Council to make. People in cars will always find ways to get where they are going. There is a four lane expressway 200 meters from Junot. These kids don’t have an alternative route or option.
There is an international movement to make cities more walker friendly. Progressive cities are actively looking for ways to encourage people to get outside, and be active.? Walking is an inexpensive activity that can be done by people of all ages. Isolating a residential neighbourhood as suggested by the current plan isn??t progressive, it is a mistake.
City Council should address this before some national survey picks it up and uses it as an example of how not to design a city.