A paper for those of us a little older…
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View From My Perch by Gerry Poling

Gerry's new photo

 

December 2016
In recent months I’ve been hearing a lot of griping over the exchange rate on the American dollar.
However, I can easily recall (well, fairly so at my age) when our dollar was worth 10 or 12 cents more. It didn’t quite reach the 30 cent mark but in those days might have been comparable..
What gripes me more is the fact you pay the rate of exchange to buy a buck, and if you use an ATM, you get charged $3 for that privilege besides paying when you go to sell it back at the local bank.
BUT the corker comes, when you try to give the local bank loose change you have acquired while in the U.S. of A. The bank refuses to consider four American quarters makes an American dollar. I discovered this one, when I had a pocket full of change and wanted to deposit it in my U.S. account. I was told by the teller that I could not deposit it as the bank no longer accepted U.S. coinage.
WHY NOT? I bought the U.S. buck there, used it in the U.S. to make a purchase and got U.S. coinage in change which I tossed nonchalantly into my pocket. I was told to save it and use it next time I visited our neighbour to the south.
I can recall when banks sent a messenger to the states to exchange American coinage. So WHY can’t they do the saving, and once a month/week or year, send a messenger to do the same?
I wonder how many coins are replaced by (or managers for that matter) and taken and replaced in the U.S. for folding money? Come to think of it, I just might do that myself and go around collecting all American coinage and sell it back. Perhaps now Donald Trump is to become president, he will have to take up that job to pay off his election expenses.LOL
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What ever became of those newspapers which are now nothing but adverting disguised as NEWSpapers. And that goes for the electronic media as well.
Coming home from my gal’s place, Nov.4th I stopped for a police vehicle with lights flashing at the weigh scales on Dawson Rd. It was crosswise on the road, so I figured an accident. I asked if everthing was okay, and was told Yes. Keep going. No mention of an accident, so I figured perhaps it was a road block.
When I came to the first set of lights I saw city workers putting up a flashing barricade. A police car was also there with flashing lights. I managed to find a left turn lane and headed into the County Fair area. I learned there was a bad accident there and judging by the barricades, police entourage and the Crime Scene vehicle, I figured it to be a fatality. (Still don’t know how the injured made out.)
Listened to the 11 o’clock news NOTHING was mentioned and no further news that night. Nor was there any mention in the next day’s newspaper. I heard it involved a motorcycle but that’s all I got and that was from a friend.
What ever happened to good old “Scoop the opposition” journalism? I guess there are no reporters anymore, just ad men and women and Sports reporters. News reporters? Give me Ricky Dicky Smith, and One Man’s Opinion .
Whoever came up with that age old joke of “News is what they put between the ads” hit the nail right on the head.
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So Donald Trump with the backing of media, has won the honor of being the 45th President of the United States of America. Well now we get to see if he can put his action where his mouth is. I myself would like to see if the wall he said he would put in place between Mexico and the U.S. of A., materializes. I wonder what the final bill will be? What’s another billion or two spent on this ridiculous idea. Added to the trillions of dollars already owed, it could well be the death knell of the country. Time shall tell.
Then too will he send all the immigrants back to their home country? What is this nutcracker trying to do, start a civil war? Of course the one salvation of American politics is that a president can be impeached.
The media is responsible for putting this guy into office, by providing coverage of every meeting and gathering. Every time Trump expelled air, the press were there to cover the story.
Of course Hillary didn’t produce much opposition, counting on the past 30 years in American politics to win her the race. I am anxious now to see whether or not Trump can come up with a trump card to pull the country out of the financial chaotic mess they are in. Let’s give him a chance though and see what he accomplishes in the next four years.
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This being the last issue of the year may I take this opportunity of thanking all readers for their support and wish all a very MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY AND PROSPEROUS NEW YEAR.
My Santa wish is for a world of happiness, love, unity and understanding and above all else PEACE laced with PROSPERITY.
See you next year, GERRY
November 2016
I like the proposal by a group of citizens to establish a pavilion in Waverley Park, as a project to mark Canada’s 150th birthday. I know the old band shell was a popular attraction til it outgrew the park and was moved to the Marina.
I like it, if it proves affordable, and not cost millions as the proposed events centre was rumoured to be.
I believe the design of the pavilion is to follow years past on the same foundation the former band shell was on. which would cut down the cost.
Companies such as Lowe’s Wanson and Home Depot might donate materials for it.
In fact, the $25 million put aside for the events centre would be enough and the rest could be used to lower the proposed 4.4 per cent increase in taxes.
SO HOW ABOUT IT COUNCIL?
I keep in touch with Rudy and Marg Yasenik, who now live in Lethbridge. A former member of the Thunder Bay Police, Rudy as most who know him was an outstanding keyboard player and still is. He and Marg moved west after he retired from the force.
He sends along his best wishes to JP Levesque, whom he hired and said he is certain JP is well suited for the job. “I always thought he would make a good chief,” said Rudy.
Rudy also sends along his love to his relatives and friends. Like most of us he is gradually needing replacement parts and says he is due for a knee replacement after the new year.

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Congratulations to Rebecca Johnson on achieving her goal of establishing a fitness park for adults. I think it is a great idea and is certain to have good patronage. I well remember the wooden fitness trail in Centennial Park and used it quite a bit. I don’t know if is still there but if not, then why not re-establish it as well?
Why is it local television cannot control volume on advertising. I have complained of this ages ago and for a while it seemed it brought a bit of relief.
However the cat came back and the decibel level has risen once again. I am suffering a minor loss of hearing, but believe me I can do without many of the program add jacking up 10 decibels at least. So you jump for the TV controller to lower and settle back in your chair, only to have to grab for the controller again to raise it to hear your favorite program.
Do the stations not have someone monitoring the decible level controls? Have the pot operators gone to pot?

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But, while the volume increases. so do food prices, while the only “shrinkage” aspect of shopping for said food is beginning to creep in. Have you noticed the size of some canned things is shrinking? For example I picked up a six pack of diet Pepsi. I took one out of the pack at home and thought it felt somewhat smaller. So I compared it to another beverage which is the other drink I enjoy. Sure enough the Pepsi can was slimmer and shorter.
The Pepsi can label revealed it contained 244 ml. of pop, while the other recorded the content as 341 millilitres. Yet the price was just slightly below regular sized pop. So if you are a bargain shopper better do some comparison shopping as well.

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Well the gas prices dropped below a dollar a litre and can you believe it lasted a whole five days? By the same token Ryden’s across the border went to 81 cents, while back on this side of the border at Fort William First Nation, the price was 92 where I filled up. Now it is back to $1.07 a litre in the city proper.
When are our esteemed members for NW Ontario going to get the guts to stand up to Premier Wynne’s relentless drain.
And how about all that sewer replacement and road repair work going on? By gad you’d almost think an election was not far off and it was time to start going the glad hand route. O’ My Gosh! It is almost half way through the four year term. Time to start lining a few pockets and letting up on the scissors except for ribbon cuttings.
See ya!! Gerry

Oct 2016
Cell phones being used while driving is nothing new, but it has reached epidemic proportion and has earned NWO (Northwestern Ontario) the reputation of being the worst part of the province for this.
Well, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again our police should be cracking down on this aspect. Surely officers have 20-20 vision on joining the force, so why can they not see what I see at least ten times a week if not in a day. How to stop it?
That’s easy — just up the fines, confiscate the cell phones, suspend driver’s licenses etc. I would bet that would bring fast results. Of course, fines not paid should not result in imprisonment of the offender, but just like hunters breaking the rules, cell phones should be taken away and the offender prohibited from owning or operating a cell phone for a stipulated period. They could then buy their phones back from police once the suspension is lifted.
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Why was the River/Junot paving program such a monstrosity of traffic entanglement ?
With four lanes of traffic from Red River Road to Balsam Street, why was it necessary to reduce traffic to one lane and even block it entirely at the last? Why did they not do one half of the four lanes, then switch to the other two lanes, making them two-way traffic?
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Also why was the pile of asphalt left in a drain grate on the highway for at least three to four weeks, instead of being packed down? This was at the corner of Toivo and Dawson Rd. I ruined one tire and had to replace it before the pile of asphalt was dumped to fill. There are other holes that still need filling such as one on Red River Rd. near Junot Street.
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On a more positive note (which are rare I admit, but no one responded to my invite to send details of more positive things) I congratulated whatever department improved the Sandy Beach area at Chippewa. There is now good but limited parking space, and a beautiful beach and picnic area. So hats off to that department or to the Fort William First Nation band if they be the ones who created this.
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A tip of the topper also to cyclists on the south side of the city. Every time I go over that I take note of those making use of the cycling lanes. Only once did I see a guy on a bicycle riding on the sidewalk and that was just to cut across a corner to turn onto a side street. The rest were all using the bike lanes and stopping for red lights and stop signs and signalling turns properly.
Meanwhile, on the northside it is almost a complete opposite. I don’t even have to leave my livingroom to see at least a dozen or more, whip through stop signs, not to mention red lights, barreling down sidewalks, while bike lanes are empty and few, if any, bothered signalling turns and those that did were using improper turn hand signals. So South side cyclist outrank the North end bikers by far.
That’s all folks. See you next month and watch out for kiddies going back to school.
Gerry

Sept 2016
Computers are wonderful inventions (WHEN THEY WORK) and I think this is the first time I have ever let Keith down on supplying a column. Usually I am a week, and sometimes two, ahead of schedule.
However, that is no excuse I guess. But Good Lord willing and the creeks do not rise, this will hold out until I get this column done now (better late than never).
First I want to congratulate CITY COUNCIL on taking their heads out of the sand and realizing we have to get out of the RED column and into the black on our debt load.
Too bad it did not happen sooner like 4 or five years ago at the time of the fire sale of a portion of Prince Arthur Landing (a.k.a. Marina Park).
I would like to know how many millions have gone out the window hiring consultants and architects in these instances,
But that is in the past and we will let bygones be gone.
Then came the brain strain of an events centre at umpteen million, and I hope they will hold off on that one until they achieve their black goal.
And now we have a new Pothole filling machine that is doing wonders and hopefully some of the government infrastructure money will go to purchasing this time saver, (instead of two or three workers piling asphalt in a hole and leaving it.)
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Chief JP Levesque is also going to stop jumping on council over his budget and start pounding the provincial officials to revamp our justice system to pick up speed and stop allowing offenders more time. Let the legal eagles bear the cost by making sure their cases are COURT READY before calling on police officers to appear and testify.
Judges too must stop sending offenders out to public, where they just pick up where they left off.
I covered court many years in my journalistic career and have seen good judges like Tony Falzetta, deal with a full docket many a time clearing it up in record times. Others just put off case after case. So no wonder overtime builds up and officers get discouraged.

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Bureaucracy is another reason for overspending.
A recent example I experienced came when I noticed a large tree branch broken off and tangled in high voltage wires crossing Elgin St. at Court. Fearing it might sway in the wind, break loose and kill someone or damage a vehicle, I called 911.
The operator asked if I needed ambulance, fire or police.
No, I need Hydro and explained why to which he replied he would notify the fire department and asked if it was smoking. No again I replied, but why was he sending the fire department when I specified Thunder Bay Hydro.
More time lost as he explained all emergencies go through the fire department. I became a bit agitated and said again it was a Hydro matter not FIRE or POLICE or AMBULANCE. So much so, for BUREAUCRACY.
I did not follow up to see what happened,but, I expect fire, police and Hydro all attended. I was up on Dawson Rd. at the time.

June 2016

On May 15, I had the distinct pleasure of attending the annual India Night dinner of the India Canada Association of Thunder Bay, held at the DaVinci Centre and was truly impressed with the décor of the evening complete with ladies wearing the traditional sari of many colors of the rainbow and the men, at least a goodly number of them, sporting their traditional turbans, also of different colors. Some of them wore white, some black and others maroon or purple.
It made me wonder if there was a significant meaning to the colored turbans. Embarrassed to ask, I leave it to a later time when someone may enlighten me on the culture. I can just say it was all mighty impressive. I was equally impressed with singing of both our national anthem and the anthem of India.
The “Welcome” or Diyua Dance at the outset of the dinner was performed by Anfelika, Anjelina, Chetna, Hanna, Kathryn, Moumita ,Niynua, Sharran and choreographed by Pam Lamba.
The appetizers were delicious and I felt sorry I had a previous commitment which took me away before the main courses were served. I particularly liked the Malai Chicken Tikka and vegetable Pakora and Samosa Potli.
What I missed out on was the main courses of butter chicken, lamb with all the trimmings. I have had foods, prepared in the East Indian style and I must admit to being a bit leery of this meal, even though it was a minor beginning to the feast to come. I was pleasantly surprised however. The chicken hors d’oeuvres were delicious.
Contrary to what I had experienced in previous meals of India origin, I did not find any overly spicy foods that usually require the fire department to stand by to quell the burn. Of course I had a lovely lady (in fact 3 of them), who made suggestion as to what I should consume to avoid heart burn.
This came after, I guess, my face went red when I tried a marinara colored dip. However this was remedied with the swallowing of five glasses of ice water.
It was a fun evening of friendly conversation. It also made the coffers of St. Andrew’s Dew Drop Inn richer by $300 in the presentation of a cheque, which I, as vice-chairman of the Dew Drop Inn Board of Directors, accepted with thanks.
Robby Ahuja and his wife Jennifer did a fantastic job of MCing the dinner and keeping things moving along. So thank you.
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So Mayor Hobbs is back on the events centre bandwagon again. If the federal and provincial government give the city a third each of the cost, well then, all three levels of government are three shingle short of a roof.
I’ve never been in favour of the events centre. There are other priorities.
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Bombardier has yanked a seven and a half million dollar contract from workers at Thunder Bay and transferred it to their Kingston plant.
At this writing, the company has announced a 20 person layoff immediately and the possibility of up to 60 job losses. Unifor Local 1075, which represents the local Bombardier workers, is not totally absolved of blame for this, for, as I recall this stems back to the strike last summer which delayed production. However, the union attaches blame for the delay, to Mexican suppliers whom they say produced faulty parts.
Why could negotiations not have been continued to the end or near end of that Toronto, Kitchener/Waterloo contract? Where does the buck stop? Why do unions keep demanding more and more, which ends up with the merchants etc. having to make up for in order to offset the cost?
What goes up, must come down, goes an old saying and it appears all three levels of government, should realize the balloon has sprung a leak.
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Glad to see council is will be discusssing a noise bylaw to try and put a stop to dogs barking and noisy parties. Great, but I hope they don’t forget motorcycles with no baffles in their mufflers or cars and trucks with straight pipes that could burst a person’s ear drums.
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In a previous column I complained of the new halogen lights on vehicles. I suggested perhaps the car owners were installing them, which is a no no. Headlights must be alligned properly to avoid blinding oncoming drivers.
As if that isn’t bad enough, now we have some owners adding two additional lights to their vehicles. Surely there must be some regulations governing this?

May 2106

I was sorry to hear of the death of Betty Cotton, with whom I had the pleasure of working, for many years at the Chronicle Journal. Betty was not only pleasant to meet and greet, when I visited her on occasion in my capacity as District Editor, she was just as humorous and uplifting in her column.. My condolences to her family and friends. May she rest in peace.
Also condolences to the family of Irma Cutbush, who died last month. She will be missed by the members of the teaching profession, as well as the seniors’ cribbage club in Current River, of which she was also a member.
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P.M. Justin Trudeau is seemingly making his mark in politics, but whether or not his performance parallels that of his dad. remains to be seen. However, his announcement on transportation allotment certainly was welcomed here.
However I would hope some of that money would go to reinstating the VIA RAIL passenger train route through Thunder Bay. The trip from Sault Ste. Marie to Thunder Bay is one of the most outstanding train rides I have ever taken.
This scenic trip around the north shore of Superior, is one that lives in my memory. The only other one that can outshine that journey is the train ride through the Rocky Mountains. Let’s keep our fingers crossed folks. It would likely take up the slack on unemployment.
Think of the crews needed on that service and the effect its reestablishment would have upon our tourism industry?
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At this writing, we are a week away from the running of the famed 26.5 mile Boston Marathon.
I want to wish Peter Navrahl, (a pharmacist at Safeway Court St.) luck. Peter, unknown to me, has participated in this gruelling race several times and is making another try this year. Peter is 62 years of age and has achieved 19th spot in the past but is out to beat his own record this year.
Apparently he is not the only runner from Thunder Bay and area, who has taken part in this auspicious race. So why doesn’t the local paper give a bit of space to these athletes? I suppose they are included in those “do it yourself” write ups which turns me off.
Writing is a profession that takes many years to acquire. I despise the local daily for adopting this “do it yourself” and, instead of writing stories about unemployment, hire a few journalism grads thus creating employment?. The number of grammatical and spelling errors each day makes me toss my cookies. How about hiring a few proof readers instead of using U.S. spell checks?
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If anyone knows of a business needing a fully licensed mechanical engineer please call me and I will refer you to Ricardo, a young Mexican who is looking for a full time job. I recently sat across from him and his family, at a dinner in Corpus Christi Church basement and found him to be a most pleasant chap.
Ricardo says he is willing to do any work that will give him full time work to support his young family .So please contact me if you can help him.
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If Premier Wynn and PM Justin Trudeau are so keen on alleviating unemployment, why in hell are they letting their cabinet ministers create more unemployment?
An even bigger burden is yet to come with the upping of Hydro rates. Thank Ms. Wynn and her Grits for that. They sold off Hydro One; which prompted economists to predict higher rates. Wonder how much more people will pay for charging up their cars as compared with a gas fill up?
Why not open all the parks the province closed over the past decade, and let students and those in need of work operate them.?
Unions too should get off their fat butts and co-operate with government by letting new grads in to take up jobs which the regular work force cannot keep up with. EXAMPLE: by not bring back street sweepers and crews of workers picking up litter.
Which brings me to my final point! DO WE OR DO WE NOT HAVE A BYLAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER?
Instead of sitting on his or her butt, let’s get out and spot those who are littering, failing to pick up after their animals, tossing their cigarette butts away carelessly, etc.
That’s it for this issue readers, but you too can help by asking people if they throw their garbage on the floor at home.
GERRY

April 2016

I enjoy writing this column and, of course, when readers I meet on the street stop me to offer accolades for something I have written, or even to critique a column. But usually it is within a day or two after one appears in print.
I recently had a message forwarded to me from Gladys Sands’ (nee Smith) daughter, Patricia Dawkins.
Gladys, who lived in Fort William initially and has apparently has been living in Calgary since 1953 and is now 92 years young. Is age preventing her from enjoying music and stage? NO WAY! She is still performing with a musical group called Silver Stars Musical Revue. Here is the letter from her daughter Pat that was passed on to me:
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“From: Patricia Dawkins <dawkins@shaw.ca>
To: tbayseniors@tbaytel.net
Cc:
Date: Sun,Jan.31/16
Subject: GerryPoling
My mother, Gladys Sands (nee Smith), grew up in Fort William. I see that Gerry Poling is writing for your website. He wrote an article about my mother’s career as a singer for the newspaper about 20 years ago. I am going through her scrap book and digitizing all the images. There is a photo of the girls’ band she performed with and I wonder if that is a photo that she provided or that Gerry had?
Could you please pass this along to Gerry. You can also let him know that at 92 years old, Gladys is still performing with the Silver Stars Musical Revue here in Calgary. Thanks.
Patricia Dawkins”
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I wonder when we will see green grass of home this year. I wish the weatherman could make up his/her mind as to which will stay. I really don’t mind winter all that much although I must admit favoring spring over winter. But this plus and minus game plays havoc with arthritis and colds and flu that comes with sudden switches in temperatures.But all in all we have had a pretty good winter.
With only a couple of really heavy snow falls, I wonder why the public works department doesn’t get to clearing slushy roads on the warm days instead of waiting for it to freeze; which made driving and walking hazardous.
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Ah well,, the Republicans have Donald Trump with the wacky idea of building a wall between the U.S and Mexico. If he reaches his goal of becoming President Trump, then we, as Canadians, may have to start building a wall between Canada and the U.S. to stop the mass departure of Americans to Canada. Hopefully the American public with wake up to the fact Trump built his empire on the backs of what he regards as the lower class people and now he expect these same peons will elect him.
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Now our mayor comes up with the idea of selling off Strathcona Golf Course, which he terms will “bring in milliions.” I’ve news for you Mr. Hobbs, if golf courses are such a lucrative barrel of money, then why in hell did you sell Municipal for such a paltry sum of $650,000?
I also wonder if any members of council has personal interest in the newest course in the area, either directly or indirectly. I think if Mike Duffy’s dealing as a senator is suspect why not have all public official’s audited at all levels of government.
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When are our council going to wake up and smell the roses (on the other side of the fence of course) and quit spending and start saving. Certainly money was saved on snow removal this year so what will council do with that surplus? Likely put it in the reserve funds. Any and all surplus funds should go to paying off this city’s debts.
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Now that we have a new CEO in Norm perhaps I will get my breakdown of each phase of the Marina Park fiasco, that began with Mayor Hobb’s promise to get the figures to me .
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I wonder who inspects the casinos in Ontario to make certain they are set to pay out and indeed is there a payout? Like most Las Vegas Casinos advertise “92% payouts” But don’t let that fool you it could be 92 one cent payouts which still makes it legal. However, most payout a good size jackpot on the upper level fee keys. But, here the payouts for a near full screen is usually no more than a buck and most times not even that.
I doubt any “inspector” is going to crackdown on the boss Ms. Wynn and her cohorts. At the outset, it was quite common to hear jackpots won announced. Now one seldom hears the announcements. Of course the PA system in the casino is for the birds unless you are sitting right next to a speaker.
Last but not least, lets hope the rest of the weather warms up and summer arrives ahead of schedule.
See you next month.
Gerry

Feb. 2016

This being a leap year, giving February an extra day, I must take this opportunity of extending best wishes to former co-worker and columnist Howard Reid who celebrates his birthday every four years.
Howard was a very uplifting spirit each day, like coming to work on his 44th birthday and announcing to fellow staffers he was 11 years old.
On the off years he would figure out some way of getting fellow staffer`s attention, like the day he walked into the news room wearing a broad grin on his face and announced he had gotten engaged the night before. Then, after an appropriate pause he added “Ì gave my bathtub a ring. “ So HAPPY BIRTHDAY HOWARD.
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Unlike Howard, I was born on February 25th and it is hard to believe I now become an octogenarian. But no matter how I try to juggle the numbers, 1936 from 2016 still comes out to 80. But while I feel much younger, my body tells me my mathematics are right.
My bones don`t do not deny it, nor does my balance at times. The fact I depend a great deal on my canes and walkers, also attests to the fact I have now completed eight decades of life.
But then I recall someone once saying “You are only as old as you feel. I am finding that truth to be undisputable….One day I feel like 30 and the next 100. But life goes on and like dad used to say `When the old man pushes the button upstairs, You don`t argue.”
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I think I owe a lot of those years to Bill Boquist, who was my coach in junior football at Port Arthur Technical School (later known as Hillcrest High). Bill advised me in my teens “Poling if you are tackled, tuck and roll!’ Well, I put that advice to good use many times when I tripped and fell and I recall only thrice breaking bones in falls. So thanks Bill, who incidentally lives in my building six floors above me.
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I wish the city workers who look after traffic lights would make up their minds to either leave the dang turn lights on or off. Junot at John and Red River Rd. are particularly vexing. One day they are operating and the next they are off.
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I am happy to see some of the service stations in the city are under the $1 per litre price. About time, but how long will it last?
When the price goes up it is five, ten or equivalent at each jump. Then when they drop it is in a fraction of price.
We are still being shafted by the oil companies who are in dire straits at the moment. But they should have made enough when all those price hikes were in force.
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Heavens to Mergatroid! Did some editor booboo on the Jan.13 daily or did Mayor Keith Hobbs actually say he wants a second road access across the Nipigon River into Northwestern Ontario? The failure of Nipigon’s new suspension bridge has been termed a “wake up call” to federal and provincial governments to twin the Trans-Canada Highway westward.
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Why in Blue Blazes are police letting so many motorists get away with only one headlight and tail lights as well. I counted no less than 30 such vehicles on my five mile drive home from my gal`s home. To compensate some put the one light on high beam, blinding oncoming drivers
Another gripe along the same line is these new halogen extra bright light. Trouble is they put them on themselves and don`t bother having them adjusted properly. Biggest offenders are the transports which fail to adjust them properly. I wonder how many have been killed due to this.
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I still want to know who owns that dilapidated structure behind Sweet G`s restaurant, because it is certainly not very conducive to attracting tourists to our city. It is my understanding that the city took possession of it for back taxes. Whoever owns it should be made to demolish it. This is just one of the many eyesores that hamper the good work our chamber of commerce and tourism people are doing to try to attract more visitors. How about it councillors.
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Last but by no means least; I must convey my condolences to the family of Lorne Allard, who died last month after press time. I knew Lorne mainly because he was a good friend of my brother Leonard. Lorne was an outstanding competitor in many sports he took part in and was also a great businessman and certainly an outstanding councillor. RIP Lorne. …..Gerry

Jan. 2016

FIRST AND FOREMOST, LET ME WISH ALL OUR READERS A HAPPY AND PROSPEROUS NEW YEAR
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I must compliment our paramedics and firemen, on the speed with which they responded to my Medic Alert call, after I fell outside my condo unit door.
I had just reached for keys with my right hand, while my left was weighted down by three bags of groceries. I had done my grocery shopping at midnight. Being diabetic, I have neuropathy of my left leg and a condition called “drop foot”. As its name implies, the foot dropped and I fell face first to the floor.
I used my satellite emergency Medic Alert, which brought an ambulance within 10 minutes and I was rushed to emergency at our hospital.
I compliment the firemen and paramedics. I am unsure who it was through the daze, asked for my keys to put my groceries in. Not only did he take them in, but put my perishables in the fringe. So to this chap, I say a BIG THANK YOU.
I owe a BIG VOTE OF THANKS also, to a young lady named Andrea, (don’t recall her last name ) and boyfriend, who hails from Kenora. When I returned to the Thunder Bay Regional Hospital three days later to see Dr. Hamid, a specialist who reset my broken nose.
Overhearing my fruitless cell phone calls, trying to get someone to drive my car and me home, politely offered to drive my car (which I had parked in the emergency lot) home, with her boyfriend driving behind in their vehicle. I found out Andrea was a dental hygenist working at ABA Dental Clinic. I thank them, not only for their help, but for renewing my faith in today’s young people.
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I was beginning to lose faith in our youth, with all the vandalism going on such as destruction of city property, including police cars and walls of buildings with obscenities.
I was mulling over the penalties being imposed.
In most cases they are released on their own recognisance, or ordered to pay a fine and, in some cases make restitution. However a lot of them become repeat offenders.
Why not make the penalty fit the crime and use the same spray cans to paint the visible areas of the bodies of these numbskulls and make them keep the paint on for an appropriate amount of time? And, if they are repeat offenders increase the time limit accordingly.
This would make them known to the public. This idea of offenders not having names published, if they are under 18, is for the birds.
It is high time our penal system quit molly-coddling these screw loose individuals.
I would like to see some figures on those who were shown leniency and how they turned out later, or did they just go on with their destruction.
***** ***** *****
Incidentally, I recently stopped for coffee at a Tim Horton’s (the location of which I shall not divulge for obvious reasons) where I found the men’s room spotlessly clean. It was a pleasant surprise to me
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“Christmas Is Coming” was the title of a concert performed by the 55 Silver Sound Choir, directed by Elaine McLean, at the 55 + auditorium Sunday, Dec. 11th.
My daughter Karen sings with the group, which is made up of seniors from 55Plus.
The large choir of men and women (I lost count at 32, (apparently several were not present due to illness), produced one of the best sounds I have ever heard, in a variety of Christmas pieces, from Johnny Marks’ “Rudolph” to a Celtic Silent Night, which was outstanding and featured the Lakehead Suzuki Strings Ensemble, made up of several youngsters under direction of Loretta McGregor (including one four year old girl, who played along with the others in two pieces, much to the pleasure of the large audience. Proceeds from donations at the entrance,will go to the 55+ Centre.
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Thunder Bay is rapidly becoming the city with the worst drivers. In addition to drivers speeding and using cellulars, they are ignoring weather conditions. The first snow resulted in 40 accidents. Despite that, and cautions urged by police, they continue to speed, brake hard and suddenly and follow too closely.
Instead of RIDE Programs being expanded, the police should be cracking down on drivers leaving vehicles uninspected, before getting into their vehicles. They should check brake lights and above all, headlights. I don’t recall ever seeing the large number of one eyed vehicles on the road.
Allignment of headlights should also be stressed as well since the new halogen lights are blinding at night.
As for bright lights, when a driver gets high beams from oncoming vehicles, they should give one quick flick of his or her lights, to indicate his/her lights are on low or high.
See you next month. GERRY

Dec. 2015

HO! HO! HO!
Away we go into another month that brings another year to a close.
So off the bat we will say Joyeaux Noel or in English Merry Christmas to all our readers.
May your holiday bring you and yours a sleigh full of happiness, love and laughter.
******
Since this will be the last column for the old year let’s hope the new year will leave us with a better taste in our mouths as for peace and love in the world. It seems there was nothing but killing, and war mongering in 2015. Perhaps it is time to pack away the guns and war games on toys for our kids. It seems to be breeding nothing but hatred.
But add to this. putting away the guns is the American contention it is their right to bear arms. NOT IF IT IS A THREAT TO HUMAN LIFE, as is becoming more and more prevalent in the U.S. of A.
*****
Well, now that we have a majority provincial and federal government perhaps a few of the Grits will have a few GUTS now and stand up to the oil companies re:gasoline prices. Just having completed a 2,790 km. trip to Sarnia to help celebrate my sister Terri’s 90th birthday, I found prices from 92 cents a litre, to 1.04 in Southern Ontario, while prices in NWO still ran from $1.34 to 119.9 a litre except for the First Nations stations at Nipigon and Fort William First Nations. In Sarnia/Toronto area the prices ranged from .92 to1.01.
So how about it guys and gals? Who will make the first move to bring a bill before the house forcing oil companies to drop the price under a dollar…or at least make them all the same in the province. But, dear readers don’t hold your breath…..Your might just turn blue and not from the temperatures. Incidentally U.S. gas prices in mid-November were 78 cents per litre and even paying the exchange and price of driving to Grand Portage, I still saved nine cents on a litre. Sure I would like to buy my gas here, but not as long as the gas companies keep gouging hell out of motorists.
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The only good news at this point in time is the weather which has, up until rains came, made for one of the nicest falls in history. While in Southern Ontario we enjoyed seven days of 70F temperatures and only a sprinkling of rain on one of those days.
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I have to agree with a letter writer to the local daily, about one big question mark that begs to be answered before Justin Trudeau’s majority government begins bringing in refugees from these war-torn countries. Why is it our governments can always come up with funds for these unfortunates, but when it comes to finding funds for many local needy people, the coffers are always empty? There is the old saying Charity begins at home. But apparently our esteemed council members don’t know of this saying or are pleased to ignore it.
Many First Nation reserves do not have potable water and for the past 10 years or more, have had to boil their water to cook and bathe in.
Women are still being beaten and need shelter from their abusive spouses. Children are being ignored as are out down and outers, who need shelter and food because there are no jobs to be had.
*****
Honesty is will alive and showing its rare face. Last week I was shopping at Safeway when a lady approached me and said “I think I owe you ten dollars.”
Well, caught by surprise I reponsded “ you do?”
She then handed me a ten dollar bill explaining “when you left church last week you left this on the pew. I tried to catch up to you but couldn’t find you.” I thanked her and assured her it would go back in this week’s church collection.
So thank you Ms. Jean Halford (whom I discovered was a class mate of mine in school. She was also in class with Peter Bentz and Jim Foulds. She has restored my faith in the honesty of mankind.
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Congratulations to those cyclists who toward the end of the season brought out their bright colored uniforms that make the riders visible for a mile. Let’s hope this trend continues and a few more lights and licence plates come into use as well.
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Again I will take this opportunity to wish all our readers a very Merry Christmas and all the best in the New Year.
See you in the new year.
Gerry

Nov. 2015

I think it is about time the city updated or cancelled its public radio information station or at least edit what is going out over the air waves. At this writing for the November column the station was stilling running advertisement for the rib fest, blues festival and a whole bunch of other outdated stuff. Who is responsible for this?
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I have heard several complaints about produce packaging in local grocery stores. Apparently various seniors have cut themselves on the clear plastic used to seal the produce.
“I just can’t understand government making such hullabaloo about the breakdown of plastic taking eons. Why then are they allowing grocery stores to package produce such as peaches, lettuce and other produce in these darn clear plastic containers?” said one of my readers.”You should take a shot at the businesses that use these darn things. You can’t even put them in your recycle.”
So here it is folks and as I type I remember how sore my fingers were under my nails from trying to open a package of meat sealed in plastic.
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While we’re airing these beefs, we might as well ask who governs the actions of the Grand Portage Casino. Since the reconstruction began, there have been many infractions of safety, as far as I am concerned.
They are going great guns on demolishing the old building and are now into the Casino portion which is getting smaller with each new section. The main casino has gotten smaller, yet they continue to pack them in. I would hate to see a fire break out in the smoking section because I am sure many would be killed or injured in a panic rush to the not so well marked exits.
I think whoever is responsible should review fire regulations and revamp and post up signs of where to run in case of fire.
The one good thing is the non-smoking section which offers non-smokers a place to play, without choking on someone else’s smoke exhalation. Hopefully one day there will be no smoking allowed period.
However, that’s a pipe dream just like the gun toting allowed in the U.S.
When will the Yanks come to recognize the fact the Wild West Days is a thing of the past, and there is no need for rapid fire weapons even for hunting.
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Since Safeway was taken over by Sorbey’s, I have yet to get a basket or container of fruits and vegetables that is good… I am about ready to pack it in, because, where I initially would take back any spoiled produce, I have now taken to just tossing it in the garbage since all the fruits I buy seems rotten.
Why do produce managers insist on putting half rotten produce on the shelves? Does someone not open one or two to see if they are ok? Take for example a recent purchase of raspberries at 2.99 a package. I picked them up, turned them over on ten different packages. All had at least one or two rotten berries. Finally I found one that looked in pretty good shape. However when I went to use them on my cereal next morning, they were nothing but a bunch of mush together, that virtually fell apart as I tried to extract some from the package.
Incidentally I counted the number of berries in the one package and found 29, so in other words I paid about 10 cents for each berry.
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With all the modern day technological advances in television, why in hell can’t these brain drain dudes come up with a standardized volume level. It seems every channel I change to now must be readjusted. Some blast you out of the room, being set so high, while the next channel you turn to is set so low you can’t make out what they are saying.
Worst offenders are the advertisers.
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A friend of mine recently pointed out to me that when it comes to paediatric surgery there are only three hospitals in Ontario which handle surgeries of this nature. I’ll give you three free guesses as to where these are located and would ask Ms. Wynn to please take note and before chopping our health system to smithereens, please call a halt to these “cuts” which are far more dangerous than any surgical cuts.
If you guessed Toronto, Ottawa and London, congratulations, you win the pearl handled pee pot our esteemed Premier uses to hide away other cutback surprises.
See you next month,
…Gerry

Oct. 2015

Our mayor seems to have a pension for prophetic statements.
Like, I recently picked up a daily news paper that carries a bold statement “Defeat poverty with income, says Mayor.”
WOW! Who would have thought of such a prolific idea?
The story goes on to say he wants all levels of government to co-operate on this problem and contribute to the cause. Well, that’s a great idea Keith, but I’m afraid it is doubtful you’ll hear any positive feedback from parties or perhaps you will from all parties. Elections are filled with a great many unfulfilled, empty promises like crackdown on crime more and better policing of drivers, who insist on speeding, using cell phones, texting etc. So don’t hold your breath.
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HEY! BIG TIME SPENDERS take heart because you might hit it big now that the operator(s) of the ATM, on the south side of the local casino dispenses only $100 bills. Mind you read the small print on the machine that warns “this machine dispenses only century notes.
I think those who are in charge of the machines should also put notice on all machines “this machine gladly takes $100 bills, or all folding money down to $5 bills.”
How in heck can they get away with dubbing machines, one, two and five cent machines. Check closely my friend and what it is saying is you are playing 40 lines, not for 40 cents, but $2.00.
I can’t help but feel there is some connection to LasVegas, Nevada and perhaps even the mafia.
I HAVE ONE FINAL QUESTION. IF THIS OPERATION AND OTHERS ARE SO PROFITABLE, WHY IS WYNN AND HER GRIT CREW PRIVITIZING IT?
***** ***** *****
My gal Jen and I went to Grand Portage and viewed the mess that, by 2017, is going to be beautiful if the architectural portrayals are right on. Mind you while the centre portion is being demolished the south or west end as been renovated already.
We kid that Canadian money is paying for the three to four million being spent. We are not far off judging by the number of Thunder Bayites and other Ontario license plates we see jamming the parking lot every weekend. Too bad our local casino does not take a page from their neighouring casino and offer some good prize money, plus some machines that take loonies and twonies instead of just five dollar bills.
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On the flip side of the Grand Portage Casino coin I have to chastise the management for the action (or should I say non-action ) during a power failure while we were there. Mind you there was an electrical storm on at the time. BUT, I DID NOT HEAR an warning to stay calm and the auxiliary units would kick in.
To my knowledge there was only one public entrance, properly signed for emergency exit. What if someone had started a panicked rush to get out. It could have been a disaster for well over 400 people (my estimate). Dark drop curtains also gave the entire place an eary look and made it harder to see. So why not put the lights on full at least during construction. Ironically that machines were the first to come back on.
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Thunder Oak Farm Cheese Factory has a neat new outlet in the same location. It is much bigger and much better organized. If you have not visited the operation is it well worth the trip out to see the bright new store, which I was told was built two years ago. My how time flies as you get older.
Hard to believe I am only 18…OOPS! My nose just grew another inch.
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October 19 is the big day for Canada that normally comes every four years. I haul out my crystal ball and try to predict who will win. At this point in time it looks like a horse race between Andrew Foulds of the NDP and Bruce Heyer, of the green party.
I hear whisperings of a coalition government, which worked once before, so why not once more?
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Thunder Bay has earned the dubious title of “murder capital” of Ontario (or was it Canada?) and there in lies the basis for a novel by Marianne Jones in her book “The Serenity Stone Murder.”
The retired teacher turned novelist, begins her book with a unique and classic opening; and bases the setting around Thunder Bay Casino and St. Stephen’s Church. An interesting and worthwhile read.
See you later. Gerry

Sept 2015

Well, the writ has been dropped by Stephen Harper, and it is said it will be the longest and most expensive election in Canada’s History. The 78 days of campaigning (11 weeks plus election day) is supposed to suck a few more millions bucks out of taxpayer pockets. Yes I realize the money is coming from the war chests of all parties, but, those people are still taxpayers and the money being sent down the election tubes is still money that would do a lot more good in eliminating the billions of dollars this country is in debt.
QUESTION NO.1: WAS THERE NOT A CAP PUT ON ELECTION SPENDING? OH! That’s right it was on each candidate’s expenditures. So why isn’t that cap put on each political party? Tens of millions would certainly solve a lot of problems. Obviously Harper doesn’t really care as long as he and his henchmen get re-elected to keep on spending.
Second Question: WILL THE PARTIES WHO SPENT MONEY AHEAD OF THE ELECTION CALL HAVE TO INCLUDE THOSE MULTI MILLIONS WITH WHAT WILL BE SPENT IN THE NEXT 77 DAYS? IE: THE PC CRITIQUE OF JUSTIN TRUDEAU?
How much did that cost, just to repeatedly tell us Justin was too young and inexperienced to be P.M.? Seems to me the way a lot of Parlimentarians act like a bunch of school children he is adequately qualified.
I HOPE ABOVE ALL ALL PARTIES WILL TELL US WHAT POSITIVE PLANS THEY HAVE, INSTEAD OF JUST CRITICIZING EACH OTHER.
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Took a trip to Nipigon on the long weekend in August to see what goes with the Blueberry Blast. Don’t know if they were trying to create something similar to Sioux Lookout Blueberry Festival, but I wasn’t too impressed to say the least.
The event, held at the waterfront, was reasonably priced at $5 per head, but you had to park near the tourist information booth, which had limited space and walk down to the park which is admittedly quite lovely. BUT, when we were told we had to walk, my companion and I, who suffer from back and leg problems which limit the distance we can walk, informed the gateman of our problem, but were refused permission to go any further.
Obviously others had similar problems because several vehicles ahead turned around and left, as we did.
Too bad indeed, and I would recommend to the Blueberry Blast organizers that they consider establishing a shuttle service between downtown and the waterfront so the elderly and handicapped could enjoy the music, food and fun.
***** ****** *****
Hoping not to make the trip a complete waste, I went to the tourist booth to see if there was any cruise of the river and lake, which would have been enjoyable in the hot and sunny weather.
No such luck. We found brochures for charter boats, but found the price to be over $200 per person.
I commented I didn’t want to buy the boat just take a boat ride, at which the pleasant attendees chuckled and agreed.
So hopefully next year we will be able to enjoy both the Blast and a cruise on one of the boats. I make this a strong recommendation to the Nipigon Tourism committee to consider as the area is indeed beautiful and the improvements to the town are fantastic. If you haven’t visited Nipigon then be all means give it a go.
Another disappointment was the fact all blueberries were sold out at Pelletier’s but, on the positive side, we did purchase a tankful of gas, at reasonable price.
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Stopped in at Camp Duncan on East Loon Lake and found to my surprise that it was not occupied over the long weekend. Was pleased to see many wonderful changes have been made, but the fact it was empty was upsetting to me. I served on the board for many years and chaired it for a few, but as I recall it was always well used. Perhaps the United Church camp board should review its pricing formula and adjust it to a rate affordable to other groups.
It might also look at government grants to subsidize the camp’s operational costs. Another suggestion is they look to service clubs and other organizations to use the facilities for annual meetings, camps for those youngsters unable to afford a week at camp etc.
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The bridge over the Nipigon River is coming along nicely. It will be a real tourist attraction for many years to come and I have to give MPP Mike Gravelle a pat on the back for a job well done. He has fought for four lanes to Nipigon and the bridge was just part of it and like a true Grit pit bull he is keeping on until he sees that goal reached. Congratulations Mike, your persistence paid off in the long run.
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That’s it for another month dear reader. I hope all went well with you and yours on your vacations.
Regards
Gerry

June 2015

A nice sunny afternoon drive out to Whitefish Lake, left us relaxed and I didn’t think it could be any better, but when my lady friend Jeannette, as we drove back toward town via Stanley, suggested we stop for supper I immediately thought of the 116 year old Stanley hotel. which, I said, I had thought was closed or sold.
Once the home of the biggest and best burger in the area, we found it still in operation and under the same ownership, but also still up for sale.
So stop we did and found the Stanley ‘burger’ was still as good as ever, but a bigger and better one with all the trimmings. In fact it was so big, I had to use a knife and fork to eat it instead of my hands. Jeannette ended up taking half hers home and I had trouble finishing mine…but I did.
So if , like us, you have a craving for a super ‘burger, then it is well worth the drive.
The view from the sunroom was every bit as good, but for the one big elm tree has suffered a bit of wind and weather damaged that has to be cleaned up, but doesn’t impede the super view of the Kam River.
***** ***** ******
Well, if yours is one of the families that enjoyed the use of the pavillion at Hazelwood Lake better look for another place to hold such gatherings because the Lakehead Regional Conservation Authority are tearing it down to “save money.” Apparently it was not used to any great degree. Well letters to the editor say otherwise. Several said they tried to book the facilities for family gatherings, weddings etc. but were turned away. WHY?
Perrhaps it is time the old guard (board) resigned and a new one appointed because it sounds to me like poor management.
Too much vandalism says the chair person.
That could be remedied by fencing, hiring APEX or regular police patrols in that area. Tear down a perfectly good building? Come on now! Of course build another later…. like. use some of the 23 million left over from our gas tax refund from the feds.
The cost would be far less than demolition of the Hazelwood centre.
If anything should be torn down, it is the old gas service station building. It has been an eyesore for how many years now? At least 10. I’m told the city took it over for non-payment of taxes.
This is certainly a tourist attracting feature for the area. It must give tourists coming into town via Dawson Road, the impression this is “shanty town Northwestern Ontario” Come on council; open your eyes Trevor, you pass it every day at least twice I bet.
Perhaps our gas tax refund money could be used for this?
***** ***** *****
So Council is considering doing away with the free use of the garbage dump during spring cleanup,saying it was a costly venture and would save a lot of taxpayer dollars.
Well dear councillors consider the fact had you not peed away millions on studies for the events center you could have opened the dump free to the public one week of the year for the next 20 or 30 years. Let’s get priorities straight.
And, as for Trevor Giuertuga’s motion to “study” the closing off of Red River Road to vehicular traffic? Sure Trev. Why not ban car and truck use entirely and make people walk everywhere? You’ve already blocked Victoria Avenue with a mall, made Bay Street a virtual obstacle course with planters…oh. Let’s not forget the narrowing of many streets with the bike lanes.(and why are cyclists still using sidewalks to ride on?)

May 2015
A lot of people on hearing the federal government refuses to give $23 million to help build the long touted events centre, were ecstatic at the announcement. The letter from Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Denis Lebel didn’t sit too well with Mayor Keith Hobbs nor his sidekick Tim Commisso. With a deep sigh of relief, many taxpayers are thinking “thank the lord…now perhaps council will set aside this project and get down to business of repairing our streets, water and sewage disposal.”
However perhaps their relief is a bit premature in that the letter stipulates the money is “not eligible for any project associated with professional sports” which the feds feel is “the responsibility of the private sector.”
Lebel points out the money could be used for a separate “stand alone convention center or recreational facility not associated with professional sports.” AHA! Like a pit bull terrier, Mayor Hobbs has glomed onto this and says he will now pursue the convention center idea, to acquire the gas tax money. BAD IDEA Keith. So how many millions has already been spent on studies for the events center and will be added to by a new set of studies for a convention center.
Leave the damned project shelved to be resurrected after the city streets and other projects, such as the waterway cleanup and development that will help curb pollution of Lake Superior and the pending lawsuits which have yet to be settled three years since the flood of the east end.
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I attended the waterways presentation at the Italian Cultural center and was impressed by the proposals and recommendations presented. So will Mayor Hobbs and council now concentrate on this and pull up the financial socks of this city, so it is once again debt free?
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Westfort Councillor Joe Virdiramo in his vote in favor or proceeding with Phase V of the events center project, stated he was in favor for the sake of his grandchildren. Well Joe, a swamp load of debt is not what I would consider a good legacy. A debt free city would be a much better legacy to leave Joe.
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Thunder Bay Telephone’s annual contribution to city coffers is for the birds, many a taxpayer has said to me. They are all for the millions Tbay Tel. gives to city coffers, but feel it would be much more appreciated if given to Tbay Tel’s customers instead. I agree. Why should city council reap what has been taken from telephone customers. If the city telephone company makes so much profit it can give away millions to the city, then give the money back to the users of the system. Small wonder many are switching to Shaw’s telephone system to save money.
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It is high time a stop and go flashing red light be put up on Twin City Crossroads at the Harbour Expressway intersection before someone else gets killed. When one is crossing the Expressway leading to Kakabeka at sunset it is virtually impossible to see oncoming traffic. So how many people have to die before the MTO wakes up and smells the rosesl BEFORE another bad accident takes place?
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Congratulations to Peter Collins on election as Chief of the Fort William First Nations band. I wonder if Georjann Morriseau will reconsider becoming a candidate for the next federal election now she will be leaving the chair as FWFN Chief?
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Like many others, I wasn’t too shocked to learn insurance companies have been charging exorbitant premiums which added up to billions of dollars being fleeced from motorists in insurance rates.
Now perhaps a bit of a study of banks should be carried out. I fail to understand why banks are raising charges, as of June of this year, when they have raked in billions of dollars in profits. I believe it was only last year I saw the Royal Bank has reaped some $13 million in profit.
Why do these establishments have to increase rates, giving the profits to their shareholders instead of their customers? Fine to allow investors a fair profit, but not in the billions?
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` I don’t know who the CEO in the U.S. of  A. was who gave up his million dollar salary taking instead, a $70,000 pay cheque, but man, has he ever got the right idea. If we all took a little less, what a great world this would be.
But, I guess that is the Utopia of economics. Today all unions want is more. All investors want is more, all banks want is more and the list goes on. I have always said we are all well off (at least those working), but still we want MORE!
Yes we should be paying a fair salary to those earning a basic salary. A minimum wage of $15 is being touted now, and some say it should even be $16.50. However the investors in MacDonald’s and Tim Horton, Walmart etc. would have to take a little less.
I wonder how many are on a basic wage of $11 in Canada and the U.S. for that matter. Then too how many are making money on stocks in these establishments? Comparing these two totals, what would each investor have to take less, to give the basic people as decent salary of say $16.50? It is an age old idea called “SHARING” just like that CEO.
Until next month….Gerry
April 2015
There is an old rhyme I recall that went something like this:
“Spring is sprung, the grass is riz,
I wonder where the boidies is?”
This verse came to mind as the weather here improved, and, while the red robin isn’t yet hopping around, the mild temperatures are about equal to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina weather we saw down there, except there was no snow.
One morning I had to scrape the windows of my rental car because no one down there seemed to know what a scraper is. LOL.
I received a request from Porter Airlines for an assessment of my trip to Myrtle Beach SC. and although this was my first flight with Porter, it will NOT be my last. All my responses rated top marks, because I found the service excellent and the crew most friendly and co-operative. right down to the porters, who handled our luggage and brought wheelchairs, as we both have trouble walking any great distance. So I give their crews top marks. They even exceeded in some areas, Westjet, which was my preferred air service up to now.
All flights were superb and Air Canada with whom I have travelled could take a page from Porter’s training book.
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I saw a story in the local daily headlined “Govt’s failing Ring of Fire Claims Study.” It related how the Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce carried out a 35 page study which rates both provincial and federal governments with dragging their feet on the economic development of the Ring of Fire.
Well, I don’t know what it cost the Chamber to carry out this “study” but I could have done it for nothing and made it a simple five word report.” This is an Election Year.” If the chamber would only put its thinking cap on, they could have saved a pile of money and time. 2013 was the lead up to the 2014 provincial election and this year Hallelujah! is the feds turn at the election wheel.
So did you really think the provincial boys were going to step on the gas pedal on the Ring of Fire project, which was a prime apple in the election Garden of Eden? No siree! Right on schedule they came through with a commitment to put one billion bucks in the kitty for a road into the Ring of Fire site in the James Bay lowlands.
But, wait! Why, after being given a wide majority win, aren’t the provincial Liberals going ahead as promised?
That answer is even easier. With a chance to swing the Grits back into power at the federal level, they are obviously holding out. Want to bet it won’t be a prime plank in the Liberal platform to nail the Conservative Government? That,folks, is politics. So sit back, wait for His Highness King Harper to issue the call to battle and see if I’m right or wrong.
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I am rather perplexed at the city’s bylaws which apparently forbids feeding of birds, as per a story back a while ago, where a lady was severely reprimanded for feeding the birds in a city park. I forget all the details but was reminded of the incident by a headline Peanut Shells Net Man Fine.
Apparently a city man was charged under the property standards bylaw for leaving mounds of peanut shells. He offered the defence that he fed the squirrels to keep them from eating his flowers. The story doesn’t say what the fine was, but the city apparently wanted a $1,000 fine levied. I wonder what the fine was for the lady feeding the birds?
Seems to me the city bylaw division needs to bone up on what damage is done by squirrels, from biting the hand that feeds them, to messing up a garage or loft. I recall squirrels invading my attic and garage and leaving one heck of a mess for me to clean up each year. So the cute little creatures are far more destructive than birds. So come on people, get a life.
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Sex education in our schools is the hot topic these days! I wonder what parenthood is going to be like 20 years down the road. I guess I’m becoming an “old fogey” because I remember the days when my mom and dad, well, mom anyway, sat me down to tell me about the “birds and the bees.”
Seems to me parents are putting more and more responsibility onto the backs of teachers. First we ask them to educate our kids, then we expect them to discipline our children, but if they do, then we complain, Then we want them to learn about religions, then again we don’t want any sign of religion in our schools. We want teachers to stop bullying but then they can’t take any physical action because they could be charged with assault, just by laying hands on a student.
When are parents going to wake up and recognize their responsibility? Sex education, and religious instruction should be, as it always was…a parental responsibility. Most teachers have enough responsibility raising their own families. It’s time parents took back some of that responsibility. Enough said!.
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Attended the Daylin James show March 15 and was impressed by the performance of this former hometown boy as were some 900 or more fans who filled about three quarters of the auditorium and gave Daylin and his Cadillac Band a standing ovation on two or three numbers.
Always a true professional, who has held many cruise ship gigs as well as winning numerous awards for his portrayal as Elvis in competitions, he has performed internationally. But he has always scheduled at least one or two shows back in Thunder Bay, and I think Rob Halverson has found a real gem for pulling the financial boot strings up. Get more local success artists performing.
Like how about Bobby Curtola or Paul Schaffer? Are they ashamed or too big to come back to their roots?
At any rate cudos to Rob for arranging this performance which was outstanding to say the least.  …until next month Gerry

March 2015
Back to the grindstone after a great vacation in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina to unwind.
First off let me remind you Spring Break for Lakehead schools this year, runs from March 16 to 20th . So I remind motorists to adjust their driving habits. Let’s hope all youngsters will have a safe and happy 11 day break.
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A friend of mine, whom I met in Cuba four years ago has kept in contact with me. He sent me the following entitled “The Magic Bank Account,” which I felt was well worth passing on so here it is:
The Magic Bank Account

Imagine that you have won the following *PRIZE* in a contest:
Each morning your bank deposits $86,400 in your private account for your use.
However, this prize has rules:
1. Everything that you didn’t spend during each day would be taken away from you,
2. You may not simply transfer money into some other account.
3. Only you may spend it.
4. Each morning upon awakening, the bank opens your account with another $86,400 for that day.
5. The bank can end the game without warning; at any time it can say,”Game Over!”  It can close the account and you will not receive a new one.

What would you personally do?
You would buy anything and everything you wanted right?
Not only for yourself, but for all the people you love and care for. Even for people you don’t know, because you couldn’t possibly spend it all on yourself, right?
You would try to spend every penny, and use it all, because you knew it would be replenished in the morning, right?
ACTUALLY, This GAME is REAL!
Shocked ??? YES!
Each of us is already a winner of this *PRIZE*. We just can’t seem to see it.

THE PRIZE IS *TIME*
1. Each morning we awaken to receive 86,400 seconds as a gift of life.
2. And when we go to sleep at night, any remaining time is not credited to us.
3. What we haven’t used up that day is forever lost.
4. Yesterday is forever gone.
5. Each morning the account is refilled, but the bank can dissolve your account at any time WITHOUT WARNING…
SO, what will YOU do with your 86,400 seconds?
Those seconds are worth so much more than the same amount in dollars.  Think about it and remember to enjoy every second of your life, because time races by so much quicker than you think
So take care of yourself, be happy, love deeply and enjoy life!
Here’s wishing you a wonderful and beautiful day. Start “spending”….
“DON’T COMPLAIN ABOUT GROWING OLD…!”
SOME PEOPLE DON’T GET THE PRIVILEGE!
***** ***** *****
Motorists who haven’t travelled John St. on the north side of the Expressway should be aware that there are new lights at the intersection of Strand Ave. This should eliminate some of the problems encountered by people wanting to turn there to go to Safeway. The light are fully operational and have been for quite some time, but we are just passing on this warning to those who may not have travelled that area for some time.
***** ***** *****
Who designs these new programs of awards and “special” patronage awards such as the gas reimbursement on sales slips of some of the local grocery outlets. I recently acquired slips that could earn me 6 to 10 cents per litre off the gasoline prices. Then I drove past one such grocery outlet to see they were still selling regular gas at $1.02.9 (might at well say $1.03) per litre.
Now take that six cents off and your have 96.9 which is one cent more that some of the other stations were charging. And at the point of this writing, gas prices in Dryden were still less than Thunder Bay and Toronto has some prices dropping to the 86 cent mark.
First, I question why the difference in prices since the gas has to pass through here anyway enroute to Dryden. Every election, we have to remind our government of this. So far none of the incumbent members have had the guts to tackle the oil companies on a fixed pricing issue.
Secondly, why are these discounting stores trying to pull the wool over our eyes? You are not giving your customers six cents off, when you jack the pump prices up. I say do away with all this and give the customers a break by dropping some of the prices on various items.

Feb. 2015
I well recall my dad saying “what in hades is this world coming to”, when
I was just a youngster and World War II had just started.
Now I am not an overly religious person, raised Roman Catholic, changed for my wife to the
United Church and now back in the Catholic Church, but I found having been on both sides of
the fence, there is very little difference, aside from prayers,sacrament etc. and in the end I decided
there is but one God. I am not for or against any religion, from Budah to Jesus and back, but I fail
to see a God, which in the Muslim faith is Allah, being rash enough to kill all who do not believe
in him. I respect all religions, but I am thoroughly disgusted with what is being carried out “in
the name of Allah”.
But, because there are those. with a seemingly dislocated brain, who incite others to kill innocent
people, that is disgusting to say the least, and, if those who are not supportive of this senseless
killing do not join in battling these terrorists, then they are equally as responsible and the world,
as my dad would say, is doomed “to go to Hell in a breadbasket.”
Muslim parents demanded the abolition of pork in all the school canteens of a Montreal suburb.
The mayor of the Montreal suburb of Dorval, has refused, and the town clerk sent a note to all
parents to explain why.
“Muslims must understand they have to adapt to Canada and Quebec, its customs, its traditions,
its way of life, because that’s where they chose to immigrate. They must understand they have to
integrate and learn to live in Quebec.They must understand it is for them to change their lifestyle,
not the Canadians who so generously welcomed them”.
While he dwelt on the Musalims, what he had to say applies not only to them, but to all
immigrants who seek Canada as a place to grow roots.They must understand Canadians are neither
racist nor xenophobic, they accepted many immigrants before Muslims.
“That no more than other nations, Canadians are not willing to give up their identity, their
culture and, if Canada is a land of welcome, it’s not the Mayor of Dorval or any one individual
who welcomes foreigners, but the Canadian people as a whole.
All newcomers to Canada must understand Canada, with its Judeo-Christian roots, enjoys
celebrations such as Christmas trees, churches and religious festivals, religion must remain in the
private domain. The municipality of Dorval was right to refuse any concessions to Islam and Sharia.
“For Muslims who disagree with secularism and do not feel comfortable in Canada, there are
57 beautiful Muslim countries in the world, most of them under-populated and ready to receive
them with open halal arms in accordance with Shariah.
“If you left your country for Canada, and not for other Muslim countries, it is because you
have considered life is better in Canada than elsewhere. Why? A canteen with pork is part of the
answer,” said the Montreal head.
***** ***** *****
Thank you to the department which has finally replaced the Paquette Road sign on Dawson
Road. It is a wee bit smaller, but at least it is legible and easy to see, done in the reflective green
with white lettering.
Now if we can just get the paving company, that resurfaced the road, to fix up the bumps and
holes that are starting to appear already, as we are just over the first third of winter. Pioneer Paving
who resurfaced the Highway 61 section near the border, has already repaired some of their faults.
***** ***** *****
The Boys and Girls Club which now occupies the former Forest Park School, has a new floor
in its gymnasium thanks to Canada Post employees who raised the funds along with the Fort
William Rotary Club and NHL goalie Carter Hutton. For those not familiar with the Hutton, he
is the goalie for the Nashville Predators.
Hats off to Carter and the Huttons for donating a good portion of the $50,000 needed to replace
the floor and spruce up the inside of the old school (actually it is not all that old having been built
in 1971 as one of the first schools to try the open classroom concept. However there were some
flaws in an open concept design that both students and teaching staff disagreed with. I don’t know
when the school closed but it was not in operation too long ). I would like to see more Thunder
Bay hockey stars being paid good salaries, donating them to such a worthy cause.
***** ***** *****
I wish people would stop critiquing Bruce Hyer who resigned from the NDP party after being
reprimanded for his stand of opposing the party’s stand on the gun registry fiasco. Yes, I too feel
he should have remained in the party. However that was his choice under present legislation and
after all you seem to forget the “freedom of speech” aspect of all this.
The fault lies in all party politicians for not changing the rules. It should immediately adopt a
resolution to make by-elections mandatory if a member resigns from any party. After all Bruce did
an excellent job of representing his constituents. His stand against the gun registry was justified
in this case.
However, his switch to independent and subsequently the Green Party was a poor move because
it will be ions before enough Green Party reps are voted in to make it a majority government or
even a runner up. (I may be wrong if everyone votes Green (LOL -lots of laughs).
So let’s give credit where credit is due and stop lashing Bruce for his decisions.
***** ***** *****
My condolences to Joe Comuzzi on the loss of his wife Janet. Although I didn’t get to know
Janet, as well as Joe or Jim, I did meet her on occasion and found her very friendly and personable.
See you in March,
Gerry

Jan. 2015

Well it appears another year has passed and gone but one has to wonder just where all those 365 days went. Perhaps for some it has dragged but as one who is another year older, it sure has passed quickly.

With this in mind I hasten to add a wish for A HAPPY AND PROSPEROUS NEW YEAR to all our readers before time flies past me. For the city council, it is the start of another term on office but I am a bit perplexed at the announcement by Mayor Keith Hobbs that it appears taxes are going to have to be raised beyond the 1.7 per cent increase implemented.

In his first breath, he stipulates that the city has lost over a million in revenues, through loss of revenues, including a million dollars in revenue due to drop in assessment and the shaving of $1.5 million off provincial revenues. Yet in the next breath he states “I firmly believe we must proceed with the events centre” adding he feels “it will stimulate growth and attract business.”

****** ******* ******

Well it appears we’ve finally entered into the winter segment of our year but it would seem almost like a rainy spring. Let’s hope we get a drying up spell of weather before the snow flies too heavy. I am beginning to agree with some of the visitors who have dubbed our city motorists as motor-maniacs.

I am changing my driving habits to what I dub a 10 per cent leeway. If the roads are icy, then I reduce my speed by 10 per cent and when weather permits with dry roads, I will do up to 10 per cent over. So in a 70 zone I will drop to 63 kmph and on dry roads up it to 77 at most. That is when I began to realize that every other driver seems to disregard weather conditions and puts the “pedal to the metal” as the saying goes. So please slow down and show courtesy to other drivers. Who knows, perhaps one day we will gain the reputation of being the city with the best and most courteous drivers in the world.

***** ***** *****

I still haven’t found out who is responsible for the replacement of lighting at the intersection of Dawson Road and Lydia Avenue but thanks for fixing it because it is much safer now . But I would still like to know why it took so long to fix it? Seems to me that Trevor Giertuga wasn’t on the ball doing his job as a council member. After all he lives on that street and unless he was blind or didn’t drive at night, he couldn’t have missed knowing the lighting was out.

And while we’re “picking on council” as some allege, why is it taking so long to replace the broken sign for Paquette Road that has been broken somehow for the past two or three months. Let’s get on the ball and if it is the responsibility of the provincial road clearing contractor, then let’s shake the hell out of them and get it replaced.

***** ***** *****

Those who turned out to help distribute Christmas Cheer to the less fortunate are to be highly commended for doing such a marvelous job. I worked with the Knights of Columbus handing out turkeys and saw the large numbers of people involved in making up cartons for the families of those in need.

Joleene Kemp, the lady who coordinated the entire operation is to be congratulated on a marvelous job. To all who volunteered to come out and help, thank you on behalf of all the recipients of this food and all the suppliers who in many cases donated the goods. Thanks to you, many families will enjoy a Christmas dinner and food for a week. God Bless you all.

Your assistance in this project proves the point that Christmas is all about Love and Sharing. I include the Salvation Army, the Dew Drop Inn, St. Vincent de Paul organizations and all those who go out of their way to help the less fortunate.

***** ***** *****

Don’t forget to make that resolution for the New Year. Council’s first resolution should be to strike a balanced budget and stop spending our tax dollars on what I consider frivilous things.Why do we need a 1500 seat events centre, when we can’t even fill the auditorium, our arenas (note the plurality as we are not limited to only the Fort William Gardens).

Why can’t we fill them? The answer is simply with today’s economy, people can’t afford to go out to all these events. Times are tough for many families and why should we even consider a professional hockey team that has players that are paid huge salaries, when we can’t find enough money to even equip our children for hockey without going into debt.

We have roads that need fixing, we have a bridge that was destroyed by vandals and must be replaced. We have homeless people to find shelter for, seniors who have been promised newer facilities to replace Dawson Court. I could fill this entire column with our needs. Suffice to say council has a big job ahead so get to it.

***** ***** *****

With another election looming on the horizon this year, I wonder what kind of goodies the federal government will be handing out. They too must tighten the purse strings and quit handing out empty promises to the people.

Whenever the election is called,I hope each and every eligible voter will turn out to vote instead of sitting on their asses and critiquing . I hear a lot about proud Canadians. Well I am among them and I feel ashamed when I see the lack of interest in politics. I hope to see a lot more young people getting into the political field, especially females.

So start thinking about this and get involved. There are many smart young men and women in this country andI am sure if they take an interest in politics great things would come of it. SO to all young men and women I issue a challenge to take up the fight to bolster our country.

Let us hope that 2015 will be a happy and prosperous NEW YEAR for all Canadians.

Gerry

 

Dec. 2014

Merry Christmas! Well I really should leave the greeting to the last of the column. Since this is the final column of the year I am not entirely wrong in issuing it. But I use it at the outset because I am beginning to wonder just how crass our merchants and the advertising media are getting. If they had their way we would probably have children calling out “Merry Christmas, treat or trick!”

Hallowe’en was not even here yet and television commercials were starting to pump the Christmas season over the airwaves, as did radio and yes even the print media soon followed suit. In all the fresh hullabaloo, only the older generation tends to remember on Remembrance Day the sacrifice the many thousands if not millions who paid a great price to win peace for our country. The almighty green of the dollars seems to have replace the blood red of the poppy.

So, may I suggest to the CRTC and news media, that at least two weeks span be left between advertising the various seasons and holidays.

Yes, I am one of the old geezers who remembers the days when the corner windows of Eaton’s Dept. Store were decorated with mannequins by staff working with high and elementary school students to create some superb displays to remember our veterans.

But that might be too logical. Where is the logic in government closing out Veterans Affairs Office to “cutback on expenditure” where on the other hand our military and air strike personnel are being sent back into Syria, Iran and other battle zones to engage the terrorist enemy? Veterans Affairs offices will be needed even more so as wounded, maimed and mentally disable soldiers, sailors and airmen return from those encounters. Stop sitting on your brains and start rebuilding our veteran’s and military men and women’s hopes for something to come home to, where help is available.

It has been suggested that Nov.11 be proclaimed a statutory holiday. I disagree because it will be just looked upon as a break from school or work. Make it mandatory that students be taken to the nearest Remembrance Day monument to attend services on that day.

I salute the teachers and schools that went to the cemetery and cleaned up grave sites and monumental headstones. This is at least a start.

If there is an award for the best advertisement on television I nominate the Bell Telephone Company’s Remembrance Day ad for its heart rendering remembrance of a grandson calling his grandfather from Dieppe to say Thank You to him for going to war and winning freedom for Canada (and the U.S. of A”. It brought tears to my eyes and I certainly am not ashamed to say that. Thanks Bell.

“At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we shall remember them” and not just on a single day.

***** ***** *****

I lost another dear co-worker with the passing of Edna McCallum. Edna and I worked together for many years and she taught me a lot about working the photography darkroom. We had many a laugh together over those years.

So to her daughter Joy and son Scott and the rest of the family my deepest condolences. Rest in peace Edna. I am sure she is happy to be with her husband D’arcy once more.

***** ****** *****

Also, my condolences to the family of Joe Vanderwees, who died Nov. 10th. I will miss Joe’s smiling face when I visit the greenhouses. It seemed to me Joe was there every single day that I visited the greenhouses.

Joe was noted for his kind and gentle manner (although if you got him riled up he could let go with both barrels). But I will best remember Joe for his portrayal of “Sinterklaas”, the Dutch Santa every Christmas season. He thrilled many a youngster and a few oldsters as well by visiting at the hospital or a few of the seniors’ complexes.

Joe had a fantastic memory for faces and names and he went out of his way to welcome patrons to his establishment, up to the time of his illness, when he passed the business on to son John.

So to his wife of 60 years and John and daughter and his family in general, I bid a fond adieu to Joe. We’ll certainly miss him.

I asked him a couple of times why he didn’t run for mayor and he would break in a big grin and say “I’m too busy and my family comes first.” But I am sure he would have won hands down, had he chosen to do so.

Joe always liked a good joke and in searching the web I found “Rust in vrede” is the Dutch for Rest in Peace, but believe me, in his 84 years of life, there was nothing rusty about Joe Vanderwees.

******** ******** ********

I attended the waterfront development presentation and there were a lot of good ideas from those in attendance. However, all we need now is the money over the next 20 years to pay for the development of Phase II.

I liked the idea of dockage for cruise ships, since that would being in more tourists to spend more money in the area. That should be a top priority, as well as a reception centre and offices on the Pool 6 site.

But I’d bet dollar to donuts, the events centre will be No. 1 on the development list. Will this too be another foregone conclusion cooked up in the backroom behind closed doors? Let’s hope the backroom boys and girls will not repeat past council errors and put a padlock on “in camera” sessions.

In conclusion to this month’s column, may I just say

MERRY CHRISTMAS & A HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Nov. 2014

First off welcome back to the head honcho of this paper. Keith and his wife returned a couple weeks ago after walking (yes I said walking not talking) their way from France across the mountainous terrain of Spain for a total distance of 800 kilometers. Apparently they were successful in making the trek so what’s next Keith? Walking on a bed of hot coals for a distance of ten miles or so? Ah to be so young. Congratulations to all who made it.

Also I must eat a bit of crow on the elections since all but two were returned to office. So congratulations to all. And, I salute all those who took the time and effort to run for council. They may not have been successful this time, but perhaps the next one will be different. There were some pretty close races and the fact it was a good turnout of candidate, shows these people are truly interested in the welfare of our city.

As to the events center? This is not an indication of approval, and I know Keith Hobbs and others have said it is not a certainty, but with the provincial government already showing approval, do you expect the federal government to put the kibosh to the plan? Remember 2015 is another upcoming election and it is highly likely the PCs will put its stamp of approval on it, in hopes of swaying the public voters.

****** ****** ******

It is too bad Bruce Hyer switched horses in mid stream (not once but twice). It is doubtful he will be returned to office now being the only other Green Party member of parliament. But I hope I am wrong because he did a great job of representing his constituents during his term under all three banners — NDP, Independent and Green Party.He first turfed the NDP party because he didn??t agree with the party on the gun registry battle. So I will still vote for Bruce because I too believe the party should not dictate to its members, who should vote as they feel the constituents want them to do.

****** ****** ******

Pioneer Construction has been around for a dog’s age and I want to say I hope they continue in business for many more years to come and I also hope that council will consider using them for more paving jobs. The province obviously knows their workmanship and the certainly did a fantastic job of paving between here and the Pigeon River border crossing.

Like the Americans they paved the shoulders and also that entire stretch of highway and finished it just before the first fall of snow.What in Hades was council thinking by ripping up so many streets. Why didn’t they concentrate on two or three instead of some ten to 12 streets all at once. Any dummy would have known, with less than a month of good weather left, finishing the job was impossible without warm weather.

Still Whalen Street was given a first coat of asphalt on the last week. Topping that off, is the fact that rain fell and turned to snow on Hallowe’en , so it will certainly be interesting to see how long that paving job lasts come the spring thaw.

If nary a warm day comes before winter, you can bet it won’t last long.

****** ****** ******

My congratulations also to the contractors who reconstructed the bridge over McVicar’s Creek. They finished the job exactly on Oct.31, as set out in the contract and with a minimum of delay despite some rather doubtful weather. Residents of the area were exceptionally pleased. The construction period had some additional advantages that were put forth by a number of residents.” We didn’t have noisy buses and truck traffic,” said one while another said it was nice not have to dodge bicycles on the sidewalks.

Who chose the routes on the cycle paths through the downtown sections. Why did they not stay to High Street? Ah well. Too late now, Margaret Street and Ruttan to Algoma where traffic is far less.

****** ******* ******

My sincere condolences to the family of Ernest Arthur Kettle, who died recently and was buried in Terrace Bay. Ernie, as he was more affectionately known worked in that community and for a number of years sang baritone in the Terrace Bay Male Choir. He subsequently moved with his wife to Thunder Bay, where he joined the Fort William Male Choir and sang baritone alongside myself and fellow choir members. I apologize for not attending his funeral in Terrace Bay, but I only read of his death the night before.

I loved the intro to his death notice which read “God saw that there was a vacancy in the baritone section of His heavenly choir, so He called our dad to join them. His voice is finally free again.” So sing on Ernie and God Bless.

***** ****** ******

The stabbing of a young man in front of the Silver City Theatre was shocking to say the least and the fact there has been ten murders so far this year is even more disturbing. I am all for the return of the death penalty and a shakeup of our penal system is more than overdue. It is high time we stopped mollycoddling offenders young and old and return to revealing the names of offenders, regardless of age, race or religion.

Withholding names of those under age of 18 is utterly ridiculous. Slapping the hands and freeing young offenders is certainly no deterrent to crime. I go with the old saying “you do the crime….you do the time.” If we keep relaxing the rules of law,pretty soon it will be as the old joke “free the criminals and offenders and put the seniors in jail….it’s the only safe place they have to go!”

Sept 2014

Well here we are into another month, and hopefully the beginning of a long Indian (OOPS! I mean First Nations) Summer, since we had our regular summer curtailed somewhat by the polar vortex. Let’s keep our fingers crossed.

Let’s hope the weatherman will provide us with nice sunny weather for election day, so that we can bust all records for a voter turnout and stop this passivity this city has been plagued with for umpteen elections. In other words everyone get off your ass and vote.

That is the one thing the government can’t take away from you, be it municipal, provincial or federal. Only you can destroy that right of freedom.

Yes, I will be doing another column and I’ll be beating the drum again, so think about it and let’s put Thunder Bay on the map for voter turnout , instead of earning the title of murder capital, second only to the city of Winnipeg.

***** ***** *****

I have written several items about our natives in past, and I can’t emphasize enough, the fact they are part of their own problems. There are many great names in First Nations culture such as Johnny Yesno, a noted musician of CBC fame; Art Nawegabo, of Whitefish band, who enticed Canada Cement to establish in Whitefish Falls area; National Chief Stan Beardy; artist Blake Debassig, of the West Bay band; whose paintings hang in the national art gallery….I could go on for pages.

All, in their own way, have contributed to the betterment of First Nations People. WHY? Because they were not afraid to stand up and be counted. They did not know the meaning of “ratting” or “squealing” . When the time came, they took a stand.

Now it is time for all natives, whites, Indian (or First Nations) people to stand up to their fellow citizens and help them correct the negative image we box first nations people in with.

***** ***** *****

I would like to see the licensing of bicycles brought back into play. After all they use our roads too (although far too many still insist on riding their bicycles on sidewalks). If you don’t like the cycling lanes we spent thousands of dollars painting each year, then fine but walk your bikes not ride them. That’s why they call them side “walks”.

Licensing bikes with numbers that can be easily read, gives us a chance to ask police to take action. I saw one fellow on a 10 speed coming down the sidewalks on one street and when I shouted at him to get off the sidewalks, all he did was salute me with his middle finger.

I don’t know if he was giving me the finger or signalling his intelligence quotient. Had he sported a license plate, I would have recorded it and turned it in to police. I am told there is a $125 fine for riding on the sidewalks. How many charges have been laid? How much money has been brought in.

I sit on my patio any given day and see at least a dozen cyclists whip through stop signs. One lady I must compliment for using the cycling lane and stopping at the stop sign (momentarily)and, using a hand signal.

The only trouble was, she signalled a right turn and then turned left. I recommend cyclists review the handbook on signals. Left hand crooked upwards is a right turn, straight out is a left and crooked downward is a stop, unless the rules have changed since I rode bike, as it may well have, since it it as least 55 or 60 years since I last rode.

As I write this, I see another cyclist has been seriously injured after colliding with a truck. Wonder who is at fault in this one?

***** ***** *****

Boy time flies and I marvel as how many people I’ve met from my past reporting encounters. First there was Peter Lundsgaard, with whom I made friends and hunted with in Espanola. We shot our first (and last)moose together, because we found moose hunting was a lot of work once the animal was shot. From that time on, I did my shooting with a camera.

The most recent of these encounters from the past came at Home Depot, where David Lindsay, who works as an associate there, recognized me and stopped to chat. Dave reminded me of the story I wrote, about his fish farm in Atikokan. It appears some sort of pollutant got into the lake and killed off all his fish. Thus he sought a different career and moved to Thunder Bay.

***** ***** *****

I don’t recall how many years it has been since last I visited Nipigon, but my lady friend and I did just that last month. I was flabbergasted at how much improvement has been made in that community. Although not much has changed at the highway level, but, take a trip into town and the Marina and you will see amazing changes. In the downtown core the old railway station has been refurbished and made into a beautiful reception centre, while in behind is a small park, with a lovely waterfall replica gurgling away. Follow the road down to the riverfront, and there you’ll find a fantastic picnic area, campground and park.

Mayor Richard Harvey and his council are to be congratulated on this superb change and I heartily recommend a visit to Nipigon’s Paddle to the Sea Parkland and the town itself. If, like I, you haven’t been down for many years, it will really be a shock to your system.

I can’t wait to see what the new bridge will look like and with the announced continuance of the TransCanada highway, let’s hope the planners have left adequate access to the town.

So long.. til next month,

Gerry

June 2014

This will be the final column before the summer break so I want to, first off, wish all our readers a great trouble free and safe summer.

***** ***** ******

If you are travelling to Niagara Falls area I am passing along this gem from the bloggings of my nephew Jim Poling Sr., who just recently observed 50 years of marriage to his wife Diane. It was a real eye opener and I pass it along to you as a precaution. You may want to check out your restaurant and hotel bills before paying them. Here is Jim??s blog:

“Just finished a little holiday celebrating a special anniversary in Niagara Falls. Hotel om overlooking the falls, pleasant dinners out, some sightseeing and a trip to the casino. Totally enjoyable, except for the muggings.

The first mugging was at the breakfast restaurant when I noticed a charge listed as TIF. It was three per cent of the bill. I inquired and was told it is a tax for “tourism improvement.” I assumed this was just another tax mugging. After all, Canada is a world-class innovator of devious ways to pick its citizens?? pockets.

The TIF kept appearing to beat me up. It was there when I paid the hotel bill; almost $13. And an hour later when a waitress brought me a bill for breakfast. I became more and more perplexed, so I pulled out the smartphone and consulted Dr. Google. He informed me that TIF, which sometimes goes by other names, is not a government tax. It is an extra charge dreamed up by Niagara hotels and restaurants.

The Ontario government has raised concerns about the charge but has never done anything about it. It is three per cent of your bill for food and lodging and is said to raise $15 million a year for the businesses.

Most interesting: It is VOLUNTARY, although no hotel or restaurant employee will tell you that. There is no legal requirement to pay TIF or whatever other name is being used. If you are in Niagara and see it on your bill, ask them to remove it.

Niagara hotels and restaurants are scooping enough money without nicking clients another three per cent just because they want to.

The place is outrageously expensive because it is a tourist destination (almost $4 for a cup of coffee with your breakfast). People pay inflated prices because Niagara Falls is a scenic, historic and fun place to visit but we deserve better than being mugged for extra cash masquerading as a tax.”

My thanks to Jim for allowing me to share this with you.

***** ***** *****

The condos at Marina Park are finally up (at least to their height) although a lot of the exterior has yet to be completed. Don??t you just love that scenic view you get of Lake Superior from Water Street? Man, I don??t know how much the occupants of the condo building on the west side paid for their units, but they should at least get half their money back, if not more, because I doubt they still have the view of the lake they had before the Marina condos went up and the city sold our soul to the developers.

I can??t name my source but I was also told the hotel was to have been built before the condos. “I expect that if the multiplex events centre doesn??t become a reality, the hotel will not be built,” my source said. I??d bet on that one too.

However, with council already approving further studies on the proposed $106 million event centre (without a plebiscite) I might lose my dollar, unless we change a lot of council faces, come Oct 27th election day.

***** ****** ******

I hope all citizens WILL CIRCLE OCT.27 on their calendar, THAT IS THE DATE FOR OUR MUNICIPAL ELECTION.

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I hope you will all circle Thursday June 12 on your calendar as well. That is the date of the Provincial election. Remember if you don’t vote you’re not supporting our democracy and you give up your right to complain.

GOOD LUCK to Andrew Foulds (NDP) on his bid to unseat Mike Gravelle (Liberal). It is great to see some new young blood bidding to get involved in politics. Let??s hope he is successful and will be an example to other youth to enter the field, not just in federal or provincial level, but at the municipal level as well. It is about time we got fresh blood into the veins of city politics.

If anyone wonders about his qualifications for parliamentarian, he has had experience of city council and before that he had his father (Jim)??s long term in provincial politics. Jim was one of the best parliamentarians this province has had and I am sure some of that enthusiasm rubbed off on Andrew.

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Finally action is being taken on the potholes in this city. It will likely take the entire summer and perhaps even up to election day to get all the holes filled.

HAVE A SAFE AND HAPPY SUMMER AND DRIVE CAREFULLY AND WE WILL SEE YOU IN SEPTEMBER.

GERRY

 

May 2014
I wonder just how much money has been spent on the so called ??NO CALL??system?
I registered for this service, having been bugged by telephone surveyers and marketeers trying to sell me the goose that laid the golden eggs. Let see that must have been seven or eight years ago. Since that? time, I have still had numerous callers continue to ring me up (as usual during my supper hour
To describe this ??valuable service?? I must harken back to my father??s often used descriptive phrase. ??It is as useful as teats on a boar.??
I have tried to use the system in past to stop these irksome calls, but to very little avail. I have found most marketers have rerouted their calls through the U.S. of A. However, I have found one phrase that does work in most cases? and that is ??Do you realize I am on a no call list and you could be fined $10,000 if you insist on calling me , so I am giving you fair warning.??
Another bug a-boo with this NO CALL system was to try and find the number. I resorted to calling the operator,who then referred me on to the right number. So as far as I am concerned? NO CALL is a waste of money (don??t know if this is national or provincial). so scrap the idea. Incidentally, I have yet to see a story or hear a report of anyone or firm being fined the $10,000?
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Last column I told of how my lady friend and I used the streetcars a few times to sightsee on our own. What I neglected to mention was the cost. For? $1.25 each, we rode the? public transit for more than an hour and even got transfers to other? sections of the city. Now let??s give our transit riders a break like that.
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The main thing I read faithfully are the letters to the editor which give a good indication of how people feel about various things. However in recent years,letters to the editor seem to have gone the way of the dodo bird. If lucky you may find six or seven on a given day,but in most cases this valuable space is taken up by other more menial news item.
But I was particularly drawn to Yvette Kenyon??s letter ??Seniors Penalized??. Tuesday April 15th Chronicle-Journal. She points to the fact seniors are given a bum rap if involved in an accident. A driver of some 50 years experience, she has never had a speeding ticket or been in an accident. That is great. But what really hit home with me was her ??Perhaps, when once again, children are taught respect for others and to take responsibility for one??s actions as the priority, the roads might become safer.??
How true! But, just as it is unfair to tar seniors with the ??bad driver brush??, it is also unfair to tar youth with a bad rap. Sure there are a few bad apples in every crowd …..young or old. Yes, there are some who are breaking the law — be it speeding or committing a crime– but? what youth has to learn is there is no such thing as??RATTING??.
THERE IS, HOWEVER, A NEED TO INSTILL? IN THEM A SENSE OF RESPONSIBILITY.
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What gives with our traffic lights. with the arrows? Why are they not operative all the time? It is confusing as hell to approach an intersection, such as Junot at Red River Rd. or Court at River and one day the arrow is operative and? the next it is not.? Why not leave it on night and day and set it for 15 or 20 seconds. Also those walk lights should be called ??RUN??? lights.
Pedestrians, especially older folk, get half way across the the light changes. Come on gang let??s have a bit of uniformity.
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It seems? some councillors are bent on another? spending spree. Councillor Boshcoff??s attempt to add a Terry Fox exhibit to the multiplex is in my estimation, way out in left field. With all due respect to this young hero, I think it belongs in BC where he lived. What other schemes lurk in the future if this council is re-elected. This points to the need for everyone to GET OUT AND VOTE.
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I wish council would spend more money……ON OUR ROADS.
The condition of Court Street South and? North is deplorable to say the least as are at? least two dozen other streets in this city. It is obvious councillors are more concerned about whether or not they can blow $106 +million on an events centre than whether or not you break a tire rod or otherwise damage your cars. So if you vote to return the same old? same old, be prepared to suffer the consequences in poor roads.
I marvel at the fact council has run out of money for snow plowing and removal, not because of the unusually long winter we have had, but I was of the opinion that the past years, when there were surpluses in the budget for snow removal, it was set aside for a ??snowy day??? or ??rainy day?? as when we had floods in the east end.
I am not holding my breath as when another election full of empty? promises comes on Oct. 27, I would probably turn blue.
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Belated Happy Easter and don??t forget mom??s day. TO ALL MOTHERS I GIVE A BIG SALUTE AND HUG. THANKS FOR BEING THERE WHENYOUR CHILDREN NEEDED YOU.
See you next month.
Gerry

April 2014
It would appear we are about to find ourselves in the midst of a spring election, at least on the provincial level. Why not clear the slate entirely and call a federal election too? That way we could kill two birds with one stone, although the third bird isn??t up for election until Oct 27.
The way things are going, I think we will likely see ground broken on the multiplex just about time for the provincial election. You can bet your sweet patootie there will be a big push come election time to get the multiplex built.
Just wait and see if I am not right. Let??s see if council has the guts to call a plebiscite?
Here is a very basic question to put to the electorate:
ARE YOU IN FAVOR OF SPENDING $106 MILLION ON A NEW ARENA AND CONVENTION CENTRE,WHEN OUR HOSPITAL IS IN NEED OF MORE SPACE AND BEDS, AND FACES A POSSIBLE $3 MILLION DEFICIT THIS YEAR AND IS FACING? A REDUCTION IN NURSING STAFF?
YES??????????????????? NO……..??
OH! Don??t forget the $8 shortfall to finish off the Golf Links Rd. widening program which it seems also ran over budget.
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Just after writing the above paragraph, out comes the newspaper with a story about the minister of health alloting $14 million pledge of assistance for our community. So now I definitely see an election this spring (if we ever see spring that is.LOL).
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I see the police and province are going to increase the fines for using distracting equipment ie: cell phones,texting, etc. to? $250. Well that may well stop some of the offending drivers, but in my estimation it is really a negative approach to an ever increasing problem.
If memory serves me correctly, I think at one time there was a campaign by police to reward drivers for good driving habits. If my grey matter still serves me well, I recall a number of people who were given awards of a free night out on the town, free meals for the family, ..well you get the idea.
What ever happened to that positive approach? Not only would it curb cellphones and Ipod texting but a host of other problems, like speeding, making improper lane changes,failing to stop at? red lights or stop signs. There is something for our city police committee to mull over. You can still have the higher penalty, but there would also be something in it for the good drivers. I am sure insurance companies and restaurants would be more than willing to chip in and help out with rewards.
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With all the lip and finder service touting ??more jobs are needed?? why in hades are so many companies going to recorded messages to keep you hanging in suspenders for hours on end.
I bet I spent a good three hours of wasted time, listening to promo advertisings and ??All our representatives are busy with other customers.Please stay on the line??. First it was with Shaw Cable, where I was put on hold with the comment ??A representative will be with you shortly???.
Well, I waited patiently for the duration of one hour, before hanging up (I wanted to know how long customers were kept waiting. Finally gave up after the hour). I got the same treatment the next day (Monday). I gave up after only 20 minutes.
Then came Royal Bank where I waited 20 minutes for a human voice to respond . She politely explained call volume was exceptionally high and all staff were on calls at that point in time. My only comment was to tell their high up authorities to hire more staff. Just think how many jobs have been stolen by mechanical machines. Ah but China still loves us as they keep on producing more and more.
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Last column was produced in a rush to get away to New Orleans, but now I would like to just give you a brief summary of the journey to the deep south. New Orleans, to say the very? least, was absolutely fabulous. We had 10 days of rather cool weather, which along with a late start for the paddle wheeler Jazz lunch up the Mississippi River, was the only ??fly in the ointment??.
But the coolness of the weather was more than offset by the warmth of the city, especially from our hotel staff. We took a lovely large room in an older hotel called the Maison Dupuy. The staff from the maids through to the management were at our beck and call.? They made us feel a part of New Orleans and this was two weeks before Mardi Gras.
We took mostly city transit around the city, but also enjoyed a carriage ride in a surrey with the fringe on top pulled by a mule named Peaches. Our guide Michael was exceptional and pointed out some major and minor history as we clip-clopped our way through the French Quarter. One of the gems proffered by our guide was the fact? that during the flood? (Katrina) two of the highest points of land were left untouched. The one was the Ursuline Order of Nuns convent at one end of the French Quarter and the other was the land formerly occupied by the late Captain Jean Lafitte (c.?1776 ? c.?1823, the famed Caribbean pirate.
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My sincere congratulations to Constable Larry Baxter, who was given an award for his attitude toward all citizens, especially First Nations people. Why this story was relegated to the bottom of Page 2 of Tuesday, March 25??s Chronicle-Journal is beyond me. It was certainly just as newsworthy as one or two of the other stories on front page.
Certainly a First Nations protest story would have ranked front page. With so much being written about discrimination this story was far more newsworthy.
Let??s re-adjust our priorities editors.