Recently, I was writing about Cobourg and the delights of small-town life, commenting on one of the town’s many low-key features; the spontaneous, out-of-left-field interactions between its citizens, aided by modern creations such as email. Last week was a prime example, producing a celebration of the life of long-time Cobourg resident, Alberta ‘Bert’ MacMillan. I wish I had known her. Like so many in our town, she was a force to be reckoned with, flying just below the community radar, a mover-and-a-shaker who, sadly, died on August 4 at Northumberland Hills Hospital. But, thanks to Cobourg resident Alma Draper and the many friends of Bert, the following is a short selection of the vast number of tributes and memories of… Read complete articleThe Passing Scene: Remembering ‘Bert’
One of the wonderful things about small town life is what goes on beneath the surface of everyday happenings. I’m thinking of the stretch of Lake Ontario that meanders past Port Hope, Cobourg and Colborne and Brighton but, specifically on this occasion, recent spontaneous links between Cobourg and Colborne. Even more specifically, the Colborne Library which has gradually, over the last three years or so, been making positive inroads into the Northumberland County poetry scene. It was the brain-child of Colborne librarian Mary Norton who introduced a poetry competition for students in the Colborne school system. Despite her tireless work, like so many innovative ideas, it took a while to get off the ground But, it turned out that the… Read complete articleThe Passing Scene – Small Town Life: Alive and Well
It happened so quickly. Time and reality finally catching up, having stalked me for so long as my game of denial went into overtime. When it happened, it was swift. The game I created? Ignore Reality. I justified it for a long time (years?); I felt young, therefore I was. Has a nice ring to it. Even though I had given up daily outdoor cycling a couple of years ago, I was still in pretty good shape for … well, an Old Guy. Could still put on the miles at the Y. But, when IT happened, I was, ironically, out walking along the waterfront like a young lad, admiring the geese and ducks, the quiet civility of Cobourg on a… Read complete articleThe Passing Scene: Gotcha!
Back in the olden days – well, the olden days of 1837 – one Ebeneezer Perry proudly accepted the chain of office as the very first Mayor of Cobourg, no doubt a splendid occasion. The very first, according to Cobourg 1797-1948 by Edwin Guillet which, interestingly, was produced by the Business and Professional Women’s Club of Cobourg under the direction of one Margaret Pewtriss. Perry came into office in 1834, slightly behind W. Lyon Mackenzie in Toronto, and ahead of John Scott in Ottawa in 1855 and Hamilton’s Colin Ferrie in 1847. Not bad for a small town. Going over the list of people who have held that office since its creation is like taking a journey through Cobourg’s history, a… Read complete articleThe Passing Scene – A Man’s Job? Why?
The boy was barely 10 years old. Wakened from his sleep. Told he was ‘going away’. Bundled onto a train. Then another. Jammed in with other kids of all ages. Hour after hour. Switch to another train. Endless. Arriving … somewhere. Stood on a stage with countless other kids. Grown-up Strangers looking at them. Staring. Pointing. Rejecting. A chosen kid leaves. Another. Then, his turn. Taken to a family with a boy his age. Sharing his bed. A chamber pot. It was the longest night of his life. in a life full of endless nights. 14 hours since he woke and heard those words ……….. Beside me as I write this is a copy of the Globe and Mail from… Read complete articleThe Passing Scene: In Search of a (Better) Life
To paraphrase Abraham Lincoln’s legendary exhortation, ‘Government of the people, for the people …’ a contemporary and local flavour comes to mind. Cobourg’s Council for the people, by the people which, at times, seems to be an oxymoron – at odds with reality. I’m thinking of the endless conflict over the years between the citizens of our town and various councils, our present council now on life-support as its mandate creaks to an end, its inability to hear the voters who put it there becoming legendary. I am thinking of what has been an on-going battle over the future of the town’s western harbour, the citizens’ harbour. Isn’t it time, once and for all, to pass a bylaw ensuring that… Read complete articleThe Passing Scene: Save Our Harbour
Amazingly, I can see it as though it happened yesterday – rather than 54 years ago. Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens. I’m in goal (I kid you not). The likes of Stanley Cup winners Frank Mahovlich, Davie Keon, Tim Horton, Eddie Shack firing pucks at me. As I left the ice, Tim Horton skated past, tapped me on my rear end with his stick and said, “Great shut-out.” Ahh, memories. I mean, Tim Horton. One of the foremost defencemen in the National Hockey League, one of the greatest 100 NHL players of all time, future member of he Hockey Hall of Fame. Yes, a memorable moment – but, 44 years after his death, who remembers Tim Horton, over the years gradually… Read complete articleThe Passing Scene: Oh, Timmy
“There was a moment, sitting beside the bed of a dear friend who was dying in hospital, when I realized I was witnessing such a human experience. I knew that the more I explored what all this meant, the more I would start to understand how death informs us about life. Following his death, as I watched the funeral directors handle his body, wheeling him to their waiting vehicle, it became clear to me I was being denied a chance to say goodbye to my friend in a humane and needed way. At the door of the hospital they said, ‘That’s as far as you go, we’ll take it from here.’ There has to be a better way.” From that… Read complete articleOpinion: Thoughts on Final Words