September 25th 2001
I was sitting on the train on my way in for an interview (yet another failed IT company to add to my resume!) when the chap opposite me received a call on his cell phone. At that stage the first plane had hit the World Trade Centre. Most of the comment and discussion then centered around how a plane, we didn't realize it was a passenger jet then, had managed to do such a thing.
After the train arrived in the station I stopped to have a look a TV set where a few other people were standing. Again at this stage it was still regarded as a horrible accident.
And then we saw the other plane fly straight into the building. Like a movie I suppose although that probably isn't the right way to describe it. At that stage I knew it was a terrorist attack. I was probably one of the few who did realize it judging by the bewildered comments from the others standing around. Canadians, secure in their little liberal society, have been shielded from the ravages of maniacs for some time.
Later in the day downtown Toronto was evacuated. At first I was bemused by the need to evacuate Toronto but in hindsight and given the diversion of airplanes to Pearson airport this was probably a wise move. Only now are comments being received about the possibility that there were more than four planes destined to be highjacked. In addition, and considering Canada's lack of control on allowing terrorists into the country, you can never be too cautious when it comes to ensuring peoples safety.
What was astonishing though was the way it was done. With people milling in the streets and crowding into the subway and railway stations. Prime targets should one of the murderers have decided to add Canada to the list. Even more astonishing was the way the locals pushed and shoved to be in the mass. I went outside and quietly waited until the train was due and only then boarded. On the principle that I would be more useful helping than dying.
Over the next few days I began to realise that a lot of the experiences that I have had over the years have had a deeper effect on my psyche than even I imagined. For a few days I began to have flashbacks. The terrible silence just after a bomb has gone off. Seconds that seem like hours. Friends, family and people I knew murdered or injured. Pulling dead bodies from wreckage. Watching tracer fly past the window of passenger jets I was on. Seeing someone being necklaced. All the memories that I didn't want to think of again.
And now here I was watching thousands of innocent people being murdered. Over and over again. To the point of numbness. I wanted to cry and yet I couldn't. I wanted to help but aside from donating blood or material what can you do? All I really felt was a sense of overwhelming impotence. Of being utterly incapable of any action that could stop this madness. Impotence to the point of dejection.
And then I began to get angry.
Over the next few days some of the media began to mount one of the most insidious propaganda campaigns I have yet seen. It started out with the premise that Canadians mustn't allow their emotions get the better of them and begin to target the visible minorities for retribution and over the weekend culminated in full-blown invective aimed at the United States. The basis being that it was all the fault of the US that this had happened. Suddenly articles lambasting the US, and whining about how horrendous the US effect on the world was, were the order of the day. From declaring war on terrorism it was suddenly a war on innocent civilians in third world countries. Of course only those countries that fit the “multicultural disadvantaged” bias of the local propagandists.
One of the best pieces of vitriolic slander was a piece written by some left wing nut who had the gall to label all the Canadians who had fought in the Second World War as “racist, sexist, homophobes!” I have tried to find even the slightest hint that this was said in jest but cannot, with the best will in the world, ascribe this to anything other than vicious slander of the worst sort.
The editor of the Star then had his own little swipe at the States and true to form blamed the whole tragedy on the Great Satan to the South. The fact that he is a visible minority immigrant with an axe to grind has been apparent for some time but even this was taking the whole brainwashing of the masses to new extremes. And on it went. The usual motley crew of left wing re-educators rushed into print with apologies for the terrorists and finger pointing at the States. Ad nauseum.
Never mind that hundreds of Canadians were also murdered in the atrocity. Never mind that the citizens of over fifty different countries were also murdered in the atrocity. To their twisted little brains the United States was the master of its own downfall. I believe it was Lenin who called them “useful idiots”! It is an astonishing display of left wing arrogance that explains a lot about why Canada has continuously shown such ignorance when it comes to world affairs lately. With such master propagandists brainwashing the average man in the street it doesn't surprise me anymore. Even the American propaganda machine, which has been in full swing as well, has nothing on the subtle way this whole issue was handled.
To be honest I am really only referring to one newspaper, and of course the CBC, when I make my comments but it is annoying to think that these forms of communication are being used for nefarious purposes. That thousands of people probably accept this rubbish as truth.
Thankfully I believe that the vast majority of Canadians have shown their disdain for these viewpoints by ignoring them and giving their support to the efforts to help and heal.
I think the whole tragedy was a wake up call to the local complacency.
I hope it was a wake up call.
In the meantime life gets back to as normal as it can ever possibly be.
Only for over six thousand innocent people in New York and millions more worldwide it can never be anymore.
It is always the innocents that suffer.
September 17th 2001
Ontario is an interesting Province. One of the things I like about the need to provide information at all levels is the signs they post telling you how much cold drink is available in each town and city as you pass through.
At least I presume that is what is meant by the sign that states “Oakville Pop 132,000”.
Oh all right then that was a stupid joke. So maybe I should just tell you all a little bit about the town of Oakville itself then?
Oakville is a little harbour town about twenty kilometers southwest of Toronto. In fact it is two little harbour towns if you add in the Bronte area and harbour. Bronte always seems to be seen as a part of Oakville rather than an entity on it's own. So you could say that it stretches from harbour to harbour. It also has the notoriety of being the second richest town per capita in Canada. It used to be the first but in keeping with the great Canadian need to minister to the “cultural diversity religion” this has slipped as more and more immigrants are added to the mix. Not just rich South Africans either. Us poor ones too. We do our bit to lower the average income on a regular basis.
It is a charming blend of old and new Canada. Well actually it isn't come to think of it. The “old town” is the charming part while the new buildings going up on the fringes are what can only be classified as boxes. Think of the “Mandela Mansions” that sprung up all over the veld in the `90's but on a larger scale and you have an idea of the new housing complexes that are springing up to the north. Mind you let's be realistic here. These housing complexes are huge by anyone's standards except maybe North Americans and those rich ba….people who live down near the waterfront in what can only be described as mansions.
Thank goodness for the heritage people who have preserved much of the old downtown Oakville. It is one of the first times that the term “quaint” springs to mind when you drive around the area looking for the Harbourmasters house or the first Mayors house. By the way the best time to do this is in fall when the colours of the area come into full force.
As Oakville was founded in 1827 by William Chisholm you can imagine that in the 174 years of its existence there are many old buildings that have a good history behind them and need to be preserved.
I also think that the Town Board has mandated that development of new buildings, especially high rises, be kept out of the core district. This means that buildings higher than three stories are just not around to pollute the view. In addition most of those architectural monstrosities that pass as business malls, high-rise apartment buildings, shopping malls and others are kept in outlying areas. Even the famous Ford Motor Co. factory is on the outskirts. Of course when it comes to pointing out that this is the biggest factory outside the USA then the name Oakville features prominently. They even went so far as to put the Entertainment Centre out of town as well. Next to Mississauga. Although this may have been an effort to snaffle money from the residents next door.
Come to think of it Oakville also has one of the very few Drive-ins in Canada. I think it was the only one in the GTA until a new one was erected in downtown Toronto this summer. Having spent many a pleasant night at the Drifeinn back in South Africa I think I will have to try this local one out at some time. Except I think I will wait for summer again.
There are however two attractions that I particularly like. Every summer there is the Oakville Jazz Festival and then Midnight Madness. Actually last year they added blues to the mix at the Jazz festival and moved it to the entertainment centre. It was a pleasure lying back on the grass listening to an evening's entertainment for 5 dollars. Good blues and blues-rock all evening. This year they moved it back to the downtown core and dropped the blues. Ah well.
The other event I enjoy is the Midnight Madness. In July they close off the downtown core and had a street party. Actually it is supposed to be a retail-shopping event and has been going on for twenty-four years already. The shops stay open to midnight and have many bargains available. Over the years though, there has been a steady build up of street performers and attractions so that now you have something on every corner and even more in between. Aside from the ability to walk around and listen to different bands from all over (including Ecuador!) what always strikes me are the thousands of people who throng the streets and enjoy themselves without any serious incidents. Unless you call having a heart attack at the price of beer a serious incident that is.
Incidentally Oakville is also home to the Canadian Open at Glen Abbey. For those of you watching the Open last year when Tiger Woods was distracted by the salmon may I suggest a visit to the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame that is situated on the links as well? Personally I would rather catch that salmon. Which come to think of it you can do on many of the rivers in the area. A license and luck being all you really need. And it is a lot cheaper than a round of golf anyway. Providing you can cough up the $30,000 to join the local club you still need the course fees and other ancillary costs of about $200 for a day's stress. The way I play anyway. In that same river there is an old Salmon that has been lurking ever since I have been here. One day! Despite what the locals say about its canny ability to let others take the bait.
I am not sure whether it is a result of all the riches around here but I also notice that there is a high proportion of Private Schools in the area. Eight at my last count. All claiming to provide the best education for future riches by the way. Note please that we aren't talking about a fully rounded education here. Merely the ability to make money later on in life. Maybe it is because of all that money in the area after all.
The other nice aspect to the town are the many Heritage Trails that abound all over the place. Mostly following the rivers and parks it gives many miles of pleasant walking. Actually about 130 Km's worth of distance to be more exact. Many going through areas where you may bump into the odd animal as well. Even Bronte Creek Provincial Park has some good trail areas despite the normal “attractions” catering for those who need instant entertainment.
For those of you of a more cerebral turn there are two theatres, although one is really more appropriately named The Oakville Centre for the Performing Arts. The other at Sheridan College is just the Sheridan Theatre. There are also five museums and a whole host of galleries. Three being non-profit and many of the others really being retail art galleries. With prices to match.
I decided to toddle off and get some more information about the area. Looking through the Oakville 2001/2002 visitors guide I suddenly realized that there is even more to do and see than I knew. I will have to make a conscious effort to get through all the other attractions as well. Feedback will then be forthcoming.
In the meantime let just end by saying that I enjoy living out here. It makes a good town to move to if you feel like a change. Of country as well as city.
September 11th 2001
There is something about being a parent that just means your children will be embarrassed at some stage. I like to think that I don't embarrass them all that often. Actually I say this because apparently they don't mind being seen in public with me, will greet me whenever I appear nearby and don't mind having me act as a taxi driver for them and their friends to various events.
There is also something about driving through the cornfields to the north of us that makes me want to lean out of the car window and shout “miieeelllllliiieees!!” Of course I always look out for Mother Anderson and her catty when I get the urge. Just in case there is some little old lady out here whose sleep has been disturbed and wishes to exact retribution. It has to be “miellies” of course because shouting out “Coooornnn” just doesn't have the same resonance or ring to it. Besides that would be plain silly wouldn't it?
This is one of the few times that the brood get embarrassed and even if there is not a car or person in sight they sink into the seats and mutter at me. How do I know they are embarrassed? By the “geez Dad, must you always do that?” that floats up from somewhere near the floor. Comments about scaring cows or being locked up for being a lunatic normally follow. At this stage I point out that it is part of my “cultural heritage” and I am introducing Canadians to that time honoured tradition we South Africans are so used to hearing. Besides for some reason it just seems right to lean out of the car as we whip past the fields and bellow.
This doesn't happen all that often because normally the reason we are passing the fields is that we are on our way to Andrews Scenic Acres. As I have said before we live on the outskirts of Oakville. A quick walk takes us right into farmlands. A quick drive puts us right into the heart of rural Ontario.
Every year from about July to November the farms in and around Milton throw their doors (fences?) open to the public and you can go and pick the fruit they are growing. Obviously this being a good capitalist country you don't do this for free. Well you can pick for free of course but come the end you have to pay for whatever you have picked. This means that many of the people who float around the farms generally eat as much as they can before they go to have a small basket weighed. I wonder sometimes how long it will be before they start weighing people as they go out to the fields and then doing the same before they leave.
“I am sorry Sir. You now weigh ten kilo's more than when you entered. At two dollars a kilo that will twenty you owe us. Oh and fifty cents for the basket full you have there. Thank you and have a good day!”
I must admit that for the first time I noticed a sign or two asking people to please refrain from “tasting” the crop while picking. I have also noticed a lot more people in the fields as well. To be kind let's just say that there are ethnic groups from Central Asia and Central Europe who seem to always be at the front whenever something is available for free and even then they will go back for fourths. And complain it wasn't enough.
I know that it is tempting, and very enjoyable, to wander through rows of fruit trees picking and eating the fruit but there's sampling and then there is making a pig of yourself.
I go up to Andrews for the blueberries. Mainly. I love blueberries. Maybe it's because we never had fresh blueberries in South Africa and so they were regarded as a more exotic type of fruit. Whatever it is, at this time of the year I make sure that I make at least two trips up to the farm to gather at least a basket full. At almost a tenth of the cost of the small punnets you can get in the supermarkets it is worth the trip. A basket normally last me a week or so. Nothing like coming home in the evening and having fresh chilled blueberries in a bowl which you can eat one by one as you read the newspaper. Unless your daughter uses them all to make a blueberry cobbler for your birthday! Not to put to fine a point on my love for this berry let me just say that in addition to the cobbler I was also given a bottle of blueberry syrup to go with the blueberry waffles, but not the blueberry pop-tarts. Unfortunately they don't have blueberry coffee. I don't mind because apparently blueberries have this protective effect when it comes to some health hazard or other anyway. This is good.
In addition to the little blue berry there are actually other fruits you can pick by the way.
Vegetables as well. The main crop at Andrews is Strawberries, cherries, raspberries, currants and gooseberries. You can either pick them yourself or buy them ready packed in the shop attached to the farm. The shop is where you buy the vegetables. I haven't seen a sign telling you where to pick your own vegetables yet. According to the list of vegetables that Andrews offers you have a choice of rhubarb, asparagus, squash, pumpkins and corn (Miiiielllieees!). Corn being of the “super sweet” and Indian varieties.
Indian corn appears to be an interesting hybrid of what I think they call “blue” corn and the other more standard yellow corn. It gives an interesting multi-coloured ear that for the most part seems to be used as a decoration in harvest festivals rather than being eaten. Except by Indians.
Purely in the interests of research I have driven around the area to a few of the other farms to assess the potential for picking there as well. Much like the gasoline prices there appears to be little difference in price or quality. There does appear to be a difference in when they are open though. So no matter what you want to get you can find a variety of places to go.
Last year they opened up a fruit winery at Andrews. Without too much guessing on your part no doubt you will have realized that I have at least tried their blueberry wine. Well I would have to wouldn't I? The elderberry and raspberry being next on my list.
So for a good day out in the country you could no better than a drive up Trafalgar Drive to No.10 Sideroad. It's well signposted from all the major routes. As are all the other farms as well.
Just remember that as you go past the farms I would really appreciate it if you would lean out the window and shout “miiieeelllliees!”
Let's start a trend!