July 29th 2002
I wish I was the person who came up with the idea of the window flag!
I'm not sure if they have come from other countries, or even whether this is a particularly Canadian thing, but it started around about the time that the Leafs actually looked like they weren't going to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory and could get into the playoffs. This, of course, is a yearly ritual amongst the Leafs and their faithful fans. Most of whom go into retirement right up until the time that the Leafs actually do reach the playoffs. Then like cockroaches they come crawling out of the woodwork, wearing t-shirts, waving flags and this year putting the Leafs flag up on a plastic pole that clamps to the cars windows.
Supposedly this shows that you are “behind the team all the way”! Ra Ra Ree etc.!
So right up until, and for a while after in some cases, the Leafs self destructed as per usual, we had the Blue and White Maple Leaf being whipped into a forty five degree blur as some SUV screamed past on the 401 at an impossible speed.
Shortly after the recriminations as to why the Leafs had thrown away their chances the World Cup of Soccer started.
Ah yes. At which stage whoever came up with those flags must have seen dollar signs spinning in front of their eyes.
Suddenly every street corner had an “entrepreneur” parked in shade with a range of window flags representing all the nations taking part in the competition. Even South Africa! Although all of the African countries took a while to be displayed. And even then it was in the ratio of about 1 African flag to about ten million Italian or Brazilian or Chinese flags.
They may be quick on the chance to make a buck but just a little biased.
At this stage the whole much stated “multicultural” make up of Toronto came out in full force.
Merely by looking at the flags being displayed on virtually every car you would be forgiven for thinking that there were only immigrants living in this city.
Oddly enough all of them coming from only the sixteen nations playing out in Japan and Korea.
Every one had a favourite team, a flag and according to every damn newspaper and radio station an opinion! Let the fever be with you!
It was quite amusing to see the one percent of true Canadians still allowed to come into Toronto looking shell shocked and quite dazed for a change. Some even tried to make an effort to get into the swing of things by choosing a team based on some dimly recollected ancestor's possible connection.
Which means that England and France had a sudden surge in the flag sales. Rather similar to the surge that Senegal had when every African-Canadian decided that their roots allowed them to claim some form of allegiance to the Continent.
Of course the need to have every action explained to them meant that many Canadians seemed even more puzzled than usual.
When the typical hysteria that follows a teams win or loss meant pandemonium on the streets the hackles began to rise! The Korean's pushed the whole issue over the top by going bananas after a win and setting papers on fire in the middle of Spadina or Queen or some such area. Now you need to remember that due the curvature and spin of the earth most of theses matches were televised in the early morning hours here in Toronto. So the non-soccer mad among the local population were perhaps a little disconcerted, and even annoyed, when their drive into work was made worse by the revelry that attended every match played!
Much was made of the LCBO's decision not to allow consumption of alcohol into the wee hours of the morning but in retrospect it was probably a wise move. If the idiots I saw could make so much mess when semi-sober think what the heck they would have done while inebriated!
Most of the action merely inconvenienced people but toward the end of the World Cup I began to notice a perceptible shift in the attitude of what, for want of a better description, I will call the Canadians.
The first mutterings coming over the radio where comments were made about why so many people found it necessary to show allegiance to countries other than the one they live in. Which considering that every effort is made to allow immigrants and refugees to carry on as if they haven't left their homeland at all, was interesting. Are some of the locals starting to realise that the immigration policy is decidedly wonky at last?
I even heard one DJ make a comment to the effect that it was about time “these people made up their minds as to whether they wanted to live here or back wherever they came from”!
As more and more supporters came crawling out, the level of antagonism rose. Luckily the World Cup only last so long. Mind you long enough to note that there are millions of Brazilians living in Toronto. Who, I might add, partied hard and partied long but didn't find it necessary to set alight anything.
And then I noticed a very interesting situation come about.
Shortly after that we had Canada Day.
An obvious day in which to sell Canadian flags and for all Canadians to proudly fly them from their cars. After all we have had this taking place on a daily basis for almost three months now. And there is a lot to be proud about in being a Canadian. So show the flag. Fly it high!
Yea right. Very few cars had the flag up. A small percentage of all those who had flown other flags.
Maybe the radio-jock had a point you know. Why do so few people in and around Toronto not show a little pride in living here?
When a hockey team and every other damn nation on earth get more flag time there is something seriously wrong. Perhaps it is time for the Canadians to start asking for a little respect for themselves? After all they have been forced to give enough respect to every on else!
July 23rd 2002
Tucked away to the North West of Toronto is a very interesting slice of history.
I suppose when it was originally started Black Creek Pioneer Village was thought of as being “way out” in the outskirts of the farmlands surrounding Toronto and so the fact that it is now solidly surrounded by suburbia makes the historical village a real find.
Traveling along Steeles avenue at the Jane Street area you come across the signs to enter the village but oddly enough the ability to see any of the attraction is cut off by strategically placed fencing. High strategically placed fencing.
No free peeking allowed!
Black Creek Pioneer Village is a replica of a 19th century settlement in Ontario.
Apparently this started as a pioneer museum situated in a barn and, according to the publicity bumpf, “way out in the country” north of Toronto. Which no doubt would surprise some of the local inhabitants now that it is situated almost slap bang in the middle of Toronto instead.
I am not sure whether it was the brainchild of Russell Cooper but he appears to be the guiding force behind the growth of this historical re-enactment settlement.
It was actually a creation of the Metropolitan Toronto and Region Conservation Authority in the early 1960's and was designed to show an Ontario settlement at the time of Canadian Confederation in 1867!
On looking through my notes I see that Cooper was actively involved from 1965 to 1991 while, as I said earlier, the start of the settlement appears to date back to 1956. Anyway Cooper appears to be the person responsible for taking the village from nothing really to the thriving community experience it is today.
Black Creek occupies 56 acres of prime real estate. Which is probably the real magic involved in its remaining a viable attraction. I can imagine how many developers would love to get their avaricious little paws on that space!
So what have you go to look at in this pioneer settlement?
Some forty odd houses and buildings that mirror life very much as it was in the 19th century and a whole host of actors who dress up and live the life as it was during that time as well.
It's laid out like a small settlement at a crossroads. So you have the major intersection at Queen Street and Mill road. Although Maple Avenue (as in …why am I not surprised???) forms a sort of outer perimeter as well that encapsulates the major activities in a neat area you can walk around in a day.
The basis of the whole village are the farm buildings once owned by a Pennsylvanian German settler. Daniel Stong.
Stong immigrated to Ontario with his parents when he was nine years old after they had been seduced by the siren call of John Simcoe the Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada
Simcoe offered land grants of up to 1000 acres to anyone who would cultivate the land and take an oath to King George III.
In one of the more peaceful American invasions of Canada over 4000 Pennsylvanian Germans took up his offer and had settled around Toronto.
Daniel Stong saw service in the War of 1812 and then married Elizabeth Fisher. Together they started a new life working on a tract of land Elizabeth had inherited.
Lobola not having reached North America yet land was all Daniel could hope for!
Mind you having to cut down the trees on your property in order to build a log cabin is quite a mean feat and one which I reckon would soon sort out all the divorce prone wussies currently inhabiting this land!
It is a strong house too by the way and I was interested to note that in those days three rooms were all that was needed. Two bedrooms and a kitchen/family room/dining room/everything room.
Seeing as they had eight children I suppose at least one room was kept for the parents!
An ever industrious lad our Daniel, there is also a piggery, a smoke house, barn and then, after seven children became a bit too much, his second house.
Over the years other people seem to have decided that the crossroads would make an ideal settlement and set up shop so to speak.
Well technically this whole area is built around the Stongs farm buildings but the committee's intention was to show what a village in 1867 would be like so many other buildings from surrounding areas have been added to the settlement.
Nothing wrong with a good healthy imagination eh?!
So now we have a real village and bustling community working together in the area.
Grain Stores, Boot Shops, a cooperage, the broom makers shop and amongst others the “Lakey Emporium and Post Office”. Without any bubblegum in sight on the shelves!
Of course there are other homes, including a “bachelor” residence and what would we be in the nineteenth century without a church. Strategically placed near the School I notice.
“Catch `em young and teach `em your way”!
Although I did notice that the Cider Mill, Town Hall and even the Gunsmiths were way across the other side of the village.
Probably little hope of redemption on that side of town!
The other fascinating part of the whole experience is that there are bit part actors who dress up in period costume and re-enact the lifestyle of those times.
I like these types of re-enactment historical settlements. I've been to the Zulu villages up in Kwa-Zulu Natal and one of the more interesting villages out on an island off Stockholm in Sweden.
I believe there is an Indian Village on Guelph line that I am still trying to track down as well. Of course it could just be that I keep missing the First Nations signs because I `m looking for the Crawford Lake Indian Village but considering the fact that it is actually up on a huge signboard at the Hamilton intersection I suppose that this may not have the full historical impact that I may be expecting.
The main point is that they are “living” history and have so much to teach us. And I, for one, will carry on going to such places while there are still people who want to let us learn more.
Maybe you should also go?
July 16th 2002
Ah yes! So imbued was I by the comments that I made about the Crawford Lake Indian Village last week, that I decided this weekend to track down this mythical place on Guelph Line somewhere.
And, not to put to fine a point on it, I'm very glad that I did too!
Contrary to my expectations I found an excellent re-construction of a fifteenth century Iroquoian village.
Longhouses and all. Even, I hasten to add, an outside drying rack, or two, that had a reproduction of what looked suspiciously like biltong, but which we all now know is really pemmican! Or jerky.
Fortunately this was one of the few “plastic” exhibits on show, no doubt as a result of far too many wandering visitors feeling the need to sample. Especially if they were South African! In which case the need to see if it was similar to biltong would be very necessary. The other being the smoked fish which, I presume, had more to do with health regulations, and the smell, than anything else.
Of course it could just be that there weren't any “real” Indians around to do this task. I was amused to notice that, despite this village being the excellent reproduction it is, the only “guides” in attendance were white females.
No doubt they were very knowledgeable, and they really were very earnest, if not particularly helpful, but they weren't real First Nations!
Considering that I had expected teepees and a tomahawk carrying Hollywood style Chief maybe I shouldn't be so critical!
Oddly enough it is actually pretty hard to get to the village itself even though the powers that be have decided that signs need to be erected at last. The easiest way is to get onto Guelph Line at the QEW and then travel North for about twenty kilometers. If you get to the 401 or even the Mohawk Racecourse and Slots you've gone to far!
I found that the actual signpost on Guelph and Steeles leading to Crawford Lake was very well hidden off the road. If you weren't looking for it you will miss it!
Anyhow once you've paid the entrance fee, which is a reasonable $4.00 per adult, you will find the Iroquoian Village to the north of the Conservation centre and Crawford Lake itself.
Which by the way has a big sign saying “NO swimming, boating or fishing allowed!” OK! It is a rare meromictic lake but …..sheees…No anything???
Yup! You will only walk around and gaze longingly into the deep waters and whatever history they may contain!
As part of the 725 km Bruce Trail I suppose having thousands of people using this unique lake to bathe in is probably pushing it.
Actually for those of you who like hiking this particular site has about 16 kilometres of good hiking trail as well! Including the ability to hike to Rattlesnake point if you really want to!
Anyway enough of all that. The reason I went there was to look at the village, not walk, so lets go back to the reconstruction.
The Crawford Lake village is the result of a strong archeological dig that took place some years ago. This has helped to determine where the longhouse posts and even the fire pits were located. The people involved used Jesuit missionaries' records and some other written records to provide other details as well and lastly there are the oral traditions passed down by the Iroquois themselves.
There is only one entrance to the Village itself. Following the normal way to make a village impregnable we have a long enclosed walkway to actually get inside. Both the entrances of this walkway being covered by a raised dais that allows the inhabitants to see any approaching persons.
Once inside you come to village itself. There are two finished longhouses and three unfinished longhouses. And then various parts of the village that show what life was like in those days.
I particularly liked the “sacred plant garden” where one of the sacred plants was tobacco and where a fairly muted “politically correct” stance has been taken to try to downplay the whole “smoking tobacco” essence! As they have all four sacred plants planted, growing it must have taken a lot of balls to actually plant tobacco on this plot! Typically Canadian though in that anything that may be misconstrued as being “nasty” to cultural heritage is allowed.
Although given the average Canadians attitude toward the First Nations I am still amused that the growing of tobacco is allowed!!
All over the village are information signs written by “Silent Waters” your unobtrusive guide. Including one area where a whole host of First Nation games and instructions have been set up to allow the youngsters to participate.
I was standing there reading the rules for one or two games when it suddenly occurred to me how typically Canadian that was. No! Not the setting up of games and information, which is typical as well, but that it was merely put outside and left there for people to touch and play with! As we walked around I noticed a lot of artifacts that were out in the open. No signs warning of dire peril or even asking you to be good. Nothing hidden behind glass or barbed wire.
Canadians just expect you to be honest in that regard!
So you have two longhouse reproductions here. The Turtle Clan Longhouse, which shows what the living arrangements are like. I've attached a photo of the inside, which doesn't really do justice to the actual place itself. The most interesting part being all the animal furs that cover the sleeping racks.
In fact I was reminded a lot of some of the big Kraals out in KwaZulu. Although there seemed to be more light in this longhouse, but that could just be a recent attempt to make it easier to see.
The Wolf Clan Longhouse is actually used as learning centre. Inside you can see diorama's depicting everyday events. This makes sense of some of the bits and pieces outside.
It also contains the Sweat Lodge. Now I've been inside saunas and other assorted hidey-holes for various reasons but this tiny little place seemed to me to be completely on the claustrophobic side. And as for having a fire and pouring water over the “Grandfather” stone to attain enlightenment, well I am sure that some of that “green smoke” tobacco substitute would do just as well thank you!
There is also a very good full-scale diorama that shows how the dig progressed and which ultimately leads to a video viewing room. Don't they all? Which was showing something to do with the American Civil War apparently. At least that's what it looked like and there seemed to be a whole host of Americans enthralled in front of it so I wasn't going to get involved anyway.
Unfortunately we arrived a little later in the afternoon than intended and so this whole viewing experience was a little rushed. Which means that another trip has already been planned for later in the year.
We've just passed the “Season of many Frogs peeping” and are currently in the “Season of the Three Sisters”. Which, because this attraction is open all year round, leaves us with the Seasons of “Falling Leaves” ,“First Frost” , “Snowsnake” and “Sweet Water Season”!
Actually I'm intrigued as to what a Snowsnake is and may just be tempted to come back then to try to discover one!
Was this trip worthwhile?
For someone who was expecting to see one of those fake shows it was better than I expected. Far better! As I said earlier good enough to ensure that I will be back to see and do all the stuff that I never had the time to get around too.
So now I must also point out that sitting in among all the information was a small pamphlet telling us how to get down to the Six Nations area outside Hamilton. Which by now you probably all realise means that shortly The Grand River Territory will have to be visited as well.
I'm expecting to see my real “fake” Chiefs down there. In fact I can almost bet on that
July 7th 2002
I was asked the other day why it is that I read The Toronto Star if it annoys me so much! Aside from the fact that I like being annoyed as it gives me a excuse to rant and rave, I read at least three newspapers a day. Every day!
Have done so for years.
Ever since I went to boarding school and about the only reading material that was openly advocated were the local dailies. Or text books.
Anyone here remember Buxton House KES and the other Star? On the little wooden stand specially provided so that a bunch of boarders could fight over whose turn it was to turn the page and when? I learnt early on to nick the political and comment pages, as they weren't missed, while the sports pages created many a nasty scene if they went missing.
Anyway I can also remember a political joke that did the rounds in South Africa some years ago that supposedly gave you the low down on who was reading what.
Something along the lines of “Die Beeld” being read by those who ruled the country, “Rand Daily Mail” being read by those who wanted to rule the country, “Natal Witness” by those who wished it was still ruled by another country and so on.
There was a good deal of truth in the joke.
I wish I could remember the full text as it applies just as much to the local Toronto newspapers as to any that we had back there.
Many people tend to read only one newspaper on a daily basis and unfortunately this is almost always the newspaper that echoes their viewpoint. I very rarely find someone who is willing to read opposing viewpoints. Unless they are paid to do it, that is.
Canada is no different to any other country when it comes to biased propaganda masquerading as news either by the way. Virtually every newspaper has an editorial stance and policy, which they rigidly stick to.
So it is rather amusing to see the mud slinging currently taking place amongst the news media over the shenanigans of one of the major brain washers of the young and gullible.
You see there are a few major newsgroups in Canada that basically control large chunks of the written and televised daily word. They fall into the following rough categories:
Far left wing, Left Wing, Slightly left wing, Left wing capitalist and so on.
Although the local media will swear blind that they cover all aspects of the political spectrum there is a dearth of right wing news. At least in Toronto where the closest paper they have to a right wing paper is the Toronto Sun.
The Sun is actually a very middle of the road tabloid but because it doesn't automatically subscribe to trendy causes, and in some respects questions them, it is frowned upon for being politically incorrect.
Personally I think the Sun's major sin is having the “page three” girl! In a country absolutely riven with politically correct feminism the thought that a half naked woman is being ogled is the main reason the other newspapers get uppity. Of course the fact that there is a “page three” guy has never garnered the same venom as the girl! Even despite the fact that she is now an “ inside back page” girl for some reason.
Oddly enough the Sun's political comment and articles are far and away the most reasoned and sane of all the papers I read. Even if I don't agree with their content! And I suppose to be truthful another reason there is such a concerted effort to paint them as “right wing” is that they don't support the Liberal Party. Which seems to be tantamount to heresy amongst the media around here.
Virtually all the major news groups slavishly follow the party line in promoting the Liberal cause. Ad nauseum I might add.
To the extent that CanWest, an Albertan news conglomerate has lately been spiking articles and firing editors who disagree with their policy of only writing “good things” about the Liberals and Teflon Jean in particular.
OK there is the added annoyance of having an “Editorial” that is written by the political commissar in Calgary which must be run by all the newspapers in the group, and the owners son popping up all over the place with a really oily explanation as to why it is that he, as the publisher, should be allowed to do what he wants. As an aside here I sometimes wonder why it is that any father actually passes on the family business to his sons considering the high failure rate of anything passing for common sense, business acumen and in many cases even decency and humanity that these individuals have. I suppose there is a difference in appreciation when it comes to having to work for something as opposed to having it handed to you on a platter to abuse at your own leisure.
The most amusing part of this whole farce has been the reaction of other news media groups.
Hand wringing and finger pointing at the “loss of press freedom” being the major chant at the moment.
None more so than the TorStar Group. They have the Toronto Star, which is the biggest propaganda sheet around when it comes to the Liberal Party and trendy left wing causes. As the old joke goes:
If you are a, blind, paraplegic, lesbian, visible minority, feminist, communist, immigrant the Star needs you!
Really, really needs you!
I mean….seriously…really, really needs you!
A case of the Pot calling the kettle an African Canadian in fact!
The Star not needing to dictate what its reporters and editors will write because in all their smugness they know that they only hire people who slavishly follow the party line anyway!
See my above “joke” for hiring practices!
Which leaves the Globe and Mail and National Post.
The Post belongs to CanWest and as they are currently giving it away at 25c, or half price, and still losing readers, you can guess that the public is taking a dim view of the directives from on high.
The Globe and Mail however, is an amusing dichotomy. It's a left wing capitalist newspaper. You thought I was joking when I mentioned that earlier right?!
I'm not sure if that is as a result of needing to assuage their guilt over making money or whether they feel that, like the Canadian Government, having obscene amounts of money is the Liberal way, but it is definitely the Bay Street voice with a twinge of conscience.
Currently they are more embarrassed by all the scandals surrounding greedy corporations than by whether there is a challenge to press freedom.
After all who really gives a damn about politics so long as you still have enough money to buy membership at Glen Abbey!
For your information I read the Sun, Star and Globe and Mail.
I haven't got a clue as to what that makes me except very confused sometimes.
Except when I get to the inside back page!
At which stage to hell with all the mental propaganda. The visual stimulus is most important.
And I'm still young enough to know what that makes me!