NOVEMBER 30, 2010 4:43PM

Take It From Me

Those of you who have read my (mercifully infrequent) ramblings know that I have done remarkably stupid things on two wheels and four.

That I survived was a combination of good fortune and a semi-demented skill.

Sometimes, those things were done in a state of altered consciousness; I won't… Read full post »

NOVEMBER 26, 2010 2:03PM

I Heard The Ice Sing

      It's late winter, a few months before I am to retire, and we're about to go for a walk along the still-frozen shoreline of Lake Erie. The pack ice has retreated, but there are overlapping thin plates, perhaps a quarter of an inch thick and a couple of feetRead full post »

NOVEMBER 20, 2010 4:55PM

Ode To The Pirate Wimmin

There are strange things done 'neath the wint'ring sun

By those who moil with words

Meandering roads have their secret codes

That sometimes seem absurd

The big city lights have seen strange sights

But the strangest they ever once knew

Was that night on the marge of utter farkage

When they… Read full post »

NOVEMBER 17, 2010 5:26PM

This Is How We Catch The Torch?

      I'm so angry I could spit.

      As some of you know, I'm something of a military history maven, particularly Canadian military history, and a supporter of the good works of the Royal Canadian Legion and our service men and women, especially th… Read full post »

     Today is the 92nd anniversary of the end of the Great War. Normally, I'd try to write something meaningful about it, like I did last year here.
     But Nov. 11, Armistice Day, is also our anniversary -- and yes, the date was chosen deliberately.
Read full post »

OCTOBER 22, 2010 10:39AM

Old Man, Take A Look At My Life....

     He's 87 today, and I know there are times he's surprised he made it to 20.

     We had our rows when I was young (and stupid), but I grew up with the knowledge that he, like most of the men in the neighbourhood -- and like most of… Read full post »

SEPTEMBER 21, 2010 12:10PM

A Clarification

I was chagrined to learn that some of my friends on Open Salon seem to think I'm a veteran.

I'm not.

Yes, I have an abiding interest in and have written extensively about things military, whether it's the lore and traditions of various branches of the service or the impact of certain battles… Read full post »

SEPTEMBER 9, 2010 10:00AM

Passionate Pursuits

     It's amazing how the past can come back to unsettle you, even if in a good way.
     This week, I got an e-mail from the editor of a classic motorcycle magazine who's been contacted by someone writing a book. That person had seen a feature I'd written two y… Read full post »

SEPTEMBER 6, 2010 10:03AM

Gender Bending

     Kathy Riordan has put up an open call about who you would be if you were a member of the opposite sex.
     And I'm having trouble with that.
     See, I'd most like to be The Redhead, but none of you knows her, and I could spend an eon t… Read full post »

SEPTEMBER 4, 2010 12:18PM

Music To Live By

OK, since everyone else is getting in on the act, herewith my Top 15 that I'd like to be marooned with, if I had to be marooned.

Harry Chapin: Just about anything, but especially the albums Greatest Stories Live and Legends of the Lost and Found. Chapin was a great humanitarian and… Read full post »

SEPTEMBER 3, 2010 10:36AM

Witless For The Crown

       "All rise," the bailiff said as the magistrate swept in, black robe billowing behind him.
      Obediently, we got to our feet, Crown attorney to the right, defence counsel to the left, court regulars murmuring behind, me thinking how the hell
Read full post »

AUGUST 26, 2010 2:49PM

A Personal Observation

Ever hear of Ross Macdonald? How about Richard Stark? Richard Bachmann? Penelope Ashe?

Yes? No? They all share one thing: They're pseudonyms -- alter egos, if you prefer.

Ross Macdonald's name was actually Kenneth Millar. According to various websites, he used a pseudonym to avoid confusion with his w… Read full post »

AUGUST 18, 2010 10:47PM

The Haunted Beach


Blazing Bloody Battle Of France Is Described
Sees Canadian Army Fight Hun
--Front page headline and subheads
Windsor Daily Star, Aug. 20, 1942

"No Essex officer returned. ... Out of 30 officers who lived together at Aldershot and previously, I am the only original. Others…

Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
AUGUST 13, 2010 1:06PM

Rescuing The Freak Press

Come with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear as the Lone Derangers ride again....

Rescuing the Freak Press pic


It was March 1972, and the university's student-run weekly newspaper had just printed its annual parody edition of the local daily.

Called "The Freak Press", the satire was declared so obscene, s… Read full post »

...there were Telex machines, mad reporters and tyrannical bosses. And George. A repost of one of my earliest OS submissions....


  So it's 1 a.m., and nearly the end of another long day of Adventures in Bureau Journalism. Couple of accidents caused by the snow in the morning, court case… Read full post »

AUGUST 5, 2010 11:14AM

"In the Footsteps of Your Fathers."

The Third Canadian Infantry Division landed at the hotly contested Juno Beach on D-Day, punching through stiff defences and battling farther inland than either the British or American forces on the other three beaches.

After months of fierce combat in France and Belgium, the Second, Third and Fourth
Read full post »

JUNE 1, 2010 9:33AM

Goodbye To All That


It was just gone closing time on a hot August night in 1980, and I was leaving a roadhouse known as "The Zit" -- not inappropriate, but it actually came from a corruption of the former name, La Visite.

Dialing up the throttle, I twitched the Bonneville's tail across the
Read full post »

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MAY 28, 2010 9:45AM

A Canadian's Take on Memorial Day

    As some of you have noticed, I haven't been around OS much lately, but I thought I'd repost this in honour of Memorial Day. I wrote this last year at the suggestion of Open Salon's Sgt. Mom, who helps administer an interesting website called The Deepening.

MAY 8, 2010 5:48PM

VE Day: May 8, 1945


Sixty-five years ago, a 21-year-old in the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals, armed with a bolt-action Lee-Enfield rifle and a flashlight, was one of the guards around a Waffen SS laager deep in Holland.

He had enlisted at 17 in 1941 and was overseas by the time he… Read full post »

MAY 2, 2010 9:12AM


I came (through an unlatched door)

I saw (all I needed to see)

I left (the way I came in)

APRIL 9, 2010 10:33AM

Canada's Day (Updated)

      I posted a slightly different version of this in 2009 to commemorate perhaps the single most pivotal moment in Canadian history: The battle for Vimy Ridge in April 1917.
      This year, for the first time since Nov. 11, 1918,
Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
MARCH 29, 2010 9:24AM

What Price Glory?

     I recently read in The Telegraph, one of the UK's respectable, if rightwing, newspapers, that the first ever Victoria Cross -- Britain's highest award for bravery -- was going up for auction and was expected to fetch about $185,000 Cdn.

     How do you put
Read full post »

MARCH 11, 2010 12:44PM

Thief in the Night


     "...and that's how we got him. Putting the handcuffs on him...."

     The lanky detective across the desk, who'd been staring over my shoulder into the empty squadroom while he told me how he and his partner had finally caught th
Read full post »

FEBRUARY 19, 2010 2:38PM

Last Post: Farewell the Canadian Corps


 (Library and Archives Canada)

     Canada's final link to the men who paved the way to full nationhood is dead at 109 in Spokane, Wash.

     John Henry Foster Babcock, born on a farm in Frontenac County, Ont., enlisted in… Read full post »

JANUARY 28, 2010 1:37PM

A Burning Question


"The last temptation is the greatest treason:
To do the right deed for the wrong reason."
--TS Eliot, "Murder in the Cathedral"


     It happened something like this.

     About 15 years ago, The Redhead and I were heading out to our favour…

Read full post »