“It doesn’t matter who you love, or how you love, but that you love.” A tribute to Rod McKuen

rod-mckuen-435

 

In the late 60’s, early 70’s Rod McKuen had a huge influence on so many

of us. His soft, soothing sounds and melodious voice, calmed the savage

beast, as they say. He took us through young love and heartbreaks with

his “wise” words. Thinking back, I know I was influenced by his

recordings and reading his poetry. But then, I was and am still an

incurable romantic. I’m not sure why I was reminded of his work.

Perhaps I heard a song on line or read one of those 3 am thoughts,

so rampant on Face Book. But, nonetheless here’s my offering and

I guess, tribute to the man. I’ve gotten quotes from Wiki and

The Poetry Foundation. I also collected some songs from You Tube.

I hope you enjoy them and if you’re young enough not to remember

this man and his work, you may never forget him after this.

©J.E.Goldie 5/4/2019

Rodney Marvin “Rod” McKuen (April 29, 1933 – January 29, 2015) was an American poet, singer-songwriter, and actor. He was one of the best-selling poets in the United States during the late 1960s. Throughout his career, McKuen produced a wide range of recordings, which included popular music, spoken word poetry, film soundtracks and classical music. He earned two Academy Award nominations and one Pulitzer nomination for his music compositions. McKuen’s translations and adaptations of the songs of Jacques Brel were instrumental in bringing the Belgian songwriter to prominence in the English-speaking world. His poetry deals with themes of love, the natural world and spirituality. McKuen’s songs sold over 100 million recordings worldwide, and 60 million books of his poetry were sold as well, according to the Associated Press

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rod_McKuen

A songwriter, singer, and composer, Rod McKuen sold millions of copies of his books of poetry. He was born in Oakland, California, and raised by his mother and a stepfather. After a peripatetic youth, he served in Korea before returning to California to write and perform folksongs and sing in nightclubs. In the early 1950s, he read with Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg in San Francisco. He briefly tried acting in Los Angeles and lived in France and New York City in the 1960s before returning to California.

McKuen’s poetry gained prominence in the 1960s. It is not often the subject of academic inquiry, but loyal readers have identified with McKuen’s sentiments and wisdom. His poetry is known for its expressions of love, optimism, and heartfelt longing. His website proclaims, “It doesn’t matter who you love, or how you love, but that you love.” In 1976, he published Finding My Father, a memoir about his search for his biological father. McKuen received the Brandeis University Literary Trust Prize and the Carl Sandburg Award; his poetry collection The Power Bright and Shining (1980) won the First Amendment and Freedoms Foundation Award.

As a composer and performer, McKuen recorded numerous gold and platinum records. His 1968 album, Lonesome Cities, earned a Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Recording. Dusty Springfield, Johnny Mathis, and the London Philharmonic, among others; Madonna sampled his work, and Frank Sinatra commissioned an entire album of songs for his release A Man Alone. McKuen collaborated with Anita Kerr and the San Sebastian Strings on 16 albums. His film compositions have been nominated for two Academy Awards.

A past president of the National Committee for the Prevention of Child Abuse, McKuen performed benefit concerts to support a variety of charities. He died in early 2015.

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/rod-mckuen

 

rod-mckuen-cat1

black bar3

Advertisements

Katharine Hepburn – A story

 

Katharine-Hepburn

It was 1976. It was The Royal Alexander Theatre in Toronto, Ontario.  There I was standing inches from Katharine Hepburn, with buckling knees, I might add, having been pushed through the crowds by a “friend”. We’d just seen “A Matter of Gravity”.

RoyalAlexexterior

 

The view from the second balcony was exceptional, sort of. I say exceptional, exceptionally high, that is. We made our way out of the theatre amongst the formerly dressed Theatre Crowd and proceeded to go home. That’s when we saw a gathering of people and the adventure began. I was coaxed into asking her for her autograph and she politely said “No”. She must have seen the look of horror on my face. She quickly remedied the discomfort by saying that I should give my Program to the Box Office and could pick it up tomorrow. Little did I know that the encounter would result in over 15 years of correspondence, as succinct as it was, most of the time. Miss Hepburn was known for her short greetings, even amongst her friends.

After the encounter we were on cloud nine. Thoughts of going home became, where can we get a drink and talk about this. We quickly found a bar and discussed the situation. After a few drinks we made a pact. We planned to hand-deliver 2 pink carnations after every remaining performance. We didn’t consider the fact that it was in the dead of Winter or how difficult it could be to buy 2 pink carnations at any given time. We were too young to worry about details. The goal was the goal. There wasn’t anything we couldn’t do if we set our minds to it. So, we set the pact, toasted to our resolution and went home.

I’m not quite sure where we got the carnations but one of us must have bought them on the way home. Home being a good forty-five minute subway ride from the downtown area. We hadn’t considered the travelling aspect of our venture, but that didn’t effect our determination.

We faithfully stood at the same location each visit. Not wanting to be in her face, we decided that a good distance from the front of house stage door would be more polite. Each time we casually presented her with the two carnations, unwrapped and respectfully visible.

As time went on she would stride towards us and jokingly chide us about spending our money on her. We’d quickly pass the time of day and Fisher, her driver, would escort her to the car. Yes, the car, just a simple sedan, nothing over blown. No pretense with this woman. She’d climb in, and one time she looked back and said, I’m just an old dog. Then off they’d go to The Windsor Arms Hotel. The hotel had a special suite for her visits.

 

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It was interesting how people began to wonder who we were. It appeared to them that we must have been great friends as she’d come straight to us. Somewhat amusing, but she was that gracious and did as she pleased, much to the chagrin of her well dressed public.  Somehow, she knew we simply were expressing our admiration in a small way and wanted nothing in return. She knew that instinctively.

As I said before, it was the dead of winter. One matinee day, we were standing in our usual spot and realized that her car and Fisher were nowhere to be seen. Suddenly Fisher comes running towards us waving us to come with him. As it turned out, she decided to leave by the back-stage door. So, we followed him. We made ourselves comfortable on a snow bank and waited. She came out and told us she wanted to get a nap before the evening show, accepted her flowers and headed to the car. The saddest thing was that the few mink clad theatre goers that happened to be out back began to bang on her car window. It was quite the show.

One extremely cold day, for some reason, we’d bought the carnations the day before. To keep them fresh we put them on the inside windowsill. HORRORS! They had frozen overnight and we had no option but to take them to her. So we tentatively made our way to the Theatre. She was as gracious as ever.

Towards the end of the run she asked us if we’d like to see the show. As we’d already seen it we hesitated. Well? She said a little confused. It was almost a slight on our part. Of course, we said and that was that. I’m inviting you to the final performance. You can pick up the tickets at the box office. Just ask for K.H. tickets, she said.

 

WIN_20181211_16_10_42_Pro

Well here we were at The Royal Alexander Theatre being ushered down to the front row, two carnations in hand. She’d given us seats down left of the stage, where the majority of here scenes were played. We felt a little out-of-place but knew, she knew, we’d be there. I must say we felt very special. She had a way of doing just that.

One thing she didn’t tell us, and why would she, was that Ms. Hepburn refused to work and indeed live, anywhere with temperatures above 60 degrees. We froze. She insisted that the stage door be open which, as I knew, was directly behind stage left, not far from where we were seated.

After the show Fisher made sure we had our goodbyes and Ms. Hepburn got her flowers from us. She told us, in a note, that all of the carnations were still beautiful, even the frozen one’s survived.

 

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Letter:

“You are very sweet-you two-standing out in the alley

with your toll.

I do really enjoy flowers.

And they last and last because I use very little heat.

So the collection of carnations grows and grows.

Even those two frozen ones survive – so do we –

don’t we – if someone takes care as you do of me.

You two make me happy.

Thank You. Katharine Hepburn”

 

The experience was very special. There was no pretense. No ulterior motives. Just another journey. We sent short letters, and the usual holiday greetings to her in New York, which she replied to. Some type written, perhaps by her personal assistant, Phyllis at the time, but always signed. I could see that her signature was getting shakier. One funny exchange, we’d asked how her foot was. Her hand written response was “The wheel chair version is rather fun.”

I continued to write. At one point in 1982 she wrote back, after having hurt her shoulder. “I’m fine – – the papers are slightly idiotic – – just a shoulder tear.” I saw her signature getting less and less steady.

The last letter I have is from a response dated III – 10 – 1994. 

“Dear Jennifer – Thankyou –”

 

ongoldenpond01_jpeg

Born: May 12, 1907, Hartford, Connecticut

DIED June 29, 2003 (aged 96)
Saybrook, Connecticut

 

 

“Stompin’ Tom Connors”, Charles Thomas Connors, “A True Canadian Original”

stompin_tom_connors_640

Born February 9, 1936  Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada

Died March 6, 2013 Ballinafad, Ontario, Canada

Charles Thomas “Stompin’ Tom” Connors, OC, singer, songwriter, guitarist, fiddler (born 9 February 1936 in Saint John, NB; died 6 March 2013 in Ballinafad, ON). One of the most iconic figures in Canadian music, Stompin’ Tom Connors was a working-class, salt-of-the-earth troubadour and perhaps the most overtly nationalist songwriter Canada has ever produced. His traditional country songs about Canadian people and places — such as “Bud the Spud,” “Sudbury Saturday Night” and “Big Joe Mufferaw” — were humorous, patriotic and widely popular, and reflected his extensive travels throughout the country. He was a passionate activist for Canadian music and culture, going so far as to return six Juno Awards in protest of what he saw as the organization’s favouring of expatriate Canadians over those with only domestic success. He received Lifetime Achievement Awards from the East Coast Music Awards, the Toronto Musician’s Union and SOCAN. He was made an Officer of the Order of Canada and inducted into Canada’s Walk of Fame. 

Tom Connors had as hard a childhood as one could have, experiencing poverty, homelessness, hunger, and the rigours of the child welfare system. In his very early childhood he and his mother begged on the streets of New Brunswick, and when she was jailed, the young Tom was incarcerated with her. Eventually he was placed in an orphanage and foster care before being adopted by a family in Skinners Pond, Prince Edward Island.

Connors wrote his first song, “Reversing Falls Darling,” at age 11. At 15 he began playing the guitar. The country music of Wilf Carter and Hank Snow had a profound influence on him and his music. He left his adopted home at age 15 and hitchhiked his way across Canada, working for 13 years at various jobs and occasionally spending a night in jail for vagrancy. This period, during which he saw a great deal of the country and experienced the seamy side of life, informed his musical persona as a rough-hewn, sincere, grassroots songwriter.

Connors began singing professionally in 1964 at the Maple Leaf Hotel in Timmins, Ontario. He initially performed in exchange for a beer but remained there for 14 months, eventually earning $35 per week. He was also heard locally on CKGB radio. In the absence of amplification at the Maple Leaf and other bars where he performed in Ontario, Connors pounded the floor with his booted foot to establish the rhythm of his songs (partly sung and partly recited) above the noise of the crowd. He was first referred to as “Stompin’ Tom” when he was introduced before a performance at the King George Tavern in Peterborough, Ontario, on Centennial Day, 1 July 1967. To avoid damaging the stages, he would place a sheet of plywood under his boot. This “stompin’ board” became as much part of his image as did the black Stetson hat he habitually wore.

Connors sang with a piercing edge that reflected the grittiness of life on the road and his hard-won life experience.

His successes came mainly on country and university radio stations. However, he received the Juno Award in 1971 for best male country singer and became something of a cult figure, due in large part to his popularity as a live performer; he toured exhaustively throughout Canada, and his record-setting 25-night run at Toronto’s Horseshoe Tavern became legendary.

Connors won the Juno Award for best male country singer every year from 1971–75, and his LP To It and At It (1972) received a Juno in 1974 for Country Album of the Year. In 1978, however, he returned the awards in protest of Junos given to expatriate Canadians. He subsequently retired and launched a personal, one-year boycott of radio and other media to protest their lack of support for identifiably Canadian material.

Connors did not return to performance until 1988, when he released Fiddle and Song. The album, which introduced the fiddle style he had developed during his retirement, included the popular “Canada Day, Up Canada Way,” “Lady KD Lang” (see k.d. lang), and “I Am the Wind.” It was followed in 1990 by a triumphant 70-city tour of Canada, culminating in two concerts at Massey Hall. That year also saw the release of the greatest hits compilation, A Proud Canadian (1990), which was the first of Connors’s albums to go gold, and eventually platinum in Canada. Capitol Records also reissued many of Connors’s earlier albums and in 1991 released a new recording, More of the Stompin’ Tom Phenomenon.

A hard drinker and heavy smoker, Connors died of kidney failure at the age of 77 on 6 March 2013. The National Arts Centre (NAC) in Ottawa lowered its flag to half-mast in tribute to Connors’s contribution to the artistic life of the country. On 7 March, New Democrat MPs paid tribute to Connors by performing “Bud the Spud” in the foyer of the House of Commons. A memorial service was held at the Peterborough Memorial Centre in Peterborough, the birthplace of his nickname, on 13 March 2013.

https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/stompin-tom-connors-emc

 

He sang of maple trees, wheat fields growing tall, the Leamington tomato, New Brunswick’s famed reversing falls. In Canada, as he sang, we get to see them all.

Stompin3

black bar3

James Naismith – a Canadian and “The Father of Basketball”

James Naismith – a Canadian and “The Father of Basketball”Naismith with ball

1861-1939  Canadian physical education teacher

The Canadian-born physical education instructor James Naismith made an indelible mark on sports history when he invented the game of basketball in Springfield, Massachusetts, in December 1891. With a soccer ball, two peach baskets, a ladder, and ten written rules, Naismith created the sport within two weeks, after he was asked to come up with an indoor game to keep students active during the severe New England winter. Word about “basket ball,” as it was originally called, spread quickly, and by 1900 the game had gained popularity at universities across the country. Although Naismith had played the game only a handful of times, he lived to see his brainchild become an international sport, making its Olympic debut in 1936, three years before his death.

The eldest son of Scottish immigrant John Naismith and his Scottish-Canadian wife, Margaret, James Naismith was born on November 6, 1861, near Almonte, OntarioCanada. One of three children, eight-year-old Naismith moved with his family to a milling community in Grand Calumet, where his father took work as a sawhand. Loss was a theme of his early childhood, as he was orphaned at age ten, when his parents succumbed to typhoid fever within three weeks of each other. Naismith and his siblings then lived in the Upper Canadian village of Bennie’s Corners with their maternal grandmother. When she died only two years later, an uncle, Peter Young, took over care of the Naismith children.

Young Naismith, whose athletic strength surpassed his early academic performance, attended Bennie’s Corners’ one-room schoolhouse. He attended Almonte High School initially for only two years, and dropped out, but four years later he returned and eventually graduated. Before and after school he worked on the Young family farm, and passed his free time playing sports with friends. In the winter, he and his peers enjoyed snowshoeing, Ice hockey, skating, and tobogganing; in summer, they swam in the Indian and Mississippi Rivers.

In 1883 Naismith entered McGill University in MontrealQuebec, where he applied himself to his studies and became a strong student. To keep fit, he participated in football, rugby, lacrosse, and gymnastics. Completing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy and Hebrew, he graduated in the top ten in his class in 1887, and went on to study at McGill’s theological school, Presbyterian College. Although he was a good theological student and won scholarships for his achievements, Naismith aggravated his professors by continuing to participate in sports. The theologians disapproved particularly of lacrosse, which some even referred to as “legalized murder.” Yet Naismith held to his belief that one could pursue both an athletic and a spiritual life.

Living in Montreal, Naismith became acquainted with the Young Men’s Christian Association (Y.M.C.A.), which had been founded in London around 1800 and established branches in Montreal and Boston in 1851. At the Montreal Y.M.C.A., Naismith approached the administrators with a desire to become an instructor who combined spirituality and athletics in a program for young athletes. The general secretary, D. A. Budge, told Naismith about an international training school in Springfield, Massachusetts, which trained Y.M.C.A. youth leaders. After obtaining his diploma from McGill’s Presbyterian College of Theology, and becoming an unordained minister, Naismith departed for Massachusetts in the late summer of 1890.

In the winter of 1891, during his second year with the Springfield Y.M.C.A., Naismith found himself in charge of the indoor physical education program. His students consisted primarily of bored, troublemaking youths and of mature men who had begun to tire of the indoor sports options. Realizing that interest in the indoor program was beginning to wane, the head physical education instructor, Luther Gulick, charged Naismith and his co-trainees with the task of developing new indoor games. Gulick gave the trainees two weeks to come up with their new games, and to submit proposals for them. Naismith rose to the challenge.

To create a new sport, Naismith looked for inspiration to outdoor sports like soccer, lacrosse, and football, and attempted to modify them to suit an indoor format. But since the game would be played on a hardwood floor, sports involving excessive running, tackling, and rough-housing were out of the question. Brainstorming for other ideas, Naismith recalled a childhood game called “duck on the rock,” which involved throwing balls into empty boxes or baskets. Realizing that the baskets or boxes, placed at opposite ends of a court, would make good goals, he adopted them for his new game. To pose more of a challenge to players, and to emphasize skill instead of force as a key to winning, Naismith decided to raise the goals above the players’ heads.

With the help of a janitor, Naismith found two empty peach baskets that were about 15 inches in diameter around the top. With a hammer and nails, he secured them to the rails of two lower balconies on opposite ends of the gymnasium, about ten feet above the floor. (In these early days, the basket retained its bottom, and a step ladder was placed next to the basket for retrieval of the ball.) He was then ready to try out his new game with his students, who at the time did not realize they were making, sports history. On that day in December 1891, they were players in the first-ever game of basketball. The new sport was an instant hit.

Before Naismith died at age seventy-eight in 1939, he witnessed basketball’s acceptance as an official international sport at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin. Although he generally shied away from public acknowledgement, Naismith accepted an invitation to the Games’ inaugural ceremony, and agreed to throw the ball for the Games’ first-ever basketball match.

Naismith never sought fame or fortune for his invention of the popular sport, and it was not until after his death that this accomplished figure—who over his lifetime received degrees in philosophy, religion, physical education, and medicine—achieved true recognition for his contribution to sports history. In 1941 he was posthumously elected to the American Academy of Physical Education, and in 1959 Naismith, his name now synonymous with the Father of Basketball, was enshrined as the first member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

“Naismith, James.” Notable Sports Figures. . Retrieved March 07, 2019 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/sports/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/naismith-james

Naismith6

Quotes

The invention of basketball was not an accident. It was developed to meet a need. Those boys simply would not play ‘Drop the Handkerchief.’

I am sure that no man can derive more pleasure from money or power than I do from seeing a pair of basketball goals in some out of the way place.

Be strong in body, clean in mind, lofty in ideals.

 

 

 

black bar3

“The Bluenose” a Canadian Icon “Queen of The Grand Banks” and her Captain Angus Walters

1921 Schooner Blunose

She was Yar! Her men were proud and her Captain was her lover. Together they conquered the sea.©J.E.Goldie

As usual I have followed the story with some videos of her glorious past.

The following information was gathered from The Nova Scotia Archives 

https://novascotia.ca/archives/bluenose/

From the day Bluenose was launched on 26 March 1921 in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, the Grand Banks fishing schooner has been a vessel larger-than-life, its sails cut and sewn with the fabric of legend, its crew a breed of rugged, hardy, seafaring men. Much was expected then from both vessel and crew — and much has been delivered in the eight decades since launch day.

Then as now, the press knew a good story when they saw one; no sooner had Bluenose won its first International Fishermen’s Race in October 1921 than local and international newspapers seized upon the excitement of victory. They immediately understood that this was no ordinary fishing vessel, and that the potential for marketing and exploiting the schooner was endless.

Over the years, Bluenose has been a symbol for many things. In the 1920s, it represented Nova Scotia’s prominence in the fishing industry and international trade. Its unmistakable grace, elegance of design and efficiency under sail were advertisements for the architect, William J. Roué, and for the superb workmanship of Nova Scotia shipwrights. The captain, Angus Walters, and his crew were world-famous, admired for their spirit of adventure, their courage, and for their resourcefulness in the face of unrelenting danger at sea.

In the hard times of the 1930s, 

Bluenose reinvented itself. With all the dazzle of a carnival queen, the schooner became a showboat, trading on its fame and visibility, available for public cruises — and for any advertising opportunity that sailed by. In 1933 it represented Canada at the ‘Century of Progress’ World’s Fair in Chicago, and in 1935 it sailed to the Silver Jubilee of King George V in England. Everywhere Bluenose went the press followed, culminating in the last Fishermen’s International Races, revived in 1938 off Boston and Gloucester, Massachusetts, where it was once again victorious.

bluenosedime

Like a ghost ship, in 1963 Bluenose returned. A replica schooner endorsed by Angus Walters and William Roué, Bluenose II was built in Lunenburg by Smith & Rhuland in yet another marketing venture. This time it was financed by Oland Brewery, built specifically to advertise their products — while at the same time promoting Nova Scotia’s maritime heritage, tourist appeal and business potential. In 1971 the schooner was gifted to the Government of Nova Scotia. In the years since then its role as floating ambassador for the province has been consistent.

bluenose2

Looking back, not much has really changed in the eighty-plus years since Bluenose was launched in 1921. Both vessels have always represented a fixed time, place and way of life — specifically, the great Age of Sail in Nova Scotia and the traditional seafaring existence of a maritime people. Both vessels have also been marketed and promoted by corporate interests — The Halifax Herald, Oland Brewery, the Government of Nova Scotia — for purposes far beyond the primary role of the first Bluenose as a gritty little salt-bank schooner.

 

black bar3

Northern Dancer – “A Little Horse with A Big Heart” and a Canadian Hero

Northern-Dancer1

In 1964 I was, let’s see, um, 13 years old. You might wonder why Northern Dancer was a hero. We all need hero’s, and aside from The Beatles, Northern Dancer was making headlines. You know, its kind of like that kids book, The Little Engine That Could. We all watched as he challenged the “Big Guys” for supremacy and when we saw him reach the finish line he won our hearts. Corny? Nope lol. When he died, it was like losing a piece of our hearts. A memory to cherish. So! Once again I’ve pieced together some articles and happily watched some youtube videos. Hope you enjoy and understand the legacy of this “Little Horse with a Big Heart.” ©J.E.Goldie

Northern Dancer was a Canadian-bred Thoroughbred racehorse that won the 1964 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes and then became one of the most successful sires of the 20th century. He is considered a Canadian icon, and was inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame in 1965. Induction into the Racing Hall of Fame in both Canada and the United States followed in 1976. As a competitor, The Blood-Horse ranks him as one of the top 100 U.S. Thoroughbred champions of the 20th century. A sire of sires, he has been called the leading male-line progenitor of modern Thoroughbreds worldwide.

 

Born May 27, 1961, Northern Dancer was the yearling that nobody wanted. Small horses were overlooked at the sales and his owner, Canadian business magnate E.P. Taylor, couldn’t sell the 14.2hh cheeky, weedy foal (he would grow to 15.1 3/4hh ) for $25,000 in 1962 and the farm was left with the colt. This turned out to be the best twist of fate imaginable along with fact that he was never gelded and two years later he stunned the horse world and silenced his critics by winning the 1964 Kentucky Derby in a record two minutes flat.

Northern Dancer made his mark both on and off the track and his stud fee of one million dollars was huge at the time. Northern Dancer never came lower than third in a race and he won 14 of the 18 races he ran. When he died on November 16, 1990, just one year after E.P Taylor’s death, 467 of his 635 registered foals had won races and over 150 had won stakes races with more than $20 million in earnings. Some of his most famous offspring include Epsom Derby winner Nijinsky, and The Minstral.

When Northern Dancer won the Kentucky Derby in the spring of 1964, Canadians poured into the streets to celebrate. The mayor of Toronto awarded him the key to the city, the country’s sportswriters voted him Athlete of the Year, and he was deluged with fan mail.

black bar3

The building of “THE CANADIAN” and a Nations’s Apology – “Ribbons of Steel”

CPR_Last_Spike

They say there’s a dead Chinese man for every mile of the track. 

Building the Canadian Pacific Railway

https://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/settlement/kids/021013-2031.3-e.html

Canada needed a railway that would stretch from one side of the country to the other. Andrew Onderdonk, a New York engineer, was given the contract to build the portion of the railway from Port Moody to Eagle Pass, near Revelstoke, British Columbia. The land in this area was mountainous, making the work difficult and dangerous. Workers were in short supply. Between 1881 and 1884, as many as 17 000 Chinese men came to B.C. to work as labourers on the Canadian Pacific Railway. The Chinese workers worked for $1.00 a day, and from this $1.00 the workers had to still pay for their food and their camping and cooking gear. White workers did not have to pay for these things even though they were paid more money ($1.50-$2.50 per day). As well as being paid less, Chinese workers were given the most back-breaking and dangerous work to do. They cleared and graded the railway’s roadbed. They blasted tunnels through the rock. There were accidents, fires and disasters. Landslides and dynamite blasts killed many. There was no proper medical care and many Chinese workers depended on herbal cures to help them.

The Chinese railway workers lived in camps, sleeping in tents or boxcars. They did their own cooking over open outdoor fires. They mainly ate a diet of rice and dried salmon, washed down with tea. With their low salaries they could not afford fresh fruit and vegetables, so many of the men suffered from scurvy (a painful disease caused by a diet without vitamin C). The camps were crowded. Diet and living conditions were poor. Many got sick. In the winter it was very cold and the open fires were the only way of keeping warm. Whenever the workers put down more tracks, the camps had to be moved further down the line. When it was time to move camp, the Chinese workers would take down their tents, pack their belongings and move everything to the next camp, often hiking over 40 kilometres.

When the Canadian Pacific Railway was completed in 1885, the railway workers needed to find new jobs. Several thousand Chinese workers returned to China after the railway was completed. Many more could not afford the cost of the ticket. Many stayed in British Columbia, especially in Victoria and Vancouver. Some settled in the small towns along the railway line. Some Chinese people became gardeners, grocers, cooks or servants in wealthy White households.

Moving east, the Chinese mostly settled in towns and cities, opening laundries and restaurants or cafés. These businesses didn’t need much money, the knowledge of English or special training. Some workers found mining jobs in what is now Alberta, others worked as cooks on farms and cattle ranches. These jobs were seasonal and so they had to return to cities like Calgary, Edmonton, Lethbridge and Red Deer for the winter.

Some Canadians thought that the Chinese would take jobs away from them. Others had wrong or exaggerated ideas about the way the Chinese lived. They were accused of being dirty and disease carriers because of their crowded living conditions. Chinese workers were paid less than white workers because many people believed that the Chinese needed less to live on. They thought that the Chinese were content to live with less and would settle for food that lacked variety and quality. Because most early Chinese immigrants were men, people assumed they had no families to support. Many Chinese were called names and were victims of physical assault. Chinese could not even be buried in public cemeteries with non-Chinese.

Head taxes and exclusion act

While Europeans were being offered free land to come to Canada, in 1885, the Canadian government created a “head tax” to limit the number of Chinese coming to the country. This meant that any Chinese person wanting to come to Canada had to pay $50.00 to the government. This made it harder for Chinese workers to come to Canada and for those already here to bring their wives and children over from China. It was a lonely life for the men living for many years away from their wives and families. Many never saw their families again. Because of the way they were treated, some men chose not to bring their families to Canada. They did not want them to suffer the same treatment that they had experienced.

Chineseworkermemorial

THE TORONTOIST

Now and Then: Chinese Railroad Workers Memorial

One man reaches up towards the large wooden log—big enough to crush him—and braces himself against the trestle. Another man stands high on top, directing the log with just a rope, pulling it up to build the next tie on a railroad. This scene would have been common across the country as workers built the Canadian Pacific railway from coast to coast in the 1800s. Now, these men, cast in bronze, stand near the Rogers Centre in Toronto, as a permanent reminder of the thousands of workers—many of them Chinese labourers, overworked and underpaid—who died building that railroad.

It’s Rail Safety Week and April 28 is the annual Workers Day of Mourning, and so it’s a particularly relevant time to look at the lives and deaths of the Chinese railroad labourers, who worked in dangerous conditions and died in large numbers. Estimates of how many Chinese workers died building the railroad vary widely. The grim saying, immortalized in an iconic Heritage Minute (below) is that one Chinese worker died for every mile of track laid. The Canadian Encyclopedia, published by Historica Canada, which also makes Heritage Minutes, uses the estimate “at least 600” dead in its articles. The memorial puts the number at over 4,000.

Even those who survived building the railroad often couldn’t afford to return to China or bring their families to Canada. They were left without jobs in hostile territory. The railroad workers memorial notes that it also memorializes these men, saying, “With no means of going back to China when their labour was no longer needed, thousands drifted in near destitution along the completed track. All of them remained nameless in the history of Canada.”

On June 22, 2006 Prime Minster Stephen Harper gave a full apology for the Chinese head tax and for the ban on Chinese immigration from 1923–1947, calling them “malicious measures aimed solely at the Chinese.”

They were mighty. They helped unite our country from sea to sea.  Today we have THE CANADIAN linking us together as one.

blackswirl

 

E. Pauline Johnson, also known in Mohawk as Tekahionwake –pronounced: dageh-eeon-wageh, literally: ‘double-life’. An Internationally known Canadian Poet and Performer of the 19th century.

Pauline1

Emily Pauline Johnson 1861-1913

In 1895 Canadian Magazine declared, “Pauline is the most popular figure in Canadian Literature.”

Johnson was notable for her poems and performances that celebrated her First Nations heritage; her father was a Mohawk chief of mixed ancestry, and her mother an English immigrant. One such poem is the frequently anthologized “The Song My Paddle Sings”.

During the 1880s, Pauline Johnson wrote and performed in amateur theatre productions. She enjoyed the Canadian outdoors, where she traveled by canoe. In 1883 she published her first full-length poem, “My Little Jean,” in the New York Gems of Poetry. She began to increase the pace of her writing and publishing afterward. 

Johnson built her reputation as a Canadian writer, regularly publishing in periodicals such as Globe, The Week, and Saturday Night. In the late 1880s and early 1890s, she published nearly every month, mostly in Saturday Night.Johnson was one of a group of Canadian authors contributing to a distinct national literature. The inclusion of two of her poems in W.D. Lighthall’s anthology, Songs of the Great Dominion (1889), signaled her recognition and Theodore Watts-Dunton noted her for praise in his review of the book; he quoted her entire poem “In the Shadows” and called her “the most interesting poetess now living.” In her early works, Johnson wrote mostly about Canadian life, landscapes, and love in a post-Romantic mode, reflective of literary interests shared with her mother rather than her Mohawk heritage. 

She was educated mainly at home, studying both English literature and Mohawk oral history and legend.

After her father’s death in 1884, Johnson began writing to help support her family. She published several poems in journals, which she signed as both “E. Pauline Johnson” and her adopted name, “Tekahionwake.”

In 1892 she was invited to give a poetry reading for the Young Men’s Liberal Club of Toronto. Based on the success of that reading, she began a series of performances across Canada. Johnson developed a dual persona for her performances, wearing the costume of a Native princess for the first half and an English drawing-room gown for the second. She toured widely for 17 years, gaining international recognition with primarily non-Native audiences.

Johnson’s poetry often uses the tone and structure of English poetry to convey Native legends and beliefs, with a dramatic intensity well-matched to the stage. Her first collection of poetry, The White Wampum (1895), includes both poems and tales. Two more collections of poetry followed, as well as three fiction collections.

Poor health caused Johnson to retire from touring, and she settled in Vancouver in 1909. She died of breast cancer in 1913, and her ashes were buried in Vancouver’s Stanley Park.

On 11 March 2008, City Opera Vancouver announced its commission of Pauline, a chamber opera to star the dramatic mezzo Judith Forst. The composer is Christos Hatzis, with libretto by Margaret Atwood. The work was planned for premiere in early 2011. The first opera to be written about Pauline Johnson, it is set in Vancouver in March 1913, in the last week of her life.

 https://www.poemhunter.com/emily-pauline-johnson/biography/

pauline-johnson-memorial-stanley-park

In 1895 Canadian Magazine declared, “Pauline is the most popular figure in Canadian Literature.”

Paulinefascinating

 

Marshlands

A thin wet sky, that yellows at the rim,

And meets with sun-lost lip the marsh’s brim.

The pools low lying, dank with moss and mould,

Glint through their mildews like large cups of gold.

Among the wild rice in the still lagoon,

In monotone the lizard shrills his tune.

The wild goose, homing, seeks a sheltering,

Where rushes grow, and oozing lichens cling.

Late cranes with heavy wing, and lazy flight,

Sail up the silence with the nearing night.

And like a spirit, swathed in some soft veil,

Steals twilight and its shadows o’er the swale.

Hushed lie the sedges, and the vapours creep,

Thick, grey and humid, while the marshes sleep.

 E.Pauline Johnson

An Etching

A meadow brown; across the yonder edge 

A zigzag fence is ambling; here a wedge 

Of underbush has cleft its course in twain, 

Till where beyond it staggers up again; 

The long, grey rails stretch in a broken line 

Their ragged length of rough, split forest pine, 

And in their zigzag tottering have reeled 

In drunken efforts to enclose the field, 

Which carries on its breast, September born, 

A patch of rustling, yellow, Indian corn. 

Beyond its shrivelled tassels, perched upon 

The topmost rail, sits Joe, the settler’s son, 

A little semi-savage boy of nine. 

Now dozing in the warmth of Nature’s wine, 

His face the sun has tampered with, and wrought, 

By heated kisses, mischief, and has brought 

Some vagrant freckles, while from here and there 

A few wild locks of vagabond brown hair 

Escape the old straw hat the sun looks through, 

And blinks to meet his Irish eyes of blue. 

Barefooted, innocent of coat or vest, 

His grey checked shirt unbuttoned at his chest, 

Both hardy hands within their usual nest—   

His breeches pockets — so, he waits to rest 

His little fingers, somewhat tired and worn, 

That all day long were husking Indian corn. 

His drowsy lids snap at some trivial sound, 

With lazy yawns he slips towards the ground, 

Then with an idle whistle lifts his load 

And shambles home along the country road 

That stretches on fringed out with stumps and weeds, 

And finally unto the backwoods leads, 

Where forests wait with giant trunk and bough 

The axe of pioneer, the settler’s plough. 

E.Pauline Johnson – “Tekahionwake.”

black bar3

 

 

The remarkably humble Canadian Leonard Cohen…

 

leonardcohen1

Sep 21, 1934 – Nov 7, 2016 (age 82)

As I watched the video interviews I gathered of Leonard Cohen, I began to realize that the Man seemed detached from his seemingly solemn writing. When asked where these feelings/ideas/emotions came from he was somewhat evasive. His attachment to his work was fleeting. It was written and left behind. A polite Canadian boy, it seems, not willing to share the origins of the dark thoughts he sometimes wrote about. He said he found writing to be a slow process and he  lacked the ability to readily express his thoughts. When you’re Cohen this isn’t a bad thing. When asked why he became a Monk, he said he needed guidance/direction at the time and his friend/teacher was a Monk. He then laughingly said, that if his friend had been anything, he’d have followed. His interviews are charming, polite and somewhat apologetic. The warm smiles and frequent silences between his answers make him Leonard Cohen. These are only my thoughts. Perhaps you’ll disagree. -J.E.Goldie-

“Leonard Cohen was a Canadian singer, songwriter, and novelist remembered for his literary works and his musical creations alike. Beginning his career as a poet and novelist, he eventually ventured into music when he was in his thirties. Interested in poetry from his school days, he started composing poems as a young boy. He also learnt guitar and had an affinity for folk music. His interest in music and guitar was further enhanced when he met a flamenco guitarist. Simultaneously, he pursued his literary works and penned many poems and even got them published in magazines. Soon he published a collection of poems entitled ‘The Spice-Box of Earth’ which got him recognized in the literary world. He then explored his creativity in writing fictional stories and eventually wrote novels which received appreciation from critics and readers alike. This writer then embarked on a new journey and dabbled with his musical creativity and emerged as a singer and songwriter. He worked on various themes like relationships, sexuality, politics and religion and composed songs which turned out brilliantly and also established Cohen’s place in the musical world. However, this versatile individual did not forgo his literary work and concurrently worked on literature and music, earning fame in all the fields he embarked on.”

-TheFamousPeople-

leonardcohen-759

Leonard Norman Cohen CC GOQ was a Canadian singer-songwriter, poet and novelist. His work explored religion, politics, isolation, sexuality and romantic relationships. Cohen was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He was invested as a Companion of the Order of Canada, the nation’s highest civilian honour. In 2011, Cohen received one of the Prince of Asturias Awards for literature and the ninth Glenn Gould Prize. -Wikipedia-

Some quotes 

“We are so lightly here. It is in love that we are made. In love we disappear.”

“We are not mad. We are human. We want to love, and someone must forgive us for the paths we take to love, for the paths are many and dark, and we are ardent and cruel in our journey.”

“I greet you from the other side of sorrow and despair, with a love so vast and shattered it will reach you everywhere.”

“I don’t think there’s any difference between a crush and profound love. I think the experience is that you dissolve your sentries and your battalions for a moment and you really do see that there is this unfixed free-flowing energy of emotion and thought between people, that it really is there.”

“May you be surrounded by friends and family, and if this is not your lot, may the blessings find you in your solitude.”

 

 

 

I loved you for a long, long time
I know this love is real
It don’t matter how it all went wrong
That don’t change the way I feel
And I can’t believe that time’s
Gonna heal this wound I’m speaking of
There ain’t no cure for love

-Leonard Cohen-

 

swirl