Remembrance Day is 11-11, not 9 -11

Written by Harold McNeill on November 9th, 2015. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts

Remembrance of Minorities 2

Double Click Photo to Open

I am still seeing far to many FB posts that confuse issues related to September-11th with our celebration of November-11th.  Try to remember the defence of our freedoms during two World Wars was fought by military personnel from countries representing every race and religion around the world and while Canada, then as now, was home to many racist ideals, we need to remember this is 2015, not 1914 or 1939.

It is time for everyone to accept that Canada is a multicultural mosaic where minorities are the norm, not the exception, so let’s stop trying to prove it is otherwise. The following statement is plucked from a Web Site dedicated to the memory of those who served in World War I:


Sean McNeill Birthday 2015

Written by Harold McNeill on November 8th, 2015. Posted in Biographies, Tim Hortons Morning Posts

A lot of fun last night with a few of the gang for a birthday dinner at the old homestead.  To put a little perspective around the extended family and gang, I grabbed these photos for a slideshow, then dialled in some of the favourite music a lot of young people in our lives have been playing for several years. It’s funny how Frank and many others from back in the day, continue to speak a language that resonates through the decades.   I suppose the music speaks to their love of life and the people who surround them.

For our extended family, take a little trip into times past as many of you have been included.  For those I missed, and there were many, you will most certainly appear in future slideshows, as I continue to draw out more of those old photos from a variety of sources.

Harold and Lynn


Halloween 2015 at the McNeill’s

Written by Harold McNeill on November 1st, 2015. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts

Haunted Castle

Photo of Haunted Castle (Web Source).  The castle was projected on a large screen in a
dark corner of the deck.

Again this year, it was a beautiful clear late afternoon and evening for the trick or treaters. Considering torrential rains had pelted the city and caused considerable localized flooding over the previous twenty-four hours, the clearing was an unexpected, I don’t suppose a little rain in Victoria would dampen the spirits of the true Hallo’weiners’.


Voter Turnout: Vancouver Island

Written by Harold McNeill on October 21st, 2015. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts


Student voter turnout on Campuses across Canada reached record numbers.

Congratulations Vancouver Islanders

We have once again set more voting records on the Islands, but it seems that somehow the Green Tinge wafting from Salt Spring and Saanich somehow turned a psychedelic orange as it covered the rest of the Islands and while it wasn’t red, it still exuded a glow much warmer than steel blue.

Voter turnout. In a word, awesome! Thanks to those thousands of young people who picked up the torch and marched to the polling stations across the Island.  We may be tagged as the newly weds and nearly dead’s here on the Islands, but when it comes to voting we managed to tuck away our stash or grabbed our walkers and headed to the polls by the thousands. When you live on the these laid back Islands, an extra hour or two in a line-up just wafts by with barely a notice.


The New Face of Canada

Written by Harold McNeill on October 20th, 2015. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts


Justin Trudeau, his wife Sophie Grégoire and their three children, Xavier, 7, Ella-Grace, 5, and five-month-old Hadrien ((Web Photo, October 2014)

This family represents The New Face of  Canada, a country where everyone who becomes a citizen knows they have made the right choice, a country where the mosaic of culture was stitched together in manner that sets us apart and a country were people care about helping others be it on the home front or around the world.

Link to Photo Album

Heading towards a New Era.


New Orleans: Peeling back the Mask

Written by Harold McNeill on August 26th, 2015. Posted in Editorials, Tim Hortons Morning Posts

Peeling Back the Mask

Photos (Web Source, then merged and wrapped in Photoshop)

This post is actually a Tale of Two Cities. While New Orleans is widely known as the Big Easy to tourists and the well healed who call the city home, for a large and ever growing number who work and live in the city, life is anything but easy. When the tourism mask is peeled back it becomes a city in which nearly half the population lives in poverty, yet it is a city that sits proudly among the Top 10 tourist destinations in the United States attracting over ten million visitors each year (Link)

August 27, 2005: On this day New Orleans was engulfed by Hurricane Katrina, a storm that carried a surge which breached the old and inadequate levees and flooded much of the city. It was one of New Orleans most devastating natural disasters.  How is the city doing today?

1. The Mask: What the tourists see.

For visitors, the city presents a year-round fantasyland of boisterous, round-the-clock carousing that caters to every taste and where musicians, singers, and various other entertainers compete with the best. For anyone who loves music, particularly jazz, statues-1366142999you will love New Orleans. Just spend an hour sitting in the open air Café Beignet (Three Statutes in the Musical Legends Park) on Bourbon Street and you will be treated to the sweet sounds of jazz as ever-changing groups of local artists pick up the beat.  (photo)

Wander along the Quarter to the north end where, on Frenchmen Street, you will likely find an ad hoc group of young men playing in a random brass group that will blow your socks off. Then, one day, walk along Basin Street to get a feel for the history of that famous city.

For the more adventuresome, including the Catholics in our midst, Mardi Gras, “beginning on or after the Christian feasts of the Epiphany (Three King’s Day) and culminating on the day before Ash Wednesday,” is a celebration you should not miss. (Link)  The celebration, also referred to as “Fat Tuesday, reflects the practice of the last night of eating richer, fatty foods before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season.”  Whether anyone has ever fasted in New Orleans is questionable, and whether this is destination of choice for the Lenten season is doubtful, but if, by this point, you have not struck the city off your ‘bucket list’ it will likely remain at or near the top until you finally decide to wade in. For most Canadians, it is little more than a five-hour flight from any of our major centres.


Thank you Zunera Ishaq

Written by Harold McNeill on October 10th, 2015. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts


Zunera Ishaq

Thank you Zunera Ishaq

In the public swearing in citizenship ceremonies,  Zunera Ishaq shed tears as she raised her hand and along with others stated: “I swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second Queen of Canada, her heirs and successors …”   (I)   At the end she said:  “Thank you so much for honouring me here today,”

Reference the Charter of Rights and Freedoms note at the end of this article.

Zunera Ishaq: Her side of the story:

Along the difficult path to citizenship, dozens of statements made by Ms. Ishaq have appeared in various newspaper and television reports about her battle to resist the Government of Canada attack. As you read Ms. Ishaq’s comments, then other notes in the footer, please remember the Prime Minister, his Ministers and the Ministry of Justice lawyers knew all along they were creating a fictitious defence of their position. They knew at the beginning they could never win, but continued along the path simply to create the illusion the Government was taking a principled position in this fight against the face covering. The Ministry lawyers who presented the Government’s case should all be disciplined by the Bar Association for their egregious abuse of court time and of bringing the administration of justice into disrepute (more in the end discussion):


The Magical Gardens of Adam F. Szczawinski

Written by Harold McNeill on September 18th, 2015. Posted in Biographies


This post began as a short story about one man, our neighbour, Adam Szczawinski, the co-author of the above book and of several others he wrote during his illustrious career as a botanist.   Adam’s story stretches from early in last century to the present day and is a story that seeks to provide reasons why the people of Canada, indeed of all countries, should care rather than hate, should help rather than reject. 

Introduction  (Note: this is also the introduction posted on Facebook)

I began writing this, the third part of the Magical Gardens series, at a time when Canada had just entered what has become one of the most divisive, hate filled elections I have witnessed in recent decades.  While in previous elections the parties were unrelenting in their attacks on each other, in this election one party in particular choose to single out an ethnic group and a religion as the subject of their wrath. It did not take long before hate filled invective became commonplace in newspapers, on T.V., radio and, in particular, in social media.

After having finished two light hearted chapters about our immediate neighbour, a widower whose wife had passed away in the 1960’s and he in 2006, I became interested in finding out more about his early life.  It did not take long to learn Adam was from a race and religion that became one of the most reviled in of the 20th Century, not only in Europe, but also around the world.

It was a history that brought into stark relief a comparison with that which is happening around the world today with another race and religion.  I hope you will find the time to work your way through to the end of this story as Adam’s story is a story “about all men and women who, because of war, famine, natural disaster, or bigotry, racism and hatred, are forced to flee their home and country for the safety of another.”  

Regards, Harold

A Photo Album is now attached to this post: The Story of Adam
Link to Photos of a few of Adams Plants

 Part 1:  A Magical Summer
Link to Full Photo Series of Part 1
Part 2: Link to Crackling Fire on Cold Winters Day


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  • Maurice Smook

    November 10, 2015 |

    I was watching a documentary on the History Channel. It was go deep. I heard the name of Harry Smook. It caught my attention. I am a Smook and wondering if Harry Smook is a kin to my Dad. My Dads family settled in Swan River Manitoba in the early 1900’s. When we were growing up I recall asking Dad about our background. Dad would ignore our questions. Why? We will never know. The day when Dad passed away he never spoke to us about his family etc. Maybe Dad’s Father had kin who chad also immigrated to Canada later. This part of the Military History really interesting. I would love receive info as well about Harry Smook. We may be kin or not. It would be nice to know.

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    November 4, 2015 |

    your stories bring back a lot of long ago memories

    but very good from the little i remember thank you…

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