Santa Claus and Rudolph: New Plans and Directions?

Written by Harold McNeill on October 28th, 2013. Posted in Adventure

Broadmead Runners 3

Broadmead Runners 4

December 18, 2014:  Fifty members of the Broadmead Runners arrived at Santa’s Workshop to have their annual photo taken. (Scroll down to Christmas 2013 for the last year group).
The original small group of Runners (about 10) first appeared in 2011.  Link Here Christmas 2011 (and scroll down through photos to #9 and #10 for a few comments on two different groups that arrived that year.

Christmas 2014 Leney Place

December 6, 2014:  The first kids of the season take a trip down Candy Cane Lane to Santa’s Workshop.s:  Above: Alex, Kyle, Kenyon, Jasmine and Sophia, grandchildren of Julie Anne Coles.

Coming December 17, at 7:00 pm, about 60 members of the Broadmead Runners Group will be dropping by Santa’s Workshop for their Annual Photo. Group members dress for the season and many are covered head to toe with Christmas Lights and various other bells and whistles. If you have a few moments around 6:30 – 6:45 pm, drop by and watch the chaos as the group arrive. Hot chocolate will be served by the fire. Cheers Harold

December 14. The location of 72 residential Christmas Decoration Scenes around Greater Victoria is available in today’s Times Colonist.  The locations are also available on the TC Web Site at:  Christmas Light Up List
4402 Leney Place is #18 on the List.

Lights on 4:30 – 9:30 pm until December 20th, then extended until 10:30 pm through the rest of the season.

Welcome to the 2014 Rudolph and Santa’s
Christmas on Leney Place in Saanich (Royal Oak), British Columbia

December 6, 2014. Another year has rolled by and over the past few weeks Santa and his helpers were busy preparing for Christmas.  As outlined last year, Ruby, Rudolph’s daughter, will lead the Southern Team from their Leney Place base, while Rudolph Junior, moves to the North Pole base (see New Plans and Directions on the Blog Post at McNeill Life Stories – the lead story until Christmas).

While Rudolph has stopped flying on a regular basis, he and his wife are both very proud that their son and daughter who, last year, took over as lead Pilot/Navigator on the two teams of reindeer.

When you arrive on Leney Place (Royal Oak of Viewmont and Viaduct Avenue East) please feel free to mosey around by following the straw paths to the various scenes. There are several spots to get a good with the family. Please stay on or near the straw paths. When taking the path to Santa’s Sleigh and the Snowman Family from his workshop, you can return by the path behind Joy and Noel. For Joy and Noel, If your photographer stands on the driveway, you can get a nice shot with the two deer (see the photo links on the blog for samples from last year).

As your wander down Candy Cane Lane to Santa’s Workshop and along the other straw path keep an eye out for several smaller animals, birds and figurines waiting to greet you. Many have weird shapes as they have come in from other planets to see how Santa runs his gift giving business.

An Outdoor Movie Night is being planned for Sunday, December 21, 2013 (weather permitting).   Drop by for a Hot chocolate by the fire as we watch a Disney Christmas Movie under the stars (see, the weather will be great). 

Gifts and Dry Goods: When visiting, the metal container by the entrance to Santa’s Workshop is being used to collect items for needy families. Items collected will be delivered to local agencies before Christmas.

Merry Christmas
Harold and Lynn

PS: Check out the full story and photos on the Web at McNeill Life Stories. Santa and Rudolf will be the lead story until Christmas.  If you enjoyed the story and scene, please send a note to Santa and Rudolph via the Comments Section.

Continue below for the rest of the story….. (1344)

Privacy on Facebook

Written by Harold McNeill on December 2nd, 2014. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts

Privacy Notice by way of the Rome Convention

This post is brought forward and updated from a Tim Horton’s Morning Post of September, 2012, as almost every day I see another comment invoking this privacy warning. While it only takes a moment to check SNOPES or other sites to find out whether the Rome Convention has some standing, many still accept it at face value. Even if it did have some effect, does that really make any difference? (103)

Victoria Mutiny Commemoration

Written by Unknown Author on December 16th, 2014. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts


December 21, 1918: Mutineers March down Fort Street in Victoria.

Honour the Resisters of the 259th Battalion

When: Sunday, December 21, 2014

7:30 AM – Memorial Walk, departing from Carnarvon Park (2801 Henderson Rd, at Carnarvon Street, in Oak Bay), following the route of the 259 Battalion

9:00 AM – Ceremony at corner of Fort and Quadra Street (location of 1918 Mutiny)

On the morning of Dec. 21st, 1918, French-Canadian conscripts in the 259th Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force mutinied at the corner of Fort and Quadra streets in downtown Victoria. They refused to embark for service in a new war, as the Conservative government of Canada committed troops to aid the White Russian forces fighting the Bolsheviks in the Russian Civil War. The war on the Western Front had ended six weeks earlier. So sending conscripts to fight in the Russian Far East had dubious legal grounds.

But at the point of the bayonet, the mutinous men were forced to embark for Russia. The ringleaders were shackled together on a ship, sent to Vladivostok and given sentences of between 30 days and 3 years imprisonment with hard labour for their act of resistance.

In 2014, on the 96th anniversary of the mutiny, we are gathering for the annual commemoration to remember this forgotten moment in the history of Victoria, Canada and the world.

The event has two parts:

1. A ceremony at the corner of Fort and Quadra streets (9:00AM) to honour these men’s resistance to imperialism and to demand a formal apology from the Canadian government for the families and a full pardon for the French-Canadian soldiers wrongfully convicted of mutiny at Victoria.

2. A commemorative walk will leave at dawn (7:30AM) from Carnarvon Park (2801 Henderson Road, at Carnarvon Street in Oak Bay) to the ceremony at Fort and Quadra streets. Highlights will be provided along the route. After the ceremony, the walk will proceed to the Rither’s Wharf (near Ogden Point), followed by brunch at a local cafe. Transportation for people with mobility issues who would like to participate in the walk is being accommodated. Please email

Sponsored by the Victoria Peace Committee

Join the event on Facebook

Learn more about the Victoria Mutiny (24)

Thank you BC Ferries

Written by Harold McNeill on November 15th, 2014. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts


The following letter was first published on Facebook following a rant by an Island resident, Sean Smith of Nanaimo.
After making the post it seems many FB friends also think highly of the service.

November 15, 2014
Victoria, B.C.

Dear Sean Smith,

Re: Your Rant about BC Ferries (Link Here)

I went through your rant point by point and while some of what is said seems superficially reasonable, if one delves in deeper, I think you’re wrong on almost every point. Having ridden various coastal ferries thousands of times over the past fifty years, I find the service to be exceptional and would stack it above every other ferry service in the world (e.g. England, NZ, Mediterrean, USA, etc.). Many of the others provide good service, they just don’t match BC Ferries. (81)

Facebook Photo Albums Easy Access

Written by Harold McNeill on November 14th, 2014. Posted in Editorials

Screen Shot 2014-11-14 at 9.29.13 AM

Facebook Screen Shot
(Double Click to Open in Full Size)

Facebook Photo Albums Easy Access

Have you ever tried to locate a specific Photo Album in your Facebook files?  When writing stories, as well as at times on the request of others, I have had to locate a specific photo album. If the file was a few years back, it can be a tedious process. Those who are more experienced in the technology, you may have a quicker method, but after sitting down one day in an seemingly endless search for one album in the 400 or so on my regular FB and another 150 on McNeill Life Stories FB pages, I decided to index.   It took me only an 45 minutes.  Given I have wasted that much time on a single search, I can now do the search in less than a minute.  How?

Bookmarking: Am I just slow or what?

Starting at the top (or bottom if you wish), hover over the name of the album, and the drop down box allows you to index on your Bookmarks Page.  Simple stuff I know, but until I figured this out I had wasted dozens of hours finding specific albums.  Below is one same of the albums uploaded back in 2008 at Mom’s 90th Birthday Party.  It is so nice just to be able to click on the specific file and be taken back six years to the exact file.



Facebook Screen Shot


Bert Ramsden (1921 – 2014): A Canadian War Hero

Written by Harold McNeill on November 10th, 2014. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts

In Memory of Herbert W. Ramsden
1921 – 2014

Herbert (Bert) W. Ramsden

On November 3, 2014 Pilot Officer Herbert (Bert) W. Ramsden, passed away peacefully at his home in Saanich, British Columbia. The young war hero and others who fought with him in the Second World War shall not be forgotten.

“At the age of 93, Bert joins his beloved wife, Marie who predeceased him in 2004, as well as parents, Joseph and Mercy and brothers, Cal (Eleanor) and Cec (Bess).  Born in Castor, Alta., Bert is survived by his son, Don (Nancy); daughter, Karen (Chip); grandchildren, Andrea (Chris), Jennie (Trevor), Jon, Jamie and Jeff and great-grandchild, Zachary.” (McCall’s Funeral Chapel)

memorial service will be held at 1:00 pm on Friday, November 14, 2014  at
St. Aidan’s United Church, 3703 St. Aidan’s Street in Victoria.  

After a chance meeting at a Son’s of Norway dinner in early 2012, I continued to meet regularly with Bert over that spring to learn more about his years as a bomber pilot with the Royal Canadian Air Force.  Bert still had many photographs along with all his log books from the time he began training, until he mustered out in 1945.

His service with the RCAF included dozens of missions into the Fjords of Norway, where, in one battle that became known as Black Friday, eleven of Bert’s fellow pilots and navigators were killed. Bert and his co-pilot along with a few other aircraft from the 404 Beaufighter Squadron  managed to escape and return to base.  Over the course of several meetings Bert told me the full story of his war experience.  Thaty story, titled Black Friday in Norway, was written and posted in June, 2012.

Ninety-one at the time of our meetings, Bert was ever the affable pilot officer who was still more than able to charm the young women at our various coffee stops and restaurants we frequented along the way. While his vision was failing, his mind remained sharp as a tack and his easy going manner made him a hit.  Bert was also a humble man who did not think his actions in war were anything extraordinary – he was just doing his job.

The photos in the post and in the photo album attached to the post were copied mainly  from Bert’s personal files and from various Web Sites that carried information about Black Friday battle.  During the period of research and writing, an amazing coincidence became apparent with that coincidence being written up in a separate post (linked in the main story).

Tomorrow we shall take some time to remember Bert and the thousands of other young men and woman who left their homes, families, farms, businesses and careers to join in the Second World War effort in Europe and other parts off the world.  While Bert returned home without injury, many of his comrades in arms were not so lucky and it is on November 11 of each year we celebrate these young men and women whose sacrifice made to made our world a better place.  While I say that Bert returned without injury, it is clear he still carried with him, even at the age of 91, great sadness that he returned while so many of his flying comrades died in the battles in the skies above Norway and elsewhere.

We shall remember Bert.

Harold McNeill
November 10, 2014
Victoria, B.C.

Link to Black Friday in Norway

Link to an Amazing Coincidence

Remembering Viet Nam

Link to Remembrance Day 2012  (with photo of Lynn’s Dad and Mom at their wedding, in England, just before Lynn’s Dad left for the front in Italy).


Local Communities: Keeping the Spirit Alive

Written by Harold McNeill on November 3rd, 2014. Posted in Editorials



New Years Eve 2013 (Brentwood Inn):  While young people are always a big part of the spirit of every community, the current demographic is a new breed committed to maintaining and improving small communities and they have the power to greatly influence how life in the Capital Region will unfold by Keeping the Spirit Alive.

November 9, 2014: A new post on McNeill Life Stories Facebook Page:
Thirteen Communities and Ninety-Two largely Volunteer Councilors 

The Real Costs of Amalgamation (Time Colonist November 23, 2014)

To our younger family members and friends in the Capital Region,

Do you think it possible that one morning you might wake up and your community, as you know it, was suddenly changed forever?  I am not referring to a natural disaster such as an earthquake or hurricane, but to a political change that would effect the very fabric of your community and the social glue that holds it together.  Please take a few minutes to digest the attached post and other links provided in the footer. (180)

Remembrance Day 2012

Written by Harold McNeill on November 10th, 2012. Posted in Editorials

November 11, 2012: Remembrance Day

Edna and Earl Davis (Lynn McNeill’s mother and father) at their Wedding in August 1943.  Earl met Edna while serving in England and they married shortly after. After spending one night together, Earl shipped out for combat in Italy where he spent the rest of his war years fighting in the Italian Campaign. The couple were not reunited until after the war when Earl returned to Canada and Edna joined him shortly after as one of the hundreds of young war brides. Chapter 1 of Black Friday (see notes below) provides more of the history of the Davis Family as they criss crossed the Atlantic.


Nations have always found many reasons to go to war and although worldwide conflict has decreased significantly since the end of World War 2, conflict between nations and ideologies still take far to many lives. Perhaps within this century, a lasting peace will be attained.

November 11th is set aside as a day too remember the millions of military personnel and civilians (men, woman and children) that have been killed, injured, orphaned, displaced or otherwise had their lives drastically changed as a result of war.

The following articles trace some of the history as well as well as the experience of one soldier, a bomber pilot, Bert Ramsden, now 92 years of age and living in Victoria:

A Pittance of Time (For Video Link Here)

Black Friday in Norway (Link Here)

Chapter 1:   The World at War: Remembering our History includes a bit of the history of Lynn’s Mom, a War Bride from England who came to Canada after the war with her Dad who served in the Italian campaign during the closing years of World War 2.

Chapter 2:   Meeting a World War 2 Veteran, Bert Ramsden

Chapter 3:  In The Early Years Bert traces his path through High School and into the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1941.

Chapter 4:  Basic Training in Alberta and Saskatchewan

Chapter 5:  Off to War with Prime Minister Winston Churchill  (as surprise passenger on the ship that took Bert to England)

Chapter 6: Black Friday (An Attack in Norway)

Chapter 7: Allied Losses on Black Friday

Chapter 8: End Notes

Link to an Amazing Coincidence

Remembering Viet Nam

Photographs (Link Here)


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  • Harold McNeill

    December 11, 2014 |

    Hi Rick. Thanks for the comment. Always nice to hear from someone in the past who shared similar experiences. I have never been able to track down any of the Murfitts so if something comes your way let me know. Given the number of hits on this story, I am assuming the Hutterite Colony has linked the story to their various Web Sites. Cheers, Harold (email:

  • Rick Taylor

    December 10, 2014 |

    Your stories were great to read. I was raised a mile south of town and went to school there from about 1958 to 1964. My aunt worked in that old store you mentioned. The old town has changed since then, for sure. Great memories.

  • Karen

    September 28, 2014 |

    Hi Harold!
    Great Post! LOVE the pictures and story! Would love to know if you have any photos of my Mom or other stories about her. I never knew she lived at Peggy’s or worked at A&W. :)

  • Harold McNeill

    September 28, 2014 |

    Thanks Sis will add his name. The opening comment was also updated. It was the 1961 Honour Roll was it not. Tell Frank that if I missed anything, let me know and I will add it. I’ve gone this far, no use holding back now.

  • Louise

    September 27, 2014 |

    The drummer is Gary McLaughlan

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  • Harold McNeill

    September 14, 2014 |

    Hi Kenneth. A little history in some of the other posts and at one time I spoke with several people who lived in the area (or were relatives of those who did. Probably the people I spoke too were relatives of yours. I will send a note out to a few people who may have something to add. Cheers, Harold

  • Hutchinson,Kenneth

    September 14, 2014 |

    My great uncle,Arthur Leland Mason,I believe lived(homestead?) in “Harlan” just after WW I,in which he served.I was under the impression Harlan was in Alberta,but I have no record of his exact farm site.Would anyone reading this be able to tell me anything more about Harlan and whether I can find any buildings ,people ,etc. Acquainted with Harlan.In honor of Uncle”Archie” as he was known and WW I ,I am trying to piece together what my living relatives cannot help me with.

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