Sean McNeill Birthday 2015

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


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.

Cheers,
Harold and Lynn

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The Magical Gardens of Adam F. Szczawinski

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


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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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A Celebration of the Life of June Allison Beaddie (1922 – 2014)

Written by Harold McNeill on August 27th, 2014. Posted in Biographies


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February, 2008: Maggie (Corns)(nee Mathews) and her mother June (Beaddie) (Matthews) (nee Heather), share a special moment aboard the Golden Princess.

January 4, 2012:  This post is brought forward for those to two entertaining young woman from England with whom we shared so many laughs.  This post provides some background on recent death of the mother of a dear friend, but it is the last part, and your interest in Colin Firth, which came up in our conversations. Perhaps we shall meet again one day.

What an inspirational day as Lynn and I as travelled to Salt Spring Island, that little gem in Georgia Strait just off the southeast coast of Vancouver Island. We were there to celebrate the life of the mother of our one time next-door neighbour and long time friend Maggie and the grandmother of Maggie’s five children – Alison, Jon, Megan, Dan, Ben. The second youngest, Jon, our son Sean’s school and sports buddy, could not attend as he is currently on course in Singapore while completing a two year stint as an Emergency Room physician in Perth, Australia.

We were most fortunate to have met June a few months earlier when the family, absent Ben on that occasion, were visiting Victoria just before Jon left for Australia.  At ninety-two, June was clearly a going concern until the very end and from the stories we have heard or read, she was truly an inspiration.

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Victoria-Morioka Friendship Society

Written by Harold McNeill on February 16th, 2014. Posted in Biographies, Adventure


Miss Misaki Usuzawa

We bid a special welcome to Miss Misaki Usuzawa, winner of the Japanese new singer of 2012.
Miss Usuzawa, a student at the Ootusuchi Junior High School, encouraged people along the coast with her songs following the Great Disaster of 2011.  (Link to Times Colonist article)

Welcome Friends from Japan

We begin this week with a visit by several friends from Japan who made our 2013 tour to that country so memorable. Mr. and Mrs. Rioichi and Ayako Taguchi were enthusiastically greeted at the airport on Saturday.  Although it is not their first visit to Victoria, it is such a pleasure to have the opportunity to share our city with them.

Sadly, Mr. and Mrs. Yocihi and Rieko Sakashita, who also graciously hosted us during our recent visit to Morioka, are now unable to make the journey. We shall greatly miss the opportunity to return their kind hospitality and will look forward to seeing them again in the future.

Also attending later in the week will be Mr. Toshinori Suzuki, Principle of Ootsuchi Junior High, the West Coast school devastated by the 2011 tsunami and which we visited last year. He will be introducing one of his students, Miss Misaki Usuzawa, a folk singer who won the grand record prize as the Japanese new singer of 2012.

The young artist, just now entering her mid teens, comes from one of the areas devastated by the Tohoku quake. She is considered a genius singer, excelling in the traditional style. Her mother, Mrs. Nakoko Usuzawa, will also accompany her daughter on the trip.

Others being welcomed to Victoria include Mr. Osamu Hirano, President of the recording company working with Miss Usuzawa  and Ms. Miwa Ishiganki, a Director of the Iwate Broadcasting Company.

During their stay, the group will attend a number of functions, including a courtesy visit to the Victoria City Hall where they will be welcomed by Mayor Dean Fortin.  Miss Usuzawa will perform a mini concert at City Hall as well as during a later visit to St. Margaret’s Junior and Senior Schools.

As a special treat the young singer will perform in a concert at Christ Church Cathedral on Saturday, February 21, from 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. The general public is invited to attend.

Bill and Rita McCreadie and other friends of the Victoria-Morioka Society will host the group at a number of private functions over the coming week.

Harold and Lynn McNeill

Links below for video and photo albums:

1. Misaki Usuzawa You Tube Video

2. February 2014: Arrival in Victoria in Victoria Link Here  (This link provides a full set of photos from the visit)

3. Japan Trip 2013: The Journey Begins

4. Japan Trip 2013: The Adventure Continues

5. Japan Trip 2013: A Trip to the West Coast (Slide Show)

6. Link to February, 2014, Times Colonist article

More links are provided in the stories linked within the above albums.

hdm

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Patricia Pearl Humphrey (1916 – 2013)

Written by Harold McNeill on October 26th, 2013. Posted in Biographies


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Patricia Pearl Humphrey (Schirrmacher/McNeill)
(1916 – 2013)

The youngest child of a family of
Canadian Pioneers

On Saturday morning, October 26th, 2013, our dear Aunt Pat passed away at her home in Stony Plain, Alberta.  At age 97, Aunt Pat was the last of eleven siblings of a family that pioneered in South Dakota in the 1800s and then Saskatchewan at the beginning of the last century.

Her parents, James Wallace McNeill (1866-1938) and Martha Ellen McNeill (Church) (1874 – 1958) married in 1893 in Chamberlain, South Dakota, then, 17 years later, after facing an ongoing drought and constant unrest in the Dakotas, pulled up stakes and headed to Canada. After entering through Peace Portal in Manitoba, the woman, including Martha’s mother (her husband had passed away), and the youngest children caught a train west while the father and older boys, Clifford and James, drove the wagons and cattle. They all landed in North Battleford, Saskatchewan in the spring 1910.

On departing from South Dakota, the couple had seven children in tow – Dave (2, my father), Elizabeth (5), Hazel (8), Irene (9), Ruby (12), Clifford (14) and James (16), not a move many of us would ever consider tackling . Not only that, in the fall of 1910, after arriving in North Battleford, the twins, Armina and Almira, joined the family.

After checking out the lay of the land, James and Martha selected a homestead in Birch Lake, about 60 miles north. It was there the final two children, Floyd and Patricia Pearl, were born. The family worked the land until the father, James, passed away in 1938. A few years after his death, perhaps the mid 1940s, Martha moved back to North Battleford where she remained until her passing in 1958.

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McNeill Connections: Such a Small World

Written by Harold McNeill on September 5th, 2013. Posted in Biographies


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And it gets smaller with each passing hour…

On Tuesday, after our return from camping at Island View Beach, Sean mentioned that Lucas (a friend of Sean and our family) was dating girl from Oak Bay and there was a connection to our family.  A copy of the information passed to Sean is included in footer.

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Gery Lemon Achieves New Milestone

Written by Harold McNeill on April 2nd, 2013. Posted in Biographies


Portrait of Gery Lemon and Graham Hill taken by long time family friend Rebecca Kirstein. This note by Gery: “Rebecca is like a daughter. She is a very accomplished photographer and over the years shot our wedding, Kelsey’s wedding – all kinds of family gatherings and reunions. This picture was presented in preparation for Graham’s campaign in 2011 – for his fourth term as mayor. It’s in front of the rock wall across from the Four Mile – beautiful work of public art. The shot was to go on his brochure and website …..I think we look in love.”

Saturday, April 6, 09:30, Dear Reader:  The original story was somehow deleated last Monday when work was being completed on a server transfer. The new story is posted below. If you note any errors in names, please email me a note at harold@mcneillifestories.com

 

A recent story about Gery and Graham may be linked here: Graham and Harold’s Christmas Adventure

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Black Friday: An Amazing Coincidence

Written by Harold McNeill on June 30th, 2012. Posted in Biographies


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LINK HERE

An Amazing Coincidence

Following is an observation for the math guru’s among you.

While completing the Black Friday story, I first met P/O Bert Ramsden who, in the 404 Squadron photo, is standing immediately below and to the right of the nose cone V3 painted on the Beaufighter. No big deal, he just picked a place to stand and there he stood very near the symmetrical centre of the photo, a modest 1 in 59 chance of occupying that position.

Later, while researching the article, the name of one other member of the squadron air crew still living was found to be P/O Miller Bryce. It was not until I was highlighting names in the photo I discovered P/O Bryce was standing just below and to the left of the V3, shoulder to shoulder with P/O Ramsden.

Now there is nothing unusual about just two members being left alive as that was bound to happen at some point. However, that the final two living members of the 59 members in that squadron photo were randomly standing side by side seemed highly coincidental. This will be further discussed later.

In an email exchange with Don Flynn, the son of P/O Pat Flynn, I was told I had missed his dad’s name on the photo name list. He told me his father was sitting directly above Ramsden and Bryce on the nosecone above the V3. Sure enough, I had accidentally missed the name the first time around. Now, of the three members coming to my attention, all are sitting or standing in a symmetrical position around the V3 nosecone!

Photo: Cropped section of the Squadron photo displayed in the introduction.  Link here to the full Squadron Photo. (Lead photo in the Black Friday Story)

During the Black Friday Ceremony held in 2008, in Naustdal, Norway, the two living members (and their families) along with the family of one deceased member, were represented.  Of course, the two living members were P/O Ramsden and P/O Bryce.  The third, represented by his wife and son, was, take a guess, P/O Flynn, the man who completed the Beaufighter nosecone triangle.

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  • McNeill Life Stories Illegal Aliens intercepted in Sarnia - McNeill Life Stories

    August 23, 2016 |

    […] Maxime Bernier, a leading contender in the Conservative race is calling for a “wall to be built along the border and claims that if he becomes the next Prime Minister he will force the Americans to pay for the building of that wall. (Border Security Gone Crazy) […]

  • McNeill Life Stories Keep the peace and be of Good Behaviour - McNeill Life Stories

    August 21, 2016 |

    […] If you happen to support Bill C-51, a bill that is related solely to ‘terrorism’ and, perhaps, support an even more invasive laws being included, what would you think about the entire Bill (present and proposed) being folded back into the Criminal Code and made applicable to every Canadian?  Would that give our police to much power to simply bypass checks and balances developed over the past 150 years. (Oversight) […]

  • Maurice Smook

    August 13, 2016 |

    Hi Jillian,

    I don’t know if you are still checking this site but I had to respond again. February of 2017 it will be 72 years since this battle occurred.

    What caught my attention about this incident was on the Go Deep Documentary that aired on the History Channel. First of all I never known that this battle having ever occurred.

    According to my grade 3 teacher WW2 had never occurred. That grade 3 teacher stated that the WW2 and the holocaust was all propaganda. All of my classmates they believed her. I hate to say this but all I knew was that soldiers shooting at each other.

    I almost was expelled from school. My

    Mom my Dad my brother and my Uncle would have been arrested for propaganda. I paid the price. It was ironic a grade 5 teacher told me that Smooks are all commies. Dad was Conservative.

    All the Smooks that I known are all Conservative. If I had the money I would have loved to sue those two teachers.

    As I said I never heard of this Battle. If it were not for that program I would have never had known.

    I started to do more researching to find out more about the history of this battle. The narrator of Go Deep mentioned the names of the pilots who died that battle.

    I missed 20 minutes of that program but the camera crew had the camera’s pointed towards the sign with the names of the deceits. That is how I known.

    According to the narrator There are three who are still missing. W.J. Jackson, Harry Smook and A. Duckworth. A couple of months ago the staff of Go Deep have located Harry and A. Duckworths aircraft. This is on you tube. Harry and A. Duckworth craft is approx 650 feet deep in the Fjord. The individual who is heading this expansionary mission made it known he will not rest until all three of the missing pilots
    will be retrieved. I am sure that A. Duckworth’s kin are hoping for the same.

    What really puzzles me is that I have sent emails to the Smooks. Not one ever replying. I presume its the same with you. Sad. Dad rarely spoke about his family. It appears there is a big secret of the Smooks. I too assume Harry is a kin to my Dad. Harry maybe a 4th 5th cousin to my Dad. I too would like to know. Harry and A. Duckworth served and died for our country. The other is W.j. Jackson – who is also still missing – having died for our Country.

    In conclusion I still ask myself why is this a huge secret.

    If you are still checking this site please contact me. Maybe we may be kin.

    Take care.

  • McNeill Life Stories Wedding Bells: Gordon McLean and Megan Corns

    June 28, 2016 |

    […] More amazing still is that many of those I met are now living and working in communities in or near cities and towns where I spent much of my early life (e.g. Vermillion, Turtleford, Westlock, Edmonton, etc.) For that matter one family from Edmonton lives no more than a stones throw from the home in which my family lived in 1949 at 12237, 95th Street, a time when Edmonton boasted a population of 137,000 and our home was on the very west edge of the city. Today the next block contains the Yellow Head Highway. Link: http://www.mcneillifestories.com/mcneill-family-edmonton/ […]

  • Valerie Heuman (Roddick)

    June 19, 2016 |

    Having just returned to the Okanagan Valley from a weekend in Pibroch, I am delighted to have stumbled on your blog to see the picture of the main street. My aunt and uncle Peggy & Gordon McGillvery owned and lived in the old Post Office on the North east corner of the main intersection and my brother Adrian currently lives south a bit backing on the School yard. We are Sheila’s cousins and still have a close connection to the town.

  • Sheila(Roddick) Allison

    May 19, 2016 |

    Hi. So fun to find your blog. I remember going to school with you and Louise. I loved my childhood in Pibroch which incidentally was named by my grandfather Aaron Roddick. I will never forget the night the garage burned down. Nice to see the landmark photo before the big fire!

  • George Dahl

    April 12, 2016 |

    What a great site. I’m trying to locate a woman named Sally Jennifer who was from the Cold Lake area back in the early sixties. I met her when I was stationed at Namao air base in Edmonton. I was serving with the USAF 3955 air refueling squadron from rhe fall 1963 till the spring of 64. Sally was 22 at the time I was 21. Sally was my first love. I had orders to ship out to South East Asia and we lost contact after that.
    If any of you know the where abouts of Sally I would like to get reacquainted with her. She is First Nation, Blackfoot I believe. She is Catholic and may have attended a Catholic school in Cold Lake.
    Thank You in advance, George Dahl

  • dave armit

    March 23, 2016 |

    good old fashioned police work done by good old fashioned policemen……….in regards to mr cain..i learned a few years ago that he was born on the same day in the same hospital that i was..my father was a close friend of the cain family…!!! interesting..d a

  • Joyce McMenamon

    March 1, 2016 |

    Haha, love it! We should probably eat rats and rabbits rather than beef. Also I’ve noticed that there are a lot less pests where dogs are not kept on leashes.

  • Kari

    February 27, 2016 |

    Thanks for a wonderful trip down memory lane Dad!!! That was an amazing trip and I am so glad that we had the opportunity to share that experience together!
    ❤️