Author Archive

45th and 80th Birthdays

Written by Harold McNeill on January 15th, 2021. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts


Christine McNeill LeClair and her Daddy, Harold

While we have four children, Jay, Kari, Christine and Sean, along with three grandchildren, Grayson, Audrey and Avery, it was my good fortune to have shared a birthday with the youngest daughter, Christine. That birthday bundle arrived in the wee hours of the morning at the Royal Jubilee Hospital.  Happy Birthday, Christine.

Heartfelt thanks to family and friends who phoned, sent texts or posted birthday wishes on Facebook. Many things happened that made this one memorable day, and part of it was due to the Covid.   I’ll take the day one item at a time.

A Surprise Cruise

As many of you are aware, we have a new grand-daughter (now 19 months) and we maintain close contact with Sean and Alysha as we provide intermittent grandparent care (thank you, Avery). When the
three came over today for a birthday lunch, and among other things, Lynn and the kids told me about the frustrating path they had followed in planning for this day.  Their story gave me insight into some of the stress I remember Lynn being under as the travel business crashed in March 2020.

At that time, Lynn had dozens of clients whose trips were cancelled and getting refunds was the order of the day. While most cruise companies and airlines were pretty good, others were only willing to apply future cruise or flight credits. What I did not know, a few dozen ‘clients’ included family and friends who intended to surprise me aboard the Royal Caribbean’s, Oasis of the Sea. Oh well, the best-laid plans, as they say. Now, on to Plan B.

An Island Retreat

Because families were still allowed to gather for events, the smaller family group decided to rent a retreat home on one of the Islands for a family get-away as we have done for past trips.  Alas, towards the end of the year, Covid again intervened, and it was back to the drawing board.  During all this, Mr Clueless had no idea any of this was on the planning books. When we arrived on January 13th, the birthday party had slimmed down to Mom, Dad, Jay, Sean, Alysha and Avery.  Ah, but again, I was in for a surprise.

A Neighbourhood Birthday

During the birthday morning when cleaning up from some of the wind damage caused by the previous overnight storm, I noted birthday wishes pinned to the Christmas tree that is a single remaining item from the array of Christmas street decorations. It was clear someone was-being mischievous.  While on our walk to the park, various neighbours had wished me happy birthday, but just after Sean and Alysha left, more neighbours and a half dozen young kids started gathering out front.  Here is a slideshow with a couple of short video clips. (Harold and Christine’s Birthday)

 

All physically distanced as per the current rules, they sang happy birthday as the kids came forth with flowers and cards.  It was a touching moment as this neighbourhood (as with the more rural one we lived on when on West Viaduct), is one of close-connection between neighbours. We are also so fortunate to have families with young kids surrounding us, and during this time of Covid, the kids are often on the street and in yards playing.  Our street is back to a time when Sean was a pre-schooler, but now we are the seniors and so lucky to be surrounded by neighbours who care about each other.

A Surprise Gift

As family members know, Lynn often squirrels herself away as she makes handcrafted gifts for
birthdays, Christmas, and other special days or events.  So it was over the past couple of weeks as she carefully crafted a unique aeroplane for Papa Bear – a touch of Around the World in Eighty Days.  The clock base is still being completed but here is the main body of the aeroplane and pilot, all finely crafted from scratch by Lynn. Photos included as soon as the base is complete.

How Does it feel as I start my eighth decade?

I’d say each decade of my life has proven to be even better than the one before. Not only am I surrounded by loving family and friends, but I also wake up each day with an immense number of things I look forward to doing.  My challenge is, how to stuff them all in the time I have left in this amazing world we call home.

Hopefully, the things I do and say over the next decade will help make the world a better place. I also hope my extended family and friends will succeed in keeping things on an even keel in their lives as the world continues to change at a breakneck pace.

Love,

Harold

PS  Thank you to everyone and especially the grandkids and neighbourhood kids: Grayson, Audrey, Avery, Michael, Felix, Clara, Vienna, Jaifa, Zidan, Jahan, Lucia and many others sprinkled through their teens. Each of you and your families makes the world a brighter place.

 

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Protected: Christmas 2020

Written by Harold McNeill on December 26th, 2020. Posted in Christmas Stories, Slide Show and Video


This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

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Donald Trump: A Legacy of Lies and Hate

Written by Harold McNeill on January 10th, 2021. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts


The Storming of the White House: Another riot or a planned action?

I originally thought the gathering crowd was similar to others over the past few years whenever Trump made the call. That all began to change when I watched news reports of the harassment of various legislators as they made their way to Washington.

It was certainly a rough ride for Senator Mitt Romney who stood against Trump’s call to overturn the election. Then watching Trump and Guiliani along with Trump family members and noteable Republicans urging on the crown, I changed my mind. It now seems overwhelmingly likely it was in fact an attempted coup, not just poor judgment on the part of a group of ill-tempered Trumpsters.

On a FB Post, I intended to add a series of photos of the invasion of the White House by the Proud Boys, White Supremacists and sundry others. FB stopped that plan, advising my photos did not meet “community standards”. I continued searching for photos and videos of the live-action and the more I’ve watched it seems clear that key elements of the invasion where dead set on taking hostages if not killing key people.

This was not just another riot as we’ve seen happen in several states over the past few months, it was a deliberately staged event designed to prevent the House from confirming Biden’s election as President.  Granted, there were likely dozens of individuals who were just caught up in the moment as happens in every riot but lurking in the background, there were also dozens of well-trained individuals who appeared to be fully prepared to take hostages and to completely disrupt the order of government in the US Capital.  These folks were well-armed, well trained and capable of doing the bidding of their leader, the President.

We can only hope the saner heads among the US and State authorities will find the ways and means to fully investigate these events and will hold those responsible by laying criminal charges including sedition.  Following is a slideshow of the photos I downloaded and beyond that, I’ve included a few videos by others that reveal what went on inside the White House.

 1. Donald Trump: A Legacy of Lies and Hate

 

2. MSNBC Report the day after the attack

This follow-up broadcast includes several videos of events inside the White House that captures the full extent of the mayhem and makes clear it amazing that more people weren’t killed or injured.  (MSNBC Link)

3. NDTV Report and Video Clip

A video clip in this report made by Donald Trump Jr., (photo left) at a tented event somewhere outside the White House.  It is abundantly clear from this video that the entire Trump family and several White House Staff along with sundry others were watching at the events unfolded.  In the Donald Jr. clip, he even refers to a countdown towards the time of the invasion.   (Donald Jr. Video Clip, scroll down page)

NOTE: Donald Jr’s voice is slightly out of sink at the beginning but the following video seems to make it clear it was a live view of the Trump event.  Near the end of the video Donld Jr. states something to the effect “it’s only a couple of seconds now….”

NDTV has been rated “India’s Most Trusted TV Media Brand in the TRA Trust Brand Report, India Study 2016. … It was the first time in media history that a media company has been both: Number 1 – India’s most trusted brand across all newspaper and channels, (All India Brand Trust Report 2014 and 2015).”

 

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Building a Cohesive Canada

Written by Harold McNeill on January 25th, 2020. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts, Editorials


An Alberta born farm-girl whose mother was an immigrant of Ukranian descent has made her mark on the world stage and now sits at the centre of power in Ottawa. While this young woman has gained the respect of Canadians and many around the world, why would Albertans choose to forget her? Is it because she’s in the wrong party?

“Chrystia Freeland has put Canadian foreign policy back on track, making Canada a leader on several foreign policy fronts like human rights, security, and working with Canada’s allies to maintain the rule-based order. Despite Canadians self-identifying their government as promoting human rights and democratic freedoms, principled foreign policy has not always been a priority for previous governments.”   (MLI Policy Maker of the Year)

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A Moment in Time

Written by Harold McNeill on January 1st, 2020. Posted in Biographies


Laura Isabel Skarsen (McNeill)(Wheeler)

Laura Isabel Skarsen (Wheeler)(McNeill)

This photo was taken sometime around 1998 when mom was in her early 80’s. Always the adventurer she travelled to Victoria to stay with us for a few months at our home on Leney Place to see if a move to Victoria might suit her.  She loved it, but her roots in Cold Lake were so deep it was impossible to fully settle in.  She returned to her home in Cold Lake where she would spend the rest of her life.

December 29, 2008, 10:00 am.
Cold Lake Healthcare Centre
Cold Lake, Alberta

I remember the hour and minute as clearly today as I did a decade earlier. Each time I tell the story, it brings a pinch in my chest and a tear to my eye. That pinch and the tears are not ones of regret for opportunities lost or an “I love you” left unsaid, it comes from the fond memories of the two persons responsible for creating, then setting, the boundaries that shaped my life. For the genes they gifted me, and in Dad on Fire Dutythe nurturing love provided, I am eternally grateful to my Mother, Laura Isabel Skarsen (McNeill)(Wheeler), and Dad, David Benjamin McNeill.

Photo (c1944).  Dad was a horse lover, first, last and always.  He was nearly born on a horse, and he died of a heart attack at age 55, while on his horse.  Due to a number of health issues and life events, it seems likely he also choose the time of his exit from this world.

While Dad predeceased mom by forty-three years, the memories of him remain close, however, that extra forty-three years with Mom provided an abundance of opportunities to see and experience the immense depth of her motherly, grandmotherly and great-grandmotherly instincts and her steadfast pioneering spirit. Over the years I have written dozens of stories about Mom and Dad and the life they (and we), along with their parents, brothers, and sisters, carved out of the raw wilderness of Saskatchewan and Alberta.

Now, at this moment in 2008, my sister, Louise Yochim, at sixty-four and two years younger than me, watched and waited as our mother slept peacefully, after having a short nap after her breakfast. When she awoke, the conversation we were about to have, would impact the remainder of her life. Even though the surgery was successful, mom knew her life would be unalterably changed and this might well include moving to an extended care facility where reliance on others to perform many day-to-day personal care needs, could well become a daily ritual.

In Edmonton one month earlier, with her three children and several family members nearby, Mom underwent life-saving femoral bypass surgery, a complicated procedure for a person half her age. Needless to say, after discussing the pros and cons, this fiercely independent woman, who had just turned ninety a month earlier, opted to give the operation a shot.

To this point in her life, she was relatively free from major medical problems, save for one fire-related accident that left her hovering near death (Explosion) for a couple of weeks while in her late twenties, then later in Edmonton after nearly dying following a natural gas leak in a rented basement suite. (Near Death Chapter 4).

The challenge at this moment was a blood clot in the femoral artery of her right leg. That the sudden onset of this life-threatening clot that was left undiagnosed for nearly ten days is another story for another time. Although in great pain, never, for one moment, did Mom let her positive attitude slip.

Louise, Dianne (the baby of the family at 52) and I, had earlier in the week talked with mom about the decisions she would need to make, knowing full well the final decision would rest in her hands. Whatever path she chooses, we knew her thoughts would be mostly about the welfare of her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Because, her recovery to this point had taken some weeks, our younger sister, Dianne, had to return to her family and job in British Columbia.

On this morning, as Louise and I continued the vigil while Mom slept, we watched in silence, contemplating the path that led to this moment. That the world had gone through seismic changes over the ninety years of her life was traced in the books, stories, and anecdotes presented at Mom’s her 90th birthday party we had celebrated just a few months earlier. The party included all but two of the immediate family of three children, thirteen grandchildren, fourteen great-grandchildren, and two great-great-grandchildren, along with dozens of other family and friends.

Grandma's Family Group

July 2008 Birthday Party (Link to Post with Names)

Now, over the Christmas period, while in the Cold Lake Hospital, and in spite of the pain and challenges faced, mom was filled with good cheer. She spoke jokingly of one leg that was largely disabled due to the clot, “Yep, when I walk down the hall, I take one step with my good leg, then drag the other.”

That was the story of Mom’s attitude towards life, no matter how bad things became, she never seemed to let it get her down, and on those occasions when she let her guard slip, she would quickly rebound for the sake of her family.

Over the holiday period, we would spend some time singing Christmas Carols in mom’s room and other locations in the hospital. Most often this included our little band of six-eight kids who ranged in age from five or six to their mid-teens.  Sometimes two or three of us would just sit in the room with mom strumming the guitar and singing. Between those carols and the story-telling of which mom so well known, the days before and after Christmas passed quickly.

Now, with Louise on one side of the bed and I on the other, Mom’s eyes suddenly fluttered open. She took a moment to focus, first on one of us, then other as she awoke from a sound sleep. After a few minutes of exchanging morning greetings, mom looked intently, first at my sister and then at myself, then asked: “Son, would you put in my teeth?” Mom never liked being without her false teeth when others were present. Then she then turned to Louise and asked: “would you put on my glasses?” After this was done, she again took a few moments to focus on each of us as she expressed her deep love for us and the lives we shared.

Mom then laid back, closed her eyes, shuddered a few times as her spirit slowly departed, she then stopped breathing. After having accomplished all that was possible in this life, she chose to pass quickly and quietly to the next, to a place that promised the rest and peace of mind we knew she so richly earned.

After having spent a full ninety years in this life, we knew mom had chosen a time to depart that not only suited her but that she also felt was right for her children and all the loved ones in her life. From that moment forth I have never missed my mother as she lives with me in spirit as she did in life.

As the Christmas seasons continue to pass, our thoughts are with you Mom and Dad.

Love, Harold, Louise, and Dianne

Link to the full Biography of Laura Isabel Skarsen.

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Remembrance Day: The Forgotten Warriors Updated

Written by Harold McNeill on November 11th, 2019. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts


Remembrance of Minorities 2

More photos in the footer 

November 11, 2019:  I brought this post forward from 2015 as we are still seeing far too many negative comments from people who seem to have forgotten many of the men and women who fought and died to preserve our freedoms were from minority communities.  When celebrities in positions of influence do that it is unforgivable.

This is the 2015 post:

I am still seeing far too 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 a few who utter racist rants, we need to remember this is 2019, 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:

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Why I stand with science?

Written by Harold McNeill on November 10th, 2019. Posted in Why?


We need to ask more ‘why’ questions?

This post was inspired by comments on a Facebook related to the news headline, Clear and unequivocal: Thousands of scientists sign letter on the climate crisis. What I’ve tried to do in the following post, is distinguish between the concepts of “global warming” and “climate change”.

To often these terms are used interchangeably and that leads, I think, to a great deal of confusion.  It also plays into the hands of skeptics who scoff at the concept of “climate change” as being nothing more than something caused by a cyclical variance in the weather patterns. Scientists, on the other hand, have focussed their attention on “global warming”.

1. First, let’s talk about the history of global cooling and warming?

It’s generally agreed the earth’s surface temperature has changed considerably over the last 12,000 to 15,000 years. Indeed, while it has been changing throughout history and pre-history, in this post I only reference the recent history of the western hemisphere.  It starts with an ice age that covered what is much of that which is Canada today.  Take a look at Vancouver Island (sketch below) – that was us, then.

During the Ice Age, the Earth’s average temperature was about 12 degrees Fahrenheit (6.7c) colder than it is today. That was enough to keep snow from melting during the summers in northern regions. As snow fell on the snow, glaciers formed. (NASA Earth Observatory)

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Is Fiscal Conservatism Dead?

Written by Harold McNeill on October 16th, 2019. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts, Editorials


While Newfoundland and Labrador have not yet declared bankruptcy, they are on the verge.
Guess who engineered the downfall?

Oh, Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling
From glen to glen, and down to oceanside.
The summer’s gone, and all the roses falling,

It’s you, it’s you who choose to quit, the rest must bide.

And, Danny Williams, the ninth Premier of the Newfoundland and Labrador, did just that. After setting the province up for failure, he walked away a hero.  Was Danny as a fiscal conservative? Perhaps, but rather than setting up the Province for success as one might expect from a party and leader that preached fiscal conservatism, he and the party preferred, instead, to reap the benefits of power in the present. It’s the failing of many governments, not just the Conservatives, but it is an extra failing for the Conservatives as they profess themselves to be the party of fiscal prudence.

Related Posts

Is Fiscal Conservatism Dead
Left or Right: Is there a difference?
How to Game and Election
The SNC Lavalin Affair
The Kings of Conservative Media
The Changing Landscape of Politics in Canada

Part 1: Newfoundland & Labrador: A case study in how to fail

For those who think I have heaped to much blame on Alberta and British Columbia Conservatives for poor resource and fiscal management, let’s take a trip to the east coast for some relief. It seems the rise of Conservatism in NFLD under the leadership of Danny Williams in 2003, is eerily similar to the Alberta experience of the last two decades.  This from a 2018 National Post article:

When Danny Williams (that vibrant, outgoing, irascible, Irish politician) came to power as the ninth premier of NFLD in 2003, he promptly held a grim news conference where he warned that the provincial debt was out of control, and threatening to bankrupt the province. Fortunately for Williams, after one unpleasant budget and a nasty public sector strike, the price of oil rocketed from around $30 when he first took office, to $50 by the early months of 2005.

By the end of Williams’ first term in office, oil was flirting with $80 a barrel and it only climbed higher in his second term. Williams cut taxes and allowed spending to explode, fuelled by windfall oil royalties, right up until he quit politics in 2010, one week after he had announced a landmark deal for a multi-billion dollar hydroelectric project. 

“During those good years, a few columnists, some policy wonks, and the province’s (Newfoundland that is) auditor general fretted that the government was living beyond its means, but the electorate didn’t care. After decades of crushing societal poverty, Newfoundland and Labrador was rich for a change, and Williams got credit for the economic miracle.”

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Comments

  • Harold McNeill

    January 15, 2021 |

    Wow, Graham, I was taken by surprise (but then again that’s not too hard). Having all you fine folks (my children by other fathers and mothers) would have been great. I’m hopeful that sometime in the not too distant future, we can reprise that trip. Perhaps we’ll just set aside a time for someone else’s landmark day, and we can surprise them. Love to you two. Harold

  • Graham and Nazanin

    January 15, 2021 |

    How could we miss this historic event my friend!!!
    Nazy and I were booked for that cruise Harold, we were looking so forward to it.
    We will be together soon! We both wish that continued unconditional love you receive from everyone to continue as you are that special someone that makes a difference in this world.
    Happy birthday sir, cheers!

  • Harold McNeill

    January 7, 2021 |

    Glad you found the site and that Dorthy enjoyed. I’ve added a lot of school photos in other locations linked to the High School Years stories. Cheers, Harold

  • Shelley Hamaliuk

    January 2, 2021 |

    Hi there, I am Dorothy Marshall’s (nee Hartman) daughter. Mom was quite excited when she discovered this site while surfing the net yesterday, so excited that she told me to have a look! She quite enjoyed taking a trip down memory and seeing old pictures of herself.Keep up the great work!

  • Harold McNeill

    April 14, 2020 |

    Hi Rick,
    Great to hear from you and trust all is going well. Our family members are all doing well but it must be pretty tough for a lot of people. I had once heard you were going to do some writing but never heard anything further. I would be most interested, but do you think the OB News have archives back to that time. Any link or information you could provide would be greatly appreciated. Did you keep copies? Regards, Harold

  • Rick Gonder

    April 14, 2020 |

    Hi Harold
    About 22 years ago I spent several weeks going through the OBPD archives. I wrote several stories that were published in the OB News. Feel free to use if they are of value to what you are doing.
    Keep this up, I’m enjoying it and it brings back memories.

  • Harold McNeill

    April 12, 2020 |

    Hi Susan,

    Glad you had a chance to read. I decided to update these stories by proofreading as there were several grammatical errors in many. Hopefully, many of those glaring errors have been removed.

    Many of the stories carry a considerable amount of social comment regarding the way the criminal justice system is selectively applied. Next up involves a young woman from near Cold Lake, Alberta, who was abducted by an older male from Edmonton. Her story is the story of hundreds of young men and woman who have found themselves alone and without help when being prayed upon unscrupulous predators.

    Cheers, Harold

  • Susan

    April 8, 2020 |

    Great read, Harold!…and really not surprising, sad as that may sound.
    Keep the stories coming, it is fascinating to hear them.
    Love from us out here in the “sticks”, and stay safe from this unknown predator called Covid.

  • Harold McNeill

    February 17, 2020 |

    Update:  Times Colonist, February 16, 2020, articles by Louise Dickson, She got her gun back, then she killed herself,” and,  Mounties decision to return gun to PTSD victim haunts her brother. 

    Summary: I don’t know how many read the above articles, but they contained the tragic details about young woman, Krista Carle’, who took her own life after suffering for years with PTSD. While tragedies such as this play out across Canada every week, the reason this story resonates so profoundly is that the final, tragic, conclusion took place here in Victoria. Continued in the article.

  • McNeill Life Stories Index to Police Notebook - McNeill Life Stories

    February 16, 2020 |

    […] Part I, Police solidarity and the push for amalgamation. Part II, Comparing police cultures and implementing change Part III, The past as a guide to the future Part IV The integration of police services […]