Author Archive

Vaccines: A Personal Perspective

Written by Harold McNeill on September 11th, 2021. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts, Editorials


We are all in this together yet there are some hands missing

1. Introduction 

While Canada continues the struggle against Covid-19, it is gratifying to see how Canadians have come forward to help put this challenge behind us. Unfortunately, pockets of resistance remain and that is likely to push the fight into 2022.

The figures for both Canada and United States suggest the strength of our willingness to fight against Covid-19 largely depends upon our political leaning. While there is no hard and fast rule as to how an individual will respond, there appears to be a clear correlation when viewed from a statewide or province-wide perspective. The stark differences between states within the United States and the entire United States compared to Canada is clear. (Chart 1, below provides the specific numbers)

At a current vaccine rate of 1,400,000 doses per 1,000,000, Canada now sits near the top of the world with vaccine doses administered. By contrast, the United States, a country with early and continuing access to the vaccine supply chains, sits nearly dormant at 1,100,000 per 1,000,000. As of September 10th, Canada has almost 78% of our citizens (12 and older) with two doses and 85% with one (link), while the US is just over 55% for two, and 64% for one. The map above reflects data entered for September 4, 2021.

As one result, the US has the worse outcomes in the world in terms of cases and deaths. Brazil, with a Covid19 denier for a president, runs only slightly behind the US. For the US, a clash in political ideologies is the primarily cause. (see World Map). Continued in 5 parts.

Chart I was created for a quick reference of how Canada and Canadian Provinces are doing vs States in the United States. The chart was created using data from reliable online sources. For the United States, the red numbers indicate Democratic governed states, the blue, Republican governed states. For Canada, red shows left-leaning, blue, right-leaning, and black for non-designated in the three northern territories.   Take a few minutes to digest the numbers, particularly the Cases/100T (Column 5) and Deaths/100T (Column 7) as quick reference.  Continued link below:

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A Winning Smile, A Loving Heart.

Written by Harold McNeill on July 30th, 2021. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts


Happy 50th Birthday Jay Wesley McNeill

Jay, you are an amazing son, brother, uncle, cousin, and friend to all you have met along your path in life. Along the way you have made their lives richer by demonstrating that challenges are only challenges, they are not limitations.

You have an exceptionally open and caring personality that sees only the best in others no matter what their walk of life or the challenges they may face. As your parents, we have sometimes taken issue with your choices however, over and over, our experience has taught us that your choices are most often the best choices regardless of how we might see them.

Within the extended Davis and McNeill Clans you have certainly made your mark and the ‘Jay Bird’ stories that get told and re-told only bring more warmth and love to the lives you have enriched.  As you enter your fifties, we all want you to know how very proud we are of all that you have accomplished and all that you will accomplish in the second half of your life.

We know, we know, that photo above is from thirty years ago, but we like it so we used it for this post.  In the following slideshow we’ve tried to capture just a few moments in your life.

We love you with all our hearts, Mom and Dad.

Oh, and not to forget, a special thank-you to all those who attended and to Sherry Leigh Williams and the Southbend and Friends band.  Your attendance and their music capped off a fun celebration.

For a big of history on Jay and the challenges he has faced long the path of life, read “The Twenty-First Chromosome

Jay’s Photo Album

 

Jay’s Birthday Party at the Mctavish Academy

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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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Comments

  • Mike Fedorowich

    September 1, 2023 |

    I have gone through the above noted text and have found it quite informative.
    I am a former member with several law enforcement agencies from across Canada.
    I worked in the First Nations service under the authority of the RCMP with the over sight of the OPP. My law enforcement service was conducted under the authority of the Nishnawbe – Aski Police Service in North West Ontario the Louis Bull Police Sevice in Hobbema AB, the Kitasoo Xaixais Police Service in Northern in side passage on Swindle Island, the Lac Suel Police Service North West Ontario and the Vancouver Transit Authority Sky Train Police Service. I’m presently dealing with an RCMP member for falsifying a report against me for a road rage event. Court case is finished and the charge was dropped but I have an on going complaint with the member and have forwarded to the WATCH DOGS IN OTTAWA FOR the RCMP review and consideration. I believe the said officer is in violation of his oath of office and should be held accountable for falsifying his RTCC all the while dragging me through the court system here in Nanaimo. RCMP continue to stonewall the appeal but Ottawa and the crowns office are still looking into the matter. if your able and find the time or the interest in this very brief introduction, I would very much like to speak with you and would be grateful to hear any wisdom that may come across from your end. I served with First Nations Police Services for ten years in isolation and six years with Transit Police out of New West Minster. I do value and appreciate any time you could spare to chat for a bit on this particular subject matter. Respectfully with out anger but an open mind, Mike Fedorowich Nanaimo BC 250 667 0060

  • Harold McNeill

    February 28, 2022 |

    Hi Robert, I do remember some of those folks from my early years in Cold Lake (Hazel was my aunt and our family spent many fond times with Uncle Melvin, Aunt Hazel and Family. I knew Lawrence and Adrian. Having read a half dozen accounts it is clear their were many false narratives and, perhaps, a few truths along the way. I tried my best to provide an even account from what I read. Cheers, Harold. (email: Harold@mcneillifestories.com)

  • Robert Martineau

    February 25, 2022 |

    Its been a long time since any post here, but its worth a shot. My Grandfather was Hazel Wheelers brother Lawrence, and son to Maggie and Adrien. Maggie Martineau (nee Delaney) is my great grandmother. The books and articles to date are based on the white mans viewpoint and the real story as passed down by the Elders in my family is much more nefarious. Some of the white men were providing food for the Indians in exchange for sexual favors performed by the Squaws. Maggie was the product of one of those encounters. Although I am extremely proud of my family and family name, I am ashamed about this part of it.

  • Julue

    January 28, 2022 |

    Good morning Harold!
    Gosh darn it, you are such a good writer. I hope you have been writing a book about your life. It could be turned into a movie.
    Thanks for this edition to your blog.
    I pray that Canadians will keep their cool this weekend and next week in Ottawa. How do you see our PM handling it? He has to do something and quick!
    Xo Julie

  • Herb Craig

    December 14, 2021 |

    As always awesome job Harold. It seems whatever you do in life the end result is always the same professional, accurate, inclusive and entertaining. You have always been a class act and a great fellow policeman to work with. We had some awesome times together my friend. I will always hold you close as a true friend. Keep up the good work. Hope to see you this summer.
    Warm regards
    Herb Craig

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Hi Dorthy, So glad you found those stories and, yes, they hold many fond memories. Thanks to social media and the blog, I’ve been able to get in touch with many friends from back in the day. Cheers, Harold

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Well, well. Pleased to see your name pop up. I’m in regular contact via FB with many ‘kids’ from back in our HS days (Guy, Dawna, Shirley and others). Also, a lot of Cold Lake friends through FB. Cheers, Harold

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Oh, that is many years back and glad you found the story. I don’t have any recall of others in my class other than the Murphy sisters on whose farm my Dad and Mom worked.

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Pleased to hear from you Howie and trust all is going well. As with you, I have a couple of sad stories of times in my police career when I crossed paths with Ross Barrington Elworthy. Just haven’t had the time to write those stories.

  • Howie Siegel

    November 25, 2021 |

    My only fight at Pagliacci’s was a late Sunday night in 1980 (?) He ripped the towel machine off the bathroom wall which brought me running. He came after me, I grabbed a chair and cracked him on the head which split his skull and dropped him. I worried about the police finding him on the floor. I had just arrived from Lasqueti Island and wasn’t convinced the police were my friends. I dragged him out to Broad and Fort and left him on the sidewalk, called the cops. They picked him up and he never saw freedom again (as far as I know). I found out it was Ross Elworthy.