A Bad Fire Year?

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

sucker river fire- tammy cook-searson- june 7, 2015

Photo (Web Source): A fire burns out of control in Northern Saskatchewan, north of Prince Albert. Across western Canada wild fires have consumed millions of acres of timber and killed an untold number of wildlife caught in the path.  While only one death has been reported, that being a firefighter, Johnny Phare of Roberts Creek, on the Sunshine Coast, thousands of homes are threatened and many have already been destroyed and the danger level is extreme.  Over 7000 people have been evacuated from several native communities in Northern Saskatchewan with an undisclosed number being relocated to my home town in Cold Lake, Alberta.  (More photos in footer)


On watching the local and national news tonight I listened as the Premiers of British Columbia and Saskatchewan commented on the challenge being faced by firefighters across their Province.  Resources were being stretched to the limit and in some areas of Saskatchewan the military have been called in to assist.  The Premier of Saskatchewan stated on Global National that he has placed a call to the Prime Minister, but did not elaborate on what he intended to ask the P.M.  My goodness, the Province is burning, the military have been called in, 7000 people evacuated and the P.M. has not yet checked in with the Premier to see what national resources might be needed?

On the local news, a citizen from Port Alberni on Vancouver Island reported that earlier today a fire had started across Sprout Lake across from his home.  11666312_10153348533261041_6025522279400697740_nThe fire was not threatening his property, but the man felt it needed immediate attention or would soon be out of control.

Photo (Nichele Studios, Port Alberni) This photo was taken by Paulette a day after the fire started.  A giant Martian Mars water bomber sits idle under a smoke shrouded noonday sun on Sproat Lake just outside Port Alberni.

All but for the want of contract approval  by the BC Government, that bomber would have been available it to tackle the Dog Mountain  fire minutes from where it was moored shortly after the fire was called in.  A contract was eventually signed and when the smoke cleared for a brief period under light winds, the bomber hit the fire with everything it had. However, by that time the fire had spread and done an incredible amount of damage to the pristine forests of Dog Moutain (more photos in footer).  Update: Five days later that fire is still not fully extinguished.


Finding a Balance in Society

Written by Harold McNeill on July 6th, 2015. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts

Screen Shot 2015-07-05 at 2.57.38 PM

Richard Buckminster Fuller, an amazing man who published 30 books and during his lifetime he worked tirelessly at finding conditions that would lead to a balance in society. Check the section on ‘Depression and epiphany’ in the link.


All I need do is start reading a comment such as that above or the cartoon and linked articles in the footer and I’m off on a new venture of trying to put my own thoughts in some kind of logical order.  Because these posts often ‘evolve’ over time, this article will likely change as I do more reading and correct some of the logical errors. However,  most of you who choose to read this will get a pretty good idea of where I stand ideologically.  Why do I do it?  Well, it’s fun and I like trying to make sense of the world around me.  Perhaps Greece is melting down, but, then again, perhaps the challenges the Greeks face is just a symptom of the greater socioeconomic challenges that face mankind.  Some friends on FB make reference to the bloody ‘socialists’ in Greece as being the problem, others blame the banks.  I rather suspect they all contribute an equal share.

Finding a Balance in Society

The above meme was originally posted by the Occupy Wall Street group.  It was then re-posted by a FB friend Ted Godwin, a generally quiet and non-controversial guy.  His comment: “Now, somebody needs to point out to the 1% how land “ownership” is simply a paradigm for organization of physical space agreed to by society rather than an inviolable right.”

While the above comments do not wholly match the content below, they did prompt me to think more about the manner in which people are governed and how we seek to find a balance between competing societal social interests. As we approach an election (for that matter any election) people seem to sink to the lowest common denominator with their meme’s and comments. It seems that once we have set our minds on an ideological course, that ideology sticks like crazy glue. As for attack ads and posters, every political party does it, but some are much better at it than others.  I suppose that is why we end up taking extreme positions on just about every issue. Distill it down to one sentence or one photo and that is our position.  This demonstrates why we so often fracture on overarching issues.


Police Members and their Oath of Office

Written by Harold McNeill on December 12th, 2015. Posted in Police Notebook, Tim Hortons Morning Posts

Oath of Office

Not only did these photo ops take place on the opposite sides of Canada, the police recruits being sworn in will be entering two very different policing worlds. Their employment adventure begins with the Oath of Office they have just swore or affirmed and from that first step, their careers will diverge in a significant way that can be traced to that Oath. The photographs actually provide a rather good visual example of that difference.

Photo Left (Web Source) RCMP Associate Commander Brian Brennan, personally welcomed officer Peter Wallace into the ranks of the RCMP in Nova Scotia, presenting him with his badge during a special swearing-in ceremony.

Photo Right (Web source) Chief Frank Eisner, right, shakes hands with Casey Jones, left, and Matthew King during a ceremony to welcome the two new constables to the Victoria Police Department.   (Photograph Adrian Lam, Times Colonist)


As outlined in a related article, Dispensary Raids Galore!, those ‘discretionary’ raids and arrests at marihuana outlets in Nanaimo, Mission and Sechelt will waste an impressive amount of police and court time and will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in cases where the RCMP will eventually walk away empty handed.


‘Advocating Terror’ to become a Crime

Written by Harold McNeill on January 29th, 2015. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts, Editorials

Home Grown Terrorists

Photo Collage:  A few of Canada’s notorious terrorists: The Bacon Brothers (BC), Maurice Bouchard (PQ), Eric Dejaeger (Nunavat), Vito Rizzuto (r)(PQ), Alan Legere (NB), Clifford Olsen (died in prison)(BC), Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka (Karla served 12 years after a plea deal) (ON), Willy Pickton (BC) and Russell Williams (ON).

Note: Just in case a few may think I am a left wing apologist for terrorists, you would be wrong.  Terrorists, whether they be of the criminal type or of the religious type, are despicable scum who deserve to be removed from civil society wherever in the world they may seek to practice their murderous ways. What I do not think we should do is give them a platform on which to spread their vile messages, nor should we re-direct billions in scarce funds away from those things that could make a real difference in reducing crime in whatever form it may present itself.



To Live or Die: Some Hard Decisions?

Written by Harold McNeill on February 9th, 2015. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts, Book & Movie Reviews


What if this man choose to die rather than live? Having choose the latter even in the face of a debilitating disease, he went on to became an extremely influential scholar. Every person who reaches such a crossroads in their life deserves the opportunity of reaching out to others before making the final decision to end life.  Wrapping a potentially serious criminal charge around such discussions makes no sense and the Supreme Court of Canada got it right.

To Live or Die: Another choice along the path of life.

On the evening prior to the Supreme Court 9-0 decision overturning the Criminal Code sanction against ‘assisted suicide’, I attended the movie “A Theory of Everything, a biographical account of the life of Dr. Stephen Hawkings. The movie was adapted from a novel written by Hawking’s first wife, Jane Wilde Hawking, the mother of their three children (family photo in footer).  It was an excellent movie so if you have a chance drop in and enjoy.

As many know Dr. Hawking became a world-renowned mathematician and cosmologist who wrote a number of best sellers including A Brief History of Time which sold over ten million copies. Part of Hawking’s wide popularity was his ability to write about highly technical mathematical and scientific theories in terms a layman could understand.


Investigation of the Office of Police Complaints Commissioner

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

Richard Rosenthal

 Photo (2015): Richard Rosenthal, Chief Civilian Director of the Office of the Police Complaints Commission.
Since being formed 30 months ago with a staff of 32 investigators and 18 civilians, 22 have either been fired or have resigned. During that period the Government has ordered at least three investigations into the operation and, as well, severance packages totalling $187,000 have been given to some who have departed. Where did it all go wrong?

UPDATE TO THIS ARTICLE:   “Police watchdog Stan Lowe rides a ‘sea of change’ (Times Colonist, February 14, 2015): What a difference an inspired leader can make in an organization.  Check out his article about Stan Lowe who has just completed six years as head of the B.C. Police Complaint Commission (BCPC) and has been appointed to another four year term.  Following is one quote from the TC article:

“The OPCC works separately from the Independent Investigations Office, which was created in September 2012 to investigate police-involved deaths or serious injuries where the officer could face criminal charges. In cases where the Independent Investigations Office finds no criminal wrongdoing, the OPCC can still investigate for misconduct which could result in discipline, ranging from a written reprimand or training courses to more serious sanctions, such as a demotion or discharge.

The OPCC has a budget of just over $3 million and is staffed by 17 people, about half former police officers and half civilians. Lowe has said his staff has worked together “seamlessly.”

That short paragraph says it all and when you compare the operation of the BCPC to that of the OPCC (as outlined in the post below). There is a world of difference.



Two long articles appeared in the Times Colonist this morning (February 8, 2015) about high turnover and reported administrative dysfunction within the police watchdogs office.  While the turnover is extremely high, it was difficult to discern whether employee complaints were justified or whether there was just a ‘culture clash’ between the civilian leader Richard Rosenthal and ex-police officers and civilians hired to staff the organization.

It was not until near the end of the second article, Morale Went Down Fast (A4), written by Times Colonist reporter Katie DeRosa, I came upon this paragraph:

“Rosenthal kept a plaque in his IIO office that featured a mugshot of a police officer arrested during a corruption case that led to charges against 70 Los Angeles police officers in the Rampart division’s anti-gang section. Rosenthal was deputy district attorney  in Los Angeles at the time and helped expose the corruption.” DeRosa continued:  “Many former police officers with the IIO found that mugshot offensive.”


Biggest Boondogle in Victoria History

Written by Harold McNeill on February 6th, 2015. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts

Sewage Plan Boondogle

2007 (near Vancouver, B.C.)  Premier Gordon Campbell discusses other major construction plans with one of the leading Olympic Contractors.

As the Capital Regional District edges ever closer to spending what will be something in the order of $1,200,000,000 to $2,000,000,000 (yes, that’s 1.2 – 2.0 billion – reference CRD Document on Costs, page 2, para 1) on sewage treatment, there was never a proper assessment of need, no consulting with scientists, no pressing environment issue, just one Premier who got his shorts in a knot when the Washington State Governor (a woman with a strict environmentalist background) told him flat out she would not support the 2010 Olympics unless he pushed for sewage treatment for Victoria (see link in footer).


The Art of Fabric Crafting

Written by Harold McNeill on February 3rd, 2015. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts

Alysha and Sean

Alysha and Sean unroll the gift (more photos below)

Crafting a Gift of Love

Over the past few months, Lynn and Sheri (Mom and Mom) have been working with small squares of fur fabric that Alysha had passed along to Lynn.  It was a challenge to work with – not your usual quilting material.   Over a few weeks they came up with an idea – going all out with a new design.



  • 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.

  • Herbert Plain

    November 24, 2021 |

    Just read you article on Pibroch excellent. My Dad was Searle Grain company agent we move there in 1942/3 live in town by the hall for 5 years than moved one mile east to the farm on the corner where the Pibroch road meets Hwy 44. Brother Don still lives there. I went to school with you and Louise.