A Magical Summer

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


Fairy in Garden

Personal Photos:  We always knew it would be A Magical Summer since the moment our granddaughter Audrey first planted those Scarlet Runners early this spring.  It became real one morning when I captured this  photo of a fairy standing in the corner of the garden beside an old wicker chair.

Link to Photos for this Post
Part 2: Link to Crackling Fire on Cold Winters Day
Part 3: The Magical Gardens of Adam Szczawinski

Fences and Gardens, Family and Friends

So much was happening this spring and summer it was hard to keep up, but suffice it to say there was a lot of magic. Woven between various trips to destinations inside and outside Canada, as well as visits by family and friends, there was a determination to redo the garden and fences as they were in tough shape after several years of neglect.

Last year Lynn and I worked at cleaning up the decks and redoing the garden furniture, but that only made the crumbling fences and mom cropped 7 front coverovergrown gardens look even more sad and forlorn.  Growing up in a family where my mother had the greenest thumb I know, we could no longer avoid thinking how she would feel if she happened by and saw all those steely, prickly weeds making such fun of the few domestic plants that survived the long summers of neglect.

Back in the late 1990’s mom and I had spent two magical summers planting everything we could get our hands on and it was now time to renew the gardening vows that were etched in my genes.  In our family one daughter, Kari, and one son, Sean, have been gifted with that particular gene, so the linage will not be lost any time soon. The jobs, however, were not a one week fix.

Photo (Personal Files, c1990s).  When mom was here for those two long visits, we spent day son end planting everything we could get our hands on. As neither of us had ever made moss hanging baskets we must have put together fifteen of various shapes and sizes.  Many of the McNeill Life Stories, 1941-1965, a historical stories on the blog, came out of our daily conversations.

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Remembrance Day: The Forgotten Warriors

Written by Harold McNeill on November 9th, 2015. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts


Remembrance of Minorities 2

Double Click Photo to Open

I am still seeing far to 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 2015, 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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Halloween 2015 at the McNeill’s

Written by Harold McNeill on November 1st, 2015. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts


Haunted Castle

Photo of Haunted Castle (Web Source).  The castle was projected on a large screen in a
dark corner of the deck.

Again this year, it was a beautiful clear late afternoon and evening for the trick or treaters. Considering torrential rains had pelted the city and caused considerable localized flooding over the previous twenty-four hours, the clearing was an unexpected, I don’t suppose a little rain in Victoria would dampen the spirits of the true Hallo’weiners’.

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Voter Turnout: Vancouver Island

Written by Harold McNeill on October 21st, 2015. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts


students-voting-at-mun

Student voter turnout on Campuses across Canada reached record numbers.

Congratulations Vancouver Islanders

We have once again set more voting records on the Islands, but it seems that somehow the Green Tinge wafting from Salt Spring and Saanich somehow turned a psychedelic orange as it covered the rest of the Islands and while it wasn’t red, it still exuded a glow much warmer than steel blue.

Voter turnout. In a word, awesome! Thanks to those thousands of young people who picked up the torch and marched to the polling stations across the Island.  We may be tagged as the newly weds and nearly dead’s here on the Islands, but when it comes to voting we managed to tuck away our stash or grabbed our walkers and headed to the polls by the thousands. When you live on the these laid back Islands, an extra hour or two in a line-up just wafts by with barely a notice.

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Syrians in Crisis: Can Canada Do Better?

Written by Harold McNeill on September 5th, 2015. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts


Where_Are_You_From_Earth

Hungary, September 5, 2015

As Syrian refugees flee a war torn dictatorship and hundreds march across Hungary and other countries, the people of Canada have many thoughts about what our response should be or should have been over the past few years.

Should Canada and other countries around the world take in more refugees or should those refugees be put in camps and simply held for years as done in many countries. I am not being critical of refugee camps as they serve a very useful purpose when used on a temporary basis, but too often that is not the experience.

Perhaps barriers could be built along borders so they can’t in, an idea that is gaining strength in the United States regarding the Mexican border and in some have even suggested one (at least electronic) with Canada.  But, really, is building fences along our borders the answer?

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Mental Illness by Another Name

Written by Harold McNeill on August 31st, 2015. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts


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Photo (Web) Whether Chiheb Esseghaier suffered from the onset of mental illness or not, makes little difference.  With great fanfare, he was arrested, charged, convicted, and awaits sentence.  The massive publicity generated served the greater good of helping to prove a war on domestic terror was not only necessary, but it was also essential. This created the conditions that allowed dozens of new anti-terror laws to be passed with barely a whisper of complaint.  

UPDATE: August 27, 2019,  Two men jailed on terror charges given a new trial by the Ontario’s Highest Court

Original Comments on this case:  (August 31, 2015)

As the trial after a trial of Victoria’s infamous Canada Day Bombers case awaits its fall continuation, the sentencing hearings in that earlier terror scare, the VIA Train guys, is slowly being derailed by controversy.

The court-appointed psychiatrist leaves little doubt the main protagonist was rapidly slipping off the rails well before he actually did any planning to derail that train.  Early-stage schizophrenia? Probably and, as many have observed, just the sort person to be targeted in:

“… an FBI sting that has been used dozens of times in the U.S. to nab prospective terrorists … It’s a method adopted from the war on drugs and the FBI’s battle against the Mafia, and one that critics charge has routinely and deliberately served to ensnare the mentally vulnerable or the insane.” (Globe and Mail).

You may not recall, but it was The FBI who ran the VIA Rail sting and who agreed to pull the pin hours after the Boston Bombing (see Terrorism, Another Perspective). (also, Link Toronto Today article)

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Warning to Immigrants Entering Canada

Written by Harold McNeill on July 31st, 2015. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts, Editorials


800px-Wawadit'la(Mungo_Martin_House)_a_Kwakwaka'wakw_big_house

This Victoria, B.C.  Big House is illustrative of a proud Aboriginal past where wealthy, prominent hosts would use it as longhouse for potlatching and housing guests. Potlatching was an innovative way for re-distributing wealth between families and clans, but the practice was brought to an abrupt end in 1884 in Canada through an amendment to the Indian Act. The same was done in the United States a decade later.

This was done at the urging of missionaries and government agents who considered the cultural practice to be “worse than a useless custom that was seen as wasteful, unproductive, and contrary to ‘civilized values’ of accumulation of wealth.” (Wiki Source). For those who didn’t know or may have forgotten, and that likely includes at least a third of the Canadian population, the Aboriginal people of Canada and the United States were the first to claim the Northern part of this continent as home.       

Note: September 8, 2015.  This pencil video narrative tells the story of early settlements in North Central America.  (LINK)

Introduction: Warning to Immigrants  

I felt compelled to write this post after receiving another of those wide circulation emails that spoke harshly of Muslims and others whose religious and cultural practices differed from that of white, english-speaking, middle class, Christians. Also, the fear mongering about the target groups and the harsh legislative agenda of various conservative leaning governments around the world over the past ten to fifteen years, has reached hysterical proportions.

In that vein, many Canadians may think Donald Trump an outlier, but it remains clear a significant number of people support him.   “This is our country not yours” is a refrain repeated over and over and fear mongering on a wide scale is a tactic used to cement the concept (e.g. “Mexicans are rapists”, “Muslims are terrorists”, etc.).  Make no mistake, when it comes to racism, Canadians can play that card with the best of them.

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Visions of the World

Written by Harold McNeill on June 22nd, 2015. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts, Editorials


Harold holding new Canadian Passport

Harold holding his new Canadian Passport that was issued a few days back and is now valid until 2025.  About 53% of Canadians hold a passport, whereas the US stands at 20%. Given that most new Canadians apply for a Canadian passport (reference comments in footer), there must be a high percentage of natural born Canadians that have never bothered.

As many Canadians only use their passports for travel to the United States, Mexico, Cuba and other the Caribbean states, a large percentage of our population have never visited other parts of the world.

Visions of the World, was first written and posted on Facebook in early 2014. It is now updated and includes the following introduction. What prompted this re-post was a horrendous act of domestic terrorism in South Carolina carried out by a White Supremacist.  The case might make the front page of media outlets for a couple of days and will then drift off into history.

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Comments

  • 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.