Happy 100th Anniversary George and Madge

My grandparents’ wedding announcement from December 1918

Exactly one-hundred years ago today – it was a Tuesday – December 3, 1918, London was enjoying an unseasonably mild day. With the Armistice having been signed just weeks before, one can easily imagine the sense of relief and happiness that must have pervaded the city after long years of war. Locals could once again get back to the business of living, without the focus being placed on the trenches of France and the Great War.

One pair in particular was, I suspect, in very good spirits. At least I’d like to think they were. My maternal grandparents, Sergeant George Ernest Blackwell of the Canadian Machine Gun Corps., and Madeline (Madge) Deegan of St. Julien’s Road, Kilburn, were married on this day, one century ago.

The wedding took place at the Church of the Sacred Heart, Quex Road, Kilburn. While the church still stands to this day, having survived the bombing of the Second World War, I have to believe the officiating priest, Father Burke, has passed on to a better place.

My grandfather (L) with a future brother in law

Little is known about how or exactly when my grandparents met. My grandfather arrived in England in 1914 with his colleagues in the Black Watch, part of the Canadian Expeditionary Force that volunteered to defend King and Crown. Like many of his comrades, he suffered numerous afflictions in the trenches, including septic boils, influenza, the effects of gassing and shell shock.

In early September of 1918, during the Second Battle of Arras, part of the Last Hundred Days offensive that would lead to the German surrender, he received a gunshot wound that left shrapnel in his knee and cost him the sight in his right eye. His war was over.

Several decades of marriage.

He was seen by several doctors in various hospitals in and around London. However, evidently, he was well enough to get on with the matter of marriage. On November 22, 1918, while at the Canadian Machine Gun Depot at Seaford, he was granted permission to marry “at public expense”.

Sacred Heart Church, Quex Road, Kilburn

And so, a century ago today, my grandparents tied the knot. One of the memories I have from my childhood was their Golden Wedding Anniversary in 1968. The dregs of an almost entirely evaporated bottle of sherry remain in my refrigerator to this day.

Ten years later they marked their 60th, or diamond anniversary. George passed away in early 1980 and Madge followed in May of 1981. 

In December 1968 my grandparents celebrated their 50th – or Golden – wedding anniversary. 

Here are a couple of posts about my Grandfather’s favourite phrases and a bit of family lore


An article I wrote for Family Tree magazine about my grandparents.

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

Making the Canadian F1 Grand Prix More Montreal

Canadian F1 Grand Prix - Practice

Although the race is ten months off, work is now being carried out on the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve to bring it up to Formula 1 standards. The annual Canadian Grand Prix is an important Montreal event bringing tourists from around the world. Yes, it does tend to be loud, but the noise of the cars is often drowned out by the sound of cash registers.

…to suggest to the powers that be at F1 headquarters several small tweaks that would, I believe, go a long way to having the race reflect Montreal more accurately.

While making major alterations to the track and paddock, I thought it would be the ideal time to suggest to the powers that be at F1 headquarters several small tweaks that would, I believe, go a long way to having the race reflect Montreal more accurately.

I suggest that at various points during the race groups of cyclists be released onto the track. Going, of course, in the wrong direction and, as the drivers weave their way among them, the cyclists will be instructed to swear and make obscene gestures at them.

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In addition to flag-waving marshals, who will be clad in camo pants, F1 tracks also have safety signage indicating, for instance, the braking distance leading to a sharp turn. To make this a Montreal-like experience for the drivers, several of these signs should be located behind tree branches or overgrown hedges making them virtually impossible to see until passing them when it is too late.

As the Grand Prix is run on a Sunday, the teams should be presented with a list of those sections of the track that are closed for the weekend…detours will be indicated by Montreal’s ubiquitous orange cones.

Over the last few years, Montrealers have grown used to the late-weekly reports informing us which streets, highways or bridges will be closed for the weekend. As the Grand Prix is run on a Sunday, the teams should be presented with a list of those sections of the track that are closed for the weekend. Not to worry, detours will be indicated by Montreal’s ubiquitous orange cones.

Formula 1 pit-crews are famous for being able to change four tires and make minor repairs to the cars in the blink of an eye. They are going to need to be even faster. When cars enter the pit lane and arrive at the team garage where they would have once stopped if ever so briefly, they will find BIXI stands or several red-bagged parking meters illustrating that no one, not even the best race car drivers in the world, can find a parking spot in Montreal.

… they will find BIXI stands or several red-bagged parking meters illustrating that no one, not even the best race car drivers in the world, can find a parking spot in Montreal.

Lastly, as the race reaches the three-quarter point, some of the drivers may be getting hungry. This problem is solved by the arrival of several Montreal food trucks along the straightaway. Appropriate given F1 drivers are possibly the only people who can afford the prices charged by these mobile eateries.

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

Odd Quebec Election Campaign Slogan

PLQ_Poster

The Quebec Liberal Party finds itself trailing in early election campaign polls. While other parties try to tap into the Liberal’s traditional Anglophone support, I suspect these attempts will fail. Yet I find the English version of the party’s slogan, “To make life easier for Quebecers” somewhat odd.

By all means make things better, stronger, healthier, wealthier, for Quebecers. But we really don’t require things to be easy.

I get the gist of it. Perhaps it’s just the translation from the French “Pour facilter la vie des Québécois” but the idea of making things easier sounds to me as if the party considers Quebecers to be a bunch of lazy simpletons who can’t handle difficult things.

By all means make things better, stronger, healthier, wealthier, for Quebecers. But we really don’t require things to be easy.

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

Summer and Out-of-Town Drivers

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After a long hot summer with very few posts, I figure it’s time I got back to the keyboard. I’ll start with an observation that I made numerous times over the last few months.

This year with the Canadian dollar measuring up so poorly with the US greenback many Canadians opted to vacation north of the border; moving east and west instead of north and south. With Montreal’s busy festival season that runs from the Formula 1 Grand Prix in early June, through the Jazz Festival and Just For Laughs, I sensed an even greater number of tourists this year. Judging by accents and license plates, I suspect the statistics will show a pretty good year for tourism.

RightRedSpeaking of license plates, my non-scientific observation leads me to believe that cars with Ontario plates seem to carry the worst drivers. They stop anywhere anytime for absolutely no apparent reason, they seem to take little naps at red lights necessitating a polite toot on the horn, and they insist on turning right on red. There are two places in North America where you cannot legally turn right on red: Montreal and Manhattan. Even with several signs indicating that right on red is illegal, Ontario drivers still cause havoc by going through red lights.

A10-Granby

Yet another irksome driving habit. My wife and I went away for a weekend in Quebec’s Eastern Townships. On an average day, our destination would take about 90 minutes to reach. It took us the better part of three hours due to a major accident that closed the highway completely. As the photo above shows, no one was going anywhere fast. 

I understand that covering those ten feet is not going to really affect one’s arrival time, but it is psychologically essential to me that I feel I’m moving.

I’m not a good person in traffic. There comes a point when after inching forward only to stop again causes me to become enraged. My dear wife is quick to pick up on this, perhaps it’s me screaming MOOOVE that tips her off, so she soon slips on some Joe Cocker in an attempt to keep me from blowing a head pipe.

The car that we trailed for what felt like days (I must admit it was a local plate) was driven by a person who, when there was a gap between her car and the one in front, was in no hurry to move up. I understand that covering those ten feet is not going to really affect one’s arrival time, but it is psychologically essential to me that I feel I’m moving.

DRIVE THE CAR FOR CHRISSAKE!!!!

Nope. She’d coast along when she was good and ready. The rest of the weekend was very restful, once I got my blood pressure back to normal.

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

Civic Duty And Wasp Nest

Nest

Every morning for more years than I care to think about I have gone for a job. It used to be a run, but these days jogging is more accurate a description. As a creature of habit, I take the same route every day. Part of my routine involves running around a small pond in a local park.

In truth, it is no longer a pond, but a water spray. It attracts many children during the hot weather. They run through the cool water and splash about. As the popular saying goes, what could go wrong?

As I was trotting around the other morning I ducked to avoid a low-hanging branch of a crabapple tree that extends over the walkway.  As I did so I could not help but notice a significantly sized wasp’s nest.

Good citizen that I am I brought this to the attention of a park employee. He asked if it was active or not. I told him I didn’t stick around long enough to ask. So we sauntered over to the tree and sure enough, there was plenty of activity going on. In and out as if they had a revolving door.

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The employee seemed almost pleased to have something different to do, to break the monotony as it were. “I’m going to get stung today, I just know it,” he grinned.

Having done my civic duty for the day, and no doubt saving countless children from agonizing wasp stings I continued on my way. Alas, I noticed that the nest is still there this morning and, still active. I guess these things take time. Perhaps looking for volunteers?

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

 

Cool App

While the heat may have lessened for a few days, forecasters inform us that it will be back with a vengeance soon. But not to worry. I have perfected an app that will keep you cool wherever you may be. Just download and voila! portable cool.

Next on my list is a razor app!

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

Umbrellas and Parasols

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As we slide into the hottest months of the year I notice more and more people are taking precautions when it comes to the sun’s dangerous rays. If marketing is any gauge, sunscreen products appear to be replacing sun tanning oils and creams. When I was a kid we would never have considered blocking out those precious rare browning rays, in fact, many of us applied various concoctions to increase the sun’s effect.

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These days I notice many people using parasols. (The majority seem to be Asian. I’ve been told this is due to the fair nature of their complexion and a cultural dislike of freckles.) But some folks are living in a Fool’s Paradise if they think an umbrella is a suitable tool for blocking rays. An umbrella, or in French a parapluie – against rain, does not provide sufficient protection. A parasol – against the sun, is what you need. Preferably with a black interior.

In the 1980s in Australia, they used to promote a Slip, Slop, Slap approach to skin protection. Slip on a shirt, Slop on the 50+ sunscreen, Slap on a hat.

Enjoy the sun, but be careful.

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+