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#TBT Sorry, But We Canadians Do Not Apologize Too Much

“Sorry, I didn’t realize you are a total arsehole unable to function in normal society”

It is often said that we Canadians are polite to a fault.  As a Canadian I would suggest, but certainly not argue, that it is impossible to be overly polite. People point out that we say thank you too much, perhaps even when being given a traffic ticket. If someone gives you something you have two choices; you can say thanks, or no thanks. As the latter probably won’t work with most cops you’re left with the former. Thanks for the ticket. Just as an afterthought, when someone does say thanks, or thank you, it is customary to reply with “you’re welcome”, or “my pleasure”, or even “no problem”. It is never appropriate to reply with “sure” or “uh-huh”!

800px-Canada_flag_halifax_9_-04But maybe  we are more often accused of being overly apologetic, so let me enlighten you as to the true nature of the Canadian apology. Saying sorry is often depicted as a national pastime in Canada: bacon, hockey and apologizing. However I think it would be of benefit to those who hold this opinion of Canadians as apologists to explain our apologies, because they can be very subtle in nature – often more empathetic than apologetic.

Let’s say a Canadian and a non-Canadian turn a corner and bump into each other on a sidewalk.

because (Canadian apologies) can be very subtle in nature – often more empathetic than apologetic.

The Canuck will probably be the first to say cheerily “Sorry about that” even though  both were equally at fault, or no fault existed. The other person may also apologize, just as cheerily, resulting in what is known as a civilized exchange. Then again he or she may seize upon the Canadian’s apology to feel superior and reply “You certainly should be sorry” or some other witty retort.

… don’t be fooled by our oft used  “sorry”, sometimes we’re actually expressing our sympathy for your shortcomings.

In this case the subtlety of the sorry masks its true intent, which is along the lines of: “Sorry, I didn’t realize you are a total arsehole unable to function in normal society”. You see, the sorry in this case is more akin to the sorry expressed to someone recently bereaved, you weren’t responsible for the death of the loved one, but you “feel” sorry for their loss – you empathize with them. In our case you feel sorry for the cloddish boor for being a cloddish boor.

Keep this in mind the next time a Canadian apologizes to you; don’t be fooled by our oft used  “sorry”, sometimes we’re actually expressing our sympathy for your shortcomings.

This post was linked to by CNN to explain the backhanded apology of some Canadians!

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+
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Montreal’s Anti-Capitalism March Fills Capitalists’ Pockets

Capital_Riot

I usually leave downtown Montreal to tourists on Sundays. But last Sunday I had to not only be in the downtown core, but was so with car. Having a few stops to make made driving necessary, not something you want to do downtown on any day, let alone Sunday. The problem last Sunday was dodging two groups of protesters and their inherent phalanxes of police cars.

The other group was made up of outright anti-capitalists. This latter bunch was not content to block traffic in an effort to make their point, resorting instead to vandalism.

Sunday was May Day, when the world pays tribute to workers, with the exception of North America where we have Labor Day in September.  One group of marchers was calling for better working conditions, including better pay and security. The other group was made up of outright anti-capitalists. This latter bunch was not content to block traffic in an effort to make their point, resorting instead to vandalism.

Motorcades of cop cruisers and buses of riot police zigzagged through traffic in an attempt to cut off the protesters as they snaked through the city’s core. Eventually tear gas was employed and arrests were made. Before it was all over, several police vehicles were damaged (beyond merely being defaced with anti-government stickers already placed on them by the police as they seek a new contract themselves), one police station had two large windows smashed.

I have never been one to march in the street, and when it comes to capitalism I am probably more Bernie Sanders than Donald Trump, but one thing just does not make sense to me. The anti-capitalism protesters succeeded in causing havoc that resulted in several retail outlets shutting their doors for a brief period. That I understand.

Perhaps a more effective approach to fighting capitalism, should one so desire, would be one that did not directly create business opportunities.

However their actions created a windfall for those who: replace store-front windows, remove spray paint from cars and buildings, fix damaged cars and buses, make tear gas and other crowd control devices, and manufacture riot gear. All of whom I suspect are capitalists.

Perhaps a more effective approach to fighting capitalism, should one so desire, would be one that did not directly create business opportunities.

Then again could these protesters actually be more concerned with causing trouble than any real cause? Every year Montreal has an anti-police brutality march. This inevitably ends in an ugly battle between marchers and police. The marchers claim this is actual proof of police brutality while the police insist they were provoked and acted in the interest of public security.

DCS_Grad_2 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+
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My Great-Grandfather’s World War One Lie

PostCard

Courtesy Linda Blackwell Phelan

My great-grandfather, Ernest Henry Blackwell, was born in Sussex, England. As a young boy his family emigrated to Canada where he would spend the rest of his days. He met and married my great-grandmother, Annie Ellis, whose family had also made the move across the pond. They had five children: three sons and two daughters.

His eldest child, George Ernest Blackwell, was my grandfather. I have recounted some of his life in earlier posts, particularly his World War One experiences. Only recently did it come to my attention that Ernest Blackwell, like his son George, also attested to serve overseas.

The Hawkeye Pierce character played by Alan Alda on the television version of M*A*S*H, summed it up best when he pointed out that when the authorities came to get him to go to Korea he was “hiding under the front porch trying to puncture my eardrum with an ice pick”.

I suspect that since wars have existed there have been those who have lied to get out of going to fight in them. The Hawkeye Pierce character played by Alan Alda on the television version of M*A*S*H, summed it up best when he pointed out that when the authorities came to get him to go to Korea he was “hiding under the front porch trying to puncture my eardrum with an ice pick”.

Conversely, during the first world war, many young men lied about their age in an attempt to actually join up. The cut-off point was supposed to be 18 years of age, but those in charge seemed to look the other way when a fine fit 16 or 17-year-old lad presented himself for duty. Then there’s the case of my great-grandfather who tried to turn the clock backward, not forward, so he could join the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) and go overseas to fight.

Two attestation papers

Two attestation papers

… according to War Museum Canada, “Most Canadian soldiers were between the ages of 18 and 45, as per regulations, but thousands served who were younger or older, lying about their birth date to enlist.

In August of 1914 his son, my grandfather George Blackwell volunteered to join the CEF in Montreal. He had opted to stay in Montreal when the rest of his family moved to Hamilton, Ontario some years before. He was accepted and spent the next four years or so in the trenches of France and Belgium and in several hospitals in England. He also managed to meet and marry my grandmother, a strong woman who, no doubt on occasion over the next sixty years or so, made him long for those trenches.

In 1915 his father, Ernest Henry Blackwell, my great-grandfather, decided he was not too old to help out. So on November 19th, 1915 he went down to the local recruiting office and, well, lied through his teeth about his age, stating he was born in 1872, thereby making him 43. In fact, he was born in 1865 and was a mere eleven days shy of his 50th birthday.

This was not all that uncommon, according to War Museum Canada, “Most Canadian soldiers were between the ages of 18 and 45, as per regulations, but thousands served who were younger or older, lying about their birth date to enlist. The oldest recorded member of the CEF was 80, while the youngest was ten. The average age of the Canadian soldier was 26.”

Ernest_Henry_MedicalThe need for men being what it was, and he being fit enough to pass the very cursory medical examination, on  May 19, 1916, after some training in Canada, he left for England, arriving on May 30. His training continued in England and on March 18, 1917, he was taken on strength with the Canadian Machine Gun Depot at Crowborough. His son was also attached to this group; a postcard shows that at one point father and son were housed together in Shorncliffe. All was going along swimmingly, but not for long.

I find it interesting that on one medical assessment signs of “senility” are mentioned, considering he would live to be a ripe old age and would augment his salary as a dry goods clerk by composing crossword puzzles for newspapers

During his time in England, he was training. It was during this physically taxing process that his Achilles heel came to be exposed: arteriosclerosis and a heart murmur. He couldn’t run or exert himself without collapsing. Not the kind of soldier one wanted in the trenches. Once it was determined he had lied about his age, he spent a year as a batman or personal servant to a commissioned officer, before being shipped back to Canada.

On June 5, 1917, he arrived at Canadian Discharge Depot, Buxton, which was used expressly for the married men and those returning on compassionate grounds. Alas, my great grandfather’s overseas venture was ending. On June 9, 1917, he departed Liverpool for Canada.

But he re-attested and indeed served by keeping the home fires burning as it were.

I find it interesting that on one medical assessment signs of “senility” are mentioned, considering he would live to be a ripe old age and would augment his salary as a dry goods clerk by composing crossword puzzles for newspapers. Did they just figure he was mad for trying to fool people?

 

DCS_Grad_2 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 DC on Twitter @DCMontreal and on Facebook, and add him on Google+
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A Short History of Montreal’s Anglo/Irish Pubs

Here’s a re-post of a popular piece on Montreal’s Anglo/Irish pubs. Just in time for St. Patrick’s day! To see the original post, including many comments from former employees and patrons click here.


John Bull Pub ad from The Gazette October 1972

John Bull Pub ad from The Gazette October 1972

Back when I was young, during the mid-seventies,  it seemed Montreal was awash with Anglo/Irish Pubs. There’s still a good number of them today including Hurley’s, McKibbin’s , The Irish Embassy and the Old Dublin to name but a few, but when I was cutting my drinking teeth there was a circuit of pubs in the western downtown area. They all had similar décor; after all, there’s only so much variation you can have on the theme. There was lots of brass and not much plastic,  easily cleaned concrete or tiled floors (no carpets, thanks), wood paneling and large tables for large groups (remember, this was a time when people bought drinks in “rounds” and managed to do so without having to mortgage their homes). The requisite dart boards, and very small stages, often just a raised area in the corner because floor space was at a premium.

Maidenhead Inn ad from The Gazette in March 1971

Maidenhead Inn ad from The Gazette in March 1971

Not only was the appearance similar but the entertainment was pretty much the same, at least in style. Usually a duo playing what North Americans considered traditional Celtic pub songs including Farewell to Nova Scotia, Whiskey in the Jar and The Black Velvet Band (and I hope they got those seven old ladies out of the lavatory). The main house act played Thursday through Saturday nights but other acts filled in the rest of the week so there was never a night without live music.

Starting this trip down memory lane, moving east from Atwater Avenue, the first pub you came to was the Maidenhead Inn in Alexis Nihon Plaza featuring the piano magic of Goa, India’s own Ferdie Fertado who would leave Montreal after several years and move to Laguna Beach, California where he passed away about three years ago. The Maidenhead waitresses wore low-cut “wenches” outfits while serving bottled beer and mixed drinks.

Site of former Clover Leaf and Molly Maguires

Site of former Clover Leaf and Molly Maguires

That was another shared feature not only of the Anglo/Irish places, but all Montreal bars at that time; beer came in bottles. Draft beer on tap was served only in taverns (and later brasseries) and was a cheap lower quality beer produced by the breweries for the express purpose of taverns.

Moving along, on the south-east corner of Ste. Catherine and Lambert-Clossé streets (then referred to simply as Closse) adjacent to the Shell Station, was the Clover Leaf that would close and, for a very short time, become Molly Maguires. I’d let you know what the décor was like, but I don’t think I was ever inside.

Next up is the Grandfather of Montreal Anglo-style pubs, the Cock ‘N’ Bull. It is still a going concern today although its red-roof entrance is gone and the inside is slightly different as well. In its original state the bar, complete with embedded British coins, was located halfway along the  east wall, about 15 feet toward the back from its current position, placing it smack in front of the “stage”, which is now the darts corner.

Cock 'N' Bull Pub today

Cock ‘N’ Bull Pub today

The stage was an area about 5 square feet that would give any claustrophobic performer a fit as it was enclosed on three sides by patrons hooting, hollering and singing. (A strict “no dancing” rule was enforced to cut down on accidents.) I also assume they have gotten rid of the sign that read: “Free drinks for anyone over the age of 70 and accompanied by a parent”. In these days of increased longevity that could become expensive!

Late Sunday morning was brunch time at the Cock ‘n’ Bull and Sunday nights were Dixieland Jazz nights. But one of the most popular events was Monday’s Amateur Night. The late Ted Blackman wrote a great column on the amateur spectacular in The Gazette in May of 1974

On de Maisonneuve right across from Sir George Williams University’s (now Concordia) Henry F. Hall Building was the Fyfe and Drum (neither Anglo nor Irish but clearly Scottish). The building was torn down to make way for the Concordia Library, but in its day the Fyfe was, not surprisingly, a hang-out for students.

The old entrance to Finnegan's Irish Pub

The old entrance to Finnegan’s Irish Pub

Just a bit further east on de Maisonneuve in what has most recently been an entrance to Wanda’s Strip Club was Finnigan’s Irish Pub. It had been located on the top floor of the building, but by the time of the 1976 Olympics was a rowdy packed basement pub.

That summer of 1976 saw many bars filled to capacity and beyond as the world once again came to Montreal for the Olympics as it had in 1967 for EXPO 67. When I think back to evenings in Finnigan’s what comes to mind are the words fire trap.

Until a few years ago the Downtown YMCA building extended out over half of de Maisonneuve from Drummond to Stanley Streets. On the north side of de Maisonneuve not actually under the Y overhang, but in its shadow was the John Bull Pub. It was more of a Rock ‘n’ Roll place than traditional pub music. Except as the ad above shows they ran an amateur night on Monday’s as well, hosted by the ubiquitous Ferdie Fertado who clearly made the rounds.

Irish Lancer Pub ad from The Gazette September 1975

Irish Lancer Pub ad from The Gazette September 1975

On Drummond Street below Ste. Catherine Street in the basement of the Lasalle Hotel was the Irish Lancer. The Lancer’s bathrooms were outside the pub itself in a sort of lobby and were shared with guests of the hotel who were often confronted by drunk pub patrons.

On Peel Street just above Cyprus Street and the Windsor Hotel was the Hunter’s Horn. Given its location in the heart of downtown Montreal it attracted a more businessperson clientele – more suits than the other pubs. The upstairs lounge, or Parlor as it was called, was a bit up-market being carpeted and nicely appointed. It hosted the Montreal Press Club for several years.

 

HuntersHorn

UPDATE: During the recent renovation of Alexis Nihon shopping centre, I snapped a couple of shots of what was once the Maidenhead Inn but is now a delicatessen.

Left: Front door Right: Interior

Front door                                                                   Interior

Recently Elaine, who has commented on this post and let me know she worked at the Maidenhead Inn, sent me some pictures from her time there. With her permission I post them here. She also has an interesting online petition regarding Robin Hood’s Well in Nottingham; have a read and consider signing it.

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Me 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 DC on Twitter @DCMontreal and on Facebook, and add him on Google+
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March Still a Lion in Montreal

Let’s hope this is Old Man Winter’s last kick at the can!

Snow_1Snow_2Snow_3Snow_4

 

DCS_Grad_2 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+
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Single-Payer Health Care the Only Way to Go

Carte_Soliel

I am often confused by the negative reaction toward single-payer healthcare that seems to be prevalent in the United States. With the current race to choose candidates for November’s election, the topic keeps coming up. It seems to me odd that single-payer healthcare is usually referred to as something to be avoided, along the lines of gun control.  I had some time to consider this last Friday while waiting at the hospital emergency room for my fiancee to be treated for what turned out to be a fractured arm.

It seems to me odd that single-payer healthcare is usually referred to as something to be avoided, along the lines of gun control.

Upon arrival at the Montreal General Hospital we were seen immediately by a triage nurse who assessed the situation as worthy of emergency care – but not a life and death case –  and entered basic information into an electronic file. This included presentation of her Quebec Medicare card.

The next step was to register; addresses, phone numbers and details of the injury, This took about five minutes, after which we sat and waited to be called for attention.

Her initial examination was conducted by a woman resident who ordered x-rays and painkillers for her. Within several minutes she was given Tylenol and morphine and off to the x-ray room we went. No waiting, in and out in about ten minutes.

Back to the waiting room to be called again once the x-rays had been studied. This took about an hour or so. But at least she had been given something for the pain. An orthopedic doctor saw her and explained that the arm was fractured but that he believed a cast would do the trick and that surgery was not required.

The cast application was a painful ordeal that was alleviated somewhat by an injection of more morphine. Once the cast was applied a new set of x-rays were taken and the doctor was able to ascertain that the cast was supporting the broken bone as it should. A prescription was provided for painkillers as well as a supply for see her through the night.

But there are no worries about expenses at a time when medical attention is of paramount importance.

The whole procedure took about five hours but the real shock was when the bill arrived! Consultations with two doctors, application of a cast, two sets of x-rays and miscellaneous administrative charges brought our invoice up to a grand total of …. wait a minute … there was no invoice.

The service was of course covered by our single payer healthcare system: the Government. Tax dollars. It is not ‘free’. But there are no worries about expenses at a time when medical attention is of paramount importance. I can only imagine what it would be like to be tallying up the cost of things while sitting in the waiting room.

Call it single-payer, call it socialized medicine, it seems to me it is the only way to go. 

DCS_Grad_2 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+
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Hey Weather Network, Quebec is Part of Canada

Map

We have one of those televisions that allow you to customize certain aspects. For instance the start up channel can be programmed to a favourite. Turning on my mother’s television brings you to CNN, as that is what she watches most. In my house my fiancée – aka my significantly better half – has arranged things to have The Weather Network appear when the TV is turned on. To be precise, the French-language weather network, MétéoMédia, comes on.

As one who, like many others, has twice voted to keep Quebec in Canada, it is annoying to see an alleged national weather station opt to leave out the largest province.

The reason she likes to monitor things meteorological is that coming from Venezuela where there is relatively little variation in weather conditions – it is for the most part warm and sunny – so she is amazed at how things change here.

The reason she has keyed in the French version is that with the exception of local updates, The Weather Network tends to present its national report as if the province of Quebec did not exist. They jump from Ontario to New Brunswick and beyond. I assume they do so because there is a French-language channel that focuses primarily but not exclusively on the conditions and forecasts for Quebec.

Well, note to The Weather Network, there are plenty of English-speaking folks here who could, I suspect, garner their information from MétéoMédia, but still feel shut out by The Weather Network. There is no need to delve into the long history of Quebec’s linguistic squabbles here, there are plenty of blogs that do that. On this occasion my gripe is not with the French side of things, but the English.

Would it be a big deal to include Quebec in the coast to coast forecasts?

… note to The Weather Network, there are plenty of English-speaking folks here who could, I suspect, garner their information from MétéoMédia, but still feel shut out by The Weather Network.

At one time Toyota Canada, based in Ontario, sent all documentation to new car owners in Quebec in French. Only once the owner went to the trouble of contacting Toyota and requesting English papers were they sent. (And I have been told it took some cajoling to get the situation sorted out.) IKEA Canada still mails only French language catalogues to Quebec homes; indicating English books can be picked up in the store.

As one who, like many others, has twice voted to keep Quebec in Canada, it is annoying to see an alleged national weather station opt to leave out the largest province.

DCS_Grad_2 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 DC on Twitter @DCMontreal and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

 

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TIMBERRRRRRRRRR!!!

The annual tradition of disposing of the Christmas tree via the window!

 

DCS_Grad_2 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 DC on Twitter @DCMontreal and on Facebook, and add him on Google+
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Dear Syrian Refugees

CTVNews

Below is a lighthearted letter I wrote to the Syrian refugees who will be arriving in Canada over the next weeks and months. Last Wednesday, December 16, I sent this to the Montreal Gazette for publication consideration. I have done this several times in the past and have always received some sort of reply; either an acceptance with publication date details, or an automatic reply. This time nothing. On Saturday morning the Gazette Saturday columnist Josh Freed’s piece was of a similar nature, offering some tips for the newcomers. Could this have affected my submission? Let me be clear, I am not suggesting plagiarism in any way, but rather pure coincidence.

 

Dear Syrian Refugees,

Let me begin by extending to you a heartfelt welcome to Canada. As you know, our government has pledged to accept some 25,000 of you over the next couple of months. We had hoped to have the entire contingent settled by the end of this month, but that proved impossible.

You have the advantage of arriving here during what is called an El Niño year. Usually by December our streets are covered with snow, and frigid air has descended upon us. And, unlike the ‘calendar winter’ these conditions can last six or seven months!

Many if not all of you have endured what have been described as nothing short of  inhuman conditions. Most of us will never really be able to comprehend what you have experienced. But that is in the past now, and although scars have been left, you can start to look forward to better things. I believe you will find conditions here much more pleasant.

No doubt you are overwhelmed as you begin adjusting to your new home. I imagine the government has swamped you with handy instructions about housing, Medicare, schooling and the like. But I want to take a moment or two to bring you up to speed on some of the more mundane yet essential aspects of life in Canada.

Perhaps you have heard about our winters. When people think of Canada they often imagine a cold, icy tundra. You have the advantage of arriving here during what is called an El Niño year. Usually by December our streets are covered with snow, and frigid air has descended upon us. And, unlike the ‘calendar winter’ these conditions can last six or seven months!

You see our weather is affected by the ocean off the coast of Peru. I kid you not. An El Niño year means we tend to have a warmer winter, perfect as an introduction to the season for newcomers from warm places.  But don’t be fooled, please do not assume this is a normal Canadian winter. Enjoy the mild weather while you can, think of it as a transitional phase, and brace yourself for next year. As an aside, if you do find this winter to be unbearable, you have almost a year to figure out how to deal with the problem.

A word of warning: given almost fifty years of futility in the chase for a Stanley Cup, many fans of the Maple Leafs get downright cranky when their dear Buds are eliminated. Just give them a wide berth for a week or so. But you won’t have to worry about that for a couple of months!

Speaking of ice, you may be familiar with our love of hockey; if not, you soon will be. In some cities, right here in Montreal for instance, this worship of our beloved Canadiens has often been likened to a religion. As you get settled and take care of the necessities, take some time to relax and watch a hockey game or two. There are seven National Hockey League teams based in Canadian cities, and countless junior and other teams across the country, so it may be difficult to miss. Many of you will be living in the Toronto area. A word of warning: given almost fifty years of futility in the chase for a Stanley Cup, many fans of the Maple Leafs get downright cranky when their dear Buds are eliminated. Just give them a wide berth for a week or so. But you won’t have to worry about that for a couple of months!

As you get to know us you will discover that we tend to apologize frequently. Saying sorry is often depicted as a national pastime in Canada: bacon, hockey and apologizing Our neighbours to the south find this most amusing. But frankly they just don’t understand. Let me enlighten you as to the true nature of the Canadian apology as they can be very subtle in nature – often more empathetic than apologetic.

Let’s say a Canadian and a non-Canadian turn a corner and bump into each other on a sidewalk. The Canadian will probably be the first to say cheerily “Sorry about that” even though  both were equally at fault, or no fault existed. The other person may also apologize, just as cheerily, resulting in what is known as a civilized exchange. Then again he or she may seize upon the Canadian’s apology to feel superior and reply “You certainly should be sorry” or some other witty retort. In this case the subtlety of the sorry masks its true intent, which is actually along the lines of: “Sorry, I didn’t realize you are a total lout unable to function in normal society”. Now you know the secret.

I hope these little bits of advice help you to get acquainted with your new home and neighbours. Considering the upheaval in your lives I have a feeling you will have no problem fitting in here. Again, welcome.

DCS_Grad_2 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 DC on Twitter @DCMontreal and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

 

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My Meeting With Pierre Elliott Trudeau

This week Canadian Prime Minister-designate Justin Trudeau will be soon in as the country’s twenty-third Prime Minister. Since his Liberal Party of Canada’s majority election victory much has been said and written about what to expect from Trudeau. I am pleased that for the most part the attention has been focussed on Justin, and not his father Pierre Elliott Trudeau who was our fifteenth PM. It is up to Justin to succeed or fail based on his own merits, not his father’s legacy.

I consider myself fortunate to have had a short, one-on-one meeting with Mr. Trudeau during this time. He a former Prime Minister and me a young political organizer.

However hearing the Trudeau name repeatedly brought back a personal memory of my meeting with Trudeau Senior.  When he left politics in the early eighties he was offered and accepted a partnership with a prestigious Montreal law firm. This is a fairly common occurrence; Montreal being, among many other things, the city of former Prime Ministers. I suspect the deal is more about giving former Prime Ministers a place to do their thing – memoirs, speaking engagements – in return for placing their name on the firm’s letterhead.

I consider myself fortunate to have had a short, one-on-one meeting with Mr. Trudeau during this time. He a former Prime Minister and me a young political organizer. The encounter started out with neither of us seeing eye-to-eye with the other, but ended with smiles.

Let me explain. In the spring of 1985 I was a contracted coordinator of political conventions. I played no part in policy, but was responsible for putting microphones in front of guest speakers, food on plates and delegates in accommodations. I was also the coordinator of several committees involved with the convention I was working on at that time. The chairmen of one of those committees was a lawyer at Mr. Trudeau’s firm, and I needed to meet with him.

One fine morning I arrived at the lobby of the building that housed this firm only to discover that the bank of elevators destined for the upper floors was, with one execution, out of order. As the crowd grew in the lobby, and a security guard did his best to manage traffic in the one elevator, many folks opted to go off for a coffee, and return when things were back to normal. (Had this been Toronto there would have been much weeping and gnashing of teeth at the thought of lost office time.)

We stood there in the ‘men at a urinal’ stance – look anywhere but at the other person – employed when only two people are in an elevator …

I finally squeezed into the lone functioning elevator, the door closed and we shot up to the building’s midway point before the car stopped and people started to get off. This continued for several floors, winnowing down the number of passengers until there were but two of us; Mr. Trudeau and myself. I had not even noticed he was there at first. We stood there in the ‘men at a urinal’ stance – look anywhere but at the other person – employed when only two people are in an elevator when suddenly the elevator stopped, and the lights went out.

For the next few moments I experienced a combination of claustrophobia and a tied-tongue. What to say? I would like to tell you I asked him some pretty pointed questions about his time in office, but the truth is that neither of us said a word. After a few moments the lights came back on, the elevator jerked to life, moved up to our floor and we got off. Over the years I have toyed with embellishing the experience, saying we had made plans to meet up for lunch, or go canoeing, but I always thought better of it.

CBC

When Mr. Trudeau passed away in 2000, among his honorary pallbearers were Jimmy Carter and Fidel Castro. There is a photograph of these two men talking outside Montreal’s Notre Dame Basilica.  I often wonder if they were discussing Trudeau’s story of being stuck in an elevator with me. Guess not.  

DCS_Grad_2 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 DC on Twitter @DCMontreal and on Facebook, and add him on Google+
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