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"Notes" #58


The article in the Free Press read, "Slow Train to Freedom", and it told of how the CPR and CNR railways and their black porters had such a influence on Western Canadian black community life. The article took me in a completely different direction.

I was 16 years old and playing football for the West End Rams. We were on our way to Vancouver/Victoria for the inaugural "Little Grey Cup". The "Grey Cup" was being played in Vancouver and so the organizers of this juvenile football game played off the hype and billed the event as a precursor to actual iconic event - the big one in Vancouver and the little in Victoria.

I had broken my ankle in the last game of the year but wasn't going to miss this once in a lifetime trip and game. Crutches and suitcase, I, along with 25 of my teammates, climbed aboard the CPR train heading west.

We were helped in loading our many bags of football gear and personal suitcases by two wonderful porters. They would be with us for the entire trip to Vancouver. Of course boys being boys, we had smuggled a few cases of beer on board - nothing that would get us too blasted, yet still enough to make us silly and feeling like kings of the world. The parties started in earnest on the second day out. With music blasters and conga drums, we were loud but thankfully had our own train coach so we didn't bother any of the other folks on the train. Our football coaches were great. They joined in the fun but were there with an adult presence that helped to keep us safe. We got a great surprise when one of the porters brought out his saxophone and the other his guitar.

One evening I was sitting off by myself, as I was prone to do, and one of the porters joined me. We got talking and I mentioned a gentleman whom I had never met but had heard my uncles talking about. He was also a porter, by the name of Percy Haynes. Mr. Haynes' family owned Haynes Chicken Shack just a street or two over from my grandparents' home on Alexander Avenue where my father, one sister and four brothers grew up. The porter's face lit up and he stated, "So you're a Rosin, eh? I grew up with the Rosins", and he proceeded to name them all. Yes, it was Percy Haynes and yes, he took really good care of me (lots of CPR snacks) the rest of the trip.

The Haynes Chicken Shack, Percy Haynes, West End Rams, all of the Rosins of that era are all gone now, but it is interesting how a short piece in the newspaper can bring it all back again so vividly.

The key to a good life is developing interests and discovering activities that enable you to experience "flow" regularly in your life.


Robert Bly in his book, "The Sibling Society" stated that back in 1935 the average working man had forty hours a week free including Saturday and Sunday. By 1999 it was down to seventeen hours. The twenty-three lost hours are the very hours in which the father could be a nurturing father, have some time for himself, and mother could feel like she had a husband. "Family meals, talks, reading together no longer take place," writes Bly. "What the young need - stability, presence, attention, advice, good psychic food, unpolluted stories."

I miss the game already!

Two Blondes with Irish Caddies

Two blonde golfers in Ireland were on a very foggy par 3. They could see the top of the flag but not the green. Not to worry, their caddies said they will watch, so, off they went. When they reached the green and looked around they found one ball 2 feet from the hole, the other in the hole.

The Caddies asked what ball they were using as they were unsure which one had holed out. Both blondes said they were using Top-Flite 2 balls. All decided the only way to find a solution was to talk to the Pro. After hearing the story, seeing the balls, and congratulating them for their great shots, he asked the Caddies, okay, now which one of the blondes was using the orange ball?"

Work is what you do in between play times.     Dan


Reader Response to "Notes" #57

I surely don't have any solution, but I like your "Integration" suggestion as a means of moving forward, especially if it helps cut the "Blame Game", since I am growing weary of being assessed personal responsibility (and getting billed) for events of long ago that I had no control over and nothing to do with.

I can't help but think back to the context of the world at the time. Great Britain was a great, imperial power, having conquered lands around the world. (Remember the line, "The sun never sets on the British Empire"?) Canada was one more horse in their stable. The inhabitants were largely nomadic and often at war with one another (as in, "Just ask the Algonquin...Oh, I'm sorry. You can't because the Iroquois wiped them out.")  So how does an empire deal with this far flung colony? Looking to their own experience, families that could afford it, all sent their children to boarding schools; the model for the residential schools set up here as a means of educating the children, and (sadly in today's context) eliminating their native culture in order to pursue a program of assimilation, or "Integration". Of course, with the benefit of hindsight and our "more enlightened" society, we can now appreciate the flaws in that course of action. Although there can be no excuse for the abuse these poor children suffered, the plan was not significantly different from that which the conquerors were familiar with from their own experience at home. But, of course, today we only focus on the result with no thought given to the potential desired effect of assimilating these people in to a more modern, advanced and advancing society. Without education, there could be no hope for them; there would be no option other than hunting, fishing and trapping. Nevertheless, the Indian Act appears to have been poorly conceived, and the reserve system was largely a betrayal of good faith. For that, we should be truly sorry.

You are also correct about the fact that the unmarked graves have been common knowledge among the Indigenous people for decades, but was that out of the ordinary for the times? How many may have had wooden crosses that simply deteriorated over time, as certainly no one would be afforded a stone marker in the hinterland locations of the schools. But, of course, who would want to consider that because it would not keep the fire burning, and a raging flame is helpful in obtaining more cash from our collective pockets. With 3,201 deceased over 150 years, that works out to about 21 deaths per year across 150,000 students. How does that mortality rate compare to the general youth population of Canada over those years, particularly in remote locations? (Our grandparents, and their parents, etc. had large families because of the mortality of children. My grandmother often said, "If you only have one child, you have none" because it was not expected that all would survive, particularly on the farm.)  The families, however, should always have been appropriately notified with the care and attention appropriate to any situation of grief.

Finally, although I seldom had any positive thoughts about our former premier, I really did not take exception to his comments about European settlers coming here to build, not destroy. Most left deplorable conditions to seek a new life here and responded to government policy. Those individuals who came here and worked their tails off had no say in government policy and gave everything they could to create a better life for their families. One need only read the November 13, 2021 article in the Winnipeg Free Press on Mennonite farmers in Manitoba to get a sense of what the newcomers endured and accomplished.To blame the settlers, attracted here by government policy, seems a bit misdirected.

Well, that was certainly my two bits worth!     Wayne

Thank you for your perspective Wayne. Anyone have a different slant on this issue

More on this topic next week