Preserved Stories Blog

October 1, 2015 is the deadline to register by cheque for MCHS ’60s Reunion taking place at Old Mill Toronto on Saturday, October 17

How to register for the MCHS ’60s Reunion and Celebration of the ’60s

The reunion takes place on October 17, 2015 starting at 6:00 pm at Old Mill Toronto at 21 Old Mill Rd, Toronto (416) 236-2641.

As of August 20, 2015 we have forty-six (46) people who are registered and a number of people who have previously indicated to us that they are planning to attend.

We have arranged for special reunion rates at the Stay Inn (photo above) and at Old Mill Toronto. The rates at Stay Inn are particularly attractive for attendees, and it's not far from Old Mill Toronto. Jaan Pill photo

We have arranged for special reunion rates at the Stay Inn (photo above) and at Old Mill Toronto. The rates at Stay Inn are particularly attractive for attendees and it’s not far from Old Mill Toronto. Jaan Pill photo

I recall a 1960s-era psychology professor, Donald Hebb at McGill, who once commented in class that having a deadline sometimes serves a useful purpose, as it enables us to get certain things done that we otherwise might not get around to doing.

You can find the registration – and the Deadlines – information at this page at the MCHS 2015 website:



September 17, 2015 is the last day to get guaranteed MCHS 2015 Reunion Rates at Old Mill Toronto and at the Stay Inn. After that date, accommodations at the preferred rates may or may not be available.

October 1 is the last day to register by sending a cheque to Diana Redden in Vancouver.

Prior to the Sunday Brunch at Old Mill Toronto on Sunday, October 18, 2015 (the day after the reunion), we will meet at 10:30 am in front of Old Mill Toronto for a 30-minute along the Humber River. The Brunch begins at 11:00 am. We will need to know the number of Brunch Attendees by October 11, 2015. Jaan Pill photo

Prior to the Sunday Brunch at Old Mill Toronto on Sunday, October 18, 2015 (the day after the reunion), we will meet at 10:30 am in front of Old Mill Toronto for a 30-minute along the Humber River. The Brunch begins at 11:00 am. We will need to know the number of Brunch Attendees by October 11, 2015. Jaan Pill photo

October 11 is the date by which we need to know how many people plan to attend the Sunday Brunch (October 18) at Old Mill Toronto. The organizing team will check with attendees, regarding this question.

October 12 is the date by which the organizing team needs to know that a given person is planning to attend, by paying in cash at the door on October 17. We need to inform Old Mill Toronto, three business days before the event, what our total attendance will be.

If you are deciding at the last moment, and plan to pay at the door, please let us know of your decision by October 12.

To ensure we get the information on time, you can send an email to Jaan Pill at or you can phone or send a text message to Jaan at 416-722-6630.

Informal get-togethers before the reunion

Stay Inn. Jaan Pill photo

Stay Inn. Jaan Pill photo

We are currently working on arranging for an informal Friday (October 16, 2015) get-together among the reunion attendees at the Stay Inn, which is not far from Old Mill Toronto or possibly at another location.

We have arranged for special accommodations rates at the Stay Inn for attendees and we anticipate that some attendees are likely to be staying there. The get-together would be at a meeting room at the Stay Inn, assuming the room is available. Otherwise, we will find some other place.

Some people may, alternatively, wish to arrange for an informal get-together on Friday evening at the Home Smith Jazz Bar at Old Mill Toronto or at some other nearby location.

People have recently commented that, after 40 or 50 years, it can be a good idea to meet a few people, from one’s high school years, so that once the reunion is underway at 6:00 pm on the Saturday, a person already has met at least a few people from the past, and the process of meeting old friends after 50 years ago will not be too disorienting, or too great a shock to one’s system!

Once we have details in place, regarding an informal get-together or get-togethers, we will share the information.

Bridge across the Humber River. Jaan Pill photo

Bridge across the Humber River. Jaan Pill photo

If anyone among the attendees has some suggestions on where to get together on Friday, October 16, 2015 or Saturday, October 17 prior to the 6:00 pm start of the reunion at Old Mill Toronto, please let us know.

Or if you have a particular group of friends from MCHS that you already want to meet with, you are of course free to make your own arrangements amongst your friends.

We had a previous plan to arrange for a two-hour walk along the Humber River, on Saturday, October 17, 2015 prior to the 6:00 pm start of the reunion. However, many conversations among potential attendees have led us to the conclusion that many people would prefer to spend their time getting ready for the 6:00 pm start of the reunion, rather than travelling to and from Old Mill Toronto to take in a two-hour nature hike along the Humber River on that day. It’s our understanding that getting ready for a reunion will take considerably longer than 15 minutes, for many of the attendees who will be arriving in style at this event!

Please note there is no dress code. You can wear whatever you want. By popular demand, we have ensured that there will be no MCHS Prefects wandering the hallways checking on what you wear,

Humber River walk will be on Sunday Morning (10:30 am, October 18, 2015) instead of on October 17

The Humber River walk will cross the Humber River at this bridge, which is located just to the west of Old Mill Toronto. Jaan Pill photo

The Humber River walk will cross the Humber River at this bridge, which is located just to the west of Old Mill Toronto. Jaan Pill photo

After some discussion, we have decided to go with an abbreviated, 30-minute walk along the Humber River starting at the entrance to Old Mill Toronto at 10:30 am on Sunday, October 18, 2015, the day after the reunion. The walk will end at 11:00 am, that being the time on Sunday when we have reserved 20 seats for a Sunday Brunch at the Old Mill Restaurant.

The Brunch will take place on the second floor of the restaurant, offering a great view of the nearby historic Humber River.

We have currently reserved 20 seats; we will need to have a final figure, for the number of people attending the Brunch, by a week prior to the event at the latest – that is, by October 11, 2015. We will find a way to ensure that we know, by that date, which of the reunion attendees wish to join us for the Sunday Brunch.


On a recent visit to the site of the Humber River walk, I took some photos of a heron (or some such bird) that was nonchalantly catching one fish after another. You could see the outline of the fish, going down inside the bird’s long neck, as it went about its feeding. Jaan Pill photo

The Humber River walk will enable us to admire what is left of the fall colours at that time of year, and to comment on how the importance of the river has changed over the centuries in light of the changing occupants and natural disasters (e.g. Hurricane Hazel in 1954) that have occurred along its banks.

We will also note that the year 2015 marks the 400th anniversary of Étienne Brûlé’s expedition, accompanied by Wendat guides, from Orillia to Lake Ontario in 1615. Scott Munro (MCHS ’63) has remarked that he still remembers first learning about Étienne Brûlé at a memorable grade 9 history class at Malcolm Campbell High School.

Humber River, viewed from the west bank close to Old Mill Toronto. Jaan Pill photo

Humber River, viewed from the west bank close to Old Mill Toronto. Jaan Pill photo

The registration fee is $150

“What do I get for $150?” We have made a video that addresses that question and are pleased that quite a few people have viewed it online:

As Lynn Hennebury Legge (MCHS ’64) very eloquently notes in the video, we are getting older and the opportunity, for a get-together of this size, may not occur again, for some of us who are now approaching age 70, or have already reached that delightful stage of life.

Why Toronto, not Montreal?

This has been the second most frequently asked question. We have made a video that addresses that great question as well:

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

At an early stage of our planning, we received a comment indicating that it would be good to have an FAQ page where potential attendees can find answers to typical questions. By way of following up, we are pleased to share with you the following link, in the event you have not read the FAQ, and would have an interest in reading such a document:

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

As always, we welcome your comments and suggestions. This reunion is your event, and all of our planning has been focused on ensuring that your views are taken into account. Each person who attends, as we like to say, is truly the star of the show. Our abiding interest and aim is to ensure that every person who attends feels at home and has a great time, and gets home safely.


You can access previous Newsletters, with highlights about what will be happening at the reunion, at this page at the MCHS 2015 website:

Reunion News (including Newsletters)


Share this:

Posted in MCHS 2015 Reunion, Newsletter, Toronto | Leave a comment

David Godley of Long Branch (Toronto) highlights two recent meetings with Planning Staff

The following message is from David Godley:

Long Branch Issues Overview August 2015

Two meetings have been held with Planning Staff recently. First with Neil Cresswell, Head of Etobicoke’s Planning Office and second with Denise Rundle who is doing a City-wide review of Committee of Adjustment processes. This is my take on the current situation.

Full-blown crisis

Over the last 3 years or so severance and variance approvals have grown from something of relatively little concern to heading for a full-blown crisis of conservation. It seems that almost every week now we hear about a new proposal for higher density housing on narrow lots.

Three storey development proposals on narrow lots (usually around 25 feet wide) is the antithesis of Long Branch’s character where 50 feet wide lots with plenty of space around the houses are the norm. Approvals are making a mockery of good planning and undermining Toronto’s greatest asset –its neighbourhoods which overall are probably the best in North America.

Planning matter affecting whole city

This type of development is seriously affecting living conditions of nearby neighbours. We are aware of people moving out of Province and even out of country as a result of planning experiences. This is an important planning matter which affects the whole city.

The City’s policies expressed in the Official Plan are being undermined by the OMB now that there is increasingly strong development pressure. The OMB’s overly legalistic formula for reaching decisions and their weak grasp of planning and especially urban design has led them to incorrect conclusions. The OMB’s mode of decision-making is in contrast to the Conservation Review Board.

What are essentially local matters and local decisions are being overturned by the OMB at the rate of 75% in Long Branch.

Principal area of concern

The principal area of concern is of overly narrow lots and two storey developments over garages, although there are many more sub-issues.

We want our neighbourhood to be enhanced by new development rather tha the character being destroyed. We simply want the excellent Official Plan policies to be implemented.

We are fortunate to be in a time when their may be an alternative to the OMB in the form of Local Area Boards or possibly not having appeals. Similar risks abound, though, unless the adjudicators are top drawer.

We are also fortunate that the Official Plan is currently being amended so that the “loopholes” opened up by developer planners and lawyers can be addressed. The review of the Official Plan may not be done again for 10 years so it is important to get the amendments right.

It is evident that the Committee of Adjustment scenario has changed radically in a relatively short time. A decade or so ago there was a 10% guide for minor, and hardship/unusual lot configuration were considered to be reasons to grant approval.

The De Gasperis Divisional Court case reinforced this. It confirmed to the City’s current definition of minor “Small changes or exceptions to existing land use or development restrictions contained in the zoning bylaw are called minor variances.”

Now 100% variance is not considered out of range by the OMB and zoning is being used as a benchmark for greater control rather than its intent. More approvals attract more applications so without some correction the situation will worsen. Many of these applications should be zoning bylaw amendments.

Planning Department and Neighbourhood

There is much common ground between the Planning Department and the Neighbourhood. The inclusion of the notion that citizens should have some latitude to shape their community came through clearly in the meetings.

I have confidence in the reforms to process which are being undertaken by Denise Rundle, Deputy Secretary Treasurer for Scarborough, acting in a City wide capacity. She has already initiated the circulation of elevations, a long time concern.

She alerted us to the Application Information Centre which plots applications from submission. This is a major breakthrough and should allow more discussion of individual issues early in the process. She also felt that for good planning to happen we need to focus on the plans submitted rather than the actual variances which are built around the design by the Building Department.

That means that rights to develop towards the rear of lot are irrelevant. Severance and variance applications which allow development not in accordance with the Official Plan should not be approved.

Where the development is tied to a “substantially similar” condition (which should apply to all new builds) it is self evident the plans that need to conform. Recognition of this would enable 3 storey dwellings to be described as such in the notices instead of the zoning definition of 2 storeys. Having two separate approval systems for dividing a lot is due to the Planning Act being built up over time. A comprehensive development permit system overcomes this duality.

Criteria for assessing severance and variance applications

The whole Committee of Adjustment system is immensely complex and is in continuous flux. However my view about criteria for assessing severance and variance applications can be boiled down to 4 questions:

1) Is the City’s definition of minor variance met?

2) Will the proposal stand out as new development when someone passes along the street?

3) What environmental impacts are there on the immediate neighbours?

4) What do the neighbours think?

Initiatives that are needed

Some basic initiatives are needed including:

1) Official Plan including revision of “prevailing” to the “most frequently occurring”, adding trees as part of landscaping and urban design under Section 4.1.5 and enhancing civic engagement by drawing those affected into the process early in the Planning Process section.

2) Zoning including protection of angled views for houses on the waterfront,  “Faux” basements being part of density calculations, controlling deck heights, protection of having one side of 50 feet wide lot being built followed by a severance application and double the density as at 86 23rd Street and contrasting design of twin houses.

3) Change in Practice in reports and evidence so as not to allow as of right development to override Official Plan policies.

There should be a neighbourhood association in operation soon which can help with a more co-ordinated planning approach as well as orchestrating community events.

David Godley
August 19, 2015


Share this:

Posted in Long Branch, Newsletter, Toronto | Leave a comment

In 1969-70, the whole school banded together to change the dress code

I recently came across a Comment, at one of my previous posts, from Steven Lesser.

Comment from Steven Lesser regarding Newsletter #16

Newsletter #16 asks:

“…in the 69-70 somewhere, the whole school banded together to change one of the rule[s] in dress code. Do you remember which part of the code was being challenged?”

Do I ever. Boys were required to wear ties to school. We hated that. One day, towards the end of the school year, we held a big rally on the front steps of the school. As I recall, someone blew a trumpet to urge us on. Then we all took off our ties and marched in the front doors, tie-less. That was my first year at MCHS.

Because there were so many of us, the administration had to use the VisEd room for detentions. We sat for half an hour after school every day for a week.

But the next year: No more ties.

[End of text]

Additional Comment regarding dress codes and other topics

That’s a great Comment, at a previous post, and warrants a separate post. I graduated in 1963 and did not know about this detail about how the dress code at Malcolm Campbell High School evolved in subsequent years – in particular in the late 1960s, by which time the earlier graduates were at work or at university.

I also came across a Comment at another previous post, which I made in response to a Comment from Bill Jacobson about a previous dress code topic.

Here are a couple of Comments, from the above-noted post, which I’m reprinting here in order to bring attention to them:

Ted Speevak (August 12, 2015)

Regarding the “5 Minute Speeches”, there was an exchange of posts between Bill Jacobson, you & I.

Your last note (June 20/2015) on the subject stated:

“The key decisions about such matters are made by the organizing committee at our face to face meetings. We will bring forward the suggestions that have been made, by Bill Jacobson and Ted Speevak.

Since then there was another meeting of the organizing committee in July. What was decided @ that meeting?

Many Thanks;

– TS

Jaan Pill (August 13, 2015)


We decided at the meeting that we will not have a series of five-minute speeches. There is one MCHS grad who had contacted us earlier, who wants to speak for five minutes about his career. He will have that opportunity. If a teacher from MCHS wants to say a few words, we will invite that person to say a few words. Aside from that, we’re not going to have a series of five-minute speeches.

Our focus, by way of storytelling, will be on the person-to-person conversations that occur when people mix and mingle during the Humber Buffet Dinner.

We have updated the MCHS 2015 website, regarding this topic.

Comments from you and from Bill Jacobson were closely taken into account, when we had the face-to-face meeting of the organizing committee on July 28, 2015 at St. Williams, Ontario.

Regarding Bill’s comments about the previous ‘dress code’ controversy, I feel it’s unfortunate that the organizing committee’s attempt to provide a helpful answer to an earlier inquiry, regarding what would be suitable for people to wear, at the reunion, would give rise to a particular view of where the organizing committee is coming from.

However, I for one am aware that it’s easy for a particular impression – about myself, by way of example – to develop, and that’s just a part of life. I take responsibility for the fact that I could have communicated the message better, with regard to the what-to-wear discussion. A person learns to live with the fact that some things that we do, as organizers, meet with a positive response, and some do not. One learns from such experiences.

We will be delighted if both Ted and Bill, and as many other grads as possible, do have the opportunity to attend the reunion. All MCHS Alumni have so much to offer, to ensure that we have the best get-together that is possible, for those of us who remember MCHS from half a century ago, give or take a few years. Every person who attends is the star of the show. That’s a consistent theme that has been emerging, in all of the organizing meetings that we’ve had to date.




Share this:

Posted in MCHS 2015 Stories, Newsletter, Toronto | Leave a comment

August 2015 Update from David Godley – Keeping Long Branch Long Branch

The following text is from David Godley:

Greetings Long Branch Residents

Incremental progress is being made in stemming the destruction of Long Branch character. Please feel free to ask for clarification or additional information.

Urban Design Study

As noted previously, Long Branch is to be an urban design pilot study by consultants. Once completed it can be used for setting an example for other neighbourhoods in the City.

City Planning Comments on Severances

Comments are now more fulsome and recommend deferral so that all parties can meet.

Neighbourhood Fit

Residents know that the nearby houses are more important to neighbourhood fit than houses at a distance.

All urban designers support this. Up to now City Planners have not used this approach. No development planner or OMB hearing officer dealing with Long Branch recently has recognised this as they rely on “expert witnesses”.

Unfortunately planning is not the OMB’s strong suit. We need well versed planners to make sound decisions.

The 39 33rd Street OMB hearing was the first time this notion of the micro-neighbourhood has received any real attention.

OMB Hearing for 39 33rd Street

This took place on July 30th and 31st 2015. The residents did an excellent job of presenting their opposition with Jason Woodman and Nick Buczuk taking the lead.
Sarah O’Connor from City Legal and Anthony Hommik from City Planning did an excellent job. The City for the first time zeroed in on the most potent Official Plan policy – nearby dwelling fit.

The Chair was Blair Taylor who was also member for 4 27th St and 6 Shamrock OMB hearings. The 4 27th hearing was completed on July 23rd.

To have either of these proposals refused needs Mr Taylor to change his tune from the 6 Shamrock decision.

His report basically concluded that if you have poor development somewhere in the neighbourhood it justifies poor development anywhere.

OMB Hearing for 18 Daisy Avenue

This hearing took place on 23 February 2015. Another travesty decision. The OMB under chair Helen Jackson approved a semi detached pair on a 45 feet lot increasing the density from 0.35 permitted to 1.00.

Now we will have the densest, smallest lots in North Long Branch because she thought this was the emerging character. She must have missed the evidence on the Official Plan! (PL 141055)

18 Ash Committee of Adjustment

A surprising result on the surface. About half a dozen residents had negotiated with the developer’s designer to have a more traditional appearance and supported the proposal from 0.35 density to 0.59.

However it was refused by the Committee. This was the same developer that deliberately and illegally destroyed 7 mature healthy trees at 2 27th Street.

Meetings with Planning Staff

I have two meetings set up for this month to meet with senior officials on Local Planning and Committee of Adjustment matters.

Pre Submission Meetings

I have been involved in two cases where the potential applicant has consulted with neighbours recently before submission. This is a good sign. In one case it could lead to a complete refashioning of a new house.

Land Assemblies

On the grapevine it has been learned that the car dealerships north of Lake Shore Blvd will be redeveloped and St Agnes Church and Hogle Funeral Home are being purchased for redevelopment. Any definite information on this would enable those affected to influence proposals early in the process. Perhaps the Councillor’s Office could follow up on this one. Feel free to make a request.

Planning Bill 57

The chief feature affecting Long Branch is the revised definition of “minor” as in variance. This will be before the Legislature this Fall.

Review of OMB

No timelines have been established so I predict this will not be considered until 2016. That does not stop people from submitting to We may have a Local Appeal Board within a year and the City will be holding public meetings on this before a report is tabled in November.

I have already made a couple of submissions, one based on the OMB critique below:


1) The OMB is an arms length body and therefore should not be politically influenced. However the Board put too much weight on Provincial Intensification policies at the expense of Toronto’s Official Plan policies which state that neighbourhood character is more important than intensification. This is entirely within Provincial Policies as the Official Plan conforms to them. The cornerstone strategy in the Official Plan directs intensification away from neighbourhoods. There is no planning legitimacy to any of the severance approvals in Long Branch. Yet the Province overrule the Committee of Adjustment and Planning Department not to mention strong opposition to those negatively affected about 75% of the time.

2) The contest between a rich and knowledgeable development industry against the poor unknowledgeable citizen is grossly unfair. The OMB takes no account of this or their own mandate on fairness.

3) The OMB is so naive that they do not realise the deep conflict of development planner’s evidence. No one is allowed to mention this at a hearing.

4) The OMB relies on expert witnesses who clearly do not tell the whole truth. They skim over or not mention policies that harm their case and emphasise policies that help them. This is the basis the OMB can say black is white and frequently do. This is illustrated in the decision on 48 35th Street. (PL140100). Since there is no expert evidence to contradict the developer’s planner, the Chair simply parroted his opinion which naturally avoids any awkward policies from the Official Plan. Simple matters like conditions which residents requested were ignored. Maybe she lost her notes!

5) The OMB’s approach ignores the Official Plan policies, zoning intent and definition of minor and all the legal and planning framework. I am puzzled why they ignore the Divisional court De Gasperis ruling that minor refers to size and impact. The hearing officers in Long Branch have no planning expertise and cannot comprehend urban design. The only one who was a qualified planner (but not well versed) approved 168 Lake Promenade, the worst decision so far along with 2 27th Street. Fortunatlety member Atcheson is no longer a Board member.

6) The OMB tends to treat citizens with contempt. This has led to much relevant evidence not being presented.

7) The OMB is in practice unaccountable. The Ombudsman simply says it is the system that is at fault. The Divisional Courts are out of reach for ordinary citizens.

I have given evidence at several OMB hearings recently. I was not allowed to give expert evidence despite having far broader and balanced expertise than qualified expert planners. I was labelled activist despite supporting the Committee of Adjustment and Planning Department.

As a qualified planner I can tell you none of the decisions to approve were based on good planning or deferred to common sense and rationality.

The Province is the appropriate place to deal with appeals. A long time ago the OMB did a good job. Not any more. The whole process has been skewed mostly by the development industry with the collusion of the OMB.

Few people have faith that the Government will change the culture of the OMB despite a review coming this fall. That is why the the City of Toronto is using its power to create its own Local Appeal Board that could conceivably be operational within a year.

However that leaves the rest of the Province at the mercy of a body supremely unfit for making planning decisions.

The Province could easily change to the English model which has worked satisfactorily for over 60 years. Here professional planners make reasoned decisions from a planning rather than legal perspective. It is essential that planning evidence be analysed critically by a well seasoned planner to make any sense at all. This can also be done by written representation which is much more affordable than hearings.

The OMB is a sham and embarrassment to all Ontarians. Last week’s sermon preached “Confront tyranny”!


Share this:

Posted in Newsletter, Toronto | Leave a comment

Graeme Decarie thinks back to 1963: “Where have all the flowers gone?” Christine Hamilton is excited about the reunion.

An update from Graeme Decarie, who writes:

This afternoon, as I wrote my blog on the news – and more than horrified by the day’s news – I kept thinking of a song popular back in 1963 – “Where have all the flowers gone?”

You may remember it was an anti-war song – with Vietnam in mind.

I remember the dances so well. I remember the afternoons getting the gymn decorated. And how I wanted it done so I could get home and have some supper before the dance. And the girls on the dance committee used to annoy the hell out of me because if I turned my back for an instant – or even if I didn’t – they’d get a record on – often playing “Where have all the flowers gone?”, and dropping the decorations so they could dance with each other.

We now live in a world infinitely more dangerous and more murderous – even insane – than 1963. And, as I wrote, all I could think of was “Where have all the flowers gone?”, and the girls on the committee dancing.


[End of text]

Comment from Jaan:

I remember the song well. We’ve shared the lyrics in a post from long ago (about a year ago, I mean):

Where Have All the Flowers Gone? Pete Seeger – Sanga Music Inc – BMI

In a previous post, we also shared a story, from Mr. Decarie, about the time he heard Mr. Talbot the principal singing the song to himself:

 Graeme Decarie has found his copy of the 1962-63 MCHS Highlander and shares additional recollections 



Christine Hamilton is enthused about the reunion

I got a call today from Christine Hamilton (MCHS ’64) of Victoria, B.C. who is excited about the reunion. If all works out, if nothing adverse turns up, that is, she will register by the end of August.

She was excited to know that Scott Munro (MCHS ’63) is leading a walk along the Humber River on October 17, 2015 during the day, before the 6:00 pm start of the reunion. She was also excited to hear that we have reserved seats for brunch at Old Mill Toronto for Sunday, October 18, 2015, the day after the reunion.

I mentioned that it will be possible for us to arrange rides for people, so that peoples who are staying at the Stay Inn will be able to get a ride to Old Mill Toronto, and back after the event, rather than needing to find a taxi.

Each person who attends the reunion is the star of the show

We also talked about the fact that some people have been keen to write their biographies, for the MCHS 2015 Bios at the MCHS 2015 website, and some people are not keen to write their bios. There are good reasons to write a bio, and good reasons not to.

We also talked about the fact that, at this reunion, what matters above all is that we have the occasion to hang out together and talk, to just meet each other after all these years. I mentioned that the reunion’s tag line, to the extent we are able to develop one, is: “Each of us is the star of the show.”

She liked that idea. If I can paraphrase she said, “Exactly! What else would it be about? It’s about each of us, and what a great occasion it will be!”

Christine also mentioned she enjoyed the time a group of us, over a decade ago, went to hear the Dalai Lama when he came to speak in Toronto. She also saw the Dalai Lama speak in Montreal, but given that he spoke through an interpreter the experience wasn’t quite the same.

In the event anybody would like to chat with me, about any aspect of the reunion, please call me at 416-722-6630. Sometimes, it’s easier to get information by speaking with someone than trying to figure out how to navigate what one MCHS grad has called (aptly enough, I will say) the “stream of consciousness” layout of the MCHS 2015 website, with its overlap of information with content that has nothing to do with the reunion.

The site is less than perfect but fortunately, the site has double the number of daily visitors (about 200 a day compared to about 100 a day) than it did when I just had the Preserved Stories website in place, as compared to when the MCHS 2015 was added, as a site that is nestled within the Preserved Stories website.

Feel free to call or text me if you have questions or comments

We set up the separate site because the organizing of the reunion is a volunteer effort. I paid a few dollars to have the MCHS 2015 website added to the existing site; that is, I paid for the web design that was required, as my small contribution to the budget for the reunion organizing effort. Setting up a separate site would have cost much more money, and would have not made sense from a financial point of view.

I’m also pleased to say that the number of returning visitors to the site has gone from about 25 percent to about 40 percent, since the MCHS 2015 website was added.

All that being said, if you have a question, and don’t want to spend 10 minutes trying to find the data you seek, please call or text me at 416-722-6630. I will be pleased to speak with you, as Christine Hamilton has done.


Share this:

Posted in MCHS 2015 Stories, Newsletter, Toronto | Leave a comment

Additional Music Links (2)

Links from Charles Tsiang

“Glen Campbell,” Charles notes, “played guitar with the Wrecking Crew before he made it on his own. We were listening to him in the 60’s before we knew it. Wonderful to see this PBS special.”

Glen Campbell In Concert In Sioux Falls

Links from Gina Davis Cayer

Glen Campbell “Goodbye Tour” Full Concert, NJ – May 22, 2012

The Diamonds

Obituary for Dave Somerville of The Diamonds

Little Darling by the Original Diamonds

little darlin’ – the original diamonds (1957)

Where Have All the Flowers Gone

Peter, Paul and Mary – Where Have All the Flowers Gone (25th Anniversary Concert)

Joan Baez – Where have All The Flowers Gone

Joan Baez – Where have All The Flowers Gone (another version)


Andy Kim – Rock Me Gently

Led Zeppelin – Stairway to Heaven Live (HD)

I’d Really Love to See You Tonight – England Dan and John Ford Coley



Share this:

Posted in MCHS 2015 Stories, Newsletter, Toronto | Leave a comment

Napoleonic soldiers found in mass grave starved to death – Source: The Independent, July 29, 2015

(FILES) File picture dated autumn 2001 shows a researcher examining skeletons of the Napoleonic soldiers discovered in a mass grave on a building site. Burial ceremonies were held at the Antakalnis memorial graveyard 01 June 2003 of remains of 3,000 French soldiers, slain in 1812 as Napoleon Bonaparte’s army fled in defeat from Russia, and finally laid to rest almost two centuries after they died. (Photo credit should read PETRAS MALUKAS/AFP/Getty Images). Source:

(FILES) File picture dated autumn 2001 shows a researcher examining skeletons of the Napoleonic soldiers discovered in a mass grave on a building site. Burial ceremonies were held at the Antakalnis memorial graveyard 01 June 2003 of remains of 3,000 French soldiers, slain [or more precisely, starved to death] in 1812 as Napoleon Bonaparte’s army fled in defeat from Russia, and finally laid to rest almost two centuries after they died. (Photo credit should read PETRAS MALUKAS/AFP/Getty Images). Source: July 25, 2015 Forbes article (see link at this post) entitled: “Skeletons Of Napoleon’s Soldiers Discovered In Mass Grave Show Signs Of Starvation.”

An Archaeology News Network article posted on about August 2, 2015 is entitled: “Napoleonic soldiers found in mass grave starved to death.”

The opening paragraphs read:

“A longstanding mystery surrounding the deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon’s army found in a mass grave in Lithuania has been solved.

“The jumbled bones of the men who died on the French leader’s ill fated attempt to march on Moscow in 1812 show signs of starvation, according to archaeologists from the University of Central Florida.

According to Forbes, buttons found on the site, which was first discovered in Lithuanian capital Vilnius in 2002, show over 40 different regiments were represented from Napoleon’s army as they made their desperate dash back across Europe.”

Why the article is of interest to me

The article caught my eye because of a story about one of my ancestors. My parents were from Estonia; they escaped as refugees from Estonia in 1944 travelling across the Baltic Sea to Sweden each on a separate boat, at the start of the second occupation of Estonia by the Soviet Army during the Second World War. I was born in Sweden after the war.

One of my ancestors on my father’s side was a soldier from Poland who served in Napoleon’s army, which invaded Russia in 1812. After the failure of the Russian campaign, what remained of the army retreated.

Two of the soldiers from Napoleon’s retreating army happened to arrive, on their way back, at a village in Estonia. They married women in the village and settled down at their newfound homes.

The Archaeology News Network article has prompted me to stop, for a moment, and to imagine those times.


In North America, when we think of that era we think of the War of 1812. The defeat of Napoleon in Waterloo in 1815 hastened the ending of the war.

What also comes to mind are two battles that were decisive in bringing to an end the initial American plan to conquer Canada during the War of 1812.

I’ve outlined the story in previous posts:

When Britain Burned the White House: The 1814 Invasion of Washington (2013)

John Boyd committed his infantry before his artillery could properly support them: Battle of Crysler’s Farm, Nov. 11, 1813

Battle of Chateauguay (1813): one of two great battles that saved Canada


Relevant articles regarding Waterloo include:

Napoleon’s dream died at Waterloo – and so did that of British democrats (Guardian, June 17, 2015)

200 Years After Waterloo, Napoleon Still Wins by Losing (New York Times, June 16, 2015)

Don’t spare the horses: how the Battle of Waterloo became a stage sensation (Guardian, June 18, 2015)


Share this:

Posted in Newsletter, Toronto | Leave a comment

Pamela Ireland, Maid of Honour at the wedding of Lesley Peters (nee Carswell) and Olaf Peters

Pamela Ann Ireland. Source: Obituary for Pamela Ann Ireland at

Pamela Ann Ireland. Source: Obituary for Pamela Ann Ireland

The following text from Bob Carswell is an addition to a previous post entitled:

Memories of Pam Ireland-Mason of Malcolm Campbell High School

Maid of Honour

Bob Carswell writes:

My sister Lesley Peters (nee Carswell) just confirmed that Pamela Ireland was indeed her Maid of Honour at her wedding. Pamela was actually 2 years younger than Lesley but they had known each other for quite some time even though they really did not go to high school together at any point as Pam also lost a year because of her accident.

Lesley had returned to Canada after several years in Switzerland working as a nurse and learning Dutch by working in a box factory in the Netherlands. Lesley and her future husband Olaf Peters would get married at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Cartierville across the street from Cartierville School.

Pam and Irene at the Grad Dance 1968

Pam Ireland-Mason and Irene Moodie-Johnson at the Grad Dance 1968. Source: Irene Moodie-Johnson

The wedding reception was at home in Saraguay. My Irish great uncle Charlie Brown who had been a tank driver in WWI was Lesley’s godfather and gave a lengthy toast at her reception.

Standing out on the back patio, all eyes were on him when a large fat toad suddenly jumped on to one of his shiny shoes and just sat there while everyone giggled. He wasn’t aware of the toad but was certainly enough of a public speaker and humourist for him to think it was his speech that was generating the laughs. I can visualize that toad to this very day.


Living on the South Shore of Montreal after their wedding Olaf Peters taught Phys Ed and Lesley nursed in the city at various hospitals for about two years while they set their plans in motion to go overseas with CUSO to Zambia for the next two years.

May 2015 photo of Church of Good Shepherd, across the street from Cartierville School. Scott Munro photo

May 2015 photo of Church of Good Shepherd, across the street from Cartierville School. Scott Munro photo

When they finally settled in Apeldoorn after a lengthy trip through the Far East they started their family. When they were old enough to travel, the family spent their entire summers in Canada at my parents’ retirement home on a lake north of Kingston. Today, both kids are totally bilingual because of it.

I only clearly remember four things about my sister’s wedding, (1) a picture of Lesley in her wedding dress, (2)Pamela Ireland as Maid of Honour, (3) Charlie Brown giving his toast and (4) the Party Toad that came to visit. RIP Pam, the journey is over.


Share this:

Posted in MCHS 2015 Stories, Newsletter, Toronto | Leave a comment

Essentialism as an element of postmodernist discourse

In August 2012, I spent time writing blog posts about a book by the historian Peter Burke dealing with the role of cultural theory in the study of history.

I was interested to learn, in the foreword or introduction to the book, that Peter Burke had began his study of this topic when he was asked to teach a course dealing with cultural theory. It’s always of interest to learn how people got started, or fell into, their careers.

Burke’s discussion of postmodernist theory happened to tie in well with the conclusions I had reached in my own reading about the claims that were associated with postmodernism, at the time when it was a topic of conversation among academics.

My impression has been that postmodernism, as a concept, has had limited traction. It appears to me to have a quality of circularity about it – a quality of talking in circles, that doesn’t make a lot of sense. The manner in which essentialism came to be used as a pejorative term is an instance of how this talking in circles has occurred.

We can say that what everything comes down to is the capturing of the essence of things. Capturing of the essence is a form of essentialism. This was something that postmodernists, as they called themselves, took great issue with.

They opposed essentialism, and that served as their particular essentialism.

Blurbs capture one or another essence of a thing

To make things brief, if you wish to communicate something, you need to create blurbs. You need to create political slogans, you need to say things in a few words. You need to say things in a way that people will readily understand.

This is what brand images are about. This is what brands are about.

In creating the essence, the point, as I see it, is to go with the evidence. Going with blurbs, and with slogans, works whether you go with the evidence are not, up to a certain point. This has to do with how the brain works. It’s something that is the outcome of human evolutionary biology.

Instrumental reason is a key part of the human experience. It’s something that is at the heart of what we call it essentialism, it’s at the heart of a blurb, it’s at the heart of political slogan. It’s part of how evolutionary biology has brought us to this point in the here and now, as a human species.

So the argument, by advocates of postmodernism – the argument against what they have defined as essentialism – is that the essence that has been extracted from the larger reality does not correspond to the larger reality.

That is, the rhetoric at times does not correspond to the reality. So in a sense we can say seeking the reality is the name of the game, but it’s easy to mistake the rhetoric – the blurb, or the brand – for the reality.

Or, to put it another way, as Elvis remarked: “The image is one thing and the human being is another.”

The reality, we can add, is difficult to describe without engaging in circularity, by which I refer to talking in circles, by which I refer to the limitations of sense making within the confines of language.

A category of case studies, with regard to attempts at sense making, concerns Zen Buddhist tales of enlightenment, or stories of enlightenment or revelation in any religion.

My own preference, with regard to the sense making project is to go, to the extent it is possible, with 1) a useful and adequate analytic framework, 2) evidence that is corroborated from multiple, reliable sources, and 3) the back story.

And that concludes my essay.


Share this:

Posted in Newsletter, Toronto | Leave a comment

Small Arms transformation getting $1M from federal fund – July 30, 2015 Mississauga News article


A press conference was held at the Small Arms Building Thursday (July 30) to announce that the Canadian Government has approved up to $1 million for restoration of the historic facility. Local MP Stella Ambler of Mississauga South, who broke the news, joined by Jim Tovey (centre) Councillor Ward 1, Brian Denney (right) CEO, Toroto and Region Conservation and architect Michael Spaziani with some preliminary plans for the site. Staff photo by Rob Beintema. Source: July 30, 2015 Mississauga News article.


A press conference was held at the Small Arms Building Thursday (July 30) to announce that the Canadian Government has approved up to $1 million for restoration of the historic facility. Linda Wiggly, a former bullet loader, in one of the buildings where she worked throughout World War II. Staff photo by Rob Beintema. Source: July 30, 2015 Mississauga News article.

A July 30, 2015 Mississauga News article by Chris Clay is entitled: “Small Arms transformation getting $1M from federal fund.”

The opening paragraphs read:

“MISSISSAUGA – The dream of turning the Small Arms Building in Lakeview into a hub for arts, culture, heritage and science took another step forward Thursday with an announcement that the project would receive $1 million from a federal program.

“Ward 1 Councillor Jim Tovey was at the building for the announcement that was made by Mississauga South MP Stella Ambler. He said the money coming from the Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program means there’s about $2.6 million available for the first phase of the project, which is expected to cost about $3.2 million to renovate part of the site and turn it into a space available for community use.

“Tovey’s hopeful it will be ready for the public by next spring or summer. He told the dozens of people who turned up to the announcement that the funding news felt like it was ‘Christmas in July.’

“Ambler, meanwhile, said she hadn’t been able to stop smiling since she found out the project had been approved from the Canada 150 program, which will distribute $150 million across the country – including $44.4 million for Ontario projects – for the rehabilitation, renovation and expansion of community infrastructure.

” ‘Working with Jim Tovey on this has been wonderful and his enthusiasm is contagious,’ said Ambler. ‘He understands, like I do, this (site) is a special part of the community.’ ”

[End of excerpt]

Small Arms Building was used for inspection of small arms produced at nearby Small Arms Ltd. munitions factory

A July 30, 2015 news release from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario erroneously asserts that the Small Arms Building served “as a munitions factory during WWII, including the production of the [Lee Enfield] No. 4 rifles and Sten guns used by the allied forces during the war.”

The news release adds that: “At peak operating capacity, the factory employed 5,300 to 5,500 workers, supported by a 65% female workforce which has resulted in recognition by the Rosie the Riveter Organization in California (a first in Canada), for its employment of a mostly female workforce during WWII. In 2009 the City of Mississauga designated the building as being of cultural heritage value or interest.”

The July 30, 2015 Mississauga News article correctly asserts that “The [Small Arms] building and the water tower on the site are the last remaining structures of the larger Small Arms Limited plant that was built in 1940 to provide support for the Allied war effort. It was at the plant that a mostly female workforce made Lee Enfield rifles and Sten machine guns during the Second World War.”

Small Arms Building was separate from munitions factory

By way of sharing accurate information, it may be noted that the Small Arms Building served as an inspection facility for the small arms produced at the Small Arms Ltd. munitions factory.

The Small Arms Building was separate from the munitions factory; the July 30, 2015 news release conflates the existence of the Small Arms Building with the existence of the much larger small arms factory that used to exist at the Arsenal Lands.

Additional background about the building, based upon the available archival evidence, can be accessed at a previous post entitled:

Long Branch Rifle Range, Small Arms Building, and the Arsenal Lands

The latter post includes a link to the following overview from Heritage Mississauga:

Small Arms, Ltd. 1940-1946 – Heritage Mississauga

Small arms technology

Small arms technology is continuously advancing, as a post entitled The evolution of the smart gun at Defence Research and Development Canada notes.


Share this:

Posted in Mississauga, Newsletter, Toronto | Leave a comment