Preserved Stories Blog

“Recalling the power of Mother Nature, 60 years after Hurricane Hazel” – Oct. 9, 2014 Etobicoke Guardian

An Oct. 9, 2014 Etobicoke Guardian article by Cynthia Reason is entitled: “Recalling the power of Mother Nature, 60 years after Hurricane Hazel: Storm took 81 lives, but transformed flood management practices to help protect future generations.”

An Environment Canada overview of Hurricane Hazel can be accessed here.


Posted in Historiography, Newsletter, Toronto | Leave a comment

The MCHS 60s Reunion organizing committee met in Kitchener on Sept. 24, 2014

Old Mill Toronto, site of the Oct. 17, 2015 MCHS 60s Reunion, is located by the Humber River, which Étienne Brûlé visited in 1615. The reunion will take place at the Brûlé Ballrooms at the Old Mill. In the photo, Étienne Brûlé Park is visible on the north side of the river. Jaan Pill photo

The photo shows the Humber River on a later day, when the water has not turned muddy following runoff from a recent rainfall. Jaan Pill photo

As we noted in a previous post, on Sept. 22, 2014 two members of the organizing committee visited Old Mill Toronto, where the Oct. 17, 2015 MCHS 60s Reunion will take place.

On Sept. 24, 2014 Lynn Legge, Scott Munro, and Jaan Pill met in Kitchener, Ontario. That meeting is the topic of the current post.

Our next reunion organizing meeting is at 11:30 am on Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014 at the Boston Pizza in Kitchener where our previous meetings have been held. If you are an MCHS alumna or alumnus who attended the school at any point in the 1960s, you are most welcome to attend the meetings and share your thoughts and suggestions. We much value input from all sources. Please contact me for directions and details.

Guest rooms at Old Mill Toronto and elsewhere

At our Sept. 24 meeting, we noted that we have block rates for guest rooms at Old Mill Toronto for the Oct. 17, 2015 event. If you would like to reserve a room at Old Mill or get further information please contact Jaan Pill at

You need to keep in mind what your accommodation needs are. Single occupancy? Occupancy by a couple? Occupancy by a group of classmates? And at what price range? Different hotels provide different options. Good idea to read the online reviews.

Some guest rooms will be available at Old Mill Toronto at reduced rates for MCHs 60s Reunion attendees. Jaan Pill photo

Several hotels that Lynn Legge has checked will have block rates available after Oct. 17, 2014. Among the hotels she has been looking at aside from Old Mill Toronto are, among others, Stay Inn; Crowne Plaza Toronto Airport; Radisson Suites Hotel; Hampton Inn by Hilton Toronto Airport Corporate Centre; and Canada’s Best Value Inn Toronto.

Old Mill Toronto is accessible from the Old Mill subway station on the Bloor-Danforth line. For that reason, we are also checking on hotels along the subway line that may be good choices for some attendees.

MCHS Sixties Reunion includes any student who attended MCHS in the 1960s

Following up on a great suggestion from John Kovac, we have expanded the Sixties Reunion to include every student who attended MCHS in the 1960s, including MCHS students who graduated in the 1970s. An earlier discussion with Lynn Berry was very helpful in setting the stage for the response of the organizing committee to John Kovac’s suggestion.

MCHS teachers, administrators, and other staff

If you have names and contact details for any teachers who taught students who attended Malcolm Campbell High School in the 1960s, please let me know. Teachers or other school staff in this category, who would now be in their eighties or nineties (I’m guessing), are most welcome to attend the reunion.

Communications strategy

It has also been suggested that, in order to simplify communications, it would be helpful if we made a clear distinction between 1) updates about the MCHS 60s Reunion, and 2) the MCHS biographies and stories related to the history of the school.

We have followed up on this excellent suggestion. Our two current Categories are now distinct from each other, with no overlap (to my knowledge) between the Categories:

MCHS 60s Reunion & Celebration of the 60s

MCHS 60s Biographies & Histories

We may also set up a Category with information about the registration procedure, and another one with information about where people can find information about the reunion on Facebook.

MCHS 60s Reunion letterhead; sending out of email updates to alumni listed on our database

The Old Mill Bridge, which crosses the Humber River just east of Old Mill Toronto, was built in 1916. Jaan Pill photo

Howard Hight and Diana Redden have set up a project for sending out regular email updates, using the impressive letterhead they have designed, to the MCHS alumni who are on the MCHS 60s database.

We noted at the Sept. 24, 2014 meeting that the letterhead is well designed and that the all-important first letter was highly effective in communicating key messages.

We much appreciate the work that Diana and Howard are doing as members of the organizing committee. We have a great team of people across North America working closely together to stage the MCHS 60s Reunion.

If you are not on the database but wish to add you name, please contact Howard Hight at

Networking is a great way to publicize the reunion

Networking is a key means, along with email, blog posts, and Facebook pages, that we are using to let people know about the reunion.

In cases where we have contact information, we are contacting MCHS 60s grads and asking them to spread the word about the reunion among brothers and sisters, and classmates that they know, who went to MCHS in the sixties.

Why not have the reunion in Montreal?

We’ve had the opportunity to discuss this excellent question at a previous blog post.

We encourage the staging of mini-reunions in Montreal, such as the successful event that took place in Montreal on Aug.13, 2014.

But in the meantime, we’ve made our choice for the venue.


View of Brûlé Room. On the occasion of our Sept. 22, 2014 site visit, tables were set up in classroom style. For the Oct. 17, 2015 reunion, we'll have round tables set up, with room for a buffet as well as a space toward the middle for dancing. Jaan Pill photo

With help from Peter Mearns, we have located an accountant for the reunion.

The plan is that that registration cheques would be sent to the database team, which will deposit the cheques to our bank account.

The MCHS Sixties Reunion database would serve as the registration form.

As Diana Redden has remarked, with regard to this registration procedure: “Simple and easy is the way to go.”

Simplicity is an ongoing theme for all aspects of the reunion.

Review of Sept. 22, 2014 meeting

Some of the highlights of our Sept. 22 site visit are outlined in a previous post. We’ll have some high tables set up at the periphery of the room for the buffet portion of the event, when people have time to mingle, as suggested at the June 16, 2014 meeting of the organizing committee. We’ll also have round tables where alumni will be seated with classmates at the beginning of the event.

Communications with Old Mill

Sheila, the Sales Executive at Old Mill who is our contact, requests that one person be the communication channel regarding the meeting rooms; Jaan Pill will for now perform that role.

Old Mill Toronto features an inner courtyard (middle of photo) where MCHS 60s alumni would have the opportunity to meet on Saturday, Oct. 27, 2015 prior to the 6:00 pm start of the reunion. Jaan Pill photo

Home Smith Jazz Bar. This is another place where people can meet on Saturday, Oct. 17, 2015 prior to the opening of the Brûlé Rooms at 6:00 pm. Jaan Pill photo

Start time

The reunion starts at 6:00 pm on Saturday, Oct. 17, 2015. The room rental is until 1:00 am. We can arrange for people to get together before that in a main inner courtyard (see photo on this page) if they wish to hang out earlier. There’s also a pub – the Home Smith Jazz Bar – where people can meet; the live jazz entertainment starts there at 3:00 pm.

Dinner cost

With one glass of wine included with dinner (with anything extra involving payment at a cash bar), and with taxes and gratuities, it’s probably about $100 to $110 a person. We will determine the exact amount of the registration fee after we consult with our accountant.

Audio visual options and entertainment

We also discussed audio visual and entertainment options (e.g. DJ and/or live or recorded sixties music), which we will explore in more detail later.

A basic consideration is that we want to have dinner and mill around. As Scott Munro noted (this is a paraphrase) at our Sept. 22 meeting: “Keep it simple.”

The buffet is a key event at the reunion. It offers an opportunity to get up and mix with the people who are there.

Some people who attended the MCHS 2000 Reunion in Montreal have mentioned they really enjoyed it. We look forward to incorporating some of the features of that event. People have mentioned they really enjoyed the dancing, the Sixties music, and so we’re keen to get ideas in that area, while keeping things simple. Among other topics that we discussed on Sept. 24, in a preliminary way, were raffles, a 50/50 draw, spot dances, and other incentives.

Lynn Legge remarked: “Remember when we used to be kids? We used to have spot dances.”

Pig roast

Howard High has mentioned a high school reunion, that he read about in a Grafton MA newspaper, that featured a pig roast (see Comments section at an earlier post). We will explore that possibility for sure!

I’ve recently mentioned to Howard that, as a vegetarian for over 40 years, I would observe the roast with interest, in the event it were to occur. Howard has responded, in turn: “We could put an apple in its mouth for you…….”


Jaan Pill has contacted a professional photographer who can take first-rate shots, and can print them out and sell them on the spot.

Name Tags

As highlighted in a previous post, we’ve discussed the concept of having name tags that include, along with a yearbook photo, information about a person’s line of work or volunteer pursuits over the past 50 years. We can add that if a yearbook photo is unavailable, an “Age 17″ photo, which many people have, will work just as well.

At our Sept. 24 meeting, Lynn Legge mentioned that, at a high school reunion in London, Ontario, the name tags were colour coded. “Each name tag,” she noted, “had a designated colour for the year you graduated.” We may remember very few people, but when we see a colour that corresponds to our own year, that can help us in getting oriented, when we try to figure our who’s who, 50 years later.

If you graduated twice, as some people did, to bring up their marks or to get the required complement of courses, you can choose whichever year you prefer, by way of being designated according to a particular graduation year.

Lynn Legge and Scott Munro beside Lynn's impressive Ford Mustang, prior to our respective drives home after the Sept. 24, 2014 meeting at a Boston Pizza in Kitchener. Jaan Pill photo

Dining Room and amenities

Old Mill Toronto offers guests and visitors a great dining experience. Scott Munro and Jaan Pill had an enjoyable lunch at the Old Mill Dining Room on Sept. 22, 2014. The food and service are of the highest quality. There’s also lots of green space and trees visible from the Dining Room.

We owe thanks to Peter Mearns for doing all of the earlier ground work regarding Old Mill Toronto. He’s done a great job on behalf of the reunion in choosing the site.


Posted in MCHS 60s Reunion & Celebration of the 60s, Newsletter, Toronto | Leave a comment

View of the Lakeshore from Kipling to Etobicoke Creek

John Easton has forwarded a great link, for which we owe many thanks, which provides a view of the Lakeshore from Kipling to Etobicoke Creek:


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

The MCHS 60s Reunion will take place a year from now on Oct. 17, 2015 at Old Mill Toronto

View looking south from Old Mill Road in the Kingsway residential neighbourhood. One of the three main entrances to Old Mill Toronto is the entrance where the cars are parked. Jaan Pill photo

In September 2014, after taking a break during the summer, the Malcolm Campbell High School 60s Reunion organizing committee met in Toronto and in Kitchener.

Sept. 22, 2014

Jaan Pill (left) and Scott Munro check out the fireplace at Brûlé Ballroom C.

On Sept. 22, 2014 Scott Munro and Jaan Pill visited Old Mill Toronto, the venue for the MCHS 60s Reunion, which will take place a year from now on Oct. 17, 2015.

Sept. 24, 2014

On Sept. 24, 2014 Lynn Legge, Scott Munro, and Jaan Pill met at the Boston Pizza at 190 Gateway Park Drive off the 401 in Kitchener, Ontario. This is a handy place to meet as it’s half way between London where Lynn Legge lives, and the Greater Toronto Area where several other committee members live. You can get an overview of the latter meeting at this link.

Registration procedure

We have also had some recent phone and email conversations related to our communications strategy, the work that our reunion accountant will be doing, and the registration procedure that we will be setting up for the reunion. We will highlight these topics in subsequent posts.

Key participants in the recent planning discussions have included Howard Hight, Diana Redden, Peter Mearns, Lynn Legge, Scott Munro, and Jaan Pill among other MCHS alumni. We have welcomed ideas and concepts from many source and continue to be most interested in input from each person who has an interest in the reunion planning process. As always, we have much to learn from each other.

We are very excited about this reunion and look forward to meeting you at this event.

In this post we’ll describe the Sept. 22, 2014 visit to Old Mill Toronto, which also goes by the name of the Old Mill Inn.

Google Map

A Google Map of Old Mill Toronto at 21 Old Mill Road can be accessed here.

An overview of the amenities and services available at Old Mill Toronto can be accessed here.

Kingsway neighbourhood of Toronto

Sheila, a Sales Executive at Old Mill, met with us on Sept. 22 and led us on a tour of the facilities including the meeting rooms, the Home Smith Jazz Bar, the Old Mill Toronto Dining Room, the outside spaces including a courtyard, the historic Old Mill building, and the hotel that has been added to the Old Mill site in a major redevelopment project some years ago.

We noted that the facility is surrounded by extensive green space and is close to several parks located along the nearby Humber River valley.

Scott Munro recalled that his parents used to visit the Old Inn for lunch or dinner years ago, after they had moved to Toronto from Montreal.

The Old Mill is located in Kingsway neighbourhood of Toronto. relevant links can be found at the Bloor West Village and Kingsway BIA websites.

Three main entrances to Old Mill Toronto

Click on the Google Map to enlarge it. Click again to enlarge it further. Use 'back' button on your browser to return to the page you are now reading. You can also access the Google Map at the link at the page you are now reading.

Floor Plan - 1st Floor - Old Mill Toronto. Click on image to enlarge it. Use 'Back' button on your browser to return to the page you are now reading.

Old Mill has three main entrances.

One is the main entrance (see photo above) from the paid parking area on Old Mill Road across from the Old Mill. The parking lot is close to the Humber River.

The most direct route to the Brûlé Ballrooms is through the Dining Room and Flower Shop Entrance. Jaan Pill photo

Another entrance is the Dining Room and Flower Shop Entrance. This is an entrance offering the most direct route to the Étienne Brûlé Ballrooms, where the reunion will take place.

As soon as you come in the door, you turn right. On the way you pass the coat check, so if you wish to check your coat, that’s where you can check your coat.

Old Mill Subway

If you’re travelling by subway, there’s also a direct entrance from the Old Mill subway station, which opened in 1968. As part of our planning process, we’re looking at hotels located along the Bloor-Danforth subway line, among other locations.

The Old Mill also features guest rooms that are well worth looking at, if you’re considering where to stay for the reunion. These rooms will be available at block rates; please contact Jaan Pill at if you are interested in booking a guest room at Old Mill.

Brûlé Ballrooms

We’ll probably use balloons to indicate the route from the main entrances to the Étienne Brûlé Ballrooms where the reunion will take place in – in Ballrooms C & B, or in Ballroom C, depending on the attendance figures.

As you proceed, you avoid the stairs and proceed along the hallway. You then arrive at the Brûlé Ballrooms. The association with the history of New France is very good, given that MCHS was in Montreal. We can set up a registration table outside of the entrance to Brûlé Ballroom C, or we can set up a photographer’s booth (along with the photographer’s on-site printer) at that location. The Old Inn uses the rooms for New Year’s parties and their Christmas buffet.

When we visited the Brûlé rooms, they were set up in classroom style for a meeting. The 60s reunion will not be in a classroom format. The space will be set up for a buffet, with a space in the middle, close to the north wall, for dancing. We can also have a riser in place, with a podium, so that if you’re sitting at the back, you can see who’s speaking.

Scott Munro (MCHS 63) checks out the Brûlé Ballrooms. Jaan Pill photo

Each room features a fireplace.

Étienne Brûlé

Étienne Brûlé was a 17th century interpreter described as probably the first European to see lakes Ontario, Huron, Superior, and Erie. You can access a July 16, 2011 Toronto Star article about him here. Given that few primary sources are available about Brûlé’s life, stories about him tend to vary widely based on differing interpretations of the small number of historical facts that are known about him.

Étienne Brûlé at the mouth of the Humber River in 1615, 399 years ago as of 2014, accompanied by First Nations guides. Pen & Ink drawing, circa 1933, by C.W. Jefferys. Credit: Library and Archives Canada, Acc. No. 1972-26-1395. Copyright: Expired

Scott Munro has remarked: “If Brûlé was at the mouth of the Humber then the naming of the Brûlé room at the Old Mill is apt.”

After the meeting, Scott and Jaan had an enjoyable lunch at the Old Mill Toronto Dining Room. In subsequent posts, we’ll share more details related to Old Mill Toronto and will also highlight the Sept. 24, 2014 meeting of the MCHS 60s organizing committee in Kitchener.


Among the Old Mill Toronto guest rooms that will likely be available, at special rates for the reunion, is this room, which the MCHS 60s organizing committee visited on Sept. 22, 2014. Jaan Pill photo

Posted in MCHS 60s Reunion & Celebration of the 60s, Newsletter, Toronto | 5 Comments

Music from the MCHS days in the 60s – and then some. We owe thanks to Ron Van Dyke for this link.

Ron Van Dyke writes: “Music from the MCHS days in the 60s ….and then some.”

Thank you, Ron, for the link!


Updates on the way from MCHS 60s Reunion Committee

We are currently preparing a series of blog posts with updates about the following topics.

During the past two weeks, the MCHS 60s Reunion organizing committee has held meetings in Toronto and in Kitchener.

View looking south from Old Mill Road. The main entrance to Old Mill Toronto is where the cars are parked. Jaan Pill photo

On Sept. 22, 2014 Scott Munro and Jaan Pill visited Old Mill Toronto, the venue for the Malcolm Campbell High School 60s Reunion, which will take place a year from now on Oct. 17, 2015.

On Sept. 24, 2014 Lynn Legge, Scott Munro, and Jaan Pill met in Kitchener, Ontario. We’ve also had some key phone and email discussions – with Diana Redden, Howard Hight, and Peter Mearns, among others – concerning our communications strategy and the registration procedure.

I’m also working on an election campaign for a School Trustee, Pamela Gough, who helped us ensure that a local public school where we live stayed in public hands in 2011. Thus I’m busy but all the work that we need to get done will get done.

Click on the Google Map to enlarge it. Click again to enlarge it further. Use 'back' button on your browser to return to the page you are now reading. You can also access the Google Map at the link at the page you are now reading.

A Google Map of Old Mill Toronto at 21 Old Mill Road can be accessed here.

An overview of the Old Mill Toronto amenities and services can be accessed here.

Church of the Good Shepherd

As well, we owe thanks to Bob Carswell for adding some additional comments to a post about The Church of the Good Shepherd, across from Cartierville School.


Posted in MCHS 60s Biographies & Histories, Newsletter, Toronto | Leave a comment

Linguistic anthropology features a close study of schoolyard games of stance, status, and exclusion

Research reports and articles related to social hierarchies, sense-making, bullying, warfare, and conflict resolution are of interest to me.

During my teaching career, from which I retired in 2006, I worked in schools across the Greater Toronto Area. I began my career in 1975 working with infants and toddlers in a parent-cooperative day care centre located at the time on McCaul Street in Toronto.

In the last decade of my career I was an elementary teacher with the Peel District School Board at Munden Park Public School in Mississauga. I maintain a strong interest in early childhood education including the introduction of All Day Kindergarten in Ontario.

Teacher training and social construction of meaning

When I began my teaching career in 1975 I did not have any training in this line of work. I was pleased I did initially have any formal training. I learned by observing and by interacting. I was in a position to learn about teaching through direct immersion in the experience of it. Teaching is a process that many people are adept at. Teaching occurs in many lines of work, and as a component of everyday life, without being formally labelled as “teaching.”

Some years later, I spent a year getting a teaching certificate at the University of Toronto Faculty of Education. Teacher training shapes a person’s mind in a particular way.

It may be helpful, at least with some teaching careers, if a prospective teacher has some things figured out, about the social construction of meaning that is at the heart of education, before getting trained in how to be a teacher.

Among the books I’ve recently enjoyed encountering, with regard to research focusing in particular on social interaction during recess periods in schoolyards, is The Hidden Life of Girls: Games of Stance, Status, and Exclusion (2006) by Marjorie Harness Goodwin, professor of anthropology at UCLA, whose work “focuses on how people build their cognitive and social world through the use of language in interaction in a range of natural settings” (p. ix).

Her area of interest, to express it another way, is linguistic anthropology, which has been described (see link in this sentence) as “the comparative study of the ways in which language shapes social life.”

The Hidden Life of Girls: Games of Stance, Status, and Exclusion (2006)

I have broken the following excerpt (pp. 251-253) from The Hidden Life of Girls (2006) into shorter paragraphs and have omitted the footnote references:

‘In studies of peer victimization psychologists make use of peer evaluation techniques, self-reports, or combinations of both self and peer nomination reports. Underwood (2003:9) has argued that in order to adequately under­stand social aggression among girls, observational as well as questionnaire methods need to be used. Pellegrini (1998:171) has explicitly called for studies of peer victimization using “direct observation methods” involving videotaping, noting that “questionnaires limit our understanding events . . . to what respondents choose to tell us.”

‘Frequently, however, “the focus is on whether, how often, and in what form the individual behaved aggressively or not” and the context of aggression is largely ignored (Shantz and Hobart 1989). Rarely have psychologists (even those conducting naturalistic studies of children) investigated the actual discourse used during aggressive inter­actions. Amazingly, with the exception of the work of Juvonen and her colleagues, the role of the peer group in peer victimization is seldom the object of study.

‘A focus on the individual and reliance on experiments has characterized anthropological studies of children’s acquisition of racist attitudes as well because it is believed that “everyday behavior and speech provide little purchase on children’s beliefs about race and ethnicity” (Hirschfeld 1996:198). In most studies of social exclusion and racial attitudes, as in studies of social class as a discursive practice, the actual social processes through which exclusion or the construction of social difference occurs are left unexplored.

Victimization as a social process

‘An important alternative approach would view the activity of victimiza­tion as a social rather than an individual process, and locate values within interactive practice, adopting a Vygotsyian (1978) perspective. In this book by examining the actual exchanges that constitute bullying or exclusion, I have examined the interactive processes through which girls organize their social relations and delineate asymmetrical relations of power.

‘Just such types of descriptions have been advocated by social psychologists ; Jaana Juvonen and Sandra Graham (2004:231) in their work on “Research-Based Interventions on Bullying” state that children need concrete examples of bullying behavior rather than abstract definitions: “the many faces or forms of bullying (including ever-increasing cyber bullying) need to be recognized and incorporated in school policies and for prevention and intervention purposes.”

‘While it is easy to recognize physical aggression, forms of covert and indirect aggression are much less discernable, and often missed by teachers, aides, or other adults at the school. Before bullying prevention projects can be effective adults need to recognize that bullying and aggression are not part of a “character forming experience” (Smith and Brain 2000), but rather a serious problem involving the individual rights of children.’

[End of excerpt]

What is the evidence?

Goodwin’s research, and the analysis of it, includes among other things a focus on two questions that I find of particular interest.

First, on the basis of what evidence, and what frames of reference, can we arrive at valid conclusions regarding a series of social interactions that a person happens to be observing?

Secondly, young girls have been characterized in particular ways in academic literature and in popular culture. On the basis of what evidence and frames of reference are such characterizations made? How solid and relevant is the evidence? How cogent are the frames of reference?

To express these questions in another way, a person can say: “What are you seeing? On what basis does your explanation of what you are seeing make sense?”

Research in pre-school settings

Research involving video recording of social interactions in preschool settings and elsewhere is an ongoing topic of interest for me, as an April 5, 2011 article posted at the Canadian Stuttering Association website illustrates. The article is entitled: “Stuttering has social consequences, even for 3 and 4 year olds.”


In an April 2014 interview with Marina Gavrylyuk, Sales Representative at Sutton Group Summit Realty Inc., I shared some thoughts about bullying.

Marina Gavrylyuk: ‘What do you think about all the anti-bullying programs launched at schools these days? Do you think they cause the opposite effect?’


Thoughts about bullying

‘Different people will say different things on this. I like to adopt an evidence-based approach regarding bullying. Bullying is a relationship problem when kids use power and aggression to cause harm to another person who is not in a position to defend himself, or herself. Often it is a group activity where some kids work as a team to focus on one particular child.

‘Conflict is a regular part of life; everybody can have disagreements, everybody can argue and have conflicts, but when one person uses power – as an example, because of larger size or because of being older – in order to cause harm, we as adults are in a position to model better forms of behavior. We can teach children to deal with relationships in a way that is helpful for everyone and we have to go with the research. Conflict is normal, but bullying does not have to be a normal part of life. When bullying occurs – it is a form of warfare.

Research about bullying

‘And we know from the research, that the kids who are bullied in elementary school, in high school, university, in the work place – suffer, they suffer tremendously, to the extent that their chance of committing suicide is increased. We can say, as some people do, that it’s just about kids being kids, and adults being adults. But in a civilized society, this is not a sufficient answer.

PREVNet: Promoting Relationships & Eliminating Violence

‘We realize that, in a civil society, we have a reason to be concerned for the life and well-being of every child, of every adolescent, of every adult – and I am a strong supporter of effective and well organized anti-bullying programs which are based on evidence of what works. In that regard, the PREVNet website shares some great information about anti-bullying programs that work.

‘I’ve spent time in my volunteer work in years past organizing workshops about bullying. And, in fact, if you do a web-search with my name and the word “bullying” you would find information that I’ve shared with parents and other people. And certainly the key thing is if one child is being victimized, it is very helpful when one person in the group has the courage to step up and say: “You need to make this stop.”

‘And I think this is very important, especially for every adult who is in the position to use wisdom to make bullying stop. Stepping in, making it stop, could literally save the person’s life. It can change the atmosphere in a classroom, it can make a big difference. And it is very important for kids to be feeling comfortable and knowing that they can go to an adult to deal with problems. And I encourage every effort to keep those lines of communication open. It’s among the most important things the adult can do – to help to defend those who otherwise can’t be defended and will be beaten down and destroyed.’

[End of excerpt] 

Debra Pepler and Wendy Craig

An article that I wrote some years ago about research related to bullying can be accessed here. It may also be noted that Debra Pepler of York University and the Hospital for Sick Children, and Wendy Craig of Queen’s University, have done extensive research related to bullying in Canadian schools. They have used video recordings as a key part of their research. Further information about research – and evidence-based programs that seek to effectively address bullying in schools – is available at the PREVnet website.


Posted in Film and sound, Newsletter, Toronto | Leave a comment

In the United States, painkillers take more lives than heroin and cocaine combined – Globe and Mail, Oct. 3, 2014

The topic of evidence and where it leads is of interest to me.

What is of interest to me may not be of interest to you.

Truthiness, by contrast, leads elsewhere. Truthiness makes for engaging and compelling stories built upon the absence of empirical evidence.

As noted at the link in the previous sentence, More Real: Art in the Age of Truthiness (2012) provides a definition and an overview (pp. 34-35) of “truthiness.” The underlying assumption in the latter study is that “we live in an age of ‘truthiness,’ a time when our understanding of truth may not be bound to empirical evidence – that is, to anything real, provable, or factual” (p. 34).

I do not know if we live in an age of truthiness. I’m not aware of evidence related to such a claim.

In the social construction of meaning that is at the heart of marketing, public relations, and education, among other pursuits, you can build your narrative on the basis of evidence or truthiness, or on a combination of the two. This applies as well, by way of example, to narratives associated with climate change and the concept of climate wars.

The Drug Wars in America, 1940-1973 (2013)

With reference to the distinction between evidence and truthiness, I have previously added updates, on topics related to drugs, at a post entitled The Drug Wars in America, 1940-1973 (Kathleen J. Frydl, 2013). Additional updates have been added at a post entitled Updates to Drug Wars (2013) and related topics.

As noted in the first link in the previous paragraph, my own philosophy as it relates to drugs can be summarized as follows:

Around the time that it was published, I read a book by Charles Tart entitled Altered States of Consciousness: A Book of Readings (1969).

The book introduced me to a concept that I found appealing.

In the book, Charles Tart or some other writer asserts that if one wants to enhance one’s level of consciousness, engaging in  a systematic way in practices such as meditation is more likely to produce favourable results than dabbling with psychedelic substances.

The concept had a strong impact on my efforts to make sense of reality.

I personally don’t see much value in recreational drug use, but I do believe people should be free to indulge in such activities without the risk of criminal record or incarceration.

Solving the painkiller crisis: It’s in the hands of doctors, according to The Globe and Mail.

An Oct. 3, 2014 Globe and Mail article is entitled: “Solving the painkiller crisis: It’s in the hands of doctors.”

This is a remarkable article. It reinforces themes addressed in previous posts.

In the article, Carly Weeks notes: “The national consumption [of opioid painkillers – compounds descended from the opium poppy] has risen so rapidly that Canada now ranks second per capita only to the United States, where painkillers take more lives than heroin and cocaine combined.”

Among the physicians quoted in the article is Philip Berger, chief of family medicine at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto. Dr. Berger notes that the Ontario college of physicians and surgeons “has utterly failed in its duty to protect the public by not scrutinizing the prescribing practices of physicians years ago.”

On the Run: Fugitive Life in an American City (2014)

The article brings to mind another previous post, Alice Goffman’s ‘On the Run’ Studies Policing in a Poor Urban Neighborhood. Goffman’s work provides evidence concerning the policing of inner cities.

What lessons can we draw from the available evidence – as cited in studies and articles referred to at this post – related to drug use in North America?

First, the Toronto Public Library website shares the following blurb regarding Drug Wars in America, 1940-1973 (2013); the blurb is worth a close read:

  • The Drug Wars in America, 1940-1973 argues that the U.S. government has clung to its militant drug war, despite its obvious failures, because effective control of illicit traffic and consumption were never the critical factors motivating its adoption in the first place. Instead, Kathleen J. Frydl shows that the shift from regulating illicit drugs through taxes and tariffs to criminalizing the drug trade developed from, and was marked by, other dilemmas of governance in an age of vastly expanding state power. Most believe the “drug war” was inaugurated by President Richard Nixon’s declaration of a war on drugs in 1971, but in fact his announcement heralded changes that had taken place in the two decades prior. Frydl examines this critical interval of time between regulation and prohibition, demonstrating that the war on drugs advanced certain state agendas, such as policing inner cities or exercising power abroad. Although this refashioned approach mechanically solved some vexing problems of state power, it endowed the country with a cumbersome and costly “war” that drains resources and degrades important aspects of the American legal and political tradition.

[End of blurb]

Secondly, given that, in the United States, “painkillers take more lives than heroin and cocaine combined,” it would make sense to make it a public policy priority to address the overprescription of opioid painkillers. The United States is taking steps in that direction. It would be helpful if Canada were to take similar steps. In the Oct. 3, 2014 Globe and Mail article, Carly Weeks has outlined recommended steps.

Thirdly, I personally don’t see much value in recreational drug use, but I do believe people should, whether they live in inner cities or elsewhere, be free to indulge in such activities without the risking of a criminal record or incarceration.

Fourth, don’t take my word for it. Read the Oct. 3, 2014 Globe article.


An Oct. 6, 2014 Globe and Mail article is entitled: “Doctors’ groups agree painkillers are over-prescribed.”

An oct. 8, 2014 DB’s Medical Rants article is entitled: “Learning medicine – some principles for teaching.” The post refers to an Oct. 6, 2014 New York Times article entitled” “Better ways to learn.”

An Oct. 9, 2014 CBC article is entitled: “CAMH calls for legalization of marijuana: Current system ‘failing to prevent or reduce the harms’ of pot use, researcher says.”

The article notes:

‘Anyone who buys pot in criminal markets doesn’t know about its potency or quality. Meanwhile, enforcement of cannabis laws costs Canadians $1.2 billion a year, the centre said.

‘While decriminalization has some advantages over prohibition, it doesn’t address health harms of cannabis use as strict regulations would, Rehm said, adding the strict regulations proposed set the model apart from other legalization approaches, such as in the U.S.

‘In May, the Canadian Public Health Association also issued a policy statement saying “Canada needs a public health approach to managing illegal psychoactive substances that de-emphasizes criminalization and stigma in favour of evidence-based strategies to reduce harm.”

‘Ian Culbert, the group’s executive director, said a different approach is needed than the current “war on drugs.”

‘”Canadian society isn’t overnight going to embrace this idea of legalization and regulation, so it’s a conversation that we have to have,” he said.’

[End of excerpt]

An Oct. 10, 2014 podcast at CBC’s The Current is entitled: “Debating prescribing opioids for treating chronic pain.” The podcast provides a comprehensive, balanced, and evidence-based overview of the topic.


Posted in Newsletter, Toronto | Leave a comment

1989 was a critical year in the history of Eastern and Central Europe, and of the world

Twenty-five years ago in the summer of 1989, I travelled to the Baltic countries of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia  - at that time still under occupation by the Soviet Union. I also travelled to Sweden, which had maintained a state of neutrality, or at least the appearance of it, through the First and Second World Wars. The story of IKEA is of interest, with regard to the topic of Swedish neutrality, and the distinction between the brand and the back story that is associated with any country.

1989 was a critical year in the history of Eastern Europe, Scandinavia, and elsewhere.

My parents and several other family members received refugee status in Sweden in 1944 after fleeing across the Baltic Sea during the second Soviet occupation of Estonia. I spent the first five years of my life in Sweden, where I was born, before we immigrated to Canada. I owe thanks to Sweden for many things.


I attended a gathering of Estonians 20 years ago in Toronto, to commemorate the escape 50 years earlier, from Estonia, of many individuals and families who eventually made it to Canada and many other countries in the Western world. Many people told their stories.

One of my friends, who is in her nineties, has remarked that leaving Estonia in 1944 was like jumping out of a burning building.

It’s now 70 years since 1944. Those who made the crossing in their twenties are now in their nineties, if they have not passed away. This coming weekend at least one gathering will be held in Toronto, that I know of, to commemorate the escape from Estonia, before the borders were sealed, and the beginning of new lives in exile, for those who made it safely across the Baltic Sea. Not every person survived the journey. There are likely many such gatherings taking place, around the world.

In the 1980s I regularly travelled from Canada to visit Lidingö, an island in the inner Stockholm archipelago, where I lived until the age of 5. Having lived in Sweden as a young child, many things about Sweden are of interest to me. The fact, by way of example, that Sweden had not experienced much in the way of direct involvement with warfare during the twentieth century has long been a source of fascination for me.

The impact of those years of neutrality, or an approximation of it, in the twentieth century, on the personality of Sweden as a nation-state is a topic that I have often reflected upon.

Europe, Europe: Forays into a Continent (1989)

On a visit to Stockholm in 1989, I learned of changes occurring in that country. In my recent reading, I have noted the changes continue. A Sept. 18, 2014 Foreign Affairs article – see link in previous sentence – positions the story within a broader context.

Europe, Europe: Forays into a Continent, 1st American Ed. (1989) by Hans Magnus Enzensberger, in turn, brings back memories of the late 1980s in a way that is relevant.

Sweden & Hungary

Regarding his visit to Sweden, the author asserts that museums in the country devote themselves to many topics, but not to the country’s early political history.

Regarding his visit to Hungary, Enzensberger remarks (p. 94):

“It has been observed often enough that the Western visitor entering eastern Central Europe experiences a journey in a time machine. Regimes that started out determined to liquidate the old now conserve its broken remains. That holds true not only for roofs and walls but also for people and their behavior.”

[End of excerpt]

Portugal and Italy are among the other countries Enzensberger writes about.

Oct. 9, 2014 New York Review of Books: “Heidegger in Black”

The above-noted passage – about Hungary in the late 1980s – brings to mind a study entitled Evil Men (2013) as well as Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin (2010) and Soldaten (2011).

The passage about Hungary also brings to mind an Oct. 9, 2014 New York Review of Books article entitled: “Heidegger in Black.” The article notes: “Heidegger was one of the most influential thinkers of the modern era. He was also a convinced Nazi.”

A passage from the review reads:

“Generalizations of this kind efface all differences of morality and history in the name of philosophical insight, as Heidegger conceived it. They suggest the verdict that Heidegger – notwithstanding his reputation as a thinker of ‘concrete’ and ‘this-worldly’ existence – was himself prone to the most lamentable abstraction. Philosophy is supposed to be the beginning of wisdom, but philosophy did not make Heidegger wise. The banal prejudices of a provincial childhood were not dissolved through education but only grew more expansive and assumed the vacuous grandeur of world-historical generalities. There is an intelligent way to develop a critique of technology, and there are rational ways to explore the limits of human reason. But Heidegger’s is not the salutary model for either. In his zeal to prosecute a war on the critical intellect he ignored all of the differences that matter to us as inhabitants of a common world, and he ended in a place of abstraction no less fantastical than the enemy he wished to defeat.”

[End of excerpt]

December: 39 Stories, 39 Pictures (2012)

Also of interest, on related topics, is: December: 39 Stories, 39 Pictures (2012) by Alexander Kluge with contributions by Martin Chalmers and Gerhard Richter. The blurb for the book is of interest; you can access the blurb at the link in the previous sentence.

In particular, I noted the allusion, in the latter collection of stories, of the astronomical collision that gave rise to creation of the moon. This event – leading to the emergence of the moon in orbit around the Earth – in turn gave rise to conditions that were favourable to the emergence, with the passage of geological time, of living organisms upon the planet.

Oct. 1, 2014 CBC article: “Why our brains aren’t built for democracy”

The topic brings to mind, in turn, an Oct. 1, 2014 CBC article entitled: “Why our brains aren’t built for democracy: The role of our ‘lizard brain’ in determining how we vote.”

The article notes:

“The ‘lizard brain’ is a catch-all term for the areas of our brain that developed between 500 million and 150 million years ago and are primarily responsible for instinct, emotion and recording memories, as well as visceral feelings that influence or even direct our decisions.

“The neocortex, on the other hand, is the area of our brain responsible for reason, language, imagination, abstract thought and consciousness. Scientists say the neocortex has only been around for two or three million years.

“When it comes to understanding the workings of the human brain, it’s worth remembering that only a small percentage of our active brain is conscious.

“It is impossible to quantify, but scientists say roughly 95 per cent of our brain activity is subconscious or unconscious.”

[End of excerpt]

HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Communication (2012)

HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Communication (2012) serves as an apt complement to the previously mentioned studies.

In a chapter entitled “The Necessary Art of Persuasion,” in a section of the chapter devoted to the provision of evidence, Jay A. Conger notes:

“With credibility established and a common frame identified, persuasion becomes a matter of presenting evidence. Ordinary evidence, however, won’t do. We have found that the most effective persuaders use language in a particular way. They supplement numerical data with examples, stories, metaphors, and analogies to make their positions come alive. That use of language paints a vivid word picture and, in doing so, lends a compelling and tangible quality to the persuader’s point of view.”

[End of excerpt]


Regarding the topic of evidence, an Oct. 1, 2014 article at the McMaster University website is entitled: “Optimal Aging Portal is the ‘Rotten Tomatoes’ of health advice.”


An Oct. 5, 2014 New York Times article is entitled: “Unearthing a Barbarous Past in Poland.”

“In a little over a year of sporadic digging,” the article notes, “more than 280 bodies have been pulled from burial pits in the sandy, red-streaked earth behind this century-old prison, anonymous victims of the Nazis, the Soviets or the Polish secret police.”

Among other things, the topics addressed in this post concern governance in any country.

With regard to governance, an Oct. 6, 2014 Globe and Mail article by Donald Savoie is entitled: “The perils of the career politician.”

The concluding paragraph of the above-noted article reads: “We could start by returning parties to the rank and file, by making it easier for non-career politicians to enter the political arena, by decentralizing power so that one does not have to sit in the prime minister’s or premier’s chair to make a substantial contribution. We also need to retool our public services by peeling away constraints to good management, and by rediscovering the importance of evidence-based policy advice.”

A March 18, 2014 Globe and Mail article article is entitled: “Donald Savoie: Why Canada’s public service is declining and why it matters.”


Posted in Historiography, Military history, Newsletter, Toronto | Leave a comment

Old Aerial Photographs of Toronto from the 1920s-30s: Toronto Archives

At his Facebook page, Daniele Rossi has posted some great 1920s-1930s aerial photographs of Toronto, from the Toronto Archives.

You can access the link here.

If you know of other such links of interest, please let me know. Because of the time that I devote to other projects, at this point in my work I tend to steer clear of archives. It would take up too much of my time to start to explore them. But I’m happy to post links that other people find.


Posted in Historiography, Newsletter, Toronto | Leave a comment

Wesley Mimico Place update

I’ve been following the story of Wesley Mimico Place, Wesley Mimico United Church, and the associated story of the history of church conversions in Toronto and elsewhere, since February 2012.

The most recent update regarding Wesley Mimico Place is available here.

The photo on this page is from the update.


Posted in Construction, Historiography, Mimico, Newsletter, Toronto, Wesley Mimico United Church | Leave a comment