Question for Graeme Decarie: Can you explain the Wrong-Way Driving phenomenon in New Brunswick?

Graeme Decarie. Photo supplied by Graeme Decarie.

Graeme Decarie. Photo supplied by Graeme Decarie.

I recently (June 6, 2015) came across a CBC article entitled: “Ont. driver says truck going wrong direction in N.B. nearly caused accident: RCMP say vehicles travelling in the wrong direction is a common problem on New Brunswick highways.”

Some of the quotations include:

“Vehicles travelling in the wrong direction is a common problem on New Brunswick highways, according to RCMP Cpl. Mario Maillet.

” ‘It happens quite often, especially on the main highways, like on Highway 2,’ he said.”

This is a story that requires commentary from an experienced political observer, such as Graeme Decarie, who lives in Moncton. I look forward to getting an understanding of this phenomenon.

Moose stories

I’m also reminded of one of my favourite comments, from all of the 30-plus years that I spent as a public school teacher. I still remember the day when a Grade 4 student, in an English lesson about proverbs that I had the pleasure to be teaching, shared with the class this proverb, which he had made up on the spot. The student had grown up in Newfoundland and now lived in Mississauga, Ontario. He shared this proverb:

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a moose on the road.”

Click here for previous posts featuring MCHS teacher Graeme Decarie >

I much enjoy moose stories. I only have one moose story at my website bit look forward to adding a few more. Here’s the one that I do have:

Moose stops to observe visitors on country road, then continues on its way

Is Wrong-Way Driving unique to New Brunswick?

A further question that occurs to me is: What does the research indicate about the frequency of Wrong-Way Driving in New Brunswick, say, as compared to Ontario? The CBC article underlines, for me, the fact that every brief article, about any topic whatever, is a blurb that addresses a small slice of reality, and that warrants a close focus on the distinction between the rhetoric and the evidence-based reality that is the underlying story. At times the reality and rhetoric are aligned. At times they go off in different directions.

The topic brings to mind an April 14, 2015 New York Times article, about fact-checking and related matters, entitled: ” ‘Between You & Me,’ by Mary Norris.”

Oldest Old

As I think about the passage of the years, and moose stories, and related topics, a recent New York Times article comes to mind. A June 5, 2015 New York Times article is entitled: “A Group Portrait of New York’s ‘Oldest Old’: People age 85 and above are one of the city’s fastest growing groups, but they are almost invisible. Six New Yorkers share their stories of love, pain and abrupt change.”


A Sept. 4, 2016 article is entitled: “Girl, 13, killed in Stephenville moose-vehicle collision: 13-year-old girl travelling in front passenger seat of 2-door vehicle.”

A Sept. 15, 2016 CBC online video is entitled: “Moose: A Year in the Life of a Twig Eater.”


3 replies
  1. graeme decarie
    graeme decarie says:

    Wow! I have some guesses.

    1. There are long, long stretches of highway from here to the St. Lawrence River that go through deep forest without a break. And there are often few other cars on the road. Coupled with that, there is the constant worry of deer and moose on the road. So, If the forest closes in on one side, some drivers move to the other.

    2. New Brunswick has the highest proportion of seniors in Canada, some of them not as with it as they used to be.

    3. With so much forest and countryside, there’s a strong temptation to look at it rather than at the road.


    P.S. Did I ever tell you about the time I met the Duke and Duchess of Windsor? Sort of?

    I was in grade 11 at Montreal High, and taking a day off as I commonly did – which is why I was not allowed to finish high school. I was strolling along Sherbrooke, soon to come in sight of the Ritz Carlton Hotel where the rich kept their mistresses, where Mordecai Richler drank (and Brian Mulroney).

    I was till a hundred metres away. Too far to see faces, though I recognized them immediately from news reels. The duchess was dressed in a coat and hat that were her invariable style. The duke was almost surreally recognizable from the perfection of his attire. It was amazing – even at a distance. (This after all, is the man who invented the Windsor knot for neckties, and the little straps on men’s vests to keep them wrinkle free.)

    As I approached, their eyes fixed on me, and mine on them. At ten metres, the duchess gave me a warm smile. The duke kept his eyes fixed on me, his face expressionless. I passed within a foot of him, our eyes still locked.

    That was when the shock came.

    His eyes were the saddest and emptiest I had ever seen.

  2. Jaan Pill
    Jaan Pill says:

    Beautifully written account, Graeme, as always!

    Now I know to be careful when and if I am on the highways on New Brunswick. Maybe I will stick to flying in an airplane, looking out the window to see which ways the cars on the highways are headed, and where the anomalies are.

    It’s now been about 48 years since I learned to drive. As a driver and pedestrian, I’ve had some very near misses, very near collisions.

    In some cases, a split second, where I stopped for some reason, meant the difference between getting hit by a speeding car, in my role as a pedestrian, or watching a car go by right in front of my eyes. Fortunately, in each case, it was the right-in-front-of-my eyes scenario that was written into the script that day.

    I’ve also had a few accidents, in recent years. There is one spot that I drive by just about every day, where I had a serious run-in with the laws of physics. Our car was totalled. So, every time I drive by, or am approaching the spot in my car, the mind (my mind) kicks in and tells the story from still another angle. So many ways to tell a story about an accident!

    Fortunately, these days the story is told in highly positive terms. The accident was a wakeup call. Now when I drive, my eyes are constantly on the road ahead. I think of a zone in front of me. That’s where I look, at all times. Plus I look in my rear view mirror regularly. Which reminds me of an article that Marshall McLuhan wrote around the 1960s, where he speaks of the concept that looking into the rear-view mirror, if you seek to get sense of the road ahead, is not metaphorically speaking the way to go.

    The key thing that I remember about McLuhan is that he was totally unknown and perhaps destined to be that way, as a media guru, as a writer, as a speaker, as a manufacturer of ‘probes’ and aphorisms. What got him into the spotlight, into the limelight, was a quick-thinking, adept and keen Public Relations Person who figured out how to create the Personal Brand that became Marshall McLuhan. Public Relations – a key ingredient to success in any line of work, in any aspect of life.

    I recall as well that when Erving Goffman, the Canadian sociologist, spoke about Image Management in a systematic way in the 1960s, some academic types were aghast. “Why would anybody want to manage one’s image?” Then it became the standard thing to do. Nobody questions it now, because in the market place of ideas, in the frame of reference that market orientations promote, everybody has a Personal Brand, and everybody has the responsibility to engage in Effective Image Management.

    I also recall that in the 1970s the Search for Authenticity was the Next Big Thing. One of the people who had a good time writing about that topic, from the perspective of my own reading about such topics, was the Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor. He wrote beautiful texts about how people can get lost searching for their Authentic Self. In turn, in recent years I have come to enjoy articles, such as in the Harvard Business Review, which as a publication does a great job of managing its own image, on topics such as the Transparency Trap.

    The above-noted article, which speaks about the distinction between privacy and information sharing in a variety of work environments, introduces the topic by referring to the insights of Erving Goffman. A related Harvard Business Review article, also from the October 2014 issue, is entitled: “Balancing “We” and “Me”: The Best Collaborative Spaces Also Support Solitude.”

    The theme of Authenticity is also addressed in a February 2015 article:

    “The Problem With Authenticity” – February 2015 Harvard Business Review

    I try to keep current with topics related to management – management of everything. By way of example, I recently bought a 2013 text by Henry Mintzberg: Simply Managing: What Managers Do – And Can Do Better. I also bought the Summer 2015 Issue of the Stanford Social Innovation Review, because I was keen to read an Transparency Trap by Henry Mintzberg, entitled: “Time for the Plural Sector: To create a healthy society the plural sector needs to take its rightful place alongside the private and public sectors.”

    I like your story about the Duke. There is so much a person can glean about personality, as you note, from a few moments of looking at a person’s eyes. So much can be communicated, as you note! When his brother took over in the role of King George VI, good things happened. I’ve spoken about this in an online video on the Vimeo online platform. The latter video has been viewed to date by 700 visitors to the Vimeo website. When The King’s Speech came out, a volunteer national organization, on behalf of which I was responsible for Media Relations, received many, many calls from reporters and broadcasters including CBC The National.

    We were very thankful for the movie, because it made our own Public Relations efforts so much easier in those years than would – had the movie not been made, and had it not been so well received – have been the case.

  3. Bob Carswell
    Bob Carswell says:

    When you grow up with someone in your life that keeps turning up like Graeme Decarie has done over a lot of years and then in print via SGWU alumni magazine, it is not surprising that we also share certain values in common. I too went to the High School of Montreal for two runs at Grade Eight and one at Grade Nine but I was always too timid to skip class.

    Later in life I found out that I am not a listener but rather a person who gains knowledge almost entirely through his eyes. Like Graeme, I also spent a few weeks over the summer at Camp Tamaracouta for a number of years so I can easily identify with the story contents. I completed my Queen Scout badge in 1960 and went to Quebec City to be presented with it by the Lieutenant-Governor of Quebec.

    Like Graeme, I also have a connect with the Governor General Harold Alexander, The Viscount Alexander of Tunis. A pair of twins who flew 40 operations or more during WW II in bombers over Europe and survived the war went on to do other things in the RCAF after the war. They were both awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) and later added a bar to it (a second DFC).

    One of them, Allen Sherlock, became the military attache to the Viscount of Tunis right after the war. It was in 1941 that my father recommended these two sergeant pilots (4 years his senior) for their officer’s commission in the RAF. They were part of the flight he commanded at RAF Wigtown in Scotland (where he met my mother). The twins also attended my parents’ wedding in Croydon, England.

    As far as Royalty is concerned I cannot say I have met any however my father went to Lakefield College up near Peterborough, Ontario where the Queen’s son spent two terms. In 1941 a member of the extended Royal Family who my father befriended worked as a corporal running the RAF Hatfield station library. He quietly arranged for a photographer to take Dad’s grad photo as a pilot. Dad then found out that the same individual was the official photographer to the Royal Family.

    I also remember as a youngster standing out on Laurentian Blvd in Cartierville and waving a flag at the princess and her husband when she toured the City of Montreal sitting in the back of a convertible back in the early 1950s. I have also stood outside of Buckingham Palace and I have toured the Tower of London.

    That was back in 1970. According to our blood lines we are actually descended from the early Stuart kings, are related by marriage to Lucy Maud Montgomery and to Sir Walter Scott, famous Scottish writer of the early 1800s. The seat of the Errington line from which I am descended is Hexham Castle and it is through them that the family line is supposed to go back to Royalty.

    Initially, Scottish kings, they also ruled England for 6 generations until the line ended in the late 1600s. My grandfather and I were born in England and came to Canada.. My father and son were born in Canada and went to England. Since graduating from the London School of Business with an MBA, my son settled in London where he lives and contracts himself out, previously and currently to the British High Commission.

    His grandfather on his mother’s side was an Air Commodore in the RAF and head of eye medicine for the Air Force. A medical doctor with long service around the world, he was an honorary physician to the Queen with numerous other honours to his name.

    I think I am a throwback to the original KERRs which play prominently in our name creation but from which I am also descended on my KERR line that arrived in Montreal in 1822 from Scotland. I am the only left-handed person in the family and this is a natural trait of the KERRs who even built their castle stairways in the reverse to suit their personal needs. Graeme Decarie has a love for New Brunswick and I can understand why having spent a lot of time travelling and camping down east at different times.

    Unfortunately, I am banned from driving in NB anymore because I got caught in a speed trap doing 140 in a 120 zone and promptly lost the ticket. When they notified me of it and banned me from driving for life in NB I consciously chose not to pay it and finally fifteen years later I got a request from the RCMP to pay up…..too late….too much and probably too bad. Unless the laws change, that will stay the way it is. At least I got my daughter settled in to Acadia University and made it home before I was banned from driving in NB….so never fear, Graeme, I won’t be coming for a visit.
    (Note to Jaan Pill….photos coming separately.)



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