St. Francis Alumni Mass – 2021

For the third year in a row, I was unable to attend the St. Francis Alumni Memorial Mass. After more than a dozen years of annual attendance, most times with my friend John Macmillan, a schedule change made attending impossible. Last year we’d planned to attend with two former Franciscans. That trip, like this year’s, was sidetracked by Covid-19.

This year, however, the Mass was taped and available on YouTube.  Mass on the screen is hardly the immersive experience that is being in the Chapel. 1960 was my first chapel visit as a Freshman. Now 61 years later it remains a mental refuge for prayerful thought.  The production crew did an excellent job of making viewers feel a bit like being there.

1940s Alumni remembered:
Thomas Cieslica ’48
Anthony Cisek ’44
Joseph Sasiadek ’49

1950s Alumni remembered:
Louis Bartus ’57
Edward Bystran ’59
Frank Jarmusz ’50
William Kania ’58
John Klimczak ’51
Richard Klimowicz ’54
James Pasko ’59
Leonard Prusak ’55
Aloisius Rynkowski ’50
Dr. Leon Strenkowski ’58
Edmund Trella ’55
Carl Wappman Jr. ’55

1960s Alumni remembered:
Ed Bajer ’62
Lt. Col. Zygmunt Bystran ’62
Dr. Micheal Davis ’66
Victor Galdes ’60
Pierre Gervais ’68
Larry Jay Jarzynski ’61
Carlos CJ Justiniano ’69
Paul Kuebler ’66
Martin Miller ’69
Andrew Preisler ’65
Nelson Rivet ’68

1970s Alumni remembered:
Geofrey Brinkman ’73
Patrick Callaghan ’79
Dennis Gaughan ’74
John Germain ’70
John Nyitrai ’75
Bruce Sage ’77

1980s Alumni remembered:
James Carbeck ’86
David Rhoads ’87
Andrew Rosnow ’85

1990s Alumni remembered:
Dr. Ronald Garrow ’91
Jamie Jayes ’97
Daniel Piotrowicz ’95

2000s Alumni remembered:
Maxwell Besch ’06
Eric Brege ’02
Joseph Dietterich ’04
Anthony Miranda ’00
Christopher Winkelman ’01

While none of the above are from my class of 1964, several last names above also appear in that class –  Prusak, Kania, Cieslica, and Bajer. These may be family members or simple coincidence.

Missed catching up with alumni at the after Mass brunch in the oh so familiar cafeteria. Over the years some of them moved on from attendee to those remembered. Each one of us is part of the brotherhood who prays for and the brotherhood prayed for. Certainly hope that there will be a few more opportunities to get together face to face in the Chapel and in the cafeteria. And I hope that next year John and I will be back at one of our favourite Western New York breakfast haunts.

Thank you again for the Mass, the singing and for making this remote participation possible.

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Bye Bye Bytown

Soon after moving to Ottawa in the summer of 2015, Sue and I discovered the Bytown Cinema. Located across the street from the Sandy Hill Community Health Centre, Sue would walk from our home to meet me after work. This repertory cinema featured great independent, foreign and classic films. Our weekly date would include a bag supper that Sue brought along with drinks and sometimes popcorn.

Last-Bytown-membershipEach year we’d renew our Seniors’ memberships to take advantage of reduced pricing. We continued this for almost four years, although a bit less frequently after I stopped working regularly. Our last renewal was in June 2019.  We stopped going in early 2020 with the pandemic. By the end of the year, after 32 years, the owners announced its’ closing. Coupled with the closing of the Rideau Bakery, we’ve lost two important community touchstones. Hopefully, someone will take over the theatre and reopen. The bakery is to become a work training site which we hope will sell student work like George Brown did in our old Toronto neighbourhood.

Meanwhile, we wait for the pandemic to clear sufficiently that getting together will be safe. For quite some time before the pandemic movie theatres have been competing with watching movies at home. Watching with a crowd will bring back forgotten joys. Sue and I look forward to joining family and friends at the Mayfair, another repertory theatre in Ottawa.

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Remembering Heather Stecher

Heather is an advocate I will not forget. I say is because, although she left this earth January 3, 2021, I see her efforts at the Co-op in our efforts to improving accessibility, in our snow removal contracts, and in the new four way stop signs at the corner. Heather’s life is rich with life-long advocacy on behalf of torture victims, housing and food security issues, poverty, women, arts, and transportation – especially here in Ottawa.

Earlier today, about 30 of Heather’s friends, neighbours and colleagues gathered on Zoom to honour her efforts and share her impact on our lives. 

Organized and very ably shepherded by Amanda Lowe, we began and ended with song-prayers by Michelle Penney. We heard how, after moving to Laurier Manor as a result of a stroke, Heather successfully battled COVID before finally succumbing to other health issues.

People spoke of Heather as advocate, motivator, Springsteen fan, and autograph hound. She was ‘always at City Hall’. Three City Councillors participating in the virtual celebration spoke to the impact of facing Heather who ‘was always in the front row’. She spoke for those ‘who fell between the cracks and were too shy to speak for themselves’. She gave those who saw Heather in action a direct understanding and awareness of what it feels like not to be heard. She insisted everyone be treated with dignity. 

The debilitating effects of Turner’s Syndrome, a rare genetic disease, kept Heather from getting a driver’s license but they did not stop her from participating in a variety of community organizations and political events until the body finally gave out. Pressing decision makers for results, she would remind them, “I don’t have 10 years!”

Fatima, a Co-op member asked everyone to ‘gardez c’est moment; gardez c’est l’espoir’  – keep this moment; keep this hope.

For a brief time many years ago, Heather blogged. The entries illuminate Heather’s spirit and drive.

So glad I shared the journey with you for a while.


Posted in Organizer's Notebook, Sandy Hill | Leave a comment

SOCWORK discussion list ending

I am grateful to Ogden and to the University for keeping this discussion going for all these years. The list started as a Social Planning class project at the University of Toronto, Faculty of Social Work (see –

After leaving UofT, other moderators took over. After a few year it was Ogden. He has taken care of this list for almost 30 years!

Once an astonishing feature which connected thousands and inspired other Social Work focused listservs, LISTSERV technology was superseded  by other online information sharing and meeting venues. Yet, SOCWORK continued. The impact of SOCWORK is nicely described in a Computers in Human Services, Vol. 14(2) 1997, article by Steven Marsden – see  (

As many may know, UofT was the academic home of one of the first mass media philosophers, Marshall McLuhan. One of the profs in the original SOCWORK experiment, Donald Forgie, worked with him and shared great stories which I still cherish. Along with the life cycle of SOCWORK, we are ending. I am thankful for the shoulders of those who inspired, guided, and maintained it. 

Thank you Ogden. Thank you all who worked on this. Thank you to all who shared experiences, opinions, and questions. May your efforts continue to provide a window into the impact of technology on Social Work. Hopefully, an archive of SOCWORK will continue to be available.

A. Simon Mielniczuk,Ottawa, ON, CANADA

    Date:    Tue, 1 Dec 2020 19:15:05 +0000    From:    Ogden Rogers <>    

Subject: Soon to be discontinued

    Dear anybody still on<>:
    Socwork will discontinue on 12/25/2020
    Ogden Rogers, Listowner

Posted in Learning Systems, Organizer's Notebook | Leave a comment

South East Ontario Covid Loyalist Getaway

This side of the Ottawa and St. Lawrence Rivers is one of the major settlement areas for losing side Loyalists from the American Revolution. In my view, the American Revolution was the first Civil War. It wasn’t Americans vs British. Some colonists remained loyal to the Crown while others joined the rebellion. Before hostilities they were neighbours, now deadly combatants. Before the revolt, George Washington himself led a militia unit and was frustrated at not receiving a Commission in the British Army. Regions, communities and families split in their allegiances. 

When the fighting and killing was over, the Loyalists and their leaders had to give up their lands and leave the newly independent colony. Many came to Upper Canada, now Ontario, particularly the area on the north shore of the St. Lawrence and the west shore of the Ottawa. The original counties of Stormont, Dundas, and Glengarry are now the United Counties of SDG. This is the area that began Ontario. When first settled the town, villages and farmlands of each county were nascent centres of agriculture, community and commerce for what would evolve relatively peacefully from Colony to Commonwealth Country. 

Sue remarks how the different parts of the area remind her of New England. Obviously not a coincidence. Although divided by loyalty, the colonists both here and there shared many, if not most sensibilities regarding community and dwelling design, family and farm life. 

Glengarry Pioneer Museum

Glengarry Pioneer Museum

Martintown Grist Mill History

Martintown Grist Mill History

Martintown Grist Mill

Martintown Grist Mill









We start this past Wednesday’s day trip at the Glengarry Pioneer Museum, kitty corner to the Kenyon Presbyterian Church in Dunvegan. The stonework here and at other village churches speaks to the skills of the Scottish stonemasons that settled in the area. Leaving Dunvegan we end up in Alexandria after missing an intended side road. It is a fortunate error. Alexandria has an impressive town park with community centre, lake and beach that we enjoy.

Travelling companion

Travelling companion

Alexandria Park and Beach

Alexandria Park and Beach

Doubling back we find the grist mill in Martintown and take outside pictures. From there we go to Williamstown which has a museum dedicated to Glengarry, Nor’Westers and Loyalists. In the 1800’s the North West Company was a competitor to the Hudson’s Bay Company. Some of its principals settled in this area and applied their wealth to local enterprise and church buildings.

Glengarry, Nor’Westers and Loyalist Museum

Glengarry, Nor’Westers and Loyalist Museum

Sir John Johnson House

Sir John Johnson House

Loyalist History Duncan Cameron

Loyalist History Duncan Cameron

Bethune-Thompson House

Bethune-Thompson House

Macmillan Emigration History

Macmillan Emigration History

Visiting Williamstown one enjoys several other Loyalist heritage sites. It is the home of Canada’s oldest country fair. Even the 2020 pandemic is not stopping them. This year it is a combination virtual and drive thru event! Also with the village are the Bethune-Thompson House, St. Andrew’s Church, St. Mary’s Church, and the Sir John Johnson House. 

At St. Andrew’s Church I come across an interesting gravestone and an historical marker about the Macmillans who first emigrated here in the early 1800’s. Our family friend, John Macmillan told us about attending the annual Canadian gathering of this clan.

It’s getting on towards supper and we continue on to Lancaster. Just off the 401, I first discovered this town while travelling between Toronto and Montreal. Bordeau’s Restaurant is the home of the Lancaster Perch Roll.

This is the Loyalist version of the clam and lobster rolls found in New England. Sue and I split the two roll platter and a steamie hot dog before heading home along scenic Route 2 and the Long Sault Parkway which joins several islands in the middle of the St. Lawrence River. When we reach Ontario 31, one of the original King’s Highways, it takes us back to Ottawa where it becomes Bank St.

Health restrictions made us visit the outside of more places. We plan to revisit the banks of the St. Lawrence to enjoy the fall colours and the drive thru fair. When the situation improves, we’ll be back to appreciate the insides.  

Bordeau Restaurant Lancaster

Ate the platter before getting a picture :)












Places mentioned:

Glengarry Pioneer Museum –

Kenyon Presbyterian Church

Alexandria Park and Beach –

Martintown Grist Mill –

Historic Williamstown – 

Glengarry, Nor’Westers and Loyalist Museum –

Williamstown Fair –

Bethune-Thompson House – 

St. Andrew’s Church and Cemetery – 

St. Mary’s Church –

Sir John Johnson House –

Glengarry Celtic Music Hall of Fame –

Bordeau’s Restaurant – 

Heritage Highway Route 2 – 

Long Sault Parkway – 

Ontario Kings Highway 31 –

Google Maps:

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Tony Shoes – Montreal landmark closing

Woke up this past Sunday looking forward to spending Father’s Day with the grandkids. Part of each morning’s ritual is a flip through Facebook. Mixed in with the tributes to dads was a notice from Tony Shoes in Montreal. Anthony Fargnoli, the grandson of the original founder, Tony, and his partner in all things, Kathryn, were shifting focus and closing shop.

Anthony has been working in the store for 47 years, put another way, since he was 18. Actually he’s been at the store his whole life. In my teens during the 60’s I was a regular during visits home from boarding school. Anthony’s uncle, Mario Fargnoli, was my best friend. At that time the Fargnoli’s lived upstairs from the store. We’d hang out in his room enjoying the largest collection of 45’s that I knew. One discussion about a Montreal artist then making it big had Mario recounting his father telling him about Mrs. Cohen bringing in ‘little Lenny’ for shoes. After my parents moved to Chomedey-Laval, I would take the commuter train at Cartierville to spend downtown with Mario and, to the dismay of my mother, come home late.

Mario and I sometime in the late 60's

Mario and I sometime in the late 60’s

Mario and I stayed friends past high school, through college and seminary years. I was in Massachusetts, he at the Seminaire du Montreal. He even visited me at St. Hyacinth’s. After we both left our seminaries, he continued searching by volunteering in India. I’d wanted him to be best man at our wedding, but he was too far away. In 1973, he died. Sue and I attended the funeral.

Since the 70’s we’ve been dropping in to say hello to grandfather Tony, his son Eddy, later spouse Sandra and for many recent years their son Anthony. We have bought shoes and boots for ourselves, for our children, and in recent years for our grandchildren. The product quality and the care in fitting is unmatched. What no one will be able to match for our family is the lifetime of welcome. Each time we would share stories of life events and the progress of our children with the Fargnoli’s and with long time staffer Julio. When visiting my parents grave at Cimetiere Notre Dames des Neiges, we would stop by to visit the Fargnoli’s family plot.

After my mom died in 1987, Tony’s was the place that most gave me that ‘back home’ feeling when in Montreal. Moving to Ottawa 5 years ago meant we could visit Montreal more often. Those more frequent family visits passed down that touchstone effect to our 14 year old grandson Charlie. He insisted on going to Tony’s to get a serious pair of school shoes for starting at Ashbury later this year. COVID and the store closing ends that.

As sad as this is personally, I am happy for Anthony and Kathryn. That attention on customer service and a quality operation takes its toll and ages you – even without a pandemic. Mario’s dad, the founding Anthony, died a few years after his son’s premature passing. Anthony’s son Eddy also died early in his late fifties. At the age when many retire, the current Anthony is taking care to better enjoy life and family.

Masked Julio together with Sue and me.

Sue and I thank the Fargnoli’s and the staff, especially Julio, at Tony Shoes for a lifetime of friendship and service to three generations of our family.

The Montreal Gazette has two articles about the closing of this legendary 83 year old business.

Founder Anthony Fargnoli

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The Plague again

A yellowed paperback has been on my bookshelf for a while. This 1948 translation of the 1947 “La Peste”, “The Plague” by Albert Camus done by Stuart Gilbert is dated not just physically but also linguistically. Nonetheless, if there was ever a time to re-read a forgotten story, this was it. Themes, characters, and actions were eerily familiar. The plague has returned and as I write this remains around us. We have already experienced silent heroes and villains; leaders and flounders. We learn each day what is truly important. The following excerpts from a novel more than seventy years ago resonate with insight and may help in dealing with today.

Since the original posting, I’ve found two recent NY Times articles relevant to Camus’ The Plague.

“When a war breaks out, people say: “It’s too stupid; it cant last long.” But though a war may well be “too stupid”, that doesn’t prevent its lasting. Stupidity has a knack of getting its way; as we should see if we were not always so much wrapped up in ourselves.” p.34

“Ten thousand dead made about five times the audience in a bigish cinema. Yes, that was how it should be done. You should collect the people at the exits of five picture-houses, you should lead them to a city square and make them die in heaps if you wanted to get a clear notion of what it means.” p.36

“Still, that [plague] could stop, or be stopped. It was only a matter of lucidly recognizing what had to be recognized; of dispelling extraneous shadows and of doing what needed to be done. Then the plague would come to an end, because it was unthinkable, or rather, because one thought of it on misleading lines. If, as was most likely, it died out, all would be well. It not, one would know it anyhow for what it was and what steps should be taken for coping with and finally overcoming it.” p.38

“Judging by the rapidity with which the disease is spreading, it may well be, unless we can stop it, kill off half the town before two months are out. That being so, it has small importance whether you call it plague or some rare kind of fever. The important thing is to prevent its killing off half the population of this town.” p.46

“It doesn’t matter to me,” Rieux said, “how you phrase it. My point is that we should not act as if there were no likelihood that half the population would be wiped out; for then it would be.” p.47

“The measures enjoined were far from Draconian and one had the feeling that many concessions had been made to a desire not to alarm the public.” p. 48

“In any case,” Rieux said, “I wonder if it [serum] will be much use. The bacillus is such a queer one.” “There,” Castel said, “I don’t agree with you. These little brutes always have an air of originality. But, at bottom, its always the same thing.”
“That’s your theory, anyhow. Actually, of course, we know next to nothing on the subject.” pp.52-53

“The only hope was that the outbreak would die a natural death; it certainly wouldn’t be arrested by the measures the authorities had so far devised.” p.56

“Compulsory declaration of all cases of fever and their isolation were to be strictly enforced. The residences of sick people were to be shut up and disinfected; persons living in the same house were to go into quarantine; burials were to be supervised by the local authorities…. p.58

“…each would have to adapt himself to the new conditions of life. Thus, for example, a feeling normally as individual as the ache of separation from those one loves suddenly became a feeling in which all shared alike and – together with fear – the greatest affliction of the long period of exile that lay ahead…. Mothers and children, lovers, husbands and wives, who had a few days previously taken it for granted that their parting would be a short one,…. Indeed it needed several days for us to realize that we were completely cornered; that words like “special arrangements, “favor,” and “priority” had lost all effective meaning.” pp.61-62

“Thus the first thing that plague brought to our town was exile.” p.65

“It [plague] also incited us to create our own suffering and this to accept frustration as a natural state. This was one of the tricks the pestilence had of diverting attention and confounding issues. Thus each of us had to be content to live only for the day, alone under the vast indifference of the sky.” p.68

“Most people were chiefly aware of what ruffled the normal tenor of their lives or affected their interests. They were worried and irritated – but these are not feelings with which to confront plague. Their first reaction, for instance, was to abuse the authorities.” p.71

“The public lacked, in short, standards of comparison. It was only as time passed and the steady rise of the death-rate could not be ignored that public opinion became alive to the truth.” p.72

“Thus traffic thinned out progressively until hardly any private cares were on the roads; luxury shops closed overnight, and others began to put up “Sold Out” notices, while crowds of buyers stood waiting at their doors.” p.72

“Owing largely to fatigue, he gradually lost grip of himself, had less and less to say, and failed to keep alive the feeling in his wife that she was loved. An overworked husband, poverty, the gradual loss of hope in a better future, silent evenings at home – what chance had any passion of surviving such conditions?” p.75

“And while a good many people adapted themselves to confinement and carried on their humdrum lives as before, there were others who rebelled and whose one idea now was to break loose from the prison-house.” p.92

“For the most part they were men with well-defined and sound ideas on everything concerning exports, banking, the fruit or wine trade; men of proved ability in handling problems relating to insurance, the interpretation of ill-drawn contracts, and the like; of high qualifications and evident good intentions. That, in fact, was what struck one most – the excellence of their intentions. But as regards plague their competence was practically nil.” p.97-98.

“One thing, anyhow, was certain; discontent was on the increase and, fearing worse to come, the local officials debated lengthily on the measures to be taken if the populace, goaded to frenzy by the epidemic, go completely out of hand.” p.103

“The town was open to the sea and its young folk made free of the beaches. But this summer, for all its nearness, the sea was out of bounds; young limbs had no longer the run of its delights.” p.104

“Ah, if only it had been an earthquake! A good bad shock, and there you are! Your count the dead and living, and that’s the end of it. But this damned disease – even them who haven’t got it can’t think of anything else.” p.105

“Moreover, he was sure that for a long while to come travelers would give the town a wide berth. This epidemic spelt the ruin of the tourist trade, in fact.” p.106

“So does every ill that flesh is heir to. What’s true of all the evils in the world is true of plague as well. It helps men rise above themselves. All the same, when you see the misery it brings, you’d need to be a madman, or a coward, or stone blind, to give in tamely to the plague.” p.115

“I have no idea what’s awaiting me, or what will happen when all this ends. For the moment I know this; there are sick people and they need curing. Later on, perhaps they’ll think things over; and so shall I. But what’s wanted now it is to make them well.” p.117

“The essential thing was to save the greatest possible number of persons from dying and being doomed to unending separation. And to do this there wsa only one resource: to fight the plague. There was nothing admirable about this attitude; it was merely logical.” p.122

“Patiently every evening he brought his totals up to date, illustrated them with graphs, and racked his brains to present his data in the most exact, clearest form.” p.126

“And form the ends of the earth, across thousands of miles of land and sea, kindly, well-meaning speakers tried to voice their fellow-feeling, and indeed did so, but at the same time proved the utter incapacity of every man truly to share in suffering that he cannot see.” p.127

“It seemed that, for obvious reasons, the plague launched its most virulent attacks on those who lived, by choice or necessity, in groups: soldiers, prisoners, monks and nuns. For though some prisoners are kept solitary, a prison forms a sort of community, as is proved by the fact that in our town jail the guards died of plague in the proportion as prisoners.” p.153

“…the recruiting of men for the “rough work” became much easier. From now on, indeed, poverty showed itself a stronger stimulus than fear, especially as, owing to its risks, such work was highly paid.” p.160

“The truth is that nothing is less sensational than pestilence, and by reason of their great duration great misfortunes are monotonous. In the memories of those who lived through them, the grim days of plague do not stand out like vivid flames, ravenous and inextinguishable, becoming a troubled sky, bur rather like the slow, deliberate progress of some monstrous thing crushing out all upon its path.” p.163

“Its high time it stopped. … when making such remarks we felt none of the passionate yearning or fierce resentment of the early phase; we merely voiced one of the few clear ideas that lingered in the twilight of our minds. The furious revolt of the first weeks had give place to a vast despondency, not to be take for resignation, though it was none the less a sort of passive and provisional acquiescence.” p.164

“Without memories, without hope they lived for the moment only. Indeed, the here and now had come to mean everything to them. For there is no denying that the plague had gradually killed off in all of us the faculty not of love only but even of friendship. Naturally enough, since love asks something of the future, and nothing was left us but a series of present moments.” p.165

“There was nothing to do but to ‘mark time,’ and some hundreds of thousands of men and women went on doing this, through weeks that seemed interminable.” p.169

“They developed a tendency to shirk every movement that didn’t seem absolutely necessary or called for efforts that seemed too great to be worth while. Thus these men were led to break, oftener and oftener, the rules of hygiene they themselves had instituted…” p.173

“There was no question of not taking precautions or failing to comply with the orders wisely promulgated for the public weal in the disorders of a pestilence. Nor should we listen to certain moralists who told us to sink on our knees and give up the struggle. No, we should go forward, groping our way through the darkness, stumbling perhaps at times, and try to do what good lay in our power.” p.205

“It is true that the actual number of deaths showed no increase…. Theoretically, and in the view of the authorities, this was a hopeful sign. The fact that the graph after its long rising curve had flattened out seemed to many … reassuring.” p.212

“Meanwhile the authorities had another cause for anxiety in the difficulty of maintaining the food-supply. Profiteers were taking a hand and purveying at enormous prices essential foodstuffs not available in the shops. The result was that poor families were in great straits, while the rich went short of practically nothing. Thus, whereas the plague by in impartial ministrations should have promoted equality among our town folk, it now had the opposite effect and, … exacerbated the sense of injustice rankling in men’s hearts.” pp. 213-214

“As time went on I merely learned that even those who were better than the rest could not keep themselves nowadays from killing or letting others kill, because such is the logic by which they live; and that we can’t stir a finger in this world without the risk of bringing death to somebody. Yes, I’ve been ashamed ever since; I have realized that we all have plague, and I have lost my peace. And today I am still trying to find it; still trying to understand all those others and not trying to be the mortal enemy of anyone.” p.228

“And I know, too, that we must keep endless watch on ourselves lest in a careless moment we breathe in someone’s face and fasten the infection on him. What natural is the microbe. All the rest – health, integrity,purity (if you like) – is a product of the human will, of a vigilance the must never falter. The good man, the man who infects hardly anyone, is the man who has the fewest lapses of attention.” p.229

“All I maintain is that on this earth there are pestilences and there are victims, and it’s up to us, so far as possible, not to join forces with the pestilences. That may sound simple to the point of childishness; I can’t judge if it’s simple, but I know it’s true.” p.229

“The authorities had optimistically reckoned on the coming of winter to halt its progress, but it lasted through the first cold spells without the least remission. So the only thing for us to do was to go on waiting, and since after a too long waiting one gives up waiting, the whole town lived as if it had no future.” pp.233-234

“…that a loveless world is a dead world, and always there comes an hour when one is weary of prisons, of one’s work, and of devotion to duty, and all one craves for is a loved face, the warmth and wonder of a loving heart.” p.237

“They knew that if there is one thing one can alway yearn for and sometimes attain, it is human love. But for others who aspired beyond and above the human individual toward something they could not even imagine, there had been no answer. … Rieux was thinking it was only right that those whose desires are limited to man and his humble yet formidable love should enter, if only now and then, into their reward.” p.271

“… and to state quite simply what we learn in a time of pestilence: that there are more things to admire in men than to despise. None the less, he knew that the tale he had to tell could not be one of final victory. It could be only the record of what had had to be done, and what assuredly would have to be done again in the never ending fight against terror and its relentless onslaughts, despite their personal afflictions, by all who, while unable to be saints but refusing to bow down to pestilences, strive their utmost to be healers.” p.278

“He knew what those jubilant crowds did not know but could have learned from books: that the plague bacillus never dies or disappears for good; that it can lie dormant for years and years …, and that perhaps the day would come when, for the bane and enlightening of men, it would rouse up its rats again and send them forth to die in a happy city.” p.278

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Remembering Evaristo ‘Pancho’ Rivera

Our last walk together in the fields outside Elmvale, ON.

Today as your family and friends honour your life during Mass at Sacred Heart in Springfield, Sue and I remember you throughout our married life. As young parents, we welcomed your and Barbara taking the kids on Saturday mornings. They loved it and we loved the extra rest and break. Breakfasts and outdoor barbeques were epic. To this day we still talk about these good times. Road trips around New England without maps or compass led us to places time forgot and sometimes kept us from getting back for many hours.

You were always there ready to help. When we moved back to Canada you were there loading our stuff. When we needed something you were there. During Barbara’s funeral we mentioned that our microwave wasn’t working well. That Fall you came to visit us in Toronto. We can’t forget the sight of you arriving at the airport with a microwave in your walker! During Canadian Thanksgiving that year, you negotiated a pork shank with the Elmvale butcher. You watched over it for hours. The aroma filled the house and the neighbourhood. Turkey took second place that year.

On our visits we enjoyed going to Costco and having almost every staff person shout out to you. While not as full or as organized as yours, we too now have a Costco closet in our place.

Dominoes was just a kids game until you showed us how aggressively and strategically it could be played. We won’t talk about the nights of questionable card game behaviour.

You remain in our thoughts, prayers, and conversations.

(For obit see –

Lost Pancho during the Fall Fair Parade only to find him down the street making new friends.

Springfield, Feb. 14, 2005 — staff/ Michael S. Gordon — For story on the funeral of community activist Barbara Rivera Monday at Sacred Heart Church. Her husband, Everisto “Pancho” Rivera holds a cross during the mass.

Took Pancho to St. Lawrence Market for bulk food shopping.

Thirty five years later Pancho still pushing Simon around. This time in his walker at Blue Mountain in Collingwood.

Posted in Brightwood, Personal | Leave a comment

The Brickyard: The Life, Death, and Legend of an Urban Neighbourhood

Lynn waterfront dioramaThe diorama at the Lynn museum memorializes urban life, neighbourhood, and a waterfront destroyed by the progress of urban renewal. Of course, one can now drive the Lynnway without a care for the past. The empty lots and greenspace can also make one wonder.

If your thoughts tend to the later, read “The Brickyard: The Life, Death, and Legend of an Urban Neighborhood.” by Kathryn Grover. The museum published it in 2004. Major sources are oral histories done in 1982 and between 1999 and 2001. Newspaper articles and planning reports provide additional perspectives. Elderly, former residents fondly recall shared family values; playing in the streets; and commerce carried out by peddlars and small business.

As expected, their reflections tend towards the nostalgia of youthful good times experienced and bad times weathered in common with neighbours. Petty crimes are controlled or punished by police who know everyone’s parents. Tensions around race are glossed over with memories of everyone getting along.

Lynn was a premier US manufacturer of shoes. The Brickyard was home to many craftsmen and close to factories. Italians, Jews and Poles settled there because of it. Over time the work left, buildings and yards once tidy became neglected. Post war suburbs and malls beckoned. The cars that took them there needed fast roads. Capitalism had wrung out the value of people, land and buildings and now pushed governments to acquire, demolish, pave over and re-develop.

In 1970 I started working as a Relocation Interviewer for the Springfield Redevelopment Authority. Eminent domain is cruel. Fortunately, our project abandoned wholesale demolition. In its place we had limited acquisition, extensive rehabilitation, road improvements and social services. Buildings run down by owners and those in the way of new roads were taken. Residents, often elderly who’d lived in the neighbourhood for much of their lives had to move – often out of the area. Earlier, I’d made a short film illustrating the destruction of Springfield’s North End and the visible priorities of public spending –

In Lynn as in many other 1960’s urban renewal projects, the planning and public debate contributed to uncertainty, decline and the flight of residents from the area. It was no longer the cherished neighbourhood they idealized. The suburbs offered a better life. If not better, at least one where families were better hidden.

One of the attention grabbing illustrations in this book is the re-creation of a hand drawn map done by a resident. The details literally map out many of the references and relationships in the oral histories. Personal and newspaper photos enliven characters, street life and other places of community activity. Like a complex, multi-character novel, the book contains cross-references that challenge memory. The extensive index by person, company or organization is a welcome feature.

While driving around I found a small corner of the Brickyard remains – its presence announced on a railway bridge.

Brickyard Railway Bridge

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Indigo (Lori) Holley 1961- 2019

Poster during her Oct 3, 2019 pot luck remembrance.

Last month, 200 attended the celebration of Indigo’s life at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. Last night, several Conservation Co-op members together with children, gathered to share memories and food in honour of Indigo. We lost her unexpectedly. Long time and newer members remembered her as the ‘first person I met after moving here’. Not many dry eyes as one by one we recalled her spirit, her consistent positive outlook, her voice on behalf of others.

One of the young persons present recalled Indigo leading the ‘Walking School Bus’ to Lord Viscount School, and more importantly her daily words of support and encouragement.

Co-op, community and mother earth were at the heart of her life. As one member said, ‘The Co-op principles on the wall are Indigo.’ She served on the Board of CHASEO (Co-op Housing Assoc. of East. ON) and on many social action and environment groups. Even her death was handled be a co-operative. One member recalled being with Indigo at Womens’ Circle meetings more than 30 years ago, before Conservation Co-op was built. Indigo moved to Conservation Co-op in April, 2004. Just last year, a new member recalled Indigo introducing herself at the door and welcoming her to the Co-op. Recently here at home, Indigo organized a memorial for another long time resident, Tim, who’d died at home. Along with others, Indigo organized the message boards after our lobby and hallway painting. At meetings she always spoke for what she believed was right or wrong. As one person said, ‘She kept us on our toes.’

7 Principles of Co-operatives

We learned that Indigo died soon after enjoying a group sing along of the Beatles, ‘Hey Jude’. As we passed the talking stick taking turns with our memories, Indigo smiled from a large poster found rolled up in her unit. Our table cloth came from a member whose sister also died unexpectedly a year ago.

Indigo’s spirit continued in the Pot Luck shared after the remembrances.

To read what others have said about Indigo Holey, see

“Indigo (Lori) passed away suddenly on Saturday, September 7, 2019. Beloved daughter of Mari Joy Trigo. She will be missed by her daughter Brooke (Michael) Holdsworth and fondly remember by her grandsons Dawson, Dorian and Gavin. She is also survived by her sisters Donna Lee and Jennifer and her brother Chris and was predeceased by her sister Margo. A Celebration of Life will be held on Friday, September 13, 2019 at 12 o’clock at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Ottawa, 400 McArthur Avenue. Please wear bright colours in memory of Indigo. If friends so desire memorial tributes may be made to the Wabanno Health Center.” and (both retrieved Oct. 4, 2019)

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