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 –

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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.

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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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Springfield 1969 – Public choices

Spring 1969 I had one major project to complete my BA in Sociology at American International College in Springfield Massachusetts. My initial proposal to do a photo-essay based on C.Wright Mills book, White Collar: The American Middle Classes was shot down not by the Professor but by Mass Mutual where I proposed to wander the work areas (under supervision if necessary) to capture images that illustrated Mills ideas regarding hierarchy, bureaucracy and alienation! Still delight at their polite reaction.

That idea and the one accepted was heavily influenced by Montreals Expo 67. One could capture ideas in still and moving images with sound and commentary. I would document the hierarchy of public priorities and analyze the choices illustrated by urban renewal in Springfields North End, public housing, and other publicly supported initiatives and spaces.

The presentation of the movie and photos took place in my student apartment. The Professor was unimpressed. He said I’d have to write a paper to complete the course.

The original 8 mm part of the presentation surfaced during a move in 2015. The digitized 6.5 mins, without audio, are now on Youtube.

The opening, shot from top of the Holiday Inn, give a panorama of the Springfield North End renewal area. It includes the Rt. 291 right of way and construction which obliterated homes and communities; the then new Seniors public housing towers which have the Springfield Housing Authority head office.

At 1:24 the scene shifts to Court Square and its traditional institutions of court, church, and the symphony/music hall all watched over by the statue of Miles Morgan, town founder.

At 2:35 we see people enjoying a variety of public spaces. Some streets and parks are well used and maintained; others not.

At 3:27 we see the Riverview Housing Project high rises and town houses across the Connecticut River. The largely abandoned first floor units contrast with new Student dorms aided by Federal Funds. Low income residents live in deteriorated housing in the North End while others enjoy low rise public housing built for returning WWII veterans

At 5:02 we see the neighbourhood being changed by urban renewal. Seniors continue to have attention and priority over the needs of families.

Posted in Brightwood, Community Mapping, Learning Systems, Riverview | 1 Comment

Christmas newsletter 2018

Each year you grow more important to us. A Twitter summary (280 chars) of this year would be: Kyle & Christine wed; summer with family / friends; Sue tick bite yr 2; Simon retired > work; son Simon race trophies; Lisa ‘young, female superstars’; grandkids Owen, run champ; Cole, hockey star; Charlie, e-wiz; Rowan, drummer; Olivia, independent 6; SFHS alums & co-op success.

The family highlight for many was the June wedding of Kyle Matthews to Christine Gargano. Three years earlier I’d officiated at his sister Kailee’s marriage to David Angle. This summer they were in the wedding party while their son Dylan watched under the care of Auntie Sue and I, again, officiated. For the first time in our almost 50 years together, Sue and I could spend quality and quantity time with friends and family. Cheri was particularly generous with hosting. Chris and I ate in the path of Bourdain. We celebrated with Donnie on his birthday and had several wonderful poolside get togethers with Ralph and Judy. Sue and I also spent a wonderful week in Cape Cod. We visited with friends Linda (Foo) and Sr. Paulette.

Sue had a particularly difficult time with the second year of her tick bite. After dermatology grand rounds, the recommended steroid treatment put her into anaphylactic shock and the emergency room. Subsequent testing confirmed a very rare allergy condition. A consult with a leading US Lyme Disease expert identified that she does not have Lyme Disease. He said her reaction to the bite was an outlier but seen previously. Time will heal; and the skin reaction is slowly diminishing.

While still pursuing data analytics, work is no longer my main focus. We are fortunate to spend time and assist with the care of our Ottawa grand-kids. And we cherish the never enough visits from son Simon and family.

Sue, I and his sister Lisa are particularly proud of Simon. His sailing crew has more trophy wins than home can handle. Lisa was publicly quoted as being, “…proud of my brother for always following his passion”. That same publication identified her as, “…one of the Departments young, female superstars”.

The grandkids pursue their passions. Charlie is our e-wizard and source of info on all things digital. He’s also preparing a piano solo for the Christmas family gathering. For Rowan its drums. Progress is evident from lesson to lesson. Consistently placing higher and running faster, Owen competes in all-city running events on the St. Johns Team. Brother Cole has progressed from purely recreational to competitive hockey. For a Montreal Dziadziu seeing MIELNICZUK across his jersey is almost too much. Olivia, the only girl, grows both more independent and more helpful. Unicorns are real.

Sue and I also enjoyed visits with John and Mary Macmillan in Toronto. John and I attended the St. Francis High School Alumni Memorial Mass this past March, as we have for the past dozen years. This year I also enjoyed time with classmates Bob Dassel, John Przbylowicz, and Jim Reynolds. Hopefully, we can organize a 55th reunion next year.

Conservation Co-operative grows with us. We enjoy visits and movie nights with our neighbour, Diane. This summer, I was re-elected to the Board. With the help of Louis Pierre Gregoire and the team at Gowling WLG, we secured a very acceptable settlement to a long standing lawsuit. It eliminates our co-op deficit and provides needed capital.

Neither tweets nor newsletters sufficiently provide the words which describe what is important. Together with you we look forward to 2019. You enrich our lives with your love and friendship. Thank you. A Merry Christmas and Best Wishes for a Happy New Year.

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St. Francis Alumni Mass – 2018

‘This looks like the first Memorial Mass in three years without a classmates name on the list.’ It has become an annual ritual to attend this Alumni event with my Toronto friend, John Macmillan. Thursday several of us linked through social media receive a message that Ron Dabelle has died in Providence. After sharing the news, I receive messages from Ron Michnik, Sam Santarosa, Ed Curran, Larry Cieslica, and Ray Garnsey. They recalled spending time with him and his passion for painting. Ron was a rarity – a professional artist who lived by his art.

His work appears in public and private murals and painting throughout Rhode Island and the New England area. His work also hangs in the home of several classmates, myself included. When notifying SFHS about his death, Paul Bartell tells me he is looking at a painting of Assisi that Ron donated to the school. An artist colleague has created a public Facebook page of Ron’s works at

Looking through the list of those remembered, I comment to Fr. Michael that during the past two years there seems to be several very recent graduates appearing among the list of those remembered. He responds that, ‘What happens in the world, happens in here too.’

The too young join the list of the expected, graduates from the 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s. The choir is particularly good. Their sound fills the chapel and joins the receding sound waves of choirs from the past 90 years, including years of broadcasts by the Fr. Justin Rosary Hour.

After Mass we join Tony Rudnicki, spouse Lynn, together with Al and Dick with spouse Marilyn. Two graduates from the class of ’54. They refer to me as ‘the youngster’. Al taught Physiology at UB Medical and Dick ran his own plumbing business. Tony is a retired educator and author of “Bipolar Buffalo”. White tablecloths and a wide choice of breakfast offerings have set a new standard for the cafeteria we all remember. Classrooms, labs, gyms, study halls – all have moved around and changed over the years. Chapel and cafeteria keep bringing us together for laughs, memories, stories and updates.

This may be the 12th time that John has come with me for this event. To round out his SFHS experience, I take him on a tour of the tunnel and the gym. We recall the Cold War and the Fall Out Shelter status of this tunnel.

Throughout the day the theme of challenges to values and their expression in today’s context emerges in our discussions. Most of us grew up in a time of organization, explicit and understood rules and expectations. I still recall during our 50th reunion how classmates who entered the military mentioned they could not understand the anxieties of other new recruits because of the SFHS boarding school background. As Fr. Mike’s comment acknowledges, that world has changed. Values remain. Now each one of us has to choose, accept and follow the ones we believe in or accept with God’s grace.

Later John and I join Fr. Romulus Rosolowski for lunch at the Pho Kim Chi, a new Vietnamese restaurant in the former Daisies Cafe location – Less than a month old, it is receiving well deserved praised. This year’s breakfast is at Peg’s Place where we enjoy a counter conversation with a local whose daughter attends Guelph U.

Fr. Romulus and I were in St. Hyacinth’s College and Seminary together. He stayed to serve in Rome, Ghana, and many parishes. Now he’s the Vicar at Our Lady of Victory. Another fellow former Franciscan, John Neysmith was prevented from joining us because of flu. Romulus and John were both in ‘The Singing Friars’, a folk group. There is talk of a reunion. We cover a wide range of memories, opinions and ideas over our 3 hr lunch.

After a bit of shopping and car touring, John and I have supper at Buzzy’s in Niagara Falls. We return with pizza and wings leftovers and enjoy more conversation with Mary. My Monday morning subway ride to the train station reminds me of the Walking Dead. Many looking very tired. Many hunched over sleeping. Snow cover returns as the train gets closer to Ottawa.

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Remembering Ron Dabelle

Ron Dabelle could not bring himself back to WNY to attend the 50th reunion of the class of 1964. Some may remember him at our 25th reunion ( He welcomed the praise received for a portfolio of artwork he shared.

A few days ago Ron was found dead in his Providence, Rhode Island apartment. He’d had recent heart trouble and a possibly related fall. The network of the class of ’64 is far reaching. The person who found him is a friend of Paul Schwartzott’s. That friend contacted Paul who shared the message with other alumni via Facebook.

Here are some of the comments.

“At this dark moment I can at least reflect upon the time Lynda and I spent with Ron last Easter. Had a tour of Providence, lunch at his favorite restaurant where he did major renovations for the owner along with a review of his many pieces of art at his apartment and studio. He was a true believer in the world of art, since he traveled extensively in Europe to evaluate and appreciate the statues, canvas and monuments of the past.

Ron may have lived in New England but his heart and soul was back in Buffalo and Western New York as he always asked about the Bills , Sabres and old friends living in the area.

A dear friend who will be missed but the memories will never be forgotten.

May he be at rest,,,good bye old friend !” Ron Michnik

“I heard from Tom Slomba today who is a friend of Ron’s from UB and has stayed in touch with Ron over the years. Tom found Ron at his home and notified the police. … Apparently Ron had fainted about 3 weeks before (related to heart issues??) and fell in his bathroom causing some severe injuries to his head. He called Tom after a couple of days who then came to Providence from Newport. He finally convinced Ron to seek medical help which Ron resisted doing. He had several tests run and was scheduled for cat scans. Tom returned home, stayed in touch and when Ron did not return calls, he went back to Providence where he found him…Cause of death is unknown but most likely related to the fall and underlying heart issues.. …Tom and I had quite a long talk about past memories from UB and Ron’s work and legacy. His beautiful art will live on well beyond all of us..Paul Schwartzott

Ron and I reconnected during the planning for the 50th. A small group of SFHS alumni met each year for lunch in Massachusetts. This coming summer Ron was planning to invite us to a RI restaurant where he’d done major mural work. Earlier this week I was thinking that for the first time in a while there would be no ’64 alum mentioned at the Memorial Mass this Sunday Mar 4. Then I received the message from Paul. I called Paul Bartell at SFHS. He assured me Ron will be added to those remembered. He also said that Ron had given the school a painting of Assisi that hangs in the Alumni Office. Ron had told us at last summer’s lunch how he’d made the painting for the school and gathered up the will to return to WNY and gift it to the school.

Ron Dabelle was an inspired artist who felt life deeply. We enjoyed several conversations about the impact of his life on his work. His perspective and vision appear in paintings, sculpture and many murals in public spaces and private homes. I encourage all classmates to take a look at Ron’s work.

Tony Ruspantini honours Ron’s work and memory with this brief video of work appearing in a 2014 Calendar of Providence, RI. see

Ron was not digital-friendly. This meant that we communicated old school – phone calls and long hand letters. I received original Dabelle artwork cards for major events. Now cherished even more. A friend of Ron’s, Nancy DiPrete Laurienzo, also an artist and instructor at the Rhode Island School of Design, created a Facebook page which features many photos of Ron’s paintings and mural work. See

No word on funeral arrangements yet. I will be at the Memorial Mass this Sunday to remember Ron and other classmates. Late May and early June Sue and I will be back in Massachusetts. Anyone in the New England area who would like to have lunch, remember Ron, and share stories, please contact me.

Pax and bonum

Anthony Mielniczuk, SFHS ’64
Ottawa, Canada

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