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Father Lacombe, the Black-Robe Voyageur

An excellent book about a very talented Canadian missionary Fr. Albert Lacombe, OMI. It was first published in 1911 by Katherine Hughes Canadian journalist and author. She was approached by Fr. Lacombe to help him write his memoirs after 60+ years of ministering to the Cree, Métis and Blackfeet First Nations people in Alberta. I highly enjoyed reading about his first hand encounters with these peoples during years of tumultuous change and development in north western and all Canada.

Father Lacombe and the Blackfeet, C. W. Jefferys, 1934

Born in Saint-Sulpice, Lower Canada in 1827 it was soon evident that he had a strong interest in religion. After ordination as a secular priest he was sent to Pembina, ND in 1849 where he accompanied the Métis on the plains during there semi-annual buffalo hunts. After a short return to the east he was sent to Lac Ste Anne (Alta) where he joined the Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI) religious order. Working with Bishop Alexander Taché of Red River (Man), they selected a new site for a mission near Fort Edmonton where the Cree and Blackfeet came to trade and named it St. Albert. Pere Lacombe established this mission successfully for the Metis who were Roman Catholics being the descendents from french, english and native parents.

In 1865 at his request, Taché permitted him to establish an itinerant ministry to the Cree and Blackfoot. He established Saint-Paul-des-Cris on the North Saskatchewan River. From there he went on to camp with the Blackfeet who were the mortal enemies of the Cree and the fiercest of all the Plains Indians. The Cree were somewhat receptive to Pere Lacombe’s Christian teachings and some agreed to be baptized into the faith. Not so the Blackfeet. Along with their allies, the Piegan and Blood tribes, they had a culture that did not permit a warrior to humble himself. Nevertheless Pere Lacombe gained their respect and became great friends with their Chief Crowfoot.

He developed a famous catechesis ladder with pictures that showed the path to heaven and the path to hell. He would use this to instruct native youth while helping to develop Cree and Blackfoot language dictionaries as well as nursing them when sick. He was assisted in this by the interpreter and controversial “lay priest” Jean L’Heureux. At one point Lacombe was caught in a battle between the Cree and Blackfoot. While trying to stop it he was grazed by a bullet and nursed back to health by L’Heureux.

One in the most memorable stories in the book for me was when he was travelling back to a mission in the dead of winter on foot. They had but a few days of food remaining when they came upon a small group of starving Cree. Pere Lacombe invited them to join and they continued together. He immediately gave away the last food he had to the starving natives as they continued to plod forward together. They were all near death one morning. Pere Lacombe urged everyone to walk for one more day. At the end of that day, they finally spotted a light from the encampment and staggered into safety at last. This is the supreme Christian example of giving away what you yourself need as an act of charity to help someone else. This was what Pere Lacombe was like as a man. Please watch this short CBC video for some further testimony.

In 2018 Marie and I took a Great Plains road trip and snapped this photo of Fort Whoop-Up in Lethbridge, AB. Ironically it was closed for the season. Pere Lacombe and the Methodist missionary Rev George MacDougall pleaded with Ottawa to halt the illegal whiskey trade there by Americans in the 1870s. It was destroying the Blackfeet and other tribes. In 1873 the North West Mounted Police force was established and put an end to this devastation for good.

In what I would call Part II of his life, he was called back to the Archdiocese of St. Boniface in 1874 to assist Bishop Taché in fundraising efforts for the western missions. For the next 40 years he criss-crossed Canada, parts of the U.S., Europe, journeyed to the Holy Land and became first hand friends with Prime Ministers, Governors-General, business men like William Van Horne CPR President, and international and church leaders including Popes and Emperors. He served as a peacemaker in the 1885 North West Rebellion by convincing the Blackfeet to not join in with the 2nd Métis rebellion under Louis Riel. He enabled a peace agreement with the Blackfeet to permit the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway across their reservation land. He built a colony for the Métis who were the worst of persecuted peoples even to this day. He established a home for orphans and the aged in Calgary when he was in his eighties. He was a master fundraiser and planner who never kept a penny of donations for his own use. It is reported that he would only eat one meal a day so every extra penny could go into the missions!

Pere Lacombe in 1913, photo Wikipedia

Yes he was instrumental in the founding of the Residential School system in Canada. But he admitted that there were problems. The educated youth who would return to the reservation were neither white nor Indian. He knew then that it was not an ultimate solution. I liken the role of a religious missionary in 19th century Canada to be like the cutting wheel of a vast mining machine (colonialization) that keeps pushing deeper into the coal face. Yes, he could be impatient at times and critical. But he always had the welfare of First Nations peoples in his heart. They called him “man of heart”. Finally slowing down a bit…, he moved to Hermitage St. Michel in Pincher Creek to write his memoirs but continued his fundraising trips unabated. It was in 1916 that he drew his last breath in Midnapore, now a suburb of Calgary.

He is the archetype of Oblate missionaries in Canada, always among the people. He was successful for three reasons. First, he got along with everyone he met, easily making friends and gaining trust. Two, he was an adventurer and planner who could never sit still. Third, he was both skilled and compassionate wanting to remain a priest rather than become a bishop with admin duties. In 1932 he was named a National Historic Person of Canada. The cities of Lacombe and St. Albert, Alberta have been named in his honour. Peacemaker, priest and pioneer, Pere Lacombe makes me proud to be an Oblate Associate and a Canadian.

Photo courtesy University of Calgary

Well done Pere Lacombe and Katherine Hughes for writing this highly fascinating, accurate and factual account of a great life. 5 out of 5 stars!

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(Rev.) White Burton Morgan 1879 – 1956

Rev. White Burton Morgan c. 1950

My paternal grandfather White Burton Morgan was born in Hartland, NB on March 24, 1879. His parents were David Ezra Morgan 1852-1924 and Lois Parmelia Orser (Morgan) 1856-1939. Each was descended from Loyalists from New York State who came to New Brunswick from the U.S. following the American Revolutionary War. In 1879, Canada was but 12 years old. PM John A. McDonald was busy introducing protective tariffs on manufactured goods and promising a transcontinental railway as the Plains first nations people were starving in the west due to the disappearance of buffalo. I never really got to know my Grandpa Morgan as he died after a long illness when I was 6.

White was the middle of 5 children. Sadly older sister Martha died in 1878 at age 3 and younger brother David died in 1888 at age 4. Older brother Edmund and younger sister Lina lived a long life so little White’s life was tinged with both sorrow and subsequent joy from the very start. There must have been a lot of religion in the family to sustain them as both his mother Lois’ father Moses and Uncle Charles were Free Baptist Ministers. White’s father David listed his profession as farmer. His mom’s sister Minnie Bell was married to a Samuel White so I suppose this is how White may have got his unusual first name.

Edmond and White c 1882-3

Hartland (pop. 1000) had been founded by White’s mother’s great great grandfather William Orser in 1797. Known now for having the longest covered bridge in the world, it is in the heart of potato country and must have been a very peaceful place to grow up in.

I have little information about his early childhood life other than he grew up on a farm with his older brother and younger sister. He went to Hartland High School and later Provincial Normal School in Fredericton. White began his career as a teacher locally but then out west to teach in Saskatchewan and Alberta. He served a stint in the Royal Engineers in Halifax and came to Ottawa in 1905 to be boys’ secretary at the YMCA. He then went to Queens University, Kingston graduating with a BA in 1909. In 1913 he enrolled in Theology at Trinity College, Toronto and graduated with a BD in 1914.

He was ordained an Anglican Rector at Christ Church Cathedral in Ottawa in 1913 and briefly assigned to the mission at Madawaska and Killaloe in the Ottawa Valley. He then became assistant rector at St. Mathew’s Anglican Church in Ottawa before being assigned as Rector, St. John’s Anglican Church, Vankleek Hill, Ontario in November 1915. But just before this move he married Bella Mae Vallillee of Ottawa on July 7 at St. Mathew’s. They had courted for a year. She was the only child of George William Vallillee and Rebecca Jane Skuce both of Ottawa and was born Jan 4, 1895. Her mom Rebeka Jane nee Skuce died in 1914 when Bella Mae was 19. Her dad, George Vallillee remarried Margaret Tait in 1917 and they had a son George Vallillee.

In Vankleek Hill, White and Bella Mae gave birth to six children. It was a busy time for sure. White was 42 and Bella was 26 when my dad was born:

  • Lois Geraldine Feb 5, 1916
  • Burton Roper Mar 23, 1917
  • Vera Marjorie Apr 19, 1918
  • Barbara Caroline Jul 11 1919
  • Alfred David Apr 14 1921 (my dad)
  • Reginald Aug 24 1922
St. John the Apostle Anglican Church, Vankleek Hill, Ontario Today

In 1922 he moved to Russell and Edwards, ON where he was Incumbent. It was on May 1, 1927 he was appointed Rector at St. Martin’s Anglican on Woodroffe Avenue in Ottawa’s west end. St. Martin’s then was located in what is the current Hulse and Playfair Chapel just across from Our Lady of Fatima RC Church. White was also responsible for St. Stephen’s Anglican on Britannia Road. The Morgan family established themselves on Fourth Avenue in McKellar Park not far to the east from both churches. McKellar Park Golf Course had just opened in May so it was the start of a long love relationship with golf in the Morgan family.

Morgan Family c 1935
White, Bella Mae and daughter Vera on the golf course, c 1938

White was busy with his two churches and Bella with their 6 kids. He was also responsible for the Missions of Chelsea and Gatineau Mills across the Ottawa River in Quebec from 1933-40. The years flew by. The kids went to Broadview public school and Nepean High School just a few blocks away. Then it was off to university for some. When the war years came, oldest son Burton who also went to Trinity College, enrolled in the army and my dad Alfred, in the RCN Volunteer Reserve. White was a Mason of the Scottish Perfection, was very affable and popular, making many friends around town.

At my dad’s graduation from McGill 1942

Meanwhile the grandchildren had started coming and coming and coming. All told he and Bella had 20 grandchildren from 1941 to 1961. 4 of their 6 six children stayed in Ottawa, only the oldest Lois moving to Brantford, ON and the youngest Reginald ending up in Cornwall. So there was plenty of opportunity to be with their grandchildren. Many large family get togethers occurred at the Morgan household now on Windermere Ave, Fourth Ave having been renamed.

With grandson Robert Carson c 1941
At the sea 1940s

However, tragedy was about to strike. Rev. White retired from St. Martin’s in 1949 after 23 years as Rector, for illhealth reasons. Mind you he was 70 so he was likely ready to retire anyway. I do not know the details of his illness but I know it affected his retirement adversely. His friend Rev. Ken Cowan took over as Rector. Bella was not well either suffering from some disorders that I do not know the details of. As a young boy I remember visiting them in hospital and that is about all.

Me with Grandma and Grandpa Morgan 1951

Sadly White passed away on May 24, 1956 at the age of 77 in the Perley Hospital Ottawa and was interred at Beechwood Cemetery after the service at St. Martin’s. Bella Mae did not live much longer and passed away on Oct 19, 1956 at the age of 61. They had had a good very productive life together and the Morgan family name lives on in Ottawa and elsewhere thanks to them. I wish I had had the chance to get to know you both more Grandpa and Grandma Morgan, may God continue to bless your souls.

I wish to acknowledge and thank cousin John Morgan for supplying the bulk of the family material used to create this biography. Also posthumously, his sister Barbara who provided me with the Morgan family genealogy files some years back. This is one of a series of family biographies on Mattersofthemoment.com based on my family tree below. Cheers, Dave.

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A Renewed Importance of Place

Christianity is not the religion of salvation from places, it is the religion of salvation in and through places. John Inge, A Christian Theology of Place

In his 2010 book entitled A Rumour of God, noted Canadian journalist and author Robert Sibley offers up a fascinating history of the ebb and flow of the importance of place in our lives. Our renewed interest in place has been triggered by the pandemic. Like you, I am hunkered down in a particular place not able to escape through space to another place. Jesus Christ had no place and wandered around Galilee and Judah living a nomadic existence. He prayed to God in wide open spaces like gardens, hilltops and desert wilderness. His disciples even had to borrow a tomb for his body. He was effectively placeless. It was only in the third century that place and religion were firmly linked when the Church established itself in Rome. The balance between space and place held up until people started going on pilgrimages to far off places like Santiago de Compostela, Rome, Jerusalem and Canterbury. They came home describing these places which fed peoples’ desire to escape the local claims of place for the increased freedoms of space.

Sibley explains that in the middle ages, the Archbishop of Paris attempted to suppress doctrines that in his view claimed to limit God’s power e.g., the Aristotelian idea that there is only a finite amount of matter in the universe and thus a limit to divine power. The Archbishop’s condemnations ultimately proved harmful for Christianity as it opened up the possibility of infinite space – thus diminishing the importance of place. People today remain attached to their places for sure but science has opened up the possibility of escaping the oppressive aspects of those places, whether in body or mind. As moderns we are living under the apotheosis of space, at least until the pandemic hit. Geographers say that the greater mobility of modern society dilutes our sense of place. Modernity requires us to subordinate place to the imperatives of the time-and-space world view. Many people are unable to maintain ties to any particular place because they experience more places over a lifetime than their forefathers ever imagined. Witness those people who live on the cruise ship the World that wanders the globe aimlessly in normal times.

Sibley goes on to the intriguing ideas that Tony Hiss expresses in his 1991 book The Experience of Place. Hiss proposes that we experience the world in two ways: “ordinary perception” and “simultaneous perception”. Usually we go about our lives in the ordinary perception mode. We perceive the outside world only to the degree necessary for our daily survival as we are absorbed for the most part with the chatter in our heads. Simultaneous perception on the other hand broadens and diffuses our beam of attention across all the senses so we can take in whatever there is there to be received. Some places seem to trigger our experiencing of them more intensely. When this happens we choose to stay in our heads or to let go and release ourselves to the full experience of a particular place. This mystical experience has certainly happened to me while on the Camino, on a golf course, at a retreat centre, hiking on a mountain trail with Marie or in a church building. How about you? Have you ever had the experience of being in a place that is so beautiful, enchanting or magical that you just let go? If you are a believer, do you become more aware of God’s presence in moments like these? Sibley proposes that this is a good thing and that to restore our sense that the world is indeed an enchanted place, we need to become more sacramental in our daily lives.

The Covid pandemic has made me appreciate more than ever before, the importance of the place that I am in. My lived experience of place has changed. If you have a comfortable and safe abode at present, the lock down is not so bad. On the other hand, for the homeless, seniors in retirement homes, multi-generational families in single room houses, indigenous in isolated communities and those in crowded prisons or hospitals, the place itself may be the problem i.e., increasing your risk of being infected. We lament the current loss of free movement and access to family and friends. But this means that the place we are in has increased importance and can be our salvation. Will this sense of renewed importance of place stay with us post pandemic? I am not so sure.

(Photo courtesy MasterMaq’s Blog)
Hey everyone, thanks for travelling with us during this the year of the pandemic. Wishing you a Happy, Blessed and Healthy New Year in 2021! Dave (and Marie)

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Mon Journal Fr. Leon Doucet, OMI

This book published by the Alberta Historical Society in 2018 is a fascinating read. It tells the first hand story of what it was like to live among the Metis, Cree and Blackfoot peoples in late 19th century Alberta. Fr. Leon Doucet was just one of the hundreds of Oblates of Mary Immaculate who left family and home to minister to First Nations in Western Canada, starting at Red River in 1843. With few exceptions their work is not well known as the Oblates do not blow their own horn. Hence this is a remarkable story. Disclosure, I am an Oblate Associate – a lay member of the Lacombe Canada Province. I became aware of this book when previous Superior Fr. Ken Forster, OMI sent us short excerpts for reflection. Being a lover of history, I could hardly wait to get my hands on it.

Click on the image above for a clearer view if needed
The book helps destroy the myth that Christian missionaries were agents of cultural change and the First Nations people were passive recipients. There was a cooperative relationship between the Oblates and the Metis, Cree and Blackfoot as well as with the Piagen, Blood and Sarcee. Fr. Doucet and his colleagues were admired by First Nations people for their steadfastness of purpose. Even when they did not show much interest in the newcomers’ religion, they showed respect and would often permit their children to be baptized. For his part, Fr. Doucet provided comfort and caring for the sick, dying and their families. He would journey for hours in deep snow and cold to offer baptism and administer last rights. There was a particularly close relationship between the great Blackfoot Chief Crowfoot and the Oblates. In the early 1880s when the Canadian Pacific railroad was being constructed across Blackfoot land, the Oblates were instrumental in working with Crowfoot to get the Blackfeet to accept reservation lands in compensation. In 1885 during the North West rebellion, the Oblates were instrumental in helping convince the Blackfeet not to join with the Metis and Cree in violent battles with Canadian forces. These negotiations were led by the legendary Fr. Albert Lacombe, OMI. Fr. Doucet was personally present at Crowfoot’s death and baptized the chief with his permission before he died. Chiefs of First Nations peoples benefited from this cooperation as it helped them to maintain social order in their tribes and gave them increased status because of their relationship with Oblate missionaries. Hence there was mutual cooperation. Nevertheless, there was often not much interest shown on the part of the natives in Christian religion (nor of the Oblates in theirs).  The Blackfeet continued their annual Sun Dance or Okan which Fr. Doucet describes in detail. A Metis mission had been established at St. Albert (near Edmonton) in 1861 by Fr. Albert Lacombe, OMI. It was there that Fr. Doucet was ordained in 1870. He then practiced la mission ambulante – he would go where the plains indians were rather than set up a chapel somewhere and hope that they would come. He describes many harrowing trips on foot or horse where they would lose their way in snow and only by the grace of God, find there way out. Later he was sent to Blackfoot Crossing and also helped out at the Oblates St Joseph Industrial School near High River. Typically Fr. Doucet would baptize children, hold catachesis classes, offer Mass for converts and administer last rights. Fr Doucet reports that there were 3144 Oblate baptisms of Blackfoot, Blood, Peigan and Sarcee from March 1865 to October 1890.
I liked this book because it is written in a matter of fact personal voice e.g., we went there, the weather was cold, then we did…my horse ran away, etc. There are many names of people and a short biography of each is provided at the back. There is a good index. Fr. Leon does not much judge, condemn or show any jealousy or anger in his writings. There is the odd bit of humour about competition with Protestant missionaries. He sometimes praises others but usually just reports the facts. A fabulous read for those who enjoy minutiae but also the broader lines of western Canadian history. I would read it again for sure – 4.5 out of 5 stars. (Apparently Part 2 and 3 may be coming in future.) Note. I will place this book in the Oblate Reading Room at Martha House at the Galilee Centre in Arnprior, Ontario If any one wants to borrow it locally, please drop me a line.

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1966 Trans-Continental Music Tour

Concluding our story about the Woodroffe High School Band… I was very lucky to be included in this monster trip as I had been a member of the junior band for only a year when moved up to the senior band. We were going on this tour to further our musical education and give us a greater appreciation of our Canadian citizenship. How honoured and excited we were to participate in this, led by our great band leader Mr. Peter F. Manley.

Preparations for the month long trip included raising $15,000 to cover transportation and other costs. Profits included bottle drives, bake sales, Christmas card drives, concerts, dances and selling light bulbs. A very active parents committee helped with all the work. We even made the Ottawa Journal newspaper. Then it was off to the west by train.

We boarded the train in the old downtown Ottawa train station after hugging our parents goodbye. I remember being so excited that I could not sleep. We hurtled through northern Ontario and on to north of Superior. What an immense land of lakes and trees! Finally we arrived in Winnipeg about 40 hours later totally exhausted. I was sent to the YMCA, some others were billeted or in hotels. The next day we played our first concert in front of 500 people in Central Park. It was a big success! We had a day trip to the International Peace Gardens on the North Dakota border. Phew, now it was on to Saskatoon.
We continued on our way by train from Saskatoon to Edmonton, Peace River, New Westminster (Vancouver) BC, Banff, Calgary, Regina and back through Winnipeg. The Rockies were spectacular. I remember playing at the Kitsilano Showboat in Vancouver, a trip to the beach in White Rock, BC, going to the Calgary Stampede and climbing the Legislative Building tower in Regina to see the prairie in the distance on all four sides. We were rained out in Edmonton and had a very long 500 KM bus trip to Peace River.
In addition to Mr. Manley, there were 3 other chaperones on the trip – Joe Nuth who looked after the finances, Arthur Very equipment and Joy Kingsbury who looked after the girls. We were closely watched but with 50 plus students and all those logistics to manage, we found lots of time to party freely. It’s safe to say that the senior members taught us junior members a thing or two other than music lol. All in all the trip was a great success and we arrived back in Ottawa with quite a swagger.

Mayor Don Reid wrote: “The Woodroffe High School Band is one of the leading high school bands in the Province of Ontario. Ottawa is proud of its high school bands, and this particular group of musicians has brought great credit and honour to our city. In their travels across Canada in the summer of 1966 these ambassadors represented not only the Collegiate Institute Board of Ottawa, but also the Nation’s Capital. I have much pleasure in commending to you the efforts and talents of these young people.” Wow!

1966-67 Wyvern
I remember us playing Bobby Gimbi’s “Canada” song throughout 1967 including in front of Prince Philip on Parliament Hill. In Grade 12 I decided to take up the tenor saxophone and gave up my flute position in the band. In Grade 13 I took a full slate of maths and sciences and dropped music completely. It had been a great educational and life experience. I am forever indepted to Mr. Manley and the other music teachers I had for instilling in me a life long love of music, and travelling! My favorite piece remains the finale from Dmitri Shostakovich’s 5th symphony Allegro non troppo, which we played sometimes with great difficulty.

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Woodroffe High School Band – 1

I was a member of the Woodroffe High School (Ottawa, Canada) Band for 3 years way back. I played the flute which happens to figure prominently in the recent concert above. The reason I played flute goes back further. In Grade 6 my mom decided to enroll me in music lessons. I was given an aptitude test and found out I had good aptitude. The results are shown below complete with Mom’s scribbles. It was recommended that I take up the violin. For some reason I abhorred the violin and instead chose the 2nd recommendation, the flute.

The flute is a relatively easy to play wind instrument (you need to develop your ombouchure) and relatively inexpensive. The one above is what I think I had – it currently retails for $129CDN. So I began music lessons on the flute after school. However in those days, that was a lot of money!

Armstrong Beginners Flute

This is the 52 bus route I took every Wednesday after school. I had to go to Elmdale School for the lessons as they were not offered at D. Roy Kennedy or Woodroffe public schools. It was fun taking the bus and walking a few blocks – rain or shine. It was my first experience at solo travel.

A Mr. Guibault was my flute teacher. He frowned a lot when I played meaning I had not likely done my lessons nor practiced sufficiently in his eyes. I was not a natural for sure. I remember practicing at home. Gradually I made progress, learned to read music and my embouchure, the way in which you apply your mouth to the mouthpiece, strengthened. I remember being in a concert once as a Scout. We all had no idea how to play our instruments but our parents clapped anyways. This reminds me that Miles Davis once told a bandmate “to play that instrument like you don’t know how to play it.” It all paid off though when I got to high school.

1965-66 Wyvern (Woodroffe High) yearbook photo

In Grade 9 I took Music and continued to practice and learn how to play the flute. The next year I made the Junior Band pictured above. We were a concert band that played in the auditorium occasionally but mostly practiced in preparation for individually moving up to the Senior Band. We did enter band competitions and placed well. In the spring of 1966, the Senior Band lost a large number of it’s senior members due to graduation. So I was moved up to the Senior Band, flute in hand by the end of Grade 10 in the spring of 1966.

Me 2nd Row 4th from left, Mr. Manley centre, (photo 1965-66 Wyvern)

Mr. Peter Manley was our very talented conductor. He had built this band up in only a few years to be among the best in Ottawa. It had tied in the A class competition with Ottawa Tech and got invited to play at the World’s Fair in NYC in 1965 before I joined. It was indeed an honour to become a member. It was an extra-curricular activity and we practiced at 8AM sharp every Thursday morning. I remember waking up at 7:40, throwing my clothes on and literally running the 4 blocks to school. You did not want to be late – Mr. Manley was a great ribber. In front of the whole band he would say something like – “Ah Mr. Morgan, late again. Perhaps we should all change our time to suit your schedule, eh?” as I slunk into my place.

We played a lot of marches, some orchestral overtures adapted for concert band and selections from musicals such as Gigi. Our set piece was Colonel Bogey on Parade which figured prominently in the Bridge Over the River Quai movie if you remember it.

I have 2 records they made in the mid 1960’s just before I joined, but no record player on which to play them lol. Here are the numbers recorded as listed on the 1964 recording:

  • On the Quarter Deck (Alford)
  • Mannin Veen (Haydn-Wood)
  • Chorale and Alleluia (Hanson)
  • Academic Festival Overture (Brahms)

And on the 1965 recording:

  • “Finale” New World Symphony (Dvorak)
  • 2nd American Folk Rhapsody (Grundman)
  • Colonel Bogey on Parade (Alford)
  • Selection “Mr. Lucky” (Mancini)
Record Cover

Wow, pretty cool! An awesome band experience was in store.

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Put Yourself in His Place

A delightful if long read about economic and love life in Victorian times small town England. Henry Little, an inventor struggles against powerful trade unions and a bad guy named Coventry. He is blown up and his house and equipment are destroyed. He is forced to go to America to sell his invention of saw making equipment and make his fortune so that he will be worthy of marrying the beautiful Grace Carden. Meanwhile, Coventry steals his love away.

Upon returning to England, Grace has given Henry up for dead because the vile Coventry stole Henry’s letters before they ever got to her. After much resistance she slowly agrees to marry the rich Coventry upon the very strong urging of her father.

Image from the 1912 silent film Put Yourself in His Place

From there the plot turns many times unexpectedly with Coventry the villain continuing to block the union of Grace and Henry. A huge dam break floods the town and cripples Coventry while Henry the hero, rescues dozens of people. I won’t tell you the end but when it finally comes it is good.

The character development is great. One of them the warm hearted Dr. Amboyne has this saying “Put yourself in his place.” which he uses frequently to empathize with others and interpret others’ behaviour. It is an interesting and useful philosophy. There is also the devoted Jael Dence who loves Henry too and Henry’s supportive uncle Squire Raby. Interesting characters abound.

I read this book as it was specifically mentioned in John A. MacDonald the Old Chieftain. It must have been the rage back in 1870. I downloaded it for free and read it on our Kobo. A great read indeed, 4.5 stars out of 5. A little long else would have been 5.

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The True Meaning of Our Whole Livelihood

Saint Columban Memorial Day

This meditation in Magnificat today connected with me as this will be the first time in 7 years we will be at home this winter:

Pilgrims continuously sigh for and long for our homeland, for travelers are always filled with hope and desire for the road’s end. And so, since we are travelers and pilgrims in this world, let us think upon the end of the road, that is of our life, for the end of our way is our home…. Many lose their true home because they have greater love for the road that leads them there.
Let us not love the road rather than our home, in case we should lose our eternal home, for our home is such that we should love it. Let us keep to this principle, therefore, that we should live as travelers and pilgrims on the road, as guests of the world, free of lusts and earthly desires, but let us fill our mind with heavenly and spiritual forms, singing with grace and power: For my soul thirsts for the mighty and living God. When shall I come and appear before the face of my God? (Ps 42:2-3), and My soul is like a parched land before you (Ps 143:6), and saying with Paul: I desire to be dissolved and to be with Christ (Phil 1:23). Let us know that although we are strangers to the Lord while in the body, we are present to the eyes of God. And so, turning our back on all evil and laying aside all apathy, let us strive to please him who is everywhere, so that we may joyfully and with a good conscience pass over from the road of this world to the blessed and eternal home of our eternal Father, moving from present things to absent ones, from sad things to joyful ones, from passing things to eternal ones, from earthly things to heavenly ones, from the region of death to the sphere of the living, where we shall see heavenly things face-to-face, and the King of kings, ruling his realms with an upright rule, our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory from age to age. Amen.

Saint Columban

Saint Columban († 615) was born in Leinster, Ireland, and was the founder of several European monasteries.(From Celtic Spirituality, translated and introduced by Oliver Davies, with the collaboration of Thomas O’Loughlin. © 1999 by Oliver Davies. Published by Paulist Press, Inc., New York/Mahwah, NJ. http://www.paulistpress.com. Used with permission. Magnificat 2020)

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Brazil ’14

This posting is about Marie and my visit to Rio in 2014.  I promise I won’t talk any more about Brazil  – well perhaps one more posting on my love of Brazilian music, lol.

Brazil ’14

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Brazil ’79

Photo courtesy Manchete
Great Samba!

I had had so much fun the first time around that I had to go back to Rio de Janeiro in time for New Years 1978. Kim was living there then having transferred to the Canadian Consulate located there. She and Andy were going strong and were to be married later in 1979.

On New Years Eve we went to a party in Copacabana. I remember going up to a nice apartment. We had a few drinks and then heard fantastic drumming sounds coming from the streets. Groups of young men had formed spontaneous drum groups and were competing to outdo each other. It’s samba drumming like you hear in Beth Carvalho’s video above. Then we headed for Copacabana Beach for more fun. There were hundreds of people there celebrating the Reveillon as it is called in Brazil.

Offerings to Iemanja

The people on the beach dress in white and prepare little handmade boats and load them with offerings, aiming to please Iemanja, the goddess of the water, so she can provide them with prosperity for the coming year. There are rituals and dances happening to celebrate the coming year in a spiritual manner. The Candomblé religion originated in SW Nigeria and is practiced in Brazil. It is syncretized with the Roman Catholic religion meaning separate beliefs and traditions have been merged into a inclusive combined tradition. Wow, this is special folks!

Offering Kim up to Iemanja

It was truly an amazing experience. We all wondered into the sea to watch the little boats float away. If they didn’t come back, that signified acceptance by Iemanja. If they did, that means bad luck for the sender I guess. I wondered into the sea, glass of wine in hand. When I wandered out I wondered what had happened to the glass, lol. At midnight a huge wall of fire poured out from the top of a hotel skyscraper and there were fireworks all about. Wow, Happy New Year 1979!

Soaking it all in literally

In 1979, Brazil was a led by a military dictatorship as were many other South American countries. The president at the time Gen. Ernesto Geisel was relaxing restrictions after left wing guerillas had been largely defeated in the brutal U.S. backed Operation Condor which had killed thousands. I do not recall seeing any evidence of this – no troops in the street etc.

Copacabana Beach

Of course we returned to the beach during the day. I remember lots of beautiful people, kids playing soccer, vendors selling matee (tea) and limanche (lemonade). There was lots of visible poverty around too. Favelas, the informal low-income settlements were always in sight wherever we were. When you parked your car at the beach you had to pay the local kids a fee or risk it being vandalized. When you went to an outdoor restaurant there were kids begging. You saw beggars on the street everywhere. It was a dichotomy of riches and poverty. Perhaps you saw the 2002 movie City of God which depicts drug gang warfare in Rio. Sad but real.

Photo courtesy Wikipedia

On a lighter note we went to a “churascaria” restaurant and enjoyed it – as much BBQ meat as you can possibly consume. We went to a seafood restaurant at Barra de Tijuca which was a barren beach then and now all built up. We enjoyed “feijoda completa” on Saturdays – a spicy stew made of meats. We enjoyed “Chopp” beer and caiparinha cocktails made with cachaça made from fermented sugar cane. But the real highlight was going to the bar in Ipanema where the song The Girl from Ipanema was written by Anonio Carlos Jobim. What a dream.

Kim and Andy off to a party

My visit was coming to and end but not before one more trip to the beach.

On the way home this time, I stopped in Caracas, Venezuela and Trinidad and Tobago to meet up with some friends. In Caracas I remember seeing a favela right beside the Simon Bolivar skyscaper. In Trinidad we visited the La Brea tar flats before heading for Tobago with its quiet beaches. Another great trip had come to an end.

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