JT – stuck in the middle with you

In Crinan, the western Elgin County farming community where I was raised in the 1950s and 1960s, people made a point of being classless. Some farmers had more money, there were distinctions between men and women, a few people were more popular than others, but we regarded ourselves as common people, ordinary folk. When I […]

At census time, count my family out

In May, I received a letter of sorts from Anil Arora, Chief Statistician of Canada, addressed to “Dear Resident.” Directly under the large, bold words “2021 Census.’ Anil, or someone at StatsCan, had authorized the following in smaller bold type: “Complete your questionnaire by May 11, 2021.” The main definition of “questionnaire” offered by Merriam-Webster […]

Thwarted columnist sets up minor revenge

Late in 2010, I encouraged Duncan Watterworth to become the “last-word” contributor to Elgin This Month, a magazine I was publishing at the time. His first column was headlined “Satan made me do it … A song for those who knock at my door.” It concerns (a) two experiences with Jehovah’s Witnesses, (b) what Duncan […]

Ways to move forward from two solitudes

In September, 2018, my lovely wife Nancy and I attended the Oneida Fair with two of our granddaughters who would have been nine and seven at the time. We may have been a tad conspicuous. Nancy and my granddaughters tend toward black Irish paleness, and I present as a ruddier Irish/Scotch type, but there could […]

Jesus Christ, Superstar – why are you not more popular?

According to a poll conducted by Leger for the Association for Canadian Studies, and published in the National Post just before Christmas, 27 per cent of Canadians have a negative view of Jesus. Although they aren’t believers, a surprising 8.5 per cent of atheists have a very positive view of Jesus. It’s a bit of […]

Something was happening here, Mr. Smith

Months ago, before COVID, I bumped into a man I’ll call John. He was what my mother would have called “an old high-school chum.” We began reminiscing, and he suggested the teachers we’d had at West Elgin District High School (WEDHS) weren’t all that good. His comment jolted me. My mind flashed to the past. […]

Activities between freedom-70 and senior-senior

According to the 2007 Oxford Canadian Dictionary, a senior citizen is “an elderly person, especially a person over 65.” And elderly is defined as “rather old; past middle age.” By the time this column is published, God willing, I will have crossed from “past middle age” into the freedom-70 category. It’s not easy to admit to this three-score-years-and-ten rite […]

What’s left for old lefties

Winston Churchill is often quoted as saying, “If a man is not a socialist by the time he is 20, he has no heart. If he is not a conservative by the time he is 40, he has no brain.” It sounds like Churchill, fearless and funny, but apparently he never said it. And it’s […]

Crossing to the other side to make my mark

In Crinan, the Scotch Presbyterian farming community where I was raised, people displayed a variety of talents – singing, piano playing, humourous readings, bagpipe playing in kilts, poetry recitals and so on – during what we called programs, often in the church basement. A hit at these programs was a recurring series of skits dubbed […]

Things that just make you say HHHMMM

A page 3 headline in the National Post recently announced: “Canada’s high school world champs show how debate is done.” The sub-head said, “Proof that future of argument isn’t bleak”. In our social-media-obsessed and cancel-culture age, this is good news. The beauty about organized debates is that it doesn’t matter what you believe. Both sides […]