The 2018 Road, Day 21: In the Streets of Brotherly Love

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June 15, 2018, Philadelphia-

Once upon a time, a teenaged girl looked at her uncle, and wondered aloud whether anyone would care to attend her wedding, when the time came.  Uncle said, unequivocally, that he would be there and that anyone who called themselves his family would be there, too.

In reality, there was never any question. Everyone from her youngest cousin (my son) to the family matriarch (Mother) made the wedding, that will take place tomorrow, a top priority.  It’s been a few years since B was a teenager, but there has been no break, whatsoever, in the love I feel for that compassionate and powerful young lady.  She has made a solid life for herself, following her father’s example of being largely self-reliant and choosing the field of education-which probably had little or nothing to do with her uncle and aunt, on the other side of the country, being educators. I’m glad she chose teaching, anyway.  She’s darn good at it.

I arrived in Philadelphia, around 2, by way of Camden.  This was a simple matter of not getting good directions from Google Maps, finding myself on the bridge to New Jersey and turning around to get cash from a bodega, near the Camden side of the bridge.  Once that was done, I picked up my pre-ordered wedding gift and headed to the Alexander Inn, my residence for the next 2 days.

With time to spend, until the Rehearsal Dinner, at 6 p.m., I ventured to check out Philly’s street art.

Here are  a few of those scenes, from the west side of the Independence Historic District.

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Here, a father is showing his little girl the power that comes with community working together.  I found this appropriate to the present situation.  My brother has been a guiding light to all three of his children.

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The above long mural has a caption that speaks of the eternal juxtaposition of right and wrong.  The young man in the foreground is giving this matter a lot of thought. From the look in his eyes, I would say he will choose right, more often.

Well, the dinner was second to none.  The Panorama Restaurant, right on Front Street, did it up fabulous.  I am admittedly an hors d’oeuvres hound, anyway, and the grilled ahi tuna did not fail to satisfy, either.

Tomorrow, greeting Aram and meeting his sweetheart, then attending the wedding of the year (sorry, Harry and Meghan), will be a most assuredly full day.  Good night, all.

 

The 2018 Road, Day 20: A Place of Resilience, Part 1-The Battlefield and Encampments

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June 14, 2018, Oley, PA-

That moniker above could apply to this little farm, where I am camped, until tomorrow morning.  It more immediately applies, however, to Valley Forge, where I spent most of the day. Like Steamtown and Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, admission to Valley Forge is free of charge.  The value of the stories it tells, though, is priceless, eternal.

The day will be recounted in three parts:  This post will focus, as stated, on the battlefield and the main encampments, which also feature most of the memorials.  Part two will focus on the Washington Chapel.  Part 3 will feature Washington’s Headquarters.

For exploration of the encampments, I chose the Joseph Plumb Martin Trail, named for a private in the Continental Army, who kept a journal of his experiences during the terrible winter of 1777-78.

The first stop along that trail takes in the Muhlenberg Brigade’s encampment and redoubt.   The commander of the Virginia Line, of the 8th Brigade, was Gen. John Peter Muhlenberg.

Several cabins were open for us to check out.

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This berm is an example of the cover used by Continental troops, to guard against any British cannon fire.

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Inside another cabin, the only source of heat for the people billeted here is shown.  Some cabins had not only the soldiers, but family members who followed the Army on its mission.

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Here is a longer view of the encampment.

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This signboard explains the situation to which I referred above. Some cabins had not only men, women and children, but household animals, as well.

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Here is a glimpse of Washington Memorial Chapel, a mile or so to the east of Muhlenberg encampment and the National Memorial Arch.

Moving further north, I found this memorial to the soldiers from Massachusetts, who served at Valley Forge.

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Here is the National Memorial Arch, honouring all who served the cause of independence.

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This small encampment, north of the present-day Arch, was commanded by Gen. Enoch Poor, of the New Hampshire Regiment.

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Here are the Pennsylvania Columns, which honour American Revolutionary War generals.  At the base of each column are bas-relief busts of Colonel William Irvine and Adjutant General Joseph Reed.

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Here’s a glimpse of Wayne’s Woods, named for General Anthony Wayne, who unsuccessfully tried to invade Canada, in 1775.  He didn’t encamp here, but the woods were named for him, anyway. Today, the woods are a popular picnic area.

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This marks the site where General Washington pitched his sleeping tent, when he entered Valley Forge, in December, 1777.

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The next two photos show Artillery Park, where Continental artillery was stored and repaired.

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Here is a statue of the great Prussian general, Baron Wilhelm von Steuben, who instilled unity and discipline in the Continental Army, during its time at Valley Forge.

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This house served as the quarters of General James Varnum, commander of the Connecticut and Rhode Island Brigades.  He shared the home with the Stephens family, who owned it-paying rent to David Stephens, during his stay at Valley Forge.

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Although my visit took place in the heat of early summer, a sense of what was endured by the  troops and local residents alike was easily conveyed. My tour of the encampments ended here, and the focus now became Washington Memorial Chapel, the subject of Part 2 of this set of posts.

 

 

 

 

The 2018 Road, Day 18, Part 1: Where Young Estella Played

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June 12, 2018, Plattsburgh-

My day along the Champlain Basin would have three parts.  The first, Plattsburgh, is important in my family’s life, because here was the place my maternal grandmother, Estella Myers Kusch, was born and raised.

She was a comforting influence in our early lives, helping my young parents, in what was not the easiest of times for a new blue-collar family. That she had earlier left all she knew, for the uncertainties of New England, in the 1910’s. is a testament to my Grandma’s hardiness.  Then again, Plattsburgh, in those days, was no picnic.

It’s a pretty place now, though still largely a company town:  Georgia Pacific greets the visitor, on the west side of town.

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Scomotion Creek Trail leads the foot traveler into town.

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A key chapter in the fortunes of our country, during the War of 1812, also resonates, along the water front.  Commodore Thomas Macdonough led the U.S. Navy to its signal victory over British, in the Battle of Plattsburgh, August-September, 1814.  The Riverwalk, and the lakefront, help to commemorate this key boon to our nation’s success in fending off attacks even worse than the sacking of Washington.

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This obelisk marks the resiliency of American forces in this area. New York and Vermont militias formed a unified front, under Commodore Macdonough.

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Here is the Saranac River, on its way to Lake Champlain.

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The lake itself looks calmer, this morning.

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The top of this driftwood almost looks like a figure from Angkor Wat.

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This is the ship’s bell from the USS Lake Champlain, which fought valiantly in World War II.

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Like many American towns of the Nineteenth Century, Plattsburgh is graced with fine stone architecture.  Here is the Roman Catholic Church of St. John the Baptist.

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The First Presbyterian Church is also impressive.

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Plattsburgh City Hall fronts the Riverwalk area.

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Plattsburgh’s bustling downtown,

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leads to its Romanesque county courthouse.

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Through all the hustle and bustle, this solitary creature whiles away its days.

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I am favourably impressed with the Myers family’s hometown.  One of my brothers once expressed a desire to visit Plattsburgh. I would heartily recommend such a visit, and would be glad to join him here.

NEXT:  Ausable Chasm, the “Grand Canyon of the East”.

 

The 2018 Road, Day 17: Resilience and The Sixth Great Lake

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June 11, 2018, Plattsburgh, NY-

Being in full recovery mode, this Monday morning, I headed out from the hostel around 9, going first to the U.S. Consulate.  It took less than ten minutes to get clearance to cross the border, as I have two government-issued photo IDs.

Next up was the glass repair shop, which was clear across town, but I found it easily. By 3:30, I was back on the road, wending my way, through the beginnings of Montreal’s evening commute, to southbound National Highway 15.

The visit at the border station lasted no more than three minutes, and by 6 PM, I was at Rip Van Winkle Motel, on Plattsburgh’s north side.   It proved a very comfortable spot.  I did meet some interesting characters here, but there was not a hint of menace from anyone.

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Dinner was a short walk away, at Gus’ Famous Red Hots Restaurant.  The Red Hots are apparently the founder’s spicy sausages.  I found gentler fare was fine, for the evening meal.

I got in my good long walk, afterward, heading for Lake Champlain.  Plattsburgh, and a fair length of northeastern New York, lie on the west shore of the “Sixth Great Lake”, with the east shore touching Vermont and a brief north shore in Quebec.  There was low tide, this evening, as I joined about two dozen other people, taking in the gorgeous evening. Few bugs were out and about.

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The Green Mountains loom to the east.

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Here is a view of Plattsburgh’s center, of which more in the next post.

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Here is the quiet community of Cumberland Head, just northeast of Plattsburgh.

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I was exhilarated by my time in Montreal, the unpleasant burglary aside.  Being with youth is always a revitalizing experience.  I am ready for the next set of wonders.

NEXT:  Grandma’s Girlhood Hometown

 

The 2018 Road, Day 16: Unlocking Myself

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June 10, 2018, Montreal-

The thieves gave me more than they took, actually.  An extra day to enjoy the comfort of Auberge Bishop’s community and to spend twilight in downtown Montreal were unexpected delights.

Here are some scenes of Montreal’s old and new, around the Cathedral of Mary,  Queen of the World and St. George’s Anglican Cathedral.  Statues honour Sir Wilfrid Laurier and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, as well as a row of figures atop the Roman Catholic Cathedral.  Below is a scene of the cathedral’s cupola, with CIBC Tower to its right.

 

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The great tower also watches this gate to the cathedral’s grounds.

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The Cathedral’s own watchmen are also quite vigilant.

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Here is a memorial to the city’s fallen, in World War I, World War II and the Korean War.

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In addition to the excitement of Formula 1 Grand Prix, there is a dazzling amount of construction here.

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This abstract piece graces the Garden of the Cathedral of St. George, an Anglican house of worship.

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This statue honours Sir Wilfrid Laurier, Canada’s Prime Minister during the Fin de Siecle, the turn of the Twentieth Century. Sir Wilfrid promoted both the expansion of Canadian territory and a retreat from Federalism.  He espoused increasing harmony between English and French Canadians.

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The “Mounties” are honoured here.

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This likeness of Robert Burns celebrates Canada’s debt to Scotland, as regards its settlement.

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With the dark looming, I headed back to the hostel.  There, as an offbeat round of Bingo was beginning, I took a seat at one of the “audience” tables. The “winners” of a call had to perform a silly act. One young man came up and meowed at me. A few calls later, a pert young woman was to ask an audience member to dance.  So, I accepted her motion and let myself move to the beat.   At that moment, I realized why this extra night in one of my favourite cities happened. Business as usual, with no break-in, would have had me on the road, charging full speed ahead, to New England,  It was essential, in fact, for me to slow down and get off the treadmill. So many “daughters” have appeared these past few days, from Toronto to here, offering messages of support and encouragement, in big ways (the policewoman) and small (this pleasant dancer).  I went to bed, two hours later, feeling safe among the young.

NEXT:  A fine repair and Grandma’s roots.

 

 

The 2018 Road, Day 15: Montreal, Light and Dark

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June 9, 2018, Montreal-

The gargoyles came to life, this afternoon.  My Lenovo, my warhorse, which has been with me across the country, five times, to Alaska, Hawai’i, British Columbia, western Europe, now has a new “owner”.  Whilst I was walking to and from the polyglot neighbourhood where Montreal’s Baha’i Centre is located, one or two interlopers broke into my car and rummaged through the backseat, finding the laptop case, underneath two backpacks. Nothing else was taken, but the drivers’ side windows were shattered.

A police officer came, after about 45 minutes, and took down the relevant information, as well as a sample of the shattered glass.  She dusted a bit for prints, and filed a report, giving me the number, by which I can send the laptop’s serial number, from my files, once I get back to Prescott.  This has all been explained earlier, in “Dear Thug”.

Now to the draw of Montreal- its majesty, as a city.  I came here in the first place, because of my memories of the city, when I visited in 1972-73, as part of a college tour group.  I had also told my seat mate, on the way back from Europe, in 2014, that I would visit this year.  She may well have forgotten, and was not even here, this weekend, but I did visit a branch of the restaurant in which she works:  La Panthere Verte.

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I was pleased that it was just a short block from Auberge Bishop.

Also in the vicinity of the hostel are the facilities of  La Musee des Beaux Arts, along Sherbrooke Avenue.  The Church of St. Andrew and St. Paul is in the midst of these properties.

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The church even has a “guardian”!

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Below, is one of the museum’s  main buildings.

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Mount Royal Park’s eastern flank is not far from this complex.

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Walking back towards the hostel, I spotted Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, mounted on a mighty steed.

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Here is the bright side of my ill-fated walk of this afternoon, which took place after I had checked out of the hostel, with every intention of beginning my drive south, to New England, this afternoon.  May I present Mc Gill University, Victoria Hospital and the Montreal Baha’i Centre:

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Victoria Hospital now has a different campus.  This is one of the main buildings on the original campus.

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Montreal Baha’i Centre is a small, but graceful building,  I spent only twenty minutes here, as, ironically, I wanted to still find the Baha’i Shrine,  a house where ‘Abdu’l-Baha stayed, during His 1912 visit to Montreal.  That did not happen, on THIS visit. Here, though, is the modern centre of our Faith’s life in this great city.

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On the way back to my car, I had this view of Montreal’s downtown.  In the foreground is McGill’s soccer field.

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In the end, one gets up, dusts self off and moves forward with gusto. No one knew this better than Montreal’s bard.

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So, in honour of Leonard, I made the most of my unexpected Montreal Sunday, returning to Auberge Bishop and taking in one of the city’s historic districts, in the afternoon.

 

 

The 2018 Road, Day 14: All Along ON Route

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June 8, 2018, Montreal- 

Late this evening, I have arrived at Auberge Bishop, arguably one of the most welcoming places I’ve been in quite a while.  The people are relaxed, indoors and out. Even the House Psycho is not going to be much of a problem- I just need to remember that she hates men.

But, let’s get back to the day’s start.  I enjoyed a full breakfast, in Neill-Wycik’s cafeteria, then went up to the penthouse to get a view of downtown, as only the top of  a high rise can offer.

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I got carried away with writing, whilst sitting at a desk, in said penthouse, so I ended up checking out at  11:15.  The uber-officious Day Manager had a field day with this, and $ 25 worth of surcharges later, I left Neill-Wycik, with a promise to myself to not return.  Toronto has smaller hostels, and one of them will be my base camp, on the next visit here.

Downtown I drove, stopping briefly at Toronto’s lovely Baha’i Centre.  I was let inside by a lovely and gracious lady, who had to then leave.  I was allowed, by the office manager, to look about for a few minutes and so I share these scenes.  Anyone in the Toronto area who has a desire to investigate spiritual truth for oneself will certainly do well to attend one of the Centre’s public events.  Toronto’s Baha’i community is certainly a vibrant one:  https://www.bahaitoronto.org/

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Whilst on a trip around North America, in 1912, Abdu’l-Baha briefly visited Toronto, en route from Montreal to Buffalo.

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I was given the address for Canada’s Baha’i National Centre, in Thornhill, north of Toronto, but gauging my arrival time in Montreal, I opted to leave that visit for next time.

Ontario’s segment of Route 401 features several ON Route Service Centres.  These allowed this Yank to get my fill of Tim Horton’s fare, and keep the Elantra happy with gasoline.  There is much to see, off-highway, along this route: It is, after all, the Canadian side of the Thousand Islands sector of the St. Lawrence Valley. Again, stuff for next time.  After leaving sleepy Morrisburg’s ON Route Esso, with its wary station attendant and taciturn cashier, I was soon in Quebec. Montreal, in its majesty, appeared an hour after that.

A ten-minute Blue Tooth-based conversation later, I had deposited Elantra in a parking garage and found my way to Auberge Bishop.  Here, at least, I feel entirely welcome. At Chicha Donburi, a curry house next door, I received an equally robust welcome. The cheerful Japanese-Canadian proprietress, and her chef, never stopped moving, the entire hour I was there.  I love Katsu (Japanese-style cutlet), and this did not disappoint.

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NEXT:  Montreal’s Light and Darkness

 

 

The 2018 Road, Day 13: Toronto The Good

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June 8, 2018, Toronto-

Of course, I pulled into Canada’s largest city at rush hour.  Hey, what fun is there in empty streets?  With my phone telling me there is no Internet access in Ontario, I drove to a Starbucks, where there was indeed Internet access and a wonderful pair of baristas, who wrote out the directions to Neill-Wycik Backpackers’ Hotel.  Turned out, the place was in the Garden District, past downtown.  So, I negotiated my way down there, finding the high rise building, then finding its parking garage, in twenty minutes’ time.

Being a large enterprise, in one of North America’s most officious urban centres, Neill-Wycik is chock full of rules and regulations, with a full security staff, uniformed and ready to enforce each and every rule.

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My room was on the ninth floor.  There are 26 floors, in all.

After  settling in and enjoying two huge slices of pizza, prepared by an elderly Chinese “multicultural chef”, I set out for a look at the Garden District.  The first place I spotted was Jarvis Street Baptist Church.

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Allan Gardens is an indoor botanical conservatory, the centerpiece of the District. A spacious outdoor park abuts the facility.  It was being enjoyed by a wide cross-section of Toronto’s society, on  Thursday evening. A few of them were okay with being photographed, from a distance.

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The outdoor gardens are a riot of botanica, leading some of the locals to remark that the place needs work.

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The east end of the conservatory is a Children’s Section.

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I next headed towards the south end of the Garden District, where a number of great churches may be found.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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Above is St. Peter’s Catholic Church.  Below, CN Tower is put in perspective, from back at Allan Gardens.

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Here are a few more scenes, from the northeast corner of the park.

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Here is another view of Toronto, old and new.

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Ryerson University, a private institution, is the driving force of the Garden District. It owns Neill-Wycik’s building.

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St. Michael’s Cathedral, now under renovation, is Toronto’s diocesan center.

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Like any vibrant city, Toronto has its share of murals.

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Not far from St. Michael’s, the Anglican Cathedral of St. James holds sway.

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The Metropolitan United Church completes the ecclesiastical triad.

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So, my evening walk around the Garden District came to an end.  The rest of the evening was spent with fellow hostelers, around the lounge television, watching as Ontario’s voters chose a vocal conservative, from a prominent family, as their next Provincial Premier (Canada’s counterpart to an American state governor).  People, regardless of locale, are more alike than different-and people these days are often motivated by fear.

NEXT:  Toronto to Montreal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 2018 Road, Day 12: Along Canada’s Thames

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June 7, 2018, London, ON-

In 2011, I met a gentleman from this city, who seemed the epitome of a proper gentleman from the English countryside, but with a definite Ontario accent.  Since then, I have made a mental note to check the town out, in the event I visited Ontario.

That time came today, as the Elantra needed a break, between Ridgetown and Toronto.  I had already had lunch, at one of Ontario’s excellent highway service areas.  London still beckoned, though, so I pulled alongside the city’s Victoria Park. At first, I was unsure where the Master Meter was, so I asked a vendor, who pointed towards the meter in front of his personal vehicle.  Ha, ha!  I found the Master Meter, on my own and had a lovely forty minutes, walking about the Centre of London.

Here are some scenes of Victoria Park:

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The Band Shell serves as a community gathering spot, several evenings throughout the summer into Fall.

 

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This is Dundas Street Centre United Church. Several middle school students were taking in this fine edifice and others in London’s Centre, as part of an Ontario History field trip.

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Many of Canada’s great buildings were built to house insurance companies.  Across Dundas Street, we see London Life Insurance, Ltd.

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Metropolitan United Church is also found along Dundas Street.

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Back up to London life, which certainly looks like a government edifice.

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St. Peter’s Cathedral Basilica is the center of Roman Catholic life in central Ontario.

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Garlic’s is one of the centerpieces of London’s small, but energetic, Arts District.

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Above, are several others.

I will make more time for this street,  when next in Ontario, most likely two years hence.

NEXT:  Toronto

 

 

Dear Thug

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June 10, 2018, Montreal-

You thought you got the drop on me, yesterday, waiting until I was far enough away from my car that I didn’t hear the smashing of window glass, did not witness you taking my seven-year-old laptop and my passport. To the extent you thought of me at all, you probably imagined a terified, whimpering American tourist, who was wondering “Oh, whatever shall I DO?”.

So, let’s get real about what this means, for each of us. I spent The rest if my Saturday being assisted by your better neighbours: A confident and dedicated young police officer, who knows her role in society, far better than you know yours; a strong, but gentle, young man who is a Muslim, by the way, and who carefully and diligently removed the bulk of the glass you left in my car, following your act of rage; two hostel workers who called around, for a space for me, to no avail. It is one of Montreal’s signature weekends, after all: Formula One Grand Prix.

Today, I am back at my favourite place to stay in Montreal. I made my car fitted with protection from the elements. I gave back to the young people who have so gracefully welcomed me into their community. I got a fine haircut from Irina. I am singing along to Eddie Vedder’s “I’m Still Alive”. Tomorrow, I will move forward, with new glass on my car windows and clearance from my government, to cross back into the land of my birth. In two years’ time, I will be back in Montreal.

So what of you? Perhaps, you are bragging to your friends and associates, about how you took advantage of a stupid Yankee. You may find someone who can break my laptop’s encryption and enable you, or your “employer”, to read my posts, to harass me or, God forbid to use the device for more nefarious purposes. You may try to sell my passport to the wide world of imposters. You will, in the long of it, fail. You are probably well-known to the Montreal Police Department, and the young officer took evidence with her. You are certainly known, at least in terms of your actions, by the people who live around McGill University. Their patience is running thin.

So, we both move forward. I will continue to live a life that values people and a Higher Power. You have a choice to make. Give up what is not yours or face one element or another, of civil society.