Tuesday, July 30, 2013

grave post - Gilbert

Albert died in the line of duty in the stable of Hall's general store when the floor of the hayloft collapsed trapping him underneath.

Around 10:30 P.M. on July 16th a fire was discovered in a stable at the rear of Hall's Grocery Store at the corner of Parliament and Sydenham Streets. Upon arrival #1 Hook and Ladder was ordered to open up the roof and assist the Hose companies with advancing into the building. While two laddermen operated on the roof, Fire Fighter Albert Gilbert entered the building with a pike pole to help dig at the deep seated flames. All of a sudden the roof collapsed. Several men were trapped,  Chief Ardagh quickly regrouped his men and began rescue operations. Two members of #1 H&L who were operating on the roof were pulled out first. Over the next few minutes the other five men were also pulled out and rushed to the General Hospital or private doctors offices for treatment. As some control returned to the scene, Captain Frank Hall of #1 H&L was taking a roll call of his remaining men when he realized that Fireman Gilbert was missing. Rescue efforts were started anew by the Captain in Charge (Chief Ardagh had left for the hospital to enquire about his injured son, also a firefighter). Almost an hour later Gilbert's body was found. He had died instantly, being decapitated by the falling roof. His hook was still in his hand.     From the Toronto Fire Fighters Assoc. Researched by Jon Lasiuk

Albert Gilbert was born September 14th 1835 in Ventnor on the Isle of Wight, England to William and either Leah or Ann (reports differ) and had a brother Charles. The Gilberts were a long line of bakers and Charles took over his father's business. Just what prompted Albert to emigrate to Canada is not known. He and Letitia Whiteside were married in 1856 though whether that was in England or Canada is uncertain. This simple flat stone over Albert's gravesite is at the Necropolis in Toronto.

Monday, July 29, 2013

bloomin' 'eck!

The recent heat wave we've been experiencing has helped push this Century Plant through a sudden and unexpected growth spurt. A hole had to be cut through the roof of the conservatory at Allan Gardens (Toronto) in late March as the plant reached the glass ceiling. Almost half of its 15' (4.5metres) is outside the greenhouse.
The 75 year old agave actually bloomed a week ago and now is waning, but is still pretty impressive. if you want to see it though, you'd better hurry

Within a couple of weeks it will die and already the leaves at the base are shrivelling and collapsed. The stalk will eventually turn brown and then be cut at the base. 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

stylized trees

For the theme of trees on Sunday Stamps this week, I decided to show some stylized trees because I am too lazy to look up the translations and botanical names of real trees

First off, we have all seen this one from The Netherlands (think green for a green world) Although it seems an interesting design at first, I am heartily tired of this stamp and hope it runs out of circulation soon.

This one from The Czech Republic is rather nice, except that the map of the world does not include Australia and New Zealand and other bits of Australasia. Trees are meant to walk be walked around so they are there on the other side. Perhaps two stamps, one each showing the half of the world might have been a nice idea. Nobody asked me, though. This stamp for the International Year of the Planet was issued in 2008 and engraved by Jaroslav Chadima

This Dutch version of the Europa CEPT stamp was issued in 1962. CEPT is the European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations. Germany, Holland, Belgium, France, Luxembourg and Italy were the first countries to issue these EUROPA stamps in 1956, now there are over 60 countries issuing such stamps, though not all of them are actually members of PostEurop.
Now, because it is a lovely day with very little humidity, I am off to view and maybe sit under some real trees in the Royal Botanical Gardens.

Friday, July 26, 2013

streetcars, streetcars, streetcars

The new TTC streetcars had their first daytime test run a few days ago. The behemoth cars look like this and won't be ready for another year.
They are wheel-chair accessible and air-conditioned but still there a sharply divided reaction to them.

I love streetcars (or trams as they are known in other parts of the world) even if they do clog traffic and need wires and rails. They are such a big city thing. Any small town could have a bus, but only a city merits a tram.

This postcard shows the PCC 4597 car on the right that was put into service in 1950. The TRC 327 open air horse car was built in 1893 and went out of service in 1915. It now is one of the favourite cars of the Halton Radial Railway Museum. (that is for another post, coming up soon!)

The new articulated streetcars are twice as long as the current ones, though they won't seat twice as many people. personally, I would love to have some double decker cars for extra seating.
the sender of this real photo postcard (undated and not postmarked) says 
"London is a marvelous city. Have changed my plans and am spending 3 weeks in England. I don't want to come home. Antique shops, theatre, fashion, parks, design, excitement and fun! Love Ina"

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

grave post - Mirvish

Ed Mirvish has been in the headlines again this past week with the announcement from his son, David, that the one and a half blocks known as Mirvish Vilage in the Bathurst and Bloor area of downtown Toronto would be put up for sale.
You can see that something like this would be missed!

Ed Mirvish was born in Virginia on the 24th of July, 1914 and the family moved to Toronto in 1923.
 A businessman, entrepreneur and philanthropist he was also a beloved, larger than life figure in the city. Apart from this over-the-top gaudiness of his 'famous bargain house' where everything was cheaper than you could possibly imagine, Mr Mirvish also made his mark in developing the Entertainment District with theatres and restaurants. 

So it might seem odd that such a man would still be without a head stone at his grave in the Pardes Shalom Cemetery. It is Jewish custom to have a marker put up within a year, but Mr Mirvish has been gone for 6 years as of July 11th. Instead, there is a simple black marker from the funeral home. His son, David, has taken a lot of flack for this oversight and he has said that he's been very busy and that it has been difficult since his father's passing. Though his father's memory has been honoured in many other, public, ways - a theatre has been [re]named in his honour and a parkette and street have been dedicated to Ed and Anne Mirvish as well as an annual award for entrepreneurship.  He admitted that he doesn't visit the cemetery and Ed's wife, Anne, whom he married in 1941, in failing health and 94 years of age, also has not been to see where her husband is buried.
However, in one recent interview there was an indication that a marker may be soon in place. David has finally, after a long deliberation, perhaps settled on the wording.

“A Man with a Good Name.”

Taphophile Tragics

Monday, July 22, 2013

nothing is forever

Last week for Taphophile Tragics I told you about Alexander Muir and how a tree on his street had inspired him to write The Maple Leaf Forever, considered our unofficial national anthem. 
I didn't have a photo of the tree because, well, I'd never gotten around to taking one. 
Which is a crying shame because 

before the week was out that tree was knocked down in a vicious storm.

Friday, July 19, 2013


To get to Detroit from here one must cross the Ambassador Bridge. 
and if you spent too much time in one of these three Brass Rails, you could fill in the above postcard and send it to any of the 'old things' on your list of people to keep informed of your whereabouts. though I don't see anywhere to check off 'saw strippers' or 'burlesque show'!

LIFE Magazine described the Brass Rails as "Detroit Restaurants to fit your purse". Open every day of the year, the Brass Rails serve everything from a Corned-Beef Sandwich to a Complete Meal; feature the longest bars in Michigan; and present smart entertainment free of amusement tax.


(Toronto has its own Brass Rail, but I have never been inside it.)

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

what next...?

Several months ago the pain that is usually in my arms during (and especially after) working suddenly reared its ugliness and did not go away. Instead of feeling it for a couple of hours, it suddenly became constant. Every waking and sleeping hour and minute of every day. I self diagnosed it as tendinitis. In my left arm. From the elbow - which meant my entire forearm and hand were to be affected with spasmodic pain and achiness. I had already learned how to micromanage my massaging techniques around the pain, but now, I had to learn how to manage the normal bits of living - like eating, dressing... Being left handed, I think I had a bit of an advantage as I could already use my right hand for many actions (such as opening doors). But brushing my teeth became a little, erm, messy. I had to buy running shoes with velcro as I couldn't tie the laces. I altered my meals to accommodate not being able to cut anything or to spread butter on toast. I drank everything out of a light, acrylic mug with a big handle. Getting out of the car involved a complex manoeuvre of reaching over with the right arm and a head butt to the door window and a quick escape before it might swing back shut.

For weeks I have been seeing an acupuncturist and chiropractor. I was seeking massage but after a few times that just hurt too much to be helpful. I eventually had to make a decision based on finances and the needles won. It was a good thing I couldn't actually see the needles stuck in various parts of amy arms and leg (and one time even the top of my head). Really, acupuncture is not as bad as you might think. The worst part is not being able to move for half an hour or more. After 20 minutes or so there is an incredible urge to draw the knees up, or to turn over and curl up in a ball. But you can not move. Trust me, it will hurt if you do. But now, this week, I have gone from having 30 needles to just eight! the pain level is more like 2 or 3 out of 10 instead of 8 or 9.

I am not sure what happened. Both my acupuncturist and myself were flummoxed at my lack of healing in a timely manner. It was getting better, but only in teeny measurements.

So I made the difficult and painful decision at the end of June that I would not be able to continue working as a massage therapist. I hadn't been able to work for almost six months already. Letters were written - and I was pleased that I could write legibly, though I had to take a break after each one.

Maybe making that decision helped. I stopped thinking and hoping and wondering if.... when....

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

grave post - Muir

Alexander Muir moved to Canada as a baby from Scotland (Lesmahagow) in the 1830s (he was born April 5, 1830). He is best known as the composer of The Maple Leaf Forever. The story goes that in 1867, the year of Canada's Confederation, inspired by a large maple tree on his street, and/or a falling maple leaf that got stuck on his overcoat, he wrote the words in an evening and later composed the music himself when he couldn't find someone to write a suitable melody. The song is the regimental march of The Queen's Own Rifles of Canada of which he was a member. He fought at the Battle of Ridgeway in 1866 (part of the Fenian Raids)
Alexander Muir's father was a teacher in a log cabin school in Scarborough and Alexander followed into the same career as a school teacher and principal as well as pursuing his interests in sports and the military. Reputedly, Muir was progressive in his teaching methods and, unlike some of his contemporaries, did not rely on the harsh discipline of the birch cane. Through poetry, music, and athletics he tried to instil in his students a deep respect for Canada and its history.  He was twice married, first to Agnes Thomson with whom he had two sons and a daughter; and secondly to Mary Alice Johnston, and they had one son and one daughter. He died on June 26, 1906 in Toronto. source: Dictionary of Canadian Biography
there is a mural dedicated to Muir and his maple tree near where he lived in east end Toronto
It won second prize for a contest for the best Canadian patriot song, but soon became an unofficial national anthem. There are some who think it should have become the official, but it is not, which is just as well as it completely ignores the French as one of the founding nations while glorifying the British wins of the Seven Years War, and the War of 1812.  Still, it has a nice rousing melody that is fun to sing (as I remember from my distant childhood) as you can hear.

He is buried in Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Toronto.

Taphophile Tragics

Sunday, July 14, 2013

King Gustav VI

Oscar Fredrik Wilhelm Olaf Gustaf Adolf, 11 November 1882 – 15 September 1973

King Gustaf VI Adolf of Sweden came to the throne at age 67 in October of 1950 and was, at the time, the world's oldest heir apparent to a monarchy. (so there is hope for Charles to perhaps break a record!) At his death in 1973, the monarchy was reduced to a figurehead though he still had some political power before the constitutional reforms of 1971. He was also the last Swedish king to choose a royal of equal birth for a wife. His first wife was Princess Margaret of Connaught who died before he ascended the throne.

Princess Margaret (or Margareta as she was called in Sweden) was the granddaughter of Queen Victoria and Albert (daughter of third son, Prince Arthur). They had five children together and she was pregnant with her sixth when she died in 1920 following surgery. Three years later, Gustaf Adolf married Lady Louise Mountbatten who was a sister to Lord Mountbatten and aunt to Prince Philip. Her mother's cousin was Princess Margaret. Both Queen Louise and her stepchildren were great-grandchildren of Queen Victoria.

This 25 ore blue stamp is a Type I (1951-57) with coloured numbers and letters and has no initials of designer or engraver. Type II (1957-1961) has coloured numbers and letters but also the initials of designer and engraver and Type III (1961-71) has white numbers and letters with the initials of designer and engraver.
(and yes, I know I spelled his name wrong in the title)
see more kings on stamps here

..... and as a side note, I went to my first Postcrossing Meetup yesterday. There were 12 of us who met over lunch, including the lone male and international participant who drove 3 hours from Michigan!

If anyone would like an official postcard from the meetup, email me your address.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

grave post - Hunter

This was one of the more interestingly designed stones in the old section of the Tiverton Cemetery (see also here)
mainly because it is quite modern and doesn't really reflect the time 
of William Hunter and his wife Mary who died in 1909 and 1902.
The life of Our Little May is undated.
Yet, it also doesn't look as if it was carved by the same stonemason as the font is slightly different and the order of names, dates, locations are different on each side.
Mr Hunter was a farmer and a poet who lived in the nearby village of Underwood at Antrim Farm
some samples of his poems (there are 40 of them)

I looked on Lake Huron in the first glint of morning
As the orb of the day threw his light o'er the hill
The woods on the shore with rich beauty adorning
All mirrored in water so peaceful and still...

I have never seen Lake Huron still as a mirror, though I have been told that does happen on occasion. The lake is to the west, so here are photos of a sunrise (above) around 7:15am in August 2010
and a sunset at 8:30pm in July 2013.
The creek that runs down by our door
Is not without its charm
Though oft in spring with rage and roar
It does a lot of harm...
When mornings sun with golden beam
Illumes the eastern sky
The duck with quack and flapping wings
Makes for that stream nearby...
We watch its waters in the sun
And listen to its noise
It just appears to run for fun
To please the girls and boys...
It used to be a favorite place
When the flats were filled with logs
For the various breeds of a singing race
But most enjoyed by frogs...
But now no logs are lying round
And the frogs are not so bright
But a business new has now been found
In catching suckers at night...
And along each bank of the lovely stream
When night spreads out its pall
A row of stable lamps are seen
And splashing footsteps fall

written in May 1897

Taphophile Tragics

Sunday, July 7, 2013

creatures of the sea

Black Scorpionfish are solitary and sedentary fish that feed on small fishes like gobies and blennies. Their spines have a venomous sac so it is good that they are not aggressive fish. They don't migrate from their home base that ranges from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean and Black Seas and can blend in with their surroundings with their tassels, warts and coloured specks.

Seahorses have a thin skin stretched over bony plates rather than scales. This particular one, the H. Hippocampus or short-snouted seahorse, is found in the Mediterranean. They live in small territories with the males travelling within 1 sq metre (11 sq ft) and the females ranging beyond to about 100 times farther.

and finally, the Russian sturgeon (sometimes called the Danube sturgeon). It can grow up to over 2.5 metres (8 feet) and weigh 110kg (240lbs) and live to 40 years or more. But it is an endangered species and river damming has decimated the population by as much as 90% in just three generations. The caviar is much sought after and though fishing is now banned it isn't always enforced.

These colourful stamps were issued in 1964 (and represent only 3 of the 9 issued. I didn't want to trail on too long and bore you all, but you can see the entire set here).
You can also see more sea creatures at Sunday Stamps