Too many heroes are still forgotten, even on Remembrance Day
Over the years, there have been numerous books and documentaries about the Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion, but at a time when there is such ongoing acknowledgement of Canada’s past historical wrongs, they remain forgotten at Remembrance Day ceremonies, ignored by Veterans’ Affairs. Even the Legion.
By Rod Mickleburgh
It’s been a while since I attended the main Remembrance Day ceremony at Victory Square in downtown Vancouver, opting instead for the quieter, less grand but no less meaningful remembrance at the Japanese Canadian War Memorial from World War One in Stanley Park. Surrounded by trees, their leaves tinged with autumn, there is a sense of peace that appeals to me, along with the reminder of the shameful internment of 23,000 Japanese Canadians during World War Two.
But this year we bypassed both and went to Mountain View Cemetery for two very different commemorations that pinpointed individual veterans in a way large ceremonies cannot. We ...
Before we had the ‘Beforetimes,’ we watched baseball — and it was good
Column: A Long Day's Journey into COVID awareness
Last March, Ex-Press staffer Charles Gordon was in Dunedin, Florida when COVID-19 cancelled Spring Training, and forced his family on an angst-filled road trip northward. A year on into the pandemic, we look back at the moment when everything, and everyone, changed.
A memoir from March 21, 2020
By Charles Gordon
We had already decided to come home before the call came officially from our government. For one thing, a prescient friend had announced, on the Tuesday before, that he was leaving: he had a respiratory infection and the Coronavirus could be fatal to him. A bunch of us were at the Florida restaurant where he told us that and we made light of it on the way back to the hotel. “Should I go straight to the hospital?” I asked, to general chuckles, as we got into the car. Still, it made me think. Here I was, an older Canadian, pushing 80, and a long way from a decent health care system.
For another thing, they cancelled ...
Small town news captures life at a granular level: rescued animals, obits
On Journalism: Small Town Newspapers, Touring the Kootenays, Part Two
From the Arrowlakes News to the Lumby Valley Times, small town papers provide the human mortar that builds communities and keep locals connected. And they need your help, writes Rod Mickleburgh.
By Rod Mickleburgh
I’M BACK! Just to recap. I recently spent two weeks travelling through BC’s fascinating West Kootenays, in those halcyon days before the election call and the second wave of COVID-19. As I always do when somewhere else, I sought out local newspapers, just as the New York Times’ brilliant media reporter David Carr used to do. It was sad to see how diminished they were. The good news, however, is that they still exist, still employ reporters and continue to serve their communities.
Let us return to those thrilling times of yester-month and sample a few of the tasty tidbits I gleaned from the region’s remaining newspapers. I hope you like them as much as I did.
What’s for sale at the Lumby ...
Sometimes you have to dig a hole to stay alive
Remembering Orme Payne, Part Two of Two
From the Great Depression and prairie drought, to mano-a-mano combat with the Germans in the waning days of war, Orme Payne's life wove a tapestry of the Twentieth Century.
By Rod Mickleburgh
My friend Orme went through a lot in his final years. But when you’ve been through a Depression and a World War, you learn to take things as they come. During our many conversations, he never complained, never felt he was hard done by, even when he experienced the long months of isolation imposed by COVID-19. “I’m confined to barracks” was his matter-of-fact assessment. Over the phone, he was always cheerful. His yarns and colourful expressions never dried up, aided by a memory that remained intact until the end. And damn, he was funny….
Orme died this past September, his body finally giving up the ghost, after 98 years and five months of a very good life. I miss him terribly.
On Remembrance Day, the first Orme has missed in 75 years, ...
How Orme weathered the storm of war in the Signals Corps
Canadian History: Remembering Orme Payne, Part One
This year on Remembrance Day, Rod Mickleburgh felt the loss of a friend, a veteran and a Second World War combat survivor who found strength in his fellow men, and one in particular.
By Rod Mickleburgh
I lost a good friend of mine this fall. Orme Payne, who fought in Italy and Holland during World War Two, passed away at the George Derby Care Home in Burnaby. He was 98 years and five months young, and I use the word “young” advisedly. Through the years, no matter how rough a time the rest of him was having, the strength of his voice never wavered, his mind and memory remained razor sharp, and he never failed to make me laugh. So, Remembrance Day in this most terrible of years will be even more sombre for me than usual. I will be thinking of Orme.
I first met him in 2015, when I wrote a Remembrance Day story for the Globe and Mail on the long, remarkable friendship between Orme and his boyhood prairie buddy, Gordie Bannerm...
Touring small town journalism and finding the Koots
Journalism: The Decline of Local Newspapers
Big city papers are nowhere to be found in B.C.'s Kootenays, but you can still find a local weekly with birthday announcements, the lost and found, and reader mail damning CBC Radio for just about anything.
By Rod Mickleburgh
The first of two parts. (Be be still your beating heart.)
I spent two rewarding weeks last month travelling the highways and communities of BC’s historic West Kootenays. As I always do when on the road, I looked for local newspapers to give me a sense of what was happening in the places where my squeaky sneakers touched down. At the same time, I still wanted to keep up with events in the rest of the province. Unfortunately, and I’m not sure I should have been surprised, I could not find a single, big-city daily east of the Okanagan. No Sun, no Province, no National Post (yay! oops….), no Globe and Mail.
I could not find a single, big-city daily east of the Okanagan. No Sun, no Province, no National ...
The joy of wearing a mask when you’re facially disfigured
Health: COVID-19 Facial Coverings
The Coronavirus Pandemic has disturbed the delicate balance of daily life, but one writer found a strange symmetry in suddenly being asymmetrical.
“Is the mask magic?" he demanded with sudden, passionate interest.
"Yes." I bowed my head, so that our eyes no longer met. "I made it magic to keep you safe. The mask is your friend, Erik. As long as you wear it, no mirror can ever show you the face again." - Phantom of the Opera, Gaston Leroux
By Katherine Monk
VANCOUVER, BC — I woke up around midnight after passing out on the couch. I’d made a fire to get cozy after an hour-long swim in the ocean late in the afternoon, and I still felt cold. I plodded off to the bathroom to get ready for bed, and when I looked in the mirror — something looked a little off. I wrote it off to the awkward sleep position and the hard pillow. My face looked, well, saggy.
It wouldn’t have been the first time I was a little shocked by a late night encoun...
Launching a Rocket in the Living Room
DIY Column: The Apollo XIII Project
A New Year’s resolution to reuse, recycle or purge was already in progress, then the pandemic happened, and what started as a creative bid to turn garbage into art suddenly morphed into a personal Apollo XIII mission: Without access to Home Depot, can you find a way to repurpose what you already have?
Tell the Ones You Love, now more than ever
Column: The Balm of Poetry Part 6 - Dennis Lee’s Tell the Ones You Love
Tell the Ones You Love - A short, sweet poem about love. As we struggle to cope with the terrible sweep of this unforgiving virus, Rod Mickleburgh says he finds it particularly apt.