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 ...
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 ...
Giller winner conjures ghost of Fitz St. John
History: The Saga of Fitz St. John
Behind Esi Edugyan's Giller Prize-winning novel about the astounding exploits of Barbados-born Washington Black lies the very true story of William Fitzclarence “Fitz” St. John: A Vancouver longshoreman, unionist, and pioneer who -- alongside his Indigenous co-workers -- blazed a trail for equality and fair wages on the docks.
Another Citizen amputates daily editions to survive
Journalism: The Slow Death of Newspapers
The Prince George Citizen goes weekly, prompting a former staffer to remember the days of a $1.49 steak at Mr. Jake’s, the big story of a hotel fire that left him burnt, and the long-gone giddiness of daily newspapering.
One, two, three strikes — and Canada is out!
History: The Winnipeg General Strike of 1919, Part Two
The workers of Canada united behind strikers in Winnipeg, leading to the largest labour action in Canadian history and a class division that continues to create friction and distrust 100 years on.
The Winnipeg General Strike fought the pejorative optics of “Socialism”
History: The 100 year anniversary of the Winnipeg General Strike of 1919, Part One
Disillusioned workers demanded fair wages and the right to collective bargaining, but their biggest foes throughout the historic, 40-day labour action weren’t just the powerful and privileged -- but the rabid rhetoric surrounding “Bolshevik” forces and "undesirables, socialists, radicals, enemy aliens, Marxists, foreign agitators, revolutionaries, reactionaries, extremists, and (of course) anarchists.”