Is 2 minutes too much to ask?

UPDATE: I got an email from someone at Rexall wanting to know which store this was… The 30-second communique came from head office and sent to stores so I think they are looking for a store name and they are looking for the leak. I told him the region the store is in but not the city. Luckily, at least one customer complained to staff and I hope more do, as well.

A friend who works at Pharma Plus pharmacy chain (owned by Rexall Drugs) was informed that instead of observing the normal 2 minutes of silence, this Remembrance Day employees would be marking 30 seconds of silence. That’s right… 30 seconds… Apparently because “customers” become restive during the two minutes, the company decided that rather than risk losing the business of the few people who are insensitive and stupid not to know that 1) it is Remembrance Day 2) it is 11 am at time for two minutes of silence and 3) too stupid to listen to the announcements leading up to the observance they would rather deny their employees the right (who have already been denied the right to attend Remembrance Day ceremonies) to appropriately mark the 2 minutes but to insult the memory of all those who served and died for this country.


Thirty seconds homage to those who fought and died for our country. I wrote an email to the company and have sent emails to the editors of most of the top Canadian news organizations to express my indignation.

Ironically, it was another Canadian pharmacy chain store that took a stand when a “customer” took it upon himself to complain to a clerk during the 2 minutes of silence. That sparked a Canadian songwriter who was there when the incident occurred to write a song on the subject.

I would urge others to contact Rexall/Pharma Plus and express your indignation.

You can send a message on line to them by clicking on “Contact Us” at the top of their web page.

poppy image via freefoto

PhotoHunter: Lick

Okay… This is another “slightly circular” approach to this week’s PhotoHunter theme. HA! A puzzle AND a pun!

Battle of the Windmill historical site

The Battle of the Windmill Historic Site, 2008

In 1837 and 1838, Canada was the scene of a number of rebellions.  Rebellions were fought in both Upper and Lower Canada during this two year period.

In the British colony of Upper Canada (Upper Canada being the region of Canada lying “up the St, Lawrence”, generally Eastern and Southern Ontario), was brought about by the efforts of William Lyon Mackenzie a reformer, newspaper editor, Mayor of Toronto, and orator who had for many years been trying to bring about reform of the government of Ontario. In 1837, he gave up on a peaceful means of achieving this goal and rallied both radicals and moderates to overthrow the government.

This  rebellion, known as The Upper Canada Rebellion, was rapidly quashed and William Lyon Mackenzie and many of his followers absconded to the United States. More than 800 followers were arrested. Some were granted amnesty, two leaders were hanged for treason, and some two dozen were “transported” to a penal colony in Australia.

Some of the rebels banded together with American supporters who saw the prospect of overthrowing the British government in Upper Canada as a chance to expand America into the region.

In December 1837, they launched a raid which led to their occupation of Navy Island (a small island in the Niagara River which they proclaimed “The Republic of  Canada” from which they were eventually expelled and William Lyon Mackenzie fled to the US).

A skirmish at Short Hills in the Niagara peninsula, in June 1838, The Battle of the Windmill, in November; and a series of bloody and violent  raids in the Windsor/Detroit area, in December, followed. Large numbers of British regulars and Upper Canada militia repulsed the raids, 15 rebels were hanged and several dozen more were transported to Tasmania, into penal servitude.

On November 12, 1838, a group of American raiders (calling themselves Patriot Hunters) and Canadian rebels  made an attempt to land on the Canadian side of the St. Lawrence River. in order to take the town of Prescott, side of Fort William. They were driven back that night. Convinced that this force of about 250 men would be quickly joined by hundreds of discontented Canadians, the undeterred force tried another landing point at Windmill Point, some miles east of Prescott.

Sadly, their mistaken belief that some (or, indeed, ANY) Canadians would join them led to the bloody and tragic event called the Battle of the Windmill.

Certainly, the Windmill was an ideal place  (seemingly) to choose to base their attack on Upper Canada. The invaders, under the command of Nils von Schoultz, were well equipped with ammunition to last 4 to 5 days. The Windmill was a strong defensive point and would have afforded them an excellent vantage point and the British could not approach unobserved. This, and their certainty in drawing local supporters to their cause, led them to believe they would win handily.

The British quickly gathered a small group of local militia  and regular troops in Prescott and, with the support of guns from steamers plying the waters of the St. Lawrence, on November 13th they made their approach to the Windmill.

Even with a superior force of some 600 men, it was not to be an easy victory for the British and Upper Canadians. The fighting went on for some 5 bloody hours, during which 13 British soldiers were killed and  78 wounded. The “Hunters” were believed to have lost 18, 20 wounded, and 26 captured.

By the 14th and 15th, the Hunters were running low on ammunition and food, and had suffered heavy losses. Reinforcements from Ogdensburg (on the American side of the river) had not appeared and neither had all those supposedly discontented Canadians.

On the 16th, the Americans must have been terrified. More and better armed steamers had arrived…. and a force of 1000 British and Canadians were preparing for the second attack on the Windmill. At 3:30 in the afternoon, the bombardment from the artillery by land and on the river, began. Some of the Hunters surrendered but others put up a futile fight. By 6:00, the Americans were defeated. Some surrendered while others melted off into the gathering darkness. Some 50 were laid in common graves near the battle-site. Many were captured and tried.

“The process of trials and punishments required many months to complete. There were few acquittals (40), and relatively few executions (11, including Nils von Schoultz). 60 were convicted and transported to a British penal colony in Australia. 86 were condemned, but later pardoned and released to return to their homes.”

The Battle of the Windmill was a crucial victory for Upper Canada. Had the Americans and the Canadian rebels taken Prescott and the fort which protected the St. Lawrence River, they would have essentially cut the throat of Upper Canada and left it open to invasion from the south.

However, we LICKED them…

The Windmill, prior to 1838

The Battle of the Windmill

PhotoHunter: Technology

This week’s PhotoHunter theme is “Technology”. I wasn’t sure what to do for this, at first but then I remembered having entered a photo of mine for the same theme on Fotki, the photo-sharing site I use. I thought I would use the same photo and contrast it with a photo of something else.

When I initially thought of this, I was looking at the images as contrasting “low tech” and the other as “high tech”. On the other hand, both are really representative of the highest technology of their times. In fact, the first photo, in its own way represents technological skill and true craftsmanship, whereas, the second represents brute force on the grandest scale.

Perhaps you will see other contrasts and other meanings. Let me know your thoughts.

The first image is of stone points, scrapers, and flakes from the making of points and scrapers. Created by Eastern Woodland Indians, perhaps 700 -900 years ago. Found along the Upper Ottawa River, near Fort William, Quebec.

Stone points

The second image is of one of the old Cold War air raid sirens sitting outside the main door of the Diefenbunker (pronounced Deefenbunker), in Carp, Ontario.

The Diefenbunker was Canada’s official government nuclear fallout shelter.

In the event of nuclear war, government officials and designated military personnel would have descended underground while the rest of Canadians fried. Formerly top secret, it is now a museum open to the public and is designated a national historic site. It was dubbed the Diefenbunker after Canada’s Prime Minister when it was built, John Diefenbaker (familiarly known to most Canadians as “Dief the Chief”). It operated as a secret facility for 33 years before it was “decommissioned” and the land sold to the Township of West Carleton, which is now part of the city of Ottawa.

Until it was decommissioned, the Canadian public, even residents of the nearby town of Carp were unaware of its existence. Interestingly, my friend Carol (who did earlier this year) was unaware that for the entire time she and her family lived in Ottawa, her father had spent every working day in the Diefenbunker and, should nuclear war have broken out, he would have been obligated to continue working while the family would have had to fend for themselves.

Siren, the Diefenbunker, Carp, Ontario

I should say that these sirens and the Cold War were what caused me nightly terrors and nightmares as a child living along the St. Lawrence River in Southeastern Ontario. I was small during The Cuban Missile Crisis. We had a bomb shelter in the basement — basically, a cot, cook-stove, and provisions under the basement stairs. We’d not have survived anything.

Sirens were tested with regularity and scared the crap out of me all those years.

Years later, in 1978, when I was living in Toronto one of the few remaining sirens went off, I am guessing by accident, and I sat bolt upright. The friend I was with looked at me quizzically. “What’s wrong?” she asked.

Air raid siren… We don’t hear those very often any more!”

“What’s that?” Not only did she not recognize the sound she didn’t even HEAR it until I pointed it out. I had to EXPLAIN about the Cold War…. about air raids… about bomb shelters… She had never ever heard a siren in a war movie!

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