Photo Hunt: Backwards

For this week’s Photo Hunt  theme, I picked photos of my favourite tavern in Ottawa. From the inside, the sign painted on the windows outside looks backwards.

There are only a few traditional taverns left in Ottawa. The Elmdale House Tavern is one of them. The building, itself dates to 1909 but the Elmdale House Tavern opened in 1934. Originally, it probably had a single barroom but new (and backward) liquor laws which were enacted in 1937 required all Ontario Taverns to have“two separate and distinct beverage rooms – one for men only, and the other solely for women, except where attended by bona fide escorts” (The Globe March 29, 1937, “Liquor Board to Curb Mixed Drinking in Ontario Hotels, New Rules to Require Two Rooms”). Women were forbidden to cross into the “men only” section. And even if they owned the tavern, women were not permitted to SERVE in the men only sections! By 1944, after much back and forth about the right of women to serve in such establishments, the LCBO (Liquor Control Board of Ontario) stipulated that “authority holders desiring this privilege [to have female servers working within the Ladies and Escorts room] must make application to the Board as well as submit a medical certificate covering the proposed employee and indicating that she is free from disease”!!! Most provinces had the same laws.

In the 1970s, I can still recall being required to remain in the “Ladies and Escorts” side of all the taverns that my friends and I went to. By then, women were permitted to go into taverns unattended, in the company of female friends, or in mixed groups… but we were still not permitted in the “men only” room. It wasn’t until the late 70s when the law permitted women to go into the “men’s” side. I can still recall the time when we were looking for a friend and my male friend took me through the “Men only” room of the famed Chateau Lafayette (older than the city of Ottawa and one of Ottawa’s oldest institutions!). Despite the fact that women were by then permitted in, it was still a male only bastion and I can recall the glares and stares I got from the denizens.

Some taverns retained the “no women allowed” attitude well into the 1980s. My former father-in-law recalls when The Bank Hotel Tavern in Quebec being the target of a protest by women who wanted the right to have lunch and a beer in the still male-only tavern. They came into the bar and were physically ejected onto the street by the male patrons! It took a court challenge to finally change the unwritten rule of “men only”. Not long ago, ago that you weren’t allowed to pick up your drinks and carry it to another table. If you wanted to move to another table, your waiter had to take your drinks over for you…

Many of the taverns still have the old “Ladies and Escorts” entrance, some still with their sign. Often, the “Ladies and Escorts” door was at the side or back of the building. The Elmdale often feels like you’ve travelled backwards in time.

The Elmdale House Tavern was purchased, updated, and reopened in 2007 and has become one of the most popular music venues in the city. It still retains its traditional tavern atmosphere, especially during the daytime, but it rocks at night! The owners have made a point of supporting local bands and music artists as well as some pretty big names from across Canada and the USA, especially Rockabilly, alt-Country, Rock and Roll, and alternative bands.

I don’t have too many photos of it when it is really hopping because I’ve tended to spend my time videotaping the shows.

Wanda Jackson and The Lustre Kings – “Funnel of Love”

I do have a lot of photos taken killing time waiting for the music to start… Most of these coins have the Queen facing the stage. They are, therefore, backwards!

Photo Hunt: Triangle

This weeks Photo Hunt theme is “Triangle”…

Since I haven’t been out and about recently (due to Mom’s having been sick last weekend as well as preparing for her 87th birthday party tomorrow) I am falling back on some old photos (pretty much as usual) but they are favourites.

Floating Heart (Nymphoides aquatica)

Although they grow in most temperate areas of North America and Asia, Trilliums are the official wildflower of Ontario. It is illegal to pick or dig up Trilliums in their wild state in federal and provincial parks (partly because doing so damages the plant and they were, at one time endangered in this province). It is absolutely illegal to pick “Nodding Trilliums” (I know I took some photos last spring of some Nodding Trilliums but can’t find them…). Trilliums are, however, available from nurseries so you can enjoy them in your own garden. They are one of the first wildflowers to be seen in spring and last only a week or so.

Red Trillium (Trillium erectum)

White Trillium (Trillium grandiflorum)

My kingdom for a muzzle…

On Tuesday, Mom and I had our appointment with the chiropractor, downtown. I dropped Mom off and then parked. I passed one of the usual panhandlers who have their spots in the area, a young man with his lovely Pitbull-mix. I cannot recall her name. I keep forgetting. She is the sweetest girl and while I am not a big DOG person and not a BIG dog person, there are many dogs who I get along with really well. This is one of those dogs. She is gentle and very laid back in her approach. She isn’t the sort of dog who jumps all over you she just sits and lets you pet her. She greets all the “regular” visitors to their spot quietly.

The young man told me that the day before, he had walked her through the Market area and a policeman had stopped him. He impounded the dog and he was forced to bail her out because she wasn’t wearing a muzzle. One of the women who works in the area drove him to the pound. He was issued a warning.

I was unaware that since 2005, Ontario has had a Pitbull ban. No dogs are to be bred and, while any dogs born prior to the law coming into effect are permitted, no younger dogs will be permitted. They have to be spayed or neutered, muzzled and on a leash no longer than 1/8 metres long.

  • Pit bull owners are required to ensure their pit bulls are in compliance with the amendments and regulations.
  • The full text of the regulations can be found on the e-laws website. The text below summarizes certain key elements of the regulations and is not authoritative.
  • By October 28, 2005, pit bull owners will have to have their pit bulls leashed and muzzled in public and comply with sterilization requirements.
  • The regulations stipulate that restricted pit bulls be muzzled and leashed unless the dogs are on their owners’ enclosed property or on enclosed property occupied by another person who consents to the pit bull being without a muzzle or leash.
  • Among other specific requirements, a leash may be a maximum of 1.8 metres long.
  • Muzzles should be humane, but strong enough and well-fitted enough to prevent the pit bull from biting, without interfering with the breathing, panting, or vision of the pit bull or with the pit bull’s ability to drink.
  • All pit bulls must be sterilized by October 28, 2005.
  • If this would require a pit bull to be sterilized before it reaches 36-weeks of age, the owner may wait until the dog reaches that age to have it sterilized.
  • There are limited exemptions to the sterilization requirement if, in the written opinion of a veterinarian, a pit bull is physically unfit to be anaesthetized because of old age or infirmity. See the regulations for further details.

So… okay. Dogs have to be muzzled. He can’t afford to buy a muzzle. So I said that I would buy him one for her. I went to PetSmart, the pet superstore chain. They don’t carry any muzzles except the mesh-type for smaller dogs. They sent me to Pet Valu, a smaller chain. They only carry the mesh and a sort of fabric one. Both are not the kind required for Pitbulls.

The Pet Valu DID have a single plastic/rubber “cage”-style muzzle. It was on sale because they are phasing them out. I got probably the last in the city. AND I don’t know if the thing will fit!

So… they have a law which owners are expected to comply with but then you can’t purchase the muzzle in order to comply!

I went down to the spot where the young man sits and he wasn’t there. I hope that he’s there tomorrow and that the muzzle fits and that it isn’t to late.


PhotoHunter: Free

This week’s PhotoHunter theme is “Free”.

For want of anything better, I will post some recent photos which have to do with the theme.

Recently, we rescued two turtles who were crossing the road and in danger of getting squashed. The first we released near a river after taking it for a drive in the car (and getting liberally peed on). The second I wasn’t going to mess with and just rolled it on its back and pushed it to the other side of the road. Snapping turtles are endangered and a protected species.

These are they and they were free to go…

(more on turtle rescue, below the photos)

Blanding's Turtle

Snapping turtle. Just about to flip it...

Last summer….

Painted turtle

Another look at the Blanding’s turtle.

Isn't he cute?

... not so cute....

A few things to remember about turtle rescue…

Firstly, many turtles are endangered and the ones that are not are becoming threatened by loss of habitat. Turtles often have to move across roads to get from one wet place to another, either for mating, for food, or because a pond has dried up or been drained for development.

Thousands of turtles are killed when crossing roads every summer, either when drivers don’t see them or by drivers who deliberately run them over. Accidentally running over a large Snapping Turtle can damage your car, as well, or cause a dangerous road situation. Deliberately killing or harming endangered turtles is illegal and if you see someone do it, you should report them.

It is usually illegal for you to remove wild turtles from their habitat and keep them as a pet. They are important to our ecosystems and should be left where they are whenever possible.

If it is injured, take it to a vet.

Moving turtles is relatively easy but you should always keep your own safety in mind. Be careful when you are standing on or crossing any roadway, especially when visibility is hampered by terrain or weather. If you have someone with you, have them watch for and alert traffic to slow down or stop.

Always make sure that you are putting the turtle on the side of the road that it was heading for and far enough off the road that it won’t try and go back the way it came from.

If you know there is water nearby, take the turtle there and release it near the water (not in it, in case you’ve mistaken a tortoise for a turtle or in case the turtle is injured. You don’t want to drown it!).

Always use caution when approaching a turtle if you aren’t familiar with the various species. Snappers are extremely fast and have a longer reach than you might give them credit for.

NEVER pick a turtle, even a Snapper, up by the tail. You can use the tail to flip a Snapper over but carrying one by the tail can damage the spine. As well, they are heavy and if you drop them, despite their having a thick shell, it can do some serious damage to the shell and it hurts the turtle.

Even if a turtle only breaks the skin if it bites you, the bite can be septic, especially the bites of Snappers. They are carnivores and scavengers. If you’ve ever smelled a Snapper, you’ll know you don’t want one clamping down on your hand…

Small turtles can be lifted and carried easily but watch for claws and jaws. It probably won’t hurt very much but if you are startled by them, you could drop them.

Snappers, if they are small enough can be picked up but you would be wise to wear gloves and, if possibly throw something over them, like a jacket or blanket, just to keep their beak away from you. They have an incredible reach.

Flipping them on their back and pushing them to the side of the road is a good method of dealing with Snappers. Remember to flip them over, again!. I used my car brush to push the last one off the road.

I have used a large piece of plywood to bulldoze a very large one off the road.

I have started carrying a “turtle kit” in the car…. Water (for re-hydrating them and for washing my hands after), heavy gloves, a piece of tarpaulin, and a light snow shovel for pushing them off the road.

Many states and provinces have methods of reporting on-line both rescues and people who have killed or injured turtles. Make a careful note of where you were, the habitat, the description of the turtle, any injuries, and where you released the turtle if you transported it. Get photos if you can. I use Google Maps to pinpoint locations and to obtain the longitude and latitude.

Since I spend many a summer day on the back roads, I have rescued a number of turtles, as well as other animals, including snakes and injured birds. Every animal saved helps make up for the millions that die on our roads every year.

Violence in the workplace

Recently, I have been thinking about the fact that many people in service and retail jobs regularly face harassment and violence from members of the public. I certainly did when I worked retail. In some cases, the management stepped up to the plate when incidents occurred. In many more cases, nothing was done to protect me or fellow employees. We didn’t know that the law protects employees from violence, even from the public and employers are REQUIRED to protect employees.

In my case, I was often subject to “customers” swearing at me, yelling, and, in one case,  a deranged and obviously violent young man stalking me.

In that latter case, a young man appeared in my department at Chapters on a daily basis from the first day after the store opened. The very first evening he was in my department, he was surly and rude. That evening, he spent the entire evening reading in the department and left a huge pile of magazines and books on the table where he had been sitting.

The next evening, when he came into the department, I was polite and suggested that he was free to read anywhere in the store but that if he was going to bring excessive amounts of reading material into the department, he should return it to where he got it or place it on a cart to be returned for him. He simply glared at me. When he left that evening, he left a huge stack of magazines (perhaps 50, under the cushion of the easy chair he had been sitting in. The cushion was about a foot off the seat…

The next night, I again asked him politely not to bring so much reading material into the department if he wasn’t going to return it. He just grunted but did return the magazines he had been reading.

Over the weeks, I was unfailingly polite be he grew increasingly surly, belligerent, and rude.

One day, one of the cabinets under the internet cafe that was in our department was broken into. A huge number of internet access cards were stolen.

Luckily, we were able to identify the range of card numbers which had been stolen and the numbers were blocked so that no one could use them. Some card number were missed but the bulk of them were invalidated.

As this young man sitting had never shown an interest in the internet and he was known to be homeless I was surprised to see him, the day after the theft, using the internet.

A day or so later, I noticed him at one of the internet terminals swiping card after card after card through the reader. He was getting increasingly agitated and angry as card after card proved invalid. When I walked by him, he had a large bag with stacks of internet cards in it.

I reported him to a manager and security. The security guard came up and under the pretext of monitoring him because he was swearing and being very loud. Eventually, he turned and screamed at the security guard and the guard was able to throw him out. He confiscated the cards (several thousand dollar’s worth). Unfortunately, since he was only cited for his behaviour and there was no way of proving he had actually stolen the cards (he claimed he had “found them” in the washroom) he was not “Trespassed” which would have barred him permanently and involved a police report.

Evidently, he blamed me for his being kicked out and thus began an almost daily appearance at the entrance of the department where he would glare at me, and act in a way that I felt was intimidating. I was seriously scared by him. Over the months and what became over two years, he became increasingly more dishevelled and more aggressive-looking. While he came in the store less regularly, I never knew WHEN he would appear. When he did, it would be in spates and for a number of days, he would stalk me through the store.

From the first day after his being kicked out when he reappeared, I called manager after manager and spoke to the manager in charge of personnel and was assured that “the next time he appeared, the police would be called and he would be trespassed. And yet, time after time, after time, when I called the manager on duty, often the same managers each time, they would say “I don’t know anything about that…”.

Each time I explained that he terrified me. He had told the security guard and several other employees that he had mental problems and had been arrested a number of times for “losing his temper”. He also told them he was an addict.

One day, the security guard approached me and said “Your friend was in today.”

I thought he actually meant a friend.

“No, I mean ‘XXXX’!”

He then told me that someone had reported seeing a man in the men’s washroom, cutting himself. The security guard had gone up to the washroom and watched him over the top of the stall as this guy cut himself with a large hunting knife and caught the blood in a plastic drink bottle and drank it. The guard had kicked him out. Didn’t call the police. Didn’t report it to the police. He had, however, mentioned it to a manager.

I was horrified and went to the store’s general manager and said that something had to be done. I was terrified of him and he had been in the store carrying a knife. Again, I was assured that if he appeared again, I was to call a manager, they would call the police, and he would be trespassed.

When he showed up a few months later, I called the duty manager and was told… Wait for it… “I don’t know anything about that.” and nothing was done.

This happened a couple more times but he appeared less frequently and finally stopped coming in. I was warily relieved.

One afternoon, just before I finally left Chapters, and after our department had been moved down from the mezzanine to the main floor, a customer came up and said that there was someone acting strangely and was exposing himself in front of the window that looked out onto George Street.

I called the “secret security code” which would bring security and management and rushed over to that section of the department and saw someone whose back was to me, standing in front of the window with his pants to his ankles. It appeared that he was just about to urinate on the window, in full view of customers and passers-by.

I was only a few feet from him when I yelled “Hey! Stop that!” He turned and I was face-to-face with my harasser! As he came at me, I ran and the management and security grabbed him.

Police were called and he was arrested (and FINALLY trespassed).

The fact is that in more than two years, nothing was done and it took an incident which involved a customer complain and not one from me to FINALLY have him removed permanently from the store.

It was by no means the only incident involving “customers” harassing, stalking, and threatening employees that went uninvestigated and in which employees finally quit because certain management felt that they didn’t want to risk losing a possible (and highly unlikely) sale. It took, in one case, a near mutiny by department managers to finally act on one stalker.

In another case, a man who regularly came into the store (as in every day) to study for his ESL. He seemed harmless enough but female staff felt uncomfortable with him. It wasn’t until he ran into me in the Rideau mall and started bothering me to go for a coffee with him that I began to see another side to him. I approached the employee manager told him what happened and he said that there was nothing he could do because it happened outside of the store. I felt, and I think rightly, that despite its happening outside of the store, it was enough to ask him not to come into the store any more, that other female employees felt bothered by his attentions and he wasn’t a “customer” in any sense of the word.

A few years later, I was called for jury duty and when they were picking the jury for the first case… a rape… he was the defendant. I wasn’t entirely surprised… but I was also worried I would be called and I would have to go up and state that I couldn’t serve on the jury as I was aware of the defendant and would be prejudiced against him. Thankfully, I wasn’t called for that case but was for the next.

I should say that whenever there was a clearly violent incident, the management DID act. They acted when racial slurs were used against employees (in one case by another employee and in a number of cases by “customers”). One employee was spat on and kicked by someone who had been several times told that he was not permitted to used kiosk phones (the day before the incident by me). This man was held until police arrived and charged with assault.

What I didn’t know and what was not ever communicated to me was that employers have a clear responsibility to protect their staff from harm whether from other staff members or from members of the public. Had I known what I now know, I would have had the ability to force the management to protect me from both the clearly deranged and violent young stalker and the one who tried to ask me out for coffee.

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