Thursday, July 26, 2012

Burlington, Ontario ... Part I

 Seven days I was out of country…visiting American friends.
 When I returned  Wed. evening, crossing the Burlington Bay Skyway Bridge,
I was enamoured with the panoramic view of my city nestled along the shore of
Lake Ontario.  Exiting to Northshore Boulevard, I drove along Lakeshore Road
adjacent to the lake. Its shops, its outdoor cafes with tables and “sunbrellas”,
the locals enjoying the beauty of Spencer Smith Park, its weeping willow trees,
refreshing lake breeze and vast ocean like waters…all captured my attention. 
The traffic people and vehicles  meandered the Lakefront…
reminded me of driving through a resort town many years ago...Lake Placid!

In February, 2012, I posted on my blog…My Homeland…The Golden Triangle.
This is My Canada…My Ontario…My Escarpment Country…My City of
Burlington…which I introduce to you…a place where I have lived since 1968.
Located at the western end of Lake Ontario and adjacent to Burlington Bay,
our current population is approximately 176,000.

Derivation of Its Name

Burlington evolved from a small village
into a bustling city that continues to grow.
Today, it boasts a  population of approximately 175,000.
Aboriginal peoples were the first inhabitants of the area. 
The clear water and sandy shores of the bay 
inspired them to call this shimmering body of water
 Lake Macassa which means “beautiful waters.”

Early Explorers and European Settlers

                               One of the first European explorers travelling through the area
                               was Robert La Salle who camped in the vicinity in 1969...
                               now known as La Salle Park.

                               Years later, the first European settlers began to arrive.
                               They referred to the vast lake as Lake Geneva
                               Many of the settlers were United Empire Loyalists ~
                               North American settlers who remained loyal
                               to the British monarchy who emigrated from US.

                               The Lake Geneva area was once again renamed
                               by the Governor General of Upper Canada ~
                               John Graves Simcoe...who when he first set
                               on the bay, was reminded of his hometown near
                               Bridlington Bay. He altered the name slightly
                               and renamed it...Burlington Bay.

Shapings of Burlington

When Joseph Brant received a land grant in 1784, he chose a prime site
overlooking Lake Geneva, Lake Ontario and the Beach Strip.  As a United Empire
Loyalist and a captain in the British in the British army, Brant received 3,450 acres ~
3,000 for himself, 50 for his wife and 50 for each of his eight children. 
The tract of land on the lakeshore became known as Brant's Block.
On the property's most scenic spot, Brant built a house of cedar logs covered with
white frame siding.  A replica of the house, which is now the Joseph Brant Museum
sits adjacent to the Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital.

Since Brant was perpetually in need of money, from time to time he sold lots
within the block. In 1803 he sold 200 acres to Nicholas Kern, and the next year
 he sold 205.5 acres to Thomas Ghent.  In 1806 lots were sold to Michael Grote
and Ebeneezer Guise.

After Brant died in 1807, his friend, James Gage of Stoney Creek purchased
338.5 acres from the estate.  On this land he laid out a town site.  The land
remained undeveloped until 1820 when he began to transfer lots to his sons.

In 1806 part of Nelson Township was purchased from the Mississauga Indians.
This land extended from the lake to two concessions north of Dundas Street
(Hwy. 5).  The land was further surveyed in 1817 extending to Derry Road.

All of this land was eagerly sought after by settlers because it was so
conveniently located near Lake Ontario.  Settlers farming this land needed
access to markets and two main roads...Brant Street and Guelph Line...
to give them easy routes to the lake.  At the bottom of these roads, docks and
warehouses sprung up and these sites became regular stopping places for
lake schooners.

Until the official opening of the Burlington Canal in 1832, the village of
Wellington Square, at the foot of Brant Street, was a more important port
than Hamilton.  At times, there was a congestion on both Brant Street
and Guelph Line with wagons lined up to Middle Road waiting to deliver
their grain and other products to the docks.

In 1844 almost 11,000 barrels of flour were shipped from the Square.
During the Crimean War (1853-56) vast quantities of grain were sent
overseas.  After the war, the demand for grain dropped sharply.  This,
combined with a series of poor harvests, caused a slump in grain business.

Gradually, the lumber industry became more important at Wellington
Square. As the demand for wood increased with the arrival of steamships
and steam-powered locomotives, lumber wagons replaced the grain wagons
in the lineups to the lake.

In the nineteenth century no one thought of conserving natural resources
as they seemed limitless.  When all the best lumber was gone, the lumber
industry ground to a halt. With the forest denuded and the advent of
larger lake ships that were unable to dock in shallow water, the piers
along the waterfront gradually fell into disuse and finally disappeared.

Fortunately the Ice Age had left a legacy of fertile soil on the plains
around Lake Ontario and, as the century drew to a close, the Burlington
area became famous for its market gardens and orchards.

In 1873, the villages of Wellington Square and Port Nelson petitioned
the government  for incorporation as the Village of Burlington.  The
foundation was laid for the development of today's modern city.

(The foregoing gleaned from...The Burlington Historical Society)

Pearl of Wisdom”
New history is formed every day.
Sometimes you have to put the old history behind you.
(Iris Johansen…from her novel, Stalemate)

Merle Baird-Kerr . . .composed April 24, 2012
Comments welcome … scroll down (may sign in as “anonymous”)

Monday, July 16, 2012 My Name

My family fed, guided and nourished me to become admired, not only by them
...also by relatives, friends and neighbours.  I grew tall and stately and beautiful
...always envied by many!  Many siblings I had, who matured beside me.
Together we were a “mosaic” of loveliness.

My Mother named me synonymous with ...”a beautiful girl with an amazing
sense of humour, good taste in music and movies.  She's really faithful.”
Veronica is derived from Latin meaning “true image”.  It is also a Biblical
name from Jesus' time...which was most appropriately inspired by my
mother's spiritual soul.

Born on a farm, I was tenderly raised ~ my image bloomed from summer to
frost, but in winter I was closeted  away in the basement...there to “rest and
hibernate”.  During my growing season and over winter, I “multiplied”
so that when the frozen ground became moist, I was separated from my
cluster...and replanted in deep 12 to 14 inch depth of rich soil...there to
become more Veronicas personified!  I was an ugly-looking-Dahlia-bulb
that became a symbol of beauty for my Mother's gorgeous garden!

The gardens, not only exemplified colour and beauty, the dahlia bulbs
were a source of income during “depression years”.  Her bulbs were
healthy, the flowers of dramatic significance.  For many years, her
dahlias won prizes at local fall fairs.  Each summer  the neighbours,
came, the friends came and  unknowns would drive in  by  horse and buggy
(or car if owned)  to admire her flamboyant dahlias.  “What is your secret,
Edna?” they would ask.

Dahlias are classified by The American Dahlia Society in US and Canada
and by The National Dahlia Society in the UK.  Dahlias bloom over a long
season and require minimal staking.  They have stunning forms...and colours
of yellow, purple, burgundy, pink, white and blends. Giant blooms of 10 to
12 inches are common; however smaller blooms will develop earlier, quicker
and oftener.  Tall dahlias are frequently planted in long straight rows  for
impressive effect; the smaller ones mingled with other plants as borders.
Each variation of dahlia is a beauty!  The petals can be spikey, wispy or
round...colours vary from numerous solids to painted mixtures of 3 colours.

Each fall, the whole community  attended Cemetery Day (later called
Decoration Day) to lay wreathes at graves of loved ones that once were.
My Mother, being of artistic nature, would assemble her flowers ~
dahlias, gladioli, snapdragons, marigolds, etc. arranged on asparagus
greenery and tied together with colour co-ordinated ribbons. 
This was a yearly gathering event where hundreds met to pay recognition
and chat with many they knew from the neighbourhood.

Generously, if requested, Mother created wreathes for no cost. 
In return, they gave her home baked pies, batches of freshly baked cookies,
preserves or freshly made jam.

When visiting neighbours, friends or relatives for dinner, it was “a certain”
she'd bring a bouquet of roses, larkspur or dahlias...and of course,
there was a “Veronica” among them...greatly treasured!

Here's a Truth:  Dahlias are truly the “love flowers”,
because the more flowers you cut and give away,
the more flowers  the dahlia produces for you.!

Pearl of Wisdom
Live in the rose gardens of life;
live fully and live well
and do not fear the thorns.
(Iris Johansen from her novel

Merle Baird-Kerr … written July 16, 2012
Comments appreciated...scroll down (may sign in as “anonymous”)

Postscript:  I often wonder why rarely (if ever)
we see dahlias in flower shoppes.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

People Humour

 Don't Talk to my Parrot

A woman's dishwasher  quit working, so she called in a repairman. 
Since she had to go to work the next day, she told the repairman she'd leave the key
under the mat. “Fix the dishwasher, leave the bill on the counter and
I'll mail you a cheque. Oh, by the way, don't worry about my dog, Spike.
He won't bother you. But, whatever  you do, do NOT, under any circumstances,
talk to my parrot!
I must stress to you...DO NOT SPEAK TO MY PARROT!!!”

When the repairman arrived at Wanda's home the following day, he discovered
the biggest, meanest looking bull dog he had ever seen.  But, just a she had  said,
the dog just lay there on the carpet watching the repairman go about his work.

 The parrot, however, drove him “nuts” the whole time with his messages...
yelling...cursing...and name calling.  Finally the repairman couldn't contain
himself any longer and shouted, “SHUT UP, YOU STUPID UGLY BIRD...
to which the parrot replied, 'GET HIM SPIKE!”
(Men just don't Listen!!!)

Newfoundland Wisdom

Bruce went to a psychiatrist.  “I've got problems.  Every time I go to bed, I think
there's somebody under it.  I'm scared.  I think I'm going crazy.”

“Just put yourself in my hands for one year,” said the shrink.  “Come talk with
me three times a week and we should be able to get rid of those fears.”

“How much do  you charge?” asked Bruce.  “Eighty dollars a visit,” quoted
the doctor.  “I'll sleep on it,” said Bruce.  Six months went by.

Later the doctor met him on the street.  “Why didn't you come to see me, Bruce,
about those fears  you were having?” asked the psychiatrist.

“Well, eighty bucks  a visit three times a week for a whole year is an awful lot
of money!” answered Bruce.  “A Newfoundland buddy cured me for $10 and
a 12-pack.  He's an entrepreneur...knowing how to create, amend and fix things.
I was so happy saving all that money that I went and bought a new pickup.”

“Is that so?  And how, may I ask, did a Newfoundlander cure you?” the shrink asked.

“He told me to cut the legs off the bed ~ ain't nobody under there now!”

Priceless Insurance

A man and his wife moved back home to Newfoundland from Toronto.  The wife
had a wooden leg and to insure it in Ontario was $2,000 per year.  The leg needed
to be replaced due to a major crack in it. When they arrived in Newfoundland,
they went to an insurance agency to see how much it would cost to insure her
wooden leg.  The agent checked on the computer and said to the couple,
“$39.00.”  The husband was shocked and asked why it was so cheap here in
Newfoundland to insure here it because it cost $2,000 in Ontario.

The agent turned his computer screen to the couple and said, “Well, it's on
the computer screen and says, 'Any wooden  structure with a sprinkler
system over it is $39.00” 

“I always did find  the Newfoundland logic
far superior to most  others,” stated the agent.

Keep on Truckin'

A fire starts inside a chemical plant and the alarm goes out to the fire departments
for miles around.  After crews have been fighting the fire for more than  an hour,
the company president approaches the fire chief and says, “All our secret
formulas are in the vault in the center of the plant. They must be saved, and I
will give $100,000 to the engine crew that brings them out. Several crews try,
but none can get through.

Suddenly, a hook and ladder filled with a volunteer squad of men over 65 years,
comes roaring down the road and drives straight into the middle of the inferno.
The other firefighters watch unbelieving, as the old timers hop off their rig and
heroically extinguish the fire, saving the secret formula. The company president
beams as he walks over to reward the volunteers.

“What do you guys plan to do with the money?” he asks after he writes them out
a cheque.  The old guy who drove the engine looks him in the eye and answers,
“The first thing we are going to do is fix the g.. d... brakes on that truck!”

Blind Dog

A blind man is walking down the street with  his seeing-eye-dog.  They come to
a busy intersection, and the dog, ignoring the high volume of traffic zooming by
on the street, leads the man right out into the thick of traffic.

This is followed by a screech of tires and horns blaring as panicked drivers try
desperately not the run the pair down.

The blind man and the dog  finally reach the safety of the sidewalk on the other
side of the street...and the blind man pulls a cookie out of his coat pocket which
he offers to the dog.

A passerby, having observed the near fatal incident, can't control his amazement
and says to the blind man, “Why on earth are  you rewarding your dog with a
cookie?  He nearly got you killed!”

The blind man turns partially in his direction and replies, “To find where his head
is, so I can kick his butt!”

“Pearl of Wisdom”
If a man doesn't make a fool of himself now and again,
he's not living.
(from a novel by Nora Roberts)

Merle Baird-Kerr . . . written May 4, 2012
Comments welcome … scroll down (may sign is as “anonymous”)
or e-mail …

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Tribute to USA

For many years, Canada and United States have had  friendly borders,
sincere understandings and respect for the principles and mandates
of each country.  It is my observation, however, that Canadians
know more about our American counterpart than they do about us...
(perhaps because of our extensive travel in US).

A US citizen states, “We are those who live in neighbourhoods and towns who try to
help neighbours who take pride in our country and its ideals and who do our best
every day to maintain the dreams and visions of our forefathers.
We contribute to the world.”

The below transcript of Gordon Sinclair's broadcast June 5, 1973, is as valid today
as yesterday when written and presented.  Gordon Sinclair (from Toronto, Ontario)
was a Canadian television commentator.  What follows is the full text of his
trenchant remarks as printed in the Congressional Record.

Tribute to the United States of America

America...the Good Neighbour!

This Canadian thinks it is time to speak up for the Americans as the most generous
and possibly the least appreciated people on all the earth.  Germany, Japan and,
to a lesser extent, Britain and Italy, were lifted out of the debris of war by the
Americans who poured in billions of dollars and forgave other billions in debts.
None of these countries is today paying  even the interest on its remaining debts
to the United States.

When France was in danger of collapsing in 1956, it was the Americans who
propped it up, and their reward was to be insulted and swindled on the streets
of Paris.  I was there.  I saw it.

When earthquakes hit distant cities, it is the United States that hurries in to
help.  This spring, 59 American communities were flattened by tornadoes.
Nobody helped!  The Marshall Plan and the Truman Policy pumped
billions  of dollars into discouraged countries.  Now newspapers  in those
countries are writing about the decadent warmongering Americans.
I'd like to see just one of those countries that is gloating over the erosion
of the United States' dollar build its own airplane.  Does any other
country in the world have a plane to equal the Boeing Jumbo Jet,
the Lockheed Tri-Star or the Douglas DC10?  If so, why don't they
fly them?  Why do all the International lines, except Russia fly
American Planes?

Why does no other land on earth even consider putting a man or woman
on the moon? You talk about Japanese technocracy, and you get radios.
You talk about German technocracy and you get automobiles.  You talk
about American technocracy and you find men on the moon … not once,
but several times and safely home again.

You talk about scandals, and the Americans put theirs right in the store window
for everybody to look at.  Even their draft-dodgers are not pursued and hounded.
They are here on our streets, and most of them, unless they are breaking
Canadian laws, are getting American dollars from ma and pa at home to
spend here.

When the railways of France, Germany and India were breaking down through
age, it was the Americans who rebuilt them.  When the Pennsylvania Railroad
 and the New York  Central went broke … nobody loaned them an old caboose.
Both are still broke.

I can name you 5,000 times when Americans raced to the help of other
people in trouble.  Can you name me even one time when someone else
raced to the Americans in trouble?  I don't think there was outside help
even during the San Francisco earthquake.  Our neighbours have faced it
alone … and I am one Canadian who is damned tired of hearing them
get kicked around.

They will come out of this thing with their flag high.  And when they do,
they are entitled to thumb their nose at the lands that are gloating over
their present troubles.  I hope Canada is not one of them.

Stand Proud, America!

          Postscript:  Gordon Sinclair passed away in1984, but he will long
          be remembered on both sides of the United States – Canadian border
          for his contributions to journalism and for his loudly proclaiming
          a friendship that few at the time were willing to embrace.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

“Pearl of Wisdom”
The world suffers a lot...
  not because of the violence of bad people,
but because of the silence of good people.

Merle Baird-Kerr . . . written June 18, 2012
Comments welcome … scroll down (may sign in as “anonymous”)
or e-mail …

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Proud to be an American!

Vietnamese Immigrant

Quang Nguyen was asked to speak on  his experience
of coming to America and what it means. 
He spoke the following in dedication to all Vietnam Veterans. 
All Americans should enjoy reading what he has to say...

Thirty five years  ago, if  you were to tell me that I am going to stand up here
speaking to a couple thousand patriots, in English, I'd laugh at you.

Man, every morning I wake up thanking God for putting me and my family
in the greatest country on earth.  I just want you all to know that the
“American Dream” does exist...and I am living the American Dream!
I was asked to speak to you about my experience as a first generation
Vietnamese-American, but I'd rather speak to you as an American.

If you hadn't noticed, I am not white and I feel pretty comfortable
with my people.

I am a proud US citizen and here is my proof.  It took me 8 years to get it,
waiting in endless lines, but I got it and I am very proud of it.

I still remember the images of the Tet offensive in 1968...I was six
years old.  Now you might want to question how a 6-year-old boy
could remember anything.  I can't even imagine what it was like
for young American soldiers...10,000 miles away from home,
fighting on my behalf.

Thirty-five years ago, I left South Vietnam for political asylum.
The war had ended.  At the age of 13, I left with the understanding
that I may or may not ever get to see my siblings or parents again.
I was one of the first lucky 100,000 Vietnamese allowed to come
to the US.  Somehow, my family and I were reunited 5 months later,
amazingly, in California.  It was a miracle from God.

If  you haven't heard lately that this is the greatest country on earth,
I am telling you that right now.  It was the freedom and the opportunities
presented to me that put me here with all of you tonight.  I also
remember the barriers that I had to overcome every step of the way.
My high school counselor told me that I cannot make it to college
due to my poor communication skills.  I proved him wrong.
I finished college.  You see, all you have to do is to give this little
boy an opportunity and encourage him to take and run with it.
Well...I took the opportunity and here I am.

This person standing tonight in front of you could not exist under
a socialist/communist  environment.  By the way, if you think
“socialism” is the way to go, I am sure many people here will chip in
to get  you a one-way ticket out of here.  And if you didn't know,
the only difference between “ socialism” and “communism” is an
AK-47 aimed at your head.  That was my experience.

In 1982, I stood with a thousand new immigrants,
reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and listening
to the National Anthem for the first time as an American! 
To this day, I can't remember anything sweeter
 and more patriotic than that moment in my life.

Fast forwarding, somehow I finished high school, finished college, and like
any other goofball 21-year old kid, I was having a great time with my life.
I had a nice job and a nice apartment in Southern  California.  In some way
and somehow, I had forgotten how I  got here...and why I was here.

One day I was at a gas station, I saw a veteran pumping gas on the other
side of the island. I don't know what made me do it, but I walked over and
asked him if he had served in Vietnam.  He smiled and said, “Yes.” 
I shook and held his hand.  The grown man began to well up.  I walked
away as fast as I could and at that very moment, I was emotionally
rocked.  This was a profound moment in my life.  I knew something
had to change my life.  It was time for me to learn how to be a good
citizen.  It was time for me to give back.

You see, America is not a place on the isn't a physical location.
It is an ideal...a concept.  And if  you are an American, you must
understand the concept; you must buy into this concept; and most have to fight  and defend this concept.
This is about Freedom and not free stuff.
And that is why I am standing up here.

Brothers and sisters, to be  a real American, the very least you must do
is to learn English and understand it well.  In my humble opinion,
you cannot be a faithful patriotic citizen if you can't speak the language
of the country you live in.  Take this document of 46 pages...
last I looked on the Internet, there wasn't a Vietnamese translation
of the US Constitution.  It took me a long time to get to the point of
being able to converse and until this day, I still struggle to come up
with the right words.  It's not easy, but if it's too easy...
it's not worth doing!

Before I knew this 46-page document, I learned of the 500,000
Americans who fought for this little boy.  I learned of the 58,000
names scribed on the black wall at the Vietnamese Memorial.
 You are my heroes!  You are my founders!

At this time, I would like to ask all the Vietnam Veterans to please stand.
I thank you for my life.  I thank you for all your sacrifices and I thank you
for giving me the freedom and liberty I have today.

I now ask all veterans, firefighters and police officers
to please stand. I thank you for your services and may
God bless you all!

Quang Nguyen
Creative Director/Founder
Caddis Advertising, LLC

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Notice that he referred to himself as an American,
NOT Vietnamese-American

How good it would be here in America if all of the immigrants, EVERYONE ~ felt like Quang Nguyen.

With gracious thanks to an American friend
(a World War II  Veteran)
who sent me this significant article.

A previous reader commented...
This should be required reading in our schools today.

“Pearl of Wisdom”
We must learn to live together like brothers
or we will perish together as fools.
(Martin Luther King)

Merle Baird-Kerr . . . written June 17, 2012
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or e-mail …

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Month of July

 It was originally known as Quintilis.
When Julius Caesar updated the Roman calendar,
he renamed this month after his own name.

There are numerous legends and myths about Birthstone healing powers and their
therapeutic influence.  According to these legends, wearing a gemstone during its
assigned month heightened healing powers.  For the full effect, individuals needed
to own all twelve and alternate them monthly.

Birthstone ~ Ruby
Flowers ~ Larkspur and Water Lily

Noteworthy Days

July 1 ~ Canada Day … celebrates the British North America Act  (July 1, 1867)
which united Canada  as a single country of  four provinces...Ontario, Quebec,
New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. This Act stated that Canada would  become
an independent dominion (territory) of England which is why Canada Day
was originally called  Dominion Day...and our country The Dominion of Canada.

July 4 ~ Independence Day … is an extremely patriotic holiday,
celebrating the independence of the United States of America. The Declaration
of Independence on July 4, 1776 declared independence of the Thirteen Colonies
 from the Kingdom of Great  Britain.

New England:         Province of New Hampshire
                               Province of Massachusetts...and later Maine
                               Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations and
                               Connecticut Colony
Middle Colonies:     Province of New York...and later Vermont
                               Province of New Jersey
                               Province of Pennsylvania
                               Deleware Colony
Southern Colonies:   Province of Maryland
                               Colony of Dominion of Virginia...later Kentucky
                               and West Virginia
                               Province of North Carolina...and later Tennessee
                               Province of South Carolina
                               Province of Georgia

July 20 ~ Ramadan Begins …and ends August 17 in North America,
South America and in Europe.

July 22 ~ Parents' Day … is celebrated in United States on the 4th Sunday
of July each year recognizing and promoting the role parents play in children's
lives as a crucial part of families and the wider community.

July Musings

Summer is the time when one sheds one's tensions
with one's clothes...and the right kind of day
is jeweled balm for the battered spirit.
A few of those days and you can become drunk
with the belief...that all's right with the world.
(Ada Louise Hauxtable)

Summer is the stuff of dreams. When adults sit at their desks and children sit in
school, they dream of summer...and all its warm sunny days.
It is a time of gently falling rain on golf greens...oft' cooling high temperatures.
It is a time of possible thunder and lightning…later compensated, perhaps by a
gorgeous rainbow..arcing from heaven to earth. 
It is a time for holidays…camping, swimming, beaches and zip lines.
Summer is the time of infinite fun.
The day seems to last forever and the fun never stops. It is a time of romance,
excitement and an enhanced enjoyment of life.  Somehow summer never seems
to last long enough. Often, it is over…before we can fully experience its power.
                              This is true of all things wonderful!  They always seem too short.
                                                             (modified from Family Friend Poems)

Pearl of Wisdom

                                                                      Rain is refreshing.
                                                                      Wind braces us up.
                                                                      Snow is exhilarating.
                                                  There is really no such thing as bad weather ~
                                                           only different kinds of good weather.
                                                                            (John Ruskin)

Merle Baird-Kerr … written June 14, 2012
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