Thursday, 5 December 2019

Another New Tattoo


This afternoon I went to Black Line Studio on King  Street W by Portland for a new tattoo. I was having this one done to honour my mom, who passed away recently, and my dad who passed away in 1971.

My mom was a huge bingo fan and player and she won the last time she played bingo before she passed away.  I decided to have her birth date, October 7, 1927, placed on a series of bingo balls. My father fought in WWII and I still have his dog tags, which I wanted incorporated into the design.

Lorena was my tattoo artist and did a great job with the design. I knew she would as she also did the tattoo on my arm in the spring.


The Black Line Studio reception area.


Lorena's office where the magic happens.


Her design.


Two hours later we (she) was done. Here we are together afterwards.


Chest tattoos are not the easiest to get. Lorena not only did a fabulous job on my ink but also made sure I was fine and comfortable while she worked. As she has ink of her own, she could sympathize with what I was feeling. I liked how she kept reminding me to breath as I have a tendency to hold my breath in these situations.

I look forward to having her do my next tattoo, which will be on my bicep, in January. She's a nice person and a great artist.

Thanks Lorena!

Monday, 2 December 2019

The Missing Millionaire: The True Story of Ambrose Small and the City Obsessed With Finding Him by Katie Daubs

I heard about the mystery of Ambrose Small a few years ago so was pleased when Katie Daubs came out with The Missing Millionaire.

In December 1919, Ambrose Small, the mercurial owner of the Grand Opera House in Toronto, closed a deal to sell his network of Ontario theatres, deposited a million-dollar cheque in his bank account, and was never seen again. As weeks turned to years, the disappearance became the most "extraordinary unsolved mystery" of its time. Everything about the sensational case would be called into question in the decades to come, including the motivations of his inner circle, his enemies, and the police who followed the trail across the continent, looking for answers in asylums, theatres, and the Pacific Northwest. 

 In The Missing Millionaire, Katie Daubs tells the story of the Small mystery, weaving together a gripping narrative with the social and cultural history of a city undergoing immense change. Daubs examines the characters who were connected to the case as the century carried on...

Drawing on extensive research, newly discovered archival material, and her own interviews with the descendants of key figures, Katie Daubs offers a rich portrait of life in an evolving city in the early twentieth century. Delving into a crime story about the power of the elite, she vividly recounts the page-turning tale of a cold case that is truly stranger than fiction.

It's a fascinating mystery and well laid out by Daubs. Many theories are presented, facts provided, evidence disproved and in the end, one has to come up with their own ideas of what happened. There are some romantic ideas of what happened to Small and many gruesome ways. 

After reading this book, I have my own theory but won't say what it is so you can read it and determined what happened for yourself. 

About Katie Daubs

Katie Daubs is a feature writer at the Toronto Star, where she has worked since 2009. She was previously a general assignment news reporter. 

Before joining the Star, she worked at the Ottawa Citizen. A graduate of Carleton University, she won a William Southam Journalism Fellowship in 2016 and has been nominated for three National Newspaper Awards. Born in Forest, Ontario, she lives in Toronto. This is her first book.

Tuesday, 26 November 2019

Under the Cold Bright Lights by Garry Disher

Rarely do I finish a book in just two days but that's what happened with Under the Cold Bright Lights by Australian writer, Gary Disher.

The young detectives call Alan Auhl a retread, but that doesn’t faze him. He does things his own way—and gets results.

He still lives with his ex-wife, off and on, in a big house full of random boarders and hard-luck stories. And he’s still a cop, even though he retired from Homicide some years ago.

He works cold cases now. Like the death of John Elphick—his daughters still convinced he was murdered, the coroner not so sure. Or the skeleton that’s just been found under a concrete slab. Or the doctor who killed two wives and a girlfriend, and left no evidence at all.

Auhl will stick with these cases until justice is done. One way or another.

The book was entertaining with an older detective, Alan Auhl, working three cases at the same time. Two are cold cases, one happens to be new, plus he is dealing with some tough issues at home.

I will say reading a book written by an Australian writer, caused me to go to the good old "Google machine" to look up some terms. Just so you know, a "ute" is a what utility vehicle in Australia and a "roo bar"is a bar or series of bars attached to the front of a vehicle, usually a ute, to protect it from collisions with kangaroos.

Despite the fact, Auhl works cold cases, the book is fast paced. It was an enjoyable read and I look forward to reading others by this author.

Monday, 11 November 2019

2019 Remembrance Day Service at Fort York National Historic Site


Despite to poor weather, cold and snow, I was pleased to see a large gathering showed up for Remembrance Day Service at Fort York National Historic Site. I feel it's important to attend to honour those who sacrificed their lives for our country, those who have served and those who are currently serving.

Fort York National Historic Site and the Toronto Municipal Chapter IODE are proud to present one of the city's most evocative Remembrance Day services. It unfolds at the Strachan Avenue Military Burial Ground on Garrison Common. At 10:45 from the west gate of the fort, a procession led by period-uniformed staff and standard bearers of the Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire will make its way to the old cemetery (at the west end of the Common) where the public will gather. There, at the eleventh hour, all soldiers of the Toronto Garrison who fell in the defence of Canada, here and around the world, from 1812 to the present, will be remembered and honoured.


Richard Haynes from the Fort York National Historic Site gave opening remakes and officiated.


Trumpeter Robert Divito played O Canada, performed the Last Post and played God Save the Queen. We sang along to the two national anthems.


The Reverend Jan Hiemonga gave prayers and readings.


It wasn't listed in the program but this lady performed the Lament after the two minutes of silence.


The laying of the wreaths. After the service and the procession has left, people in the crowd converge on the wreaths to pin their own poppies to one.


It's always a well done moving service which lasts about 40 minutes. Despite the weather, I'm glad that I and the others all attended.


Wednesday, 23 October 2019

The New Garrison Crossing


Today I went for a walk which took me over the new Garrison Crossing which opened on October 1 of this year. The crossing consists of two bridges with a park in the middle. The bridges allow access to the park at Garrison Common, outside of Fort York from Wellington St West, over the rail tracks which split just to the east of them. Below shows the original plans.


The park on the north side is not yet properly sodded. It will be in the spring. Both sides have this sign to welcome people.


The 52 meter long, northern bridge.


The view from the northern bridge looking west to Strachan and directly below is is the view from Strachan to the bridge.


Looking towards the city.


The park in the middle of the triangle. It's still being developed.


The view from the park.


The view to the city from the middle of the 49 meter long southern bridge.


The ramp to the park. There is also a lookout towards the city but was blocked as it was being worked on.


The view from Strachan to the southern bridge.


I'm looking forward to the parks in the north and middle being finished. It'll be a beautiful place to visit.

Saturday, 19 October 2019

Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese

I have been meaning to read Richard Wagamese's book Indian Horse for some time. Finally I picked it up and read it. I'm glad I did. Its a remarkable tale.

With compassion and insight, author Richard Wagamese traces through his fictional characters the decline of a culture and a cultural way. For Saul, taken forcibly from the land and his family when he’s sent to residential school, salvation comes for a while through his incredible gifts as a hockey player. But in the harsh realities of 1960s Canada, he battles obdurate racism and the spirit-destroying effects of cultural alienation and displacement. Indian Horse unfolds against the bleak loveliness of northern Ontario, all rock, marsh, bog and cedar. Wagamese writes with a spare beauty, penetrating the heart of a remarkable Ojibway man.

The story had me totally involved. I was pulling for Saul Indian Horse all the way through, suffering through his down times and cheering him on during the good. This definitely is not a sport or hockey tale but the life of an Objibway man.

Indian Horse is now a movie which I declined to see until I read the book. There's no way the movie will be able to stand up to the power of the book but I'm sure, if done well, it could capture much of it's essence.

Personally, I feel this should be mandatory reading in all Canadian schools.


Richard Wagamese (1955–2017), an Ojibway from the Wabaseemoong First Nation in northwestern Ontario, was recognized as one of Canada's foremost First Nations authors and storytellers.


His debut novel, Keeper 'n Me, came out in 1994 and won the Alberta Writers Guild's Best Novel Award. In 1991, he became the first Indigenous writer to win a National Newspaper Award for column writing. He twice won the Native American Press Association Award for his journalism and received the George Ryga Award for Social Awareness in Literature for his 2011 memoir One Story, One Song.

In 2012, he was honoured with the Aboriginal Achievement Award for Media and Communications, and in 2013 he received the Canada Council for the Arts Molson Prize. In 2015, he won the Matt Cohen Award, a recognition given out by the Writers' Trust of Canada that honours writers who have dedicated their entire professional lives to the pursuit of writing. In total, he authored fifteen books including Indian Horse (2012), the 2013 People's Choice winner in CBC's Canada Reads competition, and his final book, a collection of Ojibway meditations, Embers (2016), received the Bill Duthie Booksellers' Choice Award.

Sunday, 13 October 2019

Live Theatre - A Streetcar Named Desire

 This afternoon Teena and I saw A Streetcar Named Desire at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts in Toronto's Distillery District.

As Blanche’s fragile world crumbles, she turns to her sister for solace – but her downward spiral brings her face to face with a brutal, unforgiving reality. Tennessee Williams’ timeless masterpiece is a raging portrayal of what it means to be an outsider, in a society where we’re all desperate to belong.

It was interesting for us going in as neither of us had seen the movie. Except for the short piece above, we knew nothing about the plot but for that famous line, "STELLA!", who I originally thought the story would be focused on.

Instead the story is of the interactions of Blanche who comes to live with her sister, Stella, and her husband, Stanley, in a run down part of New Orleans, after losing the family estate. Blanche portrays herself as a fine southern belle, who is superior to the folk living in Stella and Stanley's neighbourhood and as a result is at constant odds and fights with Stanley, son of Polish immigrants. Stella has left the refined part of her life behind but lives a fiery life with her husband and feels protective towards her sister.

It was incredible. The play runs three hours plus the intermission but sure doesn't feel it. I was immediately involved in what was happening before me and trying to figure how it might all end. It's tense, broken in parts by moments of humour and powerful.

The Tennessee Williams play, which won a Pulitzer Prize, had its original opening on Broadway back in 1947 but every minute of it stands up today. Teena and I were discussing the play afterwards and came to the conclusion there were no weak actors in the production, especially in the major parts. Leah Doz as Stella, Amy Rutherford, easily with the most lines in the production, her character, Blanche, being the long winded type, and  Mac Fyfe as Stanley, all could not have been better. The minor roles were all well performed.

The set was well-laid out and imaginative. The music and outside action were all well-done.

I highly recommend this play. Teena and I are looking forward to seeing the 1951 movie of the play which I suspect will have many parts of the stage production toned down.