Speaking without notes

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This morning in the Senate of Canada the new Governor General, H.E. the Right Honourable Julie Payette spoke for about 15 minutes in French, English and Algonquin without notes on what would mark her mandate. It was very impressive to watch, I have never seen that before. The Chiefs of the First Nations in the Senate were delighted by her address to them in their own language, certainly a first. In her speech she made an impassioned appeal for Canadians to tackle “serious and pressing global issues like climate change, migration, nuclear proliferation, poverty and population growth.

Also today her new Personal Coat of Arms was unveiled, this is a gift from the Sovereign Queen Elizabeth II.

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You see the musical score at the top it is from music of Alessandro Marcello, you can hear it below. Payette is a very musical person. She often sings in choirs and loves baroque music. She has been associated with Tafelmusik and they played at her investiture today.

The shield has an Astronaut’s helmet at the top for her former profession. Two Canadian Lynx, an elusive animal support the shield, the wing is her aspiration to always do better and the Crown is the symbol of her Vice-Regal function. The motto surrounding the shield is taken from the Order of Canada. Her own personal motto appears at the bottom

Through hardship to the Stars.

The mathematical symbol for the sum, Σ (sigma), placed in its centre, illustrates the power of facts and science, and reminds us that we share the Earth and a responsibility to care for it.

 

 

 

 

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A new and different politician

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Canada has a way of choosing it’s political leaders and will often go for the maverick who will present new fresh ideas and has an image of someone truly different who can inspire voters. In this aspect Canada could not be more different from the USA.

The New Democratic Party (NDP), traditionally the party of labour and social democracy in Canada, announced in April 2016 it would be replacing incumbent Federal leader Tom Mulcair in the House of Commons after the party’s poor performance in the 2015 federal election.

It’s the first time that a turban-wearing Sikh has run for the leadership of a Canadian political party. He poses a challenge to the party; generally in rethinking how it presents itself to the larger electorate. Choosing a successor to Mulcair is something of an existential crisis for the party. In Quebec it is a special challenge given the way Quebecers look at the multicultural and diversity question, a very different approach from the rest of Canada. In this leadership contest the other three candidates where white, one from Quebec Guy Caron and Charlie Angus from Ontario and Nikki Ashton from Manitoba.

Jagmeet Singh is 38 years old single man, fluent in French and English and in Punjabi.

Singh has already enjoyed some success in being the first Provincial NDP member to be elected in Windsor at any level of government.

He also served as the deputy leader of the Ontario NDP in the Provincial Legislature from 2015 to 2017.

Born in 1979, in Scarborough, Metropolitan Toronto, Singh is the oldest of four children born to Sikh immigrant parents from India’s Punjab region. He later moved to Windsor, Ontario aged seven.

Singh frequently speaks about being bullied at school for his “brown skin, long hair and funny-sounding name”. The need to stand up for himself fuelled a lifelong interest in martial arts. Among other sports, Singh has practised taekwondo, Muay Thai boxing and judo.

His first foray into politics came while studying at Osgoode Law School, Ontario, where he campaigned against rising tuition fees. He was called to the bar in 2006, before going on to work as a criminal defence lawyer in the Greater Toronto area.

His years spent defending refugees and immigrants inspired Singh to enter politics in 2011 by running as an MPP with the NDP in the Ontario district of Bramalea-Gore-Malton.

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Here with his parents, his father is a psychiatrist

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With his brother Gurratan on the left of photo.

Jagmeet Singh is younger than PM Trudeau and is better educated and has an international background. He presents himself as someone who wants to contribute, highly articulate and champions social justice and equality. As new Leader of the Federal NDP this will pose a challenge to PM Trudeau once Jagmeet is elected to the House of Commons, he will need to run now for a seat. He will have to give up his seat in the Provincial Legislature at Queen’s Park in Toronto.

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French River PEI

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We recently visited friends who were vacationing in the French River area of PEI which is near Cavendish. It is also the area where the birth home of author Lucy Maud Montgomery is located, not to be confused with the house used to lure tourist to Green Gables a fictional place created by Lucy Maud for her 8 books on the story of Anne. That house was the home of her uncle and aunt, she visited them and this gave rise to her inspiration to write the series on Anne. The houses look similar both White and Green and made of wood in the cottage architectural style of the island. But I digress what I wanted to talk about was the abandoned cemetery of Yankee Hill.

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photo of the French River area on Lot 21, PEI

At the Art Gallery we have a painting called the Yankee Gale, it shows a terrible storm at sea in 1851 with many ships lost. I knew it referred to a real storm and a naval disaster but did not know anymore about it.

Prior to the Halifax Harbour explosion in 1917, the single greatest Maritime disaster and loss of life occurred in 1851 in the Gulf of St. Lawrence when an American fishing fleet was caught in a tumultuous October storm that lasted for two days. When it finally abated, the coastline of Prince Edward Island was strewn with the wreckage of sailing vessels and the bodies of drowned seamen. In all, 74 vessels were lost and 150 men perished in what became known as The Yankee Gale.

This cemetery is abandoned since 1904 and the forest has grown in and all around it. A group of volunteers have cleaned the under brush and restored the ancient tombstones, also in this cemetery the Cousins Family is remembered, they were French Hugenots from Normandy who had immigrated to New England prior to the revolution of 1776. They were well established and prosperous. As Loyal to the Crown they came to l”Ile Saint-Jean now PEI and settled in the area. The Crown for their loyalty rewarded them with free land, well in fact it was land seized from the Acadians who were either slaughtered or deported in 1755. The name French River comes from the fact that residents of the area were French (Acadians).

The cemetery is lovely and the forest lends an air of mystery to it all, almost no one comes here, it is so well hidden, thus not disrupting the peace of the place.

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This is quite a lovely place and not far from us in Charlottetown, then again nothing is far on this Island. We are thinking of renting a cottage there next Summer for 2 weeks just to get away from the bustle of the Capital.

 

 

 

The 29th Governor General of Canada

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At 10am on Monday 2 October Julie Payette, former astronaut will become Canada’s 29th Governor General, the investiture will take place in the Red Chamber of Parliament, also known as the Senate in Ottawa.

The former Governor General David Johnston said his goodbyes a few days ago and will go into retirement.

The titles of the governor general are Vice-Roy, Commander in Chief of Canada, Chancellor of the Order of Canada, Chancellor and Commander of the Order of Military Merit, Prior of the Most Venerable Order of St-John of Jerusalem. All those honours and titles are given by the Sovereign, Queen Elizabeth and will be transferred to the new Governor General on Monday morning.

Here is what H.E. David Johnston did during his period in Office. Compilation courtesy of the CBC.

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We can only wish Ms Payette good luck in her new function. She is single and so will not have a spouse to share the burden of the Office with, this is a first.

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My father and the Sea

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My Dad died 2 years ago on 12 July, it was very sudden a hot Sunday in Montreal. He did not want the usual funeral service, did not like the expense of it all, could not see the point. He had spoken with his doctor who was also affiliated with the Medical School at McGill University in Montreal. He had made all his arrangements ahead of time, so we had no involvement but to honour his commitment.

In June 2017 McGill University notified us that they were releasing his remains and according to their protocol, they had a service of thanks for all those who donated their bodies to the advancement of medical science, very nice service done in one of the grand halls of the University, the funeral parlour then took care of the cremation.

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My Dad also had a wish, he wanted to be buried at sea. So I made those arrangements with music, a fiddler, French Champagne Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin and a floral tribute.

So we honoured his wish. My sister and brother-in-law were with us and Will on whom I can always count and have all these years for his support. What was uncertain was the weather, stormy and unpredictable, though today by 2pm the heavens cleared up and the sun appeared, turning the clouds into shiny silver streaks on a blue background.

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It was quite beautiful, the captain took the ship out some distance and at a certain point in the open sea his ashes were released and the flowers thrown into the water while the fiddler played. My sister reminded me that today 28 September was the date of the death of our mother 4 years ago. I thought it was Fate who wanted this event to coincide with the date of her death. My parents had been together some 64 years.

The sea was calm and a cool breeze was felt while the sky smiled on us. I just looked at the vast expanse of the sea and became reflective about my parents, time and our place in the universe, there was not a sound except for the wind. The captain and his wife were very kind and thoughtful throughout this journey on the waters.

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On our way home going West the sun was very bright as it was setting, the clouds where now golden with a hint of pink and violet. We were quiet in the car, tired from the day and happy it had gone so well. Our duty is done and Dad got his wish and we know, all of us, that he would have been very happy with this day.

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Dad on vacation in Greece with the Aegean sea behind him.

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Our brother Stephan who lives in Florida could not be with us unfortunately, but here we are Will, Sophie, Andrew and me on the boat.

 

PEI Symphony Gala Evening

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Well our big fundraising Gala evening was a huge success and I am very proud with the turn out. The theme of the evening was the period 1920-1930 so everyone was encouraged to dress up the part. Turns out that I have worn my tuxedo in PEI more often than anywhere else, though usually people dress in a more comfortable way given that we are all about agriculture, beaches and a relax atmosphere, but when the occasion calls for something different we know how to do it. The evening was a success and we raised quite a bit of money for the Symphony which will be helpful for the operations and musicians.

Our photographer Bev did a superb job as always. cardsbybev.com

It gave me a chance to wear my white cashmere dinner jacket.

Here are some photos of our evening.

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Here we are with the PEI Symphony Maestro from Julliard in New York City, Mark Shapiro.

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With Katie Kerr, who has appeared in many musicals at the Confederation Centre and was Anne a few years ago. An incredibly talented person it was by pure coincidence that we found our home in Charlottetown through her and her husband.

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Our little group.

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more of our group of friends

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We did have a Jazz orchestra and a Burlesque show

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And now on to Culture Days and Thanksgiving and then Christmas, with lots of parties in between, it never stops.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo

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Last week i received the newsletter of the Canadian Club of Rome, a few years ago while living in Rome, I was the V.P. of the Club and we organized quite a few nice events. One being the beginning of the Season usually in September after the Summer vacations when everyone returns to Rome. Usually it was a cocktail party in a out of the ordinary place, that is not difficult to find in Rome or Italy for that matter.

This year the opening party is at a new hotel on Piazza Navona, the old palace known as Palazzo Pamphilj was once the home of the Princely Pamphilj family around 1644. It has become the Eitch Borromini Hotel.

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The hotel seen here next to the Church of St-Agnes in Agony is located on Piazza Navona which was the former stadium built by Emperor Domitian for chariot races which explains the design of the piazza to this day. Originally this palace was a college built by Cardinal Pamphilj then when he was elected Pope in 1644 taking the name of Innocent X he converted the college into a palace for his family, every Pontiff did that at the time, they would reside at the Lateran Palace seat of the Bishop of Rome but have another Palace built to show off the grandeur and prestige of his own family. It was called a lay palace and because this was the Baroque era, the Age of Princes, would be decorated by the finest artist of the time in this case Francesco Borromini a Swiss from the Ticino. The Church of St-Agnes in Agony was the private chapel of the Pamphilj family and Pope Innocent X did not want you to forget whose palace it was, asked Gian Lorenzo Bernini to help him redecorate and re-structure Piazza Navona in what you see today with the enormous Egyptian obelisk standing above the Four Rivers fountain ( Nile, Danube, Ganges, Rio de la Plata) to the greater glory of his family and the Universal Catholic Church, an age of excess but also of art and refinement. Today the Pamphilj family live in one of their other far larger palace on Piazza Venezia and Prince Jonathan Doria-Pamphilj has opened his family’s art gallery to the public. It is composed of treasures of the Renaissance and Baroque era by of course the greatest artists of the time.

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Imagine having an elegant lunch on the rooftop of the Palace with this view.  The dome you see in this pictures is San Andrea della Valle, known as Tosca’s Church because of its association with the Opera by Puccini. Brings back lots of memories.

 

 

Fascinating photos

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We have on FB a site which publishes old photos of PEI and Charlottetown. The author is Earles Picture Restoration PEI.

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The old Saint Dunstan R.C. Basilica in 1909 before the fire which destroyed the building in 1913.

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After the fire, the ruins being demolished. The church was rebuilt.

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Saint Dunstan today on Great George Street. The architect was François Xavier Berlinguet of Quebec city. To this day the twin spires can be seen from a great distance.

A book I am reading

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I am coming to the end of the biography of Martin Luther, one of the Protestant Reformers who 500 years ago in 2017 publishes his 95 theses on Church reform.

Luther was a doctor of Canon Law, a monk of the Augustinian Order in the Catholic Church. His Reforms were aimed at correcting errors which according to him had been created by Popes and Bishops since the 4th Century A. D. creating a situation of fear and ignorance in a world dominate by the Roman Catholic Church and the Popes who were the only one capable of interpreting God’s Will and teachings.

For many years Luther tried to come to an agreement with the Pope on what was necessary to have a more faithful understanding of the teachings of Christ and a relinquishing of Papal authority. In the end that proved impossible for reasons mainly of European politics and the power of Princes and the Pope, authority which at the times could never be questioned.

In this biography Luther is shown unvarnished, he is an anti-semite, misogynist, a racist, he dislikes anyone who is not German, cruel, fixated on his bowel movements which he describes in great analytical terms. Though he wishes painful deaths on anyone who disagrees with him, roasted dissenters alive seemed to be a favourite of his, he was also very concerned with his own salvation.

Though some of his 95 theses address directly the excess of Papal authority on Salvation and remittance of sins others were changed and modified many times depending on what other Reformers like Zwigli and Calvin advocated. Luther always the clever politician, never angering the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V (a Catholic) and always making sure he was in the good grace of his Protector the Prince of Saxony,(a Protestant).

The whole reform movement also came at a time of rising Nationalism in the German Principalities and in Switzerland, followed by England with Henry VIII, though Luther did not consider him a Prince bent on Reforming the Church but more doing what he wanted as King. This national fervour rejected the authority of the Pope in Rome and was also in opposition to Emperor Charles V, a Spanish Habsbourg, who ruled over the New World, Spain and most of Europe and defender of the Pope’s authority. As Holy Roman Emperor, most European Princes owed their power to him.

This is why when Luther was summoned to the Imperial Diet in Worms in 1521 to defend his 95 Theses in front of the Emperor, the Papal Ambassador and the Princes, it required a lot of courage and determination, knowing that he could easily be arrested and condemned to die by torture and fire, Luther had a martyr’s wish, though he died in his own bed, fat and rich in 1546.  He was very opinionated and did not hesitate to berate and abuse his own colleagues and friends.

In the end what I retain of Luther and the Reformation movement is that any person can take Scripture and interpret them in his own way, coming to a personal understanding of what is the Word of God. Luther lived at a time when the World was changing, politically and socially and he was part of that change. After him came the Wars of Religion and the Thirty years War which decimated the population of Europe.