"Cowardice asks the question...is it safe? Expediency asks the question...is it politic? Vanity asks the question...is it popular? But conscience asks the question...is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but one must take it because it is right." ~Dr. Martin Luther King

Friday, 4 September 2015

IT'S NOT CORRUPTION YOU HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT

UA comment outlines the town's acquisition of the mouldy old shed on the corner of the town park. It's not accurate Could  be deliberate or a misunderstanding. Facts matter. I don't mind repeating. 

The  town had everything to do with the facility becoming vacant when the Feds apparently signalled  
intention to close Fort York and Aurora Armouries as a cost-cutting measure. 

Whatever went on in the Mayor's office with Chris Ballard, Citizen Chair of the Economic Advisory Committee, the town parks department was evicted from the former hydro property and it was turned over to Queen's York Rangers . Mr. Ballard was not then elected .He was involved with the Rangers. 

At a closed meeting ,the CAO informed Council of a successfully negotiated lease with the feds for the hydro building. Later, in public. Councillor Gaertner congratulated the CAO.for his good work. 

Town archives were  stored in the hydro office building. Heritage salvage in the huge yard.Park furniture. Including a gazebo was  manufactured in the service building which provided ample storage for vehicles and equipment.,

For QYR, two hundred thousands dollars were spent for a sprinkler system. The complete  financial outlay was never reported. 

Rent revenue was presented  as an asset. Offsetting costs for maintenance were not factored.Loss of Grant -in -lieu of taxes was also a deficit and excluded from calculations.

Real estate value of several million was not considered. Sold into the private sector, the financial asset would have been realised. Real  estate taxes in an amount of $67,000 a year would have been paid   to the town treasury. 

Jobs would have been created. 

A  sale would have meant a substantial contribution towards the cost of building the new joint facility  in the planning stages at the time.

Another  alternative, was for the parks department to move from Scanlon Court leaving  space for the works department  to expand and eliminating the need for the new site that cost more to remediate than purchase.

Queen's York Rangers won  a reprieve through Aurora Council and Town Administration at the expense of Aurora taxpayers. 

National security, they said, required the lease to be  secret.  

The last (mostly the current)  Council extended the lease for thirty years. In the circumstances,it's  a gift.Not dissimilar to the Culture Centre.

A Royal Ball replete with Royal guest was organized  to raise funds for dress uniforms.it was in Richmond Hill.

Dignitaries flocked to the auspicious occasion, tickets no doubt paid at taxpayers's expense.

The name on the  location sign was changed from Aurora Armouries to Governor John Graves SImcoe Armouries. 

For sixty  years  at least, QYR have been keen to honour the original Commanding Officer, he served a tour of duty in Canada then went home to England. 

The sign has since been painted out. 

Changes to the  interior were made without town knowledge or approval. The huge yard is vastly under-utilized.

Whatever interest was served by lease of a town-owned building, it was not the interest of the  municipal corporation; not in any shape or context. 

Half a million for a decrepit shed  in need of quarter of a million for de-contamination ,is  just the final insult of the town, ill-served for  eight years.

The federal grant -in-lieu  of taxes is also forfeit. Still another  deficit to town coffers.

Mes Amis, It's not corruption you have to worry about; it is unbelievable stupidity. 

While you sleep, they rob you blind. 

FREEDOM COMES WITH IT.

The  focus of the last post was the experience of being old. Like  being born and dying, it happens once in a lifetime. We get  one crack at both.  I thought it might be interesting to share and social media provides the opportunity. 

I make no accusations against Chris or Brock, only observations. Instances cited were examples of things that do happen. An argument is always bolstered with specifics. 

Every time John Abel's name is mentioned in a post I am anonymously accused .

 "Bitter Bully" is a constant, along with other uncomplimentary nomenclature though the vocabulary is somewhat limited.

I know,I know,that was a low blow but he keeps asking for it. 

If I was really spiteful I could start and end every post with reference to John Abel.

John Able,John Able
At the head of the table
He thinks he's in charge. 
And the team's in his stable. 

John Able John Able 
The pride of King Cable 
His verbal gymnastics 
Defy any label. 

I know according to King's English, there are rules,like pentamic diameter, for rhyming. 
Like breathing out and breathing in.
 I don't know what they are, they don't matter to me now. 
I'm not trying to impress . Only have a little fun. 
I've grown accustomed to the pace 
the freedom 
and the space 
The rhythm suits me fine .

THERE'S ALWAYS SOMETHING NEW

I did not anticipate writing a sequel to the post about feeling invisible.

 Chris Watts has posted  about  a $90,000  federal grant towards rehabilitating the mouldy smelly old contaminated shed that has occupied a corner of  the Town Park for more than a hundred years. 

The town paid the feds more than half a million for the dump.

The CAO. advised Council, cost of removing asbestos would be $120,000.

Now we learn contamination is much more and estimated cost of remediation is $275,000. 

Chris Watts'  in depth professional research into issues is invaluable. 

In the current post he states John Abel is saying the transfer should not have cost the town. 

Well now, that's new. He said no such thing at the time of the transfer. I,on the other hand,took  a strong and vehement position that negotiations should be conducted at the political level. Us versus them. Face to face, Toe to toe. 

At the photo opportunity, Lois Brown,David Falconer photographer, myself and one other were on hand before the rest. I told The Honkrable what I thought of the town being gouged and funneling funds into the federal treasury for the property. It was a disgrace. 

It was as if I wasn't there. She proceeded to tell the other two about having earned all her badges and crowned as a member of a young farmers group growing up in King.

I think the experience became so regular I barely noticed any more. I put it down to bad manners. 

I remember  a post about being heavily involved in a different contentious debate. The report by Brock Weir was as if I wasn't even present. It wasn't the first time. 

But It was odd . Neither bias nor hostility were evident....and yet..at times it seemed like I didn't exist.

Now Chris Watts has done the same and it's just weird.

Chris refers to Abel's statement  as though it had never been heard before .

Not for one moment do I argue my presence on Council has not been felt. 

The occasions are undeniable. Paranoid ? Perhaps. Even critics keep harping on my independence

Being old is unique to each of us.  Chance is a good thing. 

My immediate references  are to mother, grandmothers and a single isolated connection to a maternal great-grandfather. All from a different time in another place. 

In another post, I will explore the matter further. 

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

FEELING INVISIBLE

A call came from Ipsos Reid doing a survey on behalf of York Region. Would I be interested in participating? 

What's the  issue...I asked ..... Walking  and Cycling, she said. 

 Don't do much of either......, I answered....How long does it take?

Seven or eight minutes depending on the answers....she said...D'you want to do it or not,she asked  sharply obviously forgetting that she called me.

Alright, I said. 

 First, can I ask you what year you were born ? I told her

"Thank you"..she said without missing a beat." We've filled our quota for your age group" 

Clunk. 

****************

I seldom participate in surveys. But I was interested in the region's questions about walking and bicycling. Mobility scooters seem not to be a feature in the overall scheme of things. 

Sidewalks have a camber toward the road for drainage. It tilts the scooter. Pressure cuts in concrete create a thoroughly bumpy ride. A walker would  be conscious of neither but a person with spinal or joint discomfort can be seriously discomoded.

Bicycle paths are smooth asphalt. It makes for a smooth ride. In Vancouver, bicycle paths are a full traffic lane width and separated from traffic. On a Sunday, I rode the scooter all the way from one side of the city to Granville Island. A small boat completed the journey. 

I have talked about the problem of concrete sidewalks at Aurora  Council. They waited until I stopped talking so they could go back to talking about things that really matter. 

A weird reality of being elderly means sometimes being invisible. 

People look through you, not at you. Voice is heard but not words. If you're not alone,they speak of  you like you're not in the room.

Sometimes it's interesting just to stay quiet and observe. 

Elderly people are frequently focus of the media. A few months ago Macleans claimed the elderly  have the most wealth. It is said ,we use the most health services, 

Kathleen Wynne recently stated her  government is contemplating paying the cost,under the Ontario Health Services,  for a perfectly healthy male or female to change his/her sex. 

Nursing homes and retirement centers are a fast-growing and highly lucrative industry. With better care 
seniors live and pay longer. If the existence can be so described. 

Pitches to the elderly have largely replaced liquor and cigarette advertising in the media. 

Grey Power auto insurance rates are available.

At end of life, insurance policies without medicals,provide something extra for a favorite grandson, 

A bank has a life policy that deducts $2 a month from the account for ten or twelve years. At age seventy-five,the policy expires. Greater chance of death means risk is no longer risk but certainty.  
Money funneled to protective insurance is not shared. No compensation because demon death did not occur. You're outta luck baby. 

A  private and fully-owned house is advertised  on television as a generous source of ready cash for all manner of extravagant fantasies through the generosity of money-lenders. 

Seniors votes are courted by political parties. . All kinds of goodies are promised. Seniors do matter.

Except to York  Region and Ipsos Reid. 

"The quota for your age group is already filled" Perhaps I should have lied.

A PERSON CAN ONLY TRY

Mornin' All 

 Views 477 so far to-day 

I need to apologize to Councillor Mrakas for bandying his name about. It was not my intention to drag him into a knock 'em down and drag him out fight. He needs no defense from me or anyone else for that matter. He puts his heart and soul into the job of Councillor. What I know of Councillor Mrakas' activities, I read in Facebook. Posted by himself. 

By no means do I agree with his position on various matters, I do respect his integrity and phenomenal energy. Indeed ,it would be weird if we shared the same perspective. Our experience is vastly different.

 If an argument is worth having, it has to be with someone who has something to say and believes it . Not with someone who twists and turns in the prevailing wind like John Abel. 

The current argument has been about a denigrating comment to a post about Councillor Mrakas and myself on my blog. I say John Abel made it. True  or not, the author seems most anxious to deny 
responsibility. 

Understandably so.

The comment was a lie.

It has been done publicly before. So innocence is difficult to plead and hardly credible. 

Lying is not a crime.Conventional wisdom has it that all politicians lie. They would call it something else 
but a person always knows when they've  been slimed. 

I think It accounts for much of the  non-voting electorate. Seventy-per-cent in the last Aurora election. 

I suggest lying is not acceptable to most of the thirty- per -cent who do value their right to cast a ballot. 

In time for the election, John Abel and Geoff Dawe brought a V.P. from the town's insurance company to a council meeting to publicize costs to defend the Mormac gang against my complaint that statements  published were with intent to defame my reputation. What other purpose could they have? 
They used their public office and public resources. 

An Integrity Commissioner made a ruling to that effect. 

No matter.

John Abel stated  in a Council meeting ,with Dawe's murmured acquiescence, stated the legal action was all about obtaining millions of dollars in damages. He implied I was a person motivated entirely by greed. 

Not for them to consider facts or await a decision from the court. They had a different imperative. 

Like I said before, I owe them nothing.  Especially not respect. 

When I was first elected and every time since, my immediate thought on election night was always the same. 

Will I be able to fullfil the trust of the people who voted for me? 

I TRIED. 

Views 715

Monday, 31 August 2015

THERE CAN BE NO EXCUSE

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "A PERSON CAN ONLY TRY": 

16:08
We are not talking genius-level here. It is quite possible that the target of the evening was Mr Gallo and what
happened to Evelyn a big ' Oops '. Once the damage was done, there was no way to fix it. Not that they tried 
from what I gather. 

Posted by Anonymous to  Our Town and Its Business at 1 September 2015 at 16:24

****************************

I sat beside John Abel.  

I heard clearly what he said. 

His  friends and associates confirmed it in different ways during the election. I watched it unfold. 

Others disassociated themselves  from "the group" after it was over.

Apart from his family, being elected is likely the best thing that ever happened to John Abel. 

Heading the poll was  probably added satisfaction.  As it would be to most. 

It's a pity he did not grow to warrant the trust bestowed.

What was done can't  be undone. Lack of judgement is hardly an excuse. 

John Abel chose his target deliberately and it wasn't John Gallo.

*********************

I don't know  the peak  for readership . There's a lot I don't know about social media. 

Today's Views at this moment are 765. I think that may be the highest yet.

NOBODY LIKES A WHINER

Monday morning. 

Already 271 views today. Half a dozen comments .None that needed to be published.  Several castigating me and lamenting about how tired they are of reading what I write. 

Like it's  forced upon them. 

One ponders . "What would you say, if I said, I was the one who made the comment" 

First I would have to re -call  the comment that generated the hysterical hullabaloo.

Oh Yes. I said it was time  for Councillor Mrakas  to write a blog. Then the eruption began. A person  commented;  "Councillor Mrakas is your informant about what's going on at the town hall and there's no point  in his writing a blog because it would be the same as yours(mine) He should keep his hands clean and let  you continue to get yours dirty. "

 That was the noble sense of it. 

Councillor Mrakas is a tattle -tale, doesn't have a mind of his own and I am an unclean person. 

Accompanied by a warning; I should be careful about making accusations. 

It reminds me of an Abbot and Costello comedy routine about Who's on first base. 

How would I know if the person making the new comment was not the person who made the original accusations while not actually claiming to have done the deed himself? 

So what accusation did I make ?

I deduced the name of the anonymous individual who made the accusations.  

It's certainly,certain,somebody did. We have seen it in print. 

He is easily identified because he's not far from the scene and he's done it before.

When one has been on the receiving end, it's neither wise nor necessary to forget. it's  much more easily recognized when repeated and circumstances make it definitely easier to respond the second time. 

Iin politics it's an occupational hazard. You really need to know what you're doing because it's a long road that doesn't have a turn. 

If heat is not your element,  the kitchen is not the best place for you. 

Nobody likes a whiner. Suck it up, pal.  You had it coming. All your friends know it.  

Blog Views today 583

Sunday, 30 August 2015

A SLIP OF THE FINGER

The last comment was accidentally rejected. Please send it again. 

To respond to the point of deriving revenue from posting, I've felt the narrow focus of the blog keeps  readership down and makes it an unlikely vehicle for advertising. . As a Councillor I didn't feel it was appropriate to use for that purpose. 

The  last couple of posts have generated strong negativity. Not surprisingly.

Interestingly, reader numbers jumped by an average of a hundred. The current count is 625. Once up readership tends to stay up. 

Not all readers are from Aurora. I am well aware of non-readers and Hostiles. I suspect it's true of most publications. 

Numbers show interest can be generated and how.  Councillors and the Mayor could be easy pickings if readership was my sole objective. 

It's not. As long as I feel the blog throws a light where light would not normally shine the current focus  will hold.  A bit of this and a bit of what might ordinarily come up in an Aurora conversation about politics which is not everyone's cup of tea, will suffice for now. 

Being out of Council, it seemed  the town's business might become less informed . It hasn't happened yet. Readership is building. I take that as a positive. 

I owe Geoff Dawe and John Abel nothing. Councillors Mrakas and Michael Thompson work hard and apply themselves. We will not always agree and I will say so. Other new members make slight impression. Time passes fast, 

I am expecting a decision on the court action by mid-September. It's been a long haul with many ups and downs, twists and turns. i have to believe the outcome will be positive but experience tells me to make no assumptions. 

Whatever happens will be a step forward .


 

HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "WHEN HARM IS INTENDED WITH MALICE AFORETHOUGHT": 

You are such a bloody hypocrite. You make accusations all over the place - some of which landed you in a lawsuit - you might want to tread a little more careful. The comment sounded like they were poking at you, not Tom. 

Posted by Anonymous to  Our Town and Its Business at 30 August 2015 at 07:45

**************************************************
Good Shabas morning to you too Sir.

I don't normally publish comments like the above but it suits my purpose.

Does  anyone doubt the author ? 

So he doesn't want to be considered the enemy of Tom Mrakas. Only moi. 

He put his name forward for political office and received solid support but  he does not appreciate criticism. 

Law suits are an implied threat.

How soon we forget. Or  were we ever aware?

Which politicians recently sued citizen moderators of a blog for  an anonymous critical comment?  

Which CAO twice wrote to the blog and ordered the comment removed implying threat with a deadline?  

What did Aurora electors think of all that ? 

Four of a gang of six were replaced.

After that the new Council published a full page ad of apology to the residents who were obliged  to defend themselves  at significant cost against their own municipality.  Courtesy of elected and  appointed officials, administrative,legal and financial. 

Then the town paid the cost of the  litigation against the residents. 

The complaint was  dismissed. Ruled as a SLAPP Action. 

The town solicitor filed the  action and provided the only affidavit. The Judge ruled he evaded answering questions and lied to the court.

The town solicitor was under authority of the CAO. He would have had his instructions. 

The story bears repeating . Not to be forgotten. 

Does history repeat itself ?

Do we have another thin-skinned politician who thinks he is above the madding crowd and can afford to make veiled threats with treasury backing  ?

Did he ever comprehend why he was elected in the first place? 

I doubt it. 

Saturday, 29 August 2015

WHEN HARM IS INTENDED WITH MALICE AFORETHOUGHT

Whether made anonymously, an accusation is equally damaging. 

Who has vested interest in bringing Tom Mrakas down save someone threatened by his honesty.
An accusation without substance has been made. Should it remain unchallenged? 

We know who is capable because he's done it before. We experienced it. 

It doesn't matter why he did it. Only that he did. Consequences  are outstanding. 

In life, lessons learned have stood me in good stead. 

I trust everyone. 
Until they give me reason not to. 
Then I never trust them again. 
It's a simple maxim. 
Let them show themselves. 
They mostly do. 

When trust is betrayed and it will be, don't dwell on it. Life is too short.
Pick yourself up,dust yourself off and start all over again.  
Sooner or later opportunity presents to even the score. You will know it when you see it.  
Payback is sweet. 

By living, I learned to enjoy life,take chances and eventually had the privilege to participate in politics without fear or trepidation. 

I did it my way and found others to share. 
Sufficient  to obtain a seat on Council and for our voices to be a force through several generations. 
Satisfaction enough. 
No other reward needed. 
A reputation jointly established and shared
A community within a community.

It happened once, it can happen again in Aurora. 
Not with John Abel. 

Friday, 28 August 2015

OH DEAR WHAT CAN THE MATTER BE ?

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "TIME FOR TOM TO BLOG....THE MORE THE MERRIER": 

Bu then who will provide you with all the insider info for your blog? It wouldn't make sense to have two blogs posting the same info, taking the same stance? We think you should keep doing the dirty work and let him keep his hands "clean". 

Posted by Anonymous to  Our Town and Its Business at 28 August 2015 at 13:08

********************************************

Read and contemplate for a minute. Now... Quick..  Guess who might have written that? 

Who on Council, would feel sufficiently threatened by the amiable Tom Mrakas to make an accusation like that?

Right. You got it in one. 

It would be the little fella with the big ego. He  who feels everyone should  just be quiet and let him be 
In charge.

It's odd how an oversized ego doesn't equate to self-confidence.  He still needs to bring Tom down by accusing him of giving away Council secrets to moi. 

One would imagine winning the highest number of votes would make him secure in the knowledge of 
being  Supreme Being.

Feelings of unassailability must be his constant companion.

Surrounded by sycophants, assuring him of his superiority. 

Oh Dear...what can the matter be
Dear Dear what can the matter be
Oh  Dear what does the boyo fear
When he's already ahead of the pack. 

What more can we do for a man who has everything to make him feel loved? 

TIME FOR TOM TO BLOG....THE MORE THE MERRIER

Tom Mrakas uses Facebook to communicate with residents. With more than a hint of frustration, lhe brought up an issue yesterday. I think he should publish a blog. It has its advantages. 

First it opens a dialogue and second, it takes the edge off frustration Third , it makes other Councilors and the Mayor aware of people and what they think about town affairs. 

It's nknsense to suggest a blog doesn't matter. Everything  matters to a politician. Even the ones who haughtily pretend they are not politicians while enjoying all the perks of political office. Silly asses. 

I think the more blogs the better. It takes time but also gives people who pay attention an opportunity to put their oar in. 

The topic that really got Tom rattled was  lack of support for a hiring freeze. I can understand it. 

 But it's not simple. The  problem is deeper than he knows. The town has many different departments. Not all managed with the same efficiency. 

The parks department has a skeleton full-time staff withwork to keep them occupied during winter. Seasonal employees take care of summer maintenance and winter programs inside facilities. 

Good workers are brought back every year and employees  given the opportunity to gain different skills. They do not enjoy benefits and security and therefore cost less for the same output. The disadvantage is all employees seek secure employments and benefits. If you are raising a family that has to be a priority. A good employee will go elsewhere for that opportunity.

 It's a risk  the town takes. 

During the 2014 budget, the Chief Financial Officef recommended contract employees in the works department become permanent employees. He said it wasn't fair for them to be doing the same work alongside full-time employees without having the same security and benefits. Council agreed and made the contract employees permanent. It added to full - time complement and cost more and. Made the seasonal contract employees in other department second-class. 

When the town is fully built out and  the work load reduced flexibility is gone. 

A couple of weeks ago I heard of a  part -time employee,hired for customer service at an hourly wage of $29. 

Part-time town employees are paid Union rates. This one  is being paid twice that amount. 
It's inconsistent,unfair and certainly unlikely to contribute to morale. It shows no respect for the taxpayer and makes one wonder whose interest is being served. The decision was made by a Director 
and that becomes an obvious question of judgement. 

Even if Tom heard about it and brought it up at the council table at an in-camera meeting, the Mayor would refuse to determine  the facts of it. It would come under the heading of micro-managing and he is dead set against that. Although perfectly content to have whatever he wants followed up lickety-split. 

Councilor Abel would demand  "What do you want us to do about it? Climb the Walls of the Bastille"

It's like trying to do battle in a room full of cotton batting. Exhausting and futile. 

A blog is the answer .....it preserves sanity and provides an escape from frustration. 

The field is clear. 

There is little competition.  

Their ideas and objectives would collapse under scrutiny. They know that better than anyone. 

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

ANGER MANAGEMENT

Grace Marsh posts on Facebook  a photo of a thirty-five year old street tree marked with a red R signifying slated removal. The tree was damaged during street re-construction two years ago. 

The Marsh's have watched the tree grow for thirty- five years. Grace is sad.

I am shaking with a familiar sense of  frustration and frankly...recurring rage. 

I drove down that street on a Sunday and saw the roots torn away and canopy burned to a crisp with the heat from the ripping and tearing digging machine,

It didn't have to be.The contract called for protective fences  to surround the trees. Distance from the trunk was circumscribed. 

The town's an arborist drew up the specification. The parks department is responsible for the urban forest. The contract  called for the arborist to be on hand  to supervise at contractor's  cost.  The  contract included the specification at the award price. 

The town department responsible for the project  failed miserably. The tree in front of Grace's house will not be the only one destroyed. The entire street of thirty-five year old trees were subject to the inexcusable irresponsibility. 

I raised the issue at the Council table. No  interest. No reaction. No support. No response. 

Times  change. Yes indeed. 

In the past, shameful incompetence could not have been ignored. It would have cost at least one highly- placed individual his job. 

Two years later, one has departed. 

It's not enough. 

Responsibility for supervising  re-construction of Grace  Marsh's street was the same for renovation and addition of the Aurora Family Leisure Complex. It's still not finished and hundreds of thousands over budget. 

Imagine what it's like to conscientiously specify in a contract what must be done to protect thirty-five year old trees trees only to see the requirement ignored and trees destroyed despite best effort. 

It's  been like that in Aurora for five years. 

The years of Geoff Dawe's absolute mindset against micro-management. 

To say nothing of the maudlin hypocritical crap endlessly spouted around the council table about a Bylaw to prevent injury and destruction of trees on private property. 

A DAY IN THE LIVES OF

Theresa called and said " I've never seen Niagara-on-the lake, why don't we go today"

I first thought " Ooh a day withTheresa ...Yea .....Then ...Oh....Niagara-on-the-Lake on a Saturday in August. then ....  a day with Theresa .....right ...let's go. 

We went. .... the long way. Across King, through Kettleby, Pottageville. Schomberg....over the hills on Highway 9 to Orangeville.  

It was a favorite Spring  break out after winter drive in the old blue station wagon ....when snow still lay in shady places. 

Over the hills and far away, before seat belts. The kids would tumble out on Main Street and round a corner for an ice cream at the dairy bar and stroll back licking cones and the drive home.

 Sometimes it would just be my gang. Often a friend or two came. One Sunday we went to Barrie and Martin's friend Gary Simpson packed in with us. They might have been ten years old. Best friends still both living in and have raised their children in Barrie.

Orangeville had a great wide Main Street and matching sidewalk.  People gathered in clusters enjoying the Spring sunshine and catching up on the gossip. We had to walk around them. I wrote a column about that once. Councillor Walt Davis told me that' s how it was in Aurora when folks came in at the week-end from the farms around to shop and gather on the sidewalks to catch up on the weeks news. Walt said if you needed to get anywhere, you had to step out on the road, the groups were so 
tight.

Collingwood and Lindsay  and many other Ontario towns have beautiful wide streets like that lined with stores that have been in business forever. 

Orangeville has taken up a third of the street's width with raised concrete islands in the centre.  A huge sculpture  of  the founder ,Thomas Orange in the first and a massive fountain in the second. No doubt a consultant  an architect and a ton of money were involved . 

 Oh my ...Oh well 

We drove  down Highway 6 through scenery as beautiful as any to be found. 

Theresa worked as a courier for a while . Driving is her element. I like it too but am content to be driven. Theresa now works for TTC and is currently involved with the new subway construction. There's always plenty to talk about.

We went through Elora to see what might have changed. My son Frank lived there for a while In his twenties. He had a hugely successful concert sponsored in the Elora Mill Hotel owned and created  by a friend and his wife. Rooms were beautifully appointed with  Mennonite furnishings ,quilts and crafted accents .

Frank lived in a lovely old building next door in excellent condition with a balcony over the river. 

Elora was founded by an army officer from Irvine in Scotland, the place I was born. He had served in India and named the village from a place in India. At an intersection, a swinging board sign on a building  caught my attention. I looked up and read " Irvine Lodge " 

 I had no idea of the connection until that moment. 

Frank had happy times in Elora. Everybody in the village knew each other and collectively did not enjoy the touristos. 

Other than the mill,the village had changed  little in over a hundred years.It was intriguing to think people who came there as pioneers would undoubtedly have known my grandparents and their families. Maybe I even had a distant relative who helped to create that community and built the old rusty disused bridge.

It has changed. The old village is still there but less visible. Touristos pack the streets and stores. tra
Traffic was horrendous, cars filled every space.The Elora Mill Hotel  is abandoned. Surrounded  by chain link fence and a rusty gate with a rusty padlock.  

We drove on to Fergus, to Guelph and down to Burlington. 

My brother lived in Burlington, raised his two sons there and died in Joseph Brant hospital. 

Stephanie played two Christmases pantomimes in the Burlington Arts Centre. She acted in two productions in the AtriumTheatre attached to GuelphUniversity,  a play in Fergus Theatre  that used to be the local movie house and graduated from Guelph University. Pamela Wallin gave the commencement address. She was Chancellor before she was a Senator.Theresa and I were there. 

We hit the bridge and  highway at Burlington and moved  at a crawl to the other side of St. Catherine's.

It's a nice town.  I held many appeal board hearings in a government building attached to the library across from the court house and shopped  in the Farmer's Market for fresh eggs and vegetableson  Wednesdays. 

Red brick houses,white paint trim,black shutters and roofs and wrought iron railings. My house is like that. There was a dairy bar there I with black and white tiled floor. And bar and high stools with red seats and booths.  They had the best hot rhubarb pie straight from the oven. The dairy bar was a chain and there was one on College Street just west of Yonge. 

My grandson Cameron is construction manager at an almost completed Arts Centre in St Catherine's. It's behind schedule and over budget. Initial bid was too high. Cuts  were made. Change orders during construction. Architects are not without fault. HIs next project might be in Kingston. 

Finally we were in fruit land. Seemingly mostly grapes and wineries. One named .... Organised Crime Winery. 

Vines in orderly rows and extremely well groomed. Can't imagine them lending anything to a Niagara Blossom Festival.  A craft beer festival was very well attended. There were ribs. 

Then we arrived at our destination. Much like Elora only more so. The lovely old homes can still be seen on residential streets but the green lawns that once surrounded them are fully built upon with more recent construction. Stores are reminiscent of Main Street,Disneyland and thronged with similar crowd density. 

Cars parked both sides on every inch of every street. Parking meters have an eight hour parking limit.

King Edward Hotel is spruced up. Stayed there once with Theresa's Dad. It was the welfare holding.
Room doors did not fasten well and the fire escape was a thick rope securely tied to a radiator in front of  the second floor window. We attended a Shaw play in the old court house a couple of doors down. The  audience was mostly American. Talked throughout. 

Last Saturday, we toured the town by car. 

It was a beautiful day. The best part being the drive over the hills and far away down to Lake Ontario. Theresa had never seen Niagara on the Lake and ahe never will now because it doesn't exist as it once was. Hotels and hostelries and commercial tourist attractions have obscured the past. 

On our next outing, we plan to drive to Tobermory and take a trip on the glass bottomed boat and visit 
some of the picturesque little towns situated on Lake  Huron.