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December 15, 2011

Looking Back – Looking Forward

I haven’t written much lately for various reasons but now that winter has arrived I would like to look at a few items that have accumulated in my in basket.

War of 1812

In the last article I wrote I mentioned how the bicentennial of the war of 1918 will be in the news in 2012 and that I will write about several areas of interest. I have been reading Pierre Berton’s first of 2 books on the war – The Invasion of Canada 1812-13 – where he profiles the complexity of the early circumstances or as he says “a war within a war, within a war.” Berton writes about how native Americans on their way to their St. Joseph’s Island sanctuary in Lake Huron before the war frightened the Americans off Michilamackinac Island in July 1812 even though the Americans didn’t know there was a war on. This is an interesting foreboding of some of the confusing situatios in the war. The last battle was fought 2 weeks after the war was over because the message had not arrived.

Tecmseh at the Battle of the Thames where he was killed. C W Jeffereys drawing

The Americans had a few other rude awakenings especially when they thought the thousands of ex Americans in Upper Canada (Ontario) would welcome them. The U.S. Secretary of State said “We can take Canada without soldiers . . . we only have to send officers into Canada and the people will rally round our standard.” Thomas Jefferson among others believed that taking Canada was “a mere matter of marching”. The U.S. had 7.5 million people and Canada less than 80,000. When the war ended Canada had lost no ground. Canada couldn’t have done without the support of the U.S. native population with its leader Tecumseh who were in conflict with the U.S. government over land claims and that all land was their destiny includingCanada –especially to the west.

Other 2012 Celebrations

Chisholm Township, where I live, will celebrate its Centennial in 2012 and plans are underway. The week that Chisholm was incorporated was also the week of another better known event the Titanic sinking. And 50 years ago Foster Hewitt started Hockey Night in Canada.Queen Elizabeth’s 60th anniversary as Queen will be celebrated as well.

The People Speak 2011-12

Democracy has made great strides in 2011 and will in 2012. The Arab Spring and Fall has changed the face of several countries where dictators ruled. The Occupy movement is a sign of the restlessness in people who are not sharing equitably in the capitalist system. The internet is playing a remarkable role. The leadnow.ca website has mounted a petition on the Conservative Crime Bill which many believe will unfairly incarcerate the poor, natives and the mentally ill instead of rehabilitating them. The AVAAZ.org website has had an influence in many progressive initiatives.

The Art Scene

The new North Bay Culture Plan should have some interesting results in 2012 and have an impact on North Bay’s active cultural thrust.

Although little publicized I have noted the exciting art program at the North Bay Regional Health Centre. Their Artist in Residence program and the Art Therapy program are examples of the advanced thinking of the organization. Their Art/Health month in November had a dozen events – workshops, tours, speakers, etc. I sat in on a drumming workshop and later heard a presentation by a behavioural neurologist where his presentation was sent on the internet to other professionals outside the hospital who at the end of the presentation had a chance to ask questions on screen for the hospital audience to see and share. For a report on the drumming workshop by Chantal Spiers, Art Studio Technician. Log on to www.nbrhc.on/mainstreetblog/?p=2715.

Therapeutic drumming workshop at the North Bay Regional Health Centre’s Arts & Health Month in November led by Treanor Mahood- Greer D.Mackey photo.

Outside North Bay

There is lots of interesting activity outside North Bay some of which follows. South River’s Cafe which featured good food, music & art for years has a new owner, chef Darl McCallum and it is expected to open again in early 2012.

I visited Mattawa recently and followed up on Clermont Duval’s remarkable graphic novel out in 2012 where he is drawing dozens of panels telling the story of life in logging camps. The framed book panels are for sale and I purchased one of the many that caught my eye. Contact the Clermont Duval Gallery where he is available regularly when he is not in his studio.

Mattawa has a couple of other heritage projects of interest. A group is fighting to save the CPR rail line from Pembroke to Mattawa for future infrastructure consideration. A group including craftsperson and drummer Lorraine Montreuil has been working to get a quality crafts cooperative going for native people. Heritage Canada has provided some funding to build the organization, develop products and train the craftspeople to make the coop work.

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