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February  6, 2014

Some Current History Notes

As a follow up to my recent article on Wolfman Joe LaFlamme I received a call from a reader in South River who said that Joe was there in the 1930s with his zoo for a period. Apparently some people travelling to Callander to see the Quints  would stop at a store and stay at some cabins near South River. Joe set up nearby.The details are vague and I would like to hear more about it. He had his wolves, a moose, and a bear and people flocked to see them. He apparently had a sideline of some alcoholic refreshments for sale. And one day he was gone. 

I spoke to Suzanne Charron who wrote the book on Joe and she had not heard of this initiative. It made sense that Joe was trying to make some money on one of his early attempts to exploit his animals prior to bigger initiatives as mentioned in the book. 

Yukon Eric 

In an article on my home town Port Colborne (Nov 11, 2006) I wrote about a memory of taking a teenage girls softball team I coached to the local Dairy Queen when they won the town championship. I wrote about a pink convertible Cadillac pulling up and the famous wrestler Yukon Eric getting out to get a treat. The girls and I had our second memorable experience that day chatting with him. He was 6.2 and 275 pounds and apparently loved animals like Joe LaFlamme. (See photo). Coincidentally Joe LaFlamme who also wrestled a lot died in 1965 the same year Yukon Eric committed suicide. Look Yukon Eric up on Wikepedia. 

Yukon Eric in his prime

Pete Seeger Folk Singer dies Age 94 

My son Clarke in his book Random Acts of Culture (2010) has a chapter on Pete where he describes editing a Seegers audio tape for a Seeger movie while working for the CBC . Apparently the audiotape did not have an indication of when the sound started so it was difficult to synchronize it with the film. Clarke spent 2 days reading the lips on the film in order to add the sound. He fell in love with the music and bought a Gibson long-neck banjo and Seeger's book on how to play it. 

Five years later he met Seeger for an interview where Seeger explained how he involved his audiences in his events in a highly original way. There is lots online on this remarkable folk and protest musician. 

Conference on Affects of Site on Art 

In the same book mentioned above the theory behind art that is powerful, outside of a gallery and not necessarily for profit is profiled in detail. A conference on the Affects of Site will be held Feb 14-16 in North Bay and my son will be one of the main speakers. They will make a visit to the Ice Follies on Lake Nipissing. For further information check the website www.affectsofsiteconference.com 

The Great Escape 

I have had an interest in one of the classic WWII stories The Great Escape where Canadian prisoners of war dug a tunnel that allowed 50 Canadian prisoners to escape. Most were caught and shot. The classic Steve McQueen movie The Great Escape:The Canadian Story has been shown numerous times including recently. 

If you Google The Great Escape there is lots there. Of particular interest is the new book by Toronto’s Ted Barris. I picked up a copy in the Powassan Library and enjoyed the book. 

The Great Escape book by Ted Barris

Again on a personal note and again involving my son Clarke, he had a girlfriend whose father was one of the key men in the escape preparation but was not chosen to escape. He kept a beautiful illustrated diary of his POW experience and I had the pleasure of having it for a few days. A remarkable piece of history. His name is mentioned many times in the Barris book. 

Toronto Monestime Photo Exhibit

As a follow up to my recent article on Dr. Monestime’s election as Canada’s first black mayor 50 years ago there will be a display on him  in Toronto City Hall Feb 17-23, 2014 as a part of Black History Month. The official opening will be from 7-9 pm on February 18th when various speakers including Vala Monestime Belter and I will speak along with various dignitaries.  

Photo exhibit poster

Italian Canadian Experiences in WWII 

This interesting travelling exhibition at Discovery North Bay runs until April 18, 2014. Well worth a visit to see the impact of war on people. 


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