William Wardill of Eatonia still lives where he was born 83 years ago. A virtuous old sage with a wicked wit, he became an omnivorous reader almost as soon as he learned the alphabet. He read about the First World War when still a child and was almost old enough to enlist in the Second World War. His boyhood was spent in a safe passage through the Dirty Thirties. Since earning a university degree in history and English in 1991, he has published numerous columns, articles and books, including a novel in 2010. His work is coloured by small town living, ecological concerns and a belief in a personal obligation to community.
I have a picture in my mind of the Eatonia Band helping to celebrate the opening of a new school during the time of great expectations that followed the ending of the Second World War. I think that. . .
There is a place where I searched for history when I was young, vigorous and fearless. It is in and around the cleft formed by the joining of the South Saskatchewan and Red Deer Rivers. As I worked. . .
The mists of memory swirl backwards and scattered poem fragments emerge like flotsam left by a receding tide. Lines from three poems by Rupert Brooke have remained imbedded in my mind through the . . .
Like circus barkers, the hawkers of the electronic media have been unleashed to peddle their wares. The annual trivialization of one of the world’s great religions has begun. A hedonist society has. . .
When I was nine years old, the theatre in my home village was five years old and was never a venue for first run movie releases. This explains why I never saw The Eagle and the Hawk, first shown in. . .
Chemical weapons are not new. In ancient times there were primitive flame throwers hurling Greek Fire at wooden ships in naval battles in the fabled waters of the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas. In . . .
Tears come easily to old eyes. Over the years mine have witnessed scenes of both joy and pain. In the televised images of the Remembrance Day service in Ottawa, I saw the emotions in the faces of . . .
I have lived for 90 years on the northern lands of the Great Central Plain of North America. I was two years old when the stock markets crashed and the rain stopped falling. For the next 10 years I. . .
For 17 years, Planet Earth has survived with constant acts of terror, real and threatened. The most devastating attacks came on September 11, 2001 when the World Trade Center was destroyed and the . . .
Gravitas is a word borrowed from Latin, the forerunner of all the Romance languages. In English, the dictionary meaning is dignity. It is more than that. It is the skills in words and manner which . . .
The ancient Greeks believed death occurred when the soul left the body. The concept of soul endures to this day as the mysterious force that animates the human body. I am a very old man. I am not . . .
ISDS is an acronym for investor state dispute settlement. It is a feature of the North America Free Trade Agreement that gives foreign investors the right to sue Canada if their potential profits . . .
This has been the summer of my discontent. For 60 long years I have worked as an arborist. Now I am watching my friends in the urban forest signalling the end of summer. Green ash trees, once the . . .
My dreams are coming true. Airships are being built again. Not so long ago I cruised the Internet to see the flaming crash of the Hindenburg at Lakehurst, New Jersey on May 6, 1937. The Hindenburg . . .
Late last year in Northern England, the nephew of one my distant cousins was beaten to death with an iron rod by seven youths who could find nothing better to do. This is the kind of cruel incident. . .
On May 20, Minister of Education Don Morgan stated there could be further amalgamations of school divisions and wondered out loud what the optimum number of school divisions should be. In the ivory. . .
I have been spending time developing a music library for a T. Eaton Catalogue house which was built in 1917. The work is an exercise in confusing technology and annoying frustration. It is also an . . .
Carrie Jacobs Bond composed music and lyrics of I Love You Truly in 1901. It was the first of her many compositions to be published and is still heard today, most often at weddings. Jacobs Bond was. . .
Excitement about the Power Ball Lottery has been lighting up TV screens all over North America. Here in the Canadian backwoods there seems to be a necessity for understanding what the happy furor . . .
In following the words and pictures in both print and electronic media, I have noted people who consider themselves to be experts are rediscovering the folk wisdom of former times and displaying it. . .
Before the first steps were taken in the Industrial Revolution in England 500 years ago, wealth was in the ownership of land bestowed by a monarch on men said to be of noble birth. Wealth was not . . .
Oct. 19, as the Liberals under Justin Trudeau, came back from the political wilderness to oust the Harperite Conservatives from power, I switched on my ancient TV set and turned to CNN. I expected . . .
There would be no murders in the name of God if the world were filled with scoffers. If there were no religious beliefs there would be no religious conflicts and no insane instrument of destruction. . .
When I was a little boy the word “urinate” was not in my lexicon. It was in medical journals. Little boys had more innocuous names for it such as peepee and piddle. The medical term has been used . . .
Canadians are to experience the delights of a super-long election campaign. Pollsters are predicting a three-way horse race in which two thirds of the electorate want to put Stephen Harper and his . . .
What the electronic media refer to as “breaking news” is served up in repetitive detail until the next “breaking news” breaks. During its time on the flashing screens each featured story appears to. . .
I was three years old when the twin maladies of drought and depression brought a continuing calamity to the Saskatchewan prairies. When I was seven or thereabouts, I received four nickels from my . . .
Today Jed Bush, contestant in the U.S. Republican select-a-presidential-candidate-race, told the world how much he admired Pope Francis. He then added in the politest of words that the concern for . . .
Two days ago, on land which had never been touched by the white man’s plough, I talked with a Cree man who had spent two years in a residential school. What he told me was a journey in horror. What. . .
There were no moving pictures shown in the raw village where I was born until the owner of the only hotel bought enough chairs to fill his ballroom and invited a travelling showman to make regular . . .
As a Canadian patriot, I once again place the ruminations of my brilliant mind at the disposal of my government in Ottawa, without any desire for recompense, either in bags filled with loonies or . . .
A brief news morsel, like an arrow gone astray, suggested the Masters and Mandarins in Ottawa were thinking of sentencing all the really nasty people caught by the constabulary to life imprisonment. . .
When I was a weird young child, I was infected by a strange belief. I believed I would never grow older, bigger and wiser unless I first learned to whistle. I stood for hours in front of a mirror, . . .
My friend Kay Parley who writes for the Wolesley Bulletin is a wise old maven. She picked up on a column I wrote about unstructured play. Essentially, I was complaining about parents who turn their. . .
The numbers of aged people as a proportion of the total global population is growing. I am one of those persons politely entitled a “senior.” We are the ones who misplace things every day and enter. . .
Within the political, corporate and investment communities the worship of wealth and its symbols continues. There is a growing undercurrent, however, of heresy. More and more people among the powerless multitudes understand they can't eat legal tender,
Canada Post is running a glitzy TV advertisement that seems to promise front door delivery of every item purchased from Internet businesses. This puzzled me a little. I am a faithful customer of Canada Post but, neither as a business nor a person, are
I am the grandson of a zealous gardener. Before coming to a frontier village in Saskatchewan in 1919, my maternal grandfather had lived in a row house in a smoky industrial town in England. The back lane behind his home enclosed a meagre yard where a
When the trees drop their yellow leaves this year I will be 87 years old. I will look back on a life marred by errors and embarrassments but redeemed by one small success. I am able to identify, study and write about problems that I can't solve. This is
I have been told that on the rails of Big Sky Rail, which took over a CN branch in 2011, the lonely trestle I first saw 80 years ago is in close proximity to a small forest of crude oil storage tanks. The report disturbs me. Before the Second World War,
Since people first were able to use language and press letters in clay there have been stories of current events. The circulation of news by the king's heralds gave way to the publication of news on hand-printed parchments, on paper printed with hand-set
Showing the flag is an old game. Our leaders are playing it again. They are showing the various flags of NATO countries in an effort to bend the actions of Vladimir Putin and the Russian Federation into a less threatening path. The centre of violence is
Herman Humpback was a happy whale. There were more of his kind. There were Hubert and Henry and Homer and Humperdinck swimming close by. He liked to surface to see the girl whales blowing. There was Helen and Helga and Hilda and Hermione and Hazel. They
The United Nations, rejecting the tiresome politicking that originates mostly in the United States, has pronounced publicly that unless the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is reduced, planet Earth will become a dangerous, even a
The talking heads on television news services are following the search for a missing airliner more closely than the explosive situation in Europe. What is happening in and around the Ukrainian Republic is a way station in a long and troubled history. To
This is the sixth day of April. Yesterday morning we were insulted again by a brief scattering of fluffy snow. Memory takes me back to spring days of long ago. In May, the village rejoiced in a peaceful cobalt blue sky and the shimmering green of grass
In the first decade of the past century when Europe was a powder keg almost ready to explode into war, my father, a young and exceedingly proper English youth, arrived in the village of Vonda, Saskatchewan. There, he filed on a homestead and bought a
In skipping your way through cable channels you will eventually encounter a new miracle drug. Because I believe drug companies invent new drugs and then look for health problems to use them on, I just invented one myself: "Laetorictus, scientifically
Tin Pan Alley was that area of Manhattan where music publishers and song writers congregated with tinny upright pianos to play their latest offerings for the many purchasers of sheet music. Historians say Tin Pan Alley blossomed in New York in 1885 and
At intervals, writers with nothing better to do and a copious supply of unclear words attempt to prove violent video games have nothing but beneficial effects upon the children who are addicted to them. These pompous personages are either idiots or
When I was a very small child, my mother's father told me that his youngest brother had crossed the ocean to a far place and had never come back again. His name was Septimus, the seventh son, and while my grandfather laboured in the coal-fed industrial
Those among us who have no direct knowledge of South Africa and its political history must accept what news services have told us about the man called Nelson Mandela. We are told that he was born into a royal family and he later became a firebrand in the
There has been a report that politicians and their minions in distant Ottawa will be discussing what to do for and to citizens with senile dementia. (If, since the last time I looked, the term senile dementia has become politically incorrect, please
Rich, red ketchup was a part of my boyhood diet. Every time a bottle of it was purchased for me, a bottle of HP sauce was purchased for my brother. In those very early years, my food choices were based on the sense of sight. HP sauce was brown; I didn't
For longer than the span of my years, people have walked unaware on what I hold to be the most significant man-made symbol of endurance anywhere in my town. It is a length of concrete sidewalk 200 feet long. (If you want that in meters, work it out for
In my small town there are two areas of unwounded prairie wool. One is a portion of a boomtown rail yard and the other is a part of plot which has been the town's sports grounds since 1921. These small surviving tracts of native grasses were once
Christmas belongs to me because it is part of my cultural inheritance. Christmas belongs to me because of happy memories. I was a child during the Great Depression. I remember farm families coming in sleighs to a Christmas Eve church service. My memory
To borrow a term from the lexicon of a bumptious bureaucrat, I am a stakeholder. I am a stakeholder in all sorts of things. For example, I am always referred to as a stakeholder whenever the health care people ask for my opinion about anything (which
The busy bureaucrats in Regina have found another way to keep their pay cheques coming. They have decided to revamp the solid waste disposal system, up, down and sideways. Thus far, their ultimate solution is like a fog-shrouded iceberg. Details and
Alsask has been a place-name in Saskatchewan for 103 years. For most of that period volunteers in Alsask have celebrated the end of summer and the abundance from fields and gardens with fowl suppers. These temporary public events, as they are so
Old men are associated with unpleasant odours. They ooze, drool and release gaseous eruptions. They and their lady companions are not welcomed joyfully at such events as symphony concerts or royal christenings. For the old ones, keeping themselves as
One day last week, having been overcome by an attack of egotism, I was singing and dancing in front of a large mirror, stopping at intervals to bestow fulsome praise upon myself. My long-suffering wife entered the room. Sparks of anger were flashing in
There is nothing new under the sun. In 2013, Saskatchewan is riding the crest of a resource boom which is providing a wealth of raw materials to other countries. In 1847, the Elgin-Marcy Reciprocity Treaty gave the British colonies of North America the
This morning, June 10, I have a persistent pain in my belly. This is because I have begun to believe I know the guiding blueprint being followed by the regime in Ottawa. It seems to me that our shepherding prime minister and his voiceless flock are the
Canada Post has been lamenting in the newspapers about its accelerating loss of business volume. Being a skeptic by nature and a former postmaster to boot, I see this as an opening gambit in what will be planned service cuts that will affect every
Hurrah! An 80-year-old man has climbed to the top of Mt. Everest. If he and I could go back in time to attend the same institution of learning, I would be ready to graduate while he was still in middle school. Whereas I find it hard just to climb out of
Life is a journey, so it is said. My journey began a very long time ago and many of my collected memories are of things unknown to most younger people. The homesteading era in Saskatchewan was in full swing in 1910. Still surviving when I was born were a
Anybody with even a smattering of learning knows that camouflage of the optical variety is the art of making something look like something else or making whatever something is doing look like it isn't. Crazy painting of ships during wartime disguises
Back in the middle of the 18th century, the Scots, who had already invented numerous beneficial things, concepts and processes, where poised on the edge of remarkable developments which later came to be called the Scottish Enlightenment. The centre of
Sometimes the noise of regurgitated TV programs is interrupted by advertising. A burst of saccharine-sweet music heralds the appearance of an impossibly handsome man at the peak of his virile glory. He is just standing there in an opulent room, the
Before the world staggered into the Great Depression, I was an infant, aware of little beyond my own safe cocoon. Two things I did know. A steam whistle wailing in the night announced the arrival of the 11 o'clock passenger train. I also knew that when
Years ago in Eire, the guide on a tour bus, who claimed to be an Irish Catholic married to a Protestant from Germany, said to me, "There is no religious conflict worth the sacrifice of even one human life." She was wise. In a part of the world torn by