Christmas on the Rock. One of my “One the Rock” columns which appeared weekly in the Northern Life, Sudbury’s community newspaper. This one, dated December 20, 1998:
The first Christmas of the new century dawned clear, cold and bright over the Nickel Range, and no one was more excited by the day’s prospect than Joseph Poulin, a fact that did his mother’s heart much good.
Since September she had watched Joey, a mere slip of a boy and only 13, trudge off to work each day in the rock house of the Canadian Copper Company’s new Creighton Mine. With the onset of winter and the shortness of days, this meant that Joey left home before sunrise, and returned long after dark each night.
John Graves Simcoe, Governor of Upper Canada, circa 1795
Today, even though it is American Thanksgiving Day, I want to give thanks for an historical figure who is currently being portrayed as a dastardly villain on a popular American television series: John Graves Simcoe.
Simcoe fell from grace in Hollywood because he was a successful British military commander whose infantry regiment fought to suppress the American Revolution.
But a few years after losing that war, Simcoe returned to North America as the first Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada, where he provided leadership that was truly steadfast, and even visionary.
For some reason Simcoe was that rare creature: a privileged white Englishman who early saw slavery for the evil abomination it so truly was.
The snow falls silently in Toronto. It is Christmas Eve, and the snow is falling on the rich and poor, on the black and white, on the bag lady pushing her grocery cart and on the high-flying Bay Street broker in his Jaguar XJ-l2.
The snow gives the great city a festive air, and nowhere does it fall more prettily than here in Rosedale, the elite Toronto neighbourhood that is the last word in power, wealth and privilege.
Forty eight people may have frozen to death on the streets of Toronto last winter and beggars may be present in greater numbers this Christmas than at any time since the Great Depression, but the l980s and 90s have been good to Rosedale.