LONDON, ONTARIO – With statues being toppled from coast to coast because 154 years ago our national founders didn’t espouse the exact same ‘values’ as historically ignorant urban hipsters . . . with way too many Canadians still hiding under their beds, remotely depositing their lockdown cheques as they wait for the development of a vaccine that will eliminate the possibility of human suffering in all of its forms . . . and with every political office in the land seemingly occupied by shallow ciphers who believe that public speaking’s only function is the expression of apologies and racial guilt . . . it’s looking like this Thursday’s Canada Day celebrations are going to be an even more depressing washout than usual.
LONDON, ONTARIO – One of the unlikelier candidates for sainthood which the ages have offered up, the American writer, pacifist and activist Dorothy Day (1897–1980) shacked up with a series of men in her twenties, had a baby aborted, rebounded into a rather cynical marriage that didn’t even last a year, bore a child out of wedlock, was once a card-carrying Communist, spent an unfortunate amount of time in jail for acts of civil disobedience, and was the subject of a 500 page FBI file.
LONDON, ONTARIO – Yesterday our lone London-residing child somehow got it into her head (and successfully implanted the idea into ours as well) that it was Father’s Day and came over bearing tins of Guinness and a saucy new red wine called Off The Press to join us in a splendid repast featuring the favourite foodstuff of right-thinking fathers everywhere, fish & chips. Realizing that we’d jumped the gun we joked that we should endeavour to set things right by reconvening on the true Father’s Day this Sunday with the second favourite foodstuff of RTFE – Chinese takeaway. If that reprise should happen to come off, fine and well. But really, my cup of paternal homage already overfloweth. I think we all recognize that Father’s Day is a sort of poor cousin or add-on jubilee that wouldn’t exist at all if it weren’t for Mother’s Day; rather like Boxing Day is to Christmas.
LONDON, ONTARIO - I expect there was a fair bit of sighing in homes all across the Forest City last week as the news filtered through that Jane Bigelow (1928–2021) had just died one week shy of her 93rd birthday. The first woman mayor in the history of London – and only the second to head up a major Canadian city (following Ottawa’s Charlotte Whitton) – Jane Bigelow’s improbable reign lasted from 1972–78.
Considering how completely she cut against the mayoral grain of preceding decades (adjectives like ‘beige,’ ‘innocuous’ and ‘Oh, I must’ve dozed off,’ spring to mind) it’s rather amazing that she lasted that long or got in at all. I look back on that time now, trying to remember how it all came to pass and recalling some of my own favourite highlights of the Bigelow regime, and can’t help arching an appreciative eyebrow at London's surprising capacity to opt for something so completely different.
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THE AQUINAS LECTURE
G.K. CHESTERTON AND THE GIFT OF GRATITUDE
ALL LIFE IS A GIFT :
THE IMPORTANCE OF TRADITION :