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On that disappointing note…

Ya, so I’m not my usual happy self, but the last few days have been a bit of a downer. The weather has been very blah, it’s November and oh ya, we lost our semi-final game! I’ll try to keep it cheery, as I now have a bit more time to do things I’ve put on hold for a while. But judging by the ideas floating around in my head right now, this week’s blog is going to be a bit more pensive than usual; I guess it fits in well with the time of year.

So yes, unfortunately, football is done for another year…hence the title for this week. While I appreciate the time to relax and catch my breath, it is never easy to conclude something you’ve invested so much time and effort into. After beating our opponent 30 to 7 in the regular season, we were confident we could once again beat Churchill. It was a bad omen when we lost our starting A back (and kicker/punter) on the second play of the game with an MCL injury.

The boys played hard, but it was clear there was no mojo at all…we just couldn’t string anything consistent together and lost 14 to 7. Despite the loss I’m still proud of the team, as we came a long way in a short period of time. This was especially true since so many of them had never played football before and nearly sixty percent of the team were grade 9’s. That certainly bodes well for next season, and gives us a lot of optimism.

One of the bright spots this week was the continued progress of the Europe trip. As I reported last time, all the available spots were filled in two days. Tomorrow is our first of many group meetings, and I will outline the student responsibilities for our journey. This is not only a trip, but also a pilgrimage (hence the name Canada’s Battlefields), and as such we want them to understand the importance of recognizing and remembering the sacrifice of previous generations.

On that note, this coming Sunday is Remembrance Day here in Canada. It is the day we take time to honour the more than 100,000 Canadians who have given their lives for our country. It is sad however that for many Canadians it is the only time each year that they remember our war dead. It is almost as if the young cadets and aged Legionnaires distributing poppies are a visual cue for our collective reflection. While I do tend to remember more than most, this time of year does make me think of my own efforts, both in the classroom and outside of it.

Stone of Remembrance, Brette-sur-Laize Canadian War Cemetery.

From an early age I had always wanted to serve my country in the armed forces. The plan was to attend Royal Military College, but my initial dream of becoming a pilot was sadly shattered in Grade 7 when I found out I had terrible vision and needed glasses. I shifted my focus to a career in the army, possibly even entering the ranks of the parachute infantry (which is extremely bizarre given my fear of heights). At age 17 I decided to join the Army Reserve to prepare for my future transition to regular force of the Canadian Army. I thus became a member of the Lake Superior Scottish Regiment (LSSR).

Pre-10 mile march, August 1991. I’m on the left with the C9 machine gun.

Change of Command parade, September 1991. Front row, second from left.

It is rather interesting how one’s life plays out, for at the time I joined the LSSR I never could have imagined that 21 years later I would be in a classroom teaching history to teenagers. While I certainly enjoyed my time in the reserves, I also came to realize that it was not what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. The constant relocation and deployment of our soldiers was a big influence on my decision to switch careers, but I am also convinced that I was called into my current profession. Maybe teaching sacrifice to our young people is my particular version of duty to my country.

Mother Canada weeping for her fallen sons, Vimy Memorial.

So this week I will do my part to remember. Yesterday was an important anniversary for my old unit, Zijpe Day. On November 5th, 1944, mortar and anti-tank units of the Lake Superior Regiment (LSR-predecessor to the LSSR), along with tanks of the British Columbia Regiment, attacked several German ships moored in the port of Zijpe, Netherlands. They would be the only Canadian Army units to score a naval victory during the Second World War. Some of the LSR dead from this theatre of the Northwest Europe Campaign are buried in the Canadian War Cemetery at Bergen-op-Zoom and we will have an opportunity to honour them during our visit next year.

Grave of Rifleman Janson, Bretteville-sur-Laize Canadian War Cemetery.

Obviously with all of these things going on it has been a relatively quiet week on the railway front. I did spend a bit of time looking over my article on Leeblain, which I hope to get back to very soon. I also did a little bit of light research, but there were no earth-shattering revelations.

Most of my attention was directed toward the impending incorporation of the Silver Mountain Historical Society. Next week I meet with the Regional Advisor from the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport to discuss preservation of some of the railway, so I guess it’s time to get this group rolling. We have our incorporation meeting scheduled for Sunday, December 9th, and I certainly hope it is well attended. We do have a good little group so far, but we are going to need more support and help from the local community.

Truth be told I am a bit nervous about the whole process, as there are a lot of legal and procedural requirements to this type of endeavour. I really hope more people step up to the plate and volunteer their time. Likewise, it would be nice to see some young blood get onboard too; at 38 I am the youngest person involved with the society. I know there are a lot folks out there that appreciate the history of our area and the history of the railway, but without some hard work and dedication there would be no history to enjoy for anyone. Please support the society!

Well on that note, I should wrap things up for now. As usual, there will be more insights and news next week. Until then…

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Posted by on November 6, 2012 in Miscellaneous, Research, Travel, Writing

 

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