Is that your high point?

I first wrote of this years ago, when I was using Blogspot, but it continues to irritate me, so here goes again.

Ontario is one of those jurisdictions that allow personalized license plates. Maximum of eight characters – letters and numbers only. Some show a lot of creativity, such as the Volvo I saw flying past me on the highway one day, well in excess of the posted limit (he must have been, because I was) with the personalized plate “NONE”.

Then there are the ones specific to the vehicle displaying them, like the white Volkswagen Rabbit with the plate “IM LATE”. Good, but if the next vehicle happens to be a minivan, the context is lost. Or “RED BMW”. As long as that person keeps buying red BMWs, fine.

But the ones that really irk me are those that celebrate a past event in the owner’s life. That is when I ask the question posed in the title. For example, I saw a vehicle one day with “SSGT RCR”, which to any former member of the Canadian armed forces can only mean the person was a Staff Sergeant in the Royal Canadian Regiment. For my non-military readers, the RCRs are a much decorated infantry regiment. As I said, with that plate, I have to ask whether the high point, the highest accomplishment of the owner, was being a non-commissioned officer in the army. What about all the years since? Has nothing else of import happened in your life since you left the service? I’m not denigrating anyone’s service to their country, I served myself, first in the Royal Canadian Engineers, then in the militia with the Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada. But, I’m not going to get a personalized plate that reads “CPL QOR” to celebrate that fact.

No, I have something else in mind were I to get a personal plate. When I drove a cab, one customer, also a friend, told me she had my phone number listed on her cell phone as “leggy bitch” (I wore a lot of miniskirts in the cab – helped greatly with tips), so in order to avoid the censors in the Ministry of Transportation, I’d ask for “LG BEECH”. At the time, my cell phone number spelled out “legs”, so that plate would have seemed appropriate. At the moment, I have what the ministry calls “tourism plates” because they have Ontario’s official flower, the trillium, on them.

If you want personalized plates, go for it! But I would ask you to consider not commemorating something from thirty years ago.

Cat.

The more things change …

This hasn’t been a good month for Canadian cultural icons.  About two weeks ago, it was announced that Honest Ed’s, a Toronto landmark for at least 50 years is for sale.

Honest Ed’s is perhaps the granddaddy of discount stores.  It was founded by Ed Mirvish, who later in life branched into restaurants and theatres in downtown Toronto.  Among his best-known purchases was the Old Vic Theatre in London.  Honest Ed’s was possibly best known for his turkey giveaways every year at Christmas.  I remember being taken to the store many more years ago than I care to count.  Yes, it was crowded, both with people and merchandise, but the prices were good.  And that is what kept people coming back – the savings.

Earlier this week it was announced another icon was on the block.  The Chateau Laurier Hotel in Ottawa is also for sale.  This hotel, which at one time was owned by Canadian Pacific, was host to many international heads of state when visiting Canada.

And finally, yesterday the news programmes and channels carried the story of yet another icon gone, this time to a storm.  Years ago, when the federal government of the day decided Canada should have an official national anthem, “O Canada” was not the only choice.  The unofficial anthem had been a piece called “The Maple Leaf Forever” and it too made the short list.  “The Maple Leaf Forever” was written by a Toronto school principal named Alexander Muir, supposedly inspired by a maple leaf that had fallen from the tree and clung to his coat.  The tree was on Laing Avenue, just east of downtown Toronto.  I remember one day taking my sons along Laing, just to show them the tree and explain its significance in Canadian history.  I’m glad I did.  Last night, that silver maple was blown down during a series of thunderstorms that hit the city.  (That was also the day we drove the length of De Grassi Street just to show the boys there was no school at all on the street despite what the television show said.)

So, there we are – two commercial icons that may end up under foreign ownership; and one icon that may be destined for the woodchipper.

Enjoy your weekend and remember to hug an artist – we need love (and icons) too.

Cat.