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.

Politics for the uninterested

I love politics and politicians.  Not because I thrive on politics, but because they provide such wonderful material for these posts.  There were three items on the news sites that caught my attention this morning.

Let’s start with the happy one: I’m not a big fan of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, but in this case…  .  Here’s the story: A couple in Ottawa were in a public park taking their wedding photos when Stevie saw them.  He ordered his car stopped and walked over to congratulate them. Now, let’s be honest here – the last person you expect to crash your wedding is the leader of your country.  There are people out there who will claim he will do anything for a photo op, but in this case, I’m not one of those people.  Can you think of a better wedding gift than having, in this case, the Prime Minister of Canada, in the photos.  It is certainly something you’ll talk about for years.

Let’s move on to the “dumb and dumber” part of politics now.  An American politician not named Todd Akin has opened his mouth and it seems by doing so he shot the Romney campaign in the foot again.  Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock is reported as having said the following, copied from an article on thestar.com,  “I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize that life is that gift from God. And, I think, even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen,” .  This was during a debate when he was asked if abortion should be allowed in cases of rape.  Romney’s campaign wasted no time distancing themselves from this comment.  I haven’t been following the American campaign, although I should have paid it some attention for I know that what happens will have an effect on Canada, but I understand that both Obama and Romney consider women key voters in the upcoming election.  And we have this idiot saying something like this?  May I suggest that Mr Mourdock just guaranteed that women voters in Indiana will likely vote for Obama because of his statement?

Civic politicians aren’t really much better in the smarts department on occasion either.  Recently Toronto City councillor Ana Baillao was stopped and charged with driving under the influence – blood alcohol was in excess of the Ontario limit of 0.08.  Ms Baillao had been at some Mayor’s dinner, where she probably imbibed, then went to a different location with some lobbyists for firms wanting to erect a casino in downtown Toronto, where she no doubt enjoyed more “beverages of a sociable nature”.  A few hours later, a police cruiser spotted her driving without headlights.  She ignored his original attempts to stop her.  When she did stop, as I wrote above, she was found to be impaired.  Given this, can anyone tell me why on earth she feels she can plead “not guilty” in court?  Why not just do the right thing and say “I screwed up – I should have taken a cab home”?

Enjoy your day and remember to hug an artist – we need love too.  And if you’re drinking, don’t drive.

Cat.