Over The Back Fence

Dec 13th, 2018 | By | Category: Over The Back Fence

Volunteer Profile…

Helen Blair of Pakenham has been involved with the Pakenham Public Library for almost 50 years, doing just about every job going. She has taken her turn on the sign-out desk, re-shelving books and checking out materials, and jokingly says she was also the cleaning lady for several years!

An avid reader and book lover, Blair was a natural to become involved in the Pakenham library, and as Librarian Katherine Pillsworth told Y@H, “Helen is a wonderful example of an engaged and willing volunteer, and the Pakenham Library has definitely benefitted from her tireless work.”

She was also instrumental in organizing and maintaining a school library.

Blair’s volunteering doesn’t end at the library, however. She is a volunteer baker for a local program under the auspices of Home Support, where meals and socializing take place once a week. Rarely does Blair miss the opportunity of preparing the full day of activities, along with baking for the program.

Blair admits she gets as much out of volunteering as she puts into it. A well-known face in Pakenham and beyond, Helen Blair is a valued contributor to the vibrant life of her community, and Y@H congratulates her on her many years as a volunteer, helping on many fronts, enriching the lives of those around her.

Where is He Now? 

Les Emmerson

Once a rocker, always a rocker – and quite often a golfer.

That’s how life is shaping up these days for veteran Ottawa musician and songwriter Les Emmerson, a former member of Ottawa groups the Staccatos and The Five Man Electrical Band.

Between the mid ‘60s and early ‘70s, Emmerson wrote or sang dozens of hits for both bands, including Half Past Midnight, I’m A Stranger Here, Absolutely Right and Signs, an anti-establishment anthem that sold more than 1.5 million copies and has since sold millions more records for two other bands.

As a solo act, Emmerson also had hit singles Control of Me and Cry Your Eyes Out, which he recorded in California before returning to Canada in 1981.

Though he’s well into “senior hood,” Emmerson continues to perform occasionally with a new version of the Five Man Electrical Band and also with Ottawa’s Cooper Brothers.

When not playing and writing music, he’s on the links.

“I am obsessed with the game of golf,’’ he says. “For an old, lazy music guy, it’s great to be able to play during the week when the courses aren’t crowded.’’

This month in History

Dec. 12, 1858

The first Canadian coins – one cent, five cent, 10 cent and 20 cent – were put into circulation.

Funny You Should Ask

Q: A new neighbour has just moved to my area from Toronto. He said he was glad to get away, and told me when he was growing up there the city was called “Muddy York”. That was news to me, as I lived in Toronto for many years, and never heard it called Muddy York. Can you find out if what he said is true?

A: It was indeed called Muddy York but the title came out of a comedic story told years ago. It goes something like this: A man sank in the mud on a Toronto street. Onlookers tried to pull him out. He said to his would-be rescuers, “Wait until I get my feet out of the stirrups.” This would indicate the mud was really, really deep if his horse was mired out of sight. We have no way of knowing if this is a true story, but it was the closest we could come to an answer to your question.

The Farm Scene

If you take a drive this time of year throughout the Ottawa and the Seaway Valleys, and across the river onto the Quebec side, you will see countless Christmas tree farms. Naturally, this is their busiest time of the year.

Several years ago, Agriculture and Food Canada released numbers of the estimated number of tree farmers in Canada, and came up with the number 4,000. That number has grown significantly, but a final count has yet to be made. We do know, however, that tree-farming in Canada is fast growing.

The four provinces leading in tree growing are Quebec, Nova Scotia, Ontario and New Brunswick. At the time of the release of the above statistics on numbers, it was estimated that the tree industry tops more than $50 million in sales every year.  It goes without saying that since tree farming has grown, so then have the sales. It was noted at the time that a vast number of those sales take place in the United States.

Christmas tree growing takes a lot of work, and a great deal of patience. It takes 8 to 9 years for a tree to reach two metres in height, after spending two years in a nursery bed.

Remember When …

Still circulated today to raise money to help fight tuberculosis, the very first American Christmas Seals went on sale in the city of Wilmington, Delaware in the United States. Although not the threat it was when the Seals first came out, money is still needed to help ward off this dreaded disease which, since the seals were first issued on Dec. 9, 1907, has raised millions of dollars.

Although there has been much improvement in the freezing used in dentistry, we can thank a Hartford dentist, Dr. John M. Riggs, for using the first dose of nitrous oxide, known as laughing gas, in a tooth extraction way back in 1844. The date was Dec. 11.

Canada can be proud to claim that the first ever National Hockey League game was played on Canadian ice –  in Montreal on Dec. 19, 1917.

There have been many notable births on Christmas Day over the years. To name a few: Humphrey Bogart, 1899; Barbara Mandrell, 1948; Sir Isaac Newton 1642; and Clara Barton, who founded the Red Cross, in 1821.

Who Said What …

“The boy who loiters on the way when sent on an errand
too often remains the errand boy throughout life.’’ 

– Thomas Ahearn, Ottawa native, electrical engineer, inventor and promoter at the height of his career, speaking of his early years.

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