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Jim Cumming - From the Publisher's Pen

Jim is the former publisher of the Fort Frances Times Ltd. He writes a weekly column and can be contacted at jcumming@fortfrances.com

Age a matter of the mind

Last August, forms from the federal government arrived in the mail for me to apply for my Canada pension and Old Age Security. They came as a shock since I really had not thought that I was “old.”

To me, my mother and her friends were old—all having well passed the 80 mark. Of course, when I was 40 and they were filling out their pension applications, that seemed old at the time.

Today, as I look at the council of Fort Frances, I note that Mayor Roy Avis and Couns. Albanese, Caul, Kitowski, and Ryan all have reached the age of retirement.

Optimistic about the future

It finally is the end of 2014—a year that most of us would like to forget.

The snow piled high and everyone’s snowblower had a long seasonal workout last winter. In fact, the district had one of its highest snowfalls ever recorded.

The cold winter began shortly after Remembrance Day in 2013 continued through March without any let-up. It only seemed to warm enough to drop another foot of snow on the ground.

Using our newfound time

As I sat down to write this column, I wondered to myself if all my electronic gadgets were dumbing me down or making me smarter.

The more I have read, the more confused I’ve become.

I remember Mrs. Benson, my Grade 1 teacher, having special books for us to practice our printing. We would be judged on our up and down letters, and how far a “g” dipped and curled under the line.

We strived for perfection.

She also drilled us on our addition and subtraction of simple numbers—and even to two-digit numbers.

A long list for Santa

Dear Santa:

I am writing this letter on behalf of many important people who probably would like to believe in you but somehow feel it below their dignity to write.

Our premier, Kathleen Wynne, has had a lot of grief since taking over leadership of the Liberal Party of Ontario. She would like to forget about all the poor decisions of her government and that of her predecessor.

Namely, she would like Ontarians to forget the $2 billion wasted on gas-fired power plants and the almost $2 billion for every home in the province to have a smart meter installed.

Snow creates beautiful scenes

In the summer when I fly to Toronto or Calgary, on a clear day I can look out the airplane window and marvel at the patchwork quilt of crops below me.

I have flown to Calgary and, looking down, have marveled at the brilliant yellow canola plants right up next to a field of blue flax.

I suspect that an agronomist would be able to look out the same window and define which fields were barley, or wheat, or oats, or soy on the green of the leaves.

Love the lights of Christmas

I like the lights of the Christmas season and especially enjoy the variety of styles that people use to decorate their yards.

I hope we have enough snow to cover the leaves and brown grass, but not too much to bury the lights in the yard.

Before the new LED lights, the lights outside created enough heat to melt the snow away so that they shone through the drifts. Nowadays, the cool LED lights that use energy sparingly can disappear beneath the snow and not be seen until spring.

Trade barriers hike costs

How much are economic barriers between provinces affecting us.

If you want to buy a French wine at the LCBO here, there is little problem beyond ordering it in. However, try to get a Merlot out of British Columbia and the task becomes impossible.

Ontario would much rather import wines from Europe, California, or Australia before it would permit wines from B.C. to find their way onto the shelves of our liquor stores.

It makes no sense.

Ontario residents can bring back wine and spirits from other provinces but the quantities are restrictive.

Don’t rush Christmas season

It is a magical transformation. One day our stores are dressed in Remembrance. The next day stores metamorphoses to Christmas.

Garlands and lights surround windows. Christmas banners hang from ceilings directing shoppers to Christmas specials. Christmas music plays in the background.

Suddenly Christmas bazaars and teas are flourishing throughout the community.

At the newspaper, we began seeing bookings for Christmas flyers early in September. Retailers had begun planning for Christmas 2014 shortly after the Christmas selling season had ended in 2013.

Still carrying the torch

In Grade 8, our classroom teacher, Claude Stewart, challenged the class to learn great pieces of poetry.

By the end of the year, our class could recite from memory more than 30 different pieces.

I can’t remember them all but the piece by John McCrae still rings true in my mind. One only can marvel that this hastily-scribbled poem, written during the Second Battle of Ypres, would mark most cenotaph ceremonies across Canada nearly a century later.

The poem was written about a day after his friend, Alexis Helmer, was killed by a German bomb.

We must roar

The plane was quiet on the trip home from Toronto.

The reality was setting in. The adrenalin that coursed through the veins of the district delegates for a day-and-a-half had dissolved.

The delegation had made its case to transfer the Crossroute Forest away from Resolute.

The two opposition parties, meanwhile, had pummelled the Liberal government during Question Period yesterday morning over the loss of $100 million in investment in the Fort Frances mill that would have created 200 direct mill jobs and another 800 ancillary ones across Rainy River District.