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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

You will make a difference

Volunteers help make the world go around. And as we examine all the activities that take place in a year across Rainy River District, it would be difficult to measure the value volunteers contribute to the economy.

One only has to follow the Fort Frances or Emo minor hockey programs to begin measuring the time spent by coaches and support parents to make teams and leagues functions.

Each league hosts its own tournament, and hotels and restaurants fill with visiting families contributing to the economy of the community.

Hard work, sore muscles

For the past two weekends, I have been helping my brother build a deck at his cabin.

I chuckle when I think about this and our competitive nature when my father used the two of us to carry lumber to our cabin on Turtle Island. Over 45 years ago, we bragged about how many studs we could march up the hill to the building site.

We showed off our strength when we carried 2”x8” joists up the hill. We had maxed out on being able to carry 12 studs at a time.

Book are revered in Europe

Travelling through Europe this past spring, I was amazed at the number of small book stores that were found in the centre of the cities we visited.

I couldn’t help but wonder why in Europe, small book stores could be so successful. Yet here in Canada, we seem to see all the independent stores disappearing in favour of box store sellers.

Perhaps the clue to the book store phenomena is the fact that travelling through five countries, each has their own language and separate culture. The stores cater focus on their uniqueness.

Lives may have been much richer

I was wondering the other day if by living in a simpler time, in a remote area of the province, our quality of life and lifestyle was greatly improved over today.

Back in the 1960s when I was in high school, almost everyone had an after-school job that often carried on through the year.

If you were a male and 17, you probably already were on the spare board at the mill. Working there was like winning the lottery today.

At mercy of Mother Nature

We are at the whim of the weather.

Emergency planners across Rainy River District have gone to extreme lengths to protect property and infrastructure over these past two weeks. And as the water has risen, everyone is looking at the skies—wondering if the darkening clouds are the precursor to more rain.

On June 20, forecasters were calling for substantial rain for that weekend based on weather conditions to the west and southwest of the Rainy Lake basin.

Can’t rest on laurels yet

Coming up this weekend, and through to Tuesday and the following weekend, are celebrations marking both Canada Day and the Fourth of July across Borderland.

A combined effort on both sides of the border has created a week-long celebration, although the flood threat unfortunately has forced both the Dragon Boat Festival and cross-border “Pulling for Peace” tug-of-war events to be cancelled.

Still, together we can celebrate how successful we’ve been in holding back Rainy Lake and protecting our neighbours and communities.

Rainfall having big impact

In a little more than a decade, Rainy River District has experienced two extreme rainfalls. They may be a result of climate change that is affecting our weather patterns.

What was a 50-year extreme in 2002 is now repeating itself—and may mimic a 100-year extreme that brought on the flooding of 1950.

An almost 80-year-old landmark broke loose and floated up on the beaches of the Point Park in Fort Frances. The wharf on Sand Bay, originally built to handle barges and tugboats carrying supplies and people to far destinations on Rainy Lake, is no more.

Will your voice be heard?

Will your voice be heard at the ballot box? Or are you among the 50 percent of Ontario citizens who are going to let someone else make the decision for you about who will govern the province following tomorrow’s election?

Around the coffee table, it appears no one is excited by this election. It is not a top-of-mind concern anywhere in Fort Frances outside of the campaign offices of the four parties.

What does that say about electors in the Kenora-Rainy River riding?

Parties choose own agenda

The provincial election will be held June 12 but the advance polls already are open and voting is underway.

As I watch the campaign unfold, I’m struck by how mean-spirited it has become among the three party leaders.

Integrity and honesty seem to have been forgotten, and many of the mandarins carrying the three main provincial banners are doing no more than uttering the sound bites put forward by the central organizing committees in Toronto.

Old buildings left me in awe

When is something considered old? In fashion it might be three months. When it comes to cars and trucks, it could be 10 years.

A home might be considered old when it has been around for 50-60 years. A person might be considered old at age 70 or 80.

Buildings in Canada could be considered old from age 40 to age 125. By our standards, much of historic Germany, Austria, and Hungary must be ancient.

After travelling for two weeks up the Rhine and then down the Danube, I gained a new appreciation for the age of buildings.