<ABOVE – Official Royal Canadian Airforce portrait of Pilot Officer JOHN GILLESPIE MAGEE JR.> In October/1940 young Magee joined the Royal Canadian Air Force and received flight training in St. Catharines, Ontario and RCAF Station Uplands in Ottawa. From there he went to England as a commissioned pilot officer. Having trained as a Spitfire pilot, he was assigned to make a high altitude flight ‘into the stratosphere’, which he did. Upon landing, Officer Magee went into his quarters and wrote ‘High Flight’ on the back of a letter to his mother.‘HIGH FLIGHT’ by John Gillespie Magee, Jr., November/1941
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds – and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of – wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air…
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew –
And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.John Magee Jr.’s name, along with many others who served in the Royal Canadian Air Force, World War II – is displayed in the Memorial Chamber of Canada’s Peace Tower in OTTAWA on page 37. He died in an accidental mid-air collision over England in 1941 at the age of 19.
“The skies are emptying out,” says the New York Times. Bird numbers are down by nearly three billion over the last 50 years, and it isn’t only exotic and rare birds that are disappearing. Many common species are going too.TORONTO’s buildings are killing millions of them annually due to fatal light awareness. In other words, they collide with our city’s skyscraper forest.Every spring and fall, day and night, hundreds of thousands of birds overfly the city, to and from the southland. Unobstructed until they reach Greater Toronto, these tiny spirits are suddenly confronted by hundreds of buildings – some 70-80 storeys high, and oftentimes illuminated. Millions annually plummet to their deaths from these structures.<ABOVE – the four North American bird flyways. TORONTO is in the Atlantic Flyway>FLAP (or the Fatal Light Awareness Program) is TORONTO-based. It’s been valiantly fighting to save the birds, and is having some success. Through research, education, rescue, rehabilitation, and now the courts, FLAP is challenging developers to be much more environmentally friendly.In an earlier New York Times article, “Toronto Looks to Save Casualties of Urban Skies”, October 28/2012, Ian Austen writes: “There is no precise ranking of the world’s most deadly cities for migratory birds, but TORONTO is considered a top contender for the title . . . (Professor Daniel Klem Jr., an ornothologist at Muhlenberg College in Allentown Pa.) was quick to say that the city also leads North America when it comes to addressing the problem.FLAP volunteers rise before dawn every day, and head out carrying butterfly nets and paper bags. They rescue injured birds before the city wakes up for another day. The dead are wrapped in paper, and taken to FLAP headquarters. The injured are treated, and later released on the shores of Lake Ontario. More than 164 species have collided with Greater TORONTO’s buildings in the last 15 years.<ABOVE – an injured Ovenbird being treated. It will eventually be released.> To find out more about TORONTO’s Fatal Light Awareness Program (or FLAP), call 416-366-3527 or check their website – https://flap.org/ Volunteers and contributions are always welcome. <PHOTOS –SARA SCHARF & J.P. Moczulski>
Led by Swedish activist GRETA THUNBERG, an estimated 500,000 people marched through Montreal on Friday, calling for action on climate change. Same was true in TORONTO, Ottawa, Hamilton, Victoria, Halifax, etc. “We are millions striking and marching around (the world) and we’ll keep doing it until they listen,” Thunberg said.<On a fence at Spruce Court Co-Op, Cabbagetown, TORONTO>
Without question he’s one of the most famous Canadians ever. MILES GILBERT “TIM” HORTON (1930-74) was born in Cochrane, Ontario and played 22 seasons in the National Hockey League (NHL) for the TORONTO Maple Leafs, New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Penguins and Buffalo Sabres.<PHOTO ABOVE – the first restaurant to bear Tim Horton’s name opened in NORTH BAY, Ontario, It sold hamburgers instead of doughnuts.> Today there are around 4,800 Tim Hortons coffee houses in Canada and the United States – more than 80 in Buffalo alone. There’s at least one outlet in almost every Canadian village, town and city, as well as in every rest stop along Ontario’s 401 Highway.The first TIM HORTONS doughnut shop opened in HAMILTON, Ontario in 1964. A plaque marks its former location, and not surprisingly there’s a new Tim’s on-site.Outlets in the Phlippines, Thailand, the United Kingdom, Spain and China are in planning or building stages. The idea is to increase the number of outlets to over 40,000 worldwide. Tim’s is now under the wing of an American company, but its headquarters remain in Ontario.At 4 a.m. on February 21, 1974 Horton, who was speeding to BUFFALO from TORONTO on the Queen Elizabeth Way, lost control of his sportscar, hit a concrete culvert, was thrown onto the road, and arrived dead at a local hospital, At the time of his death there were about 50 restaurants open or in development. <PHOTO ABOVE – Hockey Hall of Fame, TORONTO>
Canadians don’t like horn honking according to a recent survey by KANETIX, a car insurance company. But Canadian drivers are notorious for it. “Horn honking occurs too often, “ says Janine White, a company VP. “Drivers are quick to react to traffic related issues by aggressively blasting their horns.”The sexes are about equal in the Kenetix survey – with male honkers at 48% and females at 45%. Age it seems makes a difference in the way generations use – or don’t use – the car horn.
KIMAHLI POWELL, Executive Director of TORONTO’s Rainbow Railroad wants you to know that CBS’s ’60 Minutes’ magazine program will profile the great work being done by the organization in both TORONTO and New York City.
With more than 70 countries worldwide criminalizing LGBTQI individuals, including 1000 this year alone, volunteers have worked tirelessly in both Canada and the United States to help provide a pathway to safety. Mr. Powell says “their harrowing stories of unimaginable violence and persecution is why we do the work we do.”
’60 Minutes’ on CBS and CHCH – Sunday night, May 19 at 7 pm EST (or a half hour later depending on sports broadcasting).For up-to-date information on RAINBOW RAILROAD go to https://www.rainbowrailroad.com/
<Always camera-ready – BRYAN BLENKIN & ALAN ROWE, Thursday, May 16th>
Organized by ‘Don’t Mess With The Don’, hundreds of volunteers gave up their Saturday by picking trash in TORONTO’s Don Valley.
The Don is more than just a park. It’s home to a six-lane freeway, access to 10 ravines, bike and running trails, Evergreen Brick Works, and a sizable population of native animals and birds.
At day’s end, an impressive 1,500 bags (about 100,000 pounds) of trash were waiting for pickup.
Don’t Mess With The Don collaborated with Evergreen, Greenpeace, Salomon, Arc’teryx and One Piece a Day in this second-annual event. <PHOTO ABOVE – some of Saturday’s volunteers in one of the Don Valley parks>
GERRY COTTEN, 30, was in India opening an orphanage, when he passed away taking the company’s passwords to his grave. Now Quadriga CX, based in HALIFAX, Nova Scotia, is in crisis mode. His wife is unable to find the passwords or keys that would unlock the wallets, worth about $250-million. “Cold wallets” are essentially offline storage systems that protect funds from hacking and theft. They’re locked solid without passwords. The company has about $375,000 in cash while owing the equivalent of $250-million to about 92,000 users. Mr. Cotten died on December 9th with complications from Crohn’s disease.
What is the Rainbow Railroad? It’s a Canadian charitable organization, founded in 2006, based in TORONTO, that helps LGBTQI individuals escape persecution in their homelands. In 71 countries, queer and trans people face criminal charges under colonial-era anti-gay laws that can result in life sentences. In eight countries, the death penalty can be applied. LGBTQI people are outed in the media, attacked by mob violence, sexually assaulted, or rounded up in state-sanctioned crackdowns by police.
From KIMAHLI POWELL, Executive Director – “Two people are dead and at least 40 have been detained in what appears to be a second wave of a state-sponsored crackdown on LGBTQI people in Chechnya. “Since the reports first surfaced two weeks ago, we’ve been connecting with our partners on the ground, such as Russia’s LGBT Network . . . Those who’ve managed to escape (from Chechnya) are still experiencing serious trauma as a result of the humiliation, torture and abuse that they faced there,” Powell says.
Over 1,200 people have asked for help in 2018. To date, Rainbow Railroad has assisted more than 600 individuals’ escape to safe countries. Several of them now live in TORONTO. For up-to-date information go to https://www.rainbowrailroad.com/