Most Canadians speak of winter with respect and a
clear awareness of the dangers that this formidable seasons presents and each year
we Canadians issue a sad sigh when winter is clearly here to stay. Today was the
day for that sigh in Tisdale with the mid afternoon temperature at -14 and snow falling,
it was clearly winter. But there is also a smug recognition that each of us, young
and old alike consider ourselves up to the challenges of another Canadian winter
and we will not let it put life on hold until we issue that other long loud sigh
when spring is finally here.
Today is the last day of November and two amazing Canadians were so much aware of
the rigours of Canadian winters and helped to shape how we dealt with them and perhaps
just as important how we perceived ourselves and our winter country were in the news
Last night the votes were in and Canadians have selected former Saskatchewan Premier
Tommy Douglas as the "Greatest Canadian". How fitting for the people of this country to select a man
who dedicated his life to the people of his province and then his country, in an
attempt to make their lives better. I know everyone associates Tommy Douglas with
universal Medicare and the old age pension, but I remember him for making sure that
there was electrical power and telephone services in every part of Saskatchewan.
When hospitals were few and far between Tommy Douglas was the premier to see that
we had an air ambulance service that was able to get the injured and ill to the medical
help they needed. Tommy Douglas was during his time, often a difficult individual,
driven by his awareness of the needs of the people of the province and willing to
do what ever it took to alleviate those needs.
Pierre Berton died today at age 84 and to those of us with diabetes, a great
example of a Canadian who could not only handle adversity, but turn it to his advantage.
He grew up in one of the most hostile environments in this country, Dawson City,
Yukon and through decades of painstaking research and hard work, put in book
after book, the stories of Canada and Canadians. He was not a stuffy historian, but
a man who told stories about this country and its people so that we all could understand
what had happened. Few writers have what Pierre Berton had and that was not only
the ability to put things together and tell the story, but to organise the material
so that it was available to all on one level or form or another and at the same time
turn his work and efforts into profit for himself and his family. It was this organisational
capability that allowed him to be able to take on some of Canada's biggest issues
and expose them like no one had ever done; so that we could read how the CPR
was built, see it in a picture book and watch the CBC documentary on the "Last Spike".
At the end of a person's life most of us would be happy to come out even, but in
the case of Tommy Douglas and Pierre Berton both men left this world a far better
place than the way they found it. Tommy Douglas' legacy will be with us ever winter
and summer as long as Canada remains Canada, he and his determination shaped the
nature of this country for the better. Pierre Berton gave this country a personality,
a reality a substance that we all reflect. Both men make us proud to be part of this
country and having defined it so that we truly know who and what we are and what
It's -19º and the snow is swirling around the steps, the furnace is churning
away. It is winter here. This story will go out to the world over a crown corporation
set up by Tommy Douglas, the electricity that powers the furnace comes from Tommy
Douglas' crown corporate electrical company, the natural gas burning is supplied
by another provincial crown corporation and I know that these things are the Canadian
way of doing things because Pierre Berton said it was what Canadian's do best, "they
know how to work together." Once asked if he thought if universal Medicare was
affordable in a television interview, he just scoffed at the question and said of
course it was, it was just up to us as a society to determine where are priorities
were and anything was possible.
In four months the winter of 2004 and 2005 will be on its last legs but the gifts
to all of us by Tommy Douglas and Pierre Berton will last much longer.
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|This page is a story posted on Ensign and/or Saskatchewan
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Editor : Timothy W. Shire
Faster Than Light Communication
Box 1776, Tisdale, Saskatchewan, Canada, S0E 1T0
306 873 2004