Its here again

FTLComm - Tisdale - Tuesday, November 30, 2004


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 today.

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 we value.

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.


Timothy W. Shire



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Editor : Timothy W. Shire
Faster Than Light Communication
Box 1776, Tisdale, Saskatchewan, Canada, S0E 1T0
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