Qalipu Band of the Mi’kmaq Nation

Monday it was announced: Mi’kmaq people of Central and Western Newfoundland are now members of the Qalipu band under the Indian Act.
Jim John and Dorothy, Gander River 1979 It’s been 39 years since they began politically organizing for that recognition. Hallelujah, and about time.

I’ve wondered if it actually would happen in my lifetime. I have spent my working life on and off involved in this process. I began in 1979 as a new graduate student at Memorial University of Newfoundland. Over the years, I’ve continued working for the Federation of Newfoundland Indians (FNI). The early enthusiasm I felt every time there was a hopeful word from Indian Affairs faded long ago. All we have to do is show x, y or z? Yep, sure thing. Sorry, heard that before.

No Indian Act at Confederation

I’ve never really understood the reluctance by Canada and Newfoundland to give people Qalipu St. George's, Newfoundland, view from the beachthe recognition and status to which they are entitled. It was a fluke (or trade-off) when Newfoundland joined Canada in 1949 that excluded the new province’s First Nations from status under Canada’s Indian Act. At the time, it would have limited their rights of citizenry. Status Indians did not have the vote and other rights taken for granted by most of us.

But the First Nations of Newfoundland and Labrador also did not have the benefits and recognition that inclusion in Indian and Northern Affairs legislation accorded. And, in 1949, a major overhaul of the Indian Act was already in process. In 1951 the most restrictive aspects of ‘wardship’ were removed from the Act.

In the early 1970s, Mi’kmaq in Newfoundland and Innu and Inuit in Labrador began working for the same rights and recognition as their kin in the Maritimes and Quebec had. Together in one association at first, they split into separate groups to pursue their Sign entering Miawpukek (Conne River) reserve, Newfoundlandobjectives in the best way for each of them. The FNI was born in 1972, representing all Mi’kmaq people of the island.

In the early 1980s the Baie d’Espoir community of Conne River split off. As a small predominantly Mi’kmaq community, they believed they’d have better luck on their own than working with a larger Mi’kmaq population spread across a wide area. And they did. It took direct action, like a government office occupation and a hunger strike, to do it. In 1984 the people of Conne River gained Indian Act status. Three years later, land around the village was designated as Miawpukek reserve.

FNI to Qalipu

Soon after, Indian Affairs allowed people with direct kinship to Miawpukek to apply for “off-reserve” status. That gave them individual rights like post-secondary Larry Jeddore with moose in Glenwood tannery 1983education and non-insured medical benefits. Of those eligible to apply, many did. However,  people like the late Glenwood chief Larry Jeddore did not. He had been born in Conne River of a chiefly family. He spoke the Mi’kmaq language. And he was one of the founders of the FNI. But he wanted to see all Mi’kmaq people of the island recognized. He didn’t live to see it but he fought hard for it.

FNI Larry Jeddore in Glenwood band office 1983Agreement in principle to register all Newfoundland Mi’kmaq as members of a landless band was reached in 2008. And finally the new band, Qalipu, exists. Without reserve lands, members receive only the benefits of “off-reserve status.” However, it is official recognition of what they have always known and kept alive: their ancestry, heritage and community as Mi’kmaq people.

Coronation Street Scene of the Week (Sept. 25/11)

Airing Laundry

Usually I watch Coronation Street on the kitchen tv.  I also tape it so if I miss the evening broadcast, I watch next morning on the bedroom tv.  But the 50th anniversary episodes were watched on widescreen HD in the living room.  Pets going “Huh? We aren’t usually in this room now.”

Superb Sal

Sally looks out window talks to Kevin behind her - airing laundryMy husband watched too.  At the end of the first half of Monday’s episode, he said “I stopped watching because of Sally.  Now I might start watching again – because of Sally.”   I forget what she’d been doing several years ago that drove him crazy.  But he was riveted as she talked to Kevin about Molly’s last minutes of life.

After Sally said maybe she should have made up “a fairy tale” to tell Tyrone, husband said “she’s playing Kev like a fish.”  I thought maybe she was neck deep in denial – if I pretend this didn’t happen, then it didn’t. (Molly telling her Kev was the baby’s father.)  I’ve lived in that denial-land before, so it seemed plausible that she was too.

At the end of the second half, we saw that his take on it was right.  Sally reeled Kevin in, then smacked his head in.  “What about your son?”

Missing Persons

Norris, Emily and Mary running to rescue RitaAnother superb moment was after Nick told Norris and Emily that Rita’s plans had changed and she hadn’t gone out with Doreen.  She had gone home.  Norris, Emily and Mary racing to the Kabin, blankets flapping, to tell the police Rita was inside.  I half expected them to go plunging into the rubble of the building themselves to drag her out with their teeth.  And the look on Norris’ face – he would have if need be.

John looking on as EMT checks for Charlotte's pulseAt the other end of the human decency scale was the look on John Stape’s face when the EMT called an ambulance for what John thought was Charlotte’s body – and said “her pulse is weak.”  Damn, John just can’t catch a break in disposing of bodies!

He’d succeeded in getting back into his house, successfully dragged Charlotte out and down the lane to where it could look legitimately as if she’d died in the crash.  Then Helpful Hannah the EMT comes along, congratulates him on finding this new victim, then discovers she’s still alive!  Oh goody.  Lucky Charlotte, lucky John.

Molly

Then Thursday and Molly’s funeral.  Kevin, forced to help his mate, reading the words Kevin lying on coffin in gravethat Tyrone wrote, forgetting to change from 1st person to 3rd.  Sally unable to handle the double meaning of words like ‘I loved Molly’ coming from Kevin’s mouth.  At the grave, Tyrone putting two and two together faster than he ever has, and realizing it’s Kevin.  Hitting him, right into the grave on top of the coffin.

Later, on the Street, Connie and Pam have a little spitting match about what is best to cook for Tyrone – stew or a chicken.  Connie wins.  Then more great action by Sally.  Sally with baby, telling Tyrone about fatherhoodWith baby Jack being passed around the neighbourhood in order to give Tyrone some space, Sally takes the bull by the horns.  Baby in arms, she pounds on Tyrone’s door then gives him a good talking-to about what being a father is all about.  She leaves, baby safely with his daddy – at least for the moment.

What a spectacular two weeks!  Plotlines heating up to boiling, the explosion and crash, the rescue and aftermath.  The large events and the small touches.  Incredible special effects and the live episode in the middle.  Thank you to everyone involved.

Coronation Street 50th

Ena Sharples and Alf Roberts displays at museum Coronation Street 50thCoronation Street began due to a government mandate for home-grown television programming. A Canadian producer at Granada, the late Harry Elton, knew the popularity and longevity of American soaps and their production cost-effectiveness. He met a young writer at Granada, Tony Warren, who knew the stories and people of the North. Neither of them imagined their show would become part of the very fabric of the country. But it has.

Granada Tour

The biggest thrill in my 20 something years of fanship was going to Coronation Street to research British serials for a radio documentary (later a book) Other Worlds: Society Seen Through Soap Opera. I went to Manchester with an appointment with the Coronation Street publicist and nothing else. He showed me around the indoor sets and production facilities in the dedicated studio. He also took me on the Street itself for the taping of a scene with Mavis and Derek Wilton in their back garden.

taping Coronation Street scene with Derek and Mavis Wilton
I interviewed Carolyn Reynolds, then executive producer, writer Tom Eliot and Daran Little, then archivist of the show. I talked with actors Bill Tarmey and Elizabeth Dawn. Then I went to a location shoot at the high school that acted as the school attended by the McDonald twins at the time. In a trailer, I met Nicholas Cochrane who plays Andy McDonald and Judy Brooke, then Andy’s girlfriend Paula Maxwell. I talked to school kids who were thrilled to be extras in the scenes. Teachers and staff were proud of their involvement in Weatherfield history.

Manchester Tour

Coronation Street back door, old housesI also met the father of Coronation Street, Tony Warren. A half hour, maybe an hour I figured I’d have for our interview at Granada. But it turned into an entire, wonderful day with him, wandering the streets of Salford and into Manchester. We talked about the show and then about pretty much everything. His work as a novelist, the history and changes of Salford and Manchester, Newfoundland (where I lived) and Canada.

He took me to a pub in Manchester where there’s a beautiful stained glass window in the men’s room depicting a Grand Banks fisherman. He guarded the door so I could go in and look. We walked and talked until it was evening. He suggested a Chinese restaurant for dinner and phoned his partner to meet us there.

The restaurant was one that has been used in location shoots for Coronation Street and is a long-time favourite for many of the show’s actors. There are signed photos of Julie Goodyear and others on the walls and counter by the till. The meal was great and the conversation far-reaching and fun. It was a lovely day.

Street set tour, people in front of Rovers ReturnNear the end of my time in Manchester, I realized I’d yet to find an analyst – an outside ‘talking head’ to inform on the cultural and social significance of Coronation Street. I’d thought I could just go to Manchester University and throw a stick and hit at least one.

With only a day to find someone, I phoned the social sciences main number and asked if there was anyone anywhere available to talk about Coronation Street. The secretary thought about it as I plugged change into the payphone to keep the connection.

Political Science

She transferred me to Political Science, saying “maybe Professor Philip Crookes can help.” I explained my situation to him. He said “I’m not a sociologist, but I can talk.” So another lovely few hours with a very intelligent, funny man and discussion which started with Coronation Street and extended to British and Canadian politics and the socio-economic life of the North of England.

Replica Rovers Return working pub at Granada tourThere is a Manchester and Salford apart from Coronation Street. There is a history and economy outside it. But the production studios at Granada are a major part of the economy and Coronation Street is ingrained in its identity and existence.

You can strike up a conversation with anyone in Manchester and get a thoughtful opinion on the show. Whether they watch or not, it is a part of life. For those of us elsewhere, we feel a kinship with the cities even if we’ve never been there. We know its characters and places so well.

Coronation Street Scene of the Week (Sept. 18/11)

Off the rails

off the rails - Explosion on street, people huddled at other endWow!! I was disappointed when I learned the big event to mark the 50th anniversary would be a tram crash. I had hoped for something uplifting. But, having seen it now, it was truly spectacular. Many great scenes, so here’s my highlights of the week.

Charlotte off her trolley

Charlotte going well and truly off the rails in Monday’s episode. A lovely meal she made for John, and chitchat about her exes and what happens to students who annoy her. John reaches his limit over her demands on “Colin’s” time. She likes his display of forcefulness. “I never knew you had it in you” then she croons to herself “He’s big and strong, the man I Charlotte's parents for dinner with Charlotte and Johnlove.”

Tuesday, her pretend life continues with dinner with her parents. Her mother apparently as loopy as Charlotte and her father perhaps not far off.

Relationships collapse

Wednesday, the horrible moments with Tyrone and Molly – first when she says she’s leaving him then when she tells him baby Jack is not his. She didn’t have a lot of choice, Tyrone holding baby as Molly says she's leavingbut the hurt and numb disbelief on his face was horrible to witness. His words “I miss Jack, you know,” then “Can’t you just take pity on me?” and Molly’s chilling response, “I have been.”

At Leanne’s hen night at the Rovers, Nick again hauls her outside to talk her out of marrying Peter and into marrying him. Despite my dislike of Nick and what he’s doing, I actually felt sorry for him when she told him she was going to marry Peter come hell or high water.

Parties and fights

Thursday, hell comes. Everyone is panicking for one reason or another. Frenetic action. Julie Janice Eileen singing at Rovers hen nightKev goes out for ice cream for his family dinner, and learns Molly is leaving Tyrone and won’t be back. He won’t see his son unless he goes with her. Sally phoning him, dessert bowls on the table, where is he? The girls at the hen night at the Rovers are rocking to Leader of the Pack. John Stape has another body – Charlotte’s – to remove from his and Fiz’s living room. Little Max has disappeared from his bed. Becky and Steve search frantically. The animosity between Lloyd and Chris explodes in a fistfight at Peter’s stag at the Joinery. Then boom.

Tram Crash

The Joinery explodes, a tram coming on the viaduct can’t stop and comes off its rails, swinging wildly about the street. Fire everywhere, screams, shock and panic. And it continues that Tram crashing into Kabinway, that night, for the rest of the week.

In the horror, there are moments of loveliness. Sean is Mr. Efficient in setting up the Rovers as a first aid station. Getting Janice to use her First Aid skills then organizing the supplies she needs. Then “start dishing out the brandy, and make them large ones.” Eileen and Gail, tending the wounded in the Rovers. Gail says how much she appreciates Jason going in the ruins to search for Nick. Eileen says she’d have liked to pin him to the cobbles to stop him. Gail says “I know Nick would do the same if it were Jason, and I’d feel exactly Anna talking to Gary, seen from his perspectivethe same as you do.”

Gary hearing the explosions and having flash-backs to Afghanistan. We see and hear it with his eyes and ears. First time I’ve seen that in Coronation Street.

Ashley dies

New and old production methods blendedAshley in rubble leaving last phone message seamlessly. The crash and fire used both computer-generated images and real props and fire. The week culminated with a live to air episode – the last half of our Friday episode and the first half of this coming Monday’s. It was shown as a special hour-long episode last Dec. 9th in the UK. A stunning week, bringing long-standing plotlines to the boiling point in a huge new one. And it’s goodbye to some loved characters.  RIP Ashley Peacock.

St. Thomas Ford Plant

Selectivity tower at Ford plant erected 1968In Grade 11, at St. Thomas’ Arthur Voaden Secondary School, I was the only girl, and only Art student, in an English class with Shop boys. I had read most of the assigned books already, in school or on my own. So the teacher said for me to just get my papers in. If I had any questions, come to him. Then he left me alone and concentrated on the boys. There was one boy he left alone too, one who really had a hard time in school. He could read a little bit and should have had remedial help. But he wasn’t worried. His dad worked at Ford.

He and I sat in the very back row of desks and played tic-tac-toe during class. The teacher knew but he ignored what we were doing. We talked some, in low voices. I must have worried about how he was going to get through school and what he’d do after. He told me his dad could get him on at Ford and he’d make $20 an hour. It would be a job for life and it didn’t matter if he “couldn’t read too good.”

Over the years, I’ve wondered how he got on. I felt kind of sorry for him, until I moved back to St. Thomas and found out, yes, people at the Ford plant did make very good money and the jobs were pretty much for life. If that boy was hired at Ford, where, yes, children of employees did have a better chance, he’d have done a lot better financially than I had despite university degrees and having read The Mayor of Casterbridge.

Falcon on St. Thomas Ford assembly line 1968Until two years ago when Ford announced the Talbotville plant would close. The boy I knew is now probably retired with full pension. I wonder if his son followed him to Ford. If so, he may be one of those facing layoff with a good severance package but with the belief in the “forever” job gone forever.

Ford Plant Closure

Possibly the big suburban house, the big gas-guzzling Ford pickup in the driveway with the bumper sticker reading “Out of a job yet? Keep buying foreign.” – all financed on expectations of overtime pay, all in jeopardy. Some will do ok, if they lived within their real means, and if they can think outside the factory environment and build a new job for themselves. Some, if they didn’t or can’t, will be in trouble.

The real estate market has been glutted with big, expensive new houses ever since Ford began the layoffs. Food bank usage has increased. We’ve seen that first-hand because we have a pet food donation programme and it can hardly keep up with the demand.

Restaurants, bars, stores – all are feeling the impact as people stop going out, stop buying. Everyone in the amalgamated municipality of Southwold will suffer with increased taxes to make up the shortfall caused by Ford no longer paying property and business taxes.

Out of a job yet bumper sticker on Ford pickup“Keep buying foreign” – not a lot of choice when the manufacturers move outside the country. A job forever? – not likely in “the new normal” of global economics.

I guess I’m glad I never had a job that was a sinecure, whether in a factory or government. You learn to expect job loss and be prepared for it. To my friend from Grade 11, dark hair and dark rimmed glasses, I hope you and your family are doing ok.

Coronation Street Scene of the Week (Sept. 11/11)

Our Jim

With our CBC episodes doubled as of this week, and a lot going on in the Street, it’s hard Jim listening to Steve and Becky in Roversto pick just one scene.  So my pick is every scene with Jim McDonald who returns for Jack’s funeral.  Seeing Jim McDonald makes everything seem brighter.  Every time he comes back for a visit, I realize how much I miss him.   Yes, he’s a hard case, but he’s so vibrant.

Jim raises a glass to Gary and QuinnyIt was especially nice to have him in the Rovers when Roy made the sad announcement that Gary Windass had been wounded in Afghanistan and three men of his unit killed, including his friend Quinny.  Jim is a British Army veteran.  During The Troubles, he was posted in Northern Ireland so he knows combat situations.  He has lost mates and, in his case, he’s from where he was posted.  He was the enemy in his own land.  Of everybody on the Street, he knows what Gary is going through.  When he raises a glass to the soldiers, it’s heartfelt and with knowledge and memory behind it.

It’s ironic that these episodes about Gary air in Canada in the week before September 11th, the reason that the war in Afghanistan began.

I’d like to see Jim with Ciaran.  They are two different Irelands, both with a lilt but one honed with a steel edge and one softer.  Thank heavens we did see him with Owen!  When Jim and Owen Flying HorseOwen walked up to Jim at the Flying Horse I thought they were identical twins separated by some years.  Same looks, same way of carrying themselves, same way of speaking.  They are two alpha dogs after the same b… – um, bone.  I want to see more of them together and with Elizabeth, and I don’t want to.  That’s the effect Jim McDonald always has on me, and he and Owen together!  In a battle of words, Jim can take Owen hands down.  In a physical confrontation, I don’t know.  Look into Owen’s eyes when he’s annoyed.  The smart money, I fear, would be on Owen.  Jim’s a hard man, but I think Owen is merciless.

Jack’s Funeral

Tyrone giving eulogy, Jack's photo beside himJack’s funeral was lovely.  Shorter than I expected, but I’m kind of glad.  It was so emotionally draining that I was relieved when I realized it was over and I could stop crying.  The knees-up in the Rover’s was perfect.  Everyone raising a glass to Jack, some of them appearing to learn the lessons he was trying to teach them in his last days.  Claire and Ashley talking seriously about their future together, as he’d wanted.  Kevin no longer being a total jackass.  Jack, in the crematorium, did some mending that continued back at home.Kevin talking about Jack at Rovers

Even Molly started thinking – then thought a bit too much.  She somehow interpreted Jack’s message to straighten up her life and not mess up Tyrone’s as she and Kevin should raise “their” baby together.  Kevin shot her down.  Tyrone, uncharacteristically (plot-driven writing), started badgering her to have another baby.  She agreed.  I don’t know what Jack Duckworth would say, but I’d be rolling in my grave if I were in one.

The Public Library

When I was a kid, I spent a lot of time in the library.  It was in an old house on Main old-Belmont-Public Library-from-Elgin-ArchivesStreet in Belmont, right near our house.  I read pretty much every book that was in there.  Then they closed it.  A bookmobile came to town instead.  It was part of the Elgin County Public Library system.  I liked it too – wasn’t as good as being able to go to the library any day you felt like it, but it was kind of exciting, knowing the bookmobile was coming the next day.

Several years later, after I’d left Belmont, they built a nice new library there.  There are professional librarians staffing it, and all the paper and online resources you need.  It’s a new public library Belmont 2002lovely library.  We can see the people going in and out from my parents’ house, and it’s well used, as a library and a community centre for meetings, special events and family get-togethers in the hall you can rent.  My mother took my dad’s stuff over every November for the Remembrance Day display.  A lot of people from the whole area came to see it.  My parents had their 50th anniversary party in the hall.

I was talking with my brother a few years ago about reading.  I’ve read my whole life but he didn’t, to my knowledge.  But he was telling me about books he’d been reading.  I said something about going to the library and he said he just buys the books he wants, new or used.  He said he’d stopped going to the library when they closed the old Belmont library down.  He’s older than me by several years so we didn’t share a childhood.  I had no idea Elgin Co bookmobile 1963he’d ever been in the library in Belmont.

He said he’d read every book in there at least twice.  But he stopped reading when the bookmobile took over.  He didn’t want to have to be at a certain place at a certain time in order to get a book.  He was a teenager, old enough to have a life, but not old enough to drive to another town’s library.  So he got out of the habit of reading for pleasure.  When the bookmobile became our only library, I was young enough to not have anything else to do, and going to a place at a certain time was still a thrill for me.  So I kept reading, although I missed the old building with its creaky floors and dark rooms with unexpected treasures found hiding on high-up shelves.

Glanworth Public Library

Glanworth-Library-from-FacebookSo now the village of Glanworth, just west of Belmont, is losing its local library.  The London Library board says it can’t afford the expense of a separate library for so few people.  The people of Glanworth want their library, as a place of books and resources and of community.  I hope, one way or another, they can keep it.  You can have a community hall, sure, but there’s something about having it also house books and other worlds of knowledge that enriches the community as a whole and the kids and adults that comprise that community.

protest lawn sign don't close the book on GlanworthI’m glad nothing ever happened to cause me to lose my love of reading. And I’m glad my brother found his way back to reading for fun.  I hate to think there will be kids in Glanworth now in the situation we were in all those years ago.  They’ll either stop reading or have to go to much more trouble to get books than just walking down the street to their local public library.  The town’s battle cry is, “Don’t close the book on Glanworth.”  I hope you win.

Belmont Library and Bookmobile photos are from the Elgin Co. Library site and those of the Glanworth Library are from the Save the Glanworth Community Library Facebook public page.

Coronation Street Scene of the Week (Sept. 4/11)

Goodnight, Jack Duckworth

Jack and Molly talk in RoversTuesday – can’t pick one scene.  First, at Jack’s birthday do at the Rovers, he and Molly discuss the situation with Kevin being her baby’s biological father.  I had chills going up my spine as Jack told Molly about real life, about mistakes, about love and behaviour.

Both Bill Tarmey and Vicky Binns were wonderful.  He was wisdom and experience and love, she was ‘whatever’ – a little bit flip, a little bit defensive, a lot guilty.  She knew the weight of Jack says I'm so angry to Mollyimportance in what he was saying.  She knew she had to listen, but she didn’t want to.   They personified a hard-earned sense of justice and the callowness, and shallowness, of untested youth.  Having been a callow and shallow youth myself, it was hard to watch, now older and able to see the stark truth of Jack’s words.  That’s the scene, I thought.

Ken and Audrey, as Ken toasts JackThen there was another.  Jack leaving his party early.  Looking around the bar as is for the first time, or last time.  Then Ken’s raising a glass in farewell to him.  Well, I lost it then.  The tears flowed for I knew what was going to come next.  Then outside, the Street at night, from Jack listening to record playerJack’s viewpoint, as he looks at every inch of it from end to end.  Then he went home.

He sits back in his chair and listens to “When autumn leaves start to fall” on the turntable Tyrone gave him for his birthday.

Then an amazing sight.  Vera.  Looking absolutely wonderful, the lamp giving her hair a slight halo effect.  Saying to Jack, there’s a bus at 12 minutes past, so come on, shift yourself.  He says let’s have a dance.  And Vera says come with me to Jackhe and Vera slow-dancing in their living room.  The song now “Softly as I leave you.”  I watched it over and over, wanting to spend time with her and barely able to see the screen for tears.

I have never seen a scene like this in Coronation Street, where we see something in the mind’s eye of a character.  And a spirit Jack and Vera slow dancingreturning.  Both are done in American soaps often.  I’m glad this time Coronation Street did it.  Then a photo montage of Jack and Vera right in the middle of the episode.  Unusual for Corrie and just lovely.  Thank you, writers.

And then back to Jack, still in his chair, but he had caught the bus Tyrone beside Jack saying Goodnight Dadwith Vera.  Tyrone, Molly and Connie return to the house, see him in his chair.  And Connie realizes he’s dead.  She bursts into sobs, then calls an ambulance.  Molly makes herself scarce.  Tyrone, beside Jack, takes his hand and says  “Goodnight Dad.”  Indeed, goodnight Jack.  You are missed.

Elsie 1997-2011

Elsie Rose died yesterday, Sept. 1st, peacefully with her family beside her. She is buried at Sandy Ridge Pet Cemetery in Eden. She is mourned.  This was written last Sunday.

Elsie in car, Sept 1/11I’m writing this when I’ve realized Elsie is in pain. It’s time to phone the vet, time for her to go peacefully. She wants to, I think, but I don’t want her to.

She arrived around my house in May fourteen years ago, a month after my old cat had died. I wasn’t looking for another one. But there she was, still kittenish, but past the fluffball stage. About 5 months old, the age of coming into first heat. And she did, in my back yard. Every tom in the area camped out there too.

She wouldn’t come near me, but one night she was in the narrow lane between houses and I caught her. She had a flea collar on, so she belonged somewhere. But no response to posters I put up. I’d been planning to leave Newfoundland. One new cat was more than enough. Kittens?  No. So a quick trip to the vet.

Elsie hanging out Outer Battery house window, St. John's 1998Another cat, Spam, spent a lot of time at my house and hated her. Twice her size, he attacked and beat her unmercifully. My vet said let them sort it out.  Interfering will just make it worse. So I tried.  It didn’t get any better. Even my next-door neighbour who did not like cats came over one day to try to save poor Elsie.

I knew why he hated other cats: my previous cat Cedric had made his life a living hell when he was a kitten. So he learned from her to hate other cats. Cedric, in her turn, had been found wandering and, in her first new home, their cat bullied and terrorized her. The cycle of violence perpetuates itself, and I thought for sure it would with Elsie after what she endured from Spam.

Accepting, adaptable Elsie

But in Elsie, nature overcame nurture. She is willing to accept any person or animal – even cats. Never did she let bad experiences with an individual affect her treatment of others. She likes and dislikes based on the individual alone, not her preconceptions of them. That, in my experience, is almost as rare in a cat as it is in a person.

I stayed another year in St. John’s after getting Elsie and acquired a pup in need of a home. She was fine with him. She told him at the outset to mind his manners, and he did.

Then we moved to Ontario. She traveled easily, just zoned out in a Zen state in her carrier. She adjusted to new surroundings and to Elsie's 10th birthday notice 2007 St. Thomas Times Journalbecoming an indoor only cat. My dad, not a cat person, loved her. He played yoyo with her for hours – dangling the string for her to bat and chase. When she’d escape outside, he could get her in with the yoyo string. She fell for it every time.

She is my last living connection with St. John’s. Jack has been gone three and a half years and now it’s her turn. My lady cat, Elsie Rose.