Preparing a will isn’t what most people consider a fun thing to do. And even for those who do, it still takes a lot of time and thought to get it right. You don’t know when your will is going to take effect or what the circumstances around it will be so you have to balance specificity and generality so it can be satisfactorily fulfilled.
If you have pets you need to think about them. Just leaving it to hope, or even a promise, that a family member or friend will look after Fluffy, isn’t enough. The belief that everyone loves Fluffy as much as you do may be only in your own head. And a promise might be meant sincerely when it’s given, but you want to get it in writing – literally. Circumstances change and, after you’re dead, there’s nothing you can do if promises aren’t kept. So think about it very carefully and talk to a lawyer about it.
I initially thought of setting aside an amount of money for each animal based on health, age, size etc. The animals would bring their legacies to their new carer. My lawyer said no right off the bat. “Next day, they say ‘too bad, cat got hit, thanks for the money’.” So we came up with a plan where the executor would hold the pets’ money in trust and dole it out accordingly. More cumbersome, but better assurance that the animals will be cared for and their new people properly recompensed.
But my kids love Skippy!
When volunteering at a St. Thomas shelter, I answered the phone once right at closing. A guy said “My dad’s gone in a home and I’ve got his dog. Either you people take it or I have it put down.” Yes, I asked enough questions to learn the father had dementia and neither knew nor approved of his son’s actions. The shelter had no space, but I was new there and hadn’t yet had hundreds of such calls. I couldn’t let this dog’s blood be on my hands, even if a so-called caretaker could. So I told him to bring the dog by. He seemed like a perfectly nice guy. He didn’t hang around long, which was fine by me.
I took Maggie home. She was a sweet elderly Miniature Poodle. She found a home with another couple and their teenage daughter. All three seemed as smitten with Maggie as she was with them.
Maggie’s person hadn’t died, and already the son was getting rid of her. This brings up another important point: your power of attorney, generally prepared with your will. If you are incapacitated mentally or physically, you need someone you trust to act for you. The person, legally, becomes you. If you still have your mental faculties and realize that person is not acting in your best interests or doing what you wish, you have the right to give your power of attorney to someone else. If you are mentally incapacitated, however, you can’t. As well as control over your banking, home, personal care and medical decisions, that person also has control over your possessions and assets, including your pets. So choose carefully, based on a person’s integrity rather than sentiment.
Will Planning for Pets
There’s a book that can help with planning for your pets’ life after you are gone. Co-authored by Toronto lawyer Barry Seltzer, Fat Cats & Lucky Dogs can help you plan for your pets. There’s also an article here about the topic.
The top photo is of my Dad, my dog Jack and cat Elsie. All are now loved in my memory. The other photo is Maggie. This post was originally published on my St. Thomas Dog Blog on Nov. 23, 2012.
Little Rory McDonald never took a breath. He was way too premature. Twenty-three weeks. It was heartbreaking.
Michelle felt something was wrong at the baby shower held for her and Leanne at the Rovers. Oh, a lot was wrong with that shower, but that’s a different topic.
Leanne took Michelle to the hospital to get checked out. On Thursday, it seemed she’d be ok. But the doctors decided to keep her in just to be sure. She and Steve, both worried, tried to talk themselves calm. Steve called his unborn son Rory, the name Michelle wanted and Steve hadn’t. It had grown on him, he said.
Then she went into labour. Hospital policy defines the point of viability of life at 24 weeks gestation. If Rory didn’t take a breath, doctors would not intervene. If he did, they’d work to save him.
After he was delivered, the medical staff held the infant and studied him. Michelle and Steve held their breath as they waited to find out his – and their – fate. Had he taken a breath? A sad, small shake of a head. No.
What a gut-wrenching moment. The nurse handed the tiny infant, wearing a tiny blue knitted cap, to Michelle. She held him, willing life into him. But no, baby Rory will not live.
Then she asked Steve, “What do I say to people when they ask how many kids I’ve got?” Not including him means “it’s like he never existed. Like I’m betraying him. I can’t do that. He’s my son.”
I had thought that a still-born birth must be the hardest thing in the world. Now I wonder if it is this: having a baby who might or might not live, depending on a single breath. Maybe they can’t be compared, they’re equally horrible.
Rory was what is called a micro-preemie, according to a piece on CBC Radio’s The Current (Dec. 29, 2016). I listened to the story of baby Juniper and was moved by her parents’ description of watching her body actually develop. But I could still think dispassionately about the pros and cons of superhuman efforts to save such early babies.
But watching Rory? I desperately wanted to hear a breath and, failing that, I wanted to see those nurses whisk him off to an incubator and hook him up to all the machines they had.
In his first hundred hours – from midday Friday to this afternoon, President Donald Trump has been busy.
Signing executive orders:
Directing all federal agencies to ease the “regulatory burdens” of ObamaCare by waiving or deferring any provision that puts a “fiscal burden on any State” or clients, insurers, medical services and manufacturers. Not included are the specifics on what and how.
Imposing a hiring freeze for federal government workers, excluding the military.
Withdrawing the USA from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal. He also plans to renegotiate NAFTA.
Reinstating a ban on federal funds for international development NGOs that provide abortion information or services. First brought in by Ronald Reagan in 1984, this “Mexico City Policy” can adversely affect health care provision for people around the world.
Reviving the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, as well as related orders that would expedite their environmental assessment process.
Trump has also told large corporations that he will cut taxes, fast-track their factory openings and remove 75% of government regulations affecting their operation. That’s the carrot. The stick is “substantial border tax” on companies that move production outside the US.
Sunday, he said discussions would begin on moving the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv. With Israel and Palestine both having claims to Jerusalem, that puts the cat amongst the pigeons. He named son-in-law Jared Kushner as senior White House advisor and said Kushner would be part of Middle East negotiations. “If [Jared] can’t produce peace in the Middle East, nobody can.” Dad-in-law just made the job even more difficult.
Trump’s minions have been busy too. On Friday, the White House website was updated. Gone were pages on climate change, civil rights, LGBT and disabled peoples concerns.
Spokeswoman Kellyanne Conway gave us a new term for lies: alternate facts. She did that after Sean Spicer, Trump’s press secretary, tore strips off the media for publishing photos and estimates of the crowd size at Trump’s inauguration. Spicer gave much larger figures not backed up by any evidence whatsoever. “Alternate facts” Conway explained.
Trump, his staff and federal offices are not the only ones sweeping with a new broom. On Monday, the Texas Supreme Court said it will revisit a 2015 case allowing spousal benefits for gay city employees.
All this in 100 hours – after a bizarre inauguration day.
Trump’s inauguration speech emphasized the ME in aMErica. He went on to insult 40 years worth of presidents sitting beside him in decrying the nest-feathering and self-serving of the previous administrations.
Then he watched the parade. He had wanted a tank in it. I don’t know if it was due to the “optics” or the damage one would inflict on the pavement, but I’m glad the answer was no.
His last public function was attending the inaugural balls that, at $50 a ticket, were overpriced. In the First Dance with the First Lady to the song ‘My Way’, he smirked and mouthed the words “my way” directly to the camera. OMG!
I didn’t think it could get worse than that, or more surreal. It has. And it’s only been half a week.
Yesterday, in Value Village in Saint John, I saw a woman with George Orwell’s 1984 in her shopping cart. I wonder how many copies of it have sold lately.
An interesting scene Wednesday was Todd and Billy and their takes on helping the needy. The needy in this case being Shona – a presently homeless scam artist and thief.
Billy: “Where’s your social conscience? Your heart?” Todd: “At the bottom of David Platt’s wallet.” (The wallet that Shona stole.)
She is bringing out all Billy’s instincts to HELP people. This despite her not actually asking for help. She is also bringing out all Todd’s instincts to be on guard and safeguard the silverware. I think Todd’s approach is the better choice and probably of more use to Shona in the long run.
Billy means well but, aside from the risk of getting ripped off by her, he maybe is objectifying her. He sees not Shona, but ‘person in need’ – vulnerable and at risk. All very nice, but it translates as seeing her as helpless, and him as having the strength of morality and love that can save her.
Shona does not strike me as helpless. Nor does Todd look at her that way. He doesn’t trust her, like her or want her around. Not the milk of human kindness, for sure, but it does respect her. Todd sees an individual, not a social category. He considers Shona to have a mind of her own and the ability to look after herself.
Billy has gone through a crisis of faith in his church lately, not in his deity but in the earthly representation of it that he chose for his belief system and his vocation. His options, other than cleric, were in the social work line. A suicide hotline counselor I think was the job he had an interview for.
He decided to return to the church. But maybe the “social worker” mindset is still predominant in his head. A lost waif crosses his path and he’s all over it, wanting to save her.
He even spends the night sleeping in a bus shelter with Shona so that she will come to no harm. Sorry, Billy, but I think if something bad had happened that night, more likely Shona would be saving Billy.
Shona, I think, is tough as nails. Todd knows that. Billy, overcome with Christian mercy and charity, doesn’t want to see it. He just wants to save someone. Even to the point of bulldozing over the fact that it is not his house to offer as shelter. Todd rightly points out to him that it is Eileen’s house, and therefore Eileen’s decision on who stays there. And it’s Eileen’s silverware in the drawers.
Here are some books that are valuable for anyone wanting to know more about First Nations and the history and process of colonization within a land. That land might be Newfoundland, Labrador, Canada as well as others around the world.
The peoples of such internal colonization is what George Manuel defined as “the Fourth World”. I’ve been thinking about that since hearing that Arthur Manuel died last week. He was a chief and political activist in British Columbia. He was also the son of George Manuel, author of The Fourth World.
I read The Fourth World at university. Wow, I thought then, and still do whenever I reread parts of it. I still have my original copy. It’s moved with me many times over four decades.
Going through my bookshelves for it, I saw other books that I consider indispensable for thinking about First Nations and Canada. Make a list then, I thought. I will keep adding to it as I think of more. I have put in links for purchase when I could. Otherwise, libraries and used book stores are your best bet.
Prison of Grass: Canada from the native point of view, Howard Adams, General Publishing 1975 & 1989
"With the publication of this eloquent, passionate and scholarly work, no Canadian can ever again boast that this is a country free from the cancer of racism." - from cover blurb by Pierre Berton. (Click image for Amazon link)
Surviving as Indians: The challenge of self-government, Menno Boldt, U of Toronto 1993
Government-First Nations history and how self-government might work, written at a time when band self-government agreements were sought by the federal government. (Click image for Amazon link)
Halfbreed, Maria Campbell, 1973
An autobiography that tells you what it was like growing up Métis in Saskatchewan in the mid-20th century. It was a 'wow' book when it was first published and still is. (Click title for all available Amazon editions)
Son of the Morning Star: Custer and the Little Bighorn, Evan S. Connell, North Point Press 1984.
A novel, and a history of a big moment in Euro-American and First Nation "contact" - the 1876 Battle of Little Big Horn. Facts and interpretation, in lyrical writing that carries you along in the action. (Click image for Amazon link)
Son of the Morning Star (DVD)
The 1991 movie based on Evan Connell's book stars Gary Cole and Rosanna Arquette. I didn't think a movie could do justice to the book, but this does. (Click image for eBay listings)
Stubborn Resistance: New Brunswick Maliseet and Mi'kmaq in defence of their lands, Brian Cuthbertson, Nimbus Publishing, 2015
A history of Maliseet and Mi'kmaq defence of their lands in New Brunswick, from the 18th century treaties signed by the new colony to the present day. (Click image for Amazon link)
Indigenous Peoples and the Nation-State: "Fourth-World" politics in Canada, Australia and Norway, Noel Dyck, ISER Memorial University of Nfld. 1985.
"...theoretical overview and sufficient case material to develop an understanding of the political issues facing the peoples of the Fourth World." (Click image for Amazon link)
First Nations in the Twenty-First Century, James S. Frideres, Oxford U. Press 2011.
"...legacy of residential schools;
intergenerational trauma; Aboriginal languages and culture; health and well-being on reserves; self-government and federal responsibility...(Click image for Amazon link)
From Oral to Written: A celebration of Indigenous literature in Canada, 1980-2010, Tomson Highway, Talonbooks 2017
Cree playwright, novelist and musician Tomson Highway said in interviews that he could count 19 books by indigenous writers in Canada written prior to 1980. This is his 448 page list of those written since. (Click image for Amazon link)
Grassy Narrows, George Hutchison and Dick Wallace, Van Nostrand Reinhold 1977
Hutchison and Wallace covered the Grassy Narrows, Ontario mercury poisoning story for the London Free Press. My mother bought me this book. The story and images were horrifying then, and they still are 40 years later. (Click image for Amazon link.)
The Inconvenient Indian: A curious account of native people in North America, Thomas King, Anchor Canada 2013
Anything written by Thomas King is worth reading, but this look at 'being Indian' - historically and in modern Canadian society - is especially valuable. (Click image for Amazon link)
Unsettling Canada: A national wake-up call, Arthur Manuel, Between the Lines 2015
"...chronicles the modern struggle for Indigenous rights covering fifty years of struggle..."(Click image for Amazon link)
The Fourth World, George Manuel and Michael Posluns, Don Mills: Collier Macmillan Canada 1974
Colonization within lands and the connections between "Fourth World" peoples. Available in libraries and, if you're lucky, somewhere for sale. (I couldn't find it online at a reasonable price)
In the Spirit of Crazy Horse: The Story of Leonard Peltier and the FBI's War on the American Indian Movement, Peter Matthiessen, Penquin (revised ed.) 1992
Afterword by Martin Garbus, the lawyer who defended the author and publisher in a libel suit brought against them about this book by the FBI and South Dakota's attempt to stop its publication. (Click image for Amazon link)
Skyscrapers Hide the Heavens: A history of Indian-White relations in Canada, J. R. Miller, U of Toronto Press 2000 3rd ed.
I asked Dr. Gordon Inglis, of the Anthropology Dept. at Memorial University, what would be good texts for an introductory class on indigenous issues. This was one he recommended. He was right. (Click image for Amazon link)
Big Chief Elizabeth: How England's adventurers gambled and won the New World, Giles Milton, Hodder and Stoughton 2000
Queen Elizabeth I's 16th century adventurers in North America. The early colonies, and also Sir Humphrey Gilbert and his "discovery" of an already fairly crowded St. John's harbour. (Click image for Amazon link)
We Were Not The Savages: Collision between European and Native American civilizations, Daniel N. Paul, Halifax: Fernwood 2006
A history of European-First Nations relations, from before contact to the late 20th century. The focus is on Atlantic Canada from the point of view of the Mi'kmaq. (Click image for Amazon link)
People of Terra Nullius, Boyce Richardson, Douglas & McIntyre 1993
"Terra Nullius, a land that is empty of people. This is a legal concept used by Europeans when they first arrived in North America." (Click image for Amazon link)
Lumbee Indian Histories: Race, ethnicity, and Indian identity in the Southern United States, Gerald Sider, Cambridge U. P. 1993
A fascinating look at definitions of identity. The Lumbee of North Carolina fought for many, many years for recognition as an indigenous people. Dr. Sider also has spent a lot of time in Newfoundland. (Click image for Amazon link)
Enough is Enough: Aboriginal women speak out, Janet Silman (compiler), Women's Press, 1992
Stories from the Maliseet women of Tobique NB. They tell about their lives and their protests against gender discrimination in the Indian Act. (Click image for Amazon link)
A Knock On The Door: The Essential History of Residential Schools from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, Edited and Abridged, TRC, U. of Manitoba Press, 2015
Published in collaboration with the National Research Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, with a foreword by former AFN national chief Phil Fontaine. The archive of recordings and documents collected by the TRC is in an afterword by Aimée Craft. (Click image for Amazon link)
Nitassinan: The Innu struggle to reclaim their homeland, Marie Wadden, Douglas & McIntyre 1991
The story of the Labrador Innu, internally colonized perhaps doubly. First by the Dominion of Newfoundland, then by Canada. (Click image for Amazon link)
Where The Pavement Ends: Canada's aboriginal recovery movement and the urgent need for reconciliation, Marie Wadden, Douglas & McIntyre 2009.
Like The Dispossessed, a journalist travels around First Nations communities. The stories told are both sad and hopeful, personal and political. (Click image for Amazon link)
Stolen Continents: Conquest and resistance in the Americas, Ronald Wright, Penguin Canada 1992
First subtitled 'The "New World" through Indian eyes since 1492', it is the story of contact and its aftermath in North, Central and South America told from the perspective of the indigenous peoples. (Click image for Amazon link)
The Dispossessed: Life and death in native Canada, Geoffrey York, Vintage UK 1989
This was the other book that Dr. Gordon Inglis suggested as a Native Issues course text. Some students said it was depressing. Yep, it is. And what's more depressing is that, all these years later, it still reads like current news. (Click image for Amazon link)
People of the Pines: The Warriors and the legacy of Oka, Geoffrey York and Loreen Pindera, Little, Brown & Co. 1991
The standoff in the summer of 1990 at Oka and Kahnawake told by two reporters who covered it. (Click image for Amazon link)
Amid the turkey dinners, Christmas crackers, laughter and caroling, an outdoor vigil on Tuesday brought a belated Christmas tear to my eye.Norris, Roy and Brian camp out in Dev’s back yard. Norris wants to see Mary, and Roy and Brian join him in solidarity. Mary is furious at Norris. She refused to join them for Christmas dinner at the café. So if the mountain won’t come to Muhammad – Norris will go to Mary. And he has no intention of leaving, he tells her through the closed door.
Roy tells Norris he will bring him provisions. He does that, and he also brings himself and a probably unwilling Brian. Christmas dinner was on the table at the café. Brian was happily digging in, filling his plate. He probably had time to get a few mouthfuls in before Roy dragged him away. But even Brian knows when something is more important than food and he joins the vigil for Mary without grumbling.
To fill the time, and explain to Roy and Brian why they’re sitting outside in the cold, Norris tells them what Mary means to him.
“I know I have a caustic manner. People say I sit in judgement. Yeah, I often do. It’s safer, isn’t it. To watch from the touch line rather than get involved in the field of play.
Ah, but not Mary. She lives. She gets knocked down, sometimes trampled on. But she always gets back up. She never pulls on a protective shell. She goes out into the world. As innocent as a newborn baby. I think she’s one of the bravest people I know.”
Mary hears what he says and her heart melts. So does mine, so does everyone’s I should think.
Christmas dinner is back on at Roy’s Rolls, with all four friends partaking. Then there’s an even happier ending. Gemma’s online plea for Mary’s son found its mark. Jude saw it and comes to the café door. He meets his mother.
However, the bad thing to come out of all this is that he is going to take her away with him: to South Africa! But no, please, she can’t go. Like the twins said to her later, we’re your family, Mary.
A Facebook share – Waco Hanover celebrates his 40th birthday in 2017. He’s a Standardbred pacer, living in Vermont.
From his name, I knew he was of Hanover Shoe Farms. I’ve read Donald P. Evans’ Hanover: The greatest name in harness racing. It tells the story of a Pennsylvania racing and breeding stable that the Hanover Shoe Company owners started at the turn of the 20th century.
About ten years ago, after reading the book, I read online about Ralph Hanover who won the US pacing Triple Crown in 1983. He was the only Canadian-owned horse to do so. I learned that Ralph had lived at Grand Royal Farms near Calton, Ontario. It is a magnificent property, one you know has seen days of glory. It was past those days when I knew it, but it was still a working horse farm.
So Ralph Hanover and Grand Royal, what were their stories?
The story of Grand Royal was easy to find. It had been a large Standardbred stable in southwestern Ontario. Then it went to Thoroughbred racing. Then it changed hands several times and its racing days were over.
Finding out about Ralph Hanover proved more difficult. I googled and asked anyone I knew in the horse business. He went to Kentucky to stand at stud. Then he’d gone to Prince Edward Island, maybe. Alive? Nobody knew.
Reading about Waco Hanover now, I wondered how closely related he was to Ralph. My go-to horse pedigree site told me Waco Hanover, born 1977, is the son of Tar Heel and Wanda Hanover. Tar Heel was son of Billy Direct and Leta Long. Wow, Billy Direct was the horse who matched Dan Patch’s record 1:55 mile in 1938.
Tar Heel was Ralph Hanover’s maternal grandsire. Ralph was born in 1980, sired by Meadow Skipper out of Ravina Hanover. So Waco and Ralph’s mother are half-siblings, making Waco Ralph’s uncle.
Then I google Ralph. Right at the top are articles about his death in October 2008 at the age of 28. He lived in Dutton, West Elgin, Ontario. In 2008 I lived in St. Thomas, a half hour drive from Dutton.
West Elgin Horse Farms
In July 2008, we went on a tour of West Elgin horse farms. One was a harness racing stable. I talked to the owner, but did not ask about Ralph Hanover. If I had, he likely would have told me that Ralph lived a few concession roads over. Ralph lived on the Mac Lilley farm.
One of the owners of Grand Royal Farms in its harness racing heyday was Doug Lilley. Googling hasn’t given me the connection between Mac and Doug, but the Mac Lilley Farms website says it’s a three-generation operation.
So the lesson from this? Google, drive around, ask – and keep asking and driving. One good chat at the Western Fair race track probably would have told me where Ralph Hanover was. And keep googling. I might not have found out about Ralph until he died, since that’s what most of the results were about, but at least I’d have known eight years earlier.
Finding Ralph, too late, has made me think about the famous horses meeting their fans at the Hall of Champions in the Kentucky Horse Park (see my Cigar). And Dan Patch’s towns, Oxford, Indiana and Savage, Minnesota, making sure that visitors know they’re entering hallowed horse racing ground (see my Dan Patch). Ralph Hanover was among the elite of racehorse champions. Dutton deserves to be proud of being his final hometown. I only wish I’d known he was there, so close by.
Faye and Bethany after Faye discovers Bethany’s crush on Gary, Tuesday. The two of them negotiating new terms of their relationship made up for the final scene Monday. That was totally icky: Bethany purring around, putting the makes on Gary, and him totally oblivious.
Faye thought so too. She comes into Gary’s hotel room and is surprised to see Bethany lolling around like a Lolita. Or, as Faye put it, “lying on his bed looking well slutty.”
I know the Bethany crush on Gary has been going on for awhile, and it is believable. But I hoped the writers would resist the temptation. They’ve gone on the path of way too young/way too old/too incestuous pairings before, and I think (hope) no one ever liked it.
When Bethany found out that her mother and Gary were seeing each other, I’d hoped that her little temptress efforts would stop. And they appeared to have done, up until this overnight stay in Leeds for a concert. Of course, Sarah can’t go. So it’s just Gary and the girls.
It was horrible to watch, and even more horrible to think about what might come next. So what a relief when what came next was Bethany getting busted by Faye. And Faye speaking for all of us when she told Bethany how gross it was.
The two of them then did a superb job of two adolescent girls marking status and getting one up on the other. Bethany used her two additional years to argue that coming on to someone old enough (barely) to be her father was ok and drinking vodka out of a pink glitter flask was ok. She is “more mature” than Faye.
Faye didn’t really have to prove anything. She only had to say I know what you’re doing. The “and I’ll tell” part was understood by both.
So Faye got the flask of vodka and Bethany’s brand new top in the deal to keep her mouth shut. Bethany got the message that she had better give up on her plans to seduce Gary. The vodka and top would not be enough to buy Faye’s silence if she persisted.
Of course, it went from bad to worse. Faye got drunk, and got caught. Gary went after “the older man” Bethany was interested in. He got it wrong, of course. Bethany ran away, thinking that would somehow make things better for her mother. Sarah told her to “grow up”, a humiliating insult to a 16 year old girl.
Aunt Maria (pronounced Mariah) Burwell Johnson was my grandfather’s aunt. Born near Fingal and died near Eden, she homesteaded in Michigan during the Civil War and later had a fruit tree farm in Essex Co. Ont.
On her 100th birthday in June 1935, two newspaper articles told her story. Here are the clippings and transcribed copy. Click the images for larger views.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Woman To Mark 100th Milestone
Mrs. Marie Johnson, Bayham, 100 on Wednesday
Looks after garden – Birthday Dinner Held At Daughter’s Home
Belmont, June 23 – Surrounded by her immediate family and relatives, numbering 22, Mrs. Maria Burwell Johnson, this afternoon was tendered a birthday dinner at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Charles Allemand, Bayham Township, the occasion marking her 100th birthday anniversary.
Although Mrs. Johnson does not attain that age until Wednesday, the party was held today, that her family might be present for the function.
In speaking to the press by telephone late this afternoon the celebrant carried on a brief, but sprightly conversation. Before calling her mother to the phone, Mrs. Allemand told the reporter her mother was as active “as a 16-year-old girl.”
The centenarian devotes much of her time to the household duties of the home. She has her daily walk, helps with the weekly churning, cares for the garden, and in winter, knits and reads extensively. Although her hearing is slightly impaired she is able to read without the aid of glasses. Today she received a telegram from her cousin, Mrs. Lydia Bage, of Burtland, Ore., who is also 100 years old, having attained that age on February 6th last.
She takes a keen interest in current events and in her telephone conversation mentioned that she “voted for Hepburn,” in last year’s provincial election. On Wednesday the Ladies’ Aid of the Bayham circuit, are tendering her a reception and birthday dinner. A three-storey birthday cake, with 100 candles, will be featured, at the event which has become an annual affair in the last few years.
Maria Johnson has been a life-long resident of Elgin County, having been born one mile west of Fingal village, Southwold Township, June 26th, 1835, a daughter of the late Lewis Burwell and Levina Williams. She is a first cousin [2nd, 1 remove] of the late Col. Burwell. For 20 years she has resided with her daughter, Mrs. Allemand, Eden R.R. No. 1. Her family are Charles Johnson, Detroit; Mrs. Edward Parker, Kingsville; and Mrs. Allemand; also 12 grandchildren.
… Johnson was just “taking it easy.” But it appeared to be no great effort for her to “tidy up” and come and have her picture taken. She walked along on the arm of her daughter because, Mrs. Johnson explained, “I’m getting pretty staggery.”
But she said it with a chuckle and marched stalwartly along. She carries a walking stick, but it’s mostly “to keep the peace.”
A characteristic of Mrs. Johnson that has always been hers has been her joviality. Though she is a little hard of hearing, she sees perfectly well and when others around her Wednesday afternoon were laughing about something she had missed, she spoke up and said: “Come now, what are you all laughing about. If there’s anything going on, I’d like to have a hand in it.”
Born Before Rebellion
It seems hard to realize, but Mrs. Johnson was born before the rebellion of Upper Canada. Her birthday was June 26, 1835, and was born the oldest of the family of Lewis and Levina Burwell, whose farm was broken in the woods between Fingal and Watson’s Corners in Southwold township. She is a second cousin of Colonel Mahlon Burwell, associate of Colonel Talbot, who surveyed much of this district and who was, with Colonel Talbot, one of Elgin county’s settlement promoters. She did a bit of pioneering herself during the early days of her married life when she lived near the village of Pontiac, Mich., and she and her husband cleared a farm in the bush out in Gratiot county.
But Mrs. Johnson’s home has been practically all her life in Elgin county. The oldest of a family of seven children, all have predeceased her with the exception of her sister, Mrs. Jane Elams [Helms], of South Haven, Mich., who was the third of the seven children in the Lewis Burwell family and who is herself in her 90’s. One of her brothers, Richard, died only a short time ago at his home in South Haven. The family has been noted for its longevity, but Mrs. Johnson is establishing a record. The names of her brothers and sisters, in order of their age, were John, Jane, Richard, Hercules, Samuel and Amy.
Lived on Talbot Estate
Mrs. Johnson lived with her parents near Fingal and on the Talbot estate until her twenty-third year. She had no schooling other than what she was able to learn herself. She reads and writes which, to say the least, was an achievement for one who, in her early days, had no end of hard work on her father’s farm, and who, when she married, brought up a family and helped hew down bush to clear more land. She does little writing now, nor does she read, because the strain of the latter is too telling.
When she was 23, she married Howard Johnson, who came to Southern Ontario from Nova Scotia. The marriage took place in Pontiac, Mich., and there they built their home, a little log cabin some miles out of the settlement. For some time directly after the wedding, the young couple resided at Waterford, where their oldest son, Charles, now of Detroit, was born. But they returned to Pontiac and resided there until after the American Civil War, for service in which Howard Johnson was drafted. When he went away to war, he had to leave Mrs. Johnson and two young children to fend for themselves on the little farm in the woods. Home from the war, Mr. and Mrs. Johnson moved from Pontiac back to Ontario and began farming near Fingal.
It was no easy matter for the couple to break up their home in Gratiot county. It had stood for a good deal to both Mrs. Johnson and her husband. But conditions in the States at the close of the Civil War were far from settled and neither cared to take the risk of going through another war. Mrs. Johnson says to this day that, of all the home in which she had lived, that little log cabin in the woods was far the best.
Husband Lived Till 84
For many years, Mr. and Mrs. Johnson lived not far from the Lewis Burwell homestead west of Fingal. But they later acquired a farm in Bayham township near Eden and resided there until going to the district around the town of Essex where, until his death, Mr. Johnson was a fruit farmer. He passed away in 1912 at the age of 84, and Mrs. Johnson returned to Bayham township to make her home with her daughter, with whom she is still living.
Mrs. Johnson’s three children are all living. They are Charles Johnson, of Detroit; Mrs. E. L. Parker, of Kingsville; and Mrs. Kitchen [Allemand], of Eden. She has twelve grandchildren living. In Charles Johnson’s family there are Carl Johnson, Detroit; Mrs. (May) Williams, residing in California; Mrs. (Ruby) Blain, Mrs. (Gladys) Anderson, Mrs. (Dorothy) Brian, and Mrs. (Nellie) Kirkland, all of Detroit. Mrs. Parker’s children are Gordon Parker, Detroit, and Cecil Parker, Kingsville. Mrs. Kitchen’s children are Mrs. Fred Stark, Toronto; Mrs. Arol Bowes, New Liskeard; Mrs. Clarence Williams, Lapeer, Mich., and Arthur Allemand, Eden. There are twenty-seven great-grandchildren. The Burwells having been a large family of Elgin county pioneers, Mrs. Johnson is related in one way or another to a very large number of descendants of the original Burwell family, many of whom still reside in this district.
The Elgin County Council and the Council of the township of Bayham will likely recognize Mrs. Johnson’s 102nd [100th?] birthday. Certainly she will have the felicitations and best wishes of a host of old friends.
No Recipe for Longevity
Mrs. Johnson offered no suggestion on how to attain old age. But she had always been a great worker, her labors carrying on into the evening hours, commencing early in the morning. It is still no hardship for her to stay up until eleven or twelve in the evening and rise again at five along with the others on the farm. She eats three hearty meals a day and is by no means as frail as one might expect of a person who has reached her age.
Recently a radio was acquired at the Kitchen home and Mrs. Johnson enjoys its programs. She particularly enjoyed the Coronation broadcasts, and in this regard it is of interest to note that she has lived during the reign of King George IV, Queen Victoria, Edward VII, George V, Edward VIIII, and now King George VI.
Maria’s son Charles Johnson of Detroit. He married Nellie Havens Gray of Eden. Charles’ sisters were Amy Jane (married F. L. Sweet, Edmond Parker) and Fanny Jeannette (married Charles Allemand, R. Kitchen). See Burwell Family Tree, nos. 59-60 for their families.
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Mrs. Maria Johnson of Eden Feted on 100th Birthday (June 27, 1935)
Col. Thomas Talbot was a good old fellow but pretended he wasn’t, Mrs. Maria Johnson of Eden told The News this week as she recalled incidents of her childhood days spent near Port Talbot. She was 100 years old yesterday. Mrs. Johnson lives with her daughter, Mrs. R. Kitchen, formerly Mrs. Charles Allemand. Her birthday was marked with two parties, one on Sunday for the relatives who could not be present yesterday when the whole community was invited. The Ladies’ Aid Society of the Eden Baptist church arranged the dinner and reception yesterday afternoon in her honor.
Mrs. Johnson likes to read and can do so without the aid of glasses. She crochets, too. In her own words she says she is able to walk a mile. Her daughter remarked that she had churned on Tuesday of last week. Mrs. Johnson possesses unusual faculties for one who has seen a century go by. Her only impairment is a slight difficulty in hearing. She laughs as she recalls the fun of childhood and holds the listener’s interest with her well-told anecdotes.
Mrs. Johnson was born one mile west of Fingal. Her father, Lewis Burwell, was a mason and did a great deal of Col. Talbot’s masonry work. He was a cousin of Col. Mahlon Burwell. Her mother was Lavina Williams, a sister of Thomas Williams – patron of the Thomas Williams Home for indigents at St. Thomas.
“Col. Talbot was good to us young ones if we were good to him. He was not very cranky, pretending a lot which he didn’t mean.” Mrs. Johnson remembers that the boys bowed and the girls curtseyed in those days. Sometimes she failed to curtsey to Col. Talbot, and then he would say to his retainer Jeffry Hunter, “Hit that girl a good slash, Jeffry”; but he didn’t do it.”
“Oh, my, but that is a long time ago,” she would remark occasionally.
Mrs. Johnson’s husband first saw her when she was driving sheep along the road. Right away he said to himself that she would be his wife. His family went to Michigan. Mrs. Johnson followed and on Sept. 12, 1858, became the bride of Howard Johnson at Pontiac. Her husband fought in the American Revolutionary War [Civil War], in which her brother, John R. Burwell, was killed.
Mrs. Johnson is the oldest in a family of seven. She has a brother and a sister living, Richard Burwell of Grass Lake, Mich., and Mrs. Jane Helms of South Haven, Mich. A first cousin, Mrs. Lydia Bage of Burtland, Ore., was 100 years old on February 6th last, and has sent a letter on congratulations on also becoming a centenarian.
While living on a fruit farm at Essex Centre in 1912 Mr. Johnson passed away, ending 54 years of married life. Mrs. Johnson has since lived with Mrs. Kitchen and another daughter, Mrs. Edmond Parker of Kingsville. A son, Charles Johnson, resides in Detroit. Mrs. Johnson has 12 grandchildren and 26 great grandchildren.
Mr. and Mrs. Johnson lived in Pontiac, Waterford, and Gratiot during their stay in Michigan. “When we moved to Gratiot we saw hard times,” she recalled. “It was a new country, and we had to build our own little log house. It was the best little home we ever had. Then the war broke out and Howard had to go, leaving me with two children five years and five months old. The roads were bad and we had a team of oxen. There were lots of bears about. It was a great change for me after living on the Talbot Road on Col. Talbot’s place.
“That was where father died and mother was left with a large family. John and I being the oldest, we were great chums. We made sugar, braided hats, picked limestone out of the creek, and husked the corn. When it was awful cold Bill Welch came and helped us.
“We had good days as well as sad days,” she paused to say.
“For music, a fiddle did it all – for logging bees, barn-raisings, dancing, and it was played in the church, too. Those were good times, but I enjoy life yet,” Mrs. Johnson said with a happy smile.
On Sunday 25 relatives gathered for dinner at the home of Mrs. Kitchen to honor Mrs. Johnson. They came from Toronto, Lapeer, Mich., Detroit, New Liskeard, and Kingsville. A large birthday cake centred the table. Some of the guests remained for the big party Wednesday.
Yesterday afternoon the Ladies’ Aid Society of the Eden Baptist church and many people of the district celebrated Mrs. Johnson’s 100th birthday. There was a beautiful four-story cake made for the occasion by Mrs. D. D. Healy of Eden, who is 80 years old. It was trimmed with white icing and silver berries. The figures “1835-1935” were on it in silver icing and the top story held up a silver horseshoe. All the community was invited to come with their lunches and enjoy a piece of the fruit cake. A program of speeches and music was prepared the the members of the Ladies’ Aid Society. Mrs. William White is the president and Mrs. W. Stilwell the secretary. Solos and duets were sung by Mr. N. O. Stilwell and Miss Olive Stilwell. Mr. [Edward] Sivyer of Eden, who is 93 years old, was an honored guest.
Mrs. Johnson has received many gifts, flowers, cards and letters of congratulation for her birthday celebration. On June 16th her granddaughter and husband from Lapeer, Mich., took her for the first automobile ride she has had this year which she enjoyed greatly. She was a Methodist, but the church was closed at Eden and for several years now the Baptist Ladies’ Aid has gathered with her on her birthday.
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The Thomas Williams Home, I learned from St. Thomas residents on Facebook, is at 57 Walnut Street right beside the old St. Thomas Anglican Church.
Maria’s brother John Rice Burwell died 16 June 1862 in the Battle of Secessionville, James Island, South Carolina at the age of 24. He may have been a Private in Company C, 8th Michigan Infantry, Union Army. There is a record that matches in all details except names of parents and siblings.
One article says that Maria’s brother Richard is alive and the other says he recently died. I have his date of death as Feb. 27, 1937 in Jackson, Michigan.
The birthday cakes got their own write-up in June 27’s paper. With the effort put into them, they deserved it. An 80 year old Mrs. Healy made one and the other came all the way from Detroit.
What about what Roy said on the dictaphone? He and Cathy are about to say their wedding vows. She hardly looked like a carefree bride on the happiest day of her life as she walked down the aisle. But that can be ascribed to nervousness. If you didn’t witness what we, the viewers, did in the parking lot.
Cathy pulled out her dictaphone to go over her vows one more time. She heard what else had recorded on it. Roy telling Brian and Tyrone that he may not want to marry Cathy, but he had given her his word so he would do so.
What do you do then? There is no time to think it over or talk to Roy about what he says or how he feels. The minister, guests and groom are inside, awaiting the bride. Cathy can’t really call a ‘time-out.’
She walks past all the smiling faces to the altar. Then as the minister begins, she tells Roy and all what she heard on the tape. She asks the minister to get rid of everybody so she and Roy can talk.
Theirs is not the first Weatherfield wedding to come to a screeching halt at the altar. The ministers likely pull out their evacuation and containment plans every time they get a booking from someone resident on or near Coronation Street.
Compared to those, Cathy and Roy’s cancelled wedding was the model of decorum. Cathy stated the facts of Roy’s feelings as she had heard them on the dictaphone. She also got her digs in at Tyrone and Brian (“Usain Bolt, there”), the two who forced the questioning of the marriage.
Roy did not disagree with her. After the people had been cleared out, he and Cathy sat in a pew and discussed what had happened, what hadn’t happened and what they would do next. All very civilized. We’ll see what happens next.
For me, I hope they try again. Cathy is not Hayley, and her relationship with Roy is not the same. But that doesn’t mean it is not equally valid and good for both of them. Will Roy see that?
Newfoundland Mi'kmaq, family history, Coronation Street, etc.