All posts by Dorothy

Mattie Mitchell, Reindeer

The unique 400-mile ‘reindeer drive’Reindeer_Jukkasjärvi_Lappland_Sweden_1930-1949

Vignettes of the West, Don Morris – Mar. 14 1992

Newfoundland’s most noted Micmac Indian, Mattie Mitchell, passed away at Corner Brook in the autumn of 1921 at about the age of 71. He became locally renowned during his lifetime as the prospector who, in 1905, discovered the rich ore bodies at Buchans River in the interior which was the beginning of the thriving mining town of Buchans.

That was Mattie’s greatest claim to fame. But three years later, in March of 1908, he was chosen by the Anglo-Newfoundland Development Company to act as guide in probably the most singular wildlife venture in local history. The AND Company, builders of the Grand Falls pulp and paper mill, had ordered from Dr. Wilfred Grenfell, founder of the Grenfell Mission, head-quartered at St. Anthony, 50 of the 300-reindeer herd which the medical missionary had purchased in Scandinavia. The animals were intended as a supplement to caribou as a food source for the northern population.

laplanders-at-St-Anthony-medicalarchives.jhmi_.edu_vbartlett_phnewfound
Saami and reindeer, Newfoundland 1907 photo Vashti Bartlett (Johns Hopkins archives)

Reindeer in harness

However, the AND Company wanted 50 of them for an experiment; to see if reindeer could be used in harness for hauling logs in the lumber woods. These were originally intended to be landed at the convenient harbor of Lewisporte. However, when the overseas steamer arrived with the animals and their Lapland herders, it was found that Lewisporte was ice-choked and the deer were then landed at Cremaillere Bay near St. Anthony.reindeerboat-vashti-bartlett-medicalarchives.jhmi

The mill builders sent a team of men north, under supervision of a key employee, Hugh Cole, to escort the reindeer south to Millertown. Mattie Mitchell was contracted to act as the guide for the company men and the reindeer. Because the sea ice was unsuitable, it was decided that the “reindeer drive” would be down The Great Northern Peninsula. The project was a first (and only) of its kind in our annals.

Reindeer drive route

It had been a long and severe winter. From the outset the drive showed promise of being an arduous undertaking. On March 22, the unusual caravan, which included four Lap herdsmen and their trained dogs, had reached the headwaters of Cat Arm River inside White Bay, after 20 days of torturous travel. Because of storms and sub-zero weather which had slowed both men and deer, provisions were now practically gone.

Forced to turn eastward in an effort to survive, the hikers and their charges reached an empty logging camp at Sop’s Arm River March 28.

reindeer-route-nq-1966-flr.gov.nl.ca
Reindeer drive route, Nfld Quarterly 1966 (click to enlarge)

20 miles in 52 hours

At Cole’s direction, Mitchell and another man headed by dog-team to the village to find food. When the pair reached the settlement, they found it deserted. The inhabitants had moved across the bay to their more sheltered winter quarters. The men pushed ahead, reached the people, obtained some supplies and returned to Cole’s camp. It took them 52 hours to make the round trip of about 20 miles. The party and the deer then continued towards Deer Lake.

At the foothills of the Long Range Mountains caribou were encountered and the trekkers dined on welcomed venison. Thirty days after leaving St. Anthony, the Cole party and deer had reached the summit of the great peninsula’s mountain range. But sub-zero temperatures and storms made travel appalling. When they eventually descended and again reached foothills on the other side of the range, the most difficult part of their journey was over. The intense cold and severe gales persisted, but there was more shelter and now the waterways were opened, permitting the herd to swim across St. Paul’s Inlet.

Reindeer on railway cars

Bonne Bay was reached April 23, after 53 days on the trail. Cole left his party and made a sled trip to the railway depot at Deer Lake where he took a train for Millertown to arrange building of corrals for the reindeer. Mattie Mitchell stayed with the party in his capacity as guide. Cole returned to meet his crew and the reindeer at a point halfway between Bonne Bay and Deer Lake. Then the animals were loaded into railway boxcars and eventually reached Millertown. The long, unusual journey was completed by April 30. They had been on the trail 58 days and covered 400 miles of the most grueling nature.

mun-maritime-history-archive-ca1907-harnessed reindeer in St. Anthony
Reindeer in St. Anthony ca. 1907

After a while the AND Company lost interest in the experiment of using reindeer as beasts of burden. But the animals, together with the Laplanders clad in their attractive native garb, proved to be a showpiece at Millertown and attracted visitors from as far away as St. John’s. Even the colony’s governor was curious enough to organize a party to go and view the novelty. Eventually, the reindeer were donated to the Grenfell Mission and shipped back to St. Anthony. The Laplanders returned home and Mattie Mitchell went about his business as a fishing and hunting guide and prospector. It is said he did not lack for clients.grenfell-reindeer-hooked mat-crescentlanehooker.blogspot-2010_02

Mattie married to Mary Ann Webb

Mattie Mitchell was married to a lady named Mary Ann Webb. They had a large family. One of their sons, also named Matthew, became a well-known guide and prospector in his own right.

Mattie, Sr. was a local celebrity when he died at Corner Brook. One of his last requests was that a priest be at his side in his final moments. This was fulfilled when one of his sons, John, travelled to nearby Curling and returned with a clergyman.

A Roman Catholic priest was at the veteran woodsman’s side when he breathed his last.

Mitchell ancestry

As disclosed in last week’s column on Mattie Mitchell, he was born either at Hall’s Bay or Norris Point about 1851 and was the son of a Micmac Indian Chief whose ancestors came to Newfoundland in the mid-1700s from Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. Information on Mattie’s parents or on his early years and on his own wife and family are indeed scanty.

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Frank Speck Beothuk and Micmac 1922:134 Mattie Mitchell on list of Nfld hunting territories

I would be keenly interested in hearing from any reader who can shed more light on the family and career of this remarkable man. Are any of his descendants still residing in Newfoundland? If so, a letter from them would be greatly appreciated.

A highly interesting footnote to this two-column series on Mattie is that, according to several reference sources, family tradition has it that this particular Mitchell Clan had a presence in Bay St. George during the early days of the French migratory fishery and that Mattie’s great grandfather was given a vessel by the king of France in order… “to facilitate the movements of the Micmac on the water in the interests of France.”

Don Morris column Reindeer Drive Mar. 14 1992

In Mr. Morris’ next column, a Mitchell family member responds. I will post it next week. (Last week I posted Part 1 – Buchans.) The reference to Mattie’s great grandfather is from Frank Speck’s Beothuk and Micmac 1922 (Internet archive). For more on the Mitchell forebearers, see ‘father,’ ‘grandfather,’ ‘Captain Jock’ in sidebar of The Mattie Mitchell Webpage. Reindeer in Newfoundland as well as the 1966 Newfoundland Quarterly article is in a pdf newsletter 2010 from the Dept. of Environment and Conservation.

With the Lapps… 1907-1908

With the Lapps Amazon linkInterestingly, while looking through Amazon books, I found With the Lapps… A woman among the Sami, 1907-1908 by Emilie Demant Hatt (tap image to see more).

So, at the same time as Mattie Mitchell was herding reindeer with Saami herders in Newfoundland, a Danish woman was with the Saami in Northern Sweden and Norway herding reindeer.

Mattie Mitchell, Buchans

The amazing career of Mattie Mitchell

morris-pt-1-mattie-mitchell article western star 1992
March 7, 1992 – click/tap to enlarge. Transcribed below.

– Vignettes of the West, by Don Morris

Mattie Mitchell was a Micmac Indian with strong western Newfoundland connections. It was he who, in 1905, discovered the valuable ore lodes which gave rise to the mining town of Buchans. And it was Mattie who, three years later, acted as guide for an unprecedented “reindeer drive” down the Great Northern Peninsula from St. Anthony to Millertown, a distance of 400 miles. The man became a legend in his own lifetime.

Buchans_Mines_Newfoundland-Ken-Eckert-2000-wikicommonsYet, frustrating, little is known about the early years of Mitchell. The Dictionary of Newfoundland Biography states he was born about 1851 at Hall’s Bay. The Smallwood Encyclopedia gives two possible birth places – Hall’s Bay or Norris Point. I was surprised to learn during research that Mattie (his given name was Matthew) was of Indian aristocracy. He was the son of a Micmac Chief whose ancestors came to Newfoundland in the mid-1700s from Cape Breton. It is obvious that Mattie gained an intimate knowledge of the local interior in his youth. It was this cognition of the Newfoundland wilderness and its resources which brought him fame in later life.

Before his discovery of the Buchans River mineral deposits and his subsequent guiding a group of white men and their herd of reindeer down the Great Northern Peninsula, Mattie was already renowned as a superb woodsman, fishing and hunting guide and his clients included many wealthy and influential American, Canadian and English sportsmen.

AND Company

In the early 1900s Mattie was commissioned by the Anglo Newfoundland Development Company, builders of the impressive Grand Falls pulp and paper mill enterprise, to prospect for mineral deposits on their land grants which the English concern had obtained from the Newfoundland government. The company had sulphur particularly in mind; it being an essential ingredient in the pulp-making process.

Accompanying the Indian on a January, 1905, prospecting trip to the Buchans River area was William F. Canning, an English assayer who had studied mining engineering at McGill University. With some prior knowledge of the mineral characteristics of the region, Mitchell succeeded in locating the ore deposits which would one day give rise to the thriving mining town of Buchans.

The company was very interested in the rich ore bodies and claimed right over them. They held the ore bodies under concession for over a decade.

ASARCO

Then, in 1915, the American Smelting and Refining Company (ASARCO) learned about the Buchans River mineral deposits of copper, lead and zinc and began experiments for the separation of sulphides. In 1925 ASARCO was successful in concentrating the minerals and smelting them. The following year the American company made an agreement with Grand Falls mill builders by which ASARCO would manage and process the property. Two years later, in 1928, the mine milling operations began and the first shipment of lead and zinc was sent to Botwood. A 22-mile rail line was built to carry the concentrates to Millertown where the main railway took the ore to the Botwood seaport for overseas markets.

buchans to botwood-mapcarta.com
Buchans lower left, Millertown to right on Red Indian Lake, Botwood top right. Tap to enlarge.

Buchans

The town of Buchans had been born. The early employees lived in bunk houses and log cabins but by the end of 1928 the fledgling town had 60 houses, a post office, a hospital and churches. Schools and other facilities were to soon follow. By this time, Mattie Mitchell had been deceased for about seven years.

After the discovery of the Buchans River valuable mineral lodes, the enterprising Mitchell became involved in another historic adventure and this was also associated with the Anglo Newfoundland Development Company. But more directly concerned was the Grenfell Mission at St. Anthony established in 1892 by the famous medical missionary, Dr. Wilfred Grenfell.

Reindeer

Grenfell had bought in Scandinavia a herd of 300 reindeer to augment the food supply of the northern Newfoundland people. Fifty of the animals were earmarked for the AND Company which wished to try an experiment – the use of reindeer in harness for hauling logs in the interior. It was intended that the company’s portion of the herd be landed at the convenient harbour at Lewisporte. However, when the steamer arrived that port was ice-blockaded and the reindeer, accompanied by their colorfully-dressed Lapland herders, were landed at Cremaillere Bay, near St. Anthony.

Reindeers_above_Kilpisjärvi_panoramio-2010-Tadeas-Gregor-wikicommonsA party of men from the company, under the direction of Hugh Henry Cole, a prominent employee with the mill builders, left for St. Anthony for the unique “reindeer drive” southward. And it was only natural for the company to choose Mattie Mitchell to guide the men and animals down the Great Northern Peninsula to Millertown.

At the Grenfell Mission Mattie and the AND Company men were joined by four Laplanders for the southward drive. This event, unmatched in the colourful, long history of Newfoundland, began on March 8 (1908).

Overland on Northern Peninsula

It was originally intended to drive the herd over the sea ice, but this surface was broken by violent storms. The alternative was the high, windswept plateau of the Great Northern Peninsula, a formidable route in summer weather, let alone in a harsh, punishing winter. But that was the only route if the company’s goal was to be achieved.

The men, particularly Mattie, were aware that it had been a late, lingering winter with the land being constantly swept by blinding blizzards. The herd consisted of 40 female reindeer all heavy with fawn, and 10 male deer. The Laplanders had four trained reindeer herd dogs which they had brought over with them, as well as six local huskie sled dogs.

It was, indeed, a very strange caravan which headed down the long peninsula towards the destination of Millertown, 400 miles distant.

Mattie Mitchell-ca-1920-heritage.nf-wikicommonsNEXT WEEK: Conclusion: the arduous trek, final success and the passing of Mattie Mitchell at Corner Brook.

Published in the March 7, 1992 Western Star, Corner Brook. This column is the first of three that Don Morris wrote about Mattie Mitchell. I will post the others over the next two weeks. For more on the Buchans mine, see Buchans Miners Museum. To read more about the ore deposit and mining operations, see Great Mining Camps of Canada 3, The History and Geology of the Buchans Mine by J. Geoffrey Thurlow (2010). See Fred Powell’s Mattie Mitchell Webpage for more on the man himself.

Can’t keep your pet?

I took this from Facebook and shortened it some. Be warned: it is a chilling story. If you haven’t got time or money for a pet, don’t get one. But if you do have, please consider adopting one – or another one. (From my St. Thomas Dog Blog, Apr. 10, 2011.)

St. Thomas Times-Journal ad for animals at City Shelter, Apr 7/11 shelter manager

You can’t keep your pet? Really? By A Shelter Director (Everywhere)

Edited by MuttShack.org (Click title for the entire Facebook post)

As a shelter manager, I am going to share a view from the inside. Maybe if you saw the life drain from a few sad, lost, confused eyes, you would stop flagging the ads on craigslist and help these animals find homes. That puppy you just bought will most likely end up in my shelter when it’s not a cute little puppy anymore.

They always tell me “We just don’t want to have to stress about finding a place for her. We know she’ll get adopted, she’s a good dog.” There’s a 90% chance she won’t leave the shelter alive. Purebred or not! About 25% of “owner surrenders” or “strays” that come into a shelter are purebred dogs.

72 hours

Your pet has 72 hours to find a new family from the moment you drop it off. Sometimes a little longer if the shelter isn’t full and your dog stays completely healthy. If it sniffles, it dies.

Your pet will be confined to a small run/kennel in a room with other barking or crying animals. It will have to relieve itself where it eats and sleeps. It will be depressed and it will cry constantly for the family that abandoned it. If your pet is lucky, I will have enough volunteers in that day to take him/her for a walk. If I don’t, your pet won’t get any attention besides having a bowl of food slid under the kennel door and the waste sprayed out of its pen with a high-powered hose.

Big, black or Bully breed

Black_dog_looks_up_at_the_camera_17-08-2004-Andre-Engels-wikicommonsIf your dog is big, black or any of the “Bully” breeds (pit bull, rottie, mastiff, etc.) it was pretty much dead when you walked it through the front door. Those dogs just don’t get adopted, no matter how ‘sweet’ or ‘well behaved’ they are.

If your dog doesn’t get adopted within its 72 hours and the shelter is full, it will be destroyed. If the shelter isn’t full and your dog is good enough and of a desirable enough breed it may get a stay of execution, but not for long.

Most dogs get very kennel protective after about a week and are destroyed for showing aggression. Even the sweetest dogs will turn in this environment. If your pet makes it over all of those hurdles, chances are it will get kennel cough or an upper respiratory infection and will be destroyed because the shelter gets paid a fee to euthanize each animal and making money is better than spending money to take this animal to the vet.

Euthanasia 101

Here’s a little euthanasia 101 for those of you that have never witnessed a perfectly healthy, scared animal being “put-down”. First, your pet will be taken from its kennel on a leash. They always look like they think they are going for a walk happy, wagging their tails. Until they get to “The Room”, every one of them freaks out and puts on the brakes when we get to the door. It must smell like death or they can feel the sad souls that are left in there. It’s strange, but it happens with every one of them.

Your dog or cat will be restrained, held down by 1 or 2 shelter workers depending on the size and how freaked out they are. Then a shelter worker who we call a euthanasia tech (not a vet) finds a vein in the front leg and injects a lethal dose of the “pink stuff”. Hopefully your pet doesn’t panic and jerk. I’ve seen the needles tear out of a leg and been covered with the resulting blood and been deafened by the yelps and screams. They all don’t just “go to sleep”, sometimes they spasm for a while, gasp for air and defecate on themselves.

No money for tranquilizers

Shelters are trying to make money to pay employees and don’t forget the board of directors needs to be paid too. So we don’t spend our funds to tranquilize the animal before injecting them with the lethal drug. We just put the burning lethal drug in the vein and let them suffer until dead. If it were not a “making money issue” and we had a licensed vet do this procedure, the animal would be sedated and then euthanized. But this would cost more so we do not follow what is right for the animal. We just follow what is the fastest way we can make a dollar. Even if it takes our employee 50 pokes with a needle and 3 hours to get the vein, that is what we do. Making money is the issue here not losing money.

Stacked like firewood

When it all ends, your pet’s corpse will be stacked like firewood in a large freezer with all of the other animals that were killed. What happens next? Cremated? Taken to the dump? Rendered into pet food? Or used for the schools to dissect and experiment on? You’ll never know and it probably won’t even cross your mind. It was just an animal and you can always buy another one, right?

I hate my job

I deal with this every day. I hate my job; I hate that it exists & I hate that it will always be there unless people make some changes. Do your homework, and know exactly what you are getting into before getting a pet.

A_lost_dog-28-Apr-2010-Beverly-and-Pack-wikicommons
“This girl was once loved and lived in a home with a couple, even sleeping with them in their bed. The woman discovered she was pregnant and they dumped the dog at the pound, stating they did not care what happened to her. This beautiful girl’s name is Bryndelyn.” – Beverly & Pack, Wikimedia Commons

Animal shelters are an easy way out when you get tired of your dog or cat. Between 9 and 11 MILLION animals die every year in shelters and only you can stop it. I just hope I maybe changed one person’s mind about taking their dog to a shelter, a humane society, or buying a dog. Please repost this to at least one other craiglist in another city/state. Let’s see if we can get this all around the US and have an impact.

Sea-trouting at Main Gut

In July 1835, Archdeacon Edward Wix joined a night fishing party at the Main Gut, Stephenville Crossing, and described it in his diary. In his Vignettes of the West column, historian Don Morris told the story.don-morris-sea-trouting at main gut

A moonlit sea-trouting scene

All was not work for the English Church of England missionary, Archdeacon Edward Wix, when he toured settlements along the south and west coasts of Newfoundland in 1835. Certainly, he attended most conscientiously to his priestly duties of marrying, baptizing, interring and holding church services in the various little hamlets he visited. But he also took time out to see first hand how the people went about their routine industry.

On one occasion he accompanied salmon fishermen to their site of work and he indeed experienced a singular scene. Before describing this in his diary, he wrote under the date of Sunday, July 5, (1835) the following:

“Three full services at Sandy Point (St. George’s Bay) so well attended that I regret exceedingly there should be no missionary stationed among this very teachable quiet people. This harbor and the barrisways, with an occasional visit to the Bay of Islands, and the settlements at Codroy Rivers and Island, would constitute a pleasant and no idle charge; and a school, as I found on an enumeration with one of the inhabitants, might in Sandy Point alone, congregate 70 children if it could be opened tomorrow.”

Following that entry for the Lord’s Day of July 5, the archdeacon penned in his journal:

“Monday [July 6, 1835] –

Went this week to visit the salmon fisheries, which are upon the Main Gut. Three or two families reside there. One night, as some of the families and an Indian boy were going out just at the rise of high tide, five canoes in all, to spear trout and eels, I joined them in the excursion. It employed us till an hour or two after midnight.”

main gut google-mapsArchdeacon Wix described the scene as an “animating one”. He wrote that a brilliant moon hung over the hills, which were finely wooded to the very cliffs and sand at the edge of the water. He continued his account: “Bunches of birch bark were packed together, a dozen in each packet. These were stuck, one at a time, as required, into a stick which was cleft at the top to let in this rude flame, in which a light was applied. The stick with the ignited birch bark was then put upright at the bow of the canoe; there, also, the man stood up, most insecurely summer-eel-spear-ffallop.tripod.combalanced, as would seem, with his ‘nighor’, or eel-spear, a pole cleft at the bottom with a spike inserted. This, on his striking a fish of any size, would open and admit it till the spike perforated it, and then closing upon it, would press it and prevent its escape.”

Fish bewildered

The archdeacon continued his fascinating account: “The sandy or stony bottom of the river in the shallows, – for in deeper water this sport cannot be pursued, – was seen as clearly as in the day, and every fish in it. The fish seemed at least bewildered, if not attracted by the light; and the quickness of eye, and adroitness of the man who used the nighor, impelling as he did, the canoe with the thick end, and every now and then, reversing it to strike, was surprising. He struck successfully at eight out of 10 of each of the fish at which he aimed, and shook them off into the boat with a sudden turn of his arm, which left him at liberty to strike at two fish within a second or two.

Kept his balance

“He kept his balance, also, with great niceness, when he seemed to have poised himself so far over the side of the light canoe, that he must, it seemed to me, have gone overboard, or capsized our crank bark. the light of the flambeau in the other canoes, as they came round the projecting points of leafy green, and the shade, as we again lost view of them behind the tree or rocks in the distance, was most imposing.”

Archdeacon Wix went on to say that 400 trout were thus speared in the canoe in which he was an occupant. He added that some of these fish were of such a size, that they would have been taken, as they frequently were, in the salmon nets.

The archdeacon concluded his account of this unusual “excursion” by penning: “In the five canoes, above 1,000 (fish) were taken in a little less than two hours. I had the curiosity to weigh six of them, which together weighed 22 pounds, and had a barrel of this night’s catch salted that I might take them with me to St. John’s.”

Held more services

During the last days of July, Archdeacon Wix went about his duties, holding three full services at “The Barrisways” on Sunday the 19th.

The entry for his journal, Friday, July 24, said: “A new schooner belonging to my kind friends, Mr. Horatio Forrest and Joseph Pennall, for the launching of which I had been anxiously waiting, being now rigged and ready for sea, I took leave of the worthy inhabitants of St. George’s harbor – of whose kindness I shall ever entertain an affectionate recollection – in an evening service which was very crowded.”

He sailed from Sandy Point Saturday, July 25, at five in the morning, headed for Port aux Basques. No doubt his moonlit sea-trouting excursion was still fresh in his mind.

thetownofstephenvillecrossing.comWho was fishing at the Main Gut?

Archdeacon Wix does not name those with whom he went fishing. However, Kirk Butt in Early Settlers of Bay St. George Vol. 1 writes about who it likely was:

The 1838 List of Inhabitants showed four settler families living in the area that is now known as Stephenville Crossing… Jean Pillet and Jean-Marie Luca/Lucas were included on the 1838 List of Inhabitants and it was indicated that both men had been at the Main Gut for 15 years (since 1823)… François Benoit’s time of residence in the area was given as 50 years. This number was also rounded off. He had actually been there for just under 49 years. James Young Jr. (Jacques LeJeune Jr.) was correctly entered on the list as having been there for 8 years (since 1830)…

During this period, there are known to have been Mi’kmaq families from Seal Rocks [St. George’s] who lived in the vicinity of Stephenville Crossing during the summer months in order to participate in the salmon fishery… In addition to the settlement at Seal Rocks (Anse des Sauvages), his map [Lieut. Vauhello 1819] showed two families a few kilometres away at the mouth of St. George’s River (the east end of Stephenville Crossing)…

The two Mi’kmaq families at the Main Gut would only have been living out on the point during the summer as that area was exposed to somewhat fierce winds and storms in wintertime. They may have returned to Seal Rocks in the winter. By about 1830, however, there were MI’kmaq families from Seal Rocks in permanent residence at Stephenville Crossing. [2007:279-280]

Mr. Butt says that the family of Jean Marche also lived in the Main Gut but was omitted on Captain Polkinghorne’s 1838 List of Inhabitants (2007:218).

vauhello-bay-st-george-map-1819
Lieut. Vauhello Bay St. George 1819 survey, published 1822. Main Gut is gap at right. At its upper tip, he notes “two families of Indians who are involved in fishing salmon.” He also notes MI’kmaq settlement at Seal Rocks (lower middle). Provincial Archives Map Collection, St. John’s.

How to make an eel spear

Should you wish to make your own eel spear, Kerry Prosper of Nova Scotia shows you how on YouTube.

Angel in a Foxhole

Writer Dave Tabar wants to make a movie called Angel in a Foxhole – about Smoky, the Yorkshire Terrier war dog. Until July 4th, Blackpool Records will match all contributions. Here is Dave’s email.

angel in a foxhole - smoky facebook pageSmoky the WWII Dog – Short Film Project Update

96 year old WWII Veteran Bill Wynne needs your help! He has a Yorkie story that must be told –  the incredible and inspirational TRUE story of “Smoky”, his 4 lb. Yorkshire Terrier, who literally became the tiniest Hero of WWII!

dave-tabar-bill-wynne-my-smoky
Dave Tabar and Bill Wynne with Yorkie and Smoky photo

Little Smoky was stuck in a foxhole in New Guinea when she was rescued by Bill Wynne’s army regiment.  With Bill by her side, Smoky went on to win an army mascot competition, grace the cover of the GI newspaper, Yank Magazine, become the first-ever Therapy Dog and literally save lives and planes during the war.

Her heart-warming story shows how much our four-legged friends can accomplish and the powerful impact they have on others’ lives, even when they’re only 4 lbs. Little Smoky did not stop there! After the war, she became a celebrity in Cleveland, Ohio and had her own local TV show [WXEL’s Castles in the Air].

smoky-and-bill-wynne-1946
Smoky and Bill Wynne 1946

Help us share her charming place in history as a movie! Please check out our Indiegogo campaign and donate whatever you can – no amount is too small. With your help, 3-time Emmy Award-Winning Director Dean Love can create a memorable short film that will touch all of our hearts and help us convince Hollywood to turn this into a blockbuster feature. Let’s put Smoky’s name in lights and make 96 year old Veteran Bill Wynne’s dream come true!

Hear the story and contribute to the film campaign at Indiegogo – Smoky film.

To all who have helped fund the “Angel in a Foxhole: Smoky the WWII Therapy Dog” short film / Indiegogo campaign: Thank you for your support!

Blackpool Records matches funds until July 4th

We are writing to inform you that we have received a generous offer from Blackpool Records to match all personal donations received during the final days of the campaign, beginning today, to assure that we reach our minimum $25,000 campaign goal!

John_Purdy-and_Yorkie_Eventbrite
John Purdy will play Bill Wynne

Please consider a contribution, no matter how small, to take advantage of this offer. Otherwise, please forward this message to friends, family and others, as the current campaign ends on Wednesday, July 4th. Today we reached 50% of our minimum goal of $25,000 to produce the film that will put “Smoky” on the big screen at selected 2019 short film festivals, as we continue to work toward achieving a full feature film!

STUDIO A FILMS (Cleveland) and DEAN LOVE FILMS (NYC)

Angel in a Foxhole perks, and more about Smoky

wardogs_smoky_wynnephotoCheck out Indiegogo for great perks you get with your donation! If you want to know more about Smoky, see my review of Mr. Wynne’s book Yorkie Doodle Dandy. I also posted about the tribute Australia paid to her, as well as an email I received from Bill Wynne in 2015.

Of course, she is in the Dogs in War post written by Jim Stewart. Smoky’s Facebook page will keep you up to date on the film’s progress as will her website Smoky War Dog.

Fruit Cobbler

rhubarb cobblerIn my never-ending spring search for things to do with rhubarb, I found a Robin Hood Flour cobbler recipe in my recipe scrapbook. A cobbler has fruit on the bottom with a cake-like topping. It looks impressive but is actually quite simple. That’s what you want if, like me, you can’t bake. I found this recipe especially easy.

Bumbleberry Cobbler

fruit-mixture(Bumbleberry just means a mixture of berries and fruit. So I used what I had. Rhubarb, frozen cherries and half a jar of apple butter. I just added it up to the same quantity – 7 cups – of fruit.)

Fruit

4 cups (1 L) thinly sliced peeled apples (or not peeled)
1 cup (250 mL) fresh or frozen strawberries, halved
1 cup (250 mL) fresh or frozen raspberries
1 cup (250 mL) fresh or frozen blueberries
1/2 cup (125 mL) Splenda granular (I used same of sugar)
1/3 cup (75 mL) all purpose flour
1/3 cup (50 mL) orange juice or water

Combine all ingredients. Mix well. Spread in greased 9″ (2.5 L) square cake pan or baking dish.

Topping

1 2/3 cups (400 mL) all purpose flour
2 tbsp (30mL) Splenda granular (I used sugar, same amount)
4 tsp (20 mL) baking powder
1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
1/2 cup (125 mL) butter
1 cup (250 mL) milk (or buttermilk)

*Combine flour, sweetener, baking powder and salt in mixing bowl.

*Cut in butter with pastry blender (or fork) until mixture is crumbly.

*Add milk, stirring until moistened.

*Drop spoonfuls of batter over fruit, spreading lightly to cover surface.

Place pan on piece of foil (or baking tray) to catch any drips that boil over.

Bake at 400°F (200°C) for 25-30 minutes, or until top is golden. Serve warm. (Especially good with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream on top!)

Tip: Vary the berries to suit your personal taste and what’s in season.

Leaving The Street

This week I only watched Monday’s double episode. I decided at the end of it that I’m leaving the Street. Not forever – I hope. But for now, until something changes that makes it enjoyable for me to watch again.

pvr-screen with watched corrie episodes checkedSince the late 1980s, I’ve watched consistently. I have loved it, and I’ve despaired of it. I’ve suffered through executive producers who were hell-bent on remaking it into something else. I have celebrated when it got back on track. Over those decades, I’ve watched it get more like an American soap. Younger and more beautiful actors taking centre stage. More explosive storylines, more action, less nuance of daily life of regular people. And I’ve stuck with it.

rosie-gemma-and-modelBut the past few months, I’ve more often found myself looking at the clock, wondering if it will be over soon. Looking at the remote, particularly the fast-forward button. Realizing I’m a couple episodes behind, oh dear, when will I be able to catch up. Thinking ‘get off my screen’ about too many characters.

Six episodes

Adding an episode, to six per week, did it for me. Just that extra half hour made watching, keeping caught up, feel like work.pat-points-gun-at-gary

Make time for small moments as well as big stories. That’s what executive producer Kate Oates said they would do with that extra episode. But that’s not what I’ve seen. Scads of new characters, high drama and PSA teaching storylines instead. I’m tired of it. Not any of those things individually, just all of them all the time.

Soap + Crime thriller + Sitcom

wedding-guests-in-bistroMonday’s second episode bounced between three different genres. Crime thriller with Phelan free and threatening again. Soap opera with Robert leaving Michelle and their wedding in the lurch. “Just talk to her, ya plank!” I said, without enthusiasm. So many soap clichés lately, you can’t even care. A sitcom scenario with Rosie, Gemma and somebody new planning the entrapment of somebody else new. (See today’s Scene of the Week for these three scenes.)

Public Service Announcements

shona-and-david-discuss-his-rapeDavid and male rape – a well done and valuable education story, yes. But we haven’t even dealt fully with the suicide and mental health PSA of Aiden. The spectre of grooming and sexual abuse still hovers over Bethany.

robert leaving for londonRobert still has ongoing storylines of a) testicular cancer and b) steroid use. (There’s also Michelle’s Lost and Found sons – straight out of How to Write a Soap Opera.) And remember Billy and his pain-induced heroin use? Has he had a miracle cure for both injury and addiction?

Way too many issues to explore in depth and realistically in terms of the characters’ lives. Plus it’s tiring to watch. Particularly now, when watching the news is a full out emotional rollercoaster ride, Coronation Street would be a nice place to go for a bit of respite.

Leaving for a bit of rest

I don’t think it can feel that much different in the UK than in Canada. Here we have Trump and his bully rants about trade tariffs. In the UK, you have that, as well as Brexit. Exhausting just keeping up. So to also need a score card to keep up with Corrie? No. I can’t do anything about real world politics. But I can control entertainment viewing. If Coronation Street has become as frustrating to watch as the news, it’s time to switch it off.leaving corrie with delete recordings tv screen

I am not advocating that Corrie opt out of the real world and become a bastion of old-fashioned cozy Britain. Just slow down a bit and return to your roots – in both story and storytelling methods. Coronation Street is not a crime drama, sitcom or American soap. It’s not a pulpit or a classroom. It’s a neighbourhood. When it goes back to that, I will be back with bells on!

Corrie Street 17 June 2018

Three Reasons

Three reasons on Monday to leave Coronation Street. Three scenes that too quickly reminded me too much of other types of television shows. So I made a decision that I’ve been thinking about for several months. I stopped watching. I did not watch the rest of the week’s episodes. It feels ok so far, so that’s it. I’m done. You can read more about my overall reasons here.

Crime Drama

reasons to leave - pat-looms-behind-gary-and-sarahA villain returns from the presumed dead. He’s caught, but people underestimate him. They dawdle and don’t pay attention. And surprise, he’s got himself loose and has a gun. Oh no, however will we get out of this alive! It can work – in a crime thriller. If if goes too far, with too many miraculous escapes and close calls, it becomes melodrama. That’s where this has gone.

Soap Opera

robert-leaving-in-vanSomeone sees something and misconstrues it. But that person doesn’t stay to listen to what else is said and therefore get the whole story. Neither does he (Robert) confront, or just ask, anyone about what he overheard. Instead, he goes off in a huff. At a critical juncture. All avoidable if you’d just ask what’s going on. Overused device even in American soaps.

Sitcom

rosie-gemma-and-modelPretty but ditzy women decide to be supersleuths. If they put their heads together, they decide, they can outsmart the bad guy. Hilarity ensues. Because, if they put their heads together, what they got is one big head of good hair. In romance and some mystery novels, this kind of heroine is described as “perky” and/or “sassy.” I don’t read books that use either of those adjectives.

So I’m sorry to say, dear readers, this is the final Scene of the Week. Please feel free to talk amongst yourselves here. I’d love to know what you think. Maybe you can tell me when it’s safe to return.

Justify

Justify belmont-time-nbcsportsA big chestnut colt won the Belmont Stakes on Saturday. Five weeks ago, Justify won the Kentucky Derby. Three weeks ago, he won the Preakness. So he won the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred horse racing. It’s the second Triple Crown in three years, also second Triple Crown in forty years.

The jockey of another big chestnut colt was there watching Justify baffert-greets-ron-turcotte-2018 belmont stakes-nbcsportsdo it. Ron Turcotte could see the blue and white pole at the side of the track. It is 31 lengths from the finish line, marking the distance by which he and Secretariat won the 1973 Belmont, and the Triple Crown. No horse ever has matched that margin (76 metres) or Secretariat’s track record time.

Secretariat-pole-2018-Belmont-nbcsports
Frontrunners passing Secretariat pole 2018 Belmont Stakes

But Justify won the extraordinarily long race, at 1 1/2 miles, wire to wire. He was first out of the gate, and he kept his lead. For what felt like a long, long time, all the other horses were keeping up with him, just back a bit. Keeping up but not increasing their speed. Still, I was terrified. Someone was going to go into overdrive somewhere in that last half- or quarter-mile. “Pull him back, Mike, he’s got to save something for the stretch.”

Justify 1st, Gronkowski last to 2nd

gronkowski-last-2018-nbcMike Smith knows more about riding horses than I do. Justify did have something left. He pulled ahead a bit right near the end, finishing 1 3/4 lengths ahead of Gronkowski. That order of finish was a total surprise. Gronkowski was a long shot who wasn’t even near the pack for much of the race. And then he flew past horses to the front, almost. If you’d bet that unlikely combination, you’d have made some real money.2018-belmont-official-results-nbcsports

Justify is the 13th horse to win the Triple Crown in its 99 year history. His name and silks join theirs in the small field at Belmont Park honouring the winners. The silks of red with yellow stars justify 2018-triple-crown-plaque-nbcbelong to the China Horse Club, co-owners of Justify. In the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, he wore the colours of WinStar Farms, the other owners in the partnership.

With luck, we’ll see Justify run again this year. Maybe the Travers Stakes at Saratoga in August and the Breeders’ Cup in November at Churchill Downs. In 2015 American Pharoah won the Breeders’ Cup but finished behind Keen Ice in the Travers.

Justify_2018_Belmont_Stakes-Mike-Lizzi-wikicommonsjpgJustify is the son of Scat Daddy and Stage Magic. He has a lot of Northern Dancer in him, through both parents. 1977 Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew is his mother’s great-great-grandsire. A  Man_o_War_winning_Belmont-1920-wikipedia chestnut big redgeneration back from there on his dad’s side, there’s Big Red, Secretariat. Another few generations back and you’ll see the original Big Red, the big chestnut champion Man o’ War.

Corrie Street 10 June 2018

Stag

Robert’s stag do in Wednesday’s episode. Less than a handful of guys who don’t know Robert all that well gathered in the Rovers in mid-afternoon. On its own, a bit lame, even seeming a bit shoehorned in. But in costume? That was the straw that broke the camel’s back.five stag guys

There was a warning signal just before. Ryan told Steve – there’s a theme, come as a pop star. A heads up for the audience too. It might be good, some of them have been, I told myself. But events involving themed fancy dress have become somewhat of a Corrie trope.

The highlight, I suppose, was Michelle’s warring sons each coming as an Oasis Gallagher brother, in identical costumes. Totally coincidentally, according to Ali and Ryan when they saw the other. Oh sure, makes sense to independently choose to dress up as one of an always-linked warring duo.connor-brothers-as-gallagher

I restrained myself from turning off the television. Watch the rest of the episode, I told myself, can’t be too hasty.

Next episode, the hen party arrived. They too were in themed costumes. I’m not sure what the theme was, or what the costumes were for that matter. Michelle or Carla said, but I missed it. I was too busy trying to figure out their costumes. And I couldn’t muster the enthusiasm to rewind and watch again. Maybe it was Robert?

jenny-dressed-as-robertI did catch Jenny telling Robert that his suit looked better on her. His suit? It fit her perfectly, and she’s half the size of him. What’d she do, stop at Underworld and recut and resew it?

Another need to restrain myself. Watch to the end of the episode. Watch to the end of the week. See how you feel. So I did, and felt the same way. Coronation Street has become too crazy. Watching is too much work.

Where’s Aiden?

Meanwhile, poor Aiden still isn’t buried! His funeral hasn’t even been discussed. I’ve lost track of how many episodes now equal one steve-as-boy-georgeWeatherfield day but it has to have been long enough to have him cleared for burial. He was mentioned a few times. Good thing too because I’d actually forgotten all about him. It feels like ages ago that he killed himself. It’s only been two weeks.