Author Archives: fromareportersnotebook

About fromareportersnotebook

Former reporter and city editor at The Tribune, Welland, On. Active in various community groups and initiatives, married with two grown children, interested in roses specifically and gardening in general. A collection of previously-written columns was published in book form in the fall of 2013 and is available by contacting the writer at: fromareportersnotebook@gmail.com. It sells for $20.

View From The Bridge

Rowers arriving to await their respective start times for the Head of the Welland Five Bridges Fall Classic in this photo taken from Woodlawn Bridge at 9.30 a.m. Hosted by South Niagara Rowing Club, the 5.3 km race on the Welland Recreational Canal takes the athletes through the heart of the city, traveling under five bridges (Main Street, Division Street, Lincoln Street, railway swing bridge and Ontario Road) that span its banks. This is the event’s 40th anniversary year. The steeple seen in the distance is St. Mary’s Church) /Photo by Joe Barkovich.

Welland Celebrates Francophone Community With Flag Raising For Franco-Ontarian Day

WELLAND – In celebration of Franco-Ontarian Day on Sept. 25, the City of Welland recognizes and acknowledges Niagara’s Francophone population and will raise the Franco-Ontarian flag at City Hall on Sept. 23. at 9:30 a.m.

The City of Welland is one of Ontario’s 26 designated Francophone communities.

“The Francophone community makes up our city’s identity and recognizing and celebrating their contributions to our daily lives and culture is something we’re proud to do,” said Mayor Frank Campion. “It gives me great pleasure to raise the Franco-Ontarian flag in recognition and support of our French-Canadian community here in Welland.”

Visiting Discover Welland — Decouvrir on the City’s website allows visitors a French-language section rich with information on the best places to see and visit in the City as well as highlights Welland’s attractions, history of Francophone culture, sister city Sorel-Tracy in Quebec, and relevant links to related news and resources. 

The City of Welland continues to strengthen partnerships with organizations such as Francophone Employment and Resource Centre (CERF-Niagara), Centre de Santé Communautaire, Foyer Richelieu Welland, l’Auberge Richelieu Welland, Collége Boréal, and Paroisse Sacré-Cœur. These organizations are vital in supporting Welland’s French-speaking families.

Minister of Francophone Affairs, the Honourable Caroline Mulroney, also wrote a letter of support to the City of Welland for advancing the Francophone community’s many contributions to the City and the province. 

Attribution: City of Welland media release.

Heritage Lives: The Hidden Power Of Lake Erie

By Terry Hughes

And here on this Erie shore,

We see a lonely place.

A gently, sloping, rock-littered beach,

With no waves swamping its hardened face.

Away from this barren, rocky shore,

The vegetation stands.

With no sign of human activity here,

Nor place for children to play with sand.

But be not fooled by this photograph,

Of David Morgan’s home site.

For this lake has power beyond belief,

And man has yet to control its might!

The inspiration for my poem comes from a photograph found in the 2003 edition of the Wainfleet Historical Society Calendar showing the waterfront at Morgan’s Point in the 1920s. 

When first observing this picture, there does not seem to be a whole lot to say about this image but careful scrutiny indicates the opposite. Along its shoreline the waves work their wonders in depositing sand here and removing it from there. Just to the east of Morgan’s Point, Camelot Beach had high sand hills and the historic Sugarloaf Hill while the sandy beaches at Long Beach abound to the west.

Prevailing winds from the southwest are the forces at work here that expose the underlying sedimentary rock at this location. Note too, the debris field of boulders scattered along the shoreline exhibiting rounded edges caused by wave action moving them about on the rocky floor of the lake. The size of the rocks are considerable particularly those closest to the photographer.

Some years ago, a rock about the size of a Volkswagen Beetle was found at Lowbanks sitting on the road near the lake. Imagine the power required to move those rocks about as if they were mere pebbles. The force of the waves can exert power to the tune of several tons per square foot.

Lake Erie sits in a shallow depression much like a dish of water. When a storm comes in from the west the winds force the water to the east end of the lake. The guard lock at Port Colborne was built to compensate for a suge in the lake level of up to 14 feet although 12 feet is the norm. Now put the wave machine into action and you have coastal erosion at work. The rush of the water onto the shoreline is called the swash and the returning water back into the lake is the backwash taking tons of sand and gravel from beaches causing extreme shoreline erosion. Recent efforts to build breakwalls along cottage property involves a great deal of expense and if not done properly can lead to more loss of property.

In 1950 while cottaging just west of Rathfon Inn a severe storm came up. That night we could hear the waves pounding on the beach. All the men in the area formed teams to go out and secure boats from being lost to the horrific surf. The next morning we looked out to see that more than 10 feet of the backyard fronting on the lake was gone.

Along with the wave action, the energy stored in a thunderstorm is equivalent to thousands of atomic bombs ready to be detonated at a moment’s notice. This is the driving force that is the agent for trouble when it erupts over Lake Erie. There is no way that man can match that power.

If the action along the beach does not impress you, then imagine what it must be like for lakers dealing with the elements. Here we see the William H. Truesdale bound for Buffalo struggling with wave action engulfing her mid-deck as she pounds through the lake. Notice a cable that runs the entire length of the boat, used for attaching a lifeline for those wishing to move back and forth. You would attach your personal rigging to this line and take a chance to reach your destination. This photo was taken in 1930 before crew movement could use tunnels made on modern lakers safely. (Richard J. Wright, in Ships of the Great Lakes.)

(Terry Hughes is a Wellander who is passionate about heritage, history and model railroading. His opinion column, Heritage Lives, appears on the blog once or twice monthly.)

Next column: Remembering Canada’s Greyhounds; the Tribal-class destroyers.

Royal Correspondent

Elizabeth Reaman, At 12, Sent A Sympathy Card To The New Queen In 1952

Caption: Elizabeth Reaman, centre photo above, is pictured in her kitchen with keepsakes of a decades-long correspondence. /Photos by Bernie Barkovich.

By Joe Barkovich, Scribbler-at-large

Elizabeth Reaman was up at 4 a.m. Monday to watch televised coverage of the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II, just as she said when we met her a few days prior.

“I wouldn’t miss it,” the feisty 82-year-old said.

She has had a cherished, written-word involvement with the royals.

Reaman sent a sympathy card following the death of then-Princess Elizabeth’s father, King George VI, February 6, 1952. She was 12 years old at the time.

She wrote it out of “great respect” for the Royal Family, she said, but also her admiration of the young Princess. 

Much to her surprise, she received a response in the mail. Because it was connected to mourning, the letter of reply was “edged in black,” Reaman recalled.

That exchange was the start of correspondence, over the years, connected to events of great sadness but also joy in the Royal Family:

The death of Princess Margaret, February 9, 2002, prompted a message of sympathy from Reaman;

She then reached out upon the passing of the Queen Mother, March 30, 2002;

When Prince Phillip died, April 9, 2021, Reaman sent a card of sympathy;

And upon the May 6, 2019, birth of Archie, first-born to Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan Markle, she sent a baby card. With glee lighting her face, Reaman told us she and Archie share the same birth date.

The reply to correspondence about Prince Philip’s death is a favourite possession.

“I send you my sincere thanks for your kind words of sympathy on the death of my husband,” was the message over the name ELIZABETH R.

“What a handsome man,” Reaman said referring to the photo that was part of the thank you card.

Interestingly, the reply to her message about the passing of Princess Margaret has a hand-written sentence by the Queen’s Lady in Waiting:

“P.S.  I’m sorry no black edges any more”

Reaman surmises it’s about a comment she had made in her sympathy card to the Queen, referring to the edged-in-black thank you letter she had received years prior, after the passing of the Queen’s father.

“I heard the Queen reads all her correspondence personally,” Reaman said.

Reaman was visibly distressed to talk about two letters of reply that were lost over the years.

One was the letter of thanks about the passing of King George VI. The other was a reply to her card about the Queen Mother’s death. She was at a loss to explain what could have happened to them.

Watching days and days of coverage leading up to Monday’s funeral turned Reaman nostalgic at times during last week’s interview at her Port Colborne home.

So admiring was she of Princess Elizabeth while she was a child, Reaman remembered asking her father if she had been named after her. But her hope was dashed when he told her no, she was named after her grandmother.

Still, Reaman said it didn’t stop her telling people she was named after the Princess.

“I could dream about it,” she said.

She shared a memory about a visit to England in 2014. A high point was coming within about 50 feet of the Queen, who was on her way to the opening of Parliament.

When Reaman tells friends about her correspondence with members of the Royal Family, some don’t believe her. Once she ended up bringing a letter to show a skeptical co-worker as proof.

“He was astonished,” she said about his reaction. 

She also has a collection of books and magazines about the Queen and members of the Royal Family.

Spoken to Monday afternoon by phone, Reaman said the day’s funeral coverage made for “moving and emotional” viewing.

She was impressed by the parade, the marching, the route lined with thousands of spectators, the church service and the previously-unseen display of respect for centuries-old traditions that was so much a part of the proceedings.

“It was a tremendous show. It was very sad, I shed some tears.”

Now there is one thing left to do.

In days ahead she will be writing a card of sympathy about the passing of a Queen who, while still a Princess, had inspired Reaman to wish she had been named after.

“She was part of my life for so long,” said Elizabeth Reaman.

A garden and the Canadian flag at half-staff, pictured last week at Reaman’s home.

Barky’s Billboard

(Please Support/Attend This Deserving Community Event!)

Come join us for a night of spooky stories and encounters with the spirits of the War of 1812. Kyle Upton, the creator of the Ghost Tours at Fort George will be joining us at the Welland Museum on October 22, to share Ghost Stories of Niagara. Registration is preferred to make sure we have enough seating. We hope to see you there! https://bit.ly/3UmgG53/ Barky’s Billboard is a recurring on the blog. Supplied graphic.

Why The Terry Fox Run Still Matters

By Joe Barkovich, Scribbler-at-large

Captions: From left, Terry Fox with Bill Vigars in the background, photographed near French River by Gail Harvey; Welland’s Main Street Bridge (Bridge 13), photographed at 8:15 p.m., was illuminated in blue and red Sunday evening in honor of the Terry Fox Run; Bill Vigars.

WELLAND – Don’t let Bill Vigars hear you say Sunday was just another Terry Fox Run day.

The former Wellander who accompanied Fox for much of his Marathon of Hope in 1980 hopes the day will be forever revered as a remembrance of and tribute to Fox.

Vigars was director of public relations and fundraising for the Canadian Cancer Society’s Ontario division when Fox started out on his marathon. That good fortune brought the two together. 

They first met when Fox was on the road in New Brunswick and then not long after when Vigars hooked up with the marathon outside Montreal. It was June 24, and Vigars remained part of the journey until its end at Thunder Bay, September 1, 1980.  Not only was he public relations co-ordinator for the Marathon of Hope, but also a close friend and confidant of Fox. 

“Maclean’s (magazine) referred to me as Wagon Master. Terry trusted me to use my background to spread his story.”

The experience has had lifelong impact on him, to the point where it was “assimilated” into his being long ago.

So on Sunday, when Welland residents assembled on Merritt Island, venue for the local run, and as Canadians in cities and towns and rural areas across this vast land gathered for their own local runs, Vigars was out doing the same in his neck of the woods.

I reached him as he was heading out to a run near his home in British Columbia, joining Terry Fox’s sister Judith, to participate as invited guest speakers. 

In September 2021 he was at Welland’s Notre Dame high school – in a way.

He was featured in a video link presentation to students, sharing some of his memories and making a strong plea for them to be lifelong supporters of Fox’s dream. How did this come to be? Vigars said ND’s principal Andew Boon was a chum of his son Patrick – the two played soccer when they were boys – and their families had become close friends.

 “I go to a different run every year. Been to China where there were 8,000 school kids running in Guangzhou, to plane hopping to three runs in one day in Maine.”

He turned to a quote from Fox when asked why fundraising is still important 40-plus years later: “I’m not a dreamer, and I’m not saying this will initiate any kind of definitive answer or cure to cancer, but I believe in miracles. I have to.”

Throwing in thoughts of own, Bill Vigars added: “There have been massive advances in defeating certain types of cancer, in providing longer survival times and improving quality of life. There’s a little bit of Terry in every Canadian. As much as raising funds for research it’s important that we pass his story on to every generation. He is an example of perseverance, courage, determination and proof that one person can make a difference, even change the world.”

THE DAY THE MARATHON OF HOPE VAN CAME TO WELLAND

Captions: Terry Fox shown on his Marathon of Hope with that iconic van behind him; Wellander Ray Bedard waiting for Fox to resume his run. (Supplied photos).

There are all kinds of stories from Terry Fox’s Marathon of Hope. Some are well known, others not so. The following story was known by only a handful of people, said Bill Vigars.

It’s about the day the Marathon of Hope van came to Welland. Unannounced.

“No one knows this story other than Ray’s family and the neighbours,” according to Vigars.

Vigars and a friend, Ray Bedard, drove it here to show Bedard’s parents and brother. Fox was being flown to Niagara Falls and later to Toronto to watch a Blue Jays game. It was Saturday, July 12, 1980.

Vigars had invited Bedard to join the marathon on the highway for a while, which Bedard gladly did. Meeting Fox and getting to know him was one of the “best things that happened to me,” he said in a phone conversation on the weekend.

His brother, Marc, 14, was thrilled by the van’s visit to their Grange Avenue family home. It caused “quite a commotion” for the hour it was parked on the street, Bedard recalled.

Bedard said he knew nothing about Fox until Vigars invited him to come up and witness the run.

“I didn’t even know the guy existed,” he said.

But once he was with them and he watched Fox running along the highway in his unforgettable style, he knew he had become a lifelong admirer.

“You could tell that it hurt him, and it was painful just to watch. Talk about guts, Terry Fox had guts.”

Bedard said he won’t ever forget those days accompanying the Marathon of Hope, nor of course, Terry Fox.

“I have three pictures of Terry in my house. I see him every day.”

Barky’s Billboard

(Please Support/Attend This Deserving Community Event)

/Supplied graphic

Volunteers needed for 40th annual Head of the Welland Regatta
Do you like free lunch and t-shirts? We are looking for volunteers to help us with the 40th annual Head of the Welland Regatta at the Flatwater Centre on Sept 24th. No experience is needed – buuuuuut if you have a boaters license that is extra special to us. Pop us an email at info@rowsnrc.ca to get on the list and please share this around if you know of anyone. If you want to learn more about the Head of the Welland, head over to our website http://www.rowsnrc.ca TY!

(Barky’s Billboard is a recurring feature on the blog.)