Letters – Our readers write: Summer 2009

Letters published in the Summer 2009 edition of In The Hills magazine.

June 18, 2009 | | Back Issues | Departments | Letters, Our Readers Write | Summer 2009

The Arrow Pierced Hearts

Avro Arrow

October 4, 1957, Malton : 12,ooo people gathered to witness the first Arrow roll out of its production bay. Government officials, AVRO executives and military personnel sat on an elevated dais; the majority of the crowd on the tarmac was composed of AVRO and Orenda workers and their families. Rumblings about the enormous cost of the project had already begun in the press, but for the men and women working in Malton, it was a day of unparallelled pride and optimism. Courtesy West Parry Sound District Museum.

Your recent story by Jeff Rollings on the Avro Arrow (“The Day the Arrow Died,” spring/09) gave me the opportunity to wrap myself in warm memories of my deceased father, Fred Doherty.

Like so many others, my father continued to farm as well as work on the Arvo Arrow. He never sat still. There was always something he needed to do. So we knew something was wrong when he drove up the driveway and just sat in the car, staring, on “Black Friday.” He could not believe the Arrow had been cancelled.

Months before he had been working in the field when he heard a sonic “boom” and knew they had just broken the sound barrier on a test flight. What a contrast for him. He was working with horses on the farm as his father and grandfather had done, but in his other job he was building the most advanced aircraft in the world. He was so proud of the work he was doing.

Another time he showed me drawings of a new design for a vertical take-off and landing aircraft. It was to be the next project. New designs on the drawing board meant job security in the future, or so everyone thought.

After the cancellation of the Arrow, my father returned to Malton and worked there for many years building a variety of aircraft. He also continued to farm, always moving at “haven’t-got-time” pace.

Love your magazine, Lorraine (Doherty) Radke, Caledon

My son and I enjoyed Jeff Rollings’ “The Day the Arrow Died.” As newcomers to Canada this certainly explained the story thoroughly for us. I have talked with a few people who were touched by the closing of A. V. Roe in Brampton and each person tells their story with a special kind of passion. Jeff’s story helped us understand the magnitude of the effects on this area and why there are “strong emotional vibes” as people talk about the project.

I was surprised, however, that Jeff’s conclusion didn’t mention the scale replica of the Avro CF-05 Arrow, built by volunteers at the Toronto Aerospace Museum, just down the road at Downsview Park. I happened by there for a museum meeting last fall. It is worthy of a visit: www.casmuseum.org.

Alison Hird, Collections Manager, Dufferin County Museum and Archives and What’s On Ontario

Home Child Tribute

In your autumn 2005 issue, you featured an article entitled “Home Child,” by Bernadette Hardaker. She discussed the plight of the young British emigrants and further described the making of the new musical, Homechild, which I had written as a memorial to the home children. Thank you for your part in making the show a success. I would also like to express my gratitude to the many people from Erin and surrounding communities who brought this musical tribute to life on stage in October, 2005.

This year has been declared “The Year of the Home Child” in many parts of the world. In honour of this Homechild – The Musical will once more be presented on stage by West End Studio Theatre in Oakville, in July. (Tickets can be obtained online at www.oakvillecentre.ca or by phone at 1-888-489-7784).

More information is available at www.homechildmusical.com which has a link to www.britishhomechildren.org where the planned worldwide candle-lighting ceremonies are described as “a unified, global celebration of our love and respect for the home children.”

Barb Perkins, Erin

Rockfort Reckoning

Your article “Day of Reckoning” (spring/09) on the encroachment of another gravel pit into Caledon failed to mention a small paragraph in the Provincial Policy Statement.

The PPS says that all gravel pits must be rehabilitated to restore the original beauty and function of the land. The next paragraph excludes gravel pits that penetrate the water table. As the owner of the potential pit is on record as planning to penetrate the water table, rehabilitation need not be conducted.

That should please the neighbours.

Charles Hooker, Orangeville

In spite of all its solid reporting and evident research, the editorial-cum-article about the people opposing the Rockfort quarry proposal (“Day of Reckoning”) in your spring issue left me feeling hurt and disappointed. It seems safe to say that well over 85 per cent of the volunteers fighting against this proposal are not WOOFs (Well-Off Old Folks), as the article claims, by any stretch of the term.

It is true that I am old, but I have been pensioned for some time, my wife has been unemployed for some time, and our savings are modest indeed. Very many of the Coalition of Concerned Citizens’ volunteers work full time, for modest incomes, and still they donate many hours a year to this environmental work. These volunteers do not enjoy the financial comfort, ease or business and government contacts implied in your editorial. We are blessed that a few of our members do, however.

I feel differently than the writer Nicola Ross does about NIMBYism. What appears to be NIMBYism is actually a deep and justifiable sense of injustice, a sense that industry and government can and will expropriate our aquifers, our peace and quiet, our health and safety, our green environment (the environment of the same society that aggregate claims to facilitate), all with no recompense, no trustworthy guarantees, and no reasonable alternatives seriously considered.

I plead guilty to NIMBYism because I believe that justice is deserved by all. I believe that the Rockfort quarry proposal is fair neither to the residents of Wellington and Caledon, nor to our environment. Gravel can be green. But the green alternative didn’t seem to count for much in your editorial.

Barney Gilmore, Caledon

Re “Day of Reckoning” in your spring issue: This article presents itself as an objective look at the James Dick pit proposal. Right from the start Nicola Ross gives her prejudices away. What right has she to say that the coalition is made up of well-heeled, front-end baby boomers? Further on, she refers to coalition members as WOOFs, Well-Off Old Folks, a group of affluent, influential and motivated folk with time on their hands. What does she know about the incomes of the members? There are many, many members of the coalition who are on a pension or a very modest income.

My own daughter, who has worked with the coalition for many years, lives in a tiny house on a very modest income. By the way, she works for a living and has little spare time. I know [coalition chair] Penny Richardson and she certainly does not have time on her hands. My own experience with any volunteer group is that it is those very people who don’t have time on their hands who do the work.

Heather Duff, Caledon

After reading Nicola Ross’s article about the Rockfort quarry in the spring issue, I breathed a sigh of relief. As impressive as the Coalition of Concerned Citizens’ efforts are, and despite my admiration for those members who I know personally, I had some misgivings about the campaign against James Dick’s application.

Like Ross, I couldn’t help but ask myself: we all need aggregate, so if not from Caledon, where should we take it? I respect the fact that Ross investigated what lay behind the project, confronting her own questions – and mine – as she proceeded. It helped me a great deal to read her conclusion that “there is damning environmental evidence against the application.”

The coalition has effectively used the tools at their disposal and the arsenal has been considerable. Regardless of the OMB’s decision, we owe these citizens a big vote of thanks for their long battle. I join Ross in admiring their work and hope that our efforts to protect the Oak Ridges Moraine can attract the same passion and dedication.

Debbe Crandall, Save the Oak Ridges Moraine (STORM)

Mysteries of the Dordogne

If many of your readers enjoyed Liz Beatty’s article “Caledon and the Dordogne” (spring/09) as much as I did, they may wish to read a series of books by Michelle Wan. While the author was born in China, raised in the United States, lived also in England, France and Brazil, she now resides in Guelph with her husband who is a horticulturalist of tropical plants. They annually visit the Dordogne to photograph and chart wild orchids.

Wan uses the local colour of that unique French province with its splendid hiking trails, patchwork villages and amusing inhabitants to weave murder mysteries that include a search for a rare wild orchid.

The reader is entertained by great stories and a better appreciation of wild orchids, including those in our Canadian woodlands, as the main character is a young Canadian woman.

Look for the colourful orchid plates on the hard cover copies of Deadly Slipper, Orchid Shroud and A Twist of Orchids.

Elizabeth Harris, Etobicoke

Bungled Bank Job

You can’t imagine my surprise to read Ken Weber’s story on the Shelburne bank robbery (“How not to Rob a Bank,” spring/09), because, you see, I witnessed this clumsy attempt going down. I tried to tell some people in the local pool hall where I worked at the time, but nobody would believe me, saying that as long as their money was left alone they didn’t care.

This is my version of the Shelburne bank robbery on that November day back in 1967. I was in the pool hall stocking shelves when I noticed a guy acting kind of strange across the street, trying to position a nylon stocking over his head and signalling to his partner on the opposite corner.

After giving each other a signal, they both entered a bank, one was the TD and I think the other was the Royal. The one that entered the Royal came out a very short time later, crossed the street, got into a car and proceeded to drive off. It seems to me that he went around the block, I assume to try to pick up his buddy, who was either not out yet or had already walked down to the restaurant.

That was when I and a best friend ran out and got my car, after getting someone to mind the store, and followed the getaway car as it headed out of town. He continued east to the Blind Line, then turned north toward a dead end, where we thought we’d have him boxed in. However, he had found a spot to turn and was coming back toward us.

As he passed us we noticed he had a gun in one hand, which kind of gave us a new outlook on things. He continued south toward Orangeville and we continued to follow at a distance. I guess he noticed we were trailing him because he stopped on the left side of the road.

Now I was pretty sure I knew who he was when I saw him enter the bank, and I didn’t think he was dangerous. We pulled up beside him and right away he started talking to us. We asked him what he was up to. He asked if we could take the gun off his hands because, he said, he was going home as fast as he could to find himself a good lawyer. We declined the gun offer, though he said it wasn’t loaded, but we agreed he could probably use a good lawyer.

I tend to agree with you and your editor that it would serve no purpose to disclose the names of the robbers now forty-two years later. I have seven grandchildren of my own now and maybe he does too, and they probably don’t need to know what their grandfather was up to all those years ago with a belly full of beer. I enjoyed reading your story.

Name withheld on reques

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