Tag Archives: memorial

How funny is death? SPOW Conference Part Two

Or is that really the question I want to ask? I am forever niggled by something having to do with writing obituaries and it has, partly, to do with the reactions from womenfolk and menfolk, children folk too (although less … Continue reading

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Timbits and dinosaur poop

Writing the lede to a piece of journalism can feel like dangling from a rope over the abyss. I’m there now, puttering up to write another obituary, sitting in a Queen Street coffee shop while rain thunders down, trying to … Continue reading

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A toast to James Pon’s grandfather

James Pon’s grandfather filled my mind during this rail trip from Montreal to Toronto last month. It was he, along with hundreds of other Chinese workers, who built this railway–although on the other side of the Rocky mountains. Last month, … Continue reading

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Loss. Regret.

Writing obituaries sometimes feels like an exercise in loss and regret. The subject has died, of course, and so I lack the opportunity to interview this person. Instead I must gather details of her or his life from colleagues, family, … Continue reading

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“Let him rest,” says his widow

When I’m writing an obituary, I live among the family. Not literally, of course, but emotionally. It begins with reading the death notice, usually written by one of the deceased’s children, placed in a newspaper at great cost and twigging … Continue reading

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Tristan and Isolde

Last weekend I went to see Tristan and Isolde at the magnificent Four Seasons Centre in downtown Toronto, performed by the Canadian Opera Company. My sister Kathleen invited me because her friend wasn’t able to attend. Our orchestra seats were ten rows … Continue reading

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I have lost friends, some by death… others through sheer inability to cross the street. In this madly slap-dash way we’re living, with twisted wires limply cascading from our ears and the steady thrum of recorded voice pressing against our … Continue reading

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Vera Barker and President Kennedy

“It’s my Grandma’s birthday! I pledge to drink wine in her honour too.”  That’s an email sent to me by Vera Barker’s granddaughter, Heather Anne, earlier today. “It’s also the day they shot Kennedy but we don’t talk about that … Continue reading

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Voices of the “untongued dead”

I recently came across an essay by Matthew Skelton, a teacher of book history in Mainz, Germany. He describes sorting through a collection of old books and papers left by an obscure librarian named Elma Mitchell after her death in … Continue reading

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Raymond Souster: Toronto poet and sometime-beatnik

I can tell from the sunlight on the window sill that this day means business.  Raymond Souster was sometimes called the Bard of Toronto. Or street-poet-in-residence. One fellow poet called him “Canada’s Homer,” because at the end of his life, … Continue reading

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