401 un­der­pass work needed

The Glengarry News - - The Opinion Page -

On Labour Day, while tak­ing the 15-year-old to her part-time job at the South Lan­caster Sub­way store, we drove past a sight that is, un­for­tu­nately, all too fa­mil­iar.

The exit ramp onto the east­bound 401 off of County Road 34 had been closed off. There was an am­bu­lance, a fire truck, some police cars, and a whole bunch of mo­tor­cy­cles parked on the side of the road. There was a stretcher too and some paramedics had loaded some­one on it. I didn’t stick around but, I as­sumed, said per­son was loaded into the am­bu­lance and trans­ported to a hospi­tal. I hope that per­son is okay.

Un­for­tu­nately, traf­fic mishaps at that par­tic­u­lar part of the 401 are not un­com­mon. Safety ex­perts say that high­way traf­fic is the most dan­ger­ous thing most peo­ple will en­counter in their lives. We can’t but help won­der if those same ex­perts were think­ing of the 401 when they said that.

Shawn Fowler, who helps run the Sweet Tooth Bak­ery in Lan­caster, says this past year has been a “train wreck” of ac­ci­dents as far as the 401 is con­cerned. The Min­istry of Transportation has had the Exit 814 un­der­pass on its radar for many years. In last week’s pa­per, we car­ried a story about how the min­istry has hired a Toronto-based firm to study the un­der­pass re­place­ment. It was hardly a good news story be­cause, although the Min­istry clas­si­fied it as a “Group B” project (mean­ing it has a higher pri­or­ity than Group C projects or, pre­sum­ably, the fol­low­ing let­ters of the alphabet) it did not re­lease a timetable re­gard­ing po­ten­tial re­con­struc­tion dates.

We can choose to be op­ti­mistic and see the hir­ing of the Toronto firm as a sign that the road­work is im­mi­nent. But see­ing as how the MTO has been promis­ing this work for a while, we don’t think we’ll get too ex­cited un­til the gov­ern­ment makes a for­mal an­nounce­ment.

North Glen­garry Awards

North Glen­garry Town­ship has re­leased the names of its award win­ners, all of whom will be honoured at an awards ban­quet at the end of Septem­ber. We at The Glen­garry News are honoured to have been cho­sen Busi­ness of the Year.

In my Aug. 30 col­umn, I ref­er­enced King Solomon’s ad­vice of let­ting some­one else praise you in­stead of heap­ing it on your­self. We’ll take that tack here re­gard­ing our own award, but that won’t stop us from ex­tolling our fel­low win­ners.

They in­clude El­iz­a­beth Cad­dell (Cit­i­zen of the Year), Au­drey Nixon-Crawford (Se­nior of the Year), Mar­shall Wil­son (Youth of the Year), Brenda No­ble (Ded­i­ca­tion & Lead­er­ship), Ge­orge Cur­rier (Life­time Achieve­ment) and the Maxville & District Cham­ber of Com­merce for Com­mu­nity Ser­vice Group.

It’s an im­pres­sive list. Soon, the town­ship will re­lease bi­ogra­phies on all of the win­ners and we look for­ward to print­ing them in this news­pa­per.

Drama fest fund­ing

It’s en­cour­ag­ing to see the “never say die” at­ti­tude that area drama teach­ers are dis­play­ing in the wake of Sears Canada’s de­ci­sion to pull its fund­ing from the an­nual one-act play fes­ti­val.

For decades, the fes­ti­val has been one of the most an­tic­i­pated events of the year for high school thes­pi­ans. That’s not about to change. There will be a lo­cal fes­ti­val – this year at Holy Trin­ity Sec­ondary School – and it will con­tinue to pro­vide our young ac­tors (and stage man­agers and tech­ni­cians and be­hind-the-scene peo­ple) with the the­atri­cal ex­pe­ri­ences they have come to crave.

I could be bi­ased given my own the­atri­cal back­ground – I stud­ied theatre arts at two post­sec­ondary in­sti­tu­tions and once har­boured dreams of be­com­ing an ac­tor – but I’m of the opin­ion that the arts need to be em­pha­sized in our schools. It’s a good thing that al­most ev­ery school has a mu­sic and art pro­gram of some kind, but not all of them have thriv­ing theatre de­part­ments. That’s sad.

A lot can be learned about life in the theatre. If you doubt that, read the fa­mous mono­logue from Wil­liam Shake­speare’s play, As You Like It:

All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely play­ers; They have their ex­its and their en­trances, And one man in his time plays many parts, His acts be­ing seven ages.

The late Kurt Von­negut be­lieved that to be the ul­ti­mate ex­pres­sion of hu­man ex­is­tence. In­deed, he be­lieved it de­fined us so com­pletely that no other writer needed write a word af­ter that. Shake­speare nailed it.

Yes, the theatre is not just a fun pas­time or a way for some at­ten­tion-starved kids to get a few mo­ments in the lime­light. The theatre is a study of life it­self.

Due to its fi­nan­cial sit­u­a­tion, we can hardly fault Sears for pulling the plug but we can give a stand­ing ova­tion to the drama teach­ers, stu­dents, par­ents and other vol­un­teers who will still work hard to make this fes­ti­val pos­si­ble.

At the movies...

Jump­ing from theatre to cin­ema for a sec­ond, I can’t be the only Glen­gar­rian who’s ex­cited about the up­com­ing film ver­sion of Agatha Christie’s im­mor­tal Mur­der on the Ori­ent Ex­press.

This is the fourth time the story has been adapted to the sil­ver screen – the first was 1974’s star-stud­ded ver­sion that saw Al­bert Fin­ney re­ceive an Acad­emy Award nom­i­na­tion for his por­trayal of Her­cule Poirot, Christie’s mus­ta­chioed and fas­tid­i­ous Bel­gian de­tec­tive. This time around he’s played by the Ir­ish Shake­spearean ac­tor Ken­neth Branagh, whose mus­tache is so wide that it ri­vals the one for­mer Glen­garry News pub­lisher JT Gros­smith sported dur­ing his ten­ure here.

To be sure, movie­go­ers will prob­a­bly see it just be­cause of its star-stud­ded cast – which in­cludes such lu­mi­nar­ies as Dame Judi Dench, Willem Dafoe, Michelle Pfeif­fer, Pene­lope Cruz, and au­di­ence favourite Johnny Depp.

No mat­ter the rea­son they see it, they’re in for a treat. Mur­der on the Ori­ent Ex­press is the best mur­der mys­tery ever writ­ten and Agatha Christie is the best-selling nov­el­ist of all time. Her work has only been out­sold by Shake­speare and the Bi­ble (strange to note that all three are ref­er­enced in this col­umn.) If you’re com­pletely ig­no­rant of Mur­der on

the Ori­ent Ex­press – mean­ing you didn’t read the novel in high school and haven’t seen any of the film adap­ta­tions – do your­self a favour and keep away. Try to go into the theatre as fresh and un­in­formed as pos­si­ble. The con­clu­sion should be just as riv­et­ing as Mar­ion Crane’s mur­der was at the end of the first act of 1960’s Psy­cho. It’s sad, too, to think that no mod­ern film­goer will be able to see that film with­out know­ing what’s go­ing to hap­pen. Pop cul­ture has ru­ined it for us.

Fire hall sign

You’ve got to hand it to South Glen­garry Coun­cil­lor Lyle War­den for let­ting loose on the town­ship’s sign pol­icy on Tues­day evening.

Mr. War­den was up­set that the town­ship’s fire de­part­ment wouldn’t al­low the sign out­side the Mart­in­town fire hall/com­mu­nity cen­tre to pro­mote this past week­end’s fundraiser for Tammy Christie, a lo­cal mother of three who’s bat­tling an ag­gres­sive form of cancer.

Tra­di­tion­ally, the fire hall signs have only been used to pro­mote fire safety. This, too, is valu­able but there’s no rea­son why the signs can’t be used to ad­ver­tise other com­mu­nity en­deav­ours, par­tic­u­larly ones de­signed to sup­port a lo­cal wo­man who is fight­ing for her life.

Thank­fully, South Glen­garry Town­ship agreed to pro­mote the event on the sign. Let’s hope that the town­ship will re­visit its sign pol­icy. Those signs are town­ship prop­erty, af­ter all.

Base­ball sea­son winds down

I sure am miss­ing Kevin Mac­don­ald, the late pres­i­dent of The Glen­garry News, these days.

About twice a month he would visit the of­fice to talk about how the pa­per is do­ing. Dur­ing his vis­its, he would al­ways find time to come to the editorial sec­tion to chat with us.

We rarely talked about the news­pa­per; we talked about out­side in­ter­ests. Mr. Mac­don­ald was a big fan of the theatre so he and I would of­ten talk Shake­speare and Mar­lowe and Greek tragedy. But he was also a big base­ball fan (he cheered for the Wash­ing­ton Na­tion­als) and, prior to the start of the 2016 base­ball sea­son, shared a Sports Il­lus­trated pre­dic­tion that the Cleve­land In­di­ans would win the World Se­ries. They were wrong, of course, but oh so close.

Mr. Mac­don­ald told me that be­cause he knew my fa­ther is a huge fan of the Cleve­land In­di­ans (I am a nom­i­nal fan just be­cause of my dad.) So I wish Mr. Mac­don­ald was around right now. I wish he was here so we could talk about the Tribe’s 18-game win streak (I’m writ­ing this on the af­ter­noon of Mon­day, Sept. 11) and as­sure me that 2017 is in­deed the year for the Cleve­land In­di­ans.

Of course, he might not cheer along with my dad and I see­ing as how the Na­tion­als are also poised to make a splash in the post-sea­son. Still, all I can say is “Go Tribe!!!”


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