War is hell. During his six years in Europe, my Dad saw his closest buddy get careless with a land mine and blow himself to smithereens – they picked pieces of him off a nearby tree like leaves, but could not find enough recognizable pieces for a proper burial.  Letters from overseas came in a flimsy bluish paper, often written on both sides and up and down, and when one came in my mother would sit down with a tea towel instead of a handkerchief for her tears while she read and reread it, with we rug rats badgering her trying to cheer her up.  War is hell.

The decade just before and during WW2 was especially hard on young people, teens to early 20’s. Not wanted at home as they ate too much.  No jobs.  Placed on a farm or work camp in return for a bed and food before the war.  Displaced all over in or out of the military during the war.  That was before effective contraception and babies born during this decade were mostly accidents, and unmarried young people’s first-born babies were life-disrupting, not wanted, too often resulting in the new family being rejected by their larger family.

These WW2 young soldiers were scarred for life. No such thing as Post-Trauma Stress Syndrome, or whatever they call it now, no support, when they came back to Canada they were just told to settle down and forget it.  Most were displaced from their home community, and if they were new parents they were often not welcome back home.  The war over, they drifted around hoping to eventually find a place to call home.  They had a hard time, and their kids and even grandkids inherited some of those scars.

My Saskatchewan born family eventually ended up at Glengoland, a tiny insular school section outside Oxdrift.  I know little about Anne Laverdiere’s family or early life, except they too ended up at Glengoland for a time.  So I am claiming some degree of kinship with Anne, — we are both oldest kids in scarred, rootless wartime families, settled at the end of the road.  Maybe it is normal for those of us with no ‘home town’ to work extra hard to develop roots and be accepted into their new community, especially oldests.  Certainly Anne and I both did that here in Dryden.

Anne made a successful career for herself as a respected businessperson. As Councillor then as Mayor Krassilowsky she set her private and business life aside to work full-time on behalf of our town – she worked for her community as tirelessly as anyone I know.   Perhaps she was not always right – nobody is, but she was always doing what she believed to be best for the community. Who can forget the masterful job she did leading our amazing 2010 celebrations of our 100 years since incorporation?

She shepherded us through probably the worst trauma in our history, as Northern Ontario Industry worked through an appalling attack from our Province; an attack resulting in a huge loss of jobs in our community; followed by a provincially mandated reduction in Industry’s municipal taxes.  This was meant as a conciliatory gesture to the damaged Industry, but left northern cities facing bankruptcy.

She worked tirelessly at raising our profile in the Province, serving on many regional and Provincial boards and agencies and got our name on the Provinces map in many ways. Does anyone think we would have a new Wastewater Treatment Plant, paid for mostly by others, were it not for her efforts? These plants are one of the largest investments municipalities make, and a key to allowing future growth once we get our ducks lined up.  Kenora by comparison has 60 year old water and wastewater treatment plants and is facing a $75 million or more capital program, while we have state of the art plants.  Who is worse off?

I am so happy with our new Council’s formal announcement it intends to look to the future. They will abandon the focus on the past that has dominated public discussion since the destruction of Drytel.  I think local gossip, ”everybody knows”, puts way too much blame for that debacle on Mayor Krassilowsky and her Council – the picture is way bigger and more complex than that, there is lots of room to share the blame, and she deserves better.  I hope new Council will display as much courage and determination as she did, as they turn our attention toward the future.

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