It has been said that History cannot be written until at least 50 years passes, and 300 years is better, to avoid the prejudices and opinions of the writer. This is strikingly illustrated in one of my favourite history books, “The March of Folly”, where Barbara Tuchman, professor at a California University, shows how great historical events are generally rooted in gross incompetence on the part of somebody.  Example, while the Americans make a great fuss about their patriarchs (and so they should), she argues that the American Revolution was mostly about the gross incompetence of King George.  Her argument seems well supported as she discusses such events through the years, until she comes to the chapter on the Viet Nam war.  For that she offers a half-baked politically correct explanation, as seen through her baby boomer eyes, a solid demonstration of the author’s prejudices distorting the historical account.

Canada’s history has been completely rewritten these past 50 years to accord with our ‘modern’ oh-so-politically correct worldview; really just that of California students of the 60’s, and I despair of our getting it anywhere near accurate within the next 50 years. In 300 years, when our history is properly written, it will certainly look different from the silliness being stuffed into our kid’s heads now.

What brings this sour point of view to mind is an article in ‘Canada’s History’ magazine which points out that one of the towering figures in Canada’s history is Prince Rupert, even though he is forgotten in today’s politically correct narrative.

Described as ‘dashing and daring’, Rupert was a military hero. A cousin of King Charles of England, he put together a consortium of investors and formed a corporation, one of the first investor-owned corporations ever, and persuade the King of England to grant it absolute dominion over a vast territory which was fittingly named ‘Rupertsland’. That corporation became the Hudson’s Bay Company, and Rupertsland was the area claimed by Henry Hudson for Britain, being all lands which drain into Hudson’s Bay.  This is huge, two thirds of the land mass of present-day Canada along with parts of the present-day United States.  In the custom of the day, if a territory was claimed for a European crowned head and that was accepted by the rest of Europe and acquiesced to by the inhabitants, it became a possession of that crowned head.  So Prince Rupert became the monarch of most of what is now Canada.

Northern Ontario is right in the heart of Rupertsland, so perhaps when we form our own province we ought to name it ‘Rupertsland’. Or maybe not.  Just another contrarian idea.

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Here are two letters (not published) to the editor of arguably our main Canadian newsmagazine, one from 2014, and the second from 2017. They dramatically illustrate a change in the way our mainstream press defines ‘Populism’ over the most recent few years. By the news magazine’s definition, in 2014 populism was a left-wing, pro-government, virtuous thing, and in 2017 it has become a right-wing anti-government evil thing.  Nothing short of amazing.

Here are the letters.

Dear editor (2014)

I was surprised and disappointed to see two examples of ‘progressive’ prejudice on adjacent pages in your Dec 29 issue (The Angry Left, and Guns, Not Bumpers).

The ‘Angry Left’ article defines Populism as very left, pro-big-government, ‘we, the educated elite/government, must do a better job of looking after the ordinary people who are obviously incompetent to look after themselves’. My definition of Populism is ‘respect the opinion of the common people’, which I believe is generally a growing horror of burgeoning government taking away our freedom.  By this definition, that is, respecting the people rather than offering to look after them, the big-government initiatives the article seems to just assume are admirable might after all be wrong and pernicious.

The ‘Guns’ article talks about gun-related deaths now exceeding car-related deaths. It indicates that 2/3 of gun-related deaths are suicide.  There is much evidence that most single-vehicle fatal accidents and perhaps many multi-vehicle ones are in fact suicide.  Anyone contemplating suicide is going to look for a quick and final solution, so perhaps all this statistic reflects is the growing safety of our cars, making them less attractive as a means of suicide.

The proposed solution of more restrictive gun laws will mostly benefit criminals whose guns are already illegal, and have little effect on suicide, making the whole article a gratuitous piece of pro-big-government propaganda.

I was surprised, because I admire your usual more balanced approach.

Yours truly


Dear Editor (2017)

I am a Populist. That means I believe that people all have individual talents and limitations, but taken as a whole each person is equally worthy and equally deserving of respect, especially before the law.  I believe that if you work at it you can discern a thread of common opinion among the real people (not the brainwashed elite), and we need to respect that opinion.   Preston Manning called it the ‘common sense of the common people’.  I believe the proper role of government is to try to determine that common thread and follow that direction, and not to try to lead us in some direction an elite might think desirable.

I remind you of a book called ‘Megatrends’ by John Naismith, which makes the case that ‘trends’ tend to go way past common sense all the way to absurd, then suddenly disappear. Best example is Prudery in Victorian times, which went all the way to putting skirts on pianos as it was obscene for the piano to show its legs!  Then it dissolved into the flapper era.

I remind you of a book called ‘The Wisdom of Crowds’ by James Suroweiki, which offers a number of examples from world history where following the ‘common opinion of the common people’ has resulted in better outcomes than following an elites ideas.

The ‘common sense of the common people’ now believes that the trend toward an all-powerful government, with attendant loss of privacy, property and freedom for ordinary people has gone too far. The election of Trump and Brexit are evidence.

Of course the trend to all-powerful government (call it Agenda 21, New World Order, or whatever) is the darling of our leftist elite. The anti-Trump protests and riots are their last-ditch efforts to save this now doomed trend.

Reading your columnists and reporters (April 1917), it appears you have now redefined “Populism” as shorthand for ‘stupid, primitive, uninformed, following tribal urges’. I find that extremely offensive, disrespectful of the real people, profoundly anti-democratic and grotesquely elitist.   Perhaps less so if taken as merely a reaction to the coming death of that beloved government-owns-all trend.

Yours truly

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THE CONTRARIAN  The following is a succinct version of a clever OBITUARY which has been circulating for some years, and gets more appropriate as time goes by.

Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who has been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was, since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape. He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as:

– Knowing when to come in out of the rain; – Why the early bird gets the worm;     – Life isn’t always fair; – Maybe it was my fault.

Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don’t spend more than you can earn) and reliable strategies (adults, not children, are in charge).

His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well-intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place. Reports of a 6-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition.

Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job that they themselves had failed to do in disciplining their unruly children. It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer sun lotion or an aspirin to a student, but could not inform parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.

Common Sense took a beating when you couldn’t defend yourself from a burglar in your own home and the burglar could sue you for assault.  Common Sense lost the will to live as the churches became businesses, and as criminals received better treatment than their victims.

Common Sense was preceded in death: by his parents, Truth and Trust; by his wife, Discretion; by his daughter, Responsibility; and by his son, Reason. He is survived by his 5 stepbrothers: ‘I Know My Rights’, ‘I Want It Now’, ‘Someone Else Is To Blame’, ‘I’m A Victim’, ‘Pay me for Doing Nothing’.

Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone.

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Old-timers will remember when we might find bugs or worms or spoilage in our macaroni or oatmeal or flour if it was in the pantry very long. Not anymore, as long as we keep it in the box it came in, and dry, our corn flakes or Kraft dinner or whatever dry food keeps forever.  That is because the box is treated with a chemical to prevent spoilage or varmints.


Old-timers might also have noticed that a body type I would call ‘olive on a toothpick’ – skinny arms and legs, tubby bulge around the middle, is steadily becoming more common in our people.

A recent study has shown that the chemical in the food boxes causes the ‘olive on a toothpick’ obesity. There is solid evidence; this ailment gets more noticeable as time goes by so the population has been exposed to this chemical longer.  Also the more boxed stuff we eat, such as macaroni, corn flakes, pizza, and so on, the more our bellies and bums grow.

I hear you saying “What’s that? Is this true?  How come I haven’t heard of this before?”

Ok, I’ll fess up, that’s because I just now made it all up. The ‘study’ is just me, writing down the first two paragraphs above.  But this is the kind of ‘science’ which drives so much of the modern agenda.  Many of the ‘studies’ reported breathlessly on network TV are no more elaborate than putting together two observations like this, perhaps reinforced by feeding a few mice toxic quantities of whatever is under attack today, or some such relatively meaningless experiment.

My friends Willy and Joe call this fractured logic ‘crowing rooster thinking’. Every morning the rooster crows, and a few minutes later, the sun comes up, so a cult could arise, ‘we had better take good care of that rooster, or the sun won’t come up and we will all freeze in the dark’.  Perhaps a more obvious example would be “roses are red, roses have thorns, and therefore anything red has thorns” – everyone has enough personal experience to know this is patently silly.

This kind of fuzzy logic is used every day in honest error, so we get things like ‘cholesterol is bad for you, no, cholesterol is good for you, or maybe there are different kinds of cholesterol’. It is used dishonestly by those advancing an agenda.  If you look for it, you will see it everywhere.  And you should look for it whenever somebody is trying to sell you on a theory which demands you adopt a reduced standard of living, while giving them more power over you.

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Our new money is crap. Not because it is shrinking – it takes six dollars to buy a cup of Starbucks, when some of us can remember a 5 cent cup of coffee.  Has coffee become more valuable?  No, our money is becoming worthless!  Seventy cents US!  $20 would buy an ounce of gold for most of history, now it takes $1500!

No, it is not crap because it is shrinking, but because the plastic bills are wildly impractical. You pull out your wad, and if they are new from the bank, they stick together like paint on a barn door.  If they are used, they spring out in all directions like kids playing brush-pile. It melts in the suns heat, and you can probably think of a couple of more issues.  You would think with buildings full of geniuses they could come up with something practical, it’s almost like they want to turn us off money.

Maybe this has to do with the stated objective of doing away with cash. How can a corporation target its computer advertising to your purchasing habits if you pay cash rather than use a card?  How can the government devise a way to tax your garage sale purchases and sales if we use cash?  How can they keep track of our every move if we don’t leave a trail of credit card purchases?

In feudal times, only the nobility could be armed. And, of course, the serfs by definition had no money.  So maybe this worthless money is part of the program to turn us all back into serfs, in olden times not allowed to be armed, now not allowed to have any cash to support independent decisions.  Our new nobility (government and the very wealthy) will make all our decisions for us, with Netflix and YouTube as our new bread and circuses.

“Bread and Circuses?” In the final decades of the Roman Empire 1500 years ago, they kept their unemployed serf class city dwellers quiet with “bread and circuses”, that is, free food and free entertainment (watching Christians being fed to lions at the Coliseum).  But if you don’t have to work for anything you don’t have to fight for anything.  What belongs to everybody belongs to nobody.  When a serious invader came along nobody would fight and the Empire collapsed.

So maybe we have to move back toward free and equal Canadians who own their bodies and their homes. Canadians who will fight to repel whatever invader comes along, or we will repeat Rome’s history. Here comes China! Here comes Putin!

Convenient cash would be a good start toward saving ourselves. God bless the Queen!

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A page from Willie Brant’s diary — Joe came over the other night, to help me with a bit of ‘quality control’ of my latest batch of home-made beer, and play a game or two of crib.

After a couple of samples and a win and a skunk, our conversation as usual got onto environmentalists, saving the planet, and focussed in on electric cars.

“I saw an item claiming by 2030 most of our cars will be self-driving”, I observed, and Joe responded with “yes, well, with the way most city folks drive it won’t be too soon, sitting there playing with their little mobile gizmos instead of paying attention. One got stuck in the gravel pit over by the airport this summer, his GPS told him there was a road there, and his lack of common sense let him follow it into trouble .”

“Yes”, from me, “remember a few years ago a couple followed their GPS down an abandoned logging road out west, got stuck, and if I remember it right the guy didn’t survive! But I am not sure the driverless car would have any more common sense than the city folks, might be even worse for following roads that used to exist”.

Joe answered “Good point, maybe we should worry, common sense and my computer have nothing in common. And I hear about lots of car’s computers losing their mind when it gets really cold, good thing they aren’t driving the car at the time.  And we all know of cases where even the kid’s smart phones lose their mind”.

He went on “But the big worry is that I saw where driverless trucks are likely to come first. The big highway rigs already form up into processions; following way too close so they reduce drag and save fuel.  I imagine driverless ones forming into much longer processions following a lot closer to each other, depending on their computers’ faster reaction times.   A recipe for disaster!”   Followed by a swig from his quality control sample.

“I hadn’t thought of that”, from me. “Imagine, say there is a dead bear laying on the road, or a moose hot on the scent comes roaring out of the bush and the computer doesn’t see it until it is too late, all those truck brakes coming on at once and all those computers taking whatever ‘evasive action’ they might have in their little programs, could be dozens of trucks swerving and crashing all over the place!”

Joe finished with “Yep, or a piece falls off one of those trucks, say a spare tire, the whole convoy is in trouble. Any cars within a half a mile will be in danger, especially as their computers aren’t programmed to deal with trucks bumping into each other all over the place”.

“More reason for us old guys to stay off the highway. Anyway, whose deal is it?”



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I can see him in my mind’s eye, a little, old fellow with a peaked cap, a perpetual grin on his face, except when it lights up with a cackling laugh when something amuses him. He perches on a tall stool, writing in a big bound ledger volume with a goosequill pen and ink from a bottle.  No, it’s not Bob Cratchett, but an important member of our provincial bureaucracy, permanently installed in a cubby in the basement at Queens Park.


His ledger has a page for each municipality in the province, with its population listed, plus some economic condition indicators, and some political indicators such as whether the riding has a government member MPP, or is a seat judged winnable by the ruling party. All entreaties of all kinds from any municipality are directed to him, and his task is to make sure that all municipalities are treated equally, adjusted by the factors listed above, chiefly population of course.

In pioneer days, when settlements reached a viable size, they generally ‘organized’ themselves into a municipality of some kind. Except here in the settled area around Dryden, the ‘Wabigoon Valley’.  Here there is a very substantial population which has been between 5 and 6 thousand people for decades – nobody knows for sure, because nobody does a proper count — that has never formed a municipality, it is ‘unorganized’.  The census over the decades generally reports a population of about 7000 as ‘Kenora Unorganized’, and that includes these people along with a small rural population around Kenora, Red Lake, and Sioux Lookout.

Adding this ‘Kenora Unorganized’ population to Dryden and Machin gives an area population of some 15 000, quite comparable to the Kenora area population, depending on how we deal with seasonal residents.   However, the gnome in the basement does not have this level of detail and he adds this “Kenora Unorganized” to Kenora’s population in all his calculations, making Kenora appear twice as big as Dryden District even though they are approximately equal in permanent population served.

With a big mill assessment and a prosperous Telephone utility paying the bills, Dryden did not seriously complain about providing services for this unorganized population while Kenora got credit for it. With these gone, maybe it is time for a second look.

“Whoa”, you say, “is this all true? Sounds like nothing but a lot of sour grapes!”

Well, maybe it is a bit of sour grapes. Of course it is not literally true, there is no gnome in the basement!   But a review of provincial decisions and actions over the past hundred years leads me to conclude there must be something or somebody like him, despite vigorous denials by the province.

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