All North America is divided into two parts, the smaller part in the south, the United States, is unarguably more powerful. It's symbols of statehood  include the bald eagle chosen June 20, 1782 as the national bird. Benjamin Frankin objected to this choice: "He is a Bird of bad moral Character. He does not get his Living honestly. (He is) too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the Labour of the Fishing Hawk; and when that diligent Bird has at length taken a Fish... pursues him and takes it from him. Besides he is a rank Coward: The little King Bird not bigger than a Sparrow attacks him boldly and drives him out of the District." The wildlife artist, John James Audubon agreed. These birds do have a long life, great strength, majestic looks, and supposedly represent "the boundless spirit of freedom." They are very commonplace in our part of Canada, and we have not noticed them "shrieking for Freedom" although their cries are certainly "raucous. We have observed these birds for a long time and in spite of what has to say they are bullies and they do attack and kill smaller birds.

Canada does not have a national bird, but the race is on to find one. Hopefully it will not profile us in an unfortunate way.
David Bird, an emeritus professor of wildlife biology at McGill University hopes that Canadians will not leap to pick obvious species like the Canada goose or the loon and that, in the end, the Canadian Geographic Society will find a "suitable bird" as our national symbol. He likes the Canada Jay, a member of the crow family. This is a provident bird which stores food in advance of need and lives year round in coniferous surroundings. It is a native resident from northern the Northwest Territories east to Newfoundland and Labrador. Pairs are ,monogamous and will only remate upon the death of a partner. They are family oriented and sometimes the young remain at home for a long time. On the other hand they commonly prey on nestling birds. These jays also takes advantage of man-made sources of food, hence the names "camp robber" and "whiskey jack". This is a variant of an aboriginal name, variously written as wiskedjak, whiskachon, wisakadjak, and other forms, of a mischievous prankster prominent in Algonquian mythology. They have little fear of humans and are disliked by trappers since they steal their bait and winter food supplies.  Some say that the souls of men migrate to this birds after death hence the designation lumberjack. Other names include meat-bird, camp robber, venison-hawk, moose-bird, and gorby. In some circles it is still considered very bad luck to kill or maim this bird.

While we wait to be characterized in this manner, we are thrown back on Mounties and beavers , which have suffered in reputation over the years. Still neither is an out-and-out raptor.

Nov 2, 2014 - The robin is poised to be named Britain's “national bird” as part of a campaign run by David Lindo, a bird watcher and television presenter.

british robin

'e is mighty but 'e's wise. 'e's a terror for his size!

The British Robin, unlike the British Bulldog, is endemic to the isles. It is a plump bird with bright orange-red breast, face, throat and cheeks edged with grey, a white belly and olive-brown upper parts. Our North American "robins"are actually "thrushes" but do have a red breast.

Who killed Cock Robin? I said the Sparrow, With my bow and arrow,I killed Cock Robin. Ornithologists say "quite unlikely." They say it more likely to have been a family feud, jockeying for territory. Unlike Canada Jays they mate at Yuletide.

Initially, they do not spend much time together, but merely tolerate one another, However, they do cohabit until the following autumn moult. Robins are rarely seen or heard during midsummer (July-August) when they are moulting and become rather retiring.

On balance, I would say this is the best of three choices for a National Bird.

canadian history

This summary of Canadian history appeared in a long, deservedly forgotten magazine. It seems less biased than usual. It is amazing that anyone wants to identify themselves as "Canadians?"  Everyone was deluded by the summer weather. Those that live elsewhere have no idea how unexpected that can be! A definition of Canadian should be "Those who Canadians are the people who learned to live without the bold accents of the natural ego-trippers of other lands.
- Marshall McLuhan." And we know who you are and where you live!

"Canadians have been so busy explaining to the Americans that we aren't British, and to the British that we aren't Americans that we haven't had time to become Canadians. - Helen Gordon McPherson."

"God Bless America, but God help Canada to put up with them!  - Anonymous."


Searle surely had Charlie in the back of his mind when he penned this version of "The Artist." He described Washington D.C. as the home of: "Despicable trickery at elections; under-handed tamperings with public officers; and cowardly attacks upon opponents, with scurrilous newspapers for shields, and hired pens for daggers". He was one of the first to characterize the ugly American as "overbearing, boastful, vulgar, uncivil, insensitive and above all acquisitive." In return an American bus described Dickens as a "low-bred scullion... who for more than half his life has lived in the stews of London."Dickens expressed his darker world view in later novels such as David Copperfield and Bleak House.

"Dickens' second coming was needed to disperse every cloud and every doubt," said the New York Tribune, "and to place his name undimmed in the silver sunshine of American admiration". He managed this by holding  public readings from works such as A Christmas Carol.

dickens in halifax

Before making landfall in the United States the 30 year-old Dickens and his wife Catherine made an unintended stop-over in Halifax. They had left Liverpool in a sailing ship January 2 and had a rough Atlantic crossing. On the 19th, they chanced to ground out at Eastern Passage: "It was about the last place in the world in which we had any business or reason to be, but a sudden fog, and some error on the pilot's part, were the cause.  We were surrounded by banks, and rocks, and shoals of all kinds, but had happily drifted, it seemed, upon the only safe speck that was to be found thereabouts.  Eased by this report, and by the assurance that the tide was past the ebb, we turned in at three o'clock in the morning." The following morning the ship entered Halifax Harbour "the sun shining as on a brilliant April day in England." This change in atmosphere caused Dickens to describe the place as Elysium." He was also comforted by that visit to Province House, where "everything went on, and promised to go on, just as it does at home upon the like occasions."


"The town is built on the side of a hill, the highest point being commanded by a strong fortress, not yet quite finished.  Several streets of good breadth and appearance extend from its summit to the water-side, and are intersected by cross streets running parallel with the river.  The houses are chiefly of wood.  The market is abundantly supplied; and provisions are exceedingly cheap.  The weather being unusually mild at that time for the season of the year, there was no sleighing: but there were plenty of those vehicles in yards and by-places, and some of them, from the gorgeous quality of their decorations, might have "gone on" without alteration as triumphal cars in a melodrama at Astley's.  The day was uncommonly fine; the air bracing and healthful; the whole aspect of the town cheerful, thriving, and industrious."

"We lay there seven hours, to deliver and exchange the mails.  At length, having collected all our bags and all our passengers (including two or three choice spirits, who, having indulged too freely in oysters and champagne, were found lying insensible on their backs in unfrequented streets), the engines were again put in motion, and we stood off for Boston. Encountering squally weather again in the Bay of Fundy, we tumbled and rolled about as usual all that night and all next day.  On the next afternoon, that is to say, on Saturday, the twenty-second of January, an American pilot-boat came alongside, and soon afterwards the Britannia steam-packet, from Liverpool, eighteen days out, was telegraphed at Boston."


His visit to America and his rapture at seeing Niagara Falls from the Canadian side of the border lay ahead. They arrived in Canada by train and the Dickens booked rooms at an inn that overlooked the Falls and spent the next ten days in complete relaxation. He visited Toronto, Kingston, Montreal and Quebec and found the this colonial country a relief after America, although "a little too Tory."

"Canada has held and always will retain a foremost place in my remembrance. Few Englishmen are prepared to find it what it is.To me - who had been accustomed to think of it as something left behind in the strides of advancing society, as something neglected and forgotten, slumbering and wasting in its sleep - the demand for labour and the rates of wages; the busy quays of Montreal; the vessels taking in their cargoes and discharging them; the amount of shipping in the different ports; the commerce, roads, and public works, all made TO LAST; the respectability and character of the public journals; and the amount of rational comfort and happiness which honest industry may earn: were very great surprises. The steamboats on the lakes, in their conveniences, cleanliness, and safety; in the gentlemanly character and bearing of their captains; and in the politeness and perfect comfort of their social regulations; are unsurpassed even by the famous Scotch vessels, deservedly so much esteemed at home. The inns are usually bad; because the custom of boarding at hotels is not so general here as in the States, and the British officers, who form a large portion of the society of every town, live chiefly at the regimental messes: but in every other respect, the traveller in Canada will find as good provision for his comfort as in any place I know."

jack waller

Having been used so well by a young "rock star" Canadians became enamored of all things British. All good things do come to an end. In 2004, The Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufacturers and Commerce in England commissioned a poll of outlanders in Indian,Italy, the United States and Norfolk to see how the British reputation was doing abroad. What they got was the usual: "bulldog" spirit, highly traditional, reserved, witty, clever, individualistic, conformist, polite, proud, The Irish were seen to drink more and have a more devout faith, and the Scots were seen as more down-to-earth.

Although the "lager lout" was mentioned and Americans perceived them as having bad teeth, Paul Crake, of the ORSA,said "I would have expected more dirt being dished by foreign groups. But we had to really push them to say anything at all negative," he said. The Italians were most critical noting that they had no sense of style and that their humour was "laughter through clenched teeth." Outside the country the Brits were seen as tolerant of other races and homosexuality, but the Norfolk group said otherwise. When groups were asked about British achievers throughout history, the obligatory references were made to Shakespeare, Charles Dickens and the Industrial Revolution but could not spot anyone in the most recent decade. Surprisingly no mention was made of their command of profanity.

My dad hired former RAF mechanic Jack Waller when he immigrated to Canada with the RCAF gal he married in England. He was reputed to be Cockney and adults explained that the accent was the tip-off but I found his use of four-letter words exotic and worth copying to get attention. "Bloody" does not raise an eyebrow here in Canada, but apparently when it was first used on the public stage in 1914 England, it was highly controversial. According to Theodore Dalyrimple the upper crust there is now "addicted to foul language." He concludes,"...we are known throughout Europe (in my view rightly) as the coarsest people in Europe."


The University of Manchester has found that a large number of elderly people still have active sex lives.More than half (54 per cent) of men and almost a third (31 per cent) of women over the age of 70 reported they were still sexually active...More than a quarter of a million people over the age of 65 in England and Wales were living unmarried with a partner at the time of the 2011 census – double the number recorded a decade earlier, according to the Office for National Statistics... British men have grown out of binge drinking by middle age only to turn to the daily tipple after retirement, study shows. - The Telegraph.

Was Vicky a bad influence? Sir John Falstaff seems to had more public fun. He lies, cheats, steals, eats, drinks, and swears way too much, but is witty and brilliant and dazzles us with his verbal repartee. Very English! But, in Henry IV Part 2, time is catching up with him and he complains "I am old. I am old." but that is not the problem. When we first see Shakespeare's Falstaff is asking his page about the test results from a recent urine sample. Our  been to the doctor and things aren't looking good – he's got the "gout" and likely suffers from more than one venereal disease.

There is a stereotype that that present-day Brits are sexually repressed but Toronto Globe and Mail correspondent Leah McLaren found the reverse to be the case: her English dates were a massive disappointment, she claimed they were "too polite, too repressed and too misogynistic." She said she never got as far as the bedroom with any of them, but suspected that if she had, they would proven incapable of real intimacy. "The politeness is in direct proportion to the nastiness when they are drunk."

She did, however, like London's Lord Mayor of that time (2008). I would say this Canadian's sampling of men was too small to be meaningful. She should not have started her quest for Mr. Darcy with such "Great Expectations."


According to ex-addict Beth Burgess, "People in the UK are taught that alcohol is the best way to help us bond, socialize, become more confident and let go of that stiff upper lip." Alcohol-related crime and disorder costs the UK around £7.3 billion per year and they don't rate among the 20 most boozy countries in the world according to the World Health Association. Social anthropologist Kate Fox says.  "The British believe that alcohol is a disinhibitor, and specifically that it makes people amorous or aggressive." Now those are "Great Expectations" met when experimental subjects received a non-alcoholic placebo.It is possible to change our drinking culture. Alcohol education will have achieved its ultimate goal, not when young people in this country are afraid of alcohol and avoid it because it is toxic and dangerous, but when they are frankly just a little bit bored by it."

strong drink

Never cry over spilt milk. It could've been whiskey.  - "Pappy" Maverick

The pub, formally public house remains a drinking establishment in the culture of Britain, Ireland, Australia,Canada and Denmark. In many places, especially in villages such as Lunenburg, a pub can be the focal point of the community.  It remains so where the cost of food and drink is not exorbitant. In Canada, provincial taxes comprise a large fraction of the price of beer or liquors. The situation is better in Britain where the average retail price of a pint of beer is £3.23 of which 45p is duty and 54p is Value Added Tax (2014).There are now about 48,000 pubs in the United Kingdom as compared with 60,100 in 202.

moment of brilliance

The owner, tenant or manager (licensee) of a pub is properly known as the "pub landlord". The term publican (Latin for a contractor or tax farmer) has come into use since Victorian times to designate the pub landlord. Known as "locals" to regulars, pubs are typically chosen for their proximity to work, the availability of a particular beer, as a place to smoke (or avoid it), hosting a darts team, having a pool or snooker table, or appealing to friends. Since the implementation of Licensing Act 2003, premises in England and Wales may apply to extend their opening hours beyond 11 pm, allowing round-the-clock drinking and removing much of the need for lock-ins. Since the smoking ban, some establishments operated a lock-in during which the remaining patrons could smoke without repercussions but, unlike drinking lock-ins, allowing smoking in a pub remains a prosecutable offense.


I have a suspicion that publicans are genetically engineered. Nigel Molesworth is a fictional character, the supposed author of a series of books (actually written by Geoffrey Willans), with cartoon illustrations by Ronald Searle. This lad is a schoolboy at St Custard's, a fictional prep school located in a carefully unspecified part of England. St Custard's has 62 pupils and, according to Molesworth, "was built by a madman in 1836".


Headmaster Grimes (BA, Stoke-on-Trent), is constantly in search of cash to supplement his income and has a part-time business running a whelk stall. Other masters include Sigismund Arbuthnot, the mad maths master, who frequently appears as Molesworth's nemesis in his daydreams. Topics covered extended from boarding-school life to reflections on the culture of 1950s Britain: Television (then still relatively novel to British households), space travel and the atomic age, the Davy Crockett craze and "How to be a young Elizabethan", as well as more timeless topics such as Christmas, the French, journalism  and "Gurls."


Screw the Rules, I Have Money! - grabbers pater is v. rich and give GRIMES and all the masters a big fat cheque (and a bottle of beer for dere old matron) every yere so his son who hav no talent for skool or sport is stil head of skool captain of everything and win all the skool prizes esp. the mrs joyful prize for rafia work (the only thing he hav talent for)

Simon Brett wrote two sequels to the series in which a grown-up Nigel offered his observations on subjects such as jobs, family, holidays and Diy (a box store). These were Molesworth Rites Again (1983) and How To Stay Topp (1987) illustrated by William Rushton rather than Searle. Interestingly. while the girls of St Trinians are routinely shown as imbibers, the boys of St. Custards are not.  The adult Molesworth  seen above seems to drinking beer.

spitfire beer

This Molesworth attempting to pass customs in an airport setting. That just might be a bottle of booze. A Molesworth fan posting under the gorilla's name  says that the above brand is his preference. I found this brand hard to believe but it really exists. It is brewed by Shepherd Neame, which identifies itself as "Britain's Oldest Brewers (1898).


This 4.2% Kentish ale was first brewed in 1990 to commemorate the Battle of Britain which was fought in the skies above Kent 50 years earlier. The beer is named after the legendary Spitfire aeroplane designed by RJ Mitchell. The versatility of the aircraft and the courage of its pilots were essential to victory and were a key symbol of the spirit of that time. Hints of marmalade, red grapes and pepper are thrust from a springboard of warm, mellow malts.

stupid boy

Another authentic Spitfire ad.  That inset at upper left of Molesworth's best friend suggests they reinvented  distillation which leads to a high proof  beverage. Used to do that at Mount Allison using fermented grapefruit juice and equipment borrowed from the chemistry lab. The TV series first appeared in the 1970s and apparently is up for possible rebirth.


Ruth has a natural interest in people, places and things in Britain having become a displaced person as a teen. I have a vicarious interest having been acquainted with a number of ex-pats over the years and being her spouse. She never saw, or remembered, as much of English family and friends as she would have liked before being uprooted. She did go back once and found the island so overcrowded and different she has not been since. One fond memory from that visit was the fact that the pub owner where she and her dad used to go remembered her by name. On several counts it seemed it would be interesting to invite Graham Shortt and his daughter Frankie to come to visit with us in First South, and we put together an itinerary of things we might do as a group. When they accepted our invite we went to Stanfield International Airport to pick them up.

The airport terminal as seen from the parking lot. With international security what it is I passed on taking pictures at the entry point. We identified them easily enough from Facebook pictures. After that we took the scenic route home, the coastal road as opposed to the boring inland highway which features rock outcroppings and balsam fir Christmas trees.

Introducing Frankie and Graham on the deck of the Mug & Anchor Pub in Mahone Bay where we stopped for a meal. Ruth is directly related to Frankie  through her mother, a member of the King tribe.

They liked the pub grub which is understandable since she and her dad had been resident at the The Post Inn Pub prior to 2010. It was given that name because it had been part of a line of mail post stations set up by Henry VIII.

the post inn

At these inns, the King's courier could get fresh horses, eat and drink before moving on. In 1635 the Royal Post service was thrown open for public use, with innkeepers serving as postmasters. During the 1650's, when Oliver Cromwell ruled, these innkeepers-postmasters were virtually government spies keeping tabs on travellers for Cromwell. The address is Whidden Down, Nr Okehampton, Devon.

post inn

Must be one of Molesworth's ancestors.

Meanwhile back in Canada in July.

On Thursday morning we cruised the Lunenburg Farmer's Market , indoors that day as rain had been predicted. It did not fall.

Picked up Ruth's mum at her condo on the way which gave her a chance to meet and mingle withn the guests.

On Friday we drove north across the province for a mini-vacation at Annapolis Royal, a place we visit at least once a year.  Annapolis Royal served as the first British capital of the Colony of Nova Scotia from 1710 until the founding of Halifax in 1749. Because of the presence of the Fort Anne, many of the events for Natal Days had a bit of a military flare. The first British enemy here was the French who established nearby Port Royal in 1605.  The "Royal Artillery" seen above was active later against Americans at the time of the Revolutionary War against England.

fort anne

We had booked the top floor of the Hilldale Inn for our stay. The red arrow locates the entryway to the Officer's Quarters. Downtown Annapolis Royal is at lower left.

The grand entry!

.A locally made quilt describing the French settlement at Port Royal and subsequent unfortunate events.

Next room, a chance to relate to Micmac indian artifacts and delve into history if that is your thing. In our experience "hands-on" activities are a better choice.

Frankie appeared to agree.

That headband completed her costume.

The sabot is Acadian.

Today we pride ourselves in having world-wide connections but the difference is that we become involved in warfare more quickly.

The Acadian room.

I would question the authenticity of that quilt.

An old photo showing an earlier version of this display.

An here is Frankie in the French greatcoat.

I had great fun trying to keep up with her.

Graham was also taking photographs.

The mob-cap look.

Ruth looks at a battle scene in the anglais room.

Our guest appeared less interested in interactive teaching aids. Most people come to have fun. Ruth and I also walked on by. There are better presentations online at home! Please take note?

It is hard to trump reality. History buffs, like me, have better resources for sifting through the fine detail. This was where explosive materials were stored.

The outdoor environment is another winner.

People do look at visual displays when they are not verbose.

We sally forth through the Sally Forth.

The prisoner's cells which have no outlook on the harbour.

A "Loyalist" encampment was now being established within the fort. We decided to stay out of their way, opting to view the French fortification at Port Royal built a bit earlier.