Category Archive: History today

We comb the news each day for stories we can add an historic twist to and bring some context that may be overlooked in the mainstream media.

Sep 12

Yikes! Luciano Fabro sculpture smashed to bits

'Impronta' in rests in pieces.

Luciano Fabro’s ‘Impronta’ created as a testment to the durability of the planet Earth was not up to a tipsy visitor. A Swiss journalist described as ‘Mr. Bean’ knocked the sculpture from its perch, becoming the news he was supposed to report.

A Luciano Fabro sculpture created as a testament to the durability of the planet Earth was not up to a tipsy visitor.

During Saturday evening at the Meno Uno gallery in Lugano, Switzerland, 30 guests gathered to tuck into canapes and free drinks and to see history be made.

Or unmade.

It was reported the guest was a Swiss journalist who has been given the delightful nickname of ‘Mr. Bean’.

‘Impronta’ was considered a ‘priceless’ work of art, but the value of 30 million pounds sterling, has been reported.

As one of the aforementioned guests, slightly less nimble on his feet, knocked the Fabro from its perch and landed on the floor. The opaque glass disk bearing an imprint of the Earth, smashed on the floor.

Radio Switzerland (RSI), reported:

“Caught between a canapé and a chat with someone, unfortunately knocked over a work by Luciano Fabro and smashed it to pieces. It is, or rather, it was, the famous Impronta (Imprint) dated 1962-1964”.

Fabro died in 2007 at the age of 71. He was an Italian sculptor and conceptional artist and associated with the Arte Povera movement, which is based in Italy. Arte Povera means ‘poor art’ and flourished in the 1960s.

 

Sep 12

You go Van Gogh! Newly discovered Sunset at Montmajour on exhibit

The Van Gogh Museum has discovered a new painting by Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890): Sunset at Montmajour (1888). Director Axel Rüger: “A discovery of this magnitude has never before occurred in the history of the Van Gogh Museum. It is already a rarity that a new painting can be added to Van Gogh’s oeuvre.

Yeah, Vincent Van Gogh is dead.

Van Gogh died from what has been called a self-inflicted gun shot wound, July 29, 1890.

Later this month, September 24, 2013, a newly discovered painting by the world famous artist will be exhibited at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

The museum announced the exhibit this month.

“What makes this even more exceptional is that this is a transition work in his oeuvre, and moreover, a large painting from a period that is considered by many to be the culmination of his artistic achievement, his period in Arles in the south of France. During this time he also painted world-famous works, such as Sunflowers, The yellow house and The bedroom. The attribution to Van Gogh is based on extensive research into style, technique, paint, canvas, the depiction, Van Gogh’s letters and the provenance.” Sunset at Montmajour will be shown in the exhibition Van Gogh at work in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam from 24 September.’

The painting had been in a private collection owned by a family, said museum director, Axel Rüger.

The director, out of privacy concerns for the family would not say any more about from where the painting had come.

Van Gogh’s work in the south of France included his sunflower paintings and the pigments and the canvas and method of underpainting used at Arles for at least one other painting – the Houston of Fine Arts Museum’s “The Rocks” are the same as those used in the painting, according to Rüger.

Theo Van Gogh, the artist’s younger brother and art dealer owned the painting after Van Gogh died, but Theo died the following year.

The painting, “Sunflower” came out the same year, 1888, as “Sunset at Montmajour” and they are both about the same size, 93.3 cm by 73.3 cm or not quite 3 feet by two-and-half feet.

Oddly, this isn’t the first time the museum has held this painting. The owners attended the museum in 1991 with the painting but Rüger said it wasn’t recognized as a Van Gogh.
For more, check out the museum website here: http://www.vangoghmuseum.nl/vgm/index.jsp?page=330726&lang=en

Nov 27

2012 museum heist involved ‘major league’ villain: retired cop

Are  ‘major league’ villains involved with a 2012 art and museum heists? A retired Scotland Yard detective thinks such a villain may be involved in at least one large theft, and he’s faced some of the best. Maybe we should call Spider Man!

What a year and  2012 is not even over and museums all over the world have been hit by thieves – although in many cases the thieves were eventually caught.

Earlier this month police recovered everything taken from the Archaeological Museum of Olympia last February.

 'major league' villains involved with a 2012 art and museum heists

A handout photograph of the Mycenaean-era ring that was seized during the sting operation. All the artifacts salvaged by authorities will be returned to the museum for identification. It’s been quite a year for museum thefts. ‘Major league’ villains may be involved in at least one 2012 art and museum heist.

The goods were stashed in western Greece and the latest suspect was nabbed in a hotel in Athens after trying to sell a Mycenaean gold ring to an undercover cop.

Two other suspects had been picked up by Greek police, who are looking for yet another pair.

During the robbery, a lone guard (hard economic times in Greece had reduced the number of security staff) was restrained by a crew that entered the museum after hours, smashing display cabinets and taking 60 items.

The Kunsthal Museum in Rotterdam was also the scene of a bold theft of seven paintings worth hundreds of millions of dollars, on October 16th.

The thieves were gone by the time police arrived in response to the burglar alarm.

The theft “was carefully thought out, cleverly conceived and it was quickly executed, so that suggests professionals,” said Charles Hill.

Hill is a retired Scotland Yard art detective who has taken his talents into the world of stolen art and other valuables taken from museums around the world. His most famous case was his undercover work to locate and return a version of Edvard Munch’s “The Scream,” taken in 1994 from an Oslo museum.

2012 museum heist involved 'major league' villain

Charles Hill is a retired Scotland Yard art detective, most famous for tracking down ‘The Scream’ stolen from a museum in Oslo.

Hill said the amount of art taken in the fall heist indicates someone in need of paying off a debt and indicates a “major-league villain.”

In April, the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge was hit by a band of young-ish criminals and more than a dozen Chinese pieces taken. Three men and a teen-aged boy have since been caught and tried for the crime. Not much of a whiff of ‘major league’ villains here.

The goods have yet to be recovered.

Canada has seen its share of art and museum theft over the years. A high profile theft in 2008 at the University of British Columbia’s Museum of Anthropology netted the perps 12 pieces of art by Bill Reid, a Haida artist and some ‘unique Mexican works.’

The method of theft was brazen – an early morning smash and grab. Not really the mark of a posh ‘major league’ villain.

Most of Reid’s pieces were made of gold, prompting fears they would be melted down before they could be recovered.

Four and a half years later, the theft still poses a mystery, but not where the goods went – they’ve all been recovered. The mystery is how. Police won’t say and no one else is talking about how the dozen artifacts worth about $2 million were found.

Then there’s the case of the waiter and the Bata Shoe Museum, located in Toronto, Ontario.

A waiter from a city restaurant was charged in the theft of slippers taken from the museum.  He was nabbed back in the summer of 2006 for the crime that had taken place in the spring of that year.

He was caught when a photo print shop worker recognized the bejeweled footwear in photos he was printing for a customer and called police.

At one point the slippers were dropped off in a parking lot, undamaged, along with a toe ring that was also taken during the theft. Eventually Miko Petric, originally from Montenegro, was charged and tried for the crime.

“I did a stupid thing,” said Petric. Not exactly the prototypical ‘major league’ villain.

Petric had applied for refugee status while in Canada. The theft of slippers and toe ring worth over $150,000 was considered not a great way of achieving that objective.

If you think slipper theft is strange, then you will love the caper that took place just north of Toronto in 2011.

 

An urn that was part of a sculpture on loan to Barrie’s MacLaren art gallery was chopped off and spirited away in the night.

 

Well, as spirited as something weighing between 150 and 200 pounds can be.

 

At any rate, the bronze is estimated to be worth $150,000.

 

The sculpture had been installed along the lakeshore in the city back in 2003 and was due to be returned to the Kleinburg gallery later that year.

The sculptor, John McEwen, repaired the piece, creating a replacement urn. That’s the sign of a major league cool guy.

For more on the Greek museum thefts click here.

For more on the Fitzwilliam thefts click here.

 

 

 

 

Nov 26

A hot idea for consideration during old style winter

We’re back to the old style winter model this year say climatologists and here is a hot idea to consider.

The far north east, a dot in the central continental America and a smattering in the west will be warmer than usual but most of North America will be back to the regular winter and not the short ‘sort of’ winter of last year.

For people who live in much of Canada, that means a snowy season.

This makes Canadians think of warmer climes and wishing they had easier access to them.

Canada may not be a tropical paradise, but it could have had one. A few times. Sadly, however, we’ve never quite managed it.

Let’s skip back a century or so when one of Canada’s great heroes, Sir Sanford Fleming, was working on a plan for a trans-Pacific cable. The year was 1894. Fleming had been constantly encouraging and cajoling the British to take possession of an island in the mid-Pacific and lay claim to it. At the time, believe it or not, there were still plenty of small pieces of land that the Europeans and Americans hadn’t yet laid claim to.

Sir Sanford Fleming had a hot idea for saving Canada from the cold.

Sir Sanford Fleming had a plan to get a great spot for a Pacific Cable link, and a warm spot for Canadians to flee winter near Hawaii. But the hot idea didn’t take.

Fleming was partial to a property that was part of the Hawaiian Islands. And why not? It was perfectly placed and had no one living on it. It had been most recently discovered by the French in the 1700s and named by the French captain who found it — Necker, after France’s then minister of finance. (Actually, it was a barren rock in the middle of the biggest ocean in the world with supine plant life and covered from one end to the other with birds and the stuff that comes out of birds. Kind of perfect for remembering a minister of finance of any country, really.)

Britain was sluggish, to say the least, and Fleming, worried that someone else might spot the strategic significance of Necker Island, hired a retired naval captain living in Toronto by the name of R.E.H. Gardner-Bruckner to help. Gardner-Bruckner’s secret mission was to go to Hawaii, hire a steamer to take him to Necker Island, survey it, and then put up the Union Jack, laying claim to the island for the British Empire.

At the time Fleming developed his plan, Hawaii was an independent country with about forty thousand residents, governed by a queen, legislature, and cabinet. Oh, and it also had four hundred Americans who ran sugar plantations. Things were soon to change.

First, the British told the Americans what the Canadians were up to. And the Americans told the expatriates living in Hawaii. The expats were already busy plotting a coup.

They belonged to something called the Hawaiian League (named because it was in Hawaii, not because any actual Hawaiians were members). With an American warship in the harbour, the Hawaiian League threatened the Queen of Hawaii, and she stepped down as the leader of the country, believing that the United States of America would quickly reinstate her as monarch once word of the coup got out. As it turned out, the United States so liked the idea of having Hawaii as part of the good old U.S.A. that they made it a territory. And Necker was claimed as part of the Hawaiian Islands.

Fleming eventually did get Britain to claim a Pacific Island, but it was farther away and added another $2.5 million to the cost of the trans-Pacific cable.

But that’s not the only time we blew a chance for a tropical paradise.

Even as far back as the 1880s, Canada’s stable government and reputation for being not as bloody-minded as the Americans and British was attractive to many. Jamaica made a number of gestures of interest in a union with Canada. All to no avail.

And after the First World War, Prime Minister Robert Borden was approached by the West Indies about adding them to the Confederation. Lloyd George, Prime Minister of Great Britain, suggested Canada take over responsibility of the whole of the West Indies. Borden noted this offer in his diary but did not follow it up. Since that time, some of the West Indies have become independent. Not, of course, the British Virgin Islands, which are still a colony of Britain.

Dominica, an island northwest of Barbados, also wanted to join Canadian confederation. In the 1960s, the people of this 750-square-kilometre island with a population of eighty-five thousand thought we might be interested. But there was talk of Canada not wanting to be a colonial power. And talk of Canada needing to add to its armed forces if it took on a responsibility so far away. And so we said no.

Most recently, in 1987, Canada was approached by the Turks and Caicos Islands to be adopted into our confederation. Well, we have pretty high standards and a reputation for looking at the long view. In 1987, the Turks and Caicos was a pretty small enterprise with only ten thousand people — 90 percent of whom wanted to join Canada. We turned them down. Perhaps we were too busy worrying about our own annexation by the United States through the Free Trade Agreement.

Canadian member of parliament Peter Goldring is a supporter of bringing in the Turks and Caicos into the Canadian fold.

Peter Goldring is a supporter of a hot idea; bringing the Turks and Caicos into the Canadian fold.

But all may not be lost. In 2003, Peter Goldring, a former member of the old Alliance Party and until recently the Conservative Party. He left the Conservative Party after he was charged with failing to provide a breath sample, the trial for which is scheduled for January, until then, he sits as an independent conservative

. Anyway, Goldring is a big promoter of bringing the Turks and Caicos into the fold. As far as Goldring (member of Parliament for Edmonton East) was concerned, the issue of the Canadian tropics hasn’t cooled off.

To check out the long range forecast for this winter, click here.

For more on Peter Goldring, click here.

 

Nov 09

Um, can someone get George Lucas on the phone!

Nazis, space stuff and swastikas. Oh my!

Swastikas. They can stand for Nazis, good profits, chaos and even the name of a town in Northern Ontario that is now part of Kirkland Lake. It was named  after a nearby goldmine long before the Nazis took the symbol for themselves.
Anyway, Nazis figure in this story, but the “Iron Man,” the 22-pound (10-kilogram) seated figure that features a swastika on his midsection – is likely a Buddhist god. The swastika is a good-luck or good profit symbol in Buddhism (if it’s pointing one way) or a sign of chaos (if pointing the other).

In 1938 a team of Nazis traveling in Tibet came across the statue and—possibly intrigued by the familiar bent-armed cross—brought it back to Germany. There, the “Iron Man” remained in a private collection in Munich until 2007, when the statue became available for study.

Elmar Buchner of the Planetology Institute at Stuttgart University has been studying the Iron Man, which is believed to be an 11th Century Buddhist statue, from Tibet. The statue is carved from a meteorite that landed somewhere between Mongolia and Siberia roughly 15,000 years ago.

Buchner said the almost thousand year old statue could be “invaluable.”

Nov 09

Every mummy has its day

Field of dead bodies an inspiration

 

Imagine this: hunter gather cave people called the Chinchorro, walking across Chile’s Atacama Desert 5000 years BCE through the land of the dead, past a landscape of thousands and thousands of human bodies, some in shallow graves.
This nightmarish scenario is believed to be the inspiration for the Chinchorro to adopt mummification for their dead about 3,000 years before the Egyptians did.

The process required the removal of the skin for drying and while that was taking place, the stone-age people would take the organs out and replace them with sticks, dried plants and clay. The dried skin was reattached and embalmers painted it shiny red or black and capped it off with a black wig. A clay mask would cover the face, says ecologist Pablo Marquet of the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile in Santiago.

While many scientists studied the how of the mummification, few looked into why.

Well, maybe because these people weren’t so caveman-like after all. Marquet says only stable people who stay in one place for extended periods can spend the time required to perform these things.
The Chinchorro don’t fit that mold. As nomadic hunter-gatherers, they formed groups of about only 100 people.

Time machines, once again would have been handy to solve this riddle. Sadly, once again the 1950s let us down and the promised jet packs and time machines are not yet in common usage. Okay, still no time machines but there are definitely jet packs.
Back to the story. Data from ice cores in the Andes mountains allowed researchers to figure out what the climate of the region was in the northern coast of Chile and the southern coast of Peru, where the Chinchorro lived, which is next to the Atacama Desert. Before 7000 years ago, the area was extremely arid, the team found, but then it went through a wetter period that lasted until about 4000 years ago. Researchers think the Chinchorro population peaked about 6,000 years ago during a rainier period.

Okay, so now it’s time for some math. They calculated that a single Chinchorro group of 100 would have 400 corpses each century. Because of the arid climate in the desert, because they weren’t burying the corpses very deeply, because they were living in the area for about 10,000 years, there would be a lot of bodies.

Marquet says this exposure to the natural mummies over generations may have led to a cult that would try replicate nature’s handiwork.

“The dead have a huge impact on the living,” Marquet says. “Imagine living in the barren desert with barely anything, just sand and stone,” he says. Barely anything, that is, except for hundreds, if not thousands, of dead bodies that never decay. One would feel “compelled somehow to relate” to the corpses, he says, speculating that the Chinchorro made mummies in order to come to terms with the continued presence of their dead. When the climate turned dry again and food supplies dwindled, Marquet says, the population dropped. The complex Chinchorro embalming practices also petered out around that time.

Nov 09

Missed it by that much…

Remains of the day? Remains to be seen

University of Leicester Photo
Re-enactors, um, guard (probably not the right word, but let’s go with that anyway), the site of King Richard III’s burial, recently found.

A grave believed to be that of King Richard III has been discovered and archaeologists working on the site say it was almost destroyed by Victorian builders.

The burying place of Richard, who died at the battle of Bosworth and is remembered for, among other things, a quote given him by Shakespeare in a play about him: “A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse,” was found by a team from the University of Leicester that dug three trenches under a local parking lot before finding the tomb. Site director Mathew Morris says the grave was just inches below Victorian era foundations. If the builder back in the day had dug deeper, there would be no remains to be seen, said Morris.

City Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby added: “It is extremely lucky that the remains were found at all.

“His head was discovered inches from the foundations of a Victorian building. They obviously did not discover anything and probably would not have been aware of the importance of the site.

“If their plans had been just a little different, they could have destroyed a most significant historic find.”

Archaeologists and geneticists from the university are determining if the remains are indeed of King Richard III.

Using DNA extracted from Michael Ibsen, believed to be a descendant of King Richard III’s sister, the team will seek to determine if there is a match.

Nov 09

Nasty November shipwrecking storms didn’t end with the Edmund Fitzgerald and didn’t start there either

In 1975, a raging storm on Lake Superior sank the Edmund Fitzgerald. The Big Fitz had been on the lakes for about two decades, carrying iron ore. The storm that hit her was not typical of November on the Great Lakes, but it wasn’t unknown either. With winds whipping along at just under 100 kilometres an hour and peaking at almost 140 kilometre an hour gusts, she was driving waves of 7.6 metres – almost three stories high. The Fitzgerald lost both radars, hatch covers and a railing long before she even sank. At 7:10 p.m. the big ship sent it’s last radio message: “We are holding our own.”

She sank minutes later and became the 62 shipwreck claimed on Lake Superior, one of the Great Lakes of North America.

November is an unforgiving month on the Great Lakes. More shipwrecks take place in November than in any other month. Even on Georgian Bay, the baby Great Lake off Lake Huron has seen

The first commercial, non-aboriginal shipwreck (no doubt, there have been undocumented tragedies featuring the large trading canoes used by Georgian Bay area natives) on the Great Lakes was LaSalle’s Griffon. This 1679 wreck is still a mystery.

It’s believed the craft, a 60-foot sailing ship constructed near where Buffalo is today, sunk in the area of Manitoulin Island, by some who seek what is considered to be the ‘Holy Grail’ of Great Lakes shipwrecks.

There have been about 30 wrecks on Georgian Bay. The following will give you an idea of the scope of traffic on the Great Lakes – these all took place on one little part of the Great Lakes, but Georgian Bay also is the first to appear in the written historical records.

After Lasalle, the next was the Alice Hackett. In a November gale, she set out from the decommissioned British fort for Penetanguishene, Nov. 4, 1828.

What else do you do as the captain of a sailing vessel, shepherding it and its passengers through a vicious November storm?

Well, you get drunk, of course.

You get drunk and you spear the ship on the rocks off Fitzwilliam Island and you get everyone off and safe onto an island and you build a fire and you drink to that, you drink to spearing the boat and building a fire and surviving.

It’s November, it’s storming and you’ve saved the whiskey.

In the morning, you remember you forgot to save the women and children and make your way back to your speared ship and remove the women and children.

As the captain, you manage to sink four more ships in the next seven years and then you decide to try a different career.

Given that it is harder to spear a lighthouse onto the rocks, no matter how drunk you are and no matter how bad the storm is, you become a lighthouse keeper.

But even ensconced in a lighthouse, you may not be safe.

One of the most hapless of ships, the Advance, sank off Christian Island. This craft gained notoriety for being fined after it struck a lighthouse on the Detroit River. Yeah, a lighthouse.

It didn’t sink then.

No, it sank in December 1927. Christian Island is also the site of the largest Georgian Bay wreck. The Mapledawn was built in the Globe Iron Works in Cleveland in 1890. She was big.

It was Nov. 30, 1924 when the 350-foot-long behemoth stranded on Christian Island in the midst of a heavy storm. Carrying a full load of barley from Fort William (Thunder Bay), the ship was bound for Midland, when the captain, disoriented by heavy waves and blinded by snow, drove the ship aground hard.

The bulk steel freighter’s propellers had jammed the ship so far into the shallows she could not be pulled off and so, was cut to pieces for scrap where she lay.

There are still large pieces of the Mapledawn off Christian Island to this day and it’s a popular dive site.

Christian Island was also where the wreckage of the J.H. Jones, a steam tug, washed ashore. The Jones, as it was called, was a sturdy boat, built in Goderich at the W. Marlton boat-works in 1888. She was rebuilt in 1895, and her tonnage reduced. In 1898, the Jones was sunk in a collision with the Pacific, a steamer, almost twice the size of the tug. The Jones was recovered, floated and repaired and put on the same route, running between Kagawong Harbour and Clapperton Island.

The captain of the rebuilt Jones was first mate on the Pacific at the time of the collision. The Pacific burned to the waterline the same spring the Jones headed out from its repairs, while refitting in its dock in Collingwood Harbour.

During its last few years, the Jones ran a circuit of Georgian Bay fishing camps, picking up boxed fresh fish. Its run took it through the Huronia waters and past Christian Island and the inner channel up towards Parry Sound and over to the Bustard Islands and the Duck Islands, Tobermory and Kilarney for the Dominion Fish Company, which was the company that commissioned the construction of the boat in the first place.

When the Jones went down taking all hands, it was owned by the Crawford tug company and captained by one of its owners, James Crawford. His two brothers, John and Middleton were coowners.

Crawford, according to the Owen Sound Sun, was “one of Wiarton’s most popular and best known citizens.”

He, his 12 crew and 17 passengers all died. Included in the passenger list were two prominent businessmen: the manager of Wolverine Fish Company, J.T.

Donaldson and a merchant from Manitoulin Island, T.M. Wagg, were never found. Donaldson’s briefcase was recovered from the shores of Tiny Township by searchers from the Crawford Tug Company.

This was a huge tragedy that brought back memories of two other Georgian Bay shipping disasters. It was compared to the wreck of the Jane Miller, a packet coaster built in Little Current in 1878. The 78-foot-long wooden craft was on a run from Meaford to Wiarton, Nov. 26, 1881, into the teeth of a gale and was never seen again.

Like the Jones, 30 people died. It also brought to mind the wreck of the Asia in 1882. Only two people survived the late-summer sinking of the ship. They survived after floating in life preservers,

clinging to a swamped boat for hours until it made landfall at daybreak near Point aux Baril. It foundered in the storm near Byng Inlet, taking with her, 123 people plus freight. It was the biggest loss of life on the bay.

Of the two survivors, one was a young woman from Owen Sound and the other was a young crewman. The captain was the last to die, in the arms of the crewman after they made it to shore.

But clearly the Asia was far from the mind of Crawford as he steered north, northeast up Owen Sound that morning of Nov. 22, 1906.

At 10 a.m., the Jones headed out from Owen Sound with a full load of freight in addition to passengers. It was planned to stop in at Lion’s Head before continuing on to Tobermory on a regular run to collect fish in boxes from the various fishing stations as the season closed up. The weather was poor and heavy seas were stirred up on the Bay. At 1:30 p.m. the ship was sighted by Cape Croker lightkeeper Richard Chapman, according to the lighthouse logs.

Chapman later told the Wiarton Echo that the Jones was “having a difficult time of it.” Chapman was the last to see the Jones as it disappeared from view in the waves and precipitation.

Chapman said that white foam could be seen washing over the hurricane deck of the ship.

Glen Smith was a 98-year-old former resident of a farm near the Cape Croker lighthouse. He says his older brother, Harold, was 16 at the time of the Jones’ wreck and claimed he heard an explosive “boom” roll in from the Bay before 2 p.m., on the day of the wreck.

Smith says his brother always believed the Jones went down after an explosion, possibly from her boilers, and that is the reason the wreck has never been found.

“She was blown apart. That’s what Harold told me. I recall that they never found any but one of the bodies. Almost all the crew were from Wiarton. That wreck just broke that town’s heart,” said Smith from his room in a Toronto-area nursing home during a November 2004 interview.

A week after the wreck, the wheelhouse washed ashore of Christian Island, as did the body of a crewman. A search of the area north of the lighthouse revealed an oil slick near Cove of Cork Bay, which is near the Smith farm.

The Midland Free Press reported on the wreck.

‘Tragedy on Georgian Bay’ headlined the paper the week after the incident.

In 1879, the Waubano went down in a storm, Nov. 22. All 24 people on board were died.

The 135-foot passenger and freight propeller steamer was last seen as it passed the Christian Island lighthouse, according to reports in the Toronto Globe and The Midland Free Press, which was in its first year of publication.

The boat left Collingwood, bound for Parry Sound, in the early hours after the captain had delayed departure because of the storm.

It was not known what happened to the Waubano until its inverted hull was found near Moose Deer Point, south of Parry Sound the next spring.

Oct 18

Food poisoning issue is not new to Canada or even its federal government

Gerry Ritz – "stupid and insensitive remarks" about listeria epidemic – YouTube.

The more things change, the more they stay the same… well, not really.

A meat packing plant in Alberta Canada has been taken over by a Brazilian company after the plant became the centre of attention in an E. coli outbreak triggering a massive beef recall.
XL Foods, based in Edmonton, Alberta and Brazilian owned JBS USA announced the agreement late Wednesday, October 17.

For more, see the blog.

Aug 26

Polish mass burial site yielding its secrets


Mass graves found recently in a Warsaw, Poland military cemetery could include remains of a hero who risked his life to tell the world of the Nazi death camps only to survive the war but die at the hands of the Soviets.

Witold Pilecki survived nearly three years as an inmate in the death camp, managing to smuggle out word of executions before he escaped the camp, saving his life.

After the war, the Polish resistance hero was tried on trumped up charges by the communists and killed.

Six decades on, Poland hopes Pilecki’s remains will be identified among the entangled skeletons and shattered skulls of resistance fighters being excavated from a mass grave on the edge of Warsaw’s Powazki Military Cemetery.

Poland is performing the exhumations as part of a greater goal of reclaiming its history.

‘He was unique in the world,’ said Zofia Pilecka-Optulowicz, in tribute to her father who intentionally walked into a Nazi round up of Jews in order to be scooped up. ‘I would like to have a place where I can light a candle for him.’

About 100 skeletons, mostly of men, were unearthed this summer.

The front of one skull had been blown away by bullets; another had apparently been bludgeoned; a skeleton showed evidence of multiple gunshot wounds.

Graves of the ruling Communists responsible for the mass killings are nearby, well-tended. Meanwhile the victims of the Soviet brand of justice were dumped into a hole at night in a pro-active effort to rid Poland of potential leaders to oppose the Soviet puppet government, say Polish authorities.
“The perpetrators have not been punished and the bodies of the victims have not been found,” said Krzysztof Szwagrzyk, a historian in charge of the dig. ‘Those times will be coming back to us until we find the bodies and bury them with due honors. ‘We are doing them justice.’

It will take several months to determine if Pilecki, who was killed by a bullet to the back of his head, is among them. Thousands of resistance fighters were killed across Poland; the remains of up to 400 are believed to have been dumped in the Powazki mass grave.