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Sunday Newsletter 2000-12Su.

September 17, 2000.

This week I introduce a new "interactive" category to you. By interactive I mean that every week or so I will select someone's pet peeve, sent to me, and include it in our newsletter. I will start off the first week and wait for your input on the pet peeves to be included in future issues. So go ahead... take out your frustrations and lay your complaints at my feet by sending them to me at john@factscanada.com .



Congratulations to Gary, the winner of the "Over Canada" video in our first ever FactsCanada contest. Gary was the first person to respond with all five answers correct. We plan to run more contests in the future, so stay tuned... and subscribed!



During the winter months, when it is 5:30 pm in St.John's, Newfoundland, what time is it in Skidegate, British Columbia?



Just a week after I featured Bryan in my question of the week, the rocker was resting safely at his London home after surviving a motorcycle crash while vacationing in Jamaica. According to Adams' official Web site, he lost control of his motorbike on a narrow strip of road and slammed into a tree. The singer's injuries included a torn calf muscle and scrapes and bruises to his hip, rib cage, chest, stomach and right leg. The most serious damage was to Adams' right knee with injuries to the bones and tendons. Adams has already begun physical therapy for his knee.



Walter Davis Pidgeon was born 103 years ago this Saturday, on September 23, 1897. He had a prolific career in films and made numerous appearances on television. Always the affable and dignified actor, his 52-year career in film has left an indelible mark on both Hollywood and Canada.

Pidgeon appeared in some 117 films, starting with the 1926 film "Miss Nobody" and continuing until completing "Sextette" in 1977 (which was released in 1978). Along the way he appeared in such films as "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea", "Murder on Flight 502", "Funny Girl", and the sci-fi classic, "Forbidden Planet".

Pidge, as his friends called him, had an effervescent sense of fun, enjoying banter with his much-screened partner Greer Garson and collecting limericks. His eight films with Ms. Garson were collectively his best. They teamed together first in "Blossoms in the Dust", then in "Mrs. Miniver", "Madame Curie", "Mrs. Parkington", "Julie Misbehaves", "That Forsythe Woman", "The Miniver Story" and finally "Scandal at Scourie". Pidge received Academy Award nominations for Best Actor for both "Mrs. Miniver" and "Madame Curie". He also appeared in the television productions of "Ellery Queen", "The FBI", "Daniel Boone", "Perry Mason", "Rawhide" and the "Zane Grey Theater".

Mr. Pidgeon went through many early hardships, enduring first a debilitating injury after enlisting in the Canadian Army for WWI (when he was pinned between two rolling gun carriages and was hospitalised for 17 months), to the death of his first wife (Edna Pickles) in 1923 during childbirth. Pidge went on with his film career, eventually becoming the president of the Screen Actors Guild from 1952-1956.

Mr. Pidgeon remarried in 1931 to Ruth Walker, and remained her husband until his death on September 25, 1984, two days after his 87th birthday. One of Canada's true gentlemen.



Being a courier by trade, I see many indiscretions performed on the road every day. I am sure each of you have something that bugs you about the way others drive. I have numerous complaints as well, but I think my number one complaint is about drivers who race past you, usually on the left and sometimes even into oncoming traffic. Now that may not seem too bad to some, but wait, there's more. I look at my speedometer and see I am already going 10 or 20 kilometres per hour over the speed limit, so I wonder what the big hurry is. Then comes the clincher. They brake, suddenly switch back over to the far right lane, and then make a turn or take an off-ramp and leave the highway. This, I think, is pointless, stupid, and potentially dangerous and it frustrates me because I don't understand what the point is.



Saint John and St. John's.

As mentioned above in the Pet Peeves section, I am a courier by trade. After working in this industry for more than 13 years I have become aware of various shippers' inaccuracies when sending packages and envelopes. One oft repeated error is the proper transcription of the two cities that are the subjects of this article.

Saint John is the largest city in New Brunswick, and is located at the mouth of the Saint John River on the Bay of Fundy. Although the "Saint" in the city's name is officially spelled in full, most people living in the province outside the city and elsewhere in Canada prefer to abbreviate it as St. John.

As reported way back in issue two of this newsletter, Greater Saint John has the 25th largest population in Canada at 127 280, with the city itself having a 1996 population of 72 494. Additionally, the city occupies 322.88 square kilometres.

The city was named and incorporated in 1785, making it the oldest incorporated city in Canada. It was named after the river, identified as "Riviere saincte-Jean", by Pierre du Gua de Monts on June 24, 1604, the day dedicated to St. John the Baptist.

Back in 1783, the central part of the city had been known as "Parr Town" after John Parr (1725-1791), governor of Nova Scotia (1782-1791). The west part was called Carleton, after Sir Guy Carleton, Governor-in-Chief of British North America between 1786 and 1796. In 1889 Saint John appropriated the city of Portland, and further annexed (in 1966) the parish of Lancaster, and part of the parish of Simonds.

St. John's is the capital and largest city of Newfoundland. Although Saint John, New Brunswick, was the first incorporated city in Canada, St. John's seems to have been settled earlier; on June 24, 1497 (some 107 years prior to Saint John), by the Italian discoverer Giovanni Caboto (John Cabot). St. John's, however, was not incorporated until 1888, leaving speculation to each individual as to the oldest "city" in Canada.

Ranked 19th in Canada population-wise, there are 173 586 people living in Greater St. John's and 101 936 (1999 est.) living in the city itself. The city occupies 483 square kilometres.

St. John's Harbour was entered on June 24, 1497, by explorer John Cabot. A Portuguese map from 1519 described it as "R de Sam johan", and a letter of 1527, written by British seaman John Rutt, called it "Haven of St. John". In the mid-1500s the French called the harbour "baie de Saincte Jehan", but by 1689 the present English form of St. John's had taken hold. However, according to popular folklore, the city takes its name from the feast of Saint John the Baptist and the discovery of Newfoundland for England by John Cabot.



Wrong Place at the Wrong Time.

A very unfortunate accident happened back at the beginning of the summer. A 52-year-old woman from Squamish, British Columbia, died in a freak-of-nature accident while golfing in Kamloops, British Columbia. Strong winds toppled a large, decaying aspen tree, crushing her cart while she was golfing with her family.

"It is evident that the tree had been a standing dead tree," the coroner said in his report. He said that it would have been difficult, if not impossible, to predict when "stem failure" would occur. "Forces such as gusts of wind or sudden wind shifts would have been required to break the stems." Later, workers hired by the golf course removed 90 other aspen trees from the course that showed signs of decay or rotting.

I find no purpose in reporting the deceased's name or the actual venue where this misfortune occurred. Let it be said that sometimes the most innocent of choices we make could have a distinctive bearing on the rest of our lives or, in this case, the lives of our loved ones.



Le Braillard de Bellechasse.

A long time ago in Bellechasse county, Quebec, there lived two farmers who were always squabbling. It was a question of land, and it caused problems among these two families for generations. Neither side wanted to compromise in any way.

Some time passed, with no solution in sight. Finally, the people of the parish intervened. It was decided that the only solution was to unearth, in the presence of a notary, the boundary marker which had been hidden by one of the grandfathers many years before.

They sought, they dug, they found. Oddly enough, the stone in question was at a place which greatly favoured one of the two neighbours. "I knew it!" he cried. "The day Old Man Leon, my grandfather, buried it, he whacked me on the side of the head, just to be sure that I would remember all my life the place where the stone could be found."

Well, he had won, but he knew that he had cheated. He knew that he had moved the stone two weeks before. However, in the eyes of everyone in the parish, he had won.

Of course, this didn't stop him from dying like everyone else when his time came. As fate would have it, the two neighbours died the same day. Which caused the townspeople to say, "If the Good Lord is willing to accept them both, He'd better have a good surveyor, otherwise those two will continue their argument in heaven."

"Where to put it?" For years to come, the whistling wind of the dark, black nights of November carried this cry, without anyone knowing who was lamenting. "What does it want us to put, and where, and why?" the parishioners asked themselves.

Finally, one evening, a man of the parish spent the night on the land where the surveying dispute occurred many years before. It was cold and dark. The wind rose, and the cry was heard. Now, the man had had a few and was a bit tipsy. He turned around, leaned on the fence, and shouted impatiently, "Put it back where you found it!"

"Thank-you, sir, thank-you."

Our merry-maker barely had time to see a very pale man carrying a large stone in his hands. The ghost walked backwards, carrying the stone, staring at him all the while. Then, suddenly, the phantom was gone!

Today, the storytellers tell this tale still, but never again were heard the lamentations of the braillard de Bellechasse, and I can assure you that in that area, there are no more property disputes.

This story was culled from the Web site at this link.



Here's a joke about how Canada got its name. When Sir John A. MacDonald (no relation) and friends were trying to decide on a name for this great place, someone had a great idea "Let's stick all the letters of the alphabet into a hat and draw three of them. That will be the new name of this place." So they did. The first letter is pulled and the guy shouts, "'C' eh!" The second letter is pulled and the guy shouts, "'N' eh!" The third letter is pulled and the guy shouts, "'D' eh!"

And so "Canada" was born.



"Calgary is surely the only major North American city where, as reflection of its 'cow-town' past, auto expressways are still called Trails." --John M. Scott, editor, quoted in the "Canadian Journey: Rivers of Memory, River of Dreams" (1980), distributed by the Seagram Company Ltd.



Wondering how the Canadian Country Music Awards went down at the beginning of this week? The Wilkinsons were the big winners and Shania Twain was the big loser. For links to these stories and the full list of winners, check out today's resources.



St.John's, Newfoundland, is four and a half hours ahead, therefore it is 1:00 p.m. at Skidegate, British Columbia.


I hope you enjoyed our Olympic feature on Friday, written by yours truly. Please look forward to other interesting and thought provoking features in this spot. Why don't you take a shot at releasing your tension by sending me your pet peeves? Let everyone know what annoys, enrages, bugs, riles or irks you, by e-mailing your pet peeve to me at john@factscanada.com . I reserve the right to edit submissions for publication and publish only those I feel are suitable. Just send it in and let me know if you want to remain anonymous, or if it is okay to use your first name. Your e-mail address will always remain private.



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