• James Parry

Parrywinkle, November 3, 2016


PHOTO BY JAMES PARRY

Fans of the late Quebec icon, Félix Leclerc, recently flocked to the home where he once lived on chemin de l'Anse in Vaudreuil-Dorion overlooking the Lake of Two Mountains from 1945 to 1966 - and now a museum - for the launch of a brilliant souvenir album titled Félix Illustré and penned by Marcel Brouillard (centre). Including former impressario, Françoise Chartrand (left) who in the 1980s founded the Théâtre Félix-Lelcerc in Montreal, and her daughter Anne-Marie.

Like most guys I know, I'd rather have root canal work - without an anesthetic - than go shopping. Unless, of course, there is something I specifically need. And then I'm in and out of there in a flash. Mission accomplished.

So if anyone had told me a couple of weeks ago that I would spend four hours in a big box store in Vaudreuil-Dorion this past Saturday morning - and actually enjoy every minute of it - I would have literally laughed in their face!

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SPONTANEOUS GENEROSITY - My mission this time, however, was of a completely different nature. Namely, as a member of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch #115 in Hudson, I was there with 1st Vice-president, Michael Elliott, pinning poppies on shoppers from far and wide at Walmart, while raising funds for the annual Poppy Campaign which runs through November 11 right across Canada. And what a marvelous and most heartwarming experience it was!

We were simply amazed at the spontaneous generosity of so many. With loonies, toonies, fives, tens, and even twenties being popped into the collection boxes non-stop during our shift throughout the morning. As well as in the afternoon when Legion members, Marie Larouche and Flore Kluzs, showed up to relieve us.

Orchestrated by Legion members Gerry Foliot and Moe Lafoley, the same was happening at nine other big stores nearby, as well as at IGA Sobeys in Hudson. Not only on Saturday but also on Sunday. And it is a scene that will be repeated again this coming weekend. And every day at IGA by the way. With every cent raised going to help several local worthwhile causes associated in some way with those who have served, or are serving, in the military and their dependents.

And new this year, I understand - and true of all funds raised across the country - 10 per cent of the total will go towards helping homeless veterans currently living rough on the streets, of which there are an estimated 200 in Montreal and perhaps up to 2500 across Canada.

I left Walmart with so many images that will be with me a long time, long after the official Remembrance Day on Friday, November 11. The elderly lady in a motorized wheelchair whose grand-daughter, she told us, was in the military. The former nurse, now long retired, at Ste. Anne's Hospital in Ste. Anne de Bellevue, who told us that so many patients there who had selflessly served their country, rarely, if ever, received visitors. The family of recent immigrants who apologized for not being able to give more but that it was all that they could afford. The guy who gave a twenty and politely asked if he could also take a poppy for his wife who was ill at home.

Then there was the young girl, who couldn't have been more than six or seven years old, who approached us with a $5 bill in her hand. “This is for the veterans,” she said. “Would you like a poppy?” I asked. “Yes please,” she answered. “And can I have one for my mummy?” Sheesh, I just wanted to hug her. But, of course, didn't. And her Mom gave us a great big smile.

“She didn't know what the poppies were all about,” she told me. “And when I just tried to explain it to her, she said 'then I want to help them.'”

As did the very elderly and infirm gentleman who shuffled up to where we were standing, took out a small coin purse from his pocket, and extracted a single loonie which he very carefully dropped into the collection box without saying a single word. He just looked up and smiled. And I could only wonder what was going through his mind at that very moment. What memories? What images? What unspoken thoughts?

Yup, it was an emotional morning to be sure. And even in a big box store, one that I wouldn't have missed for the world!

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FEDERAL MINISTER IN HUDSON - Same goes for the upcoming Remembrance Day Parade in Hudson this Sunday, November 6, when Canada's Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence, the Honourable Kent Hehr will be in town. Not only to participate in the parade itself, but also to lay a wreath, together with Vaudreuil-Soulanges Liberal MP Peter Schiefke, at the newly-landscaped Cenotaph.

Including stonework by Brian Grubert and Bob Houghton and beds of red tulips planted for next spring, it is the only one of its kind in Vaudreuil-Soulanges County, recognized as a national monument, and made possible in part thanks to a federal grant.

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TRULY SPECIAL TULIP GARDEN - Speaking of tulips, in floral terms since World War II they are, of course, the international symbol of friendship between Canada and The Netherlands and an enduring symbol of our country's proud reputation for kindness and hospitality. It all began following the German occupation of The Netherlands when the Dutch royal family took refuge in Canada and Princess Margriet was born in exile while her family lived in Ottawa.

PHOTO BY JAMES PARRY

With just some of the 1,000 tulip bulbs to be planted outside Hudson's Town Hall, Laura McCaffrey (centre) is all smiles with (left to right) Shelley Hall and her daughter Eva Conway, Gail and André Marchand of the Hudson Music Club, Terry O'Shaughnessy of Greenwood Centre for Living History, Councillor Nicole Durand, Ann and Mark Drake of Hudson Village Theatre, Eric Connor of the Hudson Legion, and Councillor Ron Goldenberg.

In fact, the maternity ward of Ottawa Civic Hospital in which she was born was temporarily declared to be extra-territorial by the Canadian government, thereby allowing her citizenship to be solely influenced by her mother's Dutch citizenship. And to commemorate the birth, the Canadian Parliament flew the Dutch flag atop the Peace Tower. As a matter of record, the only time a foreign flag has flown over the Canadian Parliament Building.

Moreover, during 1945, the First Canadian Army was responsible for liberating The Netherlands. And in appreciation the following year, the Dutch people sent tens of thousands of tulips - the Dutch national flower - to Ottawa. In 1947, the royal family also contributed thousands, and an additional 10,000 ever since. The donations becoming a tradition in the nation's capital with its annual spectacular Canadian Tulip Festival.

Why am I mentioning this? Because this past Sunday, October 30, the Town of Hudson held a small ceremony in front of the Town Hall to mark the planting of 1,000 red and white tulip bulbs - 500 of each colour - being distributed to only 150 towns out of 400 applications by the Canadian Garden Council in collaboration with Vesey's Bulbs of Prince Edward Island. In celebration of Canada's sesquicentennial celebrations in 2017.

“What a wonderful example of people coming and working together in celebration of friendship,” said Laura McCaffrey, Hudson's Arts, Culture, and Communications Coordinator, who submitted the winning 150th Celebration Garden application following a heads up from local resident, Daphne Mulrooney, and who has come up with a truly original design for the planting. What's more, Hudson is the only town to have such a garden westwards between here and Ottawa.

Bravo. And I really look forward to seeing the garden in all its glory come spring!

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FESTIVE FUN - In closing, and still on gardening, this just in from the Hudson Garden Club Executive Committee inviting one and all to a fun-filled festive afternoon Saturday, November 19, from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at St. James' Church Hall, 642 Main Road.

There will be a seasonal lunch of tourtière, braised red cabbage, and apple-cranberry crisp, together with wine or mulled cider, as well as a demonstration of Christmas arrangements by Caroline Boyce of Floria. Tickets, at $20 a pop, can be reserved by calling (450) 458-3548 or by e-mail at cwo@videotron.ca. For the demonstration only by the way, it is $5 at the door. Enjoy. And hope to see you at the parade!

And that's a wrap!

E-mail: creation@videotron.ca

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