Archive for July, 2012

Hi everyone:

As you will see from the date stamp above, I first published this in July 2012. But since the subject is an annual event, namely Major League Baseball’s World Series, it is necessary to update it after the conclusion of each season. Or at least necessary to update the PDF file which you can link to at several places in today’s article – not so much the rest of it unless that year’s Series provides an opportunity. Such as the most recent Series in 2016 when the Chicago Cubs finally ended their 108 year drought and brought a long-awaited championship to their fans. So this latest update is being issued in December 2016, just in time for Christmas. I hope you all enjoy it. Here we go!

Like many of you, I am a baseball fan. It’s not my favourite sport (that would go to hockey), but I still enjoy the game, and have written about baseball on several occasions here. Such as blog posts about the New York Yankees, or why I don’t cheer for the local team in these parts, the Toronto Blue Jays.

In major league baseball, the season culminates each year with the World Series, in which the National League champion plays their counterpart from the American League. Many of baseball’s greatest moments have come from the Series. Don Larson’s perfect game against my beloved Dodgers in 1956 – just a few days before I was born. Joe Carter’s “walk-off” home run for Toronto against the Phillies in 1993 that set off wild celebrations of joy here in southern Ontario and across Canada. Boston’s sweep of St. Louis in 2004 to end an 86 year winless spell. Or the Chicago Cubs ending an even longer one (108 years) in 2016, just to name a few. For many hardcore fans, the World Series is the climax to every season, and gives them many memories to last through the long off-season before it all resumes again with spring training in February and March, followed by the start of the regular season in April.

For this blog entry, however, I want to take a different spin on the World Series and write about an angle that you may not have considered in the past. It goes something like this.

From the time of the American League’s founding in 1901 (and the very first World Series a couple of years later in 1903) to 1968, major league baseball did not use a playoff system to determine who went to the Series every October. Instead, the American League team with the best record played the National League team with the best record for the World Series. The winner was considered the best team in baseball that year, and was given the designation of “World Champions”.

Not sure about that one if you consider that this term usually has global connotations. For example, when the New York Yankees won any of their 27 Championships (such as their most recent in 2009 when they beat Philadelphia), are we to understand they were the best baseball team in the world that year? I’ll bet the baseball champions in other countries that have professional baseball leagues might have questioned that. Could the Yankees have beaten the best team from Japan, Cuba, or other country? Maybe. But as the World Baseball Classic has shown us, you can’t always assume that the Americans are the best in baseball. Sort of like how we used to assume that Canadians were always the best in hockey. But I digress, let’s get back to the subject of this blog.

I noted just now that up until 1968, the National and American Leagues worked on the idea that the team with the best record in one league met the team with the best record from the other in the World Series. Makes perfect sense when you think about it. That all changed in 1969 when both leagues adopted divisional formats (East and West). Which meant that now the East winner played the West winner to see who won the pennant in each league. In 1995, it all changed again when each league added a Central Division. Now that you had three divisions, a wild card team (defined as the team with the best record other than a division winner) was added to make four teams. In 2012, the playoff format was expanded further with the addition of a second wild card team.

All these teams fighting for playoff glory and a league championship means that it’s no longer obvious that the team with the best record gets to the World Series. Just as in every other sport with a playoff system, baseball has shown us that anything can happen. And ever since 1969 that has usually been the case. In fact, it has actually been quite rare that the two best records have made it. More about that later on in this blog.

To illustrate my point further, let me present for all of you a link to a PDF which presents a chart covering the seasons from 1969 to the present indicating what might have happened if the teams with the best records really had made it to the Fall Classic, coupled with the teams that actually did make it. I had a lot of fun putting it together and I hope all of you enjoy reading it.

Baseball fans love to analyze things and come up with statistics that are truly remarkable. You name it, and there is probably a baseball stat for it. Who was the leader among left handed batters in hitting a home run on a “3-2” count into the right field bleachers at precisely 9:43 p.m. local time with the wind blowing out at a speed of 25 MPH? OK – I made that up, but I’ll bet you that someone reading this someday may e-mail me and tell me that there really is a statistic for that. And that they can answer the question!

So to baseball fans out there reading this who feel so inclined, I invite you to analyze that PDF chart any way you like. For the final part of this blog, let me get you started by throwing in some information from that chart that you might find fascinating:

In 1971, Baltimore and Oakland each had 101 wins. But because Baltimore only played 158 games that season, they had a higher winning percentage (639 to 627 for Oakland).

1972 may have the closest race for the “best record World Series”. In the National League, Pittsburgh won one more game than Cincinnati and edged them out in wining percentage (619 to 617). But Cincinnati got their revenge by defeating the Pirates in the playoff series before losing to Oakland in the World Series. This was repeated in 2003, when Atlanta nosed out San Francisco (623 to 621). Although it turned out that neither team made it. In the end the National League champion was the Florida Marlins, who had gained entry to the playoffs as one of those wild card entries I talked about earlier. And just as they did in 1997 when they were also a wild card team, the Marlins beat the American League champion to win it all.

After each of the “best record” teams made it through in 1969, 1970 and 1971, Pittsburgh was beaten by Cincinnati in 1972. 1973 was the first time neither of the “best record” teams made it to the Series. In both cases, the Mets and A’s had poorer records, but each of them won their league pennants to make it to the Fall Classic, where Oakland won its second of three in a row.

Due to a labour dispute/strike in the middle of the 1981 season, both leagues had their seasons spilt into two halves. The “best record” teams selected indicate the highest winning percentages from a team in either half (e.g. Oakland was the first half winner in the A.L. West, and had the highest overall percentage of the four A.L. division winners. Over in the N.L. by an interesting coincidence the Dodgers did the same thing, leading the West during the first half and had a better record than any of the second half winners).

The 1992 American League season actually had a tie for best records. Toronto and Oakland finished with identical 96-66 records. The Blue Jays defeated Oakland to win the pennant, and ultimately became the first Canadian team to win the World Series when they prevailed in six games against Atlanta. The same thing happened again in 2007, when Boston and Cleveland tied – also with 96-66 records. The Red Sox captured the 2007 pennant, and then defeated Colorado to win their second World Series in three years, after an 86 year drought.

And speaking of “droughts”, the 2016 Chicago Cubs ended a 108 year drought. Not only did they make it to the World Series for the first time since 1945, but after losing 3 of the first 4 games to the Cleveland Indians, they roared back and won it in fine style. But if the “best record” system had still been used, they would have made it in 1984, 1989 and 2008. Would they have won the Series in any of those years, and ended the drought much sooner? You never know.

1994 will likely be remembered as the ultimate “what if…”. That year, the World Series was not contested due to a labour dispute. But many have felt that the Montreal Expos might have made it three years in a row for Canadian teams because they were “scary good” that season before everything shut down. At that time, the Expos had a record of 74-40 and were running away with both the N.L. East and the best record in the league as a whole. Some have also argued that the 1994 strike ultimately marked the beginning of the end for the Expos, and began a downward spiral that eventually led to the franchise being moved to Washington after the 2004 season.

Overall, the “best record” teams have only played each other 12 times during the period from 1969 to 2016. And when you consider that they did play each other during the first three years (1969, 1970 and 1971), that means it has happened only 9 times in 45 years. The last time it happened was in 2013 when the Boston Red Sox defeated the St. Louis Cardinals.

Some of the “best record” World Series from a particular year did in fact take place for real in other years. For example, 1974 would have been the Orioles playing the Dodgers – a rerun of what really happened in 1966. 1983 might have been a replay of 1959 when the White Sox and Dodgers played each other. 2010’s Tampa Bay and Philadelphia could have been a replay of the real Series in 2008 when the Phillies won the title. The Yankees and Cardinals played in 1964 – according to our chart, they could have celebrated the 40th anniversary by doing it again. 1984 was the halfway part in that 40 year gap, and that was the year when Detroit had a season for the ages. They started off winning 35 of their first 40 games and were never seriously challenged all year long. The climax came when they defeated the San Diego Padres. But under our system, as we noted above, instead of the Padres, the 1984 Series would have been a replay of 1945 and another Cubs-Tigers showdown.

Our “best record” 1977 World Series would have been Kansas City and Philadelphia. The matchup took place for real three years later in 1980 when the Phillies won a Series for the first time in team history. Same thing in 1981, when our chart featured another A’s and Dodgers Series – just like in 1974. And it would have anticipated their actual meeting seven years later in the 1988 Series. Speaking of 1988, our World Series would have replayed 1973 when the A’s and Mets went at it. Now of course as a lifelong Dodgers fan, you won’t hear a complaint from me because our boys defeated the A’s, launched by one of the most dramatic endings to a Series game ever when Kirk Gibson homered at Dodger Stadium to win the first game. As of 2016, Los Angeles has not won a Series since that time.

There is, of course, much more than can be deduced from my PDF chart. But I will let you go on from there on your own. It’s time for me to throw the final pitch today and end the game. As always, thanks for reading this blog entry. Feel free to share this with anyone you like.

Until next time!

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Hi everyone:

As I write this blog entry it is Saturday afternoon, July 28. A warm and sunny summer day here in Hamilton. Too warm and sunny for my liking, but as those of you who read my blog regularly know, I don’t like the summer. It’s my least favourite time of year. Give me a wonderful, refreshing and ice cold winter day anytime. But I digress!

The big global news story, of course, is taking place a couple of thousand miles away from this part of the world, all the way across the Atlantic Ocean. In a small hamlet on the banks of the river Thames five time zones away that you just might have heard of. That’s right. I am talking about arguably the world’s most dynamic and cosmopolitan city. A place that has become a global meeting place ever since it’s origins back in the days of the Roman Empire itself. In more recent times the capital of the British Empire. Ladies and gentlemen, give it up for the great city of London. And in that city, we find the world’s largest sporting event, the Summer Olympics. Or as the International Olympic Committee likes to officially designate it: “the Games of the XXXth Olympiad”.

Last night, things got underway with the Opening Ceremony, and I thought it might be fun to share my thoughts and impressions with all of you. For openers, I must confess that I normally don’t care much for Olympic ceremonies – be they Opening or Closing. In my opinion these things always tend to be a bit too “over the top” because the host country always wants to lay it on really thick about how great they are. I remember feeling rather disillusioned about it all after watching the Beijing ceremonies 4 years ago. And also when our country did the honours in Vancouver for the 2010 Winter Olympics.

To a certain degree I felt that same disillusionment again last night, but for the most part I rather enjoyed it. I thought the “England’s green and pleasant land” thing that formed the first section of the Ceremony worked really well. So did the Industrial Revolution sequence which followed that culminated in the “forging” of the Olympic rings. I loved how Sir Simon Rattle led the London Symphony Orchestra in the classic “Chariots of Fire” theme and Rowan Atkinson playing his legendary Mr. Bean character at the same time was wonderful. Gee, we’ve all seen the runners on the beach scenes from “Chariots of Fire” , but I don’t remember Mr. Bean being part of it. Or that in the end he used a taxi to get ahead and then tripped up the lead runner so that he would experience that glorious feeling of crossing the line first. It was a wonderful bit of comedy and a really fun example of that classic witty British sense of humour.

The way they introduced the Queen with the whole James Bond motif was brilliant, and a nice touch that she wore the same outfit as her stunt double who jumped from the helicopter (no doubt arranged in advance) and full credit to the Queen for being such a good sport about it all. Still not quite sure about David Beckham powering down the Thames in a motorboat with the torch (although if any of you have ever seen the opening sequence of the James Bond movie “The World is Not Enough” and the spectacular chase scene on the Thames, you can see where they might have got the idea from). Speaking of the Flame, I really loved the way they lit it, and a nice idea to get a bunch of youngsters do it to represent passing the torch to a new generation.

OK gang – it’s ‘fess up time. How many of you sang along with Paul McCartney as he led the Stadium crowd in a sing-along of The Beatles’s classic “Hey Jude”? I did, and I would wager that all of you reading this and millions more around the world did so too. And when asked to do so, did all you guys out there sing a chorus on your own? Followed by the women doing the same? It was a lot of fun and a nice way to wrap up a rather interesting evening.

In summation, I think they got things off to a good start – now it’s time to get going for real. As an aside, I actually did not watch the Canadian coverage on either TSN, CTV or any of the other stations that showed it. Instead I watched the British Broadcasting Corporation’s coverage on my laptop. I thought it might be fun to get the host country’s take on it all and I enjoyed it. The commentary was really well done and not overblown too much. Except, of course, when the Brits came in last during the Athlete’s March. Which one would expect when your country is hosting it.

That’s all for now. Over the next couple of weeks I just might write some other blog entries about the Olympics. It will be interesting to see how things unfold between now and when they close on August 12. Stay tuned for my next entry, coming soon to a computer near you!

Until next time.

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Hi everyone:

As those of you who follow my blog know, I have written entries from many different places, such as a HAPPEN meeting in Mississauga, two public libraries (Hamilton and Burlington), as well as from Mohawk College in Hamilton. But today I am really going “off the board” because as I type these words on my laptop, I am sitting in the backyard of my uncle and aunt’s cottage just outside Knowlton, Quebec. It is the morning of Canada Day (July 1), and I am in the Eastern Townships region of Quebec, just over an hour outside of Montreal. This is such a wonderful, happy and peaceful place, a great way to spend a holiday.

As I sit here on a perfect summer day in such an idyllic setting as this, I thought it might be fun to write this blog entry as a love letter to the province where I grew up, and in particular to this wonderful region that I love so much, also known in French as “Les Cantons de l’Est”. Sometimes this region is also referred to as “L’Estrie”, but I have rarely heard the locals call it that in either language. I suspect the name is just a marketing slogan – although I did some research on the Net and discovered that the term also applies to the Townships as an administrative region.

No matter what you call it, this is truly a piece of heaven on earth. I have often said to people that if you want to see New England in French, or at the very least with a bilingual flavour, that’s what the Townships is. This is a place that I have been coming to for as long I can remember. It’s in my blood and in my soul. And if you talk to anyone who has ever visited here (let alone lived here), they will say the same thing. There is something wonderful, special and magic about this part of the world that you find nowhere else. It’s hard to explain, but if you have ever spent time here, or if you are lucky enough to live here, then you will know exactly how I feel.

As I said before, my love for the Townships has lasted my entire life – and indeed even beyond that. OK – let me explain that one. Although I was born in Ottawa in October 1956, my parents had only just moved to Canada’s capital from Sherbrooke. To the extent that my mother was pregnant with me when they left. Which means that while I was born in Ottawa, I was actually conceived in Sherbrooke. That’s right, I could rightfully argue that while I may have been born in Ontario, I’m a Townships Baby! Let me take a moment to offer some other examples of why I feel this way and share some special memories with all of you.  When I was a wee lad (during the mid to late 1960’s and into the early 1970’s), I learned to downhill ski at Bromont (just a short drive from where I am now), one of the many ski resorts that dominate this region. I can remember many a Saturday morning spent at Bromont’s ski school, which in those days was directed by Murray Yeudall. I can still see and hear the crowds lined up at the ski lifts, hear the music playing on the loudspeakers, feel the cold winter air in my lungs and experience the feeling of freedom that putting on a pair of skis gave me. Later on I had the good fortune to ski at other area resorts such as Mont Orford, Owls Head and at Jay Peak (a short drive from here – just over the border near Newport Vermont).

I don’t know if the program still exists today, but back then we had a interchangeable lift ticket program called “Ski East”. In other words, you could buy a ski pass at Bromont, but also use it at Owls Head. Or buy one at Mont Orford and use it at Mont Sutton (another nearby ski hotspot). I sometimes took advantage of the program and it allowed me to visit other ski centres here, although I always thought of Bromont as my skiing “home”, and in spite of also having spent many winters skiing at Blue Mountain just outside Collingwood, Ontario in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, I still think of it that way today. I must confess that whenever I see the hills of Bromont from the nearby Eastern Townships Autoroute (as I did back on Thursday when my friend Eva and I arrived here after our train trip from southern Ontario to Montreal), I get a bit emotional, and in my mind I am transported back to those winter days of my youth.

But that’s not all. During that same timespan, our family also owned a cottage on Lake Massawippi – also a short drive from where I am sitting now. If I remember right, the name “Massawippi” was a word used by the local Abenaki First Nations community (I guess we’re not supposed to call them “Indians” any more!) and in English meant “the lake of deep water”. To be more precise, we were part of a community known as Hatley Acres, on the west side of the lake, about halfway between the villages of North Hatley and Ayers Cliff (located at opposite ends of the lake).

My father had purchased the land back in the 1940’s and then in the early 1960’s decided the time was right for a cottage. He had help from a longtime friend and his son (the Lodges were also from Dad’s hometown of New Carlisle) and together they built a cottage in the French Canadian (aka Quebecois) style of architecture, complete with the trademark flared roof that so many places around here have. And what a place it was. So many memories that I will take to my grave. Lying in my bed on a summer night listening to the rain pound our roof. Swimming in the lake on a lazy summer afternoon. Taking our motorboat for a drive down the lake to North Hatley to buy some groceries. Don’t forget to duck under the railway bridge in town – it was so low that when I was a little guy even I had to lower my head just a bit to make sure I didn’t hit the beams. Saturday night trips across the border to the drive-in theatre in Derby Line, Vermont (drive-in theatres were illegal in Quebec back then!) to see movies like “The War Wagon” with John Wayne; “Texas Across the River” with Dean Martin; “Rio Bravo” starring both of them; or “Cat Ballou” with Jane Fonda. As the song says: “Those were the days, my friend, we thought they’d never end…”

But end they did. Sadly, by the early 1970’s Dad had developed back problems and other medical issues that proved to be a prelude to his eventual death from ALS in January 1976. As a result, he could no longer cope with the physical demands of maintaining a cottage. My brother and I were both far too young to assume those responsibilities ourselves, so in the end my parents felt they had no choice but to sell the property. I’m sure they must have done so with a heavy heart, but sometimes life doesn’t give you many choices.

There is a sequel to the cottage story that took place several years later in the summer of 1986. By that time, we had moved away from Quebec and I had been in Mississauga long enough that southern Ontario felt like my home. But still, just as it does now, whenever the opportunity came to return to this region I love so much came, I wanted to take advantage. When one of my Toronto area friends mentioned that he had relatives in Albany, New York who lived a short drive away from some of my American cousins that I was planning to spend some holiday time with, we agreed to go together so that Bob could visit them and we decided to split the cost. After some time in the Albany region, we then took Interstate 87 (aka the Adirondack Northway) north to Montreal, where I reconnected with some of my childhood friends.

Since his vacation time was a bit different from mine, Bob had to return to Toronto a few days ahead of me, and since we had been using my car for the trip, it gave me a few extra days on my own before my own holiday ended. And that’s when it happened. One morning I left my friends in Greenfield Park (a suburb on Montreal’s South Shore, next to my hometown of St. Lambert), got on the Eastern Townships autoroute and drove away from Montreal along a route that I knew so well, but had never driven up until then (the very same route that landed me here in Knowlton this past Thursday). It felt like I had never left, and the years were melting away. It seemed like my car was on auto-pilot because before I knew it I was back here in the Townships. Driving along the roads that led me from Magog to North Hatley.

And then the drive out to Hatley Acres that my parents had done countless times. Within minutes I made that right turn again off the road into the H.A. community. Then made a couple of more left and right turns along the way just as I remembered them. Cottages that I had seen many times before flashed by my car windows. Back in the day, I probably knew every owner and their families. But that was many years ago, and I knew there was no point in stopping by at any of them. They would be total strangers now.

Finally, there it was. The driveway that led down to the cottage. I parked my car, and then to borrow a line from the classic musical Singin’ in the Rain: “I walked down the lane with a happy refrain”. After just a few seconds, my old friend came into view. No one saw me or chased me away. But I had an explanation for my unannounced visit in both English and French ready just in case. For a few minutes I just stood there and took it all in. In many ways I was back home again reliving those childhood memories. The experience left me with mixed emotions, not the least of which being that the place was now painted in a very drab grey. It broke my heart because Dad had built it with the natural wood colour intact (stained over, of course, to protect the wood from the elements). And I noticed a few other minor changes too – although I don’t remember now what they were, so I guess it wasn’t that big a deal to me.

I only stayed for a few minutes – perhaps no more than 10 or so, and then walked back to my car. Again, no one saw me. Or if they did, no one challenged my right to be there at any time. Within a few minutes, I had started my car, turned around and began my trip out of there. I have not returned since that July 1986 afternoon and over 25 years later I have no plans to do so. I will never see that property again, but I am glad I went back one last time, and of course will always have so many special memories. Such as the ones I noted earlier.

But when I got back into my car, it wasn’t to return to Montreal. Not just yet. Instead, I headed for my next stop – Sherbrooke. If the Eastern Townships has a capital city, it would be Sherbrooke, this region’s largest city. As a child, I knew it as “The Queen City of the Eastern Townships”, no doubt that nickname still holds true now. Today it may be best known as the home town of Quebec’s current premier, Jean Charest. Dad had first put down roots in Sherbrooke back in the 1940’s, and as noted before, he had established enough connections there to buy the land on Lake Massawippi that our cottage would be built on. His love for this region continued, after my parents got married in the summer of 1955, they lived in Sherbrooke for a while before Dad was transferred to Ottawa (where I was born) and then again in 1958 to St. Lambert. I mentioned earlier that this region has a way of getting into your soul. Dad certainly felt it and he passed it on to me. And of course the fact that I was conceived in Sherbrooke also contributed to my love for this wonderful city and the entire Townships region. It was nice to be back there again, and while I enjoyed driving around town, I was also mindful that it was getting late in the day and it was about time to head back to Montreal and in particular to my friends in Greenfield Park. So after an all-too-brief tour around town, I did just that. It had been a wonderful day, little did I realize that it would be 25 years before I would return to this area (Eva and I made this same trip to Knowlton in September 2011, so this is really our second time here).

OK – time to come out of this time warp and back to July 1, 2012. It is so nice to be back here in a place I know and love so much. And I am so grateful to my aunt and uncle for purchasing this wonderful property here just outside Knowlton. Words can’t describe how much this setting means to me and how at peace I feel sitting out here in their backyard on a beautiful day, celebrating my country’s national holiday, and feeling reconnected to so many great memories.

With all due respect to the life I have forged in the Toronto area since my arrival there in July 1978, I always feel like there’s a part of my life that always stays here in this wonderful land of Quebec. La Belle Province, my childhood home. And that I really only feel “complete” every time I come back for a few days. Or as I say to many people here when they complement me on how well I speak French, “I’m just un ancien Quebecois (in English that phrase refers to a former resident of Quebec) who is back for a visit”. During that September 2011 visit that I mentioned earlier in this blog entry, one evening in Montreal, Eva and I took Max (my aunt and uncle’s dog) for a walk around the neighbourhood. Along the way, I got talking with a couple of people and like most typical Quebecois conversations, we switched languages all the time. At the end, I summed up my heritage by saying to them: “Dans mon coeur, je suis toujours Quebecois”. Or in English: “In my heart I will always be a Quebecer”. They smiled at me, and then we parted company and wished each other well.

It’s also wonderful to think that my aunt and uncle have some exciting plans for this property. As I write this and look back at their cottage, I know that they are doing some major renovations and upgrades as part of making it their home for many years to come. And if I am fortunate enough to come back in future, that this property won’t look anything like it is here today. Not sure what time it is – guess I have been writing for a while now and lost track. I do recall that we’re going into Knowlton later this afternoon to watch the final of the Euro 2012 soccer tournament. Defending champion Spain will play Italy, and my uncle tells me he knows a couple of nice pubs that will offer the game on a large TV screen. I’m sure one of them will suit us just fine. Combine that with an ice cold beer or two and I am ready to watch some first class soccer. Then again, they call it “football” in Europe, so let’s get ready for some first class football. Thinking about our plans for later today makes me realize that I should end this blog and get ready to head into town.

To wrap up, I am reminded of the slogan that I used in the title of this entry: “Je me souviens”. In English, it means “I remember” and it is found on the province’s coat of arms. Many people take it a step further and feel that it serves as Quebec’s official motto. The phrase comes from a 19th century poem that looked back to Quebec’s origins as the French colony of New France, and that Quebec would never forget its roots, heritage, customs and traditions. In February 1978, almost two years after the Parti Quebecois came to power, they changed our car license plates so that instead of reading “La Belle Province”, they would now say “Je me souviens”. The licence plates remain unchanged to this day.

As I end this blog entry here in Knowlton, those words come back to me. “Je me souviens”. I remember skiing the snowy hills of Bromont and Owls Head. I remember swimming in Lake Massawippi. I remember walking the streets of Sherbrooke. I remember my church’s summer camp at Cedar Lodge on Lake Memphremagog in June 1977, the closing event of our parish’s centennial celebrations. And hearing the bells from the Benedictine monastery at St. Benoit-du-Lac located just across the water as they called the monks to prayer. In an interesting coincidence they are celebrating their 100th anniversary this month. I remember special days and nights at our cottage that formed such a strong part of my childhood and early teenaged years. I remember those things and so much more. And in more recent times I remember our trip here last September and how emotional it felt to “come home” again. Finally, when I return to Hamilton in a few days, I will remember this trip that I am now on, and will look forward to more wonderful memories in future.

How I do sum up all this? I guess the American music group The Eagles said it best. In their classic song “Hotel California”, the lyrics end with a very poignant line: “You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave”. Tomorrow afternoon (July 2), I will “check out” and leave this place for my return to Montreal. Then after a day there, it’s back to Hamilton and reality. But in my heart and soul I will never leave Quebec and never leave the Eastern Townships. This place is my home, the land that I love and always will.

So long from the Eastern Townships/Les Cantons de l’Est. Until next time, or as many folks in these parts like to say: “A la prochaine fois”

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