MAC'S MUSINGS: It's okay to use the c-word this time of year

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Claude McIntosh

With Black Friday brawls behind us, the annual discussion/debate/argument over what to call the season has been kicked to the front burner.

Is it Merry Christmas, or is it Happy Holidays? Is it a Christmas Tree, or is it a Holiday Tree?

Many, or is that most, public school boards have sided with political correctness when it comes to Christmas concerts that are going the way of the wagon train. The belief is that a Christmas concert can have a traumatic effect on non-believers. Ditto for exchanging Christmas cards and singing Christmas carols. "Here Comes Santa Claus" is okay, but "O Come O Ye Faithful" isn't.

A traditional public school Christmas concert is not exactly a religious service. There aren't any fire and brimestone sermons. There aren't any altar calls. Nobody is trying to convert non-Christians.

It is refreshing to see one of Canada's largest retailers, giving political correctness the cold shoulder and marketing itself as "Canada's Christmas Store". Good for Canadian Tire.

The can't say the "C" word movement started in Toronto and with increasing swiftness has spread to the hinterland where nervous-nellies are politely bending knees at the political correctness altar.

So, who is behind this campaign to water down and no doubt eventually eliminate any public display linked to Christmas?

Unfortunately, many wrongly believe non-Chrisitians - particularly Muslims - are secretly plotting against Christmas and are pressuring public officials to stop calling it a Christmas Tree or holding Christmas concerts.

It's just not so.

The overwhelming majority of folks from other religions have no quarrel with public displays of Christmas. I've heard plenty of Muslims, Jews and folks of other religions use the Merry Christmas greeting.

I listened to a recent Ottawa radio talk show with several Muslims and Jews calling in to say they had no problem with public displays of Christmas. There hasn't been a single leader of other relgions speaking out against public displays of Christmas.

The push-back against public displays of all things Christmas is coming from the political correctness crowd made up of misguided, nominal-at-best Christians and atheists. In the offseason, these are the same people who want "God bless" and all other references to God banned.

For them, hearing "Merry Christmas" or "God bless" is akin to a vampire being exposed to a crucifix.

TRIVIA ANSWER Cameron's Dairy was the last local (family-owned) dairy in the city. It sold to Becker's in 1975. Some of the other local dairies were Maple Crest, Daisy Dairy, Rivermead and East Side

TRIVIA Under a heavy veil of secrecy and high security that included armed guards this plant was built in Cornwall by the federal government in 1942. What did the plant produce?

IN THE REAR-VIEW MIRROR Bill Gallinger out Long Sault way (retired Ontario Power Generation) called while back with the idea of rolling back the clock to the 1960s with a tour of the old haunts in Massena. This was an era when Massena was the Friday night mecca for the young crowd. The big attraction was the New York State drinking age of 18. In Ontario it was a draconian 21. Not having a car wasn't a big problem. You just went downtown and got a ride. On most Friday nights, Canadians outnumbered Americans in some of the bars. The favorite spot was the Willow Grove but there was no shortage of other bars. They included the classy Jack's Hideaway run by brothers Hutch and Carl. The place actually had table cloths and candles and you could splurge on a Brandy Alexander. It was the place to impress a first date. Across the street was a quintessential dive called Ma MacCarthy's, the kind of place that was living proof that New York State had lax public health laws. Some of the other haunts included the Diamond Horseshoe where the owner, Tex Montana, entertained for what seemed like a thousand years, Zag's next to the rail tracks, Capp's Inn, Club 284, The Albion, Phil's, Woodlawn's, The Neighbourhood, KLK Lounge, Duck's Inn, Broaster's, Nadeau's and the always packed-on-a-Friday night Charlie's Tavern where a large pitcher of draft sold for $1.25. Harvey, with a handlebar 'stach, was the bartender. Nobody knew his last name. Nobody cared. A few of the bars are still around. Some took on new names, The Willow is now Coach's Corner. Not sure of Charlie's status. The Albion burned down a few years back. Tex probably is long dead, as is Rockin' Rita, and the Diamond is a carpet place. Jack's reinvented itself as an off-track betting parlour and has morphed into an apartment building.

SEEN & HEARD Former Domtar employee Glen Sloan tells us it was the late Stewart Baker who came up with the name Big Ben for the ski centre behind what was then Woolco. It was the winning submission in a name-the-hill contest. One of the judges was former Standard-Freeholder journalist Sultan Jessa. ... John Warner passes along this from his friend Howie Stidwill who now lives in St. Charles, Illinois: "Dad's connection to the hill was an idea (I believe his) to use the bark from Domtar for a small ski hill. As an assistant manager he did all kinds of related work to make it happen. There was a contest to name it. I believe a local Scotsman thought of giving it the name "Ben" which originally comes from the Gaelic word beinn. Ben(beinn) means mountain in Gaelic. I remember a photo he had of a similar idea from the debris of post war Berlin. His interest in it, no doubt, came from his love of skiing." Howie sent along a photo showing his dad, Ben, and Jim Wicksare skiing at Big Ben on opening day, Feb. 3, 1975.

THIS & THAT Not many politicians make it to the 25-year club but on Nov. 21 Mayor Bob Kilger reached the milestone. That is when he was first elected to public office as MP for Stormont-Dundas. He is entering his eighth year as Cornwall's mayor. ... No surprise here. Glen Grant plans to seek re-election in October. If Bob Kilger wasn't on the mayoral ticket, he would give serious consideration for a run at the top job.

HERE & THERE Coun. Elaine MacDonald raised a good question a ta recent council meeting when she wondered aloud why city hall put a stamp of approval on a couple of traffic messes re: Tim Hortons' drive-throughs at Pitt and Ninth and McConnell and Montreal Road. Don't blame Tims, they did everything by the book. It's the overseers at city hall who screwed up. ... Sure sign of Christmas: Reindeer crossing sign in front of Bruno Vaillancourt's house on Pescod Avenue.

ONE LAST THING A lottery is a tax on people who are bad at math.

Organizations: Christmas Store, Ontario Power Generation, Woolco Standard-Freeholder Domtar Tim Hortons

Geographic location: Canada, Toronto, Cornwall New York State Ottawa Maple Crest Long Sault Big Ben Ontario Willow Grove Montana Capp St. Charles, Illinois Berlin Montreal Road

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  • Chris Granger
    December 11, 2013 - 00:27

    Your Trivia, Claude...."Under a heavy veil of secrecy and high security that included armed guards this plant was built in Cornwall by the federal government in 1942. What did the plant produce?" I know it is mustard gas, but the trick is what was the name of the plant? I and others whom researched it (even on the Heritage Cornwall committee) did not come across a name of the place. It came to me via researching the Cornwall Street Railway rail lines when they were built/abandoned. I found an Order in Council that allowed the opening of a rail line by the street railway in 1941 along 7th Street West from Cumberland to Brookdale and on its own right-of-way along today's Queen/7th extension and behind the homes of Queen, then along Dover to the plant at the corner of Shirley and Dover. The plant was called Defence Industries Limited, north of Dover and east of Joyce. A large holding tank was there up until the early 1990s I remember.