Mac’s Musings: The strap and the ouch factor

Claude McIntosh ~ Mac's Musings
Mac’s Musings: The strap and the ouch factor
Claude McIntosh.

There was a time, back in the ‘dark ages’ when school principals had the mother of all disciplinary tools tucked away in the top drawer of their office desks.

It was a thick, stiff leather strap, about two-feet long.

The number of whacks administered by the principal, in his office, hands on the desk, palms up, was based on the severity of misconduct, and perhaps what kind of day the headmaster was having.

I remember one guy getting two whacks on each hand for calling his teacher an old bag.

Today, the teacher would have to explain, in an incident report, what she did to make the little darlin’ say what he said.

The poor saps in schools where nuns and religious brothers taught had it a lot tougher. The ruler (aka yardstick) and wooden pointers were the weapons of choice. It saved a trip to the principal’s office. One brother had the well-earned nickname of “Brother Bell Ringer.”

In 1968 the Hall-Dennis Report on Education condemned the use of the strap and called on school boards across Ontario to ban its use.

Perhaps fearing that it would lead to the proverbial case of the animals taking over the zoo, most boards were reluctant to do away with corporal punishment.

Lesser forms of punishment included standing in the corner, writing out “I will behave in class” 100 times in chalk on the blackboard, not going out for recess and the 30-minute after-school detention, which seemed odd because it meant the teacher had to stay an extra 30 minutes.

In October, 1970 members of the Tri-County (public) Board of Education (now part of the bigger but not necessarily better Upper Canada District School Board) wrestled with a proposal that use of the strap in its schools be scrapped.

The vote was 6-to-1 … to keep the strap. However, it was agreed that the strap was to be used only as a last resort for serious offences.

Trustees in favour of keeping the strap were probably swayed by a survey of principals, vice-principals and teachers in the Tri-County (all of SD and G) system in which 96.2% of elementary educators urged the board to keep it as a punishment option, while support for the strap dropped off to 44% in the secondary system.

In an editorial, the Standard-Freeholder said, “In an age when there seems little respect for authority, a touch of discipline in the classroom is not out of place.”

But the paper cautioned that the strap should be used with wisdom and common sense.

In 1984 the Supreme Court of Canada weighed in on the issue and decreed that the use of the strap was “an unreasonable application of force in the maintenance of classroom discipline.” The strap was banned. Enter suspensions which have little effect because they are treated as a holiday.

Next up was the question of parents spanking their kids.
Also in October 1970, one of the last two bakeries making home deliveries in the city said it was getting out of business.

Lanthier and Sons Bakery of Alexandria announced that Cameron’s Dairy would take over its home delivery business in the city and area.

That left Canada Bread on Ninth Street East as the lone bakery making home deliveries.

But a spokesperson for Canada Bread pointed out that consumer shopping habits were changing and home delivery of milk and bread would not be around in a few years.

In its heyday, there were 10 bakeries making home deliveries in the city and area.

Also this month in 1970 – A last-minute proposal to run a private transit system in the city had council members going back to the drawing board. The lone proposal was from Charterway Transportation of London. Cornwall Street Railway had given the city notice that it would cease to operate the money-losing transit system as of Dec. 31. The late offer came from a Cornwall group which offered to do the job for less than the Charterway proposal. … Federal Indian Affairs Minister Jean Chretien told the House of Commons that St. Regis Band Council had never been consulted prior to 1956 when Cornwall obtained approval from the Ontario Municipal Board to extend its boundaries to Cornwall Island. … Fire destroyed two downtown Alexandria businesses – Canada Discount Store and Van Broeck Upholstery Shop – and upstairs apartments occupied by five families. … Prince Clothing/Cornwall Pants was sold to Montreal businessman Syd Lovell. The company which employed 160 people was founded by Romanian immigrants Aaron and Louis Horovitz in 1912. … Cornwall Collegiate and Vocational School won the boys’ EOSSA golf championship. Team members were Blake Bingley, Robbie Bingley, Doug Patterson and Richard Greer. … Verdun Maple Leafs got a 52-save performance from Pierre Hamel for a 3-2 win over Cornwall Royals in a Quebec Major Junior Hockey League game. Hamel was the game’s first star. Mike Boisvenue and Pierre Duguay of the Royals were the second and third stars. … Cornwall Minor Hockey Association president Harry Levere said 1,200 boys had registered for the 1970-71 house league season.

SPORTS STUFF The Bob Davis rink saved its best of the last in the Cornwall Curling Centre senior men’s RBC opening bonspiel. The Davis crew slipped into the 12-team final with an 11th place finish in the six-game round robin but was firing on all cylinders with a 14-5 romp in the final round. Backing up the skip were third Bernie Breton, second Norm St. Pierre and lead Dunc McCrimmon. Peter Van Loon finished second with Gilles Viau taking third place.

TRIVIA This Canadian singer once had a summer home in St. Regis Falls, N.Y., 54 kilometers southwest of Cornwall: 1) Neil Young, 2) Celine Dion, 3) Shania Twain, 4) Gordon Lightfoot, 5) Joni Mitchell, 6) Paul Anka.

TRIVIA ANSWER Third time proved lucky for former alderman Gerald Parisien in the December 1974 mayoral race when he succeeded Ed Lumley, defeating two other former aldermen, Doug Webster and Aurele Clement. In 1966 Parisien lost to Nick Kaneb and in 1968 lost his second mayoral race when Kaneb was re-elected.

FACTS’N’FIGURES Between 1975 and 2000 Cornwall lost 35 industries with a total loss of 3,504 jobs. They included Levi Strauss 479, Courtaulds 360, MCA Records 300, Combustion Engineering 250, Caravelle Carpets 220 and Sylvania 200.

QUOTED We probably wouldn’t worry about what people think of us if we could know how seldom they do. – Orin Miller

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