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Monday, September 25, 2023
Ross’s Ramblings: Time for NOTL to fly a flag at Queen’s Royal Park

A proud and patriotic Canadian flag should be flying in Queen’s Royal Park, to be featured in millions of memories and souvenir photographs of Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Picture it, if you will. A group of friends from around the world, a family, a couple in love. Parents pushing their baby in a stroller. Every visitor and NOTLer feeling totally safe and secure, enjoying the day, cooking their foods, playing their games.

The gazebo, the mighty Niagara River, Fort Niagara, and soon I hope, our red and white maple leaf flag flapping subtly in a breeze.

This was one of those forehead bumping ideas that someone should have thought of years ago, and with the goings-on in our world today, “It’s time.”

It was fatalistic that my tennis pal Keith Stuart suggested this idea to me just before Remembrance Day.

I then met with Tom and Jim Caldwell in their office at Mary and Mississagua streets, kitty corner to Willow Pastries and the Avondale, as their company’s red and white Canadian flag made its flapping presence known above us.

Caldwell Securities Ltd. has generously and patriotically offered to donate a suitable flagpole and flag to be installed in Queen’s Royal Park.

Some weeks my thoughts ramble. Occasionally, a concept is so obvious. “That’s right. It makes total sense. Who could argue?”

And there is plenty of room there for a tall flagpole and a great Canadian flag.

Last year, Keith worked tenaciously to get a Canadian flag placed in, (where else?), Veterans Memorial Park near the NOTL Legion. It wasn’t an easy process, but he worked with a few other NOTLers who were determined to remember the efforts of Canadians who “stood against evil and made us proud.”

Not that long ago, some of our servicemen sailed, some flew and others somehow endured the disgusting horrors of trench warfare. Many of them were volunteers and many of them returned wounded. Many never returned.

And today, we welcome people from around the world, many of whom have immigrated to Canada with dreams of freedom, safety and opportunity.

C’mon, don’t be timid or reticent. Say it: Canada is the greatest country in the world and we live in a wee corner that is a special jewel: Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario.

To cherry pick a phrase from former U.S. president Barack Obama, “We can celebrate our nation’s achievements, while still remembering the horrible mistakes that we have made.”

Yes, we must reckon with the cruel and inhumane treatment of our Indigenous Peoples. Yes, white privilege still pervades our society. We must remember, admit our errors, learn and determine to reconcile with the wronged, moving ahead together to develop a fair society for all.

Some things in the world were simply meant to be. They just had to happen. These ideas required vision and tireless work to overcome obstacles, whether physical, political or financial. Problems, real or perceived. Bumps in the road. Figger it out and forge ahead.

Think of the goosebumps the Vimy Ridge Memorial in northern France inspires. It was built and financed by Canadians on land given to us by the people of France.

And other such landmarks: Christ the Redeemer statue on Mount Corcovado above Rio de Janeiro is a symbol of Christianity across the world. The Statue of Liberty warmly welcomes brave and hungry newcomers to a new life in America. Pier 21 in Halifax was a major point of entry to Canada.

These great symbols didn’t just happen. Vision, leadership and collaboration were needed.

It’s time for us to right a wrong here in NOTL and proudly fly the flag at Queen’s Royal.

Across the river at Fort Niagara, an American flag is flying. There is no international border line or wall, just a mutually respected border somewhere in the middle of the Niagara River.

As sailors enter the Niagara River from Lake Ontario, there is no obvious indication that the little park on their starboard side is in Canada. Some years ago, a sailor friend of Tom Caldwell had to use binoculars to read a car’s licence plate, finally making out the word “Ontario.” Ah, that side is Canada.

Isn’t it truly amazing? In our world of conflict, vitriol, and greed, little old Canada and big old America manage to get along, to help each other, and to have adult discussions to solve problems.

A flag should be installed on “the Canadian side,” where the Niagara River flows into Lake Ontario. Not that long ago, whichever country controlled the Niagara River controlled the interior of North America. No airplanes or trains, just trails and rivers and lakes, eh?

It is said that 3 per cent of the people in the world make things happen. About 5 per cent watch things happen. And the other 92 per cent say, “What happened?”

Let’s encourage our town to be leaders on this issue. To make something really good happen. The busy people in Ottawa have made an awkward situation even more awkward regarding the raising and lowering of the flags to remember the missing Indigenous schoolchildren, and concurrently, the service and sacrifices of our military veterans.

Here, let’s demand action. A proud flag flying in Queen’s Royal Park. Illuminated by a spotlight at night, like they do in the States. It won’t be a problem to lower and raise one more flag a few times each year.

Be proud. Be leaders. Be Canadians. Let’s move forward together in greatness, in the greatest country in the world.

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