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Niagara-on-the-Lake
Sunday, December 4, 2022
Ross’s Ramblings: Walk near Brock clears the electoral mind. But that apostrophe?
Brock's Monument plaque at Queenston Heights. Ross Robinson

During the exhaustingly long municipal election campaign, now thankfully and democratically over, I tried to keep my rambling mind focused on important issues.

I fought the urge to spend time worried about xenophobic, parochial and nitpicking things such as where candidates were living five or 10 years ago. How insular and petty.

Surely we NOTLers are bigger than this. Migawd, someone from north of Lake Ontario should have useful ideas? Quelle horreur …

How about folks who arrived here from overseas? Not that long ago, friends. Only a generation or two of immigration and here we are … Lucky us.

Can we even imagine our little corner of Canada without the input and energy provided by our very own Si Wai Lai and her brother? Spend some time in our downtown gem, perfect Simcoe Park.

Before their generosity and vision blessed us, it was very tired and terribly under enjoyed. Now, locals and visitors from around the world fill the park on pleasant days, even when the weather is not perfect.

And the elegant hotels and watering holes they provided. The unique statue to George Bernard Shaw himself.

The stars aligned, and with classy hotels, wineries, golf courses, Balzac’s, bucolic surroundings and the world renowned Shaw Festival – voila! The hometown we luckily love.

It’s difficult to imagine our wee Niagara-on-the-Lake if so many Mennonites had not chosen our region as their place to farm and live. Our culture, our sports, our schools would all be less vibrant and meaningful. And our politics …

I took a mental break from local politics and spent part of a perfect morning ruminating under the towering Brock’s Monument. And why is there an apostrophe included in the name? He never owned the monument.

In discussion with a friend from the Niagara Parks Commission, I learned that the monument is owned and maintained by Parks Canada and the parks commission. It may be parsing words, but I believe the taxpaying citizens of Canada “own” the monument.

Rambling off topic now, each autumn I have the same philosophical inner debate regarding the removal of tennis nets.

“Oh, the Memorial Park courts are owned by the town,” I am told by wise people.

I respond: “We, the taxpayers, are the town. So, we should have some input into this schedule. The town is not some amorphous body. WE are the town and when there are a few beautiful days in December, January, February and March, we want to enjoy the fellowship of our favourite game.”

Enough side rambling.

In New Zealand, overlooking Poverty Bay and the Pacific Ocean, the James Cook Monument marks the spot the explorer made landfall. In Quebec City, the Samuel de Champlain statue does him proud. The Washington Monument dominates the Mall in America’s capital, just east of the Lincoln Memorial and the Jefferson Memorial.

And not an apostrophe in site.

My daughter recently sent me a postcard, featuring the Eiffel Tower. Even without a possessive marker, she managed to find a postage stamp (un timbre) and affix it before mailing. Such a clever young woman.

Some Canadian students choose to study at Simon Fraser University in B.C., or McMaster in Hamilton. Yes, Bishop’s University in Quebec uses the possessive. It is confusing.

Why does Brock’s Monument have an apostrophe? Probably because it always had one.

Maybe I should go up to the library at Brock’s University to do some more research.