Indian Summer

November 3rd, 2015

There's been a lot of talk about Indian Summer this year... and a lot of people have been asking why we call it that. As I understand it, the term was coined in North America by Europeans who are responsible for the misnomer "Indian" for Native Americans or First Nation Peoples in the late eighteenth century.

The first recorded use of the term Indian Summer, as I understand, is from "Letters from an American Farmer" written in 1778 by J.H. St. John de Crevecoeur (known as Michel-Guillaume-Jean de Crevecoeur) who was a French soldier turned farmer in America. In his letters, Crevecoeur said "Then a severe frost succeeds, which prepares it to receive the voluminous coat of snow which is soon to follow; though it is often preceded by a short interval of smoke and mildness, called the Indian Summer."

Indian summer is characterized by a wide variation of temperature and wind strength, in late autumn. A true Indian Summer happens between St. Martin's Day (November 11th) and November 20th.... and, after cold weather and a good hearty frost, when there comes a spell of warm weather.

The atmosphere during Indian summer is hazy or smoky because of a cool, air mass moving into a deep, warm, high pressure system.- effectively causing large swings in temperature between day and night.

There are a number of suggestions for the origin of the term Indian Summer. Some believe the settlers had never experienced such fluctuations and therefore named it the Indian's Summer. Apparently, some of them believed the weather was the result of fires, deliberately set by the native peoples. Certainly, the weather phenomenon is more common in territories associated with North American Aboriginal people.

Others believe the term originated because the phenomenon occurred during the season in which First Nation people were harvesting their crops and there would be a notable decrease in war party action, during which settlers could relax the patrol of their stockades. Some said it was just a break, lulling the settlers into a false sense of security and when the weather turned warm, the natives would raid again. This reflects another suggestion, that the term was adapted from the colonial attitude that Indians could not be trusted and that warm weather after frost was similarly untrustworthy.

Growing up, I always felt a sort of kinship with the native culture. I suppose, it was a somewhat romantic vision, based on my love of the forest and my belief that all things have some form of spirit. I felt that rocks and trees whispered Manitou. For me, Indian Summer meant that I could run easily through the trees, the warmth of the sun on my skin... the sound of dry leaves beneath my feet and looking out at the lake, misted, around the edges, like a beautiful dream.

Dutch Tulip Friendship Garden- Bancroft

October 30th, 2015

The Bancroft Business Improvement Area has just completed planting 700 bulbs next to the Bancroft Horticultural Society's 700 bulbs near the cenotaph.

The tulip bulbs were donated by Vesey's Bulbs of P.E.I. and offered by the Canadian Garden Council to 140 communities across Canada, marking the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Netherlands at the end of WWII.

The tulips, half red and half white, are linked to the Dutch-Canadian Friendship Tulip Garden planted in Ottawa as part of the Canadian Tulip Festival. Over the years, the Dutch people have sent hundreds of thousands of tulips (their national flower) to Canada, as a show of friendship and appreciation.

After the 1940 German occupation of the Netherlands, the Dutch royal family sought refuge in Ottawa. Dutch Princess Margriet was born at the Ottawa Civic Hospital, which had been temporarily declared extraterritorial in order to preserve her citizenship. During occupation, the Royal Canadian Air Force conducted air drops of food for the starving people of the Netherlands and from September 1944 through May 1945, the Canadian Army battled through to liberate the country.

At the end of hostilities, the remains of Commonwealth soldiers were brought together for burial and 1, 393 were buried at Holten Canadian War Cemetery. For decades, Dutch schoolchildren have visited Holten, taking candles on Christmas Eve and Canadian flags on May 4th, and laying one at each grave to commemorate the fallen Canadian soldiers.

One of these soldiers is Private William Henry Bowers. Private Bowers was born November 11th, 1923 at Bancroft. The son of Simon H. and Jessie F. Bowers. Brother of Edna, Muriel, Sandy and Reginald, Private Bowers enlisted on March 9, 1942 at Toronto. He was killed April 3, 1945 in the Netherlands.

DNA Memory

October 10th, 2015

Back in April of 2007, I wrote a blog post entitled "Of DNA, fossil fuel and memory"... espousing my personal, philosophical view of genetics and genetic memory… and inherited memories and… in October of 2007, I went into a diatribe about Epigenetics and how, in simple terms, what you eat or smoke today could affect the health and behavior of your great-grandchildren and in more ways than you might suspect. I ended the epigenetics spew with " & apparently, our cells do have some pretty serious memory capacity."

I have had a lot of people poo-poo my views and my skin has become, relatively, thicker... as I have stood by my perspective on the topic of DNA encoded memories... and I decided today is the day to say nanny-nanny-poo-poo to the naysayers.

In 2010, Brian Barrett wrote a piece for American Chronicle asking the question, "Does Our DNA Carry the Memories of Our Ancestors?". He said, "The theory was especially popular in the 1960s and 70s, when scientists were just beginning to unravel the mysteries of the double helix."

In December of 2013, BBC News reported on a study conducted by a team at the Emory University School of Medicine which found that a traumatic event could affect the DNA in sperm and alter the brains and behaviour of subsequent generations.

One of the researchers Dr. Brian Dias told the BBC: "This might be one mechanism that descendants show imprints of their ancestor." "There is absolutely no doubt that what happens to the sperm and egg will affect subsequent generations." Prof Marcus Pembrey, from University College London, said the findings were "highly relevant to phobias, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorders" and provided "compelling evidence" that a form of memory could be passed between generations. He commented: "It is high time public health researchers took human transgenerational responses seriously. "I suspect we will not understand the rise in neuropsychiatric disorders or obesity, diabetes and metabolic disruptions generally without taking a multigenerational approach."

The same study was the subject of an article in Science Gymnasium in 2014. That article quoted Dr Brian Dias, from the department of psychiatry at Emory University, as saying ,"From a translational perspective, our results allow us to appreciate how the experiences of a parent, before even conceiving offspring, markedly influence both structure and function in the nervous system of subsequent generations."

A blog in January 2015 by Darold Treffert for Scientific American said, "Genetic memory, simply put, is complex abilities and actual sophisticated knowledge inherited along with other more typical and commonly accepted physical and behavioral characteristics." The blog also suggests that the first notion of genetic memory can be attributed to AA Brill, who in 1940 quoted Dr. William Carpenter who, in comparing math prodigy Zerah Colburn’s calculating powers to Mozart’s mastery of musical composition, wrote the following:

“In each of the foregoing cases, then, we have a peculiar example of the possession of an extraordinary congenital aptitude for certain mental activity, which showed itself at so early a period as to exclude the notion that it could have been acquired by the experience of the individual. To such congenital gifts we give the name of intuitions: it can scarcely be questioned that like the instincts of the lower animals, they are the expressions of constitutional tendencies embodied in the organism of the individuals who manifest them.” and that 2015 blog post also said:

"Steven Pinker’s 2003 book, The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature, refutes the “blank slate” theories of human development. Brian Butterworth, in his 1999 book, What Counts: How Every Brain is Hardwired for Math, points out that babies have many specialized innate abilities, including numerical ones that he attributes to a “number module” encoded in the human genome from ancestors 30,000 years ago."

and

"Marshall Nivenberg, from the National Heart Institute, provided insight into the actual DNA/RNA mechanics of this innate knowledge in an article titled “Genetic Memory” published in 1968 in JAMA."

I have to admit, I haven't read the 60's and 70s studies. My theory of DNA memory stems from personal experience and observation. That's good enough for me.

Canadian, Eh

September 25th, 2015

The history of our Canadian flag is confusing, at best. Trying to understand how we arrived at the new flag makes for an interesting study in politics and patriotism.

Among the earliest flags in Canada were the fleur-de-lis flag (a symbol of French sovereignty) which has flown in Canada since 1534, when Jacques Cartier claimed the New World for France... and the flag carried by the Martin Frobisher expedition of 1577 (the St George Cross). The Royal Union flag (Britain) first flew on Canadian soil sometime around 1610 in Newfoundland and sometime around 1760 the design changed slightly, to reflect the union of England and Ireland.

The Red Ensign, a variation of the Union Jack was created about 1707. It was red and in the upper left corner it had the Union Jack. The center image of this flag changed as Canada grew, variously including the coat of arms of Canada (which was a compilation of the coat of arms for each province) and-or laurel wreaths and crowns. This is the flag that was used, unofficially, as our national flag after Confederation.

In 1867, Confederation united Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick into a single, self-governing dominion, although Canada remained a British colony without independence.

Around 1925, a committee of the Privy Council began looking into creating a distinctive flag for our country. It is probably no coincidence that a few years later, in 1929, the Minister of Justice for Canada attended the Conference on the Operation of Dominion Legislation which was held in London, England- to negotiate for complete Canadian independence. Actual independence was granted on December 11, 1931, when royal assent was given to the Statute of Westminster, eliminating British authority over Canadian law. Our national flag was still, officially, the Red Ensign.

There was a lot of discussion about creating a true Canadian flag, but it was difficult for people to come to any kind of agreement. Our athletes, since 1904, had been wearing an emblem that bore a red maple leaf, centered on a white field, and many liked that idea, but others thought our flag should include the fleur-de-lis. Supporters argued that red and white had been proclaimed Canadian national colours by King George V in 1921. It was a stale-mate.

In 1946, another committee was appointed to create a new Canadian flag. They considered more than 2500 contenders, but still, none could be agreed upon. Early I n1964, with the 100th anniversary of Confederation fast approaching, Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson tasked the House of Commons with coming up with a distinctive Canadian Flag. Although it was not a new idea, the quest for anew flag was taken very seriously this time and the committee eventually decided upon the single-leaf design that Canada is now recognized by. The new flag was approved by resolution of the House of Commons on December 15, 1964. It was approved by the Canadian Senate on December 17, 1964 and proclaimed by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II (still considered the Queen of Canada). The new flag took effect on February 15, 1965.

In 1996, February 15th was declared National Flag of Canada Day and it has been observed on that date every year since. This year, the Canadian Government invited Canadians to join together to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the National Flag of Canada, by organizing events and showing their pride. The Bancroft BIA obtained permission from the federal government to use a stylized version of the flag on commemorative banners. The banners were on display by July 1st, 2015.

Of course, we all know that July 1st is Canada Day (formerly known as Dominion Day- a holiday commemorating the formation of Canada as a Dominion on July 1, 1867. The holiday was renamed Canada Day by an Act of Parliament on October 27th, 1982.

Bancroft Set to Expand Motorcycle Rally in 2016

September 12th, 2015

Bancroft's first Motorcycle Show'N'Shine & Swap was a remarkable success. Riders came in from Quebec, New York, Northern Ontario, South Western Ontario, South Eastern Ontario and all parts between. It was declared the perfect, central location for an Ontario Rally and plans are underway for next year.

Fabian welcomed riders and many registered for the show, while others came for a visit and went on to explore some of the Bancroft Area's exceptional scenery.

Bancroft's 5th Annual Wheels, Water & Wings Event is scheduled for July 8, 9 and 10th, 2016. The motorcycle rally will be one of the feature events on Sunday the 10th.