Sunday, July 16, 2006

Ghosts Are Haunting again.............

In my neck of the woods, you can sign up for a late evening stroll downtown with a young actor dressed in a period costume and hear the stories of the ghosts that haunt this fair city. For example, the wife of Bishop Medley, builder of the Christ Church Cathedral in Fredericton, is said to haunt the grounds there. People have claimed to have seen her crossing the lawn in front of the Cathedral. Stories have also emanated out of the old jail and Officers Square where the last man was hung for his crimes over a hundred years ago.

Ghost stories intrigue...........they capture our attention and our inherent interest in the netherworld.....but do they tell the truth, or do they promote myths?

The rivers, especially in the winter are full of low moaning wails coming from under the ice which have been heard by selected individuals........the ancestral river ghosts are our link to the past. One of the most famous river ghosts is the Dungarvon Whooper, who whoops and groans along the shores of the Miramichi river. The story that has been passed around over the years is that of a young, Irish cook in a logging camp near Blackville, N.B. They say the young cook was a mysterious character who often spoke about the money belt he carried. He, along with the boss of the camp stayed behind while the men went out to work everyday. One evening though, the men returned to find the young cook dead on the floor. The boss simply said he had died. But the man gave no further explanation.

When the workers buried the young cook in a snow bank, they noticed his money belt was missing. Soon after, they were haunted by weird screams and cries, which today, many claim can still be heard coming off the river. People believe that the cook wants his money belt back and is searching for the man who killed him. The Miramichi is a well known fly fishing river. Salmon, though not as plentiful as days gone by is the ultimate catch. Early morning quiet wading while fishing is the best time to hear the whooping and wailing of the Dungarvon Whooper echoing through the misty morning fog.

Most communities have a rich history replete with tales of tickling terror, stories that ripple up the spine. But, do most countries have a ghost that haunts the whole "home and native land" like Canada does? Possibly, but I just don't about them. I do know about ours, however. Because every month or so, the mainstream media aka the CBC lift the ghost out of his Chestnut canoe and wave him around like an icon. There were two spottings last week alone............

A new Canadian opera will focus on an iconic figure in Canadian politics and history — Pierre Elliott Trudeau. "Trudeau is the perfect subject for an opera," George Elliot Clarke told CBC Radio.

"He was a Shakespearean character — there's no doubt about it. I mean this was a guy who lived a great romantic adventure. He appeals to me because he is partly an artist. He's someone who was a writer, an intellectual. He was an active academic. He was also a traveller, an explorer in a sense of wanting to venture off into the unknown," Clarke said.

Clarke believes opera can capture the exuberance and passion of Canada during the Trudeau years, as well as some of the many changes that were happening in society. And he's keen to portray some of the contradictions of Trudeau the man.

Gee, I wonder if they will portray his arrogant true colours and his disdain for the unintellectual masses? Will there be a soprano soliloquy performed while paddling through the northern wilderness where he questions his decision on sending in the troops to tackle the FLQ? What about a chanson de la coeur, with a simple spotlight on him as he waxes poetic about his romantic trysts with Lois Lane and Liona Boyd? Hey, maybe Liona could play her harp in the background.

"He's a figure about whom it is almost impossible to say anything definitive, because he is …encompassed by so many contradictions, but that's what makes him interesting," Clarke said.

OMG! Trudeau put to music! Plans are underway to have Trudeau perform duets with Maggie T. and even his buddy Fidel Castro. Who knows, maybe there will be a rockin' opera piece with members of the journalistic corps singing the back-up doo-waps. He loved them all so. I wonder if there will be a piece written about his love child?

The second sighting was cloaked in a story about a film portrayal of Talbot Papineau, which is to be played by none other than the ghost's eldest, the future Prince of the Liberals......our very own Justin T. The Torontocentric grit leaning CBC, known for their balanced documentaries, especially the ones directed by Terrence McKenna, are already splashing out a promotional pitch that it's a destiny kind of thing that Justin will mark his acting debut (well I actually think he donned his acting debutante suit when he performed in front of a live mourning audience. It was cloaked as a eulogy and marked him as the future Prince of the Libs) Mr. Papineau was a dashing Quebecker who was bicultural, bilingual, charismatic, a foe to Quebec nationalism and a visionary for Canada. In fact, he's been dubbed the Pierre Trudeau of his time by the producers of this dashing documentary. ugh.

Jeffery Simpson, one of the only level headed columnists for the Globe and Mail, wrote a brilliant piece yesterday dispelling this fiction. Turns out, Papineau, a World War 1 hero fought and died in the line of duty. On the other hand: "the young Trudeau railed against Canada's participaton in the First World War, opposed fighting in the Second World War, espressed anti-Semitic views, admired right-wing authors, believed in every French-Canadian nationalist myth about the evils of les anglais."

Simpson also writes............ "The war and its atrocities seldom penetrated his consciousness, exept to enrage him that war might mean mandatory military service. Already an accomplish polemicist, he gave slashing public speeches and wrote cutting satires against the war, Canadian Prime Minister MacKenzie King, and of course, conscription."

So, where's the common ground here? Oh, they were both bilingual.

This country has suffers from an virus of epidemic proportions; collective amnesiatic vapors, when it comes to Pierre Elliot Trudeau. His ghost reinforces the ailments by sprinkling myth dustings across this vast and magnificent land, and renders Mr. and Mrs. Canuck gaga.

Ghosts tell us stories of our past. It's important to remember however that with any good story comes a heaping helping of exageration. Whether its the Dungarvon Whooper or the Pirouetting PM, we should make sure that we arm ourselves with a vaccine to ward off the giggling gullibilities.

Now it is the time of night
That the graves, all gaping wide,
Every one lets forth his sprite
In the church-way paths to glide.

WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, A Midsummer Night's Dream


Canuckguy said...

Alright, so Trudeau was raised in a poisionous atmosphere of Quebec nationalism and all its prejudices. Even if you were not impressed by his governing style at least give him credit to have recognized the folly of his ways and to change.

awareness said...

nope. Can't do that. Sorry.

Canuckguy said...

Well I think it takes great strenght of character to divest oneself of the brainwashing he underwent to free himself of the poison that was embedded in his mind during his upbringing. Children can be so easily twisted, being young and impressionable. Then again you can argue it took much too long as his change only came much later, later than it should have. I did vote for him but I quickly became disgusted over the way he was handling the economy and voted for the conservatives under Brian later. So I guess I will concede to your point when looking at the big picture.

awareness said...

Looks like we went through the same epiphanous moment! I grew up in a Liberal home.....Trudeau was revered.

I saw the light around the same time as you.....voted for Mulroney and never looked back. :)

I agree with does take a great deal of strength to change colours (unless of course you are a chameleon) and then hide your past so well that it's only revealed by your friends after you have moved onto heavenly pastures.

The economic legacy Trudeau left, as well as the schism between different parts of this country was divisive and damaging for years and years.........

His memory lives on and will continue to haunt our national corridors in glowing true north colours for eternity if the CBC has anything to do with it....all in a rosy tinge of mythical b.s.