Pager problem could reoccur

September 25, 2014

Why am I doing this blog with posts of articles I wrote and that were published in the past?

It is so my son and anyone else interested will have the opportunity to read these articles in the future. This is one of the positives of the internet. Blogs are a place where we can store things for people who want to read about the present or the past. Up until this point, archives have been a storage place for dusty documents but now we can preserve things online.

Now that I am travelling and house sitting full time, I need to let go of the dusty documents that I have contributed in the past. Yet as someone who majored in history in university and who has always enjoyed discovering the past– which in some ways helps us all make a better future–I want to make my written contributions in the past to be available to anyone who wishes to read them and use them as part of their own research whether personal, academic or otherwise.

So back to the articles. This one is about electronics. Maybe more so than anywhere else, electricity and electronics, in general, often go haywire on small islands. When I house sat on Thetis Island, a sparsely populated Gulf island near Chemainus on Vancouver Island, the day could be brilliantly sunny without a cloud in the sky and suddenly the electricity would go off and often for hours.

At least on Salt Spring Island, there usually needs to be rain and wind for the hydro to go out. Not that this is anymore convenient. Last house sit I did on Salt Spring, I was having a shower around 8 pm when all went black. I managed to rinse my hair, towel off, get into my night gown and crawl into bed. Only to be rudely awaken at around 1:30 am to the brilliance of every light bursting on in the open area main floor where my bedroom was.

The following area is not about electricity going off but about pager problems in times of emergency:

Gulf Islands Driftwood– Pender Edition
August 2, 2000
Pager problem could reoccur
by Tanya Lester

Pagers failing to emit a tone signal when firefighters were called to a fire on the Canada Day weekend was a rare occurrence but one that could happen more often in the future.

Brian Copp said the electronics malfunction has never occurred before in his 14 years as a communications manager at the Langford Fire Department. It is responsible for activating signals for 19 fire departments including that on North Pender.

Copp explained that a 911 call from Salt Spring activated a pager signal to firefighters on that island at 10:27 p.m. on Sunday, July 2.

Right on its heels came a 911 call from Razor Point Road on North Pender with the signal going out at 10:31 p.m.

Most Pender firefighters, including acting fire chief Charlie Boyte, had their pager monitors on and heard the voice message concerning the fire’s location.

But five firefighters had turned off their pager monitors, so they would hear only the tone if there were a call. It was that tone they didn’t hear.

“It is assumed the activity on the radio system, because of the Salt Spring call, may have interfered with the initial paging to the North Pender fire department,” said Copp.

He pointed out there is no absolute proof that this is what happened as electronic systems can occasionally fail.

Copp did say that with population increases and more people aware of and able to call 911 from their cell phones, for example, the 11-year-old system is getting busier.

This could mean a repeat of the signal failure.

Copp said Langford officials are aware that a new system might be needed for the Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island and Gulf Islands area.

Efforts are currently under way to obtain estimates for a new system better suited to handling the higher level of emergency calls.
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British Venturers wowed by Pender scenes

September 24, 2014

“The land is just filled with all the wildlife; seals and things that we just wouldn’t see in England. It’s just so mind-blowing coming from a small country; it’s just amazing how big it is.”

I think the first time I realized how crazy people from other countries are about Canada’s wilderness if when I visited Whitehorse, Yukon a few years back. Now, Whitehorse is more the size of a town than it is even a small city but, to my surprise, some German tourists told me there is a direct airplane flight from a city in that country to the Yukon. Why? Because of the wilderness, I was told.

I am proud of Canada and think its wilderness is amazingly beautiful so I really enjoyed writing the following article:

Gulf Islands Driftwood– Pender Island Edition
August 2, 2000
British Venturers wowed by Pender scenes
by Tanya Lester

Fundraising for over two years has paid off in breathtaking views and adventures for a group of British Venturers who spent time on Pender Island over the weekend.

“It’s really excellent,” said Catherine Welby, an 18-year-old in the group, which is part of the Scouts and Guides organization. “The land is just filled with all the wildlife; seals and things we just wouldn’t see in England. It’s just so mind-blowing coming from a small country; it’s just amazing how big it is.”

To see the mountains in the distance while they were canoeing in traditonal long boats on Sunday afternoon was a treat for the young woman, who lives south of London

“When we first arrived it was raining and we thought this is like England,” Welsby continued. “But now the sun has come out, it seems just for us.”

The 27 young people, who ranged in age from 16 to 25, organized barn dances, washed lots of cars and served special Christmas dinners to come up with the money for the once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Bob Cooper of Cooper’s Landing explained the group learned to canoe and then went out on a day-trip to South Pender and Winter Cove on Saturna.

The three boats ranged from 26 to 37 feet in length and included the type that would have been used by European explorers and traders, as well as the Haida canoe.

On Sunday evening, the group was treated to story-telling by Pender carver Victor Reece.

The visitors were set to go whale-watching out of Victoria on Monday.

The 18-day trip began with a greeting from Squamish Nation members Cherly and Audrey Rivers at the Vancouver airport, according to Bob Cooper’s brother Chris, who put together the travel package through Wilderness Adventures.

Other activities will include a three-day hike on the Juan de Fuca trail, another three days in Garibaldi Park, rock climbing and mountain biking in Squamish, and white water rafting on the Thompson River.

There will also be a canoe journey down the Fraser River with a grand finale feast hosted by the Katzie’s First Nation.

The young people will spend their last night in Canada in the Katzie’s long house.

To read the first posts in this blog, go to
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Confessions of a Tea Leaf Reader by Tanya Lester is available to be purchased from the author or going to the title and author name to read the first few pages and buy it at
Tanya’s other books are: Dreams & Tricksters, Women Rights/Writers and Friends I Never Knew.

Believing in the human spirit

September 23, 2014

“Is this approach our way of coping with and repressing the anxieties that a terminally ill patient evokes in us?”…

For a personal reason, I have been enjoying watching so many celebrities having buckets of ice cold water poured over them while it publicizes their donations to ALS research. Since my friend James Meagher died of this ferocious disease, I am always interested in anything that could ease the suffering and discomfort that ALS visits on its victims or even find a cure for this disease.

In an earlier post for this blog, I wrote about James and how I interviewed him for a book that I wanted to write about him. This was before the advent of blogs and I now hope to do a blog about my friend’s life some time after I finish or get closer to the finish of this one.

They say that sometimes death is a healing. I believe this was the case for James. This does not mean that we, the living, should avoid interacting with and supporting the dying.

This includes those in the medical profession. Here is an article I wrote outlining James’ views on this subject:

MSOS Journal
May 1994
Believing in the human spirit
by Tanya Lester

James Meagher is not out to condemn the medical profession. He’s not that type of man. Besides he recently read in the New England Journal of Medicine that a drug may someday be produced to slow the process of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), the terminal disease with which he is afflicted. But last May, when Meagher was diagnosed as having ALS, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, members of the medical profession, he said, made him feel as if he was losing control of how he would live out the rest of his life.

“They weren’t interested in me as a person,” Meagher said. “They cared little for who James Meagher was, or is, or will be. It was impersonal and demeaning.”

Meagher first sought medical attention when he found himself incapable of standing on the ball of his right foot. He was referred to a clinic for a series of tests. These included electrical shocks which felt “like torture” through his legs, and a needle insertion into his leg muscle. It took 10 days to recover.

On the advice of his doctor, he sought a second opinion. Two physicians at the hospital asked Meagher how he felt about being diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s Disease, but were not prepared to discuss dying, he said. “I guess death isn’t talked about in the medical profession,” Meagher concluded. Then they decided to repeat the electrical shock tests that had previously taken 10 recovery days.

That brought him to the turning point.

In her landmark book On Death and Dying, Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross speculates about the kind of impersonal treatment Meagher experienced. “Is the reason for this increasingly mechanical, depersonalized approach our own defensiveness?” Kubler-Ross asks. “Is this approach our way of coping with and repressing the anxieties that a terminally ill patient evokes in us?”

The hospital experience left Meagher totally out of sync. “In order to stay close to my spirit,” Meagher said, “I would stay away from huge boxes where they put all the sick people because they were dehumanizing. They already told me what I had and they’ve already admitted they can’t do anything about it, but still want me to take all these tests so they can torture me more. I released myself from all that. I put my care in my hands. I lost my fear.”

Today, almost a year after his diagnosis, Meagher begins each day at home with transcendental meditation which helps lift the chronic fatigue, a symptom of the disease. He treats himself with reiki, a transfer of energy through the hands which can be compared with deep heat massage. This alleviates tiredness, decreases tremors in his legs and eases muscular pain.

Although he now uses a wheelchair, Meagher has five times the energy he had when he first found out he had ALS. He looks and feels healthy. He says he is at peace with himself. He maintains his self-esteem. He relates to others in a straightforward manner. “For somebody who’s happy, I have joy,” he said. For somebody who’s sad, I have compassion. For somebody who’s doing something not so good, I have blinders. I don’t qualify it by noticing it.”

He remains in his apartment with the assistance of friends who bring in groceries, wash his clothes and visit him. Until recently they also helped transfer him to his performances as a musician with the Rainbow Bridge Band, a native musical group, and the Loonisee Clown Troupe. (He’s cutting a tape of his songs.)

Meagher is bolstered by the spirit of his deceased father who had his leg wounded in World War II but never walked with a limp. He emulates his mother who, despite visual impairment, remains a giving person. He highly regards the memory of ALS activist Sue Rodriguez, who fought to control her own life and death.

When Meagher dies, he wishes to be at home, surrounded by friends. He wants his spirit to leave his body quietly.

It’s the type of death that Kubler-Ross supports. “Wathcing the peaceful death of a human being reminds us of a falling star: one of a million lights in a vast sky that flares up for a brief moment then disappears into endless night,” she writes. “To be a therapist to a dying patient makes us aware of the uniqueness of each individual in this vast sea of humanity.”

To read the first posts in this blog, go to
Facebook. LinkedIn. Twitter. Google.
Confessions of a Tea Leaf Reader by Tanya Lester can be purchased from the author or by going to the title and author name to read the first few pages and buy it at

Tanya’s other books are Friends I Never Knew, Dreams & Tricksters and Women Rights/Writes.

T.A. Crerar: A Liberal in a hurry

September 22, 2014

“War was once again proclaimed on the political fields of Canada. But this was a new type of war; for the first time it was three-sided.”

Today, although the only Prime Ministers of Canada have been either Conservative or Liberal, with the New Democratic Party (NDP) in the official opposition, not to mention the Bloc Quebecois and the Green Party, I do not think anyone can really claim that we have but a two party system.

When did this more-than-two-national-party system begin? Read on:

Western People
November 12, 1981
T.A. Crerar: A Liberal in a hurry
by Tanya Lester

The 1921 federal election must have been quite a mudslinging event. The Union Government, which had united Conservatives, Liberals and independents for the duration of World War 1, no longer existed. War was once again proclaimed on the political fields of Canada.

But this was to be a new type of war: for the first time it was three-sided. In Ottawa the man held responsible for the new political warfare was Thomas Alexander Crerar, the leader of the new National Progressive Party or the Farmer’s Party. In The Masques of Ottawa, a Central Canadian named A. Bridle dedicated a chapter entitled “Number One Hard” to the new leader. “In the triangle of leaders at Ottawa he (Crerar) is the angle of lowest personal, though by no means lowest human, interest,” Bridle wrote, and went on to compare him with the Conservative and Liberal leaders. “Meighen is impressive; King brilliant. Crerar — is business.”

By choosing Crerar as their leader, a man who was neither impressive nor brilliant but who had a head for farm business, Prairie farmers were sending a message to Ottawa. They were telling the old-line Conservative and Liberal parties that they meant business. The farmers were saying they were tired of receiving low prices for their grain while Central Canadian corporations continued to prosper. They were tired of paying high freight costs to ship their grain down east. And they were sick and tired of the high federal government tariffs which prevented them from buying inexpensive farming equipment from the United States. Disillusioned with the old-line parties because they represented and protected the big business interests of the east at the expense of Westerners, the farmers, through the Progressive Party, had decided to field their own candidates for the 1921 federal election.

In Ottaw, where he had always been regarded as a radical Liberal, Crerar, by leading the Progressives, was elevated or debased ( depending on the individual’s point of view) to the level of a revolutinary.

“In short, Crerar proposes one more revolution, whether by one fell swoop or by a slow process of getting us used to here a little and there a little more — we do not yet know,” Bridle said. “What we do know is that he proposes to govern this country by a huge economic group that used to go to Ottawa as delegations; that in his opinion the real Capital of Canada is not economically Ottawa, but the ground floor of the Grain Exchange Building in Winnipeg.” Conservative Prime Minister Arthur Meighen put it more simple. He accused all Progressives of being addicted to “Socialisticm Bolshevistic and Soviet nonsense.” Liberal leader William Lyon Mackenzie King smugly dubbed them “Liberals in a hurry.”

King’s reference to the Progressives, as far a Crerar was concerned, was probably the most accurate. Crerar began political life as a Liberal, resigned on the tariff issue to lead the Progressives, and was finally enticed back into the Liberal Party fold. Some accounts claim Crerar’s goal had been none toher than to reform the Liberal Party, to make it more sympathetic to the farmer’s needs by, among other things, easing the tariff.

Born in 1876, Crerar had grown up on his family’s Manitoba farm. He had wanted to become a doctor but when dreams for such a career never materialized he turned to farming. Crerar soon learned about the raw deals to which most farmers were subjected. As a young farmer, he took his first load of grain to a grain elevator in Russell, Manitoba. The grain elevator operator offered Crerar fifty-nine cents per bushel, nineteen cents less than the going price at terminal. To make matters worse, he was docked a bushel and a half on the load of fifty bushels on the freight rate for his No. 1 Northern wheat. Knowing there was nowhere else to go in order to get a better deal, Crerar voiced his frustrations.

“There’s no use going to the other elevators, for you’re all alike,” Crerar told the operator angrily.

“Then take your damned grain home again!” the elevator manager answered.

Fortunately Crerar could supplement his farming income by teaching school. When he himself took a job as a grain elevator manager, Crerar never forgot the poor treatment he had received at the hands of other grain elevator operators. He won the reputation of always dealing fairly with the farmers.

Around this time E. A. Partridge, president of the new Grain Growers’ Grain Company (GGGC), began noticing the young “Alex” Crerar. When in Russell, Partridge had seen and heard about the trust local farmers felt for Crerar. At a meeting Partridge called in the area to sekk shares for the GGGC, Crerar was one of the eight people who showed up and one of the four who bought shares.

Crerar bought the shares because he was impressed with Partridge and the aims of the GGGC. “What these men were trying to accomplish appealed to him as a big thing, a bigger thing than most of the farmers yet realized, and it deserved all the help he could give it,” journalist and former secretary to the premier of Manitoba Hopkins Moorhouse wrote about Crerar’s impressions of the GGGC executive. “If an idea occurred to him that he thought might be of service he sat down and wrote a letter, offering the suggestion on the chance that it might prove useful to the Executive. He did everything he could to build up the Company’s business in the Russell district and when he returned home from the shareholders’ organization meeting he kept right on sending in business, offering helpful suggestions and saying a good word when possible.”

Crerar’s work for the GGGC continued to interest Partridge. At the time Partridge was being accused of personally profiting from the GGGC at the expense of the farmers and had decided not to run for re-election as president. A letter was sent to Crerar requesting him to consider filling the vacant position. When Crerar got the letter he ignored it, thinking he was capable of handling the GGGC presidency. But Crerar knew the agricultural business both from a farmer’s and grain elevator manager’s point of view. He also knew the workings of the GGGC. In 1907, Crerar became Partridge’s successor to the GGGC presidency.

Even before Crerar’s voice was heard in Ottawa, the provincial government in Manitoba had begun to recognize him as a powerful man who was head of a powerful company and backed by Prairie farmers.

Crerar’s correspondence with Premier Rodmond Roblin concerning the GGGC’s leasing of provincial government-owned grain elevators is only one example of the respect the Manitoba government had for him. Crerar’s letters were written in a tone few people would dare use when corresponding with a province’s premier. They were demanding letters. In one, Crerar expressed impatience with having to renew the GGGC’s lease on the grain elevators each year. In another, he named a time when it would be convenient for him to meet with the premier on the maatter. The unisgned copies of Roblin’s replies to Crerar’s letters were, for the premier, ususually meet.

“The matter (on the leasing of the elevators) was canvassed from every standpoin and while all the other offers were much more favourable from a financial standpoint than yours, the Government felt that inasmuch as your company represents farmers to this Province it was in the public interest to lease them to your firm even though the rental was very much less than that offered by others,’ Roblin wrote to Crerar. But even though it seemed the GGGC was getting a good deal on the rental of the elevators, Crerar continued to badger Roblin for further concessions. Among other requests, he wanted the GGGC to be exempted from certain taxes concerning the elevators’ rental.

Crerar had another reason for being curt with the Conservative premier. He had become politically close with both T”C” Norris, who was to defeat Roblin to become the next premier, and the Manitoba Liberal Party.

“In politics Crerar was a Liberal and an agrarian, but a national, not a sectional Liberal, an economic, not a class agrarian,” wrote W”L” Morton, author of The Progressive Party in Canada. “In 1917 he was representative, as few, if any, others could claim to be, of both western Liberalism and the western organized farmers.”

“As a great class of farmers, composing the most important factor in the progress and development of our country, we must learn the lesson that we must organize and work together to secure those legislative and economic reforms necessary to well-being,’ Crerar said. Having failed to help bring about a Western Liberal Party in opposition to Laurier’s stand against conscription in 1917, Crerar accepted the portfolio of agriculture minister in the Unionist government formed for the duration of World War 1.

Crerar had taken the portfolio in the Unionist government because the Liberal Party had given him some assurance that they supported his advocacy for a low tariff. By 1919, however, Crerar realized the Unionist government had no intention of reducing the tariff as promised. He resigned hims cabinet position and went on to lear the Progressive Party in 1921 election campaign.

But Crerar was unhappy with his life in Ottawa. In Western Canada, where Crerar continued to hold the GGGC presidency, he was a very powerful man. Ottawa gave him the feeling he had moved from being a big fish in a little pond to being a small fish in a big pond. “He missed the breezy, open ways of ‘the Peg’ and the sensation of being general manager of the biggest concern west of the lakes, the Grain Growers’ Grain Co.,” Bridle wrote. “Crerar could not business-manage Ottawa.”

Despite Crerar’s realization of how difficult it would be to get farmers’ concessions through the federal government system, he decided to lead the Progressives in the election. By “thundering” across the Prairies about the need for reduced tariffs, Crerar may well have endowed the farmers with false hopes that their needs could, at this time, be recognized and rectified.

Regardless, the farmers showed their discontent with the old-time party policies by electing 65 Progressives to the House of Commons in 1921. King won the prime ministership by only a slight minority. But rather than appealing to the Progressives, King chose to depend on the 65 Quebec members’ support who had little sympathy for the farmers’ wishes.

Having been ignored by King, it would have seemed appropriate for the Progressives to campaign even more vigorously against the Liberals in the 1925 election. Instead many members, including Crerar, helped re-elect the Liberal government. Apparently King had won the Progressives’ support on an issue which had little to do with farming. He had appealed to their sense of national pride brought on by the Customs scandal. He convinced them national unity and freedom from Great Britain’s interference was the most important issue of the day.

It can only be speculated as to whether King had already offered Crerar the Liberal cabinet position he was eventually to take. By 1925, Crerar had officially resigned the leadership of the Progressives. He expressed dissatisfaction with the Progressive Party split as the reason behind his resignation.

“This (Progressive) movement in its roots was essentially a liberal movement; but the Alberta section of it, and to a very large degree the Ontario section as well, insisted that it was a class movement, and had dreams of the agricultural community of Canada holding a balance of power in the councils of the nation,” Crerar wrote afterwards. “In so far as I was concerned, I would have nothing to do with these ideas; and upon this rock the Progressive Movement shivered and broke.” But in King’s eyes, Crerar remained the Progressive leader throughout the 1925 election and until he was once again firmly ensconced in the Liberal Party.

By this time, from a personal viewpoint, Crerar was probably thinking the Liberal Party was much more desirable than the Progressives. He was a man who had enjoyed power in the West as GGGC president. Although he remained the president until 1929, he must have realized his influence over Prairie farmers was eroding. As early as 1921 farmers had begun to see the GGGC as a company which had become more interested in its own business profits than its concern with the farmers. Crerar was closely associated with the GGGC in the farmers’ minds. They started to turn to the co-operative wheat pools that were springing up across the West.

Although it was to be a different type of power, Crerar must have foreseen that he could once again gain back his power in the Liberal Party. He rejoined the party and was named Minister of Railways. He later became Minister of Mines and Resources. For the remainder of his political career Crerar became a sorto f ambassador to the West who defended the federal Liberal government policies.

“What inconsistency there may be in the Crerar story finds its origin in his interpreters rather than in the man himself,” history professor Kenneth McNaught wrote in Saturday Night upon Crerar’s retirement from the Senate. “He always was a representative of the prairie WASP tradition — a tradition that has seldom prohibited its exemplars from moving east, like Sifton and Meighan, to put starch into the Protestant ethic in the nation’s business centres. True, he’s no longer given to thundering against the tariff as the source of all the farmer’s woes. But the essence of his economic and political thinking has not altered.”

Crerar had originally quite the Unionist government because neither the Conservatives or Liberals had supported his fight for lower tariffs. But he returned to the Liberals without revitalizing the party to the point where it was ready to focus on farmers’ needs even on the tariff issue. If he started out a “Liberal in a hurry” to refore the party, Crerar ended his career as a Progressive who had slowed down considerably.
To read the early posts in this blog, please go to
Facebook. LinkedIn. Twitter. Google.
Confessions of a Tea Leaf Reader” by Tanya Lester can be purchased from the author or by going to the title and author name to read the first few pages and buy it at
Tanya’s other books are Women Rights/Writes , Friends I Never Knewand Dreams and Tricksters”. They are available in some library systems and elsewhere.

Tenants trash Maliview house

September 21, 2014

“Many would suspect that Florence Fraser has seen it all after spending 28 years in the property management business…”

I felt a traitor to my class background when I wrote this piece after being given the assignment when working at the Gulf Islands Driftwood because I spent many years of my life as a renter. On Salt Spring Island and elsewhere in the world, renters often get the short end of the stick. When there are a shortage of rental units in a community, landlords often think they are doing you a favour to rent you a place and seem to feel they owe you nothing else. My long time landlord on Salt Spring Island charged me fair rent but often refused to replace the utilities in my place that were already in fairly poor condition when I moved in. I lived and paid rent in the place for 16 years.

Of course I know, though, that some tenants make it difficult for the rest of us by trashing the places that they rent. This is an article about this kind of situation:

Gulf Islands Driftwood
March 29, 2000
Tenants trash Maliview house
by Tanya Lester

Many would suspect that Florence Fraser has seen it all after spending 28 years in the property management business.

But even she was not prepared for the condition of the property at 196 Maliview Drive when the off-island owner asked for her assistance last week.

The retired property manager described the three-bedroom residence and land surrounding it as being totally trashed, absolutely filthy and with a garbage-filled backyard as well as “tons and tons of junk.”

To top it off, dogs owned by the four-member family who dwelled there had chewed up the entire backyard lawn and defecated all over it.

Fraser said the owner had been aware of the mess. When the tenants did not pay their rent, he saw this as his opportunity to evict them and asked Fraser, who works as a bailiff, to serve them an eviction notice.

The Driftwood was contacted by Fraser as she believes it is time to get the message out to landlords, especially if they live off-island, to screen their tenants carefully.

Fraser said references must be thoroughly checked out to ensure that prospective tenants list places where they previously lived. Some use friends and relatives as references, she said.

“There has to be a real in-depth study of previous landlords,” Fraser said. Otherwise, the landlord can be left with a half-month damage deposit to put towards repairs that total thousands of dollars.

Fraser explained many people buy houses on Salt Spring with the intention of renting them out to cover mortgage and property tax payments. Then they hope to retire in the homes, but situations like the one she witnessed last week can leave those landlords far behind in the financial scheme of things.

Being retired herself now, Fraser said she is not seeking business but recommends landlords consider using 10 per cent of their rent to hire a property management company, which could save them a lot of money in the long run.

Although Fraser knows that “the door swings both ways” with some landlords acting like “slumlords” she sees no excuse for “slobs” like the tenants who have just left the Maliview Drive house.

She also thinks the Residential Tenancy Act favours tenants over landlords.

“I just want to make house owners who rent their properties more aware,” Fraser said.
To read the first posts in this blog, please go to
Facebook. LinkedIn. Twitter. Google.
Confessions of a Tea Leaf Readerby Tanya Lester can be purchased from the author or go to the title and author name to read the first few pages and buy it at Tanya’s others book are
Women Rights/Writes, Dreams & Tricksters and Friends I Never Knew. They are available in Canadian libraries and elsewhere.

Frances and Lillian Beynon: Early crusaders for women’s rights

September 20, 2014

“One woman asked a cowboy if he had ever known a lady who would desire the vote. He replied that his mother in California voted, and he had always thought she was a lady.”….

I have always liked finding out about people and reading about them whether they lived in the past or are living right now. How women got the vote particularly fascinated me for quite some time especially because women in the province of Manitoba in Canada, where I was born and raised, were the first in this country to win this right. Many of the women who worked for the vote were newspaper reporters as I have been. Both of these similarities between them and me strengthens my interest in these women.

In this blog, I have previously posted an article about the Beynon sisters role in winning the vote but this is a longer article with some interesting tidbits that were not included in the previous posted article:

Western People
October 1, 1981
Frances and Lillian Beynon: Early crusaders for women’s rights
by Tanya Lester

During the early 1900’s, a woman’s only place on most Western Canadian newspapers’ staff was editing the women’s page. Women editors were instructed to produce pages that would appeal to the papers’ increasing feminine readership.

In Winnipeg, the Beynon sisters were editors of women’s pages and did exactly what their bosses told them to do. They ran articles of interest to women. The pages included recipes, household hints, letters — and stories concerning the suffragist movement. By the time some husbands realized just what their wives were reading in the pages, Prairie women were well on their way to winning the vote.

Frances Marion Beynon edited the women’s page for the Grain Growers Guide, while her sister, Lillian Beynon Thomas, did the same for the Free Press Prairie Farmer. Between the two of them, the Beynons planned farm women’s conventions, founded political equality leagues, and masterminded petition campaigns in support of the vote for women. Flanked by suffragists in the Women’s Press Club and the Political Equality League, the sisters tackled premiers who hesitated to give women the vote, made contacts with men such as J.S. Woodsworth, and rallied grassroots’ support among both men and women for their cause. Their pages served as vehicles of information for their successful crusade which helped win the vote for women on the Prairies.

It was a letter to Lillian’s page which prompted a group of Canadian Women’s Press Club members in Winnipeg to start actively fighting for the women’s vote in Manitoba. Beginning in 1906, Lillian’s “Home Loving Hearts” page in the Prairie Farmer received hundreds of letters from women who discussed the unfairness of laws concerning their sex. They wrote of having no legal claim on their children, their homes, or even the clothes on their backs.

“It was a letter to the ‘Home Loving Hearts’ page from a woman in Alberta, that was the final straw to make women in Manitoba rise up and organize ‘The Political Equality League’, with a determination to change such conditions,” Lillian wrote. The Alberta woman was married to an alcoholic. One day when her husband was away on a “spree”, two men came to see her. They told her they had bought the couple’s farm and everything on it except the family. The men told her to leave the farm immediately. The women, upon checking with her lawyer, found that the men were right. She had no legal claim on the farm she had worked long hours to establish.

“You can’t help me, but you can help others who are in a similar position,” the pathetic woman concluded her letter. Lillian and a group of women who had read the letter, including Frances, E. Cora Hind, and Nellie McClung, held a meeting and formed the Political Equality League. It was 1912, and the women would have a three year battle ahead of them.

Frances and Lillian had moved to Manitoba from Ontario as young girls when their family decided to homestead at Hartney, and were familiar with the hardships women faced on the farms. This gave them reason to crusade for the woman’s right to vote. However, Frances also became a suffragist for a more universal reason.

She believed it was time for mothers to become involved in politics. She thought they could no longer be content at being good mothers to their own children, but must show concern for all children, especially those who were dying from disease and poverty. “I tell you, sisters, this kind of motherhood isn’t good enough for the present day,” Frances wrote. “We want a new kind of motherhood, mothers whose love for their own children teaches them love for all children, mothers who will not boast of their weaknesses but seek for strength to fight the battle for their own and their neighbour’s children.”

With Lillian as its first president, the Political Equality League began organizing meetings to gain grassroots support for the cause. Many mothers were not ready to take up this challenge. An editorial headed “We Don’t Believe in Women” in Frances’s “Country Homemaker” page expressed Frances’ indignation with women who opposed the vote. In the piece, she referred to a woman who had “strayed” into a Political Equality League meeting. “Now, what do you think of that — a woman to say that she does not believe in women!” Frances’ words echoed her disgust. “No wonder some of the men have their doubts about us when members of our own sex are going about inanely declaring that we are no good. I dare say that in her own case the lack of faith is justified — she ought to know — but it was hardly decent to try to drag us down to her level.”

While she was at it, Frances slammed men who felt a woman’s place was in the home. “What I have always hankered to know is who says it is our place,” Frances wrote. “As nearly as I can find out it was by no divine revelation that this conclusion was reached. Some man said so and it was echoed around the world because most men felt so. They decided that woman’s place was the home, because they wanted her to stay there. I never yet knew a man who had any fondness for washing dishes and scrubbing floors, so they think it is the ideal work for a woman. I wouldn’t so much mind them saying we ought to do it, if they wouldn’t insist that we like it.”

One event in which the League’s women took their share of jeers and insults was at a Manitoba stampede where they set up a suffrage booth and handed out information sheets. The macho crowd at the stampede may have seemed the suffragists’ least likely converts. Nonetheless, the women took the bull by the horns, so to speak. In the Grain Growers’ Guide, Frances expressed belief that the suffrage booth at the stampede marked “the changing of woman suffrage from a mere academic question to a live issue in Manitoba.”

The day certainly gave the League a boost. One woman asked a cowboy if he had ever known a lady who would desire the vote. He replied that his mother in California voted, and he had always thought she was a lady.

The next landmark occasion for Manitoba suffragists was the famous Women’s Parliament. The event was staged after a delegation from the League went to see Premier Rodmond Roblin. He told them that he revered women, thought they were superior to men, and queens of the home. If civilization had made it that way for women, he said, then that was the way if should stay…

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Confessions of a Tea Leaf Readerby Tanya Lester can be bought from the author or go to the title and author name to read the first few pages and buy it at Her other books include Women’s Rights/Writes and Dreams and Tricksters.

No crazy talk here as musicians raise $3039

September 19, 2014

“He’s definitely been earning his angel wings”from No crazy talk article.

Probably the one topic I wrote about when I worked on the Gulf Islands Driftwoodon Salt Spring Island, BC that put the most tears in my eyes, fire in my belly and motivating anger in my heart was the clearing cutting by Texada in the Burgoyne Bay area and those who worked to prevent it from continuing.

Among the first to kick off the fund raising were musicians Bill Henderson, Tom Hooper, Vadly, Alan Moberg and Ramesh Meyers. There is probably nothing that brings more joy to my heart and fire in my belly than to cover wonderful male musicians.

Here is the piece:

Gulf Islands Driftwood
February 23, 2000
No crazy talk here as musicians raise $3039
by Tanya Lester

Spirit rocked as solid as musician Bill Henderson did at the If You Love Salt Benefit Concert last Friday.

The event attracted a nearly full ArtSpring house to raise money for Texada land acquistion and preservation.

Spirit shone through right from the top of the evening (which was produced by Salt Spring Festival of the Arts Society and hosted by the festival’s Trish Nobile), when Phoenix Hight School student James Janzen read an historic piece authored by a First Nations chief. Janzen said it seemed to relate to the question of land ownership today on Salt Spring. The wirting challenged the idea of purchasing land, as did many First Nations people traditionally.

Theb Susan Cogan, in true south-end fashion, gumbooted up to the microphone where spirit must have been playing on her vocal coards while her voice opened up and you could almost see it boom out over the audience.

Cogan had the audience echoing her words back onto the stage in a Hebrew song honouring water and with her own lyrices, including lines like: “Take this last stand for the forest. My people are crying,” a piece Cogan wrote especially for the evening.

Next up was country musician Alan Moberg, accompanied by Ramesh Meyers. Moberg’s lyrics are refreshinglu unique and oh-so-Salt-Spring. I suspect the number of country musicians who write about the Gulf Islands are few and far between, but Moberg is one who does.

Moberg, like other performers, did a song about loggers. He introduced it by saying that there were loggers in his family background and he has had some difficulty realizing some of them are villians when he recognized them as heroes as a child. The song pays tribute to loggers for “treasures like this guitar in my hand.”

After hearing Moberg’s clear playing and singing, coupled with beautiful, often nature-inspired lyrics, I have to wonder why he does not have a national reputation. Canadians right across the country usually take like ducks to water anything or anyone with a Gulf Islands scent.

Speaking of scent and sensuality, Moberg was followed by Tom Hooper from The Grapes of Wrath. He displayed a very attractive stage vulnerability, and his voice and music are haunting. Her ambidextrous mastery of the guitar and harmonica is impressive.

Hooper’s lyrics also are unique. One of his pieces has a line that goes something like this: “I’ll be your fool if you want me to.” Who’d have thunk words like that could work in a ballad-style musical piece?

Speaking of thunking, in the if-you-live-long-enough listener category, the prize would have to go to Valdy, who did a rap tune called Earth Rap and even had the audience rapping along.

This folk legend, as he is commonly known, began his slot in the evening with a medley of tunes suited especially to the land acquistion cause. Some of these included “Slow down you log too fast” and “If you go down to the woods today.”

Valdy has lent his musical talents to so many social causes and fundraisers that he was able to nearly fill his set on stage with pieces he has penned for a wide range of benefits. He’s definitely been earning his angel wings.

Not that Valdy appears to be anywhere close to death. He was able to make a lot of tracks on stange in his bright orange running shoes.

Then, things changed.

As talented as everyone else was, I have to admit that I have a soft spot in my heart for rock the way Bill Henderson does it.

Henderson told the audience that when he was a kid he did not know what to do with his life so he retreated to his bedroom where he just practised the guitar all the time.

Yeah, I’d say it shows.

I am sure people would have gladly paid the $15 price and probably more (and many have over the years) to see and hear Bill Henderson alone.

His beautifully focussed yet crazy energy is wonderful and when he sang “He talks crazy talk. He don’t mean a word he said,” I though maybe Henderson had been listening in on my phone line during an interview for one of the news stories I was working on last week.

No doubt, Henderson had a certain type of property owner in mind. I guess a good rock rendition speaks a thousand words when it comes to activism.

Henderson also did a crazy piece about loggers. “Nobody but a logger stirs his coffee with his thumb” was one of the choice lines in it.

In “Wild One”, he paid tribute to the spirit of artist and author Emily Carr who “had a relationship with this island” and paid tribute to Douglas fir and other trees in countless of her paintings.

Henderson talked about all the evening’s amazing acts, to which one audience member responed by yelling, “You’re amazing, too.”

Everyone got into the spirit of the evening and it was an amazingly good one that raised $3039 for land acquisition after paying $497.65 for rent to ArtSpring and $88.33 for advertising…
To read the first posts in this blog, please go to
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Confessions of a Tea Leaf Reader” by Tanya Lester can be purchased from the author or by going to the title and author name to read the first pages and buy it at

This is blog of the many articles published by and about me over several decades as a freelance writer and a tealeafreader/tarot reader/psychic.