Life’s Charms

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I recently attempted to “downsize” my jewellery box. I managed to part with a few things. It’s difficult to part with the sentimental pieces. My charm bracelet went back in the box, but it left me pondering about such bracelets in general. Mine is from my preteen years and most of the charms have some memories attached. Such a personalized piece of jewellery!

I was able to find an article that covered some historical aspects of collecting such “charms”, as well as a timeline of the different bracelet styles. I guess I was influenced by the “Bobby-Soxers” style of bracelets before the trend changed to the more link-type bracelets in the 1990s. It sounds about right:

For them, the charm bracelet was a way for them to keep mementos from their vacations, hobbies, and achievements.”

At first I worried about posting a photo of mine because of the personal “data”, but I will chance it.

Most of the “data” fits: I still like cats (upper left), I should ride a bike more, and I like Christmas. I am a sister, a best friend, a Virgo, and a graduate. A couple of charms are mementos from a trip to Toronto, but it was my sister who went to Hawaii. Nothing too exciting or extravagant, but a bit like a “bio” of the day. I couldn’t help make some connections to social media. Did these bracelets represent our identity similar to what social media would offer now? Were they a way to brag or compare “statuses” with others? Did social media kill the charm bracelet? 😀

If you have any thoughts or stories to share about charm bracelets, please do! Do you have one? Did you ever actually wear it? What did it mean to you? Do you still collect anything similar?

From postcards to passages…

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The new things you can learn by being curious about an old postcard…

While going through some very old family photo albums, I came across a few black and white postcards secured on some of the pages with those little black corners.  I do like to collect the odd postcard from the past, so I was curious about these ones.  They were photos of scenes and people taken in Northern Manitoba with credits to the photographer and “courtesy” of the Bulova watch company.  They also had “Muskox” stamped across the upper left corner.

After a fair bit of internet searching, I finally figured out what it was all about:  “Operation Muskox” started in 1946.  That sounded intriguing, if I wasn’t already curious enough!

Wikipedia helped with a few details:  Operation Muskox was military exercise organized by the Canadian Army.  The mission started in Churchill, Manitoba, so I guess my family had a connection to it somehow, or someone just really liked the postcards.  From Wikipedia,

It involved the 48 members of the Army driving 11 4½-ton Canadian-designed snowmobiles (“Penguins”)”

The group travelled through areas in the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Northern BC and NW Alberta, before returning by rail to Edmonton.  The Wikipedia post referenced an UpHere article that states,

The mission proved the Canadian Army could operate in the Arctic. But would it have to? The effort required to support the small, tracked force was so great that Operation Muskox, more than anything, proved how unlikely it was that columns of Soviet tanks would crawl over the Arctic Circle to invade North America.”

The article also mentioned some concerns and perceptions about the mission:

Newspaper editors in Canada wrung their hands over the possible message it was sending the Soviets.”

The public may have had doubts about the mission’s motives, but they were eating up every little detail that became available. The press covered everything from their route to what the soldiers wore; the men on the mission were idolized as Arctic explorers.”

Wikipedia also linked 2 videos on YouTube about the mission:  Expedition Into The Arctic (1946) and The Canadian Army returns back after military exercise Operation Muskox

Ironically, as I was writing about this topic, I noticed and read this article,

Pompeo says Canadian claim to Northwest Passage is ‘illegitimate’

This video interview helped my understanding:

Understanding Canada’s legal claim to the Northwest Passage

It was interesting to make a connection to what I had just researched about an Arctic mission.  More to learn about…


History Refresher: About A Border

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When I noticed that the War of 1812 was trending on Twitter this past week because of a dialogue between President Trump and Prime Minister Trudeau, it caused me to refresh my understanding!  Having taught Canadian citizenship classes for adult newcomers a number of times in the past, I went directly to my teaching resources and reviewed the information on Canadian history, which includes the War of 1812.  I taught the material provided for newcomers in the Discover Canada study guide developed by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).  This is section on the War of 1812 (plain text below as well):

In plain text:

The War of 1812: The Fight for Canada

After the defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte’s fleet in the Battle of Trafalgar (1805), the Royal Navy ruled the waves. The British Empire, which included Canada, fought to resist Bonaparte’s bid to dominate Europe. This led to American resentment at British interference with their shipping. Believing it would be easy to conquer Canada, the United States launched an invasion in June 1812. The Americans were mistaken. Canadian volunteers and First Nations, including Shawnee led by Chief Tecumseh, supported British soldiers in Canada’s defence. In July, Major-General Sir Isaac Brock captured Detroit but was killed while defending against an American attack at Queenston Heights, near Niagara Falls, a battle the Americans lost. In 1813, Lieutenant-Colonel Charles de Salaberry and 460 soldiers, mostly French Canadiens, turned back 4,000 American invaders at Châteauguay, south of Montreal. In 1813 the Americans burned Government House and the Parliament Buildings in York (now Toronto). In retaliation in 1814, Major-General Robert Ross led an expedition from Nova Scotia that burned down the White House and other public buildings in Washington, D.C. Ross died in battle soon afterwards and was buried in Halifax with full military honours.

By 1814, the American attempt to conquer Canada had failed. The British paid for a costly Canadian defence system, including the Citadels at Halifax and Québec City, the naval drydock at Halifax and Fort Henry at Kingston—today popular historic sites. The present-day Canada-U.S.A. border is partly an outcome of the War of 1812, which ensured that Canada would remain independent of the United States.

The history chapter can be a bit overwhelming for newcomers to Canada.  To prepare them for writing the citizenship test, I would highlight a few things, including the support that the British got from people already in Canada (volunteers and First Nations) during the War of 1812.  They learn that the name of Canada became official in 1791 (The Constitutional Act of 1791), but they also learn that it wasn’t an official country until 1867 (Confederation).  I also highlight the war’s outcomes regarding the border and Canada’s independence from the United States as mentioned in the study guide.

If all the above details from the study guide are correct, the “Americans burned Government House and the Parliament Buildings in York (now Toronto)”, and in retaliation Major-General Robert Ross (a British Army officer) led an expedition from Nova Scotia that burned down the White House and other public buildings in Washington”.

But I don’t mean to be petty 🙂

I try not to let the uninformed and flippant things that politicians say get to me, but sometimes… well, sigh.