Archive for April 2, 2014





2 April 2014


This morning I was determined that I wouldn’t wear my clunky winter boots, or my down filled parka. Dressed in my regular shoes and leather biker jacket I headed off to work. Standing in the sun, in the shelter, with my hands in my pockets wasn’t too bad. I could still see my breath. When I got downtown and was standing at Chuck’s corner, in the shade, with a stiff wind blowing I was frozen.

“Hi Chuck, did you get your income tax refund yet?”

“No, I won’t be getting anything until July.  My accountant explained it to me. There are two options, we can accept quarterly payments starting in July, or take the full amount, not payable for a year. What kind of horseshit is that? I don’t know that I’ll be alive in another year. I said to my accountant, “They’re just hoping we’ll die off, so they wont have to pay the money!’ He agreed with me.

“I can remember one year, we got such a surprise. I had my income tax done by H & R Block downtown. At that time, they guaranteed that if they made a mistake, they’d reimburse you. They don’t do that any more. It was sometime in June that I got a call from H&R Block.  The guy said to me, ‘I’m afraid we made a mistake in filing the income tax for you and your wife.’ I was scared shitless. Then the guy said, ‘We guaranteed to reimburse you if we made a mistake. There is a check for you. Would you like to come down and pick it up?’ I said, ‘How big a check are we talking about?’ The guy said, ‘I’d rather not discuss the amount over the phone.’ I said, ‘Will you at least give me a hint? If it’s only fifty bucks, I’ll wait until tomorrow.’ The guy said, ‘It’s between seven and eight hundred dollars.’ I said, ‘We’ll be there right away.’ I phoned my wife and said, ‘Get dressed and be ready to go downtown. I’ll pick you up in a cab. We’re getting some money.’ I borrowed ten bucks from a woman I worked with and phoned a cab. We rushed down to H & R Block. The guy there said, ‘The money’s not here, it’s at Revenue Canada, down the street, but they close at four. You’ve only got ten minutes.’  We ran out of there, down the street with minutes to spare. I opened the door. I was shocked to see  a cop standing there with his gun pointed in my face. I nearly had a heart attack.

“It turned out that he had just picked his gun up at the police station and stepped into the foyer of Revenue Canada to replace the bullets. He apologised, he’d just been startled by us rushing up the steps and flinging open the door. I was shaking like a leaf. If I’d had my wits about me I would have had him charged; it probably would have cost him his job, but in the state I was in I didn’t notice his name tag or badge number.

“It’s not that I’m afraid of guns in general. My brother-in-law and I used to hunt all the time: geese, ducks, deer. We’d trap beaver — skin them, clean the hides and stretch them. We’d get paid by the pound. For us it wasn’t sport; we were poor,  we killed for food. That was sometimes the only meat we got. My mother could even bake an apple pie, without apples. She’d use soda biscuits:


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
  2. In a saucepan over medium high heat, combine the water, sugar and cream of tartar; bring to boil.
  3. Drop in whole crackers and boil for 5 minutes. Pour mixture into pie shell; sprinkle with cinnamon and lemon juice.
  4. Mix together the crushed crackers, brown sugar, cinnamon and butter; sprinkle over pie filling.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes and reduce heat to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) and continue to bake for 15 to 20 minutes longer. Serve warm.

I didn’t know we were poor. I thought the way we lived was the same as everybody else. The day I found out was when my mother told me that I couldn’t be in the school concert, because I had no shoes. I had rubber rain boots. I wore them all winter. I didn’t need to go skating to freeze my feet. They froze every day.

My sister Ruth, married a native. When we hunted up north, his father would act as our guide. Once, in the bush, we saw an albino moose. They were considered sacred, so we didn’t shoot it. I wouldn’t have anyway; it was such a beautiful creature, something I knew I’d never see again. About a week later, we heard that a group of  Americans had shot it. If the natives had caught them, they would have laid on a real beating.

When I was hunting I was always careful. When I was using a shotgun, I’d put two bird shot shells in the chambers, but I wouldn’t lock the gun. I’d carry it open. If I was using a rifle I’d always keep the safety on, even when I had my finger on the trigger.

“What we’d do is take turns ‘dogging’. We’d find a trail that entered the bush on one side and exited on the other. One of us would take his place near the end of the trail. You could usually tell if a deer was nearby; you’d hear the snorting, sounded a bit like a horse. Anyway, this one time, my brother-in-law was the ‘dogger’. I’d picked a spot just off the trail.  I had my rifle pointed at an opening between two trees, where I could get a good shot.  I didn’t hear any snorting, but I could hear something moving in the bush. Then between the two trees appeared my brother-in-law. I was so mad, I yelled, ‘You fuckin’ bastard’. He thought he was being funny, playing a joke; I could have killed him. I yelled, ‘Get the hell out of here. I’m never hunting with you again.’ I never did.