EMAIL mj.morris@live.ca


Saturday, January 24, 2009

Obama Room "Inaugurated" at Anaheim White House Restaurant

Within days of becoming president of the United States, Barack Obama has already had a room "inaugurated" in his name at Bruno Serato's famous award winning Anaheim White House Restaurant in California.

UPDATED, NOVEMBER 7, 2012 after US election results show President Barack Obama re-elected. Bruno eestablished the room after Mr. Obama was first elected in 2008.

My good friend Bruno has named an American hero and has been recognized globally for his work in feeding "motel kids" in his community.

Just visiting the Anaheim White House restaurant is an experience in itself, add your meal and it all becomes one of life's great moments. Trust me folks. I spent several days as Bruno's guest while assisting him on his best selling cookbook "Temptation at the White House." No I did not help Bruno with the recipes, I just assisted with the editing!

Bruno of course knows I am from Canada and invited me to visit for the lighting of the Christmas tree experience. There I was, a kid from northern Ontario,  in southern California for the lighting of a huge Christmas tree

Bruno is actually very bipartisan when it comes to American politics and former presidents George W Bush and Jimmy Carter have eaten at his popular restaurant.

For an insight into the Anaheim White House restaurant at http://www.anaheimwhitehouse.com/ If you are in southern California be sure to visit and tell Bruno I sent you. You will be treated like a president.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Are the ties that bound us to hockey fraying?

In his post on here yesterday, (see below) Lorne Riley, suggests that the ties binding us to hockey in Canada are fraying. Although Lorne is not suggesting that hockey is in danger of imminent demise he does suggest some areas of concern.

In Ontario, Lorne wrote that enrolment in minor hockey is declining, and in northern Ontario a shrinking economy and population base are contributing factors. He also mentions "new age diversions."

The "staggering cost" to parents to have a child in minor hockey and changing demographics in Canada generally are also playing a role, Lorne writes.

Here in British Columbia where I live now I don't know the minor hockey statistics offhand but I do know that in Cranbrook in recent years soccer and lacrosse have sure increased in popularity. When I first came here just over 20 years ago, the town had senior and junior teams, much like one found in Ontario. The senior team was the first to go.

About 10 years ago the community landed a Western Hockey League team, the Kootenay Ice -- quite an accomplishment for a community of about 18000 people. Today, despite winning a Memorial Cup. league titles and making the playoffs every year, attendance at games has been declining from the early years. Cranbrook even built a new recreation complex as a home for the Ice. It looks like the team will stay here as it has entered into a new deal with the city but it may be a struggle as the times, they are a changing.

I hope you will take a moment and give your comments on this very national issue. Post in comments or email me at mj.morris@live.ca Or to my Facebook friends just post to me there and I will move them. Are the ties that bound us to hockey fraying and likely soon to break?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

BILL McLEOD on the new old rink, the old old rink and pot bellied stoves

A note from Michael: Bill McLeod, one of my oldest friends from Chapleau shares some amusing insights into happenings at Chapleau rinks down through the years. Bill is a retired professor from Cambrian College, Sudbury, ON, and is the author of numerous books including 'The Chapleau Game Preserve: History, Murder, and Other Tales' and 'Murder in the Schoolhouse, Subury, Ontario's Last Hanging'. Thanks Bill.

Bill McLeod writes: Enjoyed your hockey comments... Was it the Lorne Riley the goalie who lived two doors north of us on Aberdeen Street? My memories of the old rinks are pretty hazy. My dad used to take me to the hockey games on Saturday nights in the old, old rink. It had to have been a terrible fire trap.

In the new old rink, built in our time, I used to play hockey on Saturday mornings and sometimes it was VERY cold. But back to the old, old rink. When my dad had the motel he and his dear friend Tony cachagee used to spend a lot of time in the office. Those two guys must have had fun childhoods. They would tell and re-tell the same old stories and laugh like hell every time.

Sometimes they only needed one word or phrase to bring up some long-forgotten caper. One tale that I remember quite clearly was what they used to do for excitement at the old. old rink. Both men's and women's dressing rooms were heated with pot-bellied stoves. For their idea of fun the boys used to sneak into the girls' change room, pee on the hot stove and run like hell so they wouldn't get caught Of course it was always somebody else.

Not Borden or Tony! I was going to post this on your blog but thought you should decide whether it was OK. Bill

LORNE RILEY on hockey as part of roots and national identity

A note from Michael: I am so delighted to post Lorne Riley's thoughts on hockey. Lorne is a former student of mine but more importantly, he is the son of Lorne Riley mentioned in my earlier post as one of the great players and arguably the best coach ever in the history of Chapleau!. And Lorne, as an aside, your relative, Jack Morris (no relation to the writer) was a pretty awesome hockey player in his day!

Lorne Riley said...
Warm memories indeed. And I agree hockey is one of the ties than binds this great nation. To this day I remember those games...huddled under the heaters (if you were lucky) or jammed against the glass by the eiderdown press of the crowd (if you were even luckier). The atmosphere was electric during the play-offs. Local rivalries intensied ...Wawa for the Juniors, Timmins for the Intermediates.

But I fear the tie that binds is fraying. While the five-year run of the Canadian Junior team solidifies our position as the top hockey nation in the world, local enrolments for minor hockey are down dramatically across Ontario. In the north, a shrinking economy and population base is a factor, as are new-age diversions like the internet, video games, satellite TV...things that we never had to contend with.

Another contributor to minor hockey's gradual downfall is the staggering cost. Equipment, rink rental, club fees and travelling costs have gone through the roof. Even the most passionate hockey Moms and Dads think twice about footing the bill. A changing demographic, with cultural roots more closely tied to cheaper sports like soccer, is also eroding interest and participation in Canada's national pasttime.Is Canadian hockey in danger of extinction? Not at all. Is it at risk?

Yes. As is the community spirit and love for the game that not so long ago inspired 1,000 hardy souls in a town of just over 3,000 to jam into the local barn in -30 weather to cheer on their team. We need to recall those days, not only to enshrine them in our memory but to use them to encourage parents and children, in small towns and big cities across Canada not to lose touch with our roots and by extension our national identity.Go Huskies Go!
January 22, 2009 7:44 AM

Hockey keeps Canada together

Chapleau Int A Huskies in 1970s
I took a course in twentieth century European history from Dr Jacques Goutor more than 40 years ago now, and the first thing I learned from him was that hockey kept Canada together. Well, he didn't actually come out and say that exactly, but on the first day of class he told us about his arrival in Canada from France.

Dr Goutor told us that upon arriving in Toronto, he went out and bought the newspapers and the headlines were LEAFS WIN STANLEY CUP! It was 1967, our Centennial year as a nation, and the Toronto Maple Leafs had defeated their arch rivals the Montreal Canadiens in six games. It was to be the last time the Leafs would win Lord Stanley's mug.

Dr Jacques Goutor
All so typically Canadian for our Centennial year -- a team from the heart of English Canada wins the Stanley Cup but the focus for the celebrations of the centennial is on Montreal, the major French Canadian city which hosted Expo '67, and the cup is named after an Englishman who was Governor General at one time. Trust me on this one! It is such as this that contributes to keeping the country together and safe-- the invisible hand of Canadian compromise!

Dr Goutor, who at the time had little knowledge of hockey and its importance to Canadians, said he decided to stay here because it had to be a safe place if the headlines were about a sporting event. He was raised in France and lived through the horrors of World War II and its aftermath.

To this day, I watch the headlines of Canadian daily newspapers, and headline writers are ecstatic on those days they can proclaim victory for their local hockey team when it wins a title, and are beside themselves with joy when Canada wins internationally. But they know their audience. Hockey keeps it all together in this vast and magnificent land where we will travel great distances for a hockey game, and complain about that other great Canadian unifier, the weather.

MJM in 1978 at Chapleau Carnival
Tee Chambers, Butch Pellow, Aldee Martel, circa 1954
Our passion for hockey of course begins at the local level. I was raised in the northern Ontario town of Chapleau, where the Chapleau Huskies, in various incarnations were  the pride and joy for much longer than I have been around. Growing up there in the 1940s and 50s my hockey heroes were local, especially the late Garth ''Tee" Chambers, who to this day I believe was better than any NHL player who ever donned skates.

When I returned to Chapleau to teach, shortly thereafter I was "hired' by the 1970-71 Midgets to coach them. Yes, they actually "fired" their coach and I took over, and that is a story in itself. At that time though, the focus was on the Chapleau Junior "B" Huskies who played in a Junior league, and in 1967 won the league title, as well as NOHA title.

Chapleau Jr B Huskies 1966-67
 The coaches of the day were the late Keith 'Buddy' Swanson, Lorne Riley, who had been an outstanding goalie and Earle Freeborn, one real tough defenceman in his playing days who also served as the Mayor of Chapleau. Saturday nights were hockey night in Chapleau, and the great community unifier, especially when the Wawa Travellers were in town.

A few years later, again after receiving a visit from hockey players, the Chapleau Intermediate "A" Huskies were born and our arch rivals in the Northland Intermediate Hockey league were the Timmins Northstars. For three years it was a struggle to beat them in the league semi-finals but in our fourth year we did, and it was like we had won the Stanley Cup. We won in Timmins but soon received reports that back in Chapleau, the celebration had begun with horns honking and a party underway.

And so, from local unheated hockey rinks, many of them called barns, where rivalries among communities bring people together to cheer on their own team, to national and international championship series, Dr Goutor was right. It is a safe country in which to live

I welcome your comments. Please feel free to add them or email me at mj.morris@live.com

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


At almost the moment he took office on January 20, Barack Obama showed that he is a transformational president in more ways than one -- a new interactive White House web site was launched which will undoubtedly change the way the presidency works, much like his use of the internet to get there changed the dynamics of political campaigns for the future.

The site, http://whitehouse.gov/ has many interactive features but the one that appealed most to me at first glance was the invitation to send an e-mail to the president and his staff. Of course, it means the president will now collect the e-mail addresses of millions of Americans, and can send them messages. much like he does now to his over 10 million online supporters.

In a CNN article about the new site, Andrew Rasiej, founder of the Personal Democracy Forum said in part it is "the tip of the iceberg in what's coming in participatory politics and the relationship between the president and the public." Link to CNN story: http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/01/20/white.house.website/index.html

Rasiej sure got that right, and politicians everywhere should get the message. I chuckle in way at the small city mayor who in his sincere desire to improve communications with his citizens has ingtroduced brown bag lunch sessions at city hall where the folks can come and break bread and chat with him. Nice 20th century idea. He may be better advised to maximize Myspace, Facebook and Twitter and start by looking at http://www.whitehouse.gov/

The future is now. Please add your comments, email me at mj.morris@live.ca or comment on my Facebook page.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Barack Obama gets high approval ratings from Canadians

As Barack Obama assumes office as the 44th president of the United States, two polls show that Canadians overwhelmingly support him.

An EKOS poll done for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation shows that Obama has an 81% percent approval rating among Canadians.

When asked the question: "When watching the excitement surrounding the inauguration of Barack Obama and comparing it to our own political leadership I feel disappointed with our options", 47% of the respondents agreed with the statement.

A Canadian Press Harris-Decima poll revealed that 57% of Canadians believe Obama will exceed expectations as president.

I will give my own views on the polls later, but let's hear from you. Post comments here or send me an email at mj.morris@live.ca

More poll info at http://ctv.ca and http://cbc.ca

Michael J Morris

Michael J Morris
MJ with Buckwheat (1989-2009) Photo by Leo Ouimet


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Following the American Dream from Chapleau. CLICK ON IMAGE