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Opinion
One Man’s Opinion: Oh! Canada
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One Man’s Opinion: Oh! Canada

One Man’s Opinion: Oh! Canada

One Man’s Opinion: Oh! Canada

"Americans are benevolently ignorant about Canada, while Canadians are malevolently well informed about the United States," J. Bartlet Brebner, well known Canadian historian and author.

As I crossed the mid-century mark a few anniversaries around the sun ago, I decided that I needed to make a higher priority of actually taking the trips and adventures on my bucket list, before the good lord decided to take me…and while the goin’ was still good. 

So last Christmas, our small family made an incredible holiday trek to The Greenbrier, in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. The resort is too incredible to describe in a few sentences, and the time spent with my daughters and son-in-law, on Amtrak en-route and later at the hotel gave us a host of precious family holiday memories. I was greatly touched this year when my father started a new family tradition of sharing favorite Christmas memories, and that Christmas journey has already landed atop those lists. 

But this year, both girls would be elsewhere with their mothers, so I wanted to plan something memorable, and singular…in that I was not likely to take this trip again later. I selected The Canadian, the flagship of Canada’s rail system, Train #1 traverses from Toronto to Vancouver, east to west, and Train #2 (my choice) the reverse from Vancouver to Toronto. 

Bill Crane
The Canadian, the flagship of Canada’s rail system.
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One Man’s Opinion: Oh! Canada

Photo Credit: Bill Crane
The Canadian, the flagship of Canada’s rail system.

I actually prefer train travel in many ways, so I flew from Atlanta to Seattle, taking Amtrak from the under renovation King Street Station in downtown Seattle to Vancouver. On this leg of the trip I met an incredible woman, Ms. Loretta Young Phillips, 85 years young, on her way to spend the holidays with children and grand-children north of the border. 

In Vancouver, I spent a lovely Christmas Eve getting to know the city, having only been previously to Vancouver Island and Victoria nearby. An enchanting Christmas market had at its center a three-story Christmas manger, much like a heirloom family holiday centerpiece back home, only this one contained a live three-piece music combo on its main level, which also made me feel more at home as I approached they were swinging to “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” originally recorded by Lithonia, Georgia’s own, little Miss Brenda Lee. 

Bill Crane
The Vancouver Christmas Market.
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One Man’s Opinion: Oh! Canada

Photo Credit: Bill Crane
The Vancouver Christmas Market.

After the market and walk along the waterfront, back to the Marriott Pinnacle Vancouver for what turned out to be an incredible Christmas Eve dinner, and the best bowl of summer squash bisque I’ve ever tasted. 

Christmas morning brought a return to Vancouver’s grand Pacific Central Rail Station, and off across the Rockies and British Columbia…the views were indescribable and majestic. The Via Rail staff were all incredibly professional, hospitable and accommodating, and I sensed even more so than usual during the holiday season. My accommodations were a comfortable, and compact, sleeper cabin for two, with a half-bath, and a communal shower just steps away. A glass-domed lounge car offered even more incredible 360 degree views as the beautiful vistas continually unfolded. 

Our first stop to de-board was in the ski burg of Jasper, population 4,501, easily trebling during ski season. Nearing half our cabin departed here for the slopes on Boxing Day. 

This was not my first trip visiting our northern neighbors, prior business ventures had well introduced me to Toronto, Montreal and Windsor . And I noted as always on this trip that Canada welcomes diversity, and Asians of many nations are among their largest and most visible minority population. Passengers on-board this train trek represented most every continent. I counted at least 10 languages which I overheard but could not speak. Yet smiles, nods, and holiday greetings were the universal language easily spoken by all. 

WSB Radio
WSB Radio’s Bill Crane.
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One Man’s Opinion: Oh! Canada

Photo Credit: WSB Radio
WSB Radio’s Bill Crane.

Friends in Toronto have already given me good reason to return soon. This was perhaps the whitest Christmas and most snowfall I have also ever experienced, other than some Christmas ski trips to Park City and Steamboat Springs, yet unlike those, I was seldom out IN the snow and cold. And as I type these words, in the warm comfort of my cabin as I watch the beautiful scenery roll by, I’m accompanied by a hot mug of cider, as well as knowing that the warmth of the VIA Rail team and fellow passengers outside are all just a few steps away. It’s the only way to roll, Happy New Year, now back to being out and about.

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News

  • A 19-year-old McDonald’s employee in California has filed a complaint alleging assault and negligence of management after an alleged attack by a customer who refused to wear a mask. Maria Resendiz, who works at a McDonald’s in Oakland, filed a complaint Monday with the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration, SFGate reported. Resendiz said she was attacked June 27 in the drive-thru by a customer after she refused him service for not wearing a mask, the website reported. Resendiz also alleged several instances of worker abuse by customers and a lack of concern by management for worker safety, according to her complaint. According to the complaint, Resendiz said she asked the customer to wear a mask, which is required by the restaurant and Alameda County officials. The customer allegedly swore and uttered an ethnic slur, KPIX reported. The man then allegedly moved his car away from the drive-thru, approached Resendiz at the window on foot and continued to yell at her while banging on the window, SFGate reported. According to her complaint, Resendiz alleged that when she took her hand off the window to call the police, the man opened it and demanded that someone give him the employee’s full name. According to Resendiz, her manager wrote her name on a piece of paper and was about to hand it to the customer “so he would leave,” when the employee intervened, “What if he kills me?” Resendiz said, according to the complaint, adding that the manager “was silent.” Resendiz then said the customer grabbed and slapped her, KPIX reported. Michael Smith, the owner of the franchise, told Business Insider that safety was a priority and that he was working with Oakland police to investigate the case. “On Saturday, we learned of an altercation at our San Pablo Avenue restaurant,” Smith said in a statement. “The supervisor on duty called local law enforcement immediately to report the incident. Officers were welcomed into the restaurant to review security footage and are still investigating this matter.” Resendiz was taken to a hospital and was treated for a hand injury and scratches on her neck, KPIX reported. “I just want to tell customers not to disrespect us,” Resendiz told Business Insider. “We’re humans as well.”
  • A New Jersey man died early Saturday in a fireworks explosion in Jersey City, authorities said. According to witnesses, the victim, who has not been identified, was struck in the neck with fireworks shortly before 1 a.m., NJ.com reported. The explosion took place outside the Booker T. Washington housing complex, the website reported. Attempts to revive the man were unsuccessful, and he was pronounced dead at an area hospital. In 2017, New Jersey lawmakers legalized the use of certain fireworks, including poppers, sparklers and other non-aerial items, The Associated Press reported. According to NJ.com, a city task force was created after social media videos showed men conducting shootouts involving Roman candles, which are illegal in New Jersey.
  • A motorcyclist was thrown from their bike and killed Saturday morning after rear-ending an SUV on I-20 in Atlanta, police said. The crash occurred about 1:30 a.m. in the eastbound lanes near Hamilton E. Holmes Drive. Speed appears to have played a role in the deadly wreck, investigators said. “The preliminary investigation indicates an SUV was entering onto I-20 and observed a motorcycle approaching from behind at a high rate of speed,” Atlanta police said in a statement. “The motorist stated they attempted to avoid the motorcycle. However, the motorcycle struck the rear of the SUV, causing the motorcyclist to be ejected.” Read more on this story on ajc.com.
  • An Arizona woman fell to her death Friday at Grand Canyon National Park as she attempted to take photographs, park officials said. Maria A. Salgado Lopez, 59, of Scottsdale, was hiking off-trail when she fell off the edge of Mather Point, park officials said in a news release. Rangers received a call about 12:35 p.m. When they arrived, rangers found Lopez about 100 feet below the rim, KNXV reported. An investigation is being conducted by the National Park Service and the Coconino County Medical Examiner’s Office, KTVK reported. No additional information was available. In its release, park officials reminded visitors to follow safety guidelines. “Grand Canyon National Park staff encourage all visitors to have a safe visit this holiday weekend by staying on designated trails and walkways, always keeping a safe distance from the edge of the rim, and staying behind railings and fences at overlooks,” the park said in its release.
  • People aren’t the only ones feeling cooped up during the coronavirus pandemic. A wayward pet chicken hitched a ride with a Texas woman and her son to a Jiffy Lube on Wednesday, surprising everyone -- including the technicians performing an oil change. Tiffany Travis, of Pearland, was returning a dog and its crate to her neighbor, Laurie Fowler, KSAT reported. As Travis left, Fowler’s pet chicken, Maggie, jumped into the back of Travis’ truck, the television station reported. “Jury is still out if she flew into (the) bed or wheel well. Forensic Ring evidence is hazy,” Travis told KSAT. Travis and her son left and drove three miles to a Jiffy Lube for an oil change. When she started to pay for the service, she noticed a commotion. “My kids and I were in my husband’s truck, masked up COVID-style,” Travis told the television station. “When we were leaving the bay, because I was still in driver seat the entire time, we handed the staff my credit card through a cracked window and heard a commotion.” That’s when Travis saw a Jiffy Lube employee chasing after Maggie, finally catching the bird as it ran around one of the service bays. “Ma’am, is this your chicken? It just fell out of your truck,” the employee asked. “At first I was very confused,” Travis told KSAT. “Then it dawned on me. ‘Yes, yes that is my chicken.‘” “The JiffyLube staff [was] already cracking up. They all got out their phones and took pictures.” Oil’s well that ends well, even for the chicken. Maggie was unhurt, except perhaps for some ruffled feathers. “The entire experience was like a scripted sitcom and brought much-needed humor to what has been a rough few months for our family and well, humanity,” Travis told KSAT. “We all could use some laughter right about now. Thank God for funny chickens.”
  • Two boys magnet fishing reeled in an explosive find, a rusted old hand grenade. Lari Tammiviuori and Viljami Juutilainen made the discovery while fishing Thursday in Lake Vesijarvi in Lahti, Finland, YLE reported. 'We carried it to the shore with our hands, but then didn't touch it again when we found out what it was,' Tammivuori said.  The boys have gone magnet fishing frequently this summer, pulling in scrap metal, bottle caps and nails. They called police who arrived and disposed of the grenade.  The age and condition of the explosive have not been released.  Mother Maarit Juutilainen thought her son's magnet fishing hobby was harmless. “Now you kind of get scared of what they might find,” she said. “But we won’t allow the boys to continue fishing scrap from there.”