Note: I have converted our notes into dialogue….easier to paint a picture of Jack’s experience.   

 Jack, send note to correct errors if 
you have time.   I know you are heading to the mountains with your unit and likely willl be very busy.


alan skeoch
august 17m 2023

This is Private Jackson Skeoch, our grandson of whom we are very pleased.  He is now
a private in the Canadian Army.     Assigned to the PPCLI. Marjorie and i only know
part of what that means.  Perhaps you might like to know as well.

Best to start by looking at this picture of Jack.  Look closely.  Note the rather 
nondescript piece of material attached to his cap by velcro.  Nondescript is the right
word.  When Jack arrived back home for his  two week ‘leave’ 
in July, he showed me the badge on which are five letters….RECCE.  Initially 1 was
unimpressed and I am sure  Jack was disappointed.   Now I know better.
This little badge means Jack has qualified for Recon training in the Canadian army.
It means he is now a member of a select subgroup of Canadian soldiers. 

Jack has good reason to be proud of his achievement.  Let me record what I now know.

1) FIVE ELASTIC BANDS ON HIS WRIST.   Strange to see Jack spring five wide elastic bands on his wrist.   I did not even
notice them until Marjorie  explained their meaning.  “His sergeant major told the
RECCE grads to always wear these five elastic band so you can pack up fast
and move out even faster.”  Take only essentials. 


2)  Jack’s sister Molly organized a camping party for Jack shortly before he headed back
to CFB Shiloh in Manitoba.   Marjorie and I were invited and were a little surprised
that jack arrived with an army back pack.  “Everything I need is  in this 
packsack and I am expected to have it with me everywhere I go.”  And he showed me
how it is slung on his back.

3)   “GRANDPA, there is a reason I feel good about this RECCE badge.  It means I have graduated from
a very tough course.”  Some would call this course a TRIAL By ORDEAL.  Here are some of the courses
he took and passed.  The order is random.  

 “One  of the worst, from my point of view, was the water course.
All candidates had to spend an 8 hour night floating full clothed in a deep swamp.  The course was broken into two parts.  First
part was to silently slide into the swamp fully clothed including gear.  Then to cling to a life buoy of some kind for
four hours.  No talking except a whisper perhaps.”  Then Jack and his fellow Privates got a 40 minute break for sleep and 
dry clothes.   Then they had to put on their wet clothes and spend another 4 hours in the water.  I believe this
was a night course but could be wrong.   It most certainly was a trial by Ordeal.  Quit and you are out of 
the course…failed.   He had no intention of failing. Pain he could take without whimpering.


On Jack’s last day we invited him to open two hours with us on our front porch.  We wanted  to know about the
course.  He was reticent to say much about it because no one back home had ever been in the
Canadian Army.   Jack is not a boastfull person.   We knew he had stories to tell and this moment on
our front porch was reserved solely for Jack.  Marjorie kept notes.  I asked a lot of questions.
This is our record of those two hours spent on a July afternoon in 2023.  

4)  “Grandpa, we had to jump from Griffin helicopters holding on to a rope and then rappel our way to the ground
as fast as we could.    Helicopters only hovered for a few minutes…maybe seconds.   We had to be fast and careful with about
100 pounds of gear on our back.  We did this many times in daylight or dusk.  To let go of the rope 
was a sure injury and thereby removal from the course.   Our sergeants explained the difference between
pain and injury.  Pain was to be expected.  Injury was not expected but did happen.  If one of us was
injured then he was sent to hospital and removed from the course.  That was why Basic Training was so
brutally demanding.. I can do 60 or 100 push ups on command now,

5) “We simulated a Night Recon and potential  Assault training by boat.”
“Who is we?”
“My patrol .  We carried our weapons and gear but it was  a recon test.  To fire
a weapon is risky…reveals both our presence and our location which could be fatal.”
Alll  of us we’re in full camouflage gear….dark clothing for night assault.   The big rubber 
assault boat had an outboard engine and the plan was to nose into the landing point
and  immediately roll off the black rubber inflatable craft  For me the landing did not go
“What went wrong?”
“There was a rope looped along water line of the assault boat.  Loops for men in water to grasp.
My arm got caught in the loop.  No time for help as landing had to be fast.”
“And so I reached down my leg for my knife….quickly sliced the roipe and joined the team.
We did this simulation several times where all went well.”

6) “Grandma, have you ever stayed wide awake for 72 hours?”
“No.  That’s three whole days.”
“We did it but staying awake was not easy. Here , smell this…take a good whiff.”
“That is awful..”
“I bought a can of these smelling salts just to ensure I was awake all the time. 
To fall asleep is to risk the life of others.    Must be awake all the time.  Not easy
even with the stink bomb.”

7)  “Ever been in a fist fight grandpa?”
“I avoided fighting whenever I could.  Anybody wanting to fight me was likely 
going to win so I kept clear of conflict.   Most violent thing I did was knock
ball carriers down playing football.   I was good at that.”
“Well, we had to fight.  Had to know how to fight which meant getting in some good
punches right away.  We had 60 second fights with each other.  Timed fist fights.
For real.  Drew blood. “
“I neer heard of that, Jack…news to me.”
“who would want to talk about it?

“You have that punching bag hanging the garage.  Was that the reason?”
“No, I did not know about the fist fight training until we got to Camp Shiloh.”
“How did you do?”
“I ws OK but did not like hitting my friends….even for the 60 second time limit.”
“Was that necessary?”
“Recon stealth could go wrong….better a  fist fight than firing a un.  If the option was available.”
“Violence expected?”

8) “Grandpa, I did not say much about our weapons training .  I know you do not like guns.”
“You remember how Marjorie and I turned my grandfathers rifle in to the OPP for destruction.”
“That’s why I have not said much about our weapons training.   Lots of time spent
on a firing range with different weapons.”
“Any live firing situations?”
“Big part of the training, Grandpa.”

“Also  obstacle course…stealth…on our stomachs with live firing over head.   At least the
sergeants said it was live firing.   Truthful or not we kept our heads dow.  No one died.”

9)  “I would like to say something about the word ‘truth’…something that is very 
important.  Sergents stressed truth.  Even iif the truth does not reflect well on
a soldier.  Such as cheating by falling asleep on the 72 hour test…or doing only
 of 60 assigned push ups …or just plain lying about anything.   LIers are booted
out of Canadian  army training.  No second chance.”
“Surely tate is a little overdone?”
“Nope.  The sergeant major says that any person who will tell lies is a person not
to be trusted in a combat situation.   The lives of the whole team could be
put in jeopardy by someone who lies.  Lyers are sent back…no room for them in the army”
That’s how I learned the smelling salt truck.  My eyes got dosy…sleepy.   Hence the
tin of smelling salts.   Nobody could trust a lier on sentry duty.”
“Everybody tells lies now and then.”
“Not me.”  (Probably overstated but point is clear.

10)  “did you ever see wild animals during stealth training?”
“yes, lots of deer, some moose and a few bears.”
“How close?”
“Very close.
“How close…how many meters away,?”
“One time a deer came right over to almost touchi  me with its nose.
I lay perfidy still…camouflage clothes, green face paint, helmet with shrubbery…deer detected me
with its nose and came over to check.   Same thing happened with kangaroos in Australia although
they never got closer than a few meters.”

11) “How did the stealth training work?”
“We were given a compas reading then expected to report 
what we found.  We must not be detected.’’’which is easier said than done.
Also easier to do at night than in broad daylight.”
“Were you ever detected?”
“Not often.  Funny thing happened on my first stealth assignment.  As soon as I got the 
compass coordinates I took off… found the object which  was a truck licence….then
reported back the licence number to our sergeant who did not believe me at first.  “But you
were not supposed to start the stealth test until I told you to do that,”

Now Jack is back in Camp Shiloh for a few days.   He expects to be sent to the Rockies for
Recon training in a day or so.

alan skeoch

august 18, 2023


Begin forwarded message:

From: Alan Skeoch <alan.skeoch1@gmail.com>
Date: August 14, 2023 at 10:31:30 AM EDT
To: John Wardle <john.t.wardle@gmail.com>, Marjorie Skeoch <marjorieskeoch@gmail.com>


alan skeoch
aug. 13, 2023

This is a relaxing photo essay.  Needs no introduction…Andrew arrived with his BEE SMOKER and two jars of fresh
red clover honey.

Remember the Kilner farm sale?   Where we bought this Farmall 1953  Tractor?   Notice the honey jars are Kilner jars … and you have already
seen Chelsee Bun our Kilner kitten.   Our lives move incircles.

His new honey house has been built in the middle of his potato garden.

/try to remember this sumner day next January.

computer trouble…

My computer refuses to send stories.  



alan skeoch
aug. 13, 2023

This is a relaxing photo essay.  Needs no introduction…Andrew arrived with his BEE SMOKER and two jars of fresh
red clover honey.

Remember the Kilner farm sale?   Where we bought this Farmall 1953  Tractor?   Notice the honey jars are Kilner jars … and you have already
seen Chelsee Bun our Kilner kitten.   Our lives move incircles.

His new honey house has been built in the middle of his potato garden.

/try to remember this sumner day next January.



alan skeoch
july 29, 2023


Elsie Freeman married Arnold ‘Red’ Skeoch in 1937.  After a long courtsihip.  Their parents were  Ontario farmers. Both became members of 
the industrial working class as World War One came to its miserable end.  Dad was a tire builder.  Proud of it.  Mom was a seamstress.
Proud of it.  Both were loved by their two children, Alan and Eric Skeoch. We, Eric and I, were not huggers or kissers.  We took
our parents for granted.  Paricularly  mom.   


The mystery remains.  How did Elsie Freeman Skeoch raise a family  on sweatshop wges.  Deeper than that.
How did she do it without a shred of rancour or bitterness.  How did she keep our lives free from feelings of poverty
and neglect,.   Eric and I had a great life…full of laughter and completely free of envy or bitterness?

IN EPISODE 864 you are asked to read Thomas Hood’s Sonf of the Shirt.  It is a miserable poem documenting the horrific
lives of the English working class seamstresses.   There is one huge difference between the women described by
Hood and our mother, Elsie Freeman.   There is no joy in The Song of the Shirt.   Our lives as children of a
seamstress were full of joy.  We laughed a lot.   We did things together.  We never felt deprived.  As a matter of 
fact we felt sorry for those  around us who seemed to have little joy in their lives.

Song of the Shirt

With fingers weary and worn,     With eyelids heavy and red,  A woman sat in unwomanly rags,     Plying her needle and thread—        Stitch! stitch! stitch!  In poverty, hunger, and dirt,     And still with a voice of dolorous pitch  She sang the “Song of the Shirt.”       “Work! work! work!  While the cock is crowing aloof!                  And work—work—work,  Till the stars shine through the roof!  

Mom with dad (far right) and his brothers

Look at the big buttons on Eric’s coat which was once a woman’s coat

Dad took us to High Park on a day the horses were not running at Dufferin or Woodbine racetracks.

This is mom wit my arm around her.


(These images remain in my memory…  Most prominent is 
mom and her Sewing machine and the big cardboard box.)

 I can see her now.  IN my mind’s eye.  It is a cold day in 1945 or 1946.   She is slowly walking up Gladstone Avenue.
Coming home from the College Streetcar.   Slowly, because she is carrying a large cardboard box that she got from Mr. Wallman
at his factory on Spadina.  The box is heavy.  Dimensions about 36” x 18* x 10”.  Unmarked.  Tied.   Inside the box are pieces of 
clothing…lots of them in bundles.    When she gets the box upstairs to our flat at 18 Sylvan Avenue she undoes the string and lines up 
the bundles beside the industrial sewing machine.    Before that she will get our supper, often stew with rice pudding.   Dad won’t be home until 
much later ..a shift worker at Dunlop Tire Company.  Often he stops  at Woodbine track for the last race.   Mom starts sewing right away.  Her corner above the stairs 
is dark and dreary until she lights it up.  The stairs continue up to the dark attic high above…gives me nightmares.  When the sewing machine begins
to hum mom presses her fingers close to the needle and begins joining piles together.  Could be a dress or a shirt or a girdle.  She will work on
the machine until Dad arrives and sometimes continues into the night hours after we are in ed.  When all the pieces in the box are
joined mom will pack the big box, put on her coat then tell us to be good and that she will be back in an hour torso.   And away she goes
with the finished things.   Heavy big box in her arms. She will walk south on Gladstone.  Eric and I will see her go until Gladstone dips to
College Street.   We will play a bit with Tinker our cat .  Dad will be smoking a White Owl Invincible while he reads the racing form. Mrs Southwick, our landlady
does not like dad smoking in the house but is intimidated by him.  Mom pays rent monthly I  think.  

Mom says dad is always hoping to catch the brass ring on the Merry Go Round of life.  That is why he gambles. 

 Mom has made all our clothes by cutting down old clothing.   Eric’s
winter coat this year has huge coloured buttons and extra padding. Was once a woman’s coat .

   We are not allowed to got out into Dufferin Park at night because big tough guys hang around there. 
Toenails Simmons, for instance is a gang leader …  has a ring that’s a sharpened roofing nail wrapped in white tape.   This I was told by his brother. 
Dad said not to worry nobody is likely to touch us and then have to face him.  

Bobby Smamanus’s dad is Polish and 
has made us wooden Tommy guns like the Russians used in the war.  We often play guns in the park while helping Mr. Hayward, the parky,
who tries to keep the park  clean.   Mom will be back soon.  She promised to take us to another movIe 
featuring Slip Mahoney and the Bowery Boys.  Satch is the funny man who Slip hits with his hat.  
We still have part of the quarter of a  pig that Uncle Norman gave us from the Skeoch farm near Fergus.
Good with mustard.  Mom’s rice pudding was crunchy tonight…not cooked long enough.    

Mom says we should be quiet as possible
as Aunt Annie is very  sick in the bedroom.  Later Aunt Annie called us into the room and gave me a little crockery piggy bank and Eric got
a tinware globe of the world about the size of a baseball.  Mom was crying which was unusual for her. 
Mom has started up the sewing machine  A new bunch of women’s things.  She does not ask for help.  Dad gave me a sip of his beer.  Yuck!  But the label on the bottle 
is great…horses running on a field.  I will save the bottle or get another one from the park.  Carefully.  lest I cut myself again and need stitches at the hospital.  Dad  had to
lift up the bed that time as i feared the hospital and latched on to the springs under he bed.   Dad lifted the whole bed as if it weighed nothing.  I have a scar where the
beer bottle sliced me. When the Junction and Beanery gangs fought in the park some used token beer bottles as weapons..  Eric and I gather all kinds of stuff for our fort..sometimes lead pipes that had been gang weapons.  Mom says the balloons are dirty and not to touch them. 

Time for bed.  I will grab Angus my stuffed wiener dog Mom made from
an old rug.

The sewing machine is still humming.

This is mom as a little girl in England around 1906.   Granddad hand carved this oak frame .



july 18, 2023
Photo credits to Marjorie Skeoch

“This little piece of fossilized shale is 450 million years old give or
take 30 million years,  Ordovician shale from the bottom
of the ocean seas that once covered great swaths of North America.
Once upon a time it was mud.  Pressure and time have created 
shale.    That shale is the subject of our discussion tonight”


In 1867 Tom Blower suddenly died leaving his wife Emily with eight children, all under 16 years of age.
There was no safety net for Emily.   No insurance policy.  No government aid as we have today.
Emily was on her own and we can only imagine her fear for the family future she faced.  

There was one chance of family  survival.  Tom Blower was a stonehooker and owned the 
schooner Catherine Hays.   I am not sure where Emily was living in Port Credit when Ton
died but records reveal that Emily moved all eight children into the Cateirne Hays and
first loaded split cordwood which she sold in the ‘Toronto market where the sttonehookers 
docked at the foot of Bathurst Street. 

The payment were not enough to feed and clothe her family so she decided to  become
a stonehooker.  This was not an easy decision because stonehooking was physically
demanding and dangerous.   Just sailing a schooner full of shale from the shale beds
beween Bronte and Port Credit was tricky.  Some schooners like the Pinta were swamped
in a sudden storm and crews  drowned.   (Bodies of the Quinn brothers were never 
found.  The body of the third man   was found frozen solid under the thwarts of the Pinta’s scow.
(that happened in 1882 by rhen the Blower boys were adult stonehookers well aware of the dangers..)

Emily was an unusual woman.  Likely the only woman to become a stonehooker.
The only reason we know about her decision to Stonehookers is because
stonehooking captain Al Hare  of Port Credit made a comment about Emily that
has been passed from person to person and thereby entered the historical record.

(Note: One of our guests lives next door to a Blower descendent.  Perhaps a larger 
story of Emily could be researched by maryanne Mason nd  Bronte Historical Society.}

Let me attempt to paraphrase Al Hare: “I remember seeing Emily Blower stonehooking in waist deep
water with her black skirt billowing with trapped air around her body while she
directed her eight children to do what they could do to help.”  (These are words I have
chosen but I believe are accurate…Alan Skeoch

Why was Emily wading in waist deep water?   There were three ways of getting 
slabs of shale.   First and the easiest was by quarrying slabs from the beaches
along the North shores of Lake Ontario.  That was a tough job in itself made 
tougher by angry shoreline farmers who blamed stonehookers for erosion of
their farm land.  Eventually a law was passed that no stonehooker could 
quarry or remove stone within 50 feet of the shore.   So Emily and her children
had to operate in waist deep water to loosen and lift shale slabs.

Emily may have even been forced to gather shale by the third method which was
called “blind stavlling” in water six to eight feet deep.  Often the water was cloudy and the bottom could
not be seen so a long stonehooking rake was used whose tines could hook
and lift pieces of shale.   This seems to have been difficult so stonehookers
preferred the easier two methods.

Lifting shale was tough work.
1) from where shale rested to the little scow
2) from the scow to the schooner deck or hold
3) from the schooner to the bathurst Street wharf
4) from the wharf to the horse drawn wagons

Then the empty stonehookers were often filled with horse manure for the return trip

Model of the Lithophone


Emily could support her family by hooking shale.  As near as I can deternine
the stonehookng trade was profitable.  If Emily could load just two cord-like ’tices’
of shale on the deck of the Catherine Hays and then sail to the Bathust
street Toronto wharf, she could sell the  3;x6’x12’ piles of shale for $5 each.
Prices varied from  low of $3 to a high of over $10 to Toronto builders for house

Suppose Emily got $10 for two piles of shale.  That does not sound like much
money today.. i.e. the price of two cups of coffee.  But it was good money in
Emily’s time.  In the year 1900, a $5 load of shale would be worth $183 today. (i.e. 2023)
Two loads sold for twice that.   Stonehooking was a good business in spite 
of the dishevelled look of the stonehooking schooners with their ragged 
patched sails and splintered unpainted decks.  That income is Hard for me to believe. Maybe I am wrong.

Emily’a boys became stonehookers and are the subject of one of
W. Sniders’ stories in his newspaper features called Schooner Days
published in the Toronto Telegram starting in 1931 when the stonehooking
days were over.  At least one stonehooker was filled with straw and
soaked in kerosene before it was set alight as entertainment for Torontonians
at Sunnyside beach.

Ross Noel and his wife are owners of the new Stonehooker Brewery and graciously provided samples of their production
for our audience.  Pleasure. I managed to down two samples. Marjorie downed 1.5 samples.

Maryanne  Mason   hosted the evening and proudly displayed two Bronte artifacts…a stonehooking rake made by blacksmith Sam Adams and 
a model of the Lithopone, a stonehooker made famous when Walter Naish failed to attach the anchor chain to the stonehooker and
the ship floated away with the winter ice.

Stonehookers took so much shale from the Lake Ontario shoreline that farmers fields and forests and one graveyard  were eroded,
Sovereign House in Bronte is very close to the shoreline as were some farm buildings in the 19th century.  So eroded by stonehookers was Port
Credit that loads of soil had to be dumped and then shielded with cement slabs to create Saddnigton Park.  Stonehookers were not popular.



alan skeoch
Oct. 2021
Note:  I originally wrote this article in 2018 for no particular reason.
Interest in our short time on planet earth might have been the reason.
Today the issue of Climate Change seems to be accelerating.  So 
the story below may have current interest.   It is a much shortened version of the original.  No doubt I have made mistakes in this
article so consider it an early primer rather than a definitive authority.
An article to make you wonder.

We dominate the planet earth in this year 2021. Sure.  Iinsects   outnumber  us  but we…human beings,..dominate this obscure planet in our  obscure solar system
in a universe  so  large that we cannot ever understand  its  size.   We are home  here on earth.   We move around a lot using.  for the most part,  mysterious  pools of  oil that we find here
and there beneath the earth’s surface.  Oil created by the pressure of ancient sediments on the equally ancient bodies of creatures  that once lived  on our earth millions and millions  of years
ago.   Creatures  deep in the depths  of time that once dominated the earth as we do today.  How long were these creatures around?  A  lot longer that we have been.  Millions  of years
longer than  us.  Hard to believe…very hard to believe.

7FFC5714-0B86-4079-AC9C-9B84B7193C89@hitronhub.home&gt;” src=”blob:https://mail.google.com/10a94ebb-163a-45f8-85a0-39f6f97a9482″ alt=”Two reconstructions of Homo erectus” type=”application/x-apple-msg-attachment” class=”gmail-Apple-web-attachment gmail-Singleton” style=”opacity: 1;”>
Reconstructed faces of homo erectus, our ancient ancestor who seems to have emerged some 2 to 4.5 million years ago. (various sources)  Homo Sapiens, (ourselves in other words)  emerged from homo erectus  some 400,000 to 600,000 years ago. (various sources)
Both of  these people (term?) could walk  erect which  freed  their hands for the making of tools.  Tool making took a long time to reach  today’s incredible  sophistication.  One break point was the emergence of civilized 
society in ancient Irag some 2,000 to 3, 000 years ago.  What tool?   Lots to choose from but for the sake of argument I have chosen the pencil.  Pencil?   OK, wrong term but you will get the idea.  Ancient Sumerians  developed
a  form of writing using a sharpened  stick making a  variety of indentations on wet clay.   So the Sumerian form of a pencil, to my mind, was the break  point between a nomadic intelligent human beings and  settled civilized
human beings with more time on their hands to invent increasingly more sophisticated tools  culminating in the iPhone of today.
How  long have we been around”?  Not very long at all. Creatures from which we have  evolved were moving about on land and sea some six million years  ago.  But they were not
remotely like us really.  They just became us.   Modern humans evolved 200,000 years  ago  I  am told.   They may have looked  like us a bit.  But shocking to modern  eyes.    Creatures like us  are very  recent
wanderers through the thin atmosphere that hugs  planet earth.  Only 6,000 years ago did we emerge and  began our way to dominance.  

None of this would have happened  had  trees  and  plants not emerged first.  Green plants  breathe in CO2…extract the carbon…and  exhale oxygen.  Our atmosphere  contains the 20% oxygen that we need  to breathe.   If we climb too high on our mountain ranges,  we cannot breathe.   We die.  We  dare not delve deep into our oceans for we are unwelcome there.

Civilization as we know it today…industrial  civilization…emerged  just 200 years ago with the industrial revolution.  My oh my have we done well.  We are tool users and tool makers
par excellence.   We are also extremely vain.  Few of  us  ever think about our tenancy on this round ball hurtling through space.  Most of us think we will always  be
here…all 7 billion  of us.  Our population has doubled  in less than  100 years.  A hundred years is just a fleck of time…nothing.  

“Change,” it has been said, “is the only sure thing in life.”  Change, however, can  be very slow  when measured against the lifespan of human  beings.  Almost imperceptible really.
Changes are happening though.  I noticed  the first Opossum in Ontario just 30 years ago.   Now those sharp nosed, rat tailed, creatures are common in Ontario.  Not as  cold up here
as it used to be.  And the gingko trees, most ancient red on earth, are moving north as well.  Disconcerting things are happening.  Frogs  are disappearing.  Frogs that once
numbered in the billions sometimes  so thick on country roads that they were squished by our rubber tired  gasoline consuming transport machines.  Changes are happening.  The great 
sheets of  ice that once capped  the north and  south poles  of  planet earth are melting.  Our planet is getting hotter.  This heat is changing earth as we know it.  

Where is this going?   First, I would  like to prick  our ego inflated vanity.  And second,  having achieved my first goal, I would  like  to consider those ancient creatures
who preceded  us  millions and millions of years ago.  In particular the dinosaurs.  These huge creatures were not alone on the earth but their fossilized remains have struck  wonder
into human psyches from the first moment they were found.  For the last two centuries, while  our inventions have made life  easier for all of us, we have at the same time marvelled
at the bones, the teeth in particular, found in ancient sedimentary rocks.  This includes coal deposits.  Coal has been created by  the compressed bodies of ancient forests whose 
deaths were abruptly covered by mud and water where  they could not rot and return to the atmosphere as  rotting vegetation normally does.   In among these sedimentary layers of
rock were  the fossilized bones of creatures  once dominating the earth as  we dominate today.  

Two events have  triggered this interest on my part.  First is  my bathroom reading  material of late.  A BBC  book on the ages  of dinosaurs.  A book  that makes  my  mind soar deep  into a dark past that 
I cannot fully understand.   The second event occurred at a warehouse remainder sale on Cawthra  Road.  A salvage operation where goods gathered from bankruptcies are marketed  cheaply.
Among the goods on November 22, 2018, was a  collection of dinosaur claws…evil looking things designed  to rip flesh.   The  ancient residents of our earth was  ‘red in tooth and claw’ as
Darwinians would say.  “Survival of the Fittest’ was real and happened over millions of years. Slowly. ” 

Extinctions  happened in the deep past.  At least five major extinction events  have been  identified by earth scientists.  All five are somewhat mysterious.    the extinction event that
wiped out the dinosaurs is thought to be the arrival of a  large meteor that slammed into the Gulf  of Mexico and  covered  the earth with so  much dust that the sun could  not
break through to trigger photosynthesis denying  living creatures plants to  eat and plants to maintain a livable level of oxygen.  That happened 65 million years  ago most scientists
believe.  Other, even more devastating extinction events have occurred deeper in the past.   Just staring at the moon on a nice summer  evening or on a crisp  winter night should remind
us that we  have  been bombarded by space objects in the past.  The surface  of the moon is devoid of life…no water (or very little water frozen in its icy form)…nothing  obscures the beating it has taken…each meteor has left a mark.

EB774BB8-E652-4809-9AE5-13D8001C5D13@hitronhub.home&gt;” src=”blob:https://mail.google.com/83430ac0-6dcb-446f-acc3-2e8c49b9cd24″ alt=”Ni1AidyVSxKl3qkvPmroFw_thumb_977b2.jpeg” class=”gmail-Apple-web-attachment gmail-Singleton” type=”application/x-apple-msg-attachment” style=”opacity: 1;”>7D5CF7A7-2C26-41FC-9195-596EB5B33F73@hitronhub.home&gt;” src=”blob:https://mail.google.com/7b294da4-c815-4e0a-b9e1-7785eb601ccd” alt=”8M3XHD2xQlikj4GjxRf2EQ_thumb_977b5.jpeg” class=”gmail-Apple-web-attachment gmail-Singleton” type=”application/x-apple-msg-attachment” style=”opacity: 1;”>D8B8F9CE-2438-4D66-8F18-F3AC787B9CDD@hitronhub.home&gt;” src=”blob:https://mail.google.com/9acf52a0-0a7c-456c-bcca-6bb058128e5e” alt=”3RYkRZKtRBqWT3W3R29AnA_thumb_977b1.jpeg” class=”gmail-Apple-web-attachment gmail-Singleton” type=”application/x-apple-msg-attachment” style=”opacity: 1;”>
3C7170D1-BAF4-44AC-809E-0C8BE2F08F59@hitronhub.home&gt;” src=”blob:https://mail.google.com/f169343e-b7c8-4be7-b389-31dd9f103966″ alt=”UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_97713.jpeg” type=”application/x-apple-msg-attachment” class=”gmail-Apple-web-attachment gmail-Singleton” style=”opacity: 1;”>AF8CBAFA-476B-4B9E-ABE9-7C62DEBCA741@hitronhub.home&gt;” src=”blob:https://mail.google.com/d53817d2-c90a-4b05-aeca-0a07029e0e86″ alt=”UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_97715.jpeg” type=”application/x-apple-msg-attachment” class=”gmail-Apple-web-attachment gmail-Singleton” style=”opacity: 1;”>
Amazing that these  vicious looking  fingers  from two ancient dinosaurs  have survived.   One is a replica  of the hooked  thumb of Boronyxm a creature  that lived  in the Early Cretaceous Period some
125 million years ago.  And the other is  the first toe of a  dinosaur familiar to us all, good  old  Tyranosaurus  Rex who gorged himself (herself) on the flesh of other dinosaurs up until his  abrupt extinction 65 million years ago. 
He (or she) was the last of the dinosaurs.  Tyranosaurus  Rex dinosaurs emerged late in the age of dinosaurs but still lived  for millions of years.  Let’s arbitrarily say TR (acronym) species existed  for two  million years…evolving 67 million years ago and terminated by that massive meteor 65 million years  ago.  Two million years TR’s scavenged flesh wherever it was found.
So what?   So  we human beings  emerged 200,000 years ago but really appeared “Human” 6,000 years. Even then we were primitive creatures.  The sophisticated  humans  who could write and 
form civilized society are 2,000 years old linked to Sumerian  civilization in modern day Iraq.   So let’s compare our longevity to that of TR.    2 million divided  bye 200,000 means we have been around only .001 years compared.
if the number 6,000 is divided  into 2 million the result is .00003.   Mere infants.   And if we chose ancient Sumer as the year we became fully evolved the number becomes .00001.   Hopefully we will live for more than  2 million years as did TR.  But the prospects  are not good.   We may be just a  flash in the pan; as they say.
POSTSCRPT:   IN case you meet a TR, remember he or she can
out run you.   Were creatures like us around in the age of dinosaurs?
Yes….our mammal ancestors were there, probably as mice like creatures which were too small for TR to want to eat.   By good luck these tiny
mammals seem to have survived the fifth extinction.  How?  I have no idea… 

A89D92F5-D276-4AD6-B7E7-865B83534810@hitronhub.home&gt;” src=”blob:https://mail.google.com/9d8da58f-5ce9-45a2-b879-befcb4e095c6″ alt=”Tyrannosaurus by Paul Heaston” type=”application/x-apple-msg-attachment” class=”gmail-td-attachment-page-image gmail-Apple-web-attachment gmail-Singleton” style=”opacity: 1;”>Quick Tyrannosaurus Facts

  • This dinosaur had 60 razor sharp teeth
  • The teeth on the Tyrannosaurus could be up to 9 inches long
  • This dinosaur used its tail to maintain balance
  • The Tyrannosaurus weighed as much as an Asian Elephant
  • This dinosaur’s top speed was about 18 MPH—faster than humans!



alan skeoch
oct. 2021
On the Alaska job in 1959 everything needed had to be ferried by
S 52 helicopters to the site in the interior of SW Alaska…the barren lands.
Gasoline was hung in a cargo net beneath the helicopter with an
emergency lever  beside the pilot. In the event of a sudden downdraft
he would hit the lever and drop the load.   I was told (ture or false) that
a diamond drill hung in this fashion had to be suddenly dropped in a
sudden down draft.   No one ever tried to retrieve it as it fell like a great
speer into the spongy land below.
We were ferried to our job sites every morning by S 52's from our base camp when the ex-US air force pilots would yell into the loud speaker.
“Let's get fucking airborne”.
As mentioned in an earlier Episode, our 5 man  Canadian crew were
all armed with 30-06 rifles in case of Kodiak bear attacks.   We could
not carry the rifles and the survey gear so stacked the rifles at the
drop site each day.  No Kodiak bear attacked us.  Why?  I was told
bears find the smell of humans awful.  Probably true in our case.
This job on the Alaskan barren lands was my training field for the
job in Ireland in 1960…thanks to field man Bill Morrison.
Our base camp held 30 men … 5 Canadians and 25 American diamond
drillers.  Too many had revolvers in my opinion…and used them
too often.  One of the drillers (nice guy normally) said” “Watch this!”
And he made a quick draw from his holster and fired at a beaver in
the creek below camp. He killed the poor thing.  He did not mean to
do this.  This incident is one reason I dislike guns.  People do stupid
things with guns.
alan skeoch
P.S. When the job was over the camp was bull dozed over the
little cliff and covered with rubbish and soil.   Too expensive to
retrieve.   The site may become one of the largest copper mining
sites in the US…but is currently just a barren land with creeks 
annually filled with salmon trying to spawn and then die much to
the enjoyment of kodiak bears…all of whom are well fed.
Canadian crew….Mike Chinnery (boss), Dr. John Stam (boss),
Don Van Every, Ian Rutherford, Bill Morrison and Alan Skeoch (field men…realy university of Toronto students)
Location….Dillingham, Alaska on Bering Sea which was once
the land bridge from Siberia to North America 10, 000 years ago.

EPISODE 459 ANCIENT TAXI SLEIGH (like Kreighoff pay

EPISODE 459   ANCIENT TAXI SLEIGH (like Kreighoff painted long ago in the 19th century)

alan skeoch
oct. 2021
We bought this ancient taxi sleight about 40 years ago at the Tompson farm and museum sale (I think).  Then had it restored by Mennonite
craftsmen in their wood repair shop north of Kitchener.  
Why?  Good question.  We had no horses and no definition plans.
The sleigh reminded us of many of  the paintings done by Cornelius
Kreighoff .. best reason I can offer.  (see below)
Marjorie contacted the Toronto King Edward Hotel.  When the manager got wind of our project he proposed a deal.  He would provide a sumptuous New Years'
dinner for our extended  family for two New Years' occasions  if we could get the sleigh set up
for their Christmas decor.   A Totally enjoyable occasion.  The sleigh
fitted perfectly into the main floor of the hotel and residents had their
pictures taken riding the taxi sleigh. 
Since that time … about 40 years ago … the magnificent sleigh has rested on a wheeled cart in our quasi-blacksmith shop in Mississauga.
It still gives me a spiritual lift every  time I squeeze past to get a tool.
alan skeoch


Some would say we are dreamers (borrowed from John Lennon's song
“Imagine”) .  But we are not the only ones.   Dreamers…have a place
in the human journey, don't they?
alan skeoch
Oct. 2021


alan skeoch

Oct. 2021

“What is the best High school in which you taught, Alan?”
“Easy question.  The best school is the school in which I are teaching when some wise guy asked that question.  It’s up to you to every teacher to make it so.
“Well, which high school?” “I taught at Parkalde for 31 years and at Forest Hill for 1 year.  They were both the best” “Proof?”
“By pure chance I came across a series of pictures I took around 1984 at Parkdale Collegiate.  Outlandish pictures.  Perhaps even offensive to some people.  We…staff and students, equally…decided to launch a rock and roll…hard rock…assembly at the centre of which was the Twisted  Sister and the Police. 
Rock bands. 



“Let’s let our hair down and make the assembly hall pulse with rock and roll.”
“Good idea, but let’s make sure we simulate the kind of rock and roll popular right now.”
“Like Whom?”
“Like Twisted Sister….like Sting…like The Police”
“Give the teachers a chance…how about Elvis and Roy Orbison.” “Fine…let’s get things rolling.

(The year was 1983 or 1984. The setting was Parkdale Collegiate Institute. The players were staff and students. The reason?   Does everything have to have a reason? )

“The rock band Police just came out with a great  song written by Sting, sir…’EVERY BREATH YOU TAKE…I’LL BE WATCHING YOU’…that’s a good title song for our assembly.”
“How come?” “Student view of teachers, sir, like cops….watching  every move we make.”
“Great Idea….this will be our title…”
I’ll be watching you”
“Sounds a bit boring, sir, ”
“How so?”
“You know…teachers as police officers.”
“Ahh…but we won’t be teachers…we will be members of your  rock bands.”
“Which ones?”
“Twisted Sister comes to mind…and Sting ….and the Police.  Anything that fits the music.”
“Of course…pop music…this is going to be fun…meant  to be fun.”
“You bet.”

Every breath you take
And every move you make
Every bond you break
Every step you take
I’ll be watching you

Every single day
And every word you say
Every game you play
Every night you stay
I’ll be watching you

Oh, can’t you see you belong to me?
How my poor heart aches
With every step you take?

[Verse 2]
Every move you make
And every vow you break
Every smile you fake
Every claim you stake

This is the lead singer for Twisted Sister. A lot of people thought he wore a wig. He didn’t.