I was digging through our filing cabinet yesterday in search of some receipt or other, when I came across the funeral memorabilia I had filed when Dad died in 2015. In the file I found Dad’s graveside eulogy delivered on May 13, 2015 by Tom Peters, a warm, wonderful, kind, intelligent man who was the funeral home Director at that time. Sadly, Tom passed in July, 2018, but he left these kind words behind about our Dad, Jake Job. I publish this post to share with the world my love, pride and respect for my parents.
Today will certainly be a day of goodbyes – goodbye to a Dad, a Grandpa, a great-Grandpa and a great-great Grandpa, and there is a certainly a great deal of finality here at the Cemetery as we lay Jake Job to his place of rest.
Just to the north of us amongst all those trees over there, the very first committal service took place at this cemetery, just over 142 years ago in 1873. The Fleishman family stood here at this cemetery much like we’re doing today to say goodbye to their mother Margaret. Granted they were dressed a little differently than we are, they got to the cemetery in a different way than we did, I don’t see any horse and buggies, and the surroundings would be very different. Then, Innisfail was called Poplar Grove and the town looked nothing like it does in 2015. With each passing year, the town will continue to change and this cemetery will continue to expand and, unfortunately, for a lot of us this won’t be our first time here. But we have much in common with the Fleishman family when they had to bury someone they loved, as well as the thousands since then. To figure out and discover how our lives will change now that a loved one has died and how we incorporate their memory – those good things that they lived out in life – how we incorporate those things into our ongoing lives. So today will not be so much about saying goodbye but I think more appropriately to say thank you to Jake for what he has left behind and for the impact and influence he will continue to have.
Fill Not Your Heart Fill not your hearts with pain and sorrow, but remember me in every tomorrow. Remember the joy, the laughter, the smiles I've only gone to rest a while. Although my leaving caused pain and grief, My going has eased my hurt and given me relief. So dry your eyes and remember me Not as I am now, but as I used to be, Because I will remember you all and look on with a smile, Understand, in your hearts, I've only gone to rest a little while As long as I have the love of each of you, I can live my life in the hearts of all of you.
May 13, 2015 will be a day to celebrate that which remains for Jake. His continued legacy will always be before you and I know that there can be no greater gift in death, knowing that one’s life was lived in such a way that other’s lives can never be the same and I believe that to be true of Jake.
I’ve been thinking these last few days on what that continued legacy of Jake looks like, what it might mean for those of you here, how your lives might change since May 9, 2015, the day of his passing. What keeps coming to mind for me about Jake is the five generations picture that was taken in January. It truly is a wonderful picture. Five generations don’t happen very often. The picture itself was incredible and that moment in time should be cherished and treasured. What impacted me the most was seeing the span of almost one hundred years between Grandpa Jake and newborn Isaiah – what truly are the qualities, what truly are the important traits that can be passed down from generation to generation? I can thank my father for my lack of hair line, I can thank my mother for a quirky sense of humour and on my wife’s side, the blue eyes and the big feet seemed to be passed on to every generation. I can tell just by looking at some of you – and sometimes you may not want to admit it – but you’re definitely related! There’s many of the same physical characteristics, whether its height, body shape, eye color, there’s no doubt that you are all connected in some way physically. But what caught my attention about Jake is, yes, there’s physical characteristics he passes down but it goes way deeper; there’s traits that he passes down to each of us that the passage of time can never affect.
What came through so very clearly was Jake’s work ethic. He always wanted to be a farmer and he took the profession as a gift he was given in life and did the very best he could with it. There really is no greater gift in saying that Jake truly was a farmer for all his 98 years.
In the newspaper article, the picture of him looking outside when he was at Autumn Glen Lodge is awesome. He might be checking the weather, seeing if it was conducive to seeding, to harvesting, to maybe having to shut it down for the day because a storm front was coming in. I looked at that picture for a long time and I wondered if he had that same look, looking to the skies about seventy years ago when he stood by his land for the very first time – the very land that had yet to be worked on – and wondered if it was conducive, realistic to the adventure this would set him on.
This farm land, it had never been worked before and here’s this farmer, with not many resources, still a bit green perhaps, but ready to work this land. I’m sure there were many questions: was this the right thing to do?, was it worth the investment?, what would it produce?, do I trust that I have the abilities to do this? He might have taken a glance at his horse and wondered “can we do this?”. Perhaps in later years he would look at his first tractor and wonder “is my tractor truly ready for this”? He might have surveyed the land and thought that particular area might need some extra care, might take a little longer to ensure the seed can grow. There might have been some rocks to take out before the horse gets harnessed and before the tractor gets fired up. But despite the obstacles, despite the uncertainties, to me this is what so needs to be passed down to any generation: he started his tractor, he harnessed that horse and the potential of what that land could yield kept him on that tractor even up to May 9th. The work was unrelenting and back-breaking but he and Hazel never gave up, they never stopped, it was always worth the investment.
Jake would always ask in those last years of his life, “did you get your barley in?”. He wanted farm updates all the time and kept checking the weather conditions. Through Jake’s life I think he asks all of us today – are we ready to break new ground? Have we planted our seed despite the conditions? First hand, Jake would know that conditions aren’t always going to be cooperative: sometimes our tractors are going to have breakdowns, sometimes we will need repair and the terrain can be something we’ve never asked for in life. He would say don’t let fear of the unknown stop us. Stay on the tractor. Growth always involves a level of discomfort, the discomfort is short lived but the growth lasts forever.
I’m sure we have all been in situations where we were asked to break new ground, where it’s uncomfortable and risky, where it’s going to demand us to use every resource we have. Jake would encourage us, too, that we don’t have to figure everything out before we turn the ignition on, before the horse gets harnessed; we won’t be perfect but the more the ground is worked, the easier the seed can grow.
What lasting memory of Jake can we integrate into our ongoing lives? What has he passed on to you that Isaiah, and maybe even my future grandchildren, can be taught? What can the passing of time never take away? Change is constant in our world. Fashion, transportation and technology have changed, not only in the last 142 years since the Fleishman family was here, but will continue to change. The best parts of Jake will continue to live on, though, and among the good memories which one will you allow to transform who you are?
Through you, parts of Jake’s individuality and influence can thread through each day ahead, each year, adding to the tapestry of your life and the lives that follow yours. In that dedicated way, those good things even death itself cannot silence.
To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven. A time to be born… and a time to die. Here and now … in this final act… in sorrow but without fear… in love and appreciation… we commit Jake to this sacred place.
You can look through the whole world and find that there will never be another Jake Job but he still lives on in your memories. Though no longer a visible part of your lives, he still remains a member of your family and of your circle, through the influence he has had on you and the special part he played in your lives.
My wife and I have a favourite show every Sunday night called Once Upon A Time. It’s a show featuring fairy tale characters living in today’s world. On Sunday night’s episode there was a scene where a boy named Henry has a magic quill. What is written down from the quill becomes reality. Henry is talking with the Sorcerer’s apprentice – he’s the one throughout time who decides who should have the task of being the Author, the one who is given this magic quill, the one who can determine the fate of characters and whether they can have a happy ending. Henry, who is now the Author, looks at his quill and the blank page before him and wonders if he can bring his Dad back from the dead. The apprentice replies – and I want to close our time with this – “Henry, that sadly can never be undone”. The best way to show your love for those who are gone is to tell their stories. These stories of staying on the tractor, persevering through the unknown, loving what you do, treasuring and caring for what you’ve been given – and knowing you can never have enough pie – these can never be erased. They are more than stories, they are the truth and the truth is what we must write in our own stories, stories that can be passed to each generation, a wonderful picture to be cherished and treasured.
Dad’s obituary can be found here.
Well, here we are. One year later and still no physical Pride events, here or elsewhere for that matter, thanks to COVID-19 and the state of the world these days <boo, hiss….>.
Regardless, I’ve been thinking about how I could mark this year’s non-event. I could pout and rage (which I feel like doing), but it would be more productive and positive to put together some little tribute to Pride and celebrate in my own way. (By the way, if you’d like to see my Pride retrospective from last year, you can check it out here.)
Rainbow Flag Raising at City Hall
On June 1st this year, the City of Toronto proclaimed Pride Month and raised the Rainbow and Transgender flags at City Hall. Due to current COVID-19 restrictions, this year’s ceremony was pre-recorded and held virtually. In the video below, Mayor John Tory is joined by Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam (Toronto Centre), Grant Gonzales and Yuri Hernandez from Pride Toronto’s Board of Directors, and Pride Toronto Executive Director Sherwin Modeste. They share messages of solidarity and reflect on milestones being marked this year by Toronto’s 2SLGBTQ+ community, including the 40th anniversary of Pride Toronto and the 30th anniversary of the City proclaiming Pride Day.
YouTube Livestream Virtual Parade
On Sunday, June 27, 2021 from 2:00-3:00PM, there will a live “Virtual Pride Parade”. Personally, I can’t imagine it, but if interested, it can be found here. Myself, I’m waiting for the real thing next year.
Toronto Pride: Looking Back Once More
So after touching on a couple of things from our current, grotesquely hobbled Pride (and no, I won’t go off on my usual rant), I’ll go back in time as I’m wont to do, to Toronto Pride weekends of the past. Specifically, I thought I’d reminisce a bit about those wonderful GCDC (Gay Community Dance Committee) dances at The Masonic Temple, aka The Concert Hall, at 888 Yonge Street (corner of Yonge and Davenport).
Those dances were great. From roughly 1981 until 1992, they went from 9:00 PM to 5:00AM; there weren’t that many after-hours gay clubs at the time, so it felt slightly radical to be able to dance almost until dawn. There was a major GCDC dance event (and they truly were Events with a capital E) at least a couple of times a year, and the Toronto Pride GCDC dances, especially, were the highlight of the year. The GCDC dances eventually attracted up to 2,000 party-minded people, raking in up to $10,000 each time. As I understand it, the money was split among community groups who gave back to the gay community.
Gay Liberation on the Dance Floor
Our gay community was quite different at the time; it wasn’t the diverse cultural melting pot we see on Church Street today. Even so, the dances were incredible as they brought together so many segments of our community at the same time. Those dance parties were galvanizing, unifying and liberating: they consisted of gay men and lesbians who simply wanted – and loved – to come together to dance.
The dances were apolitical and simply all about fun, dancing and good times, yet they also helped shape Toronto’s gay and lesbian community into what we enjoy today. At the Masonic Hall/Temple, men had the main floor of the Hall, which was massive (I well remember the towering speakers, pulsing lights and lasers), and the lesbians had their own DJs, bar and party in the lower level. There was, and still is, a second floor balcony where you could climb up to get out of the mass of people, and just observe the goings-on on the dance floor below:
The music at those GCDC dances was great. Personally I’ll never forget sweating to Jimmy Somerville’s cover of Never Can Say Goodbye at more than a couple of the events. Here’s a sound sampler on Mixcloud from the November 1, 1986 GCDC Dance at the Masonic Temple, themed I Never Touched The Witch:
As an aside, Mixcloud is a great site if you want to hear what was actually being played in Toronto’s gay clubs at the time. On the Mixcloud page above, there’s two October 14, 1995 sets by DJ Allan Kaufman at Club Colby’s (formerly Katrina’s), and a June 1983 set by DJ Greg Howlett at Club Mystique (after-hours club behind the Manatee on Phipps Street). Oh, I do remember dancing in those clubs back in the day <heaves heavy sigh>… but I digress…
I still remember so well, sadly, when the GCDC dances came to an end once and for all. Appropriately themed The Last Dance, the Masonic Hall played host one last time to the very last GCDC dance at Pride, June 1992. And, of course, I shouldn’t have to tell you what the very last song on the setlist was that night: queue Miss Donna and Last Dance:
I’ll never forget walking back home at 4:30 in the morning after The Last Dance, up Park Road to our place on Huntley Street, my mind and body still electrified and energized by 6 hours of 130 beats per minute. I remember having a bittersweet mixture of afterglow from the great party combined with the knowledge that a GCDC dance would never happen again.
This weekend I have again proudly hung my Rainbow Flags on the balcony, and will try to get in to the spirit of things. I can’t help looking ahead to next year, though, when things should get back to relative normality. If that’s the case, we’ll have a Pride unlike any other… it will be a hell of a party. Until then, I remain waiting in anticipation… 🙂
Happy Pride, Toronto!!
April 13, 1966 – June 1, 2021
Farewell my dear nephew. You fought the good fight.
You will forever be in my thoughts.
from your Uncle Marv
Here’s some reasons to be glad we’re Canadian on this most uniquely Canadian long weekend.
Pictures That Perfectly Sum Up Canada And Its People
HAPPY VICTORIA DAY, CANADA!!!
Today is Remembrance Day. I’d like to pay my deep respects once more to the uncle I never knew who gave his life in WWII, along with so many others, so that we could all be free.
Thank you, Uncle George.
George Clifford Quartly
Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI), R.C.I.C., Company C
Killed in action near Monte Cassino, Italy
May 23, 1944
Uncle George is buried in Cassino War Cemetery
Plot 9, A20
This one has made the rounds before but as Remembrance Day approaches it is a great reminder to honour November 11th.
In France, at a fairly large conference, Former Canadian Prime Minister Steven Harper was asked by a French cabinet minister if Canadian involvement in Afghanistan was just an example of “empire building.” Mr. Harper answered by saying:
Over the years, Canada has sent many of its fine young men and women into great peril to fight for freedom beyond our borders. The only amount of land we have ever asked for in return is enough to bury those that did not return.
You could have heard a pin drop.
A Canadian Admiral was attending a naval conference that included Admirals from the Canadian, US, English, Australian and French Navies. At a cocktail reception, he found himself standing with a large group of officers that included personnel from most of those countries. Everyone was chatting away in English as they sipped their drinks but a French admiral suddenly complained that, whereas Europeans learn many languages, North Americans generally learn only English. He then asked:
Why is it that we always have to speak English in these conferences rather than speaking French?
Without hesitating, the Canadian Admiral replied:
Maybe it’s because the Brits, Canadians, Aussies and Americans arranged it so you wouldn’t have to speak German.
You could have heard a pin drop.
When Robert Whiting, an elderly Canadian gentleman of 83, arrived in Paris by plane at the French Customs, he took a few minutes to locate his passport in his carry on.
You have been to France before, monsieur?
… the customs officer asked sarcastically. Mr. Whiting admitted that he had been to France previously. The official replied:
Then you should know enough to have your passport ready.
The Canadian said:
The last time I was here, I didn’t have to show it.
The customs officer replied:
Impossible, Monsieur. Canadians always have to show passports on arrival in France!
The Canadian senior gave the Frenchman a long hard look. Then he quietly explained:
Well, when I came ashore on D-Day in 1944 to help liberate this country, I couldn’t find a single Frenchmen to show a passport to.
You could have heard a pin drop.
Canadians Are Cool…
Yet again, COVID-19 has squatted over something near and dear to my little heart and taken a huge dump:
No Halloween street party on Church Street this year – BOO, HISS!!!
To add insult to injury, Halloween falls on a Saturday night this year <ggrrrrr…>
So, in lieu of the real thing this Halloween – as with our cancelled Pride Weekend earlier this year – I now present to you the best bits from Church Street Halloween parties of years past… Enjoy!
Well, Halloween may not be happening on Church Street (or anywhere else) this year thanks to COVID-19 running rampant, but at least my physiotherapist’s office got into the spirit of things.
On yesterday’s visit I was greeted by this guy:
Virtual Pride: June 26-28, 2020… say what???!!!
As we all know, COVID-19 has squatted over Toronto Pride this summer of 2020 and taken a huge dump. When it was announced that all large events – or any event for that matter – in the City of Toronto would be cancelled this year, including my beloved Pride, I was crushed beyond measure. Toronto Pride will be celebrated this year with “Virtual Pride” which, to me anyway, defies logic. Virtual Pride?? How exactly does one do a Virtual Pride, for God’s sake? No thanks… I want the real thing.
Pride week in Toronto has always meant so much to me and, as a gay man, is an essential experience in my life. In my world, Pride is more important than Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving all rolled into one. No other event brings such happiness, energy, enthusiasm, celebration, vitality and warmth than those few days in late June every year. Even though time and tide have scaled back my activities considerably from Pride weekends past, I still celebrate the occasion and feel joy in my own way on that special weekend.
I believe my first “Pride Day” (as it was then called) was 1985. I have wonderful memories of those early Pride events when they were just a half-day long (always on a Sunday afternoon) and held in Cawthra Park (now the Barbara Hall Park, which has become a haven for junkies, crackheads, crime, muggings and harassment from street trash who have overtaken the place… but I digress…).
Those days, Pride was held within the boundaries of Cawthra Park, if you can imagine. In the late 80s/very early 90s the event spilled into a small section of Church Street above Wellesley, with the epicentre being the 519 Church Street Community Centre. Across from the 519 was the only stage, set up in the parking lot of The Beer Store. At about 9:00 PM that night (at the latest), the police would reopen Church Street to traffic, and cars would resume their usual pace down Church Street as if nothing had happened that day.
I remember those Pride Days as being pretty much a white, male, middle-class event, long before global inclusion and the alphabet soup that now describes our community (LGBTIQA+ or whatever the hell it currently is). From those early Pride Days, I have memories of local gay hero Harold Desmarais singing a personally-penned protest song to Art Eggleton, the then-mayor of Toronto who had refused to proclaim, or even acknowledge, Pride Day (as it was then called). Harold served as the Master of Ceremonies for Pride Day festivities from 1986 through 1989. I also have memories of Jack Layton acting as auctioneer, auctioning local goods and services from a little makeshift stage behind the 519.
As for some of the Pride Day music I remember, local alternative band The Nancy Sinatras played a set for a couple of years at Pride, where they belted out some wonderfully tacky, kitschy and downright rude songs from the stage set up for the day in the Church Street Beer Store parking lot. The Nancy Sinatras were about as “Queen Street West” as you could get in the late ’80s; they were awesome.
In those days, the AIDS Memorial behind the 519 Church Street Community Centre did not exist. I remember the temporary AIDS memorial that would go up for Pride Day each year before the permanent one became a reality. This was a terrible time in our gay history, with AIDS claiming so many men in those early days.
For this post I had desperately hoped to find some photos I had taken of those early Pride events that took place on Church Street and in Cawthra Park. I slowly perused my carefully curated photo albums (physical pictures… remember those?), but alas could not find any shots of Toronto Pride street scenes from the 1980s, at least none that were of any interest. I do, though, have extensive shots of almost every Pride Parade from 1986 to 2006.
Sooooooo, as to not totally lose the Pride spirit this year, in lieu of a physical Toronto Pride 2020, I offer some good bits from years past to put us in the mood and lift our spirits.
I now present to you Toronto Pride, warts and all. Let’s go back…
On Church Street…
I Love A Parade…
Ah, the memories…
This year I’ll skip “Virtual Pride” but will still proudly fly my rainbow flags from the balcony, trying my best to resurrect the spirit of Pride.
I’d like to end this post with a positive, feel-good message from our Ward 13 City Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam; I couldn’t have said it better myself:
When the pandemic is behind us, we will come together again. We will fill the streets, the restaurants, the bars, the civic spaces, the dance floors. And when we do it will be the loudest, most colourful, most fabulous Pride celebration in this city’s history. I look forward to joining you on that day.
We will rise again!!
See you at Pride next year!
Goodbye Tension, Hello Pension!
After spending 30 long and busy years working for the City of Toronto, my good friend Carol finally retired.
The IT Service Desk gave her a little send-off, and I was there (of course) to grab a few shots. Here’s how it all went down: