Sunday, August 03, 2003

Lessons Learned or Forgotten?

"Have a nice Simcoe Day," chirps the lady at the Purolator depot Friday night. "Simcoe Day?" my tired colleage barks. "What the hell is Simcoe?"

John Graves Simcoe, Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada, is remembered for ending slavery, and introducing trial by jury to our fair nation. Bloody good for him - good enough, I'd say, that I'll remember him fondly as I sleep in Monday morning. One more anecdotal gift to you: Queen Street East was constructed by 1796 so that Mrs. Simcoe could travel the three miles to the Beaches to visit the Ashbridge family for an outing on their waterfront property.

Where I come from, Simcoe Day, as you call it here, was simply known as August Civic Holiday. Admittedly, I'd never heard of J.G. Simcoe. When I moved to Toronto in 1996 I bought a book about the history of my neighbourhood, and thus learned what I've shared with you today. That's what nerds like us do.

So today's question is: how many explorers/historical figures/heroes/Fathers of Confederation do you remember learning about? Most people I know, Mr. Crabby and Fresh being obvious exceptions, have forgotten almost everything they learned in school. I have forgotten lots, not all. I'm tempted to post a quiz, but I know you'd just Google your way to a perfect score. So be honest: Baffin, Cartier, Cabot, de Champlain, Drake, Franklin, Fraser, MacKenzie, Magellan... Heroes or Strangers?

As an aside, I had my palm read on Saturday night in Yorkville. August 26, 27, and 28 will be very lucky for me, she said. And, I should stop worrying about money. It's coming. I'll keep you posted. If she's right, I'll send a postcard.