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Thursday, August 30, 2018

Covering the PM

Well I don't often get the chance to cover a PM. Mr. Trudeau came to Timmins this week and I was assigned to get photos and a story. Unfortunately, the media was told there would be no questions, just cover the speech. We were also told we had to get our photos from a riser stage located at the back of the venue. I didn't agree with that, but I didn't complain... as the speech was ending, I mentioned I would like to get up front for some better pictures. One of the interns with the PMO grabbed me and said to follow her. We scooted through the ranks of RCMP officers and other serious looking folks with stern faces. I was able to get very close to get some good shots. The speech was about 20 minutes but the PM spent twice that much time working the crowd, signing autographs and posing for selfies. Things have changed.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Flying north ...

I was advised by a trusted friend to start writing more stuff on this blog because it will help in the event I ever decide to write something more permanent. In more than four decades of reporting news in Northern Ontario, I have enjoyed some memorable times. I was watching Netflix tonight when I noticed part of an episode where folks were flying in a DC-3 airplane or a Dakota as many folks like to call them. My first flight in a DC-3 was in December 1975 with Austin Airways.  Austin had several of these old reliable airplanes for the simply reason they were reliable. On this particular occasion, we were flying from Timmins to Moosonee along with members of the Timmins Fire Department who were bringing toys to that community as part of the annual Toylift Flight, where the firefighters would bring toys to the James Bay coast communities. The sun was shining but the morning was bitterly cold. As we sat in the Timmins terminal waiting for the plane, we were advised it was being brought back into the hangar because it was too cold to start the engines. The temperature was still about minus 40. About an hour later, I think it was around 9 a.m. we were told we could board the plane.
And so we did. Some minutes later, the plane was airborne and we were on our way North. Interestingly, the two cabin crew members handed out sleeping bags and blankets we could wrap around our legs and feet, because it was so cold.
One of things people liked to see when flying out of Timmins was the huge Texas Gulf open pit mine. And so it was that folks all peered out of the right side windows to catch a glimpse of the pit.
That when many of us noticed there was a significant amount of oil leaking out of the starboard engine. It was running down the engine cowling and along the wing. There was really a lot of oil there. So myself and a few others called on the cabin crew members to take a look.
The one fellow leaned over our seats and looked at the oil coming out of the engine. His face did not betray any concern, but he immediately walked to the front of the plane and went into the cockpit where the pilot and co-pilot were.
Moments later, one of the pilots came into the cabin and leaned over the seats to see the engine. The oil was still leaking. The man didn’t say a word. He turned and went right back into the cockpit.
In less than a minute we could all feel the plane turning. Yes, we were heading back to the Timmins airport. That seemed to be reassuring.
Suddenly, the oil leak stopped. It just stopped. We let a cabin crew member know that the oil leak had stopped. He went right to the cockpit. Sure enough, the plane turned and was back on a north bound course, heading to Moosonee.
We all looked at each other and began laughing. I won’t ever forget that.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

A sparkling day ...

Rarely have I done a news story on the birth of a mine and then, ten years or so later, the death of a mine. I was up North in the James Bay Lowlands today to cover the 10th anniversary of the De Beers Victor mine, the first and only diamond mine in Ontario.
It is a success story in the sense that the company has spent billions of dollars to create the mine and run it -- but it has also earned billions more by recovering 7 million carats in diamonds. But the mine will soon be depleted and by this time next year, it will be shut down.
I was first here in 2008 when the mine officially opened and there was a lot of excitement. Hundreds of new jobs. Hundreds of millions provided to the First Nations. And so it went. For the past ten years the glitter of diamonds has provided wealth and comfort to so many people. I am on holidays this week, but I couldn't pass up the chance to visit the mine again to see how it has developed; now more than a thousand feet deep.

And so things change and all new mines eventually die. But before De Beers leaves this area it must leave the land in good shape. And so there was a tree planting ceremony to symbolize the fact that the company will continue to spend money on a massive land reclamation project. They event provided a tree sapling so I can plant my own tree.
Each visitor was also given a nice little chunk of Kimberlite ore. That's the type of volanic rock where diamonds are found.

That's a good thing. It means the company will be allowed to keep mining in other parts of Canada. Oh by the way, I chatted with De Beers Canada president and CEO Kim Truter today. He said the process will start again in a couple of years with a new project in Nunavut. I asked how much money would be spent and how long that mine would last.
Truter smiled and with his thick South African accent he said "It's early days my friend, early days."

Saturday, August 04, 2018

Hot summer. Whisky yes. Vodka no.

So yes we have had a hot summer so far this year in Timmins. Hell, there are forest fires all over the North. So I have enjoyed some nice beverages lately. This past week I was making iced tea and adding a bit of vodka. I was told that makes a nice drink. It does. Then a co-worker said vodka is nice with just ice for sipping. He went on and on about Grey Goose vodka and how nice it is. So I tried sipping vodka. Just vodka. With ice. Yuck! No thank you. I will stick to whisky thank you. I had the same conversation in June when Neil came to visit. He loves his Tequila. We had a chat about how there are some excellent versions of Tequila that are good for sipping. I was polite. I listened. Quietly. But truthfully, no way Jose! So i have to sign off. It is Saturday night. Netflix movie time. With whisky!

Friday, August 03, 2018

Amazon package arrived

So yes my package arrived from Amazon. It's my new computer battery and yes it works like a charm. It arrived four days early. The price was less than half the price quoted to me by the manufacturer. I have been assured this battery is just as good as, if not better, than OEM. So I will watch it carefully and if there are any problems, I can always return it for the refund. I don't know if this is a good or bad thing since I means I didn't spend my money locally. I will struggle with that.