Saturday, 27 August 2016

Saskatchewan Pioneer Diary 1934

In 1934, teenager Laura McDonald traveled with her family of 10 for 3 weeks by horse caravan through central Saskatchewan, a 185-mile trip.

The family left Helena, Montana, USA, during the depression to Canada. So far they traveled about 500 miles to Zelma, Saskatchewan, where this story begins, in search of better farm. At the time, Canada was extensively advertising for desirable White farmers.

They had 4 wagons — a 12’ by 14’ caboose for sleeping pulled by four horses, a Bennett buggy for animals, a wagon for animal food and furniture, a wagon with heavy farm equipment; and they brought 21 cattle, 11 horses, five pigs, four turkeys, 24 hens and two dogs.

An except from her diary about the trip was published this year:
Laura McDonald. ‘The Diary of Our Trip Up North: Zelma to Mullingar via Saskatoon, 185 miles by caravan in three weeks, July 3rd to July 23rd, 1934’. Saskatchewan History, vol. 68, Number 1, Spring/Summer 2016: pages 12 - 22.
Direct route is 120 miles. McDonald's traveled 185 miles.
Her Diary was especially interesting to me because I grew up in the same area, and recall many of the images described:
  • ‘Sand drifting four or five feet deep along the road allowance’.
  • Playing ball with neighbours. Because the group travelled in the Eagle Creek area where I went to public school as well as Eagle Point School area where there was a baseball field for Sunday sports days. Perhaps my Dad and Uncle played ball with the McDonalds?
  • Crossing a ferry over the North Saskatchewan River. I have done that many times over the former Petrofka Ferry en route to Blaine Lake, Sask.
  • Picking, eating and canning very tasty saskatoon berries.
  • Many mosquitoes.
  • Drying clothes on a clothesline.
  • Her mother baked 32 loaves of bread which the family ‘ate like nobody’s business’. We did the same.
  • Mullinger, had one street, a store and two grain elevators, familiar, like Environ in the Eagle Creek District.

All of that was good. But the Diary revealed some prejudice towards minorities. Here are the passages that are offensive to me:
  • July 13th, Friday ... When we were camped tonight, an old fat Mennonite drove up. He stopped and when he talked he yelled. When he left he bawled back at Dad for miles almost. He says “goot caboose”. “goot water”. “goot Missus”. “whoa!” “gaddap”!” “giddap!” until we almost died laughing at him.’ (Page 18).
  • July 14th, Saturday ... While I was in bed a Doukhobour [Doukhobor] and wife came by in a buggy. He got out and led the horse by because it was frightened. But just when he got by it jumped and the harness fell half off. The old lady hung onto the lines and screamed. When he got it stopped she got out over the wheel. But one shaft broke. Fred went out to help and gave him “hail hallelujah” in Doukobour language. She’d sit down and bawl and then get up and yell at the old man. He cut another shaft from the trees nearby but when they left she walked behind. This country is overrun with Mennonites and Doukhobours….’ (Page 18).
  • July 15th, Sunday ... There’s a smart alec city kid visiting some of his Doukhobour relations. Can he swear! He brought about 11 kids with him so we played softball. The boys against the girls. We lost. This was after dinner. Then we went for a dip. There were about 25 people at the place where they swim. 99% of them were Doukhobours. There’s only one thing that is smarter than a Doukhobour, that’s two of them. One guy could duck pretty good so he’d duck and dive and every time he’d come up, he looked like a drowned rat with a grin like a monkey….So I afterward said to dad, we saw one white man out of 100 Doukhobours and he has to be walking around with no shirt on. After supper about 15 young men came out and played ball. Us girls had a game among ourselves and my side won for once….’ (Page 19).

The prejudice of the McDonald family in the 1930s was obvious and it was wrong. Her Diary reminds me of Hazel O'Neail's Doukhobor Daze (1962), about her experiences as a one-room school teacher also in the 1930s.

The McDonald Diary and O'Neail book are mild compared to the later sensationalism of the media (1940-2000) demonizing the Doukhobors as ‘nudists’, ‘bombers’, ‘terrorists’, and ‘Communists’. However, these prejudices (mild and serious) do mould public opinion which in turn influence public policy. What can we say about human nature — have we made progress?

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Q73: Am I Biased Towards Russia and Putin?

A friend in Ottawa recently asked me (August 17, 2016): ‘As a peace journalist, are you biased towards Russia instead of being objective?’ While starting to write him a reply, I decided to answer the question here, and he wished to not be identified.

"Media bias", Danielle's Journalism Portfolio, March 24, 2015


No. I prefer to say that I am ‘friendly’ rather than ‘biased’. I understand that because my ancestors immigrated from Russia 117 years ago, some readers may be suspicious of my intentions.

I have a degree in anthropology where I learned that the first step in learning about the stranger is gaining rapport. We need to carefully listen, watch and learn, and gently walk on this earth.

I visited Russia and Europe 13 times since 1957. I feel like a citizen of the world and recognize all people as members of one human family.

My favourite motto is ‘In search of truth and a nonkilling society’ — which pretty well sums up the intent of my storytelling over the years.

‘As a peace journalist’ I have tried to be fair to all sides including Russia and the West — using many sources since the 1950s when I began publishing.

I recognize that propaganda, disinformation, information warfare, lies, fear mongering, etc. are varieties of verbal warfare and are obstacles for reporting the truth.

Because my writing often focuses on facts avoided by western media, I may appear biased to those who don’t know the rest of the story. Some examples:
Other investigative journalists, whom I admire, have also defended Russia, with facts:
Center for Citizen Initiatives speaks up:

Sharon Tennison, founder and head of the Center for Citizen Initiative has posted an article on President Vladimir Putin in how he is using graceful language that is human and friendly and invites people to work together. See Putin: Martial Arts Philosophy in Action. Sharon writes:

'It certainly is putting out a message to the world about the value of a classical man who attempts to be honest, straightforward and leaves doors open for dialogue.'

Ultimately a non-military solution is needed to create a peaceful world. But the first step is good quality diplomacy beginning with compassion within. Let's step back, breathe deeply and normalize the rhetoric and become civil.

Three informative videos:

Here’s another little known fact that exposes the rest of the story. Though my ancestors came in 1899-1930 with 8,300 Doukhobors from Russia, they were invited to settle western Canada in 1899 primarily to prevent annexation of Canada by the USA.

See all Questions and Answers.

Saturday, 6 August 2016

No More Hiroshimas, No More Wars!

Source: Physicians for Social Responsibility, August 27, 2014.
August 6 and 9 marks the 71st anniversary of the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan.

Let's learn from the past to prevent a world holocaust by using all of our diplomatic tools.

I feel that former US President J. F. Kennedy and current Russian President Vladimir Putin believe that we share this small planet together, we all breathe the same air, we all cherish our children’s future, we are all mortal, and we must therefore work together for peace and respect each other’s sphere of influence.
  • In 1963, Kennedy established a direct communication link with President Nikita Khrushchev and negotiated a settlement to the missile crisis in Cuba. Had Kennedy succumbed to advice to attack by US military leaders, I doubt that we would be here today.
  • In 2008, Russia did not annex Georgia when Georgian president Saakashvili recklessly attacked South Ossetia, violating cease fire agreements and killing Russian citizens. Russia neutralized the Georgian army, then retreated to its bases.
  • In 2014, Russia did not invade Ukraine and seize Kiev when Washington installed a hostile regime in the Ukraine. Instead, Putin secured Sevastopol against the US fleet, protecting the presence of Russian speakers. A legal nonviolent referendum in the Crimea followed and was supported by 93% to join Russia.
  • In November 2015 when Turkey shot down a Russian plane, Russia did not counter attack. Instead it diplomatically humiliated and isolated Turkey. I think Russia prevented a nuclear war.
I believe that the current situation of 28 NATO members encroaching on Russia is as dangerous today as missiles were in Cuba in 1963 when the world feared the beginning of WW3.

Source: Munich Security Report 2016, "Boundless Crises,
Spoilers, Helpless Guardians," Munich Security Conference, page 25

The chart shows how the build-up of NATO bases with missiles encircling Russia provokes a protective response from the Russians. The situation resembles the time when Hitler's fascist forces were threatening USSR, resulting in mass mobilization to counter the threat.

I think people in the West are allowing a new Cold War and possibly WW3. Putin warns the West that any aggressive actions of a nuclear kind against Russia will lead to a direct response on the USA.

NATO Wants WW3 ?

Is anyone in the West listening to the threat of a nuclear war and the direct role of NATO in it? I find no news in any major North American media. US radio and TV talk show host Alex Jones asks why America is literally asleep on this issue.

Let’s take heed of the wisdom of presidents Kennedy and Putin and save our civilization from the catastrophe of a nuclear holocaust and stop WW 3. With the coming of the 71st anniversary of the US atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August, let’s recall that madness and make every effort to prevent it today worldwide.

Commemorate August 6th and 9th, 2016 atomic bombings with a resolve:
  • Actively search for nonkilling structures for peace and install them in our regional and national programs.
  • Let’s work to ban nuclear weapons, as have Mayors for Peace, which represent 7,095 cities around the world (105 in Canada).
  • As concerned world citizens we should circulate a petition banning NATO.
  • People, are you listening?

On My Website
  1. Hijacking Hiroshima and Nagasaki.’ August 9, 2015.
  2. May the Third Atomic Bomb Never Come.’ August 10, 2013.
  3. Remember Hiroshima and Nagasaki.’ August 17, 2012.
  4. Memorial of 1945 Nuclear Bombing of Japan.’ August 8, 2011.
  5. Hiroshima and Nagasaki Remembrance August 2009’. August 3, 2009. 

  1. Kohls, Gary G. 'Christianity and the Nagasaki Bomb'. Information Clearing House, August 11, 2016. 
  2. Bruce Kidd, James Orbinski, Landon Pearson, Setsuko Thurlow, and Jean Vanier. ‘Let’s Work to Ban the Bomb.’ Ottawa Citizen, August 5, 2016. page A11.
  3. Cunningham, Finian. ‘Britain’s Incorrigible Warmongering Towards Russia.’ Information Clearing House, July 31, 2016.
  4. Clifford, Joe. ‘Corporate Media and Neocon Propaganda Will Get Millions Killed.’ Information Clearing House, July 31, 2016.
  5. Lvov, Petr. ‘Saudi Arabia is Setting a Trap for Moscow Yet Again.’ Information Clearing House, July 30, 2016.
  6. Hallian, Conn. ‘We May Be at a Greater Risk of Nuclear Catastrphe Than During the Cold War.’ Information Clearing House, July 23, 2016.
  7. Putin Issues Desperate Warning of WWIII.’ (video, 8:06 min), Alex Jones radio show,, July 7, 2016.
  8. Hudson, Michael. ‘US-NATO Border Confrontation with Russia Risks Nuclear War.’ Information Clearing House, July 19, 2016.
  9. Munich Security Report 2016, "Boundless Crises, Reckless Spoilers, Helpless Guardians," Munich Security Conference, page 25
  10. Ray, Muon. ‘Michio Kaku - Top Secret Military War Plans.’ YouTube, November 17, 2012. 13:30 minutes.