Friday, 25 June 2010


Did you ever hear wonderful news that you couldn't believe? For me, leaving Jericho Hill School for the Deaf and Blind in Vancouver, British Columbia for the very last time seemed like a distant dream. Forty years ago today, June 25th, that dream came true but I didn't realize it then. Had I done so, it would have been the happiest day of my childhood.

I had heard certain administrators at the school talk of students being reintegrated into the public system but I never dreamt I'd be so fortunate. In fact, this excerpt from Deliverance From Jericho (Six Years in a Blind School) shows how unreal that possibility seemed at the time.


One evening, as we were leaving the Dining Hall, Mrs. Corrigan surprised us with a visit. Mr. Thynne instructed everybody to wait outside at the bottom of the steps while she announced something very important from the landing.

"I have good news for a few of you. Some of you children won't be coming back in September. Instead, you'll be attending public school near your homes."

Our principal began listing names as my attention wandered. I doubted that I would be among those privileged students. Suddenly, she mentioned my name. That jolted me back to reality. Could that honestly happen to me? Was I actually going to be in a regular school again next autumn? It seemed too good to be true. As I feared being hurt if the administrators arbitrarily changed their minds, I restrained my hopes and dismissed such an unbelievable promise.


I would have likewise taken the minor mishaps of travel in stride had I known that I would never again set foot in that place I so passionately despised. Here's how my last day at the institution went.


After all the tedious school activities were over, it was time to pack our belongings. Along with my suitcases, I decided I would bring a shopping bag filled with whatever would not fit in my luggage.

When we arrived at the airport, some of my possessions fell out of the bag at the precise moment when everybody was leaving the bus. As I felt around under the seats, Mr. Thynne said, "You're holding us up. Why did you have to bring so much stuff anyway?" I managed to escape the bus with my luggage intact. Behind me I could hear the rest of the boys murmuring about how my accident made them late.

Apart from that mishap, my home coming was uneventful. The hard times were behind me for the moment and I knew I could relax for two glorious months.


I'm pleased to say that i not only was enrolled in a public school much closer to my home but I graduated high school in 1975. This proved to me that I could have gone all the way through the local school system had somebody provided me with a blackboard reader and magnifying glass. This would have saved the British Columbia taxpayers thousands of dollars too.

I'm delighted that many disabled children are now educated locally and some are even home-schooled. Very few students need to be torn from their families and sent off to distant asylums for long periods of time. Instead of tearful farewells, most of these fortunate kids know they'll be home for lunch or after classes end that day.

Please check out the InScribe Writers Group site for more information regarding my memoirs and writing.

I also publish posts each Friday on Wordpress. On the InScribe Writers Group blog, I'll post on June 28 regarding a sublime father-son moment I had in 1965. The blog owner graciously lets me post there once a month. Please check out both links.

Friday, 18 June 2010


Living here in this tiny prairie hamlet has been like a permanent writer's retreat for me. It was an answer to my many anguished prayers for a quiet place near a small town that had a grocery store and a post office. Though I miss being able to take a city bus to any shop I desire, I wouldn't trade this three bedroom house for any in Edmonton.

Since moving from the noise-ridden metropolis, which had been my home for almost thirty years, I have written many freelance articles. My two memoirs were also "penned" here and self-published by a Calgary company called Blitzprint.

From my first book, When a Man Loves a Rabbit (Learning and Living With Bunnies), here is a brief account of how I arrived in this writer's paradise.


Poor Gideon had to stay in his cage for most of that eagerly anticipated day on which I moved to Radway. Pastor Doug arrived at ten o'clock that morning with his black pickup truck and we hauled about five loads of furniture and boxes into it while my little prince fumed in his prison. Gideon just couldn't understand why he suddenly wasn't allowed to roam free in his accustomed way.

My bunny, his cage and litter were taken on the last trip that evening. I worried that he'd stress in the carrier, which we had put in the truck cab, but the hour-long trip didn't bother him too badly. Maybe he'd given up being free by that time.

Doug left my place a little after midnight and I was so weary from hauling things that I put Gideon's cage in the bathroom, placed his litter box by the tub and gave him his pellets. Once again he went into his head-bobbing routine. He periscoped and put his paws on the tub and toilet, trying to get a better view of the new place.

I was about to lock Gideon in the cage again when I realized I could contain him in the room. It was about five feet by twelve and he had plenty of space. Bathrooms are great places to keep rabbits in because there aren't many things they can chew on or ruin with urine.

As I went to sleep, I marvelled at the sound of frogs croaking outside my window, instead of the rumble of traffic and the thud, thud of stereos to which I was accustomed.

When I woke up the next morning, I felt like a child at the start of summer vacation. I was free of the city racket and I actually slept without earplugs for the first time in years.

As soon as I was out of bed, I visited Gideon. He had enjoyed the night and to my delight, he used his litter box where I'd placed it. I feared he'd pee somewhere inconvenient, like in the doorway where I'd step in it.

Though I was extremely busy unpacking, I let Gideon explore the laundry room that was next to the bathroom. It was about the same shape and size, and the appliances weren't installed yet. Gideon had a great time conquering that area. In addition to his periscoping, he kept hopping between the bathroom and laundry room as if he were memorizing the route.

My little prince seemed delighted to have two new rooms to call his own and I videoed him putting his paws on things and hopping around. My bunny boy's innocent happiness gladdened my heart and made the chore of unpacking that much easier.

When a Man Loves a Rabbit (Learning and Living With Bunnies) and Deliverance From Jericho (Six Years in a Blind School), my second memoir, are available at the InScribe writers group site. I hope to have my third, and most likely final, memoir called How I Was Razed published by the end of this year.

Friday, 11 June 2010


If only somebody had shown me how easy it was to make appointments with doctors, I would most likely have better vision today. Beginning in September of 1973, my left eye had periodic episodes of fogginess with rainbows appearing around lights. I warned Mum about it but she postponed making an appointment. After a year, she still hadn't sent me to a doctor.

While reading a textbook with the closed circuit TV reader in the school library one January afternoon, I had an increasingly painful headache. Using my left eye instead of my right didn't help matters either. After an hour, my patience gave out. "I know I'll get a bad grade but this reading assignment is killing me," I thought as I turned off the machine and walked out of the library..

I lay down on my bed as soon as I arrived in my room and slept for two hours. When I awoke, the vision in both eyes was foggy. The right eye cleared up the next morning but the left one didn't. When I told Mum that weekend about what happened, she promised to call the doctor.

Five months later, Mum made the appointment and I visited an ophthalmologist. "You've got glaucoma," the doctor informed me after measuring my eye pressures. "Take these drops in both eyes twice a day and see me in a month or so."

When the pharmacist at a nearby drug store filled my prescription, the price for such a tiny bottle of liquid astonished me. Even so, I carefully followed the doctor's instructions. The foggy episodes in my right eye stopped and the headaches went away but I could barely see with my left one.

"How did your doctor appointment go?" Sister R asked as I walked into her kitchen through the back door the next Wednesday afternoon.

She turned to check the supper cooking on the stove as I said, "The doctor says I've got glaucoma."

She whirled around, shook her finger in my face, and bellowed, "You lost your healing! Brother H laid his hands specially on you and prayed and you had to lose your faith!"

I was so unprepared for this verbal assault that I remained speechless throughout her five-minute tirade. "How could I know that I'd be diagnosed with glaucoma?" I thought. With all the willpower I could muster, I resisted the urge to turn and storm out the door, never to return.

Throughout the meal and the meeting afterward, I fumed inwardly at the utter unfairness of the situation. My mind was so preoccupied that I scarcely heard what Brother H taught.


The previous paragraphs came from my How I Was Razed manuscript. They demonstrate the cruelty of the name-it-and-claim-it faith healing cults and my earnest desire to be cured of my poor vision. God willing, I hope to have this memoir in print by November. My desire is that it will comfort, edify, and encourage those who were wounded spiritually in similar aberrant churches.

In addition to this upcoming book, I've written When a Man Loves a Rabbit (Learning and Living With Bunnies), a collection of delightful and poignant tales of my life with house rabbits. I also wrote Deliverance From Jericho (Six Years in a Blind School), an exposé of life in a government institution and the way being there effected me. Descriptions of both memoirs, plus a paragraph about my freelance writing work, are on my PayPal-equipped InScribe page. E-mail me for further information or if you don't have PayPal but still wish to place an order.

Friday, 4 June 2010


I wish to apologize that this blog post has nothing to do with The Burkiss Way, The humorous and satirical BBC radio program that was popular in the UK during the late seventies. In actual fact, this is the story of a teacher who taught me about how plants grow. She also played a trick on me which was in no way inspired by The Burkiss Way, being that the incident happened ten years before the program first aired. From my Deliverance From Jericho (Six Years in a Blind School) memoir, that never once mentions The Burkiss Way, here is what happened.


Along with the usual clothes and school work folders, Mrs. Parker allowed me to take home the plants which we grew in Mrs. Patrick's class. I cannot recall what variety they were but I fondly remember a trick which my favourite teacher played on me. Along with my seed of whatever it was we planted, Mrs. Patrick sprinkled various other seeds which all sprouted too. "I didn't think they'd all come up," she admitted to me afterwards.

I took my duties seriously, having been warned that the plants would wither and die if I failed to water them. On the first day of our education in gardening, I poured a cup of water into the wooden planter as our teacher instructed. When I touched the soil, it still felt dry. I decided maybe it needed more and poured in another glass. As the dirt still felt dry, I poured a third glass into the planter.

"Brucey, stop!" Mrs. Patrick exclaimed. "You're getting water all over the floor." I looked down at my shoes and realized I had caused a small flood. "There are holes in the bottom of the planter so the plants won't get too much water and drown."

"I'm sorry for the mess," I apologized. "Will I get in trouble for this?"

"Don't worry, the janitor will mop this up," she reassured.

When I showed Mom the plants, she was amazed by the colour of the dirt. It was brown and not black like the prairie soil she knew since childhood.


Deliverance from Jericho contains many more vignettes of what life was like in that government-run institution. These range from poignant experiences of homesickness to hilarious incidents of mischief. This 196-page paperback, containing 6 black and white photos, is available through the PayPal-equipped and Burkiss Way-free InScribe writers group website. E-mail me for further information or if you don't have PayPal but still wish to place an order. I promise not to mention The Burkiss Way either. Of course, anybody who wishes to discuss The Burkiss Way with me is welcome to do so.