Friday, December 31, 2021

Reflections on a New Year - Farewell 2021, Welcome 2022

Today is the last day of 2021.  2021 was not a banner year for most people on this planet.  So, I await 2022 with both hope and trepidation.  There is so much uncertainty and the world has changed drastically in the almost two years of this infernal COVID-19 pandemic.  There is no turning back.  We can only go forward carefully and with courage.  History moves in cycles and phases.  In the last century, we faced World War 1, the Spanish Flu, the Great Depression and World War II.  I did not live through any of those difficult times and I have never experienced the horrors of war.  I have never experienced poverty and I have always had a roof over my head.  I also like to say that I won the birth lottery because I was born in Canada.

The pendulum swings back and forth.  There will be good times again and there will be dark times again.  There will always be suffering and there will always be joy.  To be honest, I am disappointed that my Christmas plans and my New Year's plans had to be altered due to the pandemic.  I know that seems petty compared to the sufferings of many people over the past two years.   I realize that I am fortunate and that I have many blessings, but I still missed getting together with all my family members and friends.  I guess that makes me human. 

So far, I have not tested positive for COVID. and I am thankful for that.  I have received two vaccines and a booster shot.  Yes, the Omicron variant has spread like wildfire.  Although it is very contagious, it has been less severe than the other variants.  My hope is that once it reaches its peak, it will just flame out quickly.  We are fortunate that we live at a time when medical science is so advanced and vaccines can be developed swiftly.  

Thank you for reading Number 16 and allowing me to share my thoughts with you.  That means a great deal to me.  I wish you and your family a very Happy New Year and all the best in 2022.

All the best,


Friday, December 24, 2021

Reflections on a Second COVID Christmas

Merry Christmas to all who celebrate the great feast of the Nativity.  These are trying times, and in these difficult days, our world needs the spirit of Christmas more than ever before.  The Coronavirus, of  course, has no conception of date or time.  COVID-19 attacks when it attacks, whether it be Christmas Day or any other holiday.  It does not discriminate among human beings, although the poorest among us are always hit the hardest. To stop the spread of COVID sooner, we have to give more vaccines to developing countries.  

Let's be perfectly frank.  Drug companies are making enormous profits due to this pandemic.  In contrast, there was no patent for the vaccine for polio (Infantile Paralysis).  Dr. Jonas Salk, an American medical researcher and virologists, developed one of the first successful polio vaccines.  Salk's vaccine came into effect in 1955, but it was never patented.  Although lawyers from the National Foundation for Infantile Research investigated the possibility a patent, they decided not to pursue it, partly because it would not have been a patentable invention by the standards of the day, and partly because of Dr. Salk's reluctance.  When CBS television interviewer Edward R. Murrow asked Salk who owned patent, he famously replied, "Well, the people, I would say.  There is no patent.  Could you patent the sun?"

Dr. Jonas Salk

COVID wields a great deal of power.  It can cause untold suffering and death.  It can prevent social gatherings. It can ruin livelihoods.  However, it does not have the power to destroy the spirit of Christmas.  The Christmas spirit is eternal.  It will last forever.  COVID-19 is merely temporal.  It cannot last forever.  It cannot endure.

Yes, at times, it seems that this pandemic will never end.  We are human and we feel discouraged and fatigued by this infernal virus and its variants.  It will come to an end, though, because all things must pass.  Someday, all of this will be behind us.  It will be relegated to the dust heap of history.  Then we will face the challenge of dealing with the damage it leaves in its wake.  We will have the daunting task of building back better.  

In these dark times, I am trying to find the light.  I do not pretend that it is easy.  However, I will look toward the Star of Bethlehem to guide me, for it is a flame that can never be extinguished.

Peace and joy to people of all faiths and all races.

- Joanne

Friday, December 3, 2021

Christmas Quiz 2021

It's that time of year again and Number 16 presents a 2021 Christmas quiz.  If you think you know your facts about Christmas, put your knowledge to the test. in this 10 question challenge.  Get ready and go!  Good luck!


1,  According to the Bible, how many Wise Men or Magi from the East visited Jesus in Bethlehem?

A, There were two Wise Men from the East.

B.  There were three Wise Men from the East.

C.  There were four Wise Men from the East/

D  The Bible doesn't specify how many Wise Men there were.

E.  There were five Wise Men from the East.

2.  In the 1946 Christmas film It's A Wonderful Life, what happens every time a bell rings?

A.  George Bailey (James Stewart) awakes from his dreaming.

B.  It's a signal that George Bailey (James Stewart) has done the right thing.

C.  An angel gets his wings.

D.  It's a reminder to George Bailey (James Stewart) that he owes money to the bank.

E    None of the above.

3.  In A Christmas Carol, how many ghosts visit Ebenezer Scrooge?

A,  One

B.  Three

C.  Four

D.  Two   

E.  None

4.  Which country has a tradition of a witch dropping children's gifts through the chimney at Christmas?

A.  France

B.  Italy

C.  The Netherlands

D.  Germany

E.  Hungary

5.  In the 1964 animated Christmas TV special Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, featuring the voice of Burl Ives, who was Rudolph's father?

A. Donner

B. Blitzen

C.  Comet

D.  Cupid

E.  Dasher

6,  According to the Book of Luke in the New Testament, why did Joseph and Mary travel to the town of Bethlehem in Judea?

A.  They fled Nazareth to get away from King Herod. 

B.   They went to visit Mary's cousin, Elizabeth.

C.  Joseph was promised work in Bethlehem.

D.  An angel told Joseph to go Bethlehem in a dream.

E.  There was a census and Joseph was from the house and  lineage of David.  Since Bethlehem is "the city of David," he was required to go there.

7.  Where does Queen Elizabeth II traditionally spend the Christmas season?

A.  Buckingham Palace in London

B,  Sandringham House in Norfolk

C.  Balmoral Castle in Scotland

D.  Windsor Castle at Windsor in the English county of Berkshire

E.  Kensington Palace in London

8.  Name the Christmas song that has the following lyric:.

"Everyone dancing merrily in the good old-fashioned way."

A.  Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree

B.  Jingle Bell Rock

C.  A Holly Jolly Christmas

D.  Happy Holidays

E.  Silver Bells

9.  Feliz Navidad means Merry Christmas in which language?

A.  Portuguese

B.  Romanian

C.  German

D.  Spanish

E.  Dutch

10.  Which singer had a hit song called "Feliz Navidad?

A.  Ritchie Valens

B. Engelbert Humperdinck

C. Julio Iglesias

D. Jorge Palma

E.  Jose Feliciano


1.  D

Although Three Wise Men are always pictured, he Bible does not actually specify how many Wise Men came from the East.  (The story of the Wise Men only appears in the Book of Matthew).  According to tradition, there were three Wise Men, even though the  Biblical narrative does not mention a number. Matthew only mentions "the Magi" or "Wise Men."  They were astrologers who saw a star that signified the prophecy of a Jewish king.  Matthew says that they brought three gifts to Bethlehem - gold, frankincense and myrrh, but never that there was a trio of men.

2.  C

In the Frank Capra film It's A Wonderful Life, an angel gets his wings every time a bell rings.

3.  C

In A Christmas Carol, four ghosts visit Scrooge: The ghost of his business partner, Jacob Marley, the ghost of Christmas present, the ghost of Christmas past and the ghost of Christmas yet to come.

4. B

Italy has a tradition of a witch on a broomstick dropping gifts for children through the chimney on Epiphany Eve (the night of January 5th).  The witch is called "Befana" and is portrayed as a crooked old hag.  If a child is naughty, he or she receivers a stick instead of coal in some poorer parts of the country.

5.  A

Donner was Rudolph's father in the 1964 Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer special.  Trivia Note;  In the 1823 poem, A Visit from Saint Nicholas (Commonly known as The Night Before Christmas)Donner was originally called "Dunder."

6.  E

According the Book of Luke, there was a census. Luke 2 begins with the words "In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered."  Joseph and Mary went to Bethlehem to register.

7.  B

Sandringham House  
                                                                   PHOTO: David Dixon

The Royal Family traditionally spends Christmas and New Year at Sandringham House, the Queen's country estate in Norfolk, England.

8.  A

"Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" contains the lyric ""Everyone dancing merrily in the good old-fashioned way."  The song was written by Johnny Marx, who also wrote "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and "A Holly Jolly Christmasr."  It was recorded by Brenda Lee in 1958 and became a huge hit.

9.  D

Feliz Navidad means Merry Christmas in Spanish.

10.  E

Jose Feliciano, a Puerto Rican musician, had a Christmas hit with the song with "Feliz Navidad."

- Joanne

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

COVID testing doesn't belong in pharmacies

 Our local drug store is an important part of our daily lives. It's a place where your parents or grandparents get their medications, where you shop for a card or cosmetics—a place that’s supposed to make us feel safe.

It is NOT the place where anyone should be exposed to active cases of COVID-19. Symptomatic COVID testing is best accomplished in Health Unit organized, stand-alone locations.  COVID testing should certainly be accessible and widely available, but not at your neighbourhood Shoppers Drug Mart.

Pharmacy employees and pharmacy chains alike have spoken out against the Ford government's pharmacy testing scheme — citing concerns for their own health and the health of their customers.

If you agree with me, please let the Ontario government know that its pharmacy testing plan is not consistent with the advice of the province's health experts.  There's an provincial election in June of 2022, so let your voices be heard.  Click on the link below and sign a petition.

Stop Symptomatic COVID Testing at Ontario Pharmacies! |

- Joanne

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Highway 413 should never be built. Here's why.

Doug Ford

If you care about the environment, then you should let the Ontario government know that you are opposed to their plan to build Highway 413.

Here are the facts.  Highway 413 will cost billions in taxpayer's money to build.  It will be both a financial and an environmental disaster for the province.  It will pave over the Greenbelt, contaminate waterways and destroy valuable farmland.  It will also ruin the treasured archeological sites of the Huron-Wendat people.  

This is not the kind of Ontario that puts people and the environment first, ahead of cars and wealthy developers.  It should also be noted that the proposed highway will save drivers about 30 seconds a trip.  Is that worth the destruction of the Greenbelt?

As Joni Mitchell sang, "Don't it always seem to go, you don't know what you've got 'til its gone.  They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.,"

Look how Toronto's view of Lake Ontario has been blocked by condominium after condominium surrounding the lake.  Don't let the Progressive? Conservative government of Ontario do the same to the Green Belt.

 Premier Doug Ford is trying to win the next Ontario election by appealing to the greed of some developers.  He is trying to woo drivers with the promise of new highways.  Don't let it happen.  Flood your MPPS with the message to stop Highway 413.  Ford may change his mind if  he thinks  Highway 413 will cost him the election next year.  It's the only way to reach him.

You can also donate money to launch a high-impact ad campaign to stop Highway 413 and protect our Green Belt.  Just click on the link below.

Chip in for a hard-hitting ad campaign to Stop Highway 413 |

Democracy is precious, so let your voice be heard.

- Joanne

Thursday, November 18, 2021

What's really behind Tucker Carlson's comments about VP Kamala Harris?

Tucker Carlson
Tucker Carlson of Fox News has a large captive audience.  Unfortunately, his audience is influenced by his bigoted views.  Recently, Carlson made an outrageous comment about Vice President Kamala Harris.  He said that the vice president is "is not from this country" because she went to school in Canada.  Here are his exact words: "There's a lot we don't know about Kamala Harris.  Most people probably don't know she really grew up in Canada.  It's where she went to high school.  She's not from this country in that sense, or she's certainly also from Canada."

That's a real head scratcher.  Carlson's words sound nonsensical because many people are educated in other countries, including Carlson himself.  He told a Swiss magazine that he briefly attended attended a boarding school in school in Switzerland before he "got kicked out."

So, what 's the big deal about Kamala attending school in Canada?  If you scratch beneath the surface, there's a method to Tucker's madness.  Carlson's remarks were simply a dog whistle to his far right audience.  He knows very well that it doesn't matter one iota that Kamala spent some of her high school years in Montreal.  His only intention is to paint Harris as some kind of foreigner or "illegal alien."  Why?.  He can't come right out and say that she isn't a real American because she is of Black and Indian descent.  That would be showing his true racist colours.

Here are some background facts.  Kamala Harris is an American by birth.  She was born in Oakland California on October 20, 1964.     When she was 12, Kamala and her sister moved to Montreal, Quebec.  Kamala spent her middle school and high school years in Montreal because her mother, a biologist and cancer researcher, obtained a job at a hospital in that city.  In 1982, after high school, Kamala returned to the United States to attend Howard University in Washington, D.C..  After graduating from Howard, she returned to her roots in California to attend law school.  In 1990, she was admitted to the California Bar.  From 2004 to 2011, she served as District Attorney of San Francisco.  From 2011 to 2017, she served as Attorney General of California.  She was a U.S. Senator from California from 2017 until 2021.

Vice President Kamala Harris has spent a great deal more than the constitutionally required 14 years of her life in the United States.  The truth is that it's the colour of Kamala's skin, not her palace of birth or where she went to school, that matters more to Carlson and others on the far right of the political spectrum.  Donald Trump tried to use the same tactic to discredit former President Barack Obama.  His claims that Obama was not really born in Hawaii were proven to be completely false.  Trump initiated his "birther" theory because he couldn't say that Obama was a foreigner because he was Black.  He had to make his followers believe that Obama was really from Africa or Indonesia.  

A president or prime minister's place of birth should not be an issue anyway, as long as he or she is a citizen and resident of the country he or she wishes to serve.  Vice President Harris, like any politician, is fair game for reasonable criticism.  She should not have to take flack for where she attended high school.  That is sheer bigotry.

Tucker Carlson has unfairly attacked Kamala Harris in the past.  He has criticized her for her dating history and has repeatedly mispronounced her first name.  Would he have done any of those things if she were a white male?  Somehow, I don't think so.  Senator Ted Cruz, a white Republican, was born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.  Has Tucker questioned his Americanism?

- Joanne

Monday, November 15, 2021

The politics of COVID-19

It's very sad, in fact it's tragic that COVID-19 is being politicized.  COVID is a matter of public health.  The most important thing is to protect people from the disease.  Unfortunately, those on the far right are using masks and vaccines to express their anti-government political beliefs.  They rail against such protective measures.  "The government can't tell us what to do," they whine.  What about our freedom!"  Oh yes, their precious freedom to infect others is sacrosanct.  Their freedom to cause themselves and others to die must be defended.  

Some anti-vaxxers are so extreme that they would die or have someone else die in order to protect their warped concept of freedom.  Almost nothing can be done to change their minds. So, the rest of us have to suffer because of their delusions.  I could tell a right-wing anti-vaxxer over and over again that freedom is not absolute.  I could tell them ad infinitum that they don't have the right to harm others.  They will seldom listen.  

The right-wing anti-vaxxers are not necessarily uneducated individuals.  Take Senator Ted Cruz for instance.  He's a graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Law School.  So, what has been concerning him lately?  Climate change?  The pandemic?  Inflation?  Homelessness and poverty?  Health care?  Why, of course not!  He's in an a terrible tizzy over that awful Big Bird on Sesame StreetThat yellow Muppet has some nerve!   He's encouraging children to get vaccinated.  The horror!  That dastardly bird actually declared that he had received the COVID-19 vaccine.  He then  remarked, "My wing is feeling a little sore, but it'll give my body an extra protective boost that keeps me and others healthy."  That's when the Texas Republican took immediate action.  "Government propaganda . . . for your 5-year-old!" Cruz tweeted.  

My! My!  What a hero!  What a patriot, that Ted Cruz!  He's protecting children from becoming brain-washed.  Where was Senator Cruz last winter when millions of people in Texas were without water or power due to a storm,  He was on a family vacation in Cancun, Mexico, while his constituents froze in the dark.  He later called it a "mistake.", but such thoughtlessness shouldn't have happened in the first place.  Would he even have acknowledged his "mistake" if he hadn't been caught with his fingers in the cookie jar?  It wasn't a tiny error either.  Ted Cruz abandoned millions of people who were suffering from a disaster.

Football star Aaron Rodgers is another example.  Rodgers is the quarterback for the Green Bay Packers.  He attended Butte College and the University of California, Berkeley.  He was also knowledgeable enough to be a guest host on the popular game show Jeopardy!  You'd think he would have known better than not to protect himself and other from COVID.  Such was not the case.  Rodgers said he had been vaccinated when he hadn't.  Then he tested positive for the virus.  While unvaccinated, he violated COVID protocol and appeared unmasked at postgame press conferences.  

Aaron Rodgers

Rodgers denied that he was an anti-vaxxer. He claimed that he had an "allergy to an ingredient that's in the mRNA vaccines."  Then he said that he did his own research with the assistance of reliable conspiracy-minded podcaster Joe Regan.  He also spouted the usual right-wing rhetoric about "cancel culture" and "the woke mob."         

If it weren't for the anti-vaxxers, the world would certainly b much further ahead in the fight against COVID-19.  What a shame!  It's a good thing they weren't around back when the polio vaccine came out.

- Joanne

Way to go Argos! All the best to the CFL

Remember the Toronto Argonauts.  They are the forgotten team in their home city.  They don't receive much media coverage and they're not talked about too often.  Well, I have to congratulate the Argos for finishing first in the Eastern Division of the Canadian Football League.  They have a great chance of going on to win the CFL's holy grail, the Grey Cup.  Their next game is at home tomorrow against the Edmonton Elks.  

I must admit that I have a soft spot for the CFL and the Grey Cup.  Of course, it's not as glitzy and glittery as the NFL and the Super Bowl.  Yet it has its own charm.  It's more homey and down to earth, and it is far less commercial.  Does anyone out there remember a Grey Cup ad?  

Several years ago (I think it was 2007), when the Grey Cup was held in Toronto, I visited one of the pavillions at the Toronto Convention Centre.  As it turned out, I sat at a table with a group of Americans from Baltimore.  I asked them why they were attending Grey Cup festivities.  They told me that they had been fans of the defunct Baltimore Stallions, who won the Grey Cup in 1995,  In the 1990;s, the CFL expanded into U.S. cities.  The American experiment didn't succeed and the CFL reverted to its Canadian teams only.  However. the Stallions remain  the only American franchise to capture the Canadian football championship.

For the Baltimore gang, the Grey Cup was s different experience than the  Super Bowl.  They still wanted a taste of it years after their CFL team disbanded.  I enjoyed talking to them as they provided me with another perspective.  Oh yes, they enjoyed being entertained by a Newfoundland band.

The Toronto Argonauts have won the Grey Cup a record 17 times.  They have appeared 23 times in the CFL final.  Their victories came in 1914, 1921, 1933, 1937, 1938, 1945, 1946, 1947, 1950 , 1952, 1983, 1991, 1996, 1997, 2004, 2012 and 2017.  Their record of 17 wins and six losses in those 23 games is quite good (73,9.per cent).  Furthermore, the Argonauts were founded in 1873, making them the oldest existing professional sports franchise in North America still using its original name.  To anyone who has any interest in sports history, that is impressive.  The team has its origins in a version of rugby football that existed in North America in the latter half of the 19th century.

It should be noted that the Argos had a long championship drought from 1952 until 1983.  During those years, they were regarded as loveable losers to their fans in the Toronto region and sad sacks elsewhere in Canada,  The Argos also have the distinction of winning the 100th Grey Cup in 2012 in front of the hometown crowd in Toronto.

This year's Grey Cup will take place on Sunday, December 12, 2012 at Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton.  It will be the 108th Grey Cup.  The first Grey Cup was played on December 4, 1909 at Rosedale Field in Toronto.  There was no Grey Cup last year as the entire CFL season was cancelled due to COVID-19.  2020 marked only the 5th time in Grey Cup history that the game was not played.  It was the first time the event was not held since 1919, when it was cancelled due to a rules dispute with the Canadian Rugby Union.  There also was no Grey Cup game from 1916 to 1918 as a result of World War I. 

Fortunately, the Grey Cup is back this year.  It is is a piece of Canadiana and it is uniquely ours.  I ask you, where else can you see scarlet clad Mounties carrying a championship trophy into a stadium?  

- Joanne

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Denny Doherty: The Canadian who sang about : "California Dreamin'"

Denny Doherty, circa 1967

The burst of energy that was The Mamas & The Papas was like a sun and Denny a planet orbiting it.  By turns he was obsessed with this great adventure and desperate to escape its gravitational pull . . ."

- Paul Ledoux, Halifax-born playwright and director

The Mamas and the Papas was one of the most popular and well known folk rock bands of the 1960s.  They epitomized the laid-back lifestyle of the California hippies of that decade.  The most recognized members of that legendary quartet were Cass Elliot, known as Mama Cass, and John and Michelle Phillips.  The fourth member, Denny Doherty, was not as well known, although he was the group's lead singer, with a voice that has been described as a "mellow tenor."  His former colleague, California-born Michelle Phillips, once likened his vocals to that of a "psychedelic Franck Sinatra."  As for Michelle's own voice, Time magazine called it "the purest soprano in pop music."  

Unlike the other members of the Mamas and the Papas, Denny was not an American.  Dennis Gerrard Stephen "Denny" Doherty was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada on November 29, 1940.  He was raised in the city's gritty north end, the youngest of five children, in a devout Catholic home.  His father was a dock worker and his mother was a homemaker. 

Denny Doherty launched his music career at the age of 15 with the Halifax dance band of Peter Power.  In his teenage years, Denny sang with a succession of pop-folk groups, including the Hepsters, the Colonials and the Halifax Three.  Before reaching the age of 16, he put together a quartet called the Hepsters,  For almost two years, the Hepsters played traditional folk standards at busy local clubs.  

In 1960, when Denny was 19 years old, he and his high school friends, guitarists Pat LaCroix and Richard Byrne, formed the Colonials in Montreal.  The Colonials, Denny's first folk trio, hosted a Halifax CBC TV show and performed across Canada.  After signing a contract with Columbia Records in New York, the group changed their name to the Halifax Three.  The Halifax Three scored a minor hit with a song called "The Man Who Wouldn't Sing Along With Mitch." 1n 1963, they released their second album. San Francisco Bay Blues, inspired by a visit to California.

The Halifax Three added a fourth member, Toronto guitarist Zal Yanovsky, for a U.S. tour with the Journeymen, a group that featured Denny's future bandmates with the Mamas and Papas, John and Michelle Phillips.  The Halifax Three played Carnegie Hall in New York City and became part of New York's Greenwich Village folk scene,  It was there that Denny met singer Cass Elliot, who moved in those circles..  The two became friends while Cass was performing with a group called the Big Three.  When the Halifax Three split up, Denny joined Cass, Tim Rose and Jim Hendricks as a member of the Big Three. (Cass Elliot wed Hendricks in 1963 but the marriage was annulled in 1968).

The Big Three broke up in 1964.  A new group, the Mugwumps, was formed consisting of  Cass and Hendricks, Zal Yanovsky and John Sebastian.  Although regarded as a seminal folk-rock band, the New-York based Mugwumps lasted only eight months and recorded one self-titled album, which was released after the band had dismantled.  John Sebastian and Zal Yanovsky went on to form the Lovin' Spoonful.  Meanwhile, Denny teamed up with fellow folk singers John and Michelle Phillips of the Journeymen to become The New Journeymen.  In 1965, the New Journeymen relocated to Los Angeles where they joined up with Cass Elliot to form the Mamas and the Papas.

The Halifax Three

Below is a photo of the Mugwumps: Left to right - Zal Yanovsky, Jim Hendricks, Cass Elliot and Denny Doherty.

The Mamas and the Papas burst on the music scene in 1965 with the release of their smash hit "California Dreamin'."  A string of other hit singles followed, including "Monday, Monday," "I Saw Her Again," "Got a Feelin'," "Creeque Alley" and "Dedicated to the One I Love."  The Mamas and the Papas were unique at the time because the group was made up of both men and women in an era when most singing groups were not.  Although they only stayed together for three years, they produced five albums and ten hit singles.   John Phillips was certainly the principal songwriter for the Mamas and the Papas, but Denny Doherty was also a gifted composer.  Denny co-wrote some of the group's hit songs with John, including "I Saw Her Again" and "Got a Feelin'."

Phillips, along with his wife Michelle and Cass Elliot, combined with Denny to create a beautiful, harmonious sound.  However, it was Denny Doherty who provided the main vocals for the group.  According to Larry Leblanc, Canadian editor of Billboard Magazine, "Everybody used to think that John Phillips, who wrote the songs, was also the main voice of the group, but it wasn't - it was the angelic voice of Denny Doherty.  He was overlooked but it was really his voice that carried the group."

Below is a photo of the Mamas and the Papas on The Ed Sullivan Show on June 11, 1967.  From left to right: Michelle Phillips, Cass Elliot, Denny Doherty and John Phillips.

In the summer of 1968, the breakup of the Mamas and the Papas became imminent.  The members of the group were moving in different directions.  Cass Elliot wanted to launch a solo career, while Michelle decided to pursue acting.  John and Denny both recorded solo albums.  Furthermore, the group was beset by personal problems, including heavy drug use and a web of romantic entanglements.  In the words of British music historian Barney Hoskyns: "An affair began between Michelle and Denny for whom Cass lusted."  In 1966, due to her relationships with Denny and rival musicians, Michelle was removed from the band.  Her replacement, Jill Gibson, was not well received.  She lasted about two month before Michelle returned.

John and Michelle Phillips divorced in 1969.  Cass Elliot enjoyed a successful solo career until her death in London, England on July 29, 1974.  She was only 32 years old when she died in her sleep at her London flat.  Forensic pathologist, Keith Simpson, who conducted her autopsy, concluded that the singer had died of heart failure.  Cass had a hit with "Dream a Little Dream of Me."  The song was originally on a Mamas and Papas album, but she released it as a single under her own name. 

The Mamas and the Papas reunited briefly in 1971, after which Denny Doherty concentrated on a solo recording career and began to act on stage.   In 1974, after the untimely death of Cass Elliot, Denny returned to New York and appeared on Broadway in Man on the Moon, a musical created by John Phillips and Andy Warhol.  The Man on the Moon closed after only five performances.  Not only that, but Denny discovered that he was flat broke.  However, he did recall that he still owned a house in Nova Scotia.

In 1977, Denny returned to Halifax and performed at the 1977 and 1978 Atlantic Folk Festivals. In the summer of  1978, he hosted The Denny Sho', a CBC TV music/variety show produced in the city. Denny also appeared in dramatic roles at Halifax's Neptune Theatre in plays such as The Taming of the Shrew, Much Ado About Nothing and Cabaret.  He collaborated with John Dalton, a former CBC Radio producer, on a Neptune Theatre production of Dream a Little Dream, based on the history of the Mamas and the Papas.  It opened in 1997.

In 2003, Denny produced an off-Broadway production of Dream a Little Dream: The Nearly True Story of the Mamas & the Papas.  It was created largely in response to a John Phillips Broadway musical called Straight Shooter: The True Story of John Phillips and the Mamas and the PapasDream a Little Dream contains the wonderful music of The Mama's and Papas and others of that era.  Its narrative is told from Denny's perspective and it traces the events of the turbulent times between JFK's assassination in 1963 until Cass's death in 1974.

In 1980, Denny Doherty helped to reconfigure the Mamas and the Papas, along with John Phillips, his daughter Mackenzie Phillips (star of the sitcom One Day at a Time), and Elaine "Spanky" McFarlane, of the pop band Spanky and Our Gang.  The new version of the Mamas and the Papas toured until 1986, after which Denny returned to Canada, settling in the Toronto area.

In 1998, Denny appeared in the gospel-rock musical Fire, created by Canadians Paul Ledoux and David Young,  In the late 1990s, he also played the role of  the main storyteller in The Needfire, a Celtic musical performed at the Princess of Wales Theatre in Toronto. (A personal aside: I attended a performance of The Needfire).

In addition to his musical and theatrical accomplishments, Denny established himself on Canadian TV.  From 1993 to 2001, he played the role of the Harbour Master and voiced all the characters on the CBC's children's television program Theodore Tugboat.  The show was set in a busy harbour, modelled after the one in Halifax.  

Denny as the Harbour Master
In 1999, Denny portrayed Charley McGinnis in 22 episodes of Pit Pony, a CBC TV series. In 2004, Denny performed on a CBC TV special celebrating the 25th anniversary of the career of the children's musical trio, Sharon, Lois and  Bram.  He sang "California Dreamin'" and "Who Put the Bump?" with the trio.

Denny Doherty was the father of three children: A daughter named Jessica Woods from a short-lived first marriage, a daughter, Emberly and son, John, from his 20-year marriage to his second wife,  Jeannette.  Denny meet Jeannette in New York, when she was in the chorus line of Man in the Moon. Before returning to Nova Scotia, Denny and Jeannette lived in an apartment in New York's Hell's Kitchen before moving to Halifax in 1977.  Sadly, Jeannette died of ovarian cancer in 1998.

On January 19, 2007, Denny passed away at his Mississauga, Ontario home, just west of Toronto. He was 66 years old and he died of kidney failure, following surgery on an abdominal aneurysm.  He was survived by his children and his four siblings: Frances, Joe, Denise and Joan.


* Denny's last TV appearance was on the season finale episode of the Canadian mocumentary series Trailer Park Boys (Season 7, Episode 10), as FBI Special Agent Ryan Shockneck.  Filming was completed just before his death and the episode aired on June 10, 2007.  It was dedicated to his memory.

* Michelle Phillips is the sole surviving member of the original Mama and the Papas.  Her former husband, John Phillips, died of heart failure on March 18, 2001 in Los Angeles at the age of 65.  After years of drug addiction, John's health declined and he underwent a liver transplant in 1992.

* In 2002, Zal Yanovksy, Denny Doherty's friend and fellow Canadian, died of an apparent heart attack near his home in Kingston, Ontario.  He was 58 years old at the time of his passing.  Zal achieved rock stardom as the lead guitarist for the Lovin' Spoonful, a group that had hits such as "Summer in the City" and "Do You Believe In Magic."  In 1966, Zal was arrested in the United States on a drug charge.  He returned to Canada and continued recording.  After retiring as a musician, Zal became a cook and restaurateur in Kingston.

* In 1996, Denny Doherty was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in Calgary, Alberta.  In 1998, the Mamas and the Papas were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio.

SOURCES: The Guardian obituary, "Denny Doherty: Lead Singer with the Mama and the Papas", January, 2007; Canadian Encyclopedia; Northern Stars website, Denny Doherty - Biography; CBC News obituary, "Doherty, Canadian Singer in the Mamas and the Papas, dies," January 21, 2007;  All Planet website, Denny Doherty Memorial: "'Papa' Denny Doherty: Here I am Documentary Releases 2021; Entertain this Thought website review, "Dream a Little Dream - The nearly true story of the Mamas and the Papas," March 21, 2015; Maclean's magazine; "Papa Denny and his rock 'n' roll adventure," by Brian Bergman, November 17, 1997; Wikipedia; IMDB (Internet Movie Data Base)

- Joanne

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Photos of a Thanksgiving Visit to Elora, Ontario

On Monday October 11, 2021 (Canadian Thanksgiving), I visited the community of Elora, Ontario in the township of Wellington Centre,  It is located just north of Guelph, about 117.5 kilometres (73 miles) from Toronto by car via Highway 401.  It was the perfect time to enjoy the fall foliage.

Elora is a great getaway destination.  It is known for its 19th-century limestone architecture and its gorge and conservation area.  It is a popular place for camping and hiking.


Below is a photo of the 1832 mill, which has been restored to an inn.                                                      

Elora Mill

Below is the Evelyn Restaurant/

- Joanne

Friday, September 24, 2021

Who will play the next James Bond?

If you are a James Bond fan, here is a graphic for you.  It has ben created by Select Car Leasing and it lists the actors who are most likely to succeed Daniel Craig in the role of 007.  I hope you find it informative and entertaining.

- Joanne

007: Richard Ayoade is 65% Likely to Play The Next Bond

Daniel Craig’s time in the 007 tux is coming to an end, following the long anticipated release of No Time To Die.


Almost every British actor who has ever played a suit-wearing, crime fighting character has been rumoured to play the spy, but what does data have to say about who should take over?


Studying the full series of films and each of the featuring lead actors, Select Car Leasing have created a ‘blueprint’ for a successful Bond actor.


The profile has been applied to 50 actors who are each given a percentage match based on age, height, IMDB popularity score and number of acting credits. Using the percentage scores, Select Car Leasing have revealed the actors that best fit the Bond profile.

Top 15 Actor Matches for The Role of James Bond





Current No. of Roles

Popularity by IMDB

% Match

Jack Huston


6ft 0


Top 5,000


Matt Smith


6ft 0


Top 5,000


Charlie Cox


5ft 10


Top 5,000


Elyes Gabel


6ft 0


Top 5,000


Harry Lloyd


6ft 0


Top 5,000


James Norton


6ft 1


Top 5,000


Theo James


6ft 0


Top 5,000


Joe Anderson


5ft 11


Top 5,000


Ed Skrein


6ft 1


Top 5,000


Tom Burke


6ft 0


Top 5,000


Toby Kebbell


6 ft 0


Top 5,000


O-T Fagbenle


6 ft 0


Top 5,000


Richard Ayoade


6 ft 1


Top 5,000


Joe Gilgun


6 ft


Top 5,000


Eddie Redmayne


5ft 11


Top 5,000



There’s a 65% chance Bond could be played by Richard Ayoade


Despite being one of the public’s favourite choices as the next Bond, Jean Page’s youth and lack of acting credits leave him with a 40% Bond match, therefore not even making the top 40. Also rumoured to be taking on the license to kill is quintessentially British Tom Hardy. However, Hardy’s lavish acting credits and popularity give him just a 5% likelihood of being the next Bond.


Interestingly, it’s Richard Ayoade that is a better fit to put on the tux, according to Select Car Leasing – listed in the top 15 likely actors to play Bond. The IT Crowd actor is known for his comedy but his filmography, IMDB popularity and ability to wear a suit well leaves him as a 65% match for the next James Bond. 


Doctor Who’s Matt Smith is an 80% match for Bond


The table is topped by 5 actors all awarded with an 80% match for the Bond title. Amongst them is Elyes Gabel (appearing in World War Z & Game of Thrones), Jack Huston (Boardwalk Empire), Dr. Who’s Matt Smith, Harry Lloyd (from Legion) and Daredevil’s Charlie Cox.


Charlie Cox has been relatively absent from the Bond debate – in an interview with The Independent. Cox claims it could be due to being a fairly incognito actor and staying away from social media. Despite this, Select Car Leasing’s data lists Cox would be the perfect actor to pick up the pistol.


Former Time Lord Matt Smith is also amongst the top 5 perfect actors to play Bond, but Smith himself disagrees.  Reports say the former Doctor Who star felt he could never be a serious contender to play the British spy – but he would be better placed as one of the villains in the franchise.

Select Car Leasing