Editorials, like the weather and other cycles, have something of a seasonal rhythm to them, although that may not always be obvious to the casual reader. Sure, over the course of a year there are many one-time topics that come up as a result of what we sometimes call “spot news.” And they get commented on. Likewise, a controversial topic can dominate both the news and editorial pages for a period of time – sometimes quite a period of time. You wouldn’t have to look too far through our 2011 editorials – or even some from the first half of this year – to find the names Ryan Land and Bev Hammond.
But names and issues can also disappear over time as circumstances change –again part of a cycle. We think it unlikely, barring the truly unforeseen, that you’ll be reading the name Bev Hammond in our editorials much in future editorials, while Ryan Land’s name will likely continue to show up fairly regularly in our news pages, since he’s the corporate affairs manager for Vale’s Manitoba Operations now, but far less often on the editorial page now his chapter as principal of R.D. Parker Collegiate is closed.
It really is amazing how our collective focus as a community can change over a relatively short time. If you were to go back to 2008 and our editorial page you’d be reading lots about the so-called two per cent “Johnston Meal Tax,” a name coined by his opponents after Mayor Tim Johnston. The Toronto-based Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association, the Winnipeg-based Manitoba Restaurant and Food Services Association and the Thompson Restaurant and Hotel Association together gathered more than 5,500 signatures on a petition to oppose the proposed tax.
The City of Thompson expected to bring in $330,000 a year with the meal tax, but the Province of Manitoba, which had the final say under the Municipal Revenue Act, nixed the Johnston Meal Tax, along with two other proposed liquor and land transfer taxes. A hotel tax was allowed to go ahead.
The question is who remembers much about it today four years later and who was on which side (other than Mayor Tim Johnston, of course) and why?
There are at least a handful of topics, however, we like to comment on every year at a certain time because they’re worth remarking on by way of a reminder to ourselves of their importance. Summer in Northern Manitoba falls into that category. And why not? Does it get any finer than this? Hot sunshine, blue skies and long, long hours of daylight still, even though we’re a few weeks past the longest day of the year. The sun still sets after 10 p.m. You won’t find that in the south. Perhaps that’s one of those things we forget about and take too much for granted living in the North.
Put all those weighty political matters aside and out of your mind. Even politicians are on the summer barbecue circuit. It’s part of what it means to be a Canadian even in a non-election year in Manitoba.
Most of us need no extra encouragement to head out to Paint Lake, just 32 kilometres south of Thompson.
Paint Lake Provincial Park opened in 1972 and cottage development began in the early 1960s. The name Paint Lake comes from the Cree name Manuminan Sakahigan, translated by geologist Joseph Burr Tyrrell in 1915 as Red Paint Lake. The name may derive from painted navigation markers that guided Cree inhabitants through the labyrinthine reaches of the lake. The name Paint Lake appears on English explorer Samuel Hearne's map of 1776. Paint Lake was the bottom of glacial Lake Agassiz. It straddles part of the Thompson Nickel Belt, a narrow band of rock trending southwest and northeast of Thompson.
Other nearby local favourites include Kwasitchewan Falls, Manitoba’s highest waterfall, with a vertical drop of 14.2 metres, and Pisew Falls, named by Cree hunters for their auditory resemblance to the hiss of the lynx, and the second-highest waterfall in the province. At Pisew Falls the Grass River drops 13 metres or 42.7 feet, changes direction, and jets down through a gorge. Kwasitchewan and Pisew are Manitoba’s two highest road-accessible waterfalls. Just down Highway 6 a little further south are Sasagiu Rapids and Setting Lake.
Slightly farther afield, but still only a few hours drive, is Wekusko Falls Provincial Park and the narrows of Tramping Lake in the southeastern part of the Grass River waterway, where Manitoba's largest known concentration of aboriginal petrographs or pictographs exist.
The ancient artwork appears on a series of 14 rockfaces on a granite outcropping that dominates the shore and includes images of deer, bison, moose, birds, fish, snakes and humans, thought to have been created 1,500 to 3,000 years ago by Algonkian-speaking ancestors of the Cree and Ojibway First Nations.
Yes, indeed, it’s time to savour summer – outdoors – North of 55.