Monday Morning Musings

Posted on October 10, 2016 under Monday Morning Musings with no comments yet


DJ dismantling the brick planter


“ There’s a reason that I love this town.”  Joel Plaskett

I have contended for a long time that Antigonish is one of the most amazing small towns in Canada. This past week, I got to witness this up close.

Regular readers ( thanks to all of you for your loyalty ) know that I am involved with local efforts to resettle Syrian refugee families. Our group ( CARE ) has  been working to bring two Syrian families to Antigonish. Early this week, we found out that a family of 6 would be arriving on October 11th. We weren’t expecting to see them until later in the fall.

A few weeks back, we managed to secure a house for them but the house required extensive renovations which our group agreed to undertake as part of our agreement with the owner of the house. We expected ( and still do ) that the necessary repairs would take our group the better part of three weeks. The work started in earnest mid week last week… with a distinct air of urgency.

What I witnessed over the last four days reinforced my belief that small towns have the capacity to “move mountains” when the call goes out. We simply put out a request for all manner of help and people started to show up. We had trades people who donated their time and services. Carpenters, painters , gardeners , handymen ( handypersons… is there a correct name in 2016?! ) all volunteered. Several people have come every day.

Local businesses have also stepped up in a big way providing us with things that we need to get the job done.

On this Thanksgiving Day, we want to thank everyone who has helped so far. We are back at it today so if you want to drop by and lend a hand today, or any day this week, drop down to the house at 31 MacLellan Street.

One of the most touching things to happen this week was the appearance at the house by Toufiq Al Zhouri. Back in Syria, he owned his own construction company with 35 employees. The war in Syria changed all that. On Saturday, he arrived at the house on MacLellan Street and proceeded to hang gyproc, a classic case of friends helping friends. When asked if he might move to Halifax to seek construction work, he was adamant that Antigonish was his new home and that the family wasn’t going anywhere. The reason? “ It is safe and quiet here,” Toufiq said.

Another person showed up a few days ago carrying a bag. She indicated that even though she was a capable of drywalling and crackfilling, her arthritis prevented her from doing this because of the pain that she experiences on a daily basis. Arthritis has not, however, stopped her from baking. She opened the bag and produced fresh bisquits, fresh rolls and a plate of ham. Needless to say, the work crew was very appreciative.

In order to keep the project on time and on budget,  I have volunteered to not wield a hammer or a paint brush. We can’t afford any setbacks! As a result, I take my share of good natured ribbing from the work crew who check my hands regularly to see if they can find a speck of dirt.

We decided to shut things down at noon last Saturday to give everyone a breather.

 In the afternoon, I cajoled my son in law, DJ Conway, to come to MacLellan Street to help dismantle a decrepit brick planter. It looked like a pretty simple job. With youthful vigor, he went at the wall with a sledge hammer. I carried the bricks to an adjacent dumpster. ( Thanks, Jeff! ). Not long after we started, three small children from the neighborhood wandered over and just like that, there were four people carrying bricks. They were in high spirits and we were happy to have them.

In short order, my wife, two daughters and two granddaughters arrived on the scene. What started out as a work crew of two ( if you include me! ), ballooned to 10. The planter was filled with soil so shovelling a mixture of bricks and dirt was required. The grandkids had a great time rescuing worms!

“ There’s a reason that I love this town.”

Have a Happy Thanksgiving and a great week.

P.S.  Next week, I’ll let you know how the arrival went at the airport for our new Syrian friends.



Tout Finis!




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