Time for the Union Jack?

21 Dec

A little over a year ago, I wrote about Dunvegan’s amateur vexillologist, Jeremy Falle. If you’re wondering, ‘vexillology’ is the study of flags. Back in September of 2021, Jeremy confessed to me that he loves flags. So much so that, as part of the landscaped entrance to his property, he installed an impressive all metal flagpole with a special hinged base. Probably handy feature for someone who flies as many different sized banners as he does. Or to be more accurate, did.

Unfortunately, Jeremy’s flag-flying days appear to be done. Over the entire course of 2022, I can’t recall seeing one fluttering proudly beside his laneway. Even the pole seems to be gone, or at least stowed for the nonce. Why, you might ask? Well, I suspect it might have something to do with last winter’s Occupy Ottawa kerfuffle. Since those heady days of anarchy-lite, displaying a Canadian flag has been conflated with the “Freedom Convoy” movement. Flying one at any time other than on Canada Day, or perhaps Remembrance Day, brands you as a fellow traveller. Which is regrettable.

Our iconic red maple leaf flag is no longer a symbol of our national pride. Over the course of the past eighteen months or so, it has been stolen from us. First, by our own Federal government. They had it lowered to ‘half mast’ semi-permanently to flagellate us with self-guilt. And then it was co-opted by the Convoy and its “long tail” franchisees, rather than creating a distinctive symbol of their own.

I’m tempted to start flying the Red Ensign or even the Union Jack again.

Dover’s shop our home

For a long while, I’ve wondered exactly where the old square log part of our home came from. I knew it had been moved to our lot in the early 1940s from downtown Dunvegan. I also knew it had previously been a feed store owned by Duncan MacKinnon. But precisely where the store was originally located remained a mystery. That is until former Dunveganite Jim Fletcher gave me a clue. In a recent email, he said he didn’t remember the MacKinnon feed store. However, he suggested that Kris “Jens” Jensen might have more information. “Jens and I are about the same age… (He) might remember going to pick up the logs… or listening to his parent’s conversations,” he told me.

I remembered getting an email from Kris Jensen about ten years ago, and found his address in my archive. So not knowing if Kris was still with us, or if his address was still operational, I sent a message into the ether and hoped for the best. And, lo and behold, I heard from him a week later. Here’s what he had to say: “I was seven years old — o.k. maybe six — when my father bought the old log house from Duncan Mackinnon (‘Dunc’ as he was called) the local cattle drover. In addition he was a feed merchant for the local farmers. He did not drive, so he had hired James (Jimmy) Campbell to be his driver. Monday was the usual day to take a load of hogs and a cow or two to the market in Montreal (Canada Packers) and take a load of feed back from the milling plant (Shur-Gain) that was deposited in the old log house. As I recall, the house needed foundation repairs, it was on stone cribbing and had a bit of sag in the roof. It stood close to the road and just west of the creek beside the cemetery.” So, at last, the mystery of our old log home was solved.

No Sunday service, but…

I just had a call from Rev. Jim to say that, since Christmas falls on Sunday this year, there will be no worship at Dunvegan’s Kenyon Presbyterian Church. However, in its place, the entire community is invited to a music-filled Christmas Eve service on, you guessed it, the 24th. The Yuletide celebration starts at 7:00 pm and will feature oodles of your favourite Christmas carols, a medley of musical guests and, of course, warmly familiar readings on the birth of Jesus Christ; more oft than not, from the Book of Luke, Chapter 2. Rev. Jim also asked that I pass along season’s greetings from the Kenyon Church. To quote from his email, ”our hopes and prayers are for a blessed Christmas season, and for God’s every blessing for 2023.”

Those sharp-eyed readers who also follow Maggie Dean’s column will have noticed the Kenyon and St. Columba churches are both holding a Christmas Eve service at 7:00 o’clock. Given that the two share Rev. Ferrier, I inquired how he could be in both places at once, and whether we were looking at a minor miracle? He replied, “Our custom with the Christmas Eve service is that the minister alternates between the two churches.” This year, Rev. Jim is in Dunvegan, while the members of St. Columba Church conduct a DIY service.

Grinch steals Christmas

I ran into former Dunveganite Alyson Graham in Alexandria last Saturday and learned that her father-in-law and long-time Dunvegan museum volunteer, Blair Williams, had lost his footing outdoors and taken a fall. Her worry was that he might have broken his hip. Luckily this wasn’t the case. Nevertheless, his injury — a broken ankle — was serious enough to require surgery. I believe Blair is now recuperating at home. On behalf of his many Dunvegan friends, I wish Blair a speedy recovery. On the plus side, he’ll be able to hang up two stockings for Santa to fill this year: the one he normally nails up, plus the sock that won’t fit over his cast.

See you next year!

I know I’m over my 900-word allotment, but hopefully the powers that be will allow me a wee bit of extra space to wish you and yours a very Happy (and uneventful) Christmas and Merry New Year.