Author Ted Barris Shares Stories of Medics in the Line of Fire

Award-winning journalist, author and broadcaster Ted Barris was the guest speaker at the February 20th Canadian Club of Halton dinner. He discussed his latest book Rush to Danger: Medics in the Line of Fire, which shares the stories of medical personnel in times of war.

The book was inspired by Ted’s father’s experience in the Second World War. Ted’s father, Alex Barris, was a pioneer in Canadian television, remembered by many as host of The Barris Beat, named after his daily show-biz column in The Globe and Mail and later The Toronto Telegram.  What many don’t know about Alex Barris is that he served as a medic in the US Army during the war, and saw action in the aftermath of the Battle of the Bulge.

Ted began his talk with how his father became a medic for the US Army. When Alex Barris enlisted he was asked where he would like to be placed, to which he responded “wherever I’m needed”. Ted showed the audience a photo of his father’s application to the army, which stated his occupation as Sewing Machine Operator. Ted explained that his father’s aunt was a seamstress and his father sometimes helped by stitching the lining of jackets. Since there was a need for medics, Ted said he can only imagine the US Army saying “if you can stitch a jacket, you can stitch a body.”

Ted also shared his journey researching his father’s experience in the war. While looking through military records, Ted found a veteran who served as a medic alongside his father, Tony Mellaci. Tony shared that Alex developed a medical newsletter – The Weekly Dose – to which he was the reporter, writer, and editor and publisher. Tony gave Ted copies of the newsletters he still had. Tony also shared the story that on February 12, 1945 four medics were sent into Campholz Woods in search for wounded soldiers. They didn’t return, so that evening Alex Barris went into the woods by himself and brought them back. Alex Barris was awarded the Bronze Star for his act of heroism. Ted knew that his father received a Bronze Star from the Second World War, but never knew the story behind it.

Shortly after Ted finished writing Rush to Danger, he received an invitation from the 94th Infantry Division of the Historical Society and 319th Medical Battalion to join them for a tour tracing the Battle of the Bulge. Ted shared that he knew this was an opportunity he could not miss! Along the tour Ted met Al Theobald, whose childhood home in Borg, Germany served as a first aid station during the Second World War. It just happened to be that this was also the first aid station where Alex Barris served. Al walked Ted through the bunkers, trenches, fox holes and dense woods of Campholz, and took him to his mother’s home in Borg, the former first aid station. When Ted returned home, he rewrote the entire book. Ted shared that Al Theobald brought him closer to his father’s wartime experience than he’d ever been before.

In addition to his father’s story, Ted Barris shares the stories of medical personnel over the range of 150 years; from the American Civil War to the ongoing crises in the Middle East. This includes John McCrae, Edith Cavell, and Jacob Markowitz (whose story inspired the award-winning classic film The Bridge Over the River Kwai). Ted says he learned that Jacob Markowitz attended over 9,000 patients using only handmade tools. He personally conducted over 7,000 procedures, 3,800 transfusions and saved over 5,000 soldiers. While Jacob’s story inspired the movie, he is never mentioned in the film.

Ted ended his talk by saying that through his research and interviews, he was able to share insights as to why these men and women risk their lives in war zones and why they rush to danger.

About Ted Barris

Ted Barris is an award-winning journalist, author, and broadcaster. For more than 40 years, his writing has regularly appeared in the national press as well as in magazines as diverse as Air Force, esprit de corps, and Zoomer. He has also worked as host and contributor for most CBC Radio network programs, and on TV Ontario.

After 18 years teaching, he retired in 2017 as a full-time professor of journalism at Toronto’s Centennial College.

Ted is the author of 19 bestselling non-fiction books, including a series on wartime Canada. His 17th book, The Great Escape: A Canadian Story, was honored with a 2014 Libris Non-Fiction Book of the Year Award.

Article by Kristen Curry

The Making of the October Crisis

On October 5th, 1970 four young men riding in a stolen taxi pulled up to the property of British Trade Commissioner James Cross. Three men jumped out, one dressed as a delivery man carrying a package. He knocked on the door and the Cross’ nanny opened the door holding an infant.

“Birthday present for Mr. Cross” said the delivery man “but you’ll have to sign for it.”

 “I don’t have a pen” the nanny replied.

 “Here’s one” the delivery man said as he tore off the gift wrapping to reveal a machine gun. The two other men then revealed their revolvers.

The three men entered the Cross home and found James Cross upstairs in the master bedroom getting dressed and discussing the week ahead with his wife. The three men marched James Cross out of his house at gunpoint and put him in the back seat of the taxi. And so began the October Crisis of 1970.

Guest speaker D’Arcy Jenish

This is how Journalist and Author D’Arcy Jenish began his talk at the Canadian Club of Halton on January 23rd at the Oakville Conference Centre. Jenish discussed his latest book The Making of the October Crisis: Canada’s Long Nightmare of Terrorism at the Hands of the FLQ in which he explores the origins of the FLQ, what kept it going for nearly eight years, and why the passage of time has not deepened and clarified our understanding of this traumatic period in the history of our country. The October Crisis led to over 500 arrests – although most were never charged or sentenced.

D’Arcy Jenish explained how the October Crisis was the culmination of a long campaign of urban terrorism that began in Montreal in the Spring of 1963 with a wave of bombings. It continued year after year with bombings, bank robberies, kidnappings and murder.

Jenish’s interest in these events began in 2010 as he was researching information for an article on the October Crisis for the 40th Anniversary. Jenish called a reporter from the Montréal Gazette who introduced him to Robert Coté,who was the Head of the Montréal Bomb Squad during the 1960’s. Coté oversaw the investigation of many bombings throughout Montréal including the 1968 bombing at City Hall, the 1968 bombing of the Montréal Stock Exchange, and the 1969 bombing of the Mayor’s Office. Jenish shared some of Coté’s stories including the time he dismantled 24 FLQ bombs with his bare hands and without any protection.

Robert Coté also shared the story of the arrest of Pierre-Paul Geoffroy. Police received a tip which led them to Geoffroy’s apartment – where they found three bombs and 160 sticks of dynamite. Geoffroy admitted to his role in 31 bombing incidents including the City Hall and Stock Exchange, but refused to identify any other FLQ members. To the shock of the court, Mr. Geoffroy pleaded guilty to 129 charges receiving 124 concurrent life sentences – this was the harshest sentence delivered in the British Commonwealth.

Jenish explained that he is the first writer, in English or French, to interview retired police offers charged with investigating terrorist acts and organizations. D’Arcy Jenish also relied on Québec government documents and the memoirs of former terrorists to reveal the meticulous planning that went into the kidnapping of James Cross and the recklessness behind the kidnapping of Pierre Laporte.

Jenish also discussed how the kidnappers evaded police for weeks and he provided an eyewitness account of the arrest of the Laporte kidnappers in December 1970. He continued to discuss the Cross kidnappers who spent nearly a decade in exile (in Cuba and France) and what became of the prominent terrorists.

D’Arcy Jenish ended the evening taking questions from the audience which included the reception of the book in Québec, the sentencing of the terrorists, and the outcome of the Cross and Laporte families.

October 2020 will mark the 50th anniversary of the October Crisis – one of the most serious terrorist acts carried out on Canadian soil, which led to the only invocation of the War Measures Act in Canadian history.

About D’Arcy Jenish

D’Arcy Jenish graduated from the University of Western Ontario with a degree in English. He began his journalism career at small town newspapers in southwestern Ontario, then returned to the West in 1979 and became a Senior Editor at Alberta Report in Edmonton. He stayed seven years, covering business, politics and sports amid a period of political upheaval and economic discord.

In the fall of 1985 Jenish became Alberta Report’s first Ottawa Bureau Chief. His mandate was to cover national affairs from a regional perspective and his work in the capital quickly came to the attention of a larger rival. In November, 1986, he joined Maclean’s, Canada’s National Newsmagazine, as a Senior Writer. Jenish interviewed and wrote about leading personalities in the worlds of sports, business, the arts and the sciences. He covered royal tours, federal elections and major trials, but always kept an eye open for the local or regional story that would touch readers across the country.

Jenish left Maclean’s in June, 2001 and developed a thriving freelance writing business. He writes magazine features, newspaper commentary, speeches, corporate histories and corporate reports. He has written for the Globe and Mail, National Post, Toronto Star, The Walrus, Toronto Life and Legion Magazine.

Jenish is the author of seven works of historical non-fiction. His histories of the Stanley Cup, the Montreal Canadiens and the NHL were national bestsellers. His two books about the opening and settlement of the Canadian West both won major national awards.

Article written by Kristen Curry

Barry & Angie Wylie Featured

Barry & Angie Wylie were featured in Neighbours of Glen Abbey in the November 2019 edition under the “Resident Feature.”

The article is appropriately titled “Establishing Connections and Helping Others.”

To read the full article, click on this link.

CCH now accepts digital payment to register

Over the summer, members of the Canadian Club of Halton Board explored ways to; 1) reduce the work effort in managing events, 2) provide greater convenience to register for events, and 3) reduce our banking and related credit card processing fees. We are pleased to say we made good progress in all three areas.

Now you can pay online (or use e-transfers) to register in advance of an event! E-transfers will go directly in to the CCH account rather than to Barry which was our past practice.

Out website has been upgraded to a “secure” site. You’ll note a little lock icon next to our URL name. This means there is an SSL certificate in place that ensures all transactions are encrypted, meaning we can now accept credit card payments via the website. You should always look for the lock on any website if you are entering personal or credit card information.

You will find a link on the speaker’s information page, a blue button “Purchase Tickets”. You can also click on “Tickets” on the main menu. Once you have completed your information, you can indicate if you wish your information to be securely stored, so you don’t need to enter it each time. You will set a password to log in to the secured area for next time.

Treasurer Spence Williams commented “by utilizing technology we are able to provide more convenience to our members and guests. When you purchase your tickets online, you will receive an email confirmation, and we receive a registration confirmation.” You will still be able to pay at the event as in the past, but our goal is to reduce the number of transactions at the event. “The more we can automate our registration process helps reduce the administrative work involved with each event” commented Barry Wylie, President of the Canadian Club of Halton. Making online payments by credit card or e transfers will eliminate standing in line to have your transaction processed the night of the event.

In addition to online purchase of event tickets for members and guests, we have also included the ability to purchase memberships. You will still receive an email from Barry advising your membership is due for renewal, then visit the site to make your payment. You can do a membership renewal and purchase event tickets on the same transaction.

These changes will allow us to be more efficient while reducing banking fees. Keeping expenses to a minimum helps keep membership fees as low as possible.

Season Starts with Co-Author of Empty Planet, Darrell Bricker

The 2019/2020 season of the Canadian Club of Halton (our 34th) starts on Thursday, September 26 with guest speaker Darrell Bricker, Global CEO of Ipsos Public Affairs.

Darrell Bricker and John Ibbitson (Globe and Mail Writer at Large), co-authoured Empty Planet: The Shock of Global Population Decline, published this past February.

Attached are 3 recent Globe and Mail articles from Darrell and John drawing attention to the impacts of declining birth rates and aging populations around the world that you may find interesting.

A multi-page feature article by Darrell & John titled “The Vanishing” was published in the Globe and Mail on January 24 prior to the release of their book. It can be viewed at:

When the world’s population shrinks, Canada is poised to grow and prosper

The book itself is very readable with the authors clearly stating what they see happening with global populations through to 2050 and beyond, and the consequences to countries that restrict immigration now or in the future.

The book is a real eye-opener!

Enjoy the summer and we hope to see you in September.



Janet Bedford – A Good Friend

To say the announcement of Janet’s sudden passing was a shock would be an understatement. Only days before, Janet was capturing photos at our speaking event and taking time to pen an article for Oakville News and our website.

It didn’t matter which event was happening in Oakville, there was a good chance that Janet would be there, giving of her time, with her camera in hand. For the past decade Janet has been a good friend to the Canadian Club of Halton. The photos you see on this website are hers. The articles capturing the hightlights of our speakers comments in our blog are hers.  As webmaster, I met Janet three years ago when I joined CCH.  She was very excited to know we had created a website and was quick to offer her talent and time to provide photos and a write up of out guest speakers. We had a good sytem going,  Janet would drop a USB key to Barry Wylie who would select the photos and identify those in them, then pass the USB to me. I would load the photos on the site and do the same with the article that usually followed shortly after. On Sunday afternoon she delivered the USB to Barry along with a 15 minute chat, I picked the USB up from Barry Monday morning and Janet emailed her article to Barry Tuesday at noon. Tuesday evening Janet was gone.

We are reminded how fragile is life, and also the impact one person can have in their community. At her visitations Friday evening and Saturday afternoon it was evident there were so many who had the benefit of knowing Janet. Her love of family, her work, her participation with so many community organizations will be her legacy. Her constant smile a memory for all.

The Canadian Club of Halton has made a donation to the McMaster Children’s Foundation in Janet’s memory.

Below are some of the responses received by Barry Wylie after he sent a note out to our membership and others in the community.

We will truly miss her smiling face and enthusiastic encouragement to get up from the table so she could capture our presence in a photo

Janet was a lovely person who brought joy and a fierce spirit to the world

Such an upbeat lady

She struck me as a very happy and engaging lady

She was such a vibrant lovely person

Janet’s gentle nature and smiling face

We always chatted when we saw one another – she was so positive and had a smile on her face every night

She was a spirited woman and will be very much missed

She was a memorable and kind person

I am going to miss her and her hugs greatly – she always made me smile

We met back in 2006 when I started to work in Oakville and I attended many of her art exhibits, talked to her at the Chamber events and got even closer over the Canadian Club dinners the last few years

She was such a positive, wonderful person

She was a good friend – I have known her for many, many years – she loved taking pics at all the Chamber events and thoroughly enjoyed talking to people

I will miss her big smile and generous heart

I always appreciated Janet’s upbeat attitude especially the first time I attended the Canadian Club – she was so welcoming and friendly

Janet used to come to our yoga class too – she was a lovely lady

She was such a lovely lady – your pic from last week sums it all up – that’s who she was

She never showed her stress, just her joy in taking photos for others

Such a humane, intelligent, and outrageously generous and warm-hearted soul

She was a kind and compassionate lady

She brought the community together through her camera lens

Clearly Janet touched many on her earthly journey. I’m sure she is adjusting her camera settings to account for the light in heaven as she watches over us.

Janet you will be missed.


Dr. Terry Bennett on Autism Spectrum Disorder

The Canadian Club of Halton hosted Dr. Terry Bennett MD as guest speaker at their latest dinner meeting at the Oakville Conference Centre. Her subject, “Learning from Children and Families Affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)”, is a timely one. ASD is a high profile mental health and development issue affecting thousands of children, adolescents and adults and their families in Ontario and across Canada.

Co-Director of the McMaster Autism Research Team and a Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist with the Offord Centre for Child Studies, Dr. Bennett provided her audience with a basic understanding of ASD – its causes, how it’s treated and why it seems to be on the rise. ASD refers to a range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviours, speech and nonverbal communication, as well as by unique strengths and differences. Autism’s most obvious signs tend to appear between 2 and 3 years of age although in some cases as early as 18 months. The prevalence of autism in Canadian children is now estimated to be 1 in 42 boys and 1 in 189 girls.

Dr. Bennett commented “When you have met one child with autism, you have met one child with autism”. No two are the same. “45% are affected by an intellectual disability, 65% have language impairments, 79% have motor skill differences or delays, 50-70% have emotional and behavioral challenges and 50-80% have sleep disorders and other medical challenges”.

Dr. Bennett’s clinical and research interests focus on developmental psychiatry – understanding risk and protective factors for optimal child mental health and development, as well as how prevention and timely intervention programs can
help children, youth and families. She believes that autistic children can achieve enriched mental health and the the blessing of advanced development and functioning when they engage the help of social supports, coping and
psychological resources.

 The autistic child wants to be thought of as someone who feels “I am different, not less”. This summed up Dr. Bennett’s talk for me. “Look at my strengths, my personal bests, and my surprises.” Focus on strength. Reduce disability. Talk to dimensions and growth.

 MacArt, the McMaster Autism Research Team, is advancing autism care through meaningful research, promoting early intervention, celebrating differences and tailoring a family centered approach to ASD children – in fact, to children of all ages.

More information can be found at and the Offord Centre for Child Studies

Article by Janet Bedford

View photos from event.


Peter Hohenadel – My 12-Minute Walk to the Country

Peter Hohenadel has faith in Canada’s agricultural system.

He is an agriculture graduate of the University of Guelph with a long career working with farmers and the companies that provide products and services to them. For the past five years Peter was the Director, Agriculture and Food, at The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair. He was the featured guest speaker at the latest Canadian Club of Halton dinner at the Oakville Conference Centre. His presentation “My 12-Minute Walk to the Country: Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Agriculture and Food” drew on his experiences with “The Royal” and dispelled many negative opinions about the food we produce and consume but raised some concerns about the struggle to attract the younger generation to the many opportunities in the industry.

Born and raised in the city and currently residing in downtown Toronto, just a 12-minute walk to the Exhibition Place fairgrounds, Peter is now working as a consultant in food and agriculture. He has also been an active member on the Board of AgScape, the voice of agriculture in the classroom for Ontario ( located in Milton. He is currently assisting AgScape as its Interim Executive Director.

“I’ve worked in agriculture all my career”, Peter says, “studied it in school and visited hundreds of farms across Canada. Like many of us in agriculture, we wish the urban public would take a science-based view of modern farming. It is an indisputable fact that Canada has some of the safest food on the planet. Many urbanites I encounter, however, seem to prefer an emotion-based perspective on food, which is that if it seems icky, it must be unsafe. An independent research study some years ago found that when presented with the concept of feeding silage to cattle – chopped plant material stored in a silo where it ferments to improve palatability and nutrient release – a number of urban respondents said they would not eat meat or dairy products from animals that had been fed such a gross diet.”

Other topics covered in Peter’s remarks and in the subsequent question & answer period included the science and safety of genetically modified foods (for resistance to pathogens and herbicides and for better nutrient profiles), organics, the cost of farmland and farming equipment, industry standards, transportation of food animals, the risks of monoculture, food waste, perfect looking fruits and vegetables vs “seconds”, and flavour vs the demand for year-round availability of fresh foods.

View photos from event.



Travis Steffens – Lemurs, Forests, and People

A snowy early winter evening on November 15 welcomed Canadian Club of Halton dinner guests to a fascinating and educational presentation on the island nation of Madagascar situated off the southeast coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean. The guest speaker was Travis Steffens, the Founder and Executive Director of Planet Madagascar, a Canadian not-for-profit conservation education & community development organization that is working to protect Madagascar’s biodiversity while improving the lives of the people who live there. With a BSc in Primatology and a Masters in Anthropology both from the University of Calgary, and a PhD in Evolutionary Anthropology from the University of Toronto, Travis, and his team, are interested in understanding how primates respond to habitat loss and fragmentation, and in applying research results that include the participation of the residents of local communities. Madagascar is the 4th largest island in the world, roughly the size of Alberta, with a population of 26 million, 2/3 of whom live on less than $1 US per day. Millions of years ago the separation of Madagascar from the landmasses of Africa, India, Australia and Antarctica resulted in its now being home to an abundance of plants and animals found nowhere else on Earth, especially lemurs which are primates and of which there are over 100 species, almost all classified as rare, vulnerable, or endangered. With his presentation titled “Lemurs, Forests and People: Building Sustainable Forest Communities in Madagascar”, Travis informed the audience about Planet Madagascar’s efforts to educate and train the local residents about the importance of responsible fire management and prevention, forest restoration, conservation of lemurs, conservation education programs for children and adults, and a women’s cooperative focused on sustainable agroforestry and forest restoration and eventually projects that will include sanitation, women’s health and education. More information about Planet Madagascar can be found at View photos from event. Maple_Leaf_Twitter

Blair Roblin – Our Aging World

Dr. Blair Roblin was the guest speaker at the October 18 Canadian Club of Halton dinner where he shared his thoughts about the biggest social phenomenon to hit the 21st century – the aging of our society. He discussed how this will soon impact all facets of our lives including health care, employment, consumer marketing and technology.

Dr. Roblin holds a PhD in health policy & gerontology from the University of Toronto and a Masters degree in disability studies from York University, as well as a law degree, an MBA and a Chartered Business Valuator designation. As a consultant to business, his insights have been drawn from over 30 years of investment banking experience, advising boards and management teams on growth strategies, mergers, acquisitions and capital markets.

“Health care is the largest single expense for most governments, and seniors’ care is the biggest component” Dr. Roblin says. As a researcher in health care services for seniors, he spoke at length about the growing demand for long-term care beds and for home care alternatives, the lengthening waiting lists and the disparity in the funding of home care services compared to long-term care facilities. He admitted that his vision of alternative housing through a program he dubbed as “Home Sweet Home” where like-minded seniors live together in a private home helping one another, staying fit, encouraging a healthy life style and giving seniors continuing ways to contribute will not work under Ontario’s current regulations.

“The economic implications of aging extend all the way from pension plans to consumer markets. As the role of the older worker expands, management teams and HR departments strive to reconfigure the workplace while the law tries to keep up” Dr. Roblin says.

Ageism, discrimination on the basis of a person’s age, portrays seniors as feeble, senile, bad drivers, depressed, disabled, constipated and lonely. However, seniors today are feeling much younger and “are more focused on creative activity and individual rights and they even look quite different from seniors of the past.”

View photos from event.