It has been almost like the winter that wasn’t, although we had a milder one four years ago. Still, we take them as we find them. At least, Charlie does. He was quite pleased with winter a couple of days ago.  Sometimes when we are out walking, he will choose the route. He does this with a set of very simple signals. So simple, in fact, that even I can understand them. If he doesn’t want to go where I want him to, he stops and puts his front right paw up on the leash and points his face in the direction he thinks weRead More →

I put Friday’s final edition of the Guelph Mercury into the bottom drawer of our filing cabinet. We have quite a collection of significant day editions of newspapers. There’s one from the day Princess Diana died and a couple of Maclean’s magazines about her. A Toronto Star and a Toronto Sun about the Downsview SARS-stock concert in July 2003. We used to have one from the day on which the kids were born, but 3 of them have disappeared. Only the Globe from August 22 1980 is still there. I’m not sure why, but we kept the June 14 1982 Mercury.  In amongst all thoseRead More →

It was demolition by neglect. Torstar slowly pulled resources away from the Mercury over the years until it resembled your aging granny on life support. When the plug was pulled and granny died, it was very sad, but not unexpected. Sometimes you can see the blow coming from miles away but it still hurts when it hits. With the passing of the Guelph Daily Mercury we did not witness the death of independent journalism in Guelph. The Mercury hasn’t been an “independent” newspaper since it was sold to Thompson Newspapers 70 years ago. It was always independent of city hall, but Lord Thompson kept aRead More →

This morning was a bit milder than it’s been lately, which makes for a slightly more pleasant wander around the block. Bouncing from one edge of the sidewalk to another doesn’t fit the description of a proper walk. Charlie sticking his nose into the snow banks every couple of feet makes a walk a lot longer. A proper walk is supposed to be purposeful. A walk is all about the destination and getting there as quickly and directly as you can. A wander, on the other hand, is all about the journey and the smells that can be found along the way. It doesn’t evenRead More →

When Charlie wants to go for a walk he sits close by and does a whiny sort of a noise. It’s not a bark, but he knows what he wants and he wants it twice a day. Just after breakfast, and just before supper. It also happens to be when all his friends are out for a walk as well. It happened again this afternoon. I was sitting at the computer, tapping away when he sat down beside me. “Okay,” I said. “In a minute. I just have to finish this thought.” About three thoughts later, he became more persistent. He started scratching my leg,Read More →

The mind of a dog is a mystery, and that’s not a bad thing. Mysteries contain nuggets of knowledge, and all you need is a key to unlock them. Puzzle over one for a while, and you’ll find the truth that lies below. That’s what makes a walk with Charlie such an adventure. You never know where you’ll go while you go around the block. We hadn’t gone very far last Sunday when I mentioned that it was the 26th anniversary of the day on which a man went into an engineering school in Montreal and killed 14 women. “Why did he do that?” CharlieRead More →

I am Alan Pickersgill. I retired from the regularly paid workforce in July 2015. Before then, I worked as a community coordinator for two housing co-ops in Guelph, but not both at the same time. From 1995 to 2014 I wrote a weekly opinion column for the Guelph Tribune. As I rebuild my web site, I will bring links to these columns and other things I have written. I have also worked as a communications director, a workplace health and safety training developer, and a maintenance mechanic millwright. For most of my working life I belonged to a union. In various jobs I’ve been in the United ElectricalRead More →

This column was published in the Guelph Mercury in February 2005. They were planning a two-sided view of development in Guelph, but couldn’t find someone to speak in favour of uncontrolled growth. They were all too busy doing it to bother defending it. At an all-candidates meeting during the last municipal election campaign, we were asked if we favoured the creation of a green belt around Guelph. Of course, most did. Even those successful candidates who have spent the last year and a half saying yes to every development proposal brought before council. I remember thinking at the time that it doesn’t make much senseRead More →

This column was published by the Guelph Daily Mercury in December 2004. At the time, the Canadian parliament was debating legislation to legalize marriages of same-sex couples. They had already been performed in Ontario and a couple of other provinces. The legislation passed, and the sky didn’t fall. About a year and a half ago, my sister-in-law and her partner came to Ontario from their home in Tennessee to get married. For several years, they have enjoyed a stable, loving relationship which, through the wonders of in-vitro fertilization, has resulted in a daughter and a son. They can now tell the world they are happilyRead More →

From time to time I had opinion pieces published on the “op ed” pages of the Guelph Mercury and the Kitchener-Waterloo Record. The Record pieces were from the days when I was president of the Waterloo Regional Labour Council. That was in the late 80s and early 90s. It wasn’t a digital world back then and most have been lost. This column was published in the Record on Sep 04 1991. The Berlin Wall had been knocked over. Glasnost, Perestroika and Gorbachev were running the Soviet Union. The editors asked me to give my perspective on the fall of international communism. For over a hundred years,Read More →