Family Tragedies – a genealogical post

For a long time now, I’ve been delving into my past. Seeking out an aboriginal ancestor of mine (of which I was sure there was one) has been trickier than I thought; it seems my family didn’t like to mix with the natives in Essex County (or so I’ve found so far).

The journey to not finding an aboriginal ancestor in my tree, however, has been illuminating even still, and, for the most part, heart-breaking.

Speaking with my Dad the other day, I asked him if he remembered his maternal grandparents. He reminded me that they had both died before my grandmother was out of her teens. Until now, I’d focused on my father’s paternal lineage, but for my next day trip into my past, I planned to take a close look at my father’s mother’s mom and dad. What I found can definitely be considered a family tragedy.

Pillon TB deaths

My family tree, showing my father’s maternal lineage, the Pillons. The red X’s are those that didn’t live past childhood. The pink X’s made it into adulthood, but still died a premature death.

I couldn’t believe it when I saw how many of my grandma’s aunts and uncles had passed away so early on in life. Her own father only lived to be 45 years old. What could possibly have happened? I especially noted the deaths of Norman and Forest (less than a year and less than five years old respectively), only three days apart. It had to be disease.

Sure enough, when I looked into each of their death certificates, the case of death was some variation of tuberculosis, croup or diphtheria. In a small log house with so many children, I’m not surprised that infection persisted, but this seemed a bit excessive.

Pillon children's gravestone

Gravestone marking the premature deaths of the Pillon children, in St. John the Baptist Cemetery in Amherstburg.

I noticed on one death certificate that under the section “treatment”, there was a line written, “attended by faith healer”, which makes this whole situation even more tragic. Bernadette, who lived to be 24 years old, suffered from tuberculosis her entire life. My great grandfather, Maurice, finally succumbed to the disease in 1928.

What did I learn from this particular sojourn into my family’s past? Ironically, Windsor was the location of one of the first of Canada’s many sanitoriums, which are regarded as the front runners to modern, clean health facilities we see today. Too bad the Pillons placed their faith in God above their trust in their fellow man’s successes in sanitary health care.

Also, I feel damn lucky to be here.

Art Challenge – Day Four

Since I’ve already shared my favourite urban shots, it only seems appropriate that I also share my favourite rural images. Here you go!

A couple of kangas on the road in rural Tasmania.

A couple of kangas on the road in rural Tasmania.

A couple shares an intimate moment on Centre Island in Toronto.

A couple shares an intimate moment on Centre Island in Toronto.

A pretty dock in Lasalle with lots of fall colouring.

A pretty dock in Lasalle with lots of fall colouring.

Art Challenge – Day Three

Sorry for the lapse in consistency… I took the weekend off… from this very, very strenuous challenge. :P

Day three and I’m sharing some of what I think are some of my most exciting images – the Quad Trees. Basically, they’re tree portraits, mirrored horizontally and then mirrored again vertically. So simple, but the results are intricate and beautiful (IMHO).

quadtree01_5x7 quadtree02_5x7 quadtree05_5x7

Art Challenge – Day 2

Day two of the challenge, and I’ve decided to share some of my favourite urban shots.

When I was growing up, I always said that I’d never live in a city… the bustle, the odor, the expense… I just couldn’t see myself dealing with it all that well, after growing up in rural Essex County. But I was wrong. I loved living in Toronto. I love living in Windsor now, and before that London. Everything at your fingertips, and there is no need for a car. :)


TTC streetcar, probably on Queen West or King West.


The mighty Canderel building in downtown Windsor.


The Globe Trading Co. warehouse in Detroit.

Art Challenge – Day One

My friend Stef challenged me… post three pieces of your artwork and nominate two of your friends to join the challenge each day, for five days. That’s five projects, and 15 pieces of art, and 10 friends. That’s a beautiful spreadsheet. Are charts and graphs considered art?

Love that song. Can’t look at a pie chart without it popping into my head.

Anyways – down to business. The first three pieces of art are from a TtVF series I did back in 2006. There’s four pics, the last is of the contraption I McGuyvered together to get my digital SLR to shoot Through the ViewFinder of my twin lens reflex medium format film camera. The contraption is so big because my 18-85mm doesn’t focus that close. :/305961645_90eceeb82e_o




Fuck Respect

2915484265_579ab35d08_oI’ve been trying to be more positive. Less cynical.

Working in retail makes it tough.

Today a woman came in to pick up her order, and when she was told it wasn’t ready just yet, she proceeded to bitch and moan about how she got an email saying it was, indeed, ready for her to pick up. I explained to her why she received that email prematurely; the message is sent automatically by head office in Mississauga one hour after we start working on the order, but Mississauga has no idea when we have technical difficulties with our machines, which is, sadly, often.

She then starts yammering about how flawed that system is (preaching to the choir, yo), and how inconvenient  this is for her and blah blah blah. But all throughout her tirade, she’s dropping f-bombs on me. I finally just said, “Whoa, language.”

She glared at me and angrily retorted, “What, you’ve never heard the word ‘fuck’ before?”

“Of course I have, but not so much in public and not so much at work,” I answered. “It’s a respect thing, for me.”

Then she says… and really, this should make me laugh, but honestly, it just makes me more despondent … “It’s got nothing to do with respect,” (clearly, I thought after), “It’s just the proper use of the English language.”




There were so many things wrong with her response, it soured my entire morning. It stung even more, knowing that my assistant manager didn’t have my back at all. I wasn’t expecting her to throw down the gloves or anything, but a calm statement about treating retail employees like humans with feelings would’ve sufficed.

And there, we’ve hit the root of the problem. Customer service representatives are not humans with feelings, are they? They are made in a factory in China somewhere with the sole purpose of serving the public while getting shit on, made up of a resilient polymer that sloughs off the filth with hardly any work at all. The shiny exterior so slick and non-porous that even those that live and work closely with them mistake these droids for their original mould. But they are truly, truly fake.

At least the good ones are.

So, now that I’ve written this, two paths stretch out clear in front of me.

Do I aspire to become an exemplary CSR, disingenuous and sparkly, lobotomized happily ever after?

Or do I uphold my own integrity, spit out the blood from biting my tongue so much and try to survive, however miserably?

I wish I had a choice.


I haven’t blogged in a while. I’ve lost my creative force. I can’t say which is the cause, and which is the affect. Blogging was a motivation for me, though, and I miss being creative. So I’m going to start blogging again.

I’m listening to Alt-J’s new album, This Is All Yours, and it’s good. I can’t tell if it’s as good as their first album, yet, but it’s definitely Alt-J. I do love a distinct sound. Anyways, I’m listening to this album, and my speakers are also picking up the CB radio conversation happening in my neighbourhood. The thing is, it kinda works. Only Alt-J.

A couple photos…


Allison, on the left, was a true beauty. With brave wings she flies.


Stacey, who just lost a best friend. Thinking of her...

Stacey, who just lost a best friend. Thinking of her…