Jack Knox: The word on Port Alice, mystery ring, $10 bill

Jack Knox mugshot genericHeading out of town for a couple of days. Time to tie up some loose ends left dangling from earlier columns…

Way up on the north Island, they still hope to resurrect the cellulose mill that sustained tiny Port Alice for a century — but it won’t be easy.

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When the Neucel mill closed in March 2015, idling its 400 employees, Port Alice reeled. It got worse when Neucel failed to pay close to $1 million in property taxes this year, arguing that it needed to devote the money to reviving the mill instead. The municipality had to slash its budget. The hockey rink didn’t open this fall.

Neucel vice-president Warren Beatty sees two keys to reopening the mill: securing a steady supply of fibre, and working out a new (read cheaper) contract with the union. The company thought it had done the latter at the end of August, but when Unifor Local 514 presented the deal to it members, they rejected it. The company and union are to meet again Dec. 7.

With only 600 or so full-time residents, Port Alice has half the population it did 20 years ago, but Beatty, who is also a municipal councillor, sees signs of life. “The vacancy rate is down. The number of houses for sale is as low as I’ve seen it since moving here in 2012.”

• • •

Alas, no one has claimed the ring that a mystery trick-or-treater dropped on Dr. Joyce Clearihue’s Uplands lawn 40 years ago.

She sent it to me this Halloween, hoping a little publicity would help return it to its rightful owner. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.

For the record, it’s a silver ring bearing the crest of the Royal Canadian Air Force. Inside is inscribed “Lin love Kaye.” Eagle-eyed reader Mel Felts noticed that the crown above the crest is that of a king, meaning the ring must predate the coronation of Queen Elizabeth in 1952.

• • • 

Merna Forster, the Victoria historian who drove the campaign for more female faces on Canadian banknotes, received what was probably the first Viola Desmond $10 bill in Victoria.

Can’t spend it, though: It’s framed, a gift from the Bank of Canada in recognition of Forster’s efforts. “It’s really lovely.”

That was the day after the first of the bills were released Nov. 19. A contact at the bank informed Forster then that she would have to wait a bit before fulfilling her dream of seeing a stack of the new notes come streaming out of an ATM. “They told me it will take six to eight weeks before they’re in banks across the country.”

Happily, she discovered Friday that the bills have reached Victoria — so now you can get one, too.

• • • 

Last Sunday’s column, which featured a selection of words that readers said they would happily never hear again, spawned a spate of late entries.

“It’s the confusion between lie and lay which drives me nuts,” wrote Shawnigan Lake’s Joanna Weston. It also irks her when of is needlessly appended to outside. (To paraphrase Tina Turner: What’s of got to do with it?)

Neil MacPherson fusses when we are lumped in with the Pacific Northwest. “Pacific Northwest is fine if you’re in Rupert or an American in Seattle referring to your country’s geography. When I look at the map, Victoria is Pacific Southwest!” Actually, relative to the Pacfic Ocean, we’re to the east, he adds.

Verna Hall confessed to being vexed by the confusion of bring and take. “Sadly, bring is edging out take, as in ‘I’m going to bring my daughter to work with me tomorrow.’ If it were tomorrow and Dad was at work, he did bring his daughter. It’s all about direction and so obvious I sigh.”

Cheryl Cuddeford cringes at gifted as a verb. “An object is ‘given’ or ‘donated’ or ‘bequeathed,’ not gifted.”

Bowser’s Robert B. Hale railed against the mis-use of basic and basically, words as overworked as a 7-Eleven clerk on Christmas Eve. Basically, he’s right.

TC business writer Carla Wilson chimed in with the frou-frou artisan and the pro forma/meaningless I’m so excited. (Pro tip: Don’t tell her you’re so excited about the artisanal pulp mill you’re pitching for Beacon Hill Park.)

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