Thursday, September 29, 2005

Letters, Letters And More Letters...From You

Up until now, we inside The Caravan Unlocked have shared just about everything that we've experienced, except our letters. Our blog comments are open and instantly accesible and we cherish them very much. But until recently, the velocity and tempo of the trip have been just too great to allow us to slow down and share all these letters (although Shelagh has written as many individual replies as she could). And sometimes these e-mails bring wonderful surprises, like this image (above) of St. Rest's Beach, N.B., where Shelagh and Sue took a bracing swim a few days ago.

So, as of today we'd like to announce the opening of our new mail page.

For a small, shoe-string operation that is confined to the Internet, we have generated a lot of e-mail in the last seven weeks – about 170 e-mails at last count – and the number e-mails we receive daily seems to be growing. Rest assured, these letters have contributed to the health, well being and morale of all those on this journey. And, since we can't keep all this to ourselves, we are going to start sharing it with you.

Below, you'll see the mail we've received in just the last couple of days. To see the rest follow this link to our new mail page, which we will try to update daily until the end of this journey.

Of all the e-mail received so far:
  • roughly a third is from fellow employees – the journey of The Caravan Unlocked seems to be stirring strong emotions both inside and outside CBC ranks
  • precisely two e-mails are critical. One blog early on consisted of a single line: "This is not about you, Shelagh!" which was noted. But the two e-mails were reasoned, articulate critiques of the trip and the union tactics in this lockout. And reasoned critiques are alway welcome.
  • mail of a purely personal nature has been screened out (family members write often). Other e-mail has also been screened for liable (some people are so passionate about the lockout that they name names of people whom they think are at fault, which could get us into legal trouble).
  • a number of letters are appeals to steer The Caravan to their home or community. This has worked on a few occasions. For others, previous committments have regrettably, kept us going down the road. We're still interested in these appeals, however.
  • a few of e-mails are from foreign locations (The Caravan is being followed globally) or have a foreign angle to them. One of the most impressive included a message from a woman in Switzerland who is posting her own blog on Shelagh's blog – written entirely in Italian!

There are several days to go before this project ends and we ask you to keep those letters coming. They make our hearts sing and the going a little easier.

I would like to nominate as my personal favorite message one that wasn't actually written to us. It was a CC of a September 20 letter (written in long-hand, not e-mailed) from 11-year-old Jacqueline Donner of Winnipeg. It was scanned and sent to us by her mother Lissa.

In it, Jacqueline expressed her strong opinions on the lockout to Prime Minister Paul Martin. If there are many more concerned young citizens like Jacqueline out there, the future of Canada is assured. As you will see if you visit the letters site, Jacqueline should also receive some sort of medal from the producers of CBC Radio's Between The Covers.

I have to conclude by saying the most impressive and moving thing about editting these letters is that even though most of the writers have never met Shelagh in the flesh, they write as if they are close colleagues and personal friends, which means, I guess, they really are friends and close colleagues now by virtue of writing them.

Clearly, the bond is strong between Shelagh and the authors of these messages and it has been a privlege to see them all.

- Sean Prpick, the Web Editor, Saskatoon, 29/9/05


WOW....The locals can't even dip their toes in that water (at St. Rest's Beach, N.B.) this time of year! You're an extremely talented woman/journalist and you and your caravan are doing an amazing job of making a very difficult situation better by your presence and camaraderie. Thank you Shelagh and hopefully everyone will be back where they belong very soon....Although I'm sure Newfoundlanders don't want a deal until after you've arrived...Frankly who can blame them. Safe travels and God Speed back to Vancouver and the airwaves!

- Mary Beth Cronin Proud Saint Johner and Life Long CBC Listener


Hey Shelagh,

We met during the Mitzi's Sister pub renovations and then the other day outside of U of T; my partner Lee and I brought our 15mth old twins down to support the Morning Show crew. I'm the one with the salt'n pepper hair and my partner Lee has the beautiful red hair. She's the one responsible for your egg cracking certificate. How did Premier Williams find out about that? Anyhow, I just wanted you to know how much we miss you and the CBC folks coming into our home every day. I grew up in a small town in NS, Amherst, which you are probably driving through this morning, and my parents always had the CBC playing in some form or another. I will always remember giggling with my dad at the RC Air Farce while I helped him with home repairs; staying up late with my Mom because we were both addicted to Barb Frum on the Journal, and of course before that, and still to this day, listening to the quirky stories on As It Happens. I still miss people like Barbara Frum and Peter Gzowski. Now that I have a family of my own, my boys are dancing to Canada's top 50 songs; all though I have to say, I didn't always agree with the picks...haha. We still enjoy the carrot, cabbage and curry soup that Buffy Sainte-Marie called her comfort food, on your show a few years back. I'm sorry this is going on a bit. I guess all I wanted to say is, you and all the folks on the CBC are very much missed, in the day to day lives of a lot of people and we wish you luck and send you our support in getting back on the air. I've written to my MP, Sam Bulte, and I'm encouraging everyone I come in contact with to do the same. Good luck and i love the "Caravan"...this would make a great come back show; you could start in Halifax! Haha. Thanks for reading.

- Lisa B.


Hello Shelagh and Sue,

Lynn and I thought you might like to have this image of Lynn's painting of Saints Rest Beach (see the image at the top of this blog). We will never forget our conversation on the beach with two very brave or ... very adventurous visitors from away. You looked very cold and all I could think of was, we've got to let them get back to their car to warm up and who in their right mind would swim in the Bay of Fundy at the end of September - who in their right mind would swim in the Bay of Fundy on the hottest day in August ?We hope to hear you again on air soon. Cheers.

- Lynn Wigginton and Dale Peters


Hi Shelagh,

Loved reading your piece about Dalton’s bar. I’m so glad to have this spot to read about all of you. Feeling so homesick for my people on the radio! I’ll try to watch for when you’ll be on the way back west.

- Mary-Kay , Your St. Joseph Island Friend


Dear Shelagh,

I am normally one of the very silent majority in nearly all things, but I would like to try to express at least a fraction of my appreciation for your last 25 years and for your current trip across Canada. In the last few weeks I have come to understand just how important CBC Is to me, and I am sure I am not alone. It seems that there is a reason why I don’t listen to any other radio stations. I now understand, however, that the CBC which I love consists of you and the other people who somehow string Canada together with the airwaves. Without all of you, the truth is not there, the substance is not there and the magic is completely missing. I miss the people I trust presenting me with things I want and need to know on Radio One. As for Radio Two, I think I am going to break something the next time I hear Bach segue-ing into Bartok into some unknown thing, then back to Vivaldi via Grieg - one measly movement at a time! I need the informed commentary and the human presence between each piece to keep my brain from shattering. I already knew that you were my absolute all-time favourite person on the radio from the days of your relatively minor role long ago with Max Ferguson on Saturday mornings, through the Hum Line to your current exalted state on Sounds Like Canada! You have the ability to interview someone about something in which I have absolutely no interest and to grab my attention -- and possibly even change my mind. Thank you for that. My mind is often in desperate need of changing. On the other hand, when you are talking with someone about something I do already find of interest, you ask all of the questions I would like to ask. Thank you for that, too. And for being so simply human. I think your cross Canada journey is a wonderful thing, although it is obviously an example of the right thing being driven by all the wrong reasons. The three of you deserve a great deal of admiration for undertaking such a trip -- and from visiting CBC Unplugged, it seems thousands agree. The hearts and hopes of your colleagues and of your fans are with you.


- Avaleigh Crockett, Edmonton


Hi Shelagh,

My name is Matthew Briggs. I'm a fourth year journalism student at King's College in Halifax. I am doing my honours thesis on the lockout and how it will affect the future of public broadcasting (specifically, regional programming, considering the cuts that have been made to news programming in the Atlantic provinces). I just happened upon your blog on and noticed that you Were coming to walk the picket line in Halifax on Friday. I was just wondering if I could talk to you briefly about the situation for the article?


- Matthew Briggs


Just had a good weep over your Dalton piece. My Uncle Finn and Dalton were good friends. I just love that you sat in Dalton's usual spot and drank his drink! It was lovely, touching, poignant.Take care and remember us to Sue,

- Ellen, Winnipeg, Manitoba



Don't neglect Saint John. I know the new beautiful re-aligned Trans-Canada Highway wants to take you from Fredericton to Moncton, but do make the trip down The 7 to the Port City. Lots of great CBC personalities spent time there including Brent Banbury (a fellow Saint John High School alumnus), Leon Cole, Jacqui Goode, Molly Hughes, Costas Halevrezos. Okay, Leon and Jacqui started out in Fredericton along with Anna-Maria Tremonti. Ian Hanoomansing started in Moncton. It's not just for the staff there that you should make the diversion there. Where else, for example would you find a high school celebrating it bi-centennial? That's not to mention that Saint John is one of the most architecturally interesting cities in Canada. I've found nothing like it either on the West Coast, where I lived in the nineties, or here in the GTA.

- Gordon Emmerson, Whitby, Ontario

(Editor's Note: As of today – 29/9/05 – we're in Saint John and happy to be here!)


Dear Shelagh,

Come up here in the Yukon and support our workers.... you'll get great food and great company.

- Judi, an avid CBC supporter


Anonymous Adrian said...

Dear Sheila ~

In what it says - that the lockout is still happening - it’s disheartening to see you and Natasha and Sue are still trekking this great land in your caravan.

On the other hand, people are clearly delighted to meet you in person, and this is a road-trip experience of a life-time. May you and your colleagues be back on air soon, and your journey continue into the homes of the nation.

We’ve just returned to the Gulf Islands and Vancouver Island - following Allison (Crowe)’s concert tour of eastern Canada. Everywhere we visited - in Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, PEI and Newfoundland - we heard and felt how CBC broadcasters are missed. You’re a part of our lives, and it’s not right we’re traveling our daily roads apart.

Keeping the spirit, at tour’s end we followed your advice for what to do when we reached Newfoundland. “Drink!” you said, and drink we did! In Corner Brook, Allison was ‘Screeched’ in by Angus and Donna, proprietors of Gitanos’ (where just inside the front door hangs a poster for the Woody Point Writer’s Festival - signed by yourself and assorted Canadian authors). In St. John’s the pints of Guinness and Quidi Vidi brews flowed - on George Street and beyond.

And, there in St. John’s, in the heart of the oldest street in North America, at Auntie Crae’s wonderful eatery on Water Street, is a hand-decorated box - its colourful message urging us all to support public broadcasting, and to petition the nation’s MPs and the Prime Minister to get the CBC working again!

My dear friend Helen, noting efforts in vogue to dumb down our media and culture, says that “knowledge is never out of style”. She adds, some words of Geoffrey Chaucer could well be a motto for the CBC we know and love coast-to-coast: “And gladly would he learn and gladly teach.”


8:33 PM  
Anonymous Yubi said...

Oh, oh! This afternoon I saw that ... that somebody reached my little blog ... via a link on yours! What a surprise!
Just to prepare people: I haven't translated Shelagh's posts in Italian, but I put up a couple of summaries, so that regularly on my blog-page you would see something about it ... I hope some people did as I suggested: read your posts and listen to your fantastic podcasts.
I showed "The Caravan Unlocked" to a friend who works in radio: he was a little skeptic about what podcasts could offer ... he was mesmerized ...

I hope you soon can get back to work, but won't forget all you've done and seen during this lockout.
What I found most fantastic, was the constructive way you used this lockout ...
It is a hard time on everybody, but you have made it an experience which brought a lot of positive encounters and experiences!

9:42 AM  
Anonymous site said...

Here, I don't really believe this will work.

7:19 AM  

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