Tag Archives: Poverty

Just Another Day in Paradise

Just Another Day in Paradise

Photo– Linda Seccaspina San Francisco =Snapshots from an “Occupied” nation Open Salon 2011

This was the thirteenth in a series—- a column I used to do called “Horse with No Names” about the strangers that I met in my life.

May 2004, San Francisco

On Wednesday I stopped at a crossing light next to a homeless man that was pushing an overloaded shopping cart. I said good morning to him, he nodded and returned the greeting. I had not written anything in awhile for my column ‘Horses with No Names’ series because quite frankly there was no one that really stood out. When I write, I want words of honesty to come from my heart or I will not tell the story.

I really wanted this man to know someone gave a damn so I asked him his name. He told me it was Tony, but everyone called him “Caveman”. I looked directly into his eyes and could feel he had a story in him that I wanted to know.  I asked him if I could take a picture and he nodded affirmatively and we crossed the street.

As I took his picture I asked him how he got his name and he told me that he had received it when he belonged to ‘The Rainbow Family Gathering’. Not quite knowing what that was I Googled it and found out it was communities of people, who congregate in remote forests around the world for one or more weeks at a time with the stated intention of living a shared ideology of peace, harmony, freedom, and respect. 

Tony told me that at one of the gatherings someone had given him two large bones for his dogs and he ran around with one in each hand like a mad man. Looking at his wild dreads and envisioning the scenario in my mind I had no problem seeing this vision quite clearly how he got the name. He then told me he was exactly 36.9 years old as he counted the 9 months that he was in his mother’s womb as part of his age.

Tony was a really good person in his heart. I asked him what he would like people to know about him. Immediately words rushed out telling me that all he cared about was his fellow man. He told me he lived his life much like the film “Pay it Forward”. In one of my favourite movies 11 year old Trevor (Hayley Joel Osment) carries forth a teaching assignment to put into action a pyramid scheme based on doing good deeds rather than for profit. The recipient of the favour passes the favour to someone else and so on. How grand would this be if we all lived like this?

Tony told me if anyone needed a coat for the Bay area chill he was the first one to offer his and he asked for nothing in return. For Tony it is all about unconditional love. He has no worldly goods, so he looks for nothing else and he loves life. As I grasped his hand to thank him I could feel the energy of love come through his hand to mine.

When we get up every day do we live our life like Tony?

Do we appreciate what we have?

Do we take life for granted?

I walked away from Tony with a lot of questions in my mind.  Who is giving Tony the unconditional love that he so richly deserves? There are so many cuts to county, provincial and federal  budgets that have left little for people that need it the most.

Who loves them?

Most people have never really sat down and got to know a homeless person. I do stories on them because they are no different than you or me– they just have a different story.

Photo– Linda Seccaspina San Francisco =Snapshots from an “Occupied” nation Open Salon 2011

Update July 2022

So why did I decide to tell this story this week?

Last week I had a woman who was 62 call me and ask if I knew a good place for her to camp. I asked her why she was camping, and she immediately told me she had been evicted. What if your own mother told you she was camping because she was homeless? 

For far too long we have dealt with homelessness by warehousing folks in emergency shelters — if you can find room. Things will never change if politicians, media and most importantly us think the current solutions are okay. I was lucky after being on the phone for a few hours to find a temporary roof over her head– but, nothing is permanent. So when life gets hard, try to remember the life you complain about is only a dream to some people.

Poverty and homelessness have become the norm. Homeless people that die on the street is not news. In contrast– a drop in the stock market is. Just remember that person on the street is someone’s father or someone’s mother and they all have a story. Unfortunately, we have come dangerously close to accepting the homeless situation as a problem that we just can’t solve.

Photo– Linda Seccaspina San Francisco =Snapshots from an “Occupied” nation Open Salon 2011

The Lady Who Sang the Blues-Time Travel

Horses with No Names- The People’s Father Christmas

So I Met This Ticket Scalper – Horses With No Names

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past — Part 9

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past — Part 8

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past — Part 7

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past — Part 6

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past — Part 5

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past — Part 4

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past — Part 3

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past — Part 2

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past Part 1

When Low Income was Really Low Income– Tragedy in Lanark County– the 60s

When Low Income was Really Low Income– Tragedy in Lanark County– the 60s


Clipped from The Ottawa Journal13 May 1965, ThuPage 21

No one likes sad or controversial times of the past but they did occur and we should not forget them ever. This is a reminder of things we should not allow to happen again.

The inflationary pressure of the post-war years subsided during the 1950s. Perhaps the pent-up demand of the war years had been satisfied by the end of the 1940s. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) increased by only about 6 points between 1950 and 1960.
Consequently, of the decades studied, the 1950s saw the largest gains in real wages. The overall average annual wage increased by 43% to $16,000 in 1960. The average annual wage of men rose by 44%, from $12,800 in 1950 to nearly $18,500 in 1960, and that of women by 36% from $7,400 to $10,000.

Saving our planet, lifting people out of poverty, advancing economic growth… these are one and the same fight. We must connect the dots between climate change, water scarcity, energy shortages, global health, food security and women’s empowerment. Solutions to one problem must be solutions for all. As long as poverty, injustice and gross inequality persist in our world, none of us can truly rest.




Clipped from The Ottawa Journal13 May 1965, ThuPage 21


Clipped from The Ottawa Journal13 May 1965, ThuPage 21


Clipped from The Ottawa Journal13 May 1965, ThuPage 21


Clipped from The Ottawa Journal13 May 1965, ThuPage 21


Tragedy of the 60s — Cole Family Fire



This week we had Emily Hollington, Director of Social Services; Housing etc for Lanark County at our council meeting give us the details of a job that looks impossible at times.


This was a question for Emily I had on housing..


I received this note from Sheila McCallum and the senior residents of Elizabeth Court here in Carleton Place and would like to share this edited note from them as I feel it is important. This is what Sheila wrote:

Last night a discussion was held regarding the swearing in of new Council and promises made by most of them during their campaign regarding housing for low income seniors. I don’t recall, but I am sure these same promises were made by the previous mayor and council for the last 8 years.

The dire need is another Elizabeth Court residence that is strictly for seniors and incorporates both market and rent geared to income units.  There is such a waiting list here that applications are no longer being made available to prospective tenants.

We, the residents of Elizabeth Court are so fortunate to live in an affordable, well maintained, secure home. We all  have many acquaintances yearning for that same peace of mind and wondering what can be done. Thank you for taking the time to read this epistle and giving consideration to the contents.

Sheila McCallum Elizabeth Court

So, I asked-

Each one of us newly elected to council spoke about the urgency of senior and low income housing.  The reality is and I have been learning a lot since I joined council is that: Where you live in Lanark County determines wait time for housing. When it comes to wait times, Carleton Place has the longest waits at 7 years on average in 2017 with one bedrooms being the longest wait.  However in Mississippi Mills, the wait is less and a lot of their clients are coming from Carleton Place as there is nothing available around here for them.

As great as the need is here  few want to do low income housing as there is no profit in it  and there is little support for landlords to get into the business. In some cities there is a mandate that developers have to provide a certain low percentage of low income housing and of course if you talk to them about it here they are not interested in it. If you are young and homeless there are options- if you are over 50 like myself it is a big issue.
I know we can’t pull rabbits out of our hats- but surely something can be done. I see the County’s next step is a 20 unit apt building in Carleton Place– but it’s not enough and surely not geared specifically to seniors. My question is– If we can’t do it alone can we not join up with other communities like Mississippi Mills and see if we can do something together– or should we just stop promising future housing?

Thank you

Linda Seccaspina

Basically her answer was there are some things we can do to help, such as tax breaks and lowered development fees, but there is not much funding as cuts, freezes and omissions in the provincial budget have made local social services and low income folks nervous and it’s getting worse — so we just do the best we can. Is this the answer I want to hear? Is this the answer you want to hear? Of course it isn’t but this serious item is on our agenda-trust me. All of us care and will do what we can.

Why is Almonte ahead?

Rose Mary Sarsfield added:  Mississippi Mills probably started sooner to solve the senior issues problem. Jeff Mill’s father and ACDC  (Almonte Community Development Corporation) and the Hub and were solving the issues of housing for low income and seniors in the 1970s. But the growing community brings in more needs. So many people who come to live here from elsewhere want to have their aging parents nearby. Fortunately Orchard View has taken some of that strain.

Marjorie Gaw–Before the building of Town And Country there was just a board of Community minded volunteers, who had skills and knowledge and a vision…There had been a fire in what was then referred to as Irish Town and a whole family perished, I think they had nine children…there were no town services in that area. People had to get their drinking water from the old water tower… This tragedy led these community minded people to work together to develop what became Town and Country Apartments …They called themselves Almonte Community Builders (I think) they managed to connect with Algonquin College and through that they developed the skills require to access Government Funding… Now this is just a skeleton of how it was done…but those people were brilliant and determined, and successful Marie Seaman,Stan Mills, Herb Pragnell, John Levi, Senior, are names that come to mind…Karen Slater became the first employee. The symbol on the Mills logo represents “out of the ashes” and refers to the fire. As a fairly early employee of the Mills, we were all extremely proud of the history. Someone who has the history can fill in the blanks but this is just what I can remember. I apologize for the names I have missed. This Board of Directors did much more than establish Town and Country Apartments…which you will find in the history books if you are interested in them. This accounting is strictly from my memory as a past employee of ACDC/ The Mills. But this will probably answer you question as to why Almonte got into public housing early.



Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun and Screamin’ Mamas (USA)

Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place.


Missing Food- A Real-Life Scary Tale

Tragedy of the 60s — Cole Family Fire

Relief of the Destitute Poor in Ireland — Names Names Names

Missing Food- A Real-Life Scary Tale


In early 2016, after nine years  Downtown Carleton Place made the decision to suspend its Maskeraid Halloween Parade and optioned for a daytime event. It was one of the many events that brought donations in to the Lanark County Food Bank in October–now the food bank is attempting to find a solution for that loss.

 Manager Karin Nakamura found out through an email on Sept 23  from Downtown Carleton Place that the several hundred pounds of food was not going to be donated at the end of October and also donations collected from parade spectators.

Today is Halloween- and between you and me I have a couple of real true-life scary stories.

When I lived in California it was a regular occurrence to see families living in cars on the street. One family camped outside my building parked over night for  months. Bob the father had taught for a few years in an area high school and was laid off due to budget cuts. That teaching job had kept the family of 4 with barely a roof over their heads, payment of a few bills and just enough to pay for his wife’s insulin medication. There wasn’t a lot left for food, even with a job. Now homeless, they were in dire straits. Like those in need in Lanark County they used a food bank to help supplement their food.

When I volunteered at the Oakland Children’s Hospital Thrift stores years ago I remember a woman who came in and filled out a form so she could get some free clothes to search for employment. I quickly noticed her hands shaking so badly she couldn’t keep a steady hand to fill the form out. I asked her if I could help her and she began to cry. She told me she had not eaten in 4 days, and it took everything for her to sit in a chair and accept the food we immediately went out and got her.


Independent Store drop off –455 McNeely Ave Carleton Place

Bob and the young woman are only a couple of stories I could tell you about poverty and hunger that I have seen in my lifetime. Did you know that just over 13% of Canadians live in a state of food insecurity, which means they do not have reliable access to adequate amounts of safe, good-quality, nutritious food?

All sorts of people need the Lanark County Food Bank: families with children, employed people whose low wages do not cover basic living essentials, individuals on social assistance, and Canadians living on a fixed income, including seniors and people with disabilities.


Royal Bank Drop Off-  93 Bridge Street Carleton Place

 When you do your groceries throw in a few extra things for the Lanark County Food Bank this week and next if you can. If your family enjoys, needs or uses it– then so will all their families. Let’s help them make up that loss this month.

They say over 850,000 Canadians use a food bank each month– no one can help everyone–but everyone can help someone.

Remember the Lanark County Food Bank gets NO government funding!

Please donate to:

Lanark County Food Bank
5 Allan Street
Carleton Place, ON K7C 1T1
(613) 257-8546
They also have  an opportunity to win 600 dozen eggs – please vote. This would mean a lot to a lot of people.
or here
 Carleton Place – Lanark County Food Bank – The Hunger Stop
Shout out to Caldwell Street School
The gang at Caldwell Street Public School – UCDSB collected almost 800 lbs. of food for us yesterday. Amazing haul folks – thank you
Michael Crossan St. Gregory Catholic School – Carleton Place dropped by the warehouse yesterday with a 270 lb. gift from the kids.

Their big food drive is on November 12th. The food you donate this November sustains their families into the New Year.

Patrice’s in Almonte, and Freshco, Giant Tiger and Mitchell’s in Carleton Place will have pre-packaged bags for sale or you can pick your own.

Please give if you can and please share the post with your friends.

Missie Moo — Gwynenth Paltrow $29 a week for Food Challenge — The Reality of the Results


 Gwyneth Paltrow bailed on the $29 dollar challenge..This is our person of the day Missie.. She took the challenge. Here are her results:


Missie has also given up shampoo and see what she uses now.. Really interesting blog.


Poverty is no laughing matter. Its not a game. Its not a joke and its not always something you can help. All too often I hear…I couldn’t do it. Yes you could. If you had too.

Hearing people say we need to teach the poor about nutrition also makes me feel like this

How about we have some common sense and make nutrition cheaper? Theirs a classic idea!

I went to my local stores and bought 29$ worth of food for a week to help the non prepared people learn how to live poor in case they ever fall upon hardship. In case your wondering and read the article about Gwyneth, no it doesn’t contain  limes or beans. But I do have an uncanny resemblance to Gwenny POO.

I’ve lived cheap. I’ve had too. No I am not a drug addict or an alcoholic who spent their money. Just a mom with two boys. I’m blessed that I don’t live like that anymore. My boys arefortunate to not do with out, but just as my mom did to me I will do with them and teach them how to eat and live cheap just in case hardship hits. They will survive.

To all the people that live with two incomes and live beyond their needs and never think about how they will survive because they have credit cards they don’t care if they max and don’t want to have to do with out in order to teach their children how to cope and live in a recession or poverty, you will starve and die. Does that piss you off? This is how i feel about you being pissy with what I just said here

Lets get started.
1.69 (I’m twitching thinking about this plastic butter fake, but i will move on)
This equals $28. 02
For breakfast kid A and Kid B will have a bun and margarine and one egg each, except  Sunday, we are out of eggs and buns.
You wont eat breakfast its for the kids.
Monday you will make a big old pot of macaroni and tomato juice with beef/pork. you will eat this MON TUE WED for lunch and dinner.
Thursday you will make soup from the chicken and carrots and potatoes. A big old pot again and eat it for THURSDAY FRI SAT  lunch and dinner.
Sunday your out so for breakfast you fry up valuable potatoes for breakfast. then add in any extra carrots  for lunch and dinner…If you run low mix in some bread (oh yeah your out). It spreads out the potatoes.
Sound good? No, didn’t think so.
I’m lucky my mother taught me to bake bread from scratch, That’s right by hand. She taught me how to stretch out meals. Just in case. I know how to can food. I know how to make cheap gigantic meals that I can freeze and save. Just in case.
Now imagine this budget with school age children. The pressure to pack healthy food on their lunch. Juice boxes, snacks, sandwich meat and fruit.
Affordable healthy food. The poor are not stupid. Just poor.
Grow gardens people. Eat and can the rest. freeze leftovers. You should have a month just in case.
Stay crunchy folks and love one another regardless of income level.

Don’t forget our Lanark County Food Bank where EVERY SINGLE DAY is a challenge.

Address: 5 Allan St, Carleton Place, ON
Phone:(613) 257-8546
Monday Closed
Tuesday 9:00 am – 1:00 pm
Wednesday 5:00 – 7:00 pm
Thursday 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
Friday 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
Saturday Closed
Sunday Closed
“Communities without Hunger“  is their mission is to provide safe and nutritional food assistance to persons in need  Remember that 1st Annual hike for Hunger is Saturday May 2nd 1-4pm at the Goodwood Marsh Trail in Beckwith.

All donations are welcomed (except expired, opened, or homemade food). They often have a need for certain items, depending on the month or season. Here’s their most recent top 10 items they need to replenish at the food bank: