Saturday, December 31, 2011


It was Grandchildren’s SleepOver Night. On Friday night, four of our five grandchildren were with us. It was designed with bonding in mind for Christine and me and the children, as well as night off for their parents. We went for a rather cold walk at White Rock Beach waterfront. We found that Andy’s Ice Cream Emporium was closed but the children saw him inside, so we turned around and stopped in front. He knows our grandchildren very well and he opened for us, so they all got a pre-supper double cone with sprinkles on top. Then we drove home for pizza.
Following that we had a painting session and each child painted an acrylic painting of a theme of his or her choice, Rainbow, Apples, Rocket, and Truck. And then sleep - wait, not so fast. First there is PJ changes, and then teeth brushing, oh forgot toothbrush so use of fingers, then the read a story, say a prayer, and then lights out, and so begins the talking and laughing, and talking and then finally, silence. And then Kailyn the oldest (11) joins the tribe. She was out with her school class for a party. And 4 year old Kadence stayed awake until Kailyn arrived. Then the two of them chatted in the dark for an hour. And in the morning, Grandma (Nana) made pancakes but not before we did a group shot, well, not including me, the shooter. Grandma and the children, first sad, then elated, and then a great happy memory photo.

Sunday, December 25, 2011


THEN: We are moments away from the entire clan gathering in our home for a Christmas lunch and then an afternoon of fun, gift giving and going outside for a long walk to tire the kids out, and then a dinner around 5 or 6 pm and then games and conversation etc.

The house is ready to receive our children and grandchildren, and there is something nostalgic happening here, because we are convinced this is our last Christmas here.
We will list the property in January and look for something smaller. After 20 years, there is some attachment to this beautiful place.Who am I kidding? A Lot of emotional attachment!
So Christine is typical fashion has set the tables for all of us, six adults and five children. It is beautiful.
We will have lunch at noon in the kitchen and then a leisurely transition to the tree in the living room and to gift exchanges. 

AND NOW: Well, actually, now I can speak in the past tense, because it has come and gone. We sat together and I read from Luke 2 and Simeon's remarks upon seeing the newborn Christ. Then we opened presents. We drag this out and watch each child and adult open a gift rather than do a mad wrapping tear. Children grow antsy of course when it's the adult's turns to open presents.

Finally Christine and I came to the BIG secret, the gifts we had saved until the last. Each of the five grandchildren received identical boxes in which was a several page graphic invitation and disclosure of Grandma's and Grandpa's plan to take everyone to Disneyland during the March school break. As they opened in unison, we asked Kailyn to read the document and each child rapidly turned pages to keep up. It was sinking in that this was real. Then each of them found a green T-shirt  with the words, "I'm Going to Disneyland.' We gave each adult a bottle of Bacchus and a 5-day entrance pass to Disneyland as well. We are excited.

Front L-R: Jeff, Kale, Gina, Tim, Kadence, Cari, Kailyn, Rear L-R: Ron, Ryan, Jayden, Christine
Then an afternoon walk outside, and a fantastic turkey dinner which Christine prepared so well. And later, table puzzles done, and games played, and songs sung at the piano, and nibbling and the traditional family portrait. At a mid-night conclusion. A great day of family fun.

Today is boxing day and some necessary cleanup.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


Today, my oldest grandson Ryan (9) and I saw the opening showing of The Adventures of Tin Tin, in 3D. We were at the Colossus Theatre. One week ago I invited him via an email sent to his mother which she shared with him. His happy reaction was “He’s taking only me?” So we both waited with anticipation. I booked tickets for us through my SCENE points card, so we gained admission at no cost at the gate, FREE. An inexpensive afternoon. My intention was to go early enough to get the best spots in the room. It was a 12:40 pm start so I picked him up at 11:30 am. That meant that we had a little more than one hour. We shared some French fries, $5.00. Then we ordered our bags of popcorn and containers of coke, $23.00.

Ryan Sept 2010
With provisions in hand we received our 3D glasses and entered showing room #11. We were the first ones inside and that was exhilarating. We had already scored, and we climbed to the second row from the projectionist wall. Sat in the middlemost two sets, and waited for 35 minutes. But that meant we saw all of the previews and ads and could get a jump on that popcorn and pop. Ryan excused himself within ten minutes to visit the washroom. Then they did some 3D test previews and were instructed to put on our 3D glasses. Ohhhh! A jet aircraft came flying at us and stopped inside the theatre and hovered over our heads. And then Tin Tin began. What an experience. At first I thought I might get a bit queasy but soon found my 3D legs. Ryan on the other hand found the movement gave him a slight headache so he watched the movie minus the specks. It was a great flick. Half way through Ryan again took a leave to relieve himself. A full litre of theatre pop is a challenge to contain. The movie was a hit with me, good, good, fun. And then when I took Ryan home, he gave me a hug of thanks, and later when I was leaving he was suddenly there beside me hugging me again. Dollars well spent. Which way to the washroom?

Sunday, December 11, 2011


Rose House - Our Beloved Home 
It's our last Christmas season in this house. We have spent twenty Christmases here, parties of people, family, Christmas Eve sleepovers, Christmas  morning gift opening, Christmas day dinners. We will sell our home soon. That's the plan. At our most objective, Christine and I know this is the right thing for us to do. Emotionally, like tonight, we don't feel like proceeding.

The fireplace flames leap with their warmth to reach us where we sit. Christine and I are alone tonight, two weeks before Christmas. The stereo is cranked and playing Handel's Messiah. Our Christmas festivities truly commence with this audit of the scriptural account of God's promised comfort, the revelation of the Comforter and the passion of the Christ who himself could find no one to comfort him on that night of his betrayal and crucifixion.

Today was an event-filled Sunday. A youth pastor was inducted into service at our church. In the afternoon Christine and I toured an open house in a complex of new townhomes. Then for supper we joined our family of children and grandchildren and a number of other children - friends of our grandson Kale who today celebrated his 7th birthday at the Spaghetti Factory.

Two grandsons Jayden and Kale born in the same year with birthdays one month apart, belong to my daughter Cari (and Tim) and my son Jeff (and Gina).

Rose House, we enjoy roses
This has been a good day and yet filled with pockets of varied emotion. And tonight at the fireside I note to myself that we will not be here next year. Rose House will not be ours. We will have sold it and relocated somewhere - a location unknown to us now. But we have always been people who trusted the Messiah, so we will trust Him about this as well.

Christine and I have lived in BC for 21 years. We came from Toronto where we lived for nine years when I pastored a church in Scarborough. In that church were a couple of elderly women who loved to treat Christine and I occasionally to a dinner out. It was their annual Christmas gift to us to take us for dinner in downtown Toronto and then to a performance of Handel’s Messiah with the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir and the Toronto Symphony at the Roy Thompson Hall. Year after year the four of us did this wonderful evening together. We loved it. Then we moved to BC and since that time over two decades ago, Christmas in our home has begun with our playing of the CDs of that outstanding oratorio.
Handel’s Messiah is an oratorio, not an opera.   Handel’s Messiah is a well regarded and popular piece of choral literature and an oratorio is not everyone’s choice of music you have all been exposed to some music from the Messiah. The music is exquisite but the best part for me is the text because it is Biblical.  With most sacred oratorios while the themes may be biblical, they do not exclusively use Biblical texts. The Messiah does do that, skillfully, brilliantly, movingly. This marriage of words and music can cause listeners to tremble in admiration of God. Handel’s Messiah is a reflective commentary on God’s Promise consisting of Christ’s Incarnation, His Passion and His Resurrection. There are three oratorio parts.The first part emphasizes that"unto us a child is born."  The second part from Handel’s Messiah uses. “Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world ” (John 1:29). Then the third part is such an encouraging and triumphant reminder of our hope.  “I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth.  For now is Christ is risen from the dead, the first-fruits of them that sleep” (Job 19:25).

Monday, November 28, 2011



For the past 45 years these have been my daily friends, my constants. They have welcomed me in the mornings when I walked into my office, wherever it was. Many bear my underlines and comments. All of them carry my name inside their covers. And today they lie contained within clean boxes, ready for me to deliver them to a new home, not mine, but new for them. They are the volumes of my pastoral library.

My personal library began with a gift, a bestowment of many books from my pastor when I was a young man of 21. James Vold was one of the pastors of Calvary Church in St. Catharines, the church in which I grew up, from boyhood to manhood. He was moving to Philadelphia and was affirming my decision to study the Bible at college level when he invited me to his office. There Pastor Vold entrusted me with commentaries and reference books that launched the birth of my library. With each college course other books were added. By the time I was hired to pastor Calvary Bible Church in Smiths Falls, Ontario, I had a reasonable working collection of books with which to compose Bible Studies and sermons. Five years there, and then seven years in Peterborough at Ferndale Bible Church and now my library filled an entire wall of my office. Then I was called to Wishing Well Acres Baptist Church in Scarborough (now called Gracepoint), named after its community. I was blessed with a healthy book allowance and over the nine years of my pastorate there, I was fortunate to build that library with the finest of reference books. The Reformation Bookstore was owned and operated by an astute gentleman, a prolific reader, whose shelves were filled only with the most helpful volumes, old masters as well as newer editions. I would call ahead to tell him what I needed and when I arrived he would have a stack of books from which I could choose the several I found most helpful. Then I came to Cloverdale Baptist Church where I pastored for ten years all the while growing my library, giving some volumes away and adding others. And I concluded my formal ministry career with six years as the president of the Evangelical Free Church of Canada (EFCC), whose home office is housed in the Fosmark Building on the campus of the Trinity Western University.

Upon retirement three years ago, I found my double door closet of my study was the only space in which I could shelve my library. So my friends sat in rows, clean, dry and waiting for the less than regular times I might need one or two of them. And now, assured that we, Christine and me, will sell this home and move to something smaller, it is obvious to me that I will not have room for my library of ministry associates. I have asked young pastors occasionally whether they might be interested in having them. The response has been underwhelming because many pastors already have a library and they want only certain volumes that supplement their collection and other pastors are accustomed to e-collections. I preferred to gift the entire library. So I discussed giving my entire collection to a Bible College called Christ for the Nations, where because their own library is small and they are seeking accreditation and therefore must enlarge their collection, my books are a welcome addition. They will be useful again. That gives me pleasure. But is it ever difficult for me to let them go. I will pray a dedicatory prayer this morning.       

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


I visited Carberry a couple of times when I served as President of the Evangelical Free Churches of Canada
Carberry, Manitoba is a rural farming community outside of Winnipeg. It's located in the prehistoric Upper Assiniboine Delta which is composed of deposits from the glacial spillway which drained meltwater from the receding Laurentian Ice Sheet by way of the Qu'Appelle Channel. Near Carberry, as it moved east the water slowed and delta marshes occurred, which allowed finer particles to settle forming the fertile Carberry Plains. Between 1878 and 1890, thousands of settlers from the East moved to take up the 160 acre homesteads offered by the government of John A MacDonald to settle the Big Plains. Their wives and children began to arrive in 1879, and the farming district of the Carberry Plains was born. Today Carberry's prosperous economic life has become inextricably bound to potato growing and processing. Carberry and the surrounding rural municipality of North Cypress has a combined population of 3400 residents. Carberry is 173 km out of Winnipeg. (Data courtesy of Carberry's A1 website)

I was visiting the congregation of Carberry Evangelical Free Church where Will Feldbush is the pastor on the occasion of this sermon delivered in 2008. The church kept me busy. I spoke five times from Friday night to Sunday night on their missions conference theme, 'For God So Loved the World.' In the video you will immediately get the sense of a small congregation in a small building with a warmth and friendliness between pastor and people. they are a wonderful group. The sermon was missional, reminding believers of what it is with which we have been charged or commissioned.

The video is 43 minutes in length. I preached almost that long, 35 min perhaps. I have been retired since 2008. 

Sunday, November 6, 2011


We can't help it, we three boys, three sons of a woman who was born in Montana and brought as a toddler to Saskatchewan. This is one of those days in every year when we remember her. I am glad that we can do it with fondness and gratitude. We remember her with reference often to this photo of her, mature, with cognition and joy and love shining from her blue eyes. Her mind and her eyes fogged in later years.

Her daddy had just died, so young, too young, 29 years of age. Doerksen was his surname. Her mom and her brother Peter two years older than she, were transplanted into another family, the Willems family. Marie married Abram. He had lost his wife and he already had six children. Opportunities did not abound on the prairies in the twenties and thirties, specially for a girl. Mom completed grade 9 before needing to work. She met Edward Richard Unruh, dashing young man, with a pencil mustache, balding dark hair, whistled everywhere he walked, well liked by everyone, a gentleman, a gentle man. She loved him. He was 4 years older than she. Although living in a distinctly Mennonite Christian community, Hepburn, he was not practicing the faith of his parents. His personal commitment would come later, ten years later, but Tina married Edward. I (Ron) was the first to be born to them.

He ran a gas station and then he went to war, enlisted, and that was unheard of. Conscientious objectors they were, these Mennonite settlements, but he was a Canadian and proud of it. He was an enlisted member of the Royal Canadian Royal Air Force, Force mind you, not Farce. So on this weekend, Remembrance Day, is also a time when memory of Dad re-emerges. And then the war was done and mom and dad started up a coffee shop, and then moved east to Ontario, and Murray (son #2) was born, and I was 5 years old. Dad worked hard at factories and mom was busy with children and work at home projects, sewing for others. She cleaned other people's homes. She worked in a restaurant as a waitress. And son #3 was born, Neale, named after Dad's eldest brother, and I was 11 years old. A coincidence that has intrigued us was that in dad's family there were three sons as well, and they born at the same time intervals, the first five years older than the second who was six years older than the third son.

And in 1954 Tina and Ed bought their first home and dad was 39 years of age and mom was 35. It was a small home and all three sons grew into adulthood there. Mom had basic life skills which because she was entrepreneurial, she turned into a livelihood. Many figure skaters wore her garments. Thousands of people ate her food. She ran her own occasional catering business. She served her food for coffee breaks in a corporation office building. She was head chef for many summers at a Christian Conference campus. She wrote a cook book in which Neale's and my drawing appear. She led women's groups at church and regional women's meeting in many places surprising herself that she could stand in front of others with adequate thoughts and words from which others would benefit. Those latter responsibilities compelled her to read and to study the Bible among other books and she grew spiritually and intellectually. And in all of these pursuits she was encouraged and assisted by the gentle man whom she had loved when she was a stunning young woman of 22. Sometimes it seemed that he had no greater ambition than to see her succeed.

I have written in memory of mom today, but as all of us have witnessed through our experiences with mom and dad, you could hardly think of the one without thinking of the other. So, on this day of remembrance of Mom's departure from here, I know that it won't be long, six months from now when we will remember Dad's departure. At 93 years of age he spoke to her still body and said, "good night sweetheart, I'll be seeing you soon." He too, could not think of life without her, and then he too was gone. We are all okay with this. This is life and theirs was a happy and contented life. They were married for 66 years. Her eyes convey to you why we loved her so much.

Saturday, November 5, 2011


I have been thinking a good deal about the challenge of maintaining spiritual vitality. This is particularly demanding when one is employed and life is full or when children are young and require constant care. Responsibilities can impact one’s efforts to sustain a vital relationship with God. Conversely I have found that following retirement from formal work and in my case from ministry-oriented work, the absence of time consuming responsibilities also impacts spiritual vitality. Often responsibilities of the kind I knew when I pastored four churches or served as an executive officer of a church denomination, compelled me to pursue with diligence an intimate connection with God through prayer and reading the Bible and trusting God’s Spirit for insight and direction. When no longer faced with pressing duties, I have found it easy to relax the level of time and commitment to spiritual disciplines. It’s a retirement risk. It isn’t necessary but I know that it occurs. I have experienced it until I have realized afresh that no matter what I am doing in life, my relationship with God should not diminish but it should develop. This has been a good reminder, initiated by the theme of a one-day seminar that is being offered by ACTS Seminaries on November 25th, 2011. I will attend. While it designed for people in Christian ministries, it has application to all working and active Christians and I know that it will apply to me as well. The principal speaker on that day is Gary Thomas, author of numerous good books. The seminar is entitled, ‘MaintainingSpiritual Vitality in Ministry.’  
Information about the seminar 

Friday, September 23, 2011


Murray & Di at Queen Elizabeth Park

When Christine and I decided to move from Ontario to B.C. twenty years ago, we knew that we had introduced separation into our family relationships. I ran that by my father at the time and his response was "you have to do what God has called you to do." That was an appropriate response given that he believed what he said and I was coming to BC to pastor a church. I left behind my parents and two brothers and their families and Christine did the same with her family. We have never regretted the move and the separation was manageable as it turned out that I was able through all of the years to travel annually to visit family back east. My own two children stayed in the west, married and had children and live here. We are complete and content.

Image of Murray from his website
However, we missed all the large family events and parties. My elderly parents finally unable to travel, saw only one of our five grandchildren in person. My brothers, Murray and Neale and I missed countless leisure and sporting opportunities done together.  I am saddened to reflect on that. Murray is now retired as well and in his later years has also taken up visual art (painting) as a passionate hobby. His website is called Vintage Impressions. He paints for the pleasure and sells some because he has a unique and appealing style. Neale and his wife Kathy run a needlecraft store and Neale does picture framing. That could certainly have become a business alliance.

Murray & Ron at work/play
He and Diane chose to come to visit here in British Columbia for three weeks. Murray has come to officiate at a wedding of some special friends, and Di and Murray have been staying with us. We have both fulfilled a dream by spending hours painting together while listening to music (golden oldies) or talking (telling old stories) or laughing (too much), or doing all of these simultaneously. We have both completed paintings during this week.

We both see what we have been missing but we cannot retrace the past or return to change it. So we are not dwelling in the past, or dreaming of the future, but rather concentrating upon the present moment - living it.

Christine and I may travel east in 2012 and we will certainly pop in to see all of the relatives scattered in Ontario and Quebec. We may also return to see the Maritimes after an absence of over twenty years. And then perhaps we will disappear to England and Europe for many months - just thinking. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


At Moby Dick's Fish & Chips, White Rock
HAPPY ANNIVERSARY MY SWEETHEART! Christine and I celebrate our 44th Wedding Anniversary on August 12th, 2011. We were married in 1967 Canada's Centennial Year, and the summer of EXPO Montreal. Thank you Christine. I love you.
Great 44th Anniversary Day. Began with a 1-hour walk, leisurely sunny breakfast, then our MX5 sports car ride to Domaine de Chaberton for lunch at the Bacchus Bistro, outdoors amid the vineyards, drove along 0 Avenue and backroads to Yarrow for an ice cream cone and on to Minter Gardens for a stroll through the magnificent themed park, happened upon a garden wedding and listened to vows similar to those we exchanged in 1967. Leisurely evening ride home in the sunset. And by the way I did mean 0 Avenue, right along the US/Canada border with nothing but a ditch separating 0 Ave and another US parallel country road. And somehow very surreptitiously and clandestinely border patrol monitors that border. Probably caught us sneaking a kiss too.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


The call back for the six of us for a commercial advertising campaign resulted surprisingly in Christine and me being selected as principals, but not Jeff and Gina and their two children. Fortunately later last week, Jeff and Gina landed another. Yet what an interesting few days Christine and I have had this week, Monday through Wednesday. This is our first foray into commercial ads. We received word late last week that we were selected as two of six principal cast members, having no idea what we were expected to do. However, we learned that our roles were as senior man and senior woman. There is no doubt that we qualify by appearance and chronology. We arrived for wardrobe fittings on Monday. Then Tuesday and Wednesday were shooting days on a large lakeside acreage with a waterfront heritage home.

This was an atypical production because the cast was much larger than is customary. There were forty extras,and the six principals. The production crew was enormous, ten trucks, scores of production people, camera personnel, grips and gaffers, electricians and lighting technicians, set, props and art decorators, hair and makeup stylists, attendants, catering team, and even portable toilet. In addition the client company had a number of marketing, writing, advertising professionals on hand watching monitors with the developing action and still visuals. It was a very hands-on production. Someone said that this crew was the size often seen on movie productions.

Once on site, and having gone to wardrobe for the right apparel, we sat with other cast in a cavernous barn on the property. This was the sheltered holding area, where there was a constant supply of good foods available. Upon arrival you could grab a sumptuous breakfast at the catering trailer. Lunch was mid afternoon on both days. Tables and chairs accommodated us all during the hours that we waited for a call. Calls came to the entire group sometimes and at other times just couples or several at a time. Sometimes they were still shots taken rapid fire and other times it was action. Christine and I were even called for an audio only for sound bites that might be used. Hours and hours of digital material will be edited into 60 second commercials and magazine and brochure pieces.

We were impressed that while sun, clouds and rain alternated throughout both days, the crew managed their windows of opportunity with expertise.

We finished each day by 9:00 or 9:30 PM and drove home so by 10:30 pm we were weary even though we had nothing particularly strenuous.

We meet some fantastic people, might even have established a casual acquaintance or two that we can revisit. We found the clients very affirming. It was a new and enjoyable experience. After the goodbyes as we walked down the dark lane to our car, we overheard the director on the handheld radios telling his crew to meet the next morning downtown and thanks for a great day.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


Christine and I joined my son Jeff, his wife Gina and their two children for an audition last week. Yes, that's right. Gina regularly stars in TV commercials. She has an agent. This time, the product whatever it is, we are not told, wanted a family. They particularly want grandchildren interacting with grandparents. So we stood together with the camera on each of us in turn, stating our names and answering questions. There were scores of other families there for the same reason last week - $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$.
 Kadence is four years old. She stated her name and her age. She was asked who is the funny one in the family and she replied "me." And she is comical. 

Well it was considered highly unlikely by Christine and me, but we have all been called back. It is called a 'Call Back.' So tomorrow we go again so they can do another more in depth interview with us. Perhaps we actually have to do some role playing for the camera.

If on the outside chance we land the commercial, we will have to give them three days for shooting the film and we each get paid.

Friday, June 17, 2011


My dad was a good man. He was easy to love.

I can remember him being angry only a couple of times. Once it was with a man who was troubling my mother. Another time it was with me as a youth and I deserved his annoyance.

Edward was his name. Edward Richard. English names bestowed on a Mennonite boy born on the prairies of Canada. His father Cornelius, a more common Mennonite name broke with custom. Only the oldest son carried the father’s name and it was Anglicized as well to Neale. The middle brother was Harry. Three sons, the eldest five years older than the second and eleven years older than the youngest who was my dad.

Dad and mother Tina had three sons, me Ronald James (the eldest) and I am five years older than Murray Dennis and eleven years older than Neale Bryan. In the early years of his fatherhood Dad wanted us to be thoroughly Canadian, hampered in no way by any hang-ups derived from the heritage. Little could he know how important the connection with our family history would be to us when we were adults. He and Mom spoke the Low German dialect at home with which they themselves had been raised in their Saskatchewan homes of Hepburn and Waldheim. Since I was almost five years of age before Dad and Mom moved to Ontario, I was familiar with the dialect, understanding much of it but not able to speak it. For years I did not let on that I understood what they were saying when Mom and Dad spoke privately using Low German.

Our Dad never struck us as a complex man. He was intelligent, interests in politics, current affairs and sports. He completed grade eleven, had no skilled trade but worked at available manual jobs. He was enlisted in the Canadian Air Force, never saw overseas action but was posted in the Yukon. Following WWII, our Dad, a hard working man, began a lifetime of work in factories. He was in love with his wife, committed to the care and provision of his three children, appreciated his church and what the Sunday lesson gave him for the week ahead.

He was not an ambitious man. He respected himself yet he may not have understood how well he was liked by others. He was friendly, helpful, kind. He never owned very much yet he shared what he could. He was satisfied easily. A day’s work and a day’s pay, and supper meal, and a newspaper, a nice place to sit in the back yard, a car to move the family around, a couple of weeks of summer vacation, a small pension at the end of a long time with the company.  He expected no more than that. God was good to him.

I respected him very much. As a young man if I was tempted to do anything that was at all wicked, my esteem for him, held me back. Of course he was much younger then, and most of our memories are of him advanced in years, still with a wonderful sense of humour and a pleasant spirit and endearing love for our Mom. I miss him a great deal. He died at age 93 and that was three years ago.

June 19 Addendum: Father's Day came on Sunday and I was asked to preach at our local church. I chose to speak about "God the Father" and I used the Lord's Prayer in Matthew 6. The prayer begins with "Our Father who is in heaven..." Christine had prepared a light lunch and my son's and daughter's families came. After dinner I took my five grandchildren for a long walk to the school yard to play on the apparatus and then to the corner store for a slurpy. We hung around until early evening snacking on lunch leftovers. We enjoyed a good family day. I like that. 

Thursday, June 16, 2011


We did it in 1994 and again in 2011. We went to game seven of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. And our city's worst residents rioted in the streets.  Yep, again!

I watched the game with my son Jeff and his wife Gina and their two children who were multi-tasking with IPad and other toys. The tensions the three adults felt had intensified since Monday when our Canucks lost in Boston. We knew how important it would be to the team who scored the first goal. We had only put six goals past Tim Thomas in six games so the probabilities were against us. Nevertheless it was home crowd, home ice, tons of talent and desire. But Thomas and the big bad Bruins bombed the Canucks in their wins in Boston.

Canucks began the first period looking strong and determined, and THEN, the Bruins scored first. The noise went out of the building and the fright was on. Then in period 2, goals two and three and still no comeback by Canucks, and another B goal in period 3, and then it was over.  In our viewing room, dressed in our Canucks jerseys, we sat mostly silently all night, glanced at one another occasionally with resignation, and then it was over.

Yet near the end of the third period our Rogers Arena fans were on their feet waving their towels and cheering for their Canucks who did us proud all year long in so many ways, and then when it was over our players also skated around and applauded their fans. Then the two teams did the traditional congratulatory skateby and shook hands but even that had a classiness to it as players showed genuine appreciation for one another's performances. And Tim Thomas in one of the outstanding goalie displays ever through his playoffs won the Conn Smythe most valuable player of the series award. And our fans cheered him genuinely. And they applauded the Bruins as they received the Stanley Cup.

Then within minutes outside and downtown in Vancouver, where 100,000 had watched on giant screens, the vast majority of people moved to go home, but the drunken, easily led, selfish, low esteem, social misfits from 18-24 years of age, broke down barriers, burned cares, taunted police, overturned police cruisers, broke windows, looted stores, hurt themselves and shamed our city once again.

As disappointing as our Canucks loss was, I am far more disappointed that our city's reputation has been sullied across North America by these degenerates.

Friday, June 3, 2011


She was born in 1919 in Montana, USA – June 4th. She was an infant when her father died suddenly. Mom’s parents had been homesteading and farming the vast rolling fields in pioneer conditions. One small wooden building served as both a house and a barn. Her name was Tina and she was a toddler when her mother Marie together with Mom’s four year old brother Pete, made a significant decision to leave Montana and come to Saskatchewan. Without much distance between her and the shocking grief she had born at the farm house, she was introduced to Abraham Willems who had also recently lost his wife. He was somewhat more desperate because he had six children for whom to care while farming a small plot of land. Marrying Marie was a practical resolution. Abraham’s children had adored their mother and still cherished her memory when this new woman entered their home. In the ensuing years Marie bore five more of Abraham’s children. The challenges for family life, poverty, tuberculosis, inter-family rivalry and tensions were factors that shaped the family and yet these were people of faith – ancient faith of a Mennonite variety that traced back to Crimea where Mennonite Colonies had found a haven in Catherine the Great’s Russia. Mom’s brother Pete was the odd brother, that is the maternal son, not wholly welcomed by the Willems sons, and decisively as a teenager he himself moved back to Minnesota where his mother’s family resided. It was from Minnesota that his father and uncles as young men had embarked upon that American dream of owning great tracts of land on the prairies of Montana. Pete’s departure was difficult for my mom and her mother Marie. Mom was a young teen and soon a young woman, who managed to complete a grade nine education before working as a domestic wherever she could. In time she met a dashing young man named Edward Richard Unruh who resided in Hepburn Saskatchewan. On June 12, she was married at age 22 and Edward was four years older than she. He had lost his hair by age eighteen yet what hair remained was dark brown and was complimented by a dark and classy thin mustache and dark eyebrows. Dad finished grade eleven, worked at odd jobs, ran a gas station, then called a service station and whistled while he worked. He was 26 when he and mom married, and I was born a year later, and when I was a baby Dad enlisted in the Canadian Air Force because Canada was at war. Following the war mom and dad operated a coffee shop in Hepburn, and then when mom was expecting her second child, they made the monumental move to the job opportunities of southern Ontario. Large factories and car plants and paper mills were installed there. Dad worked at the Ontario Paper Mills and Thompson Products (makers of GM parts) and finally at Anthes Imperial (furnace production) where he was employed on an assembly line for over 40 years.  Soon after the move to Ontario, my brother Murray was born. I was five years old. Murray and I waited another eleven years for our brother Neale to come along. In the years between Neale and Murray, mom miscarried and there was a rumour that she had lost a baby girl, perhaps even twins. Such matters were never discussed with children when we young or older. Mom’s skills were numerous and all of them hands on and practical. She cleaned other peoples’ homes. She sewed clothing and costumes for skating clubs. She cooked meals and specialty foods. She was always involved in church life. Dad was too but far more reserved and quiet. She began her own successful catering business preparing and serving extraordinary feasts for wealthy clients. She had the temperament and traits of a leader but she surprised herself when she became the president of a Christian women’s group with a province wide mandate. Throughout our childhood our parents took us to Sunday school and church and we were involved in assorted children’s and youth programs which influenced choices that we made. The outcome was that all three Unruh sons became trained and involved in Christian work, two as pastors and one as a missionary. Murray and I are retired now from pastoring and Neale completed his mission involvement and began his own retail business. Mom has been gone since 2007 when she was 88 years of age but June 4 marks the recollection of her birthday. When she died, her children and adult grandchildren stood with my Dad Edward and heard him say to her, “Goodbye Sweetheart. I’ll see you soon.” Six months later he peacefully left us as well. The legacy that these two ordinary people left is lived through the lives of an entire family now where children and grandchildren walk with God and live by God’s values.  

Thursday, May 26, 2011


Kailyn far in front - Secretariat
Can you see that small statured girl walking to the line at the rear of the crowd. That is my ten year old granddaughter Kailyn. It may appear like a mismatch, but hold on. It doesn't matter how quickly one walks to the starting line but how confidently, how sure of one's own ability. I am sure that Kailyn had a better idea of what she could capably do than I did as I stood high in the bleachers ready to cheer her on. I could kick myself now for leaving too early. But I was there when she ran the 100 m. The gun went off and in the distance to the left I could see her. She looked like she had a good start and was with the others. But something happened about fifteen of her mini-strides into that race. Some afterburners kicked in and at 25 m she was in the lead. We were standing at the 3/4 marker and we could see that at the 1/2 point, Kailyn was three metres in front of the nearest runners. She came tearing past us, eyes riveted on the finish line, and she was now eight metres ahead of everyone. She blasted the field. She was first!
Kailyn is our Winner

Well she did that in the 200 m as well. First!!!!! Yes, I know everyone gets a ribbon. Everyone is important, and she is First. I am so amazed and so happy for her and so proud that she lets me hug her. Wow! 

She finished third in the 4X100 relay, eighth in the 800 m. Sprinting is her strength.

Sunday, April 24, 2011


It is Easter Sunday morning. There are so many fine paintings from which to choose one that depicts the the intelligent movement from conjecture and hypothesis to conviction and faith. Many great paintings illustrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Most show Christ with scarred hands outstretched, or the risen Christ standing outside the now empty tomb, or otherwise revealing his victory over the grave and death. Perhaps no artist has captured the bewilderment and the emotion associated with human intellect coming to terms with the truth of Jesus' supernatural identity than this beautiful painting by Caravaggio called “Doubting Thomas.” It is an outstanding piece. Caravaggio makes flesh come to life. He brilliantly and dramatically stages the scene. This is Christ living and breathing despite his mortal and still open wounds, standing with his disciples eye to eye. Thomas had expressed his doubt about the report of the other disciples that Jesus was alive again. He said he would not believe unless he himself touched Jesus' wound, actually put his finger in Jesus' gaping side wound. Jesus permitted Thomas to do this, and in this moment, Thomas, astounded and convinced said, "My Lord and My God."

Caravaggio lived from 1573 – 1610. His Christ lives forever. And his visualized victory here is shared. The promise to us is this. Whoever believes in him will not utterly perish but will have everlasting life. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


Jayden better known as JJ
All of us except Cari the photographer
Ice Cream Selection March 8th, Dad's B-Day
We did it. We honoured Great Grandpa Edward Unruh. Died 3 years ago, Today would have been his birthday, No. 96.

He was an ice cream cone lover and he taught us enjoy it too. One cone was never enough.

This is cone number 8
Ryan took the prize. Ice cream was the main course today, and then savouries, following by, you guessed it, DESSERT.

Kadence is the youngest -

Kadence has tiger tail in her cone.
Kailyn is her older cousin and she teaches Kadence many things. 
Kailyn is the oldest G-Kid

Nana and Papa and JJ, Kadence, Kale, Ryan, and Kailyn

Papa topping it up for JJ
My Dad, Edward Richard Unruh
Dad, we loved remembering your Birthday tonight. We thanked God for you, and we sang happy Birthday to you.

And best of all, my brother Murray and his family and grandchildren did this in St.Catharines, and my brother Neale and his family did this in Dorchester, ON

Yours Truly
A Cross Canada Celebration!