I stepped ashore in 1956, the last year a nickel still bought a cup of coffee in Canada. By the next fall, hash slingers were charging a dime for a refill in Hogtown’s greasy spoons. The increase marked the country’s transition from a cornucopia replenished (presumably) by the Spirit of the Great Lakes to a piggy bank that contained only what you put into it.
When I mentioned this to Uncle Black Sheep, Uncle B.S. for short, he laughed and said, hell, Canada has always been a piggy bank. We were just too starry-eyed to notice.
“We” were recent refugees from the upheavals of Europe. Uncle Black Sheep was an experienced newcomer, having arrived here shortly after the war. He was an actual, card-carrying uncle to one of us, a cabaret-writer, who nicknamed his uncle Black Sheep for running away to the circus as a teenager in the 1930s, leaving…
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