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Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit


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Back to the Gym

By the Rev. Dr. Ed HirdImage

When the weather is warm and sunny, I love to swim outdoors.   As a teenager, I was involved three days a week with the YMCA Flying Sharks, a junior life-saving team.  My late uncle Don Allen was a career Navy deep sea diver, sometimes finding lost Caribbean treasure.  When I first tried learning to swim at the UBC outdoor pool, it was so cold that I felt frozen stiff.  It was only when I went to the warm Okanagan Lake that my swimming breakthrough came.  I know that summer is coming to a close when outdoor swimming comes to an end.

During the summer, most gyms and weight rooms are missing many regular participants.  September is the ‘Back to the Gym’ time,  ‘Back to School’ time, ‘Back to Church’ time.  September is the time when our life rhythms reconnect.  We all need times away, times of refreshing, time of letting go.  We also need times of reconnecting, of gathering, of pressing in.  Sometimes in the summer, we can relax and feast too much.  Back to the Gym helps us refocus, restart and recalibrate our lives.

My wife Janice encouraged me to start going to the gym in 1999 after I was a passenger in a rear-end car accident.  I naively thought that I would become physically fit and healthy almost overnight.  Instead restoring my health has been a gradual process.  When I have striven and pushed too hard, the result has been injury and setback.  God has been teaching me that I need to be more patient with myself and my weight room renewal.  There is no quick fix.  My exercise plans often suffer from good intentions.  So many weight room friends start with the best intentions, but give in to frustration and disappointment.  It takes too long to become healthy! Before you know it, they disappear and slip back into their old patterns of inactivity.

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      My encouragement this September for those reading this article is to not give up when you go back to the gym.  Your health is worth it.  Your life is worth it.  You are worth it.  By your regularly working out, you will see gradual benefits that initially elude you.  Anything worth doing is worth fighting for.  Your health matters, not only to yourself, but to your spouse, your children, and your friends.  When you invest in your health, you open doors to your future.  When you invest in your health, your knees will thank you, your back will thank you, your neck will thank you.  Excessive sitting is one of the greatest curses of our post-modern culture.  What will it take this September to get back to the gym? What is holding us back in doing the right thing? Why are we often our own worst enemies when it comes to our health?  Overeating, oversitting, and overdrinking are too often eating us alive.

 God wants us to be healthy in body, mind and spirit.  He wants us to be physically fit, emotionally fit and spiritually fit.  Worship is meant to be a stretching experience where we encounter God with our whole person, all our heart, soul, mind and strength.  Why am I passionate about both worship and calisthenics?  Because both are about being healthy, both are about making a difference, both are about investing in one’s future.  I invite you to go back to the gym, for physical, emotional and spiritual renewal.  Make an investment that will pay lasting dividends.  Your body, mind and spirit will thank you.

 

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier/North Shore News

-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada

for better for worse

-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.


-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form.  Dr. JI Packer wrote the foreword, saying “I heartily commend what he has written.” The book focuses on strengthening a new generation of healthy leaders. Drawing on examples from Titus’ healthy leadership in the pirate island of Crete, it shows how we can embrace a holistically healthy life.

In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook. It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5, Canada.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ED HIRD, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 


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Who was Captain Robert Dollar anyways?

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

While visiting Dollarton, I met my good friend Keith Cameron who lives in the historic Dollar Mill Office built in 1918.  Keith pulled out the book ‘Echoes Across the Inlet’ published by the Deep Cove and Area Heritage Association, and said to me: “You need to write an article about Captain Robert Dollar. He was a sparkplug for this whole area”.

The more that I have learned about Robert Dollar, the more fascinating I find his life-story. Captain Robert Dollar (originally spelt Dolour) was the founder of Dollarton and its first major employer with hundreds of local residents working at the Dollar Mill.  He was a very visionary individual who could see North Vancouver’s potential in terms of international trade and commerce.

Coming to Canada penniless from Falkirk in Scotland, Robert Dollar became one of Scotland’s fifty wealthiest individuals, amassing a fortune of over forty million dollars.  Leaving school at age 12 to work in Canadian logging camps, he saved up enough cash to buy into the lumber trade itself.  As most loggers spoke French, Dollar taught himself French and took over the camp’s accounting.  At their peak, Dollar’s mills produced fifteen million board of lumber.

As mentioned in ‘Echoes Across the Inlet’, even in the lumber camps, Dollar ‘always made it a practice on Sunday to take out (his) Bible to a quiet place and read it, even in the coldest of weather.” Dollar “attributed much of his success to the teachings received from this daily reading.” Dollar advocated “clean habits, clean thoughts, plenty of exercise, fresh air and plenty of sunshine…and plenty of work….Last, but most important, fear God and keep his commandments.”

In 1895, Dollar purchased his first ship in order to move his lumber down to American markets. His first boat became a huge success because of the number of people making their way to the Alaska Gold Rush. Out of this, he began the 40-vessel Dollar Steamship Company (later becoming American President Lines).

Known as the Grand Old Man of the Pacific, Dollar started three head offices in North Vancouver, San Francisco and Shanghai. Dollar’s ships bore the famous “$” on their smokestacks. During his lifetime he made some 30 voyages to Asia, being the first to bring North American lumber to Asia. While in China, Dollar built a Y.M.C.A., an orphanage, a school for the blind and a village school.

In 1923 at age 80, Dollar purchased seven “president” ships from the U.S. government which enabled him to pioneer round-the-world passenger service, being the first to publish scheduled departure and arrival times. In 1925, Dollar Line acquired the Pacific Mail Steamship Company and its trans-Pacific routes. Dollar was on the cover of the March 19th, 1928 Time magazine, and written up in the Saturday Evening Post in 1929.

Dollar was a family man with a strong work ethic and solid faith. His granddaughter remembers visiting her grandpa, saying: “We all arose at 6 a.m. and went to bed at 9 p.m.  Grandfather read a passage from the bible each morning and we joined in…Grandfather sat at the end of the table and said grace before each meal. At festive occasions he would tell us a story about his life in the Canadian north woods and have us all spellbound and laughing.”

Dollar’s mom died when he was nine; his grief-stricken father became an alcoholic.  Out of his family pain, Dollar developed four principles to which he clung to: 1. Do not cheat. 2. Do not be lazy. 3. Do not abuse. 4. Do not drink.

In Dollar’s 1920 diary, he wrote: ‘Thank God, from whom all blessings flow …we start the year with supreme confidence in the future, knowing that God is with us and hoping prosperity will enable us to aid humanity with our money, and that we will be permitted to leave the world a little better than we found it.”

Dollar never retired, saying: “It would have been nothing short of a crime for me to have retired when I reached the age of sixty, because I have accomplished far more the last twenty years of my life than I did before I reached my sixtieth birthday … I was put in this world for a purpose and that was not to loaf and spend my time in so-called pleasure … I was eighty years old when I thought out the practicability of starting a passenger steamship line of eight steamers to run around the world in one direction … I hope to continue working to my last day on earth and wake up the next morning in the other world.”

Robert Dollar died of bronchial pneumonia in 1932, at the age of 88.  Some of his final words were: “In this world all we leave behind us that is worth anything is that we can be well regarded and spoken of after we are gone, and that we can say that we left the world just a little better than we found it. If we can’t accomplish these two things then life, according to my view, has been a failure. Many people erroneously speak of a man when he is gone as having left so much money. That, according to my view, amounts to very little.”

May the example of Dollarton’s Robert Dollar inspire all those reading this article to make a difference in our lives.

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

– previously published in the Deep Cove Crier/North Shore News

-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, #102-15168 19th Ave, Surrey, BC V4A 0A5.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #102-15168 19th Ave, Surrey, BC V4A 0A5.

For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 


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Billy Sunday’s Home Run

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

Billy Sunday grew up in a single parent home, before being sent to an orphanage at twelve years old.  Billy ran away from the orphanage two years later and worked as a stable boy looking after Shetland ponies.

Baseball fascinated Billy. Despite his being struck out the first thirteen times at bat, Billy played professional baseball for eight years for Chicago, Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia.  His remarkable speed in running the bases was his trademark.

One evening, after a night of drinking with his baseball teammates, Billy attended a renewal service.  Billy’s life was powerfully transformed, so much so that he became a full-time worker in 1891 for the YMCA. Love broke through.  An ordained Presbyterian minister, Billy was one of the first clergy to make use of this amazing ‘new’ medium of radio.

Billy would sometimes have a baseball game with those attending before proceeding to hold a renewal service.  Sometimes during a sermon he would dive across the stage and visually slide into home plate.  Then he might stand up and challenge men to ‘come up to the plate’, to stand up for their wives, children, church and country.  Billy broke the stereotype that church is only for women and children.  He strongly challenged men to play their part, to be part of God’s team, to get involved.  Love broke through for many families attending Billy Sunday’s meetings.

During Billy’s lifetime, over one hundred million people heard him speak, more than any other preacher to that point. Billy often spoke without any PA system. Over 1.25 million people publicly responded to Billy’s challenge to dedicate their lives to Christ, to ‘come up to the plate’ and stand up for their families and God.

Historians describe Billy Sunday as an early 20th Century Billy Graham.  The late Billy Graham recently passed away at age 99.  My hunch is that most of us have heard Billy Graham, either in person or by TV.  Ironically Billy Graham gave his life to Christ at a meeting that had been originally founded by Billy Sunday.

Through Billy Graham and Billy Sunday, love has broken through for countless ten of millions of families.  My prayer is that love break through for you and your family members.

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

– previously published in the Deep Cove Crier/North Shore News

-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, #102-15168 19th Ave, Surrey, BC V4A 0A5.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #102-15168 19th Ave, Surrey, BC V4A 0A5.

For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 


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Getting back to the Gym

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

Researchers have found that 115 million North Americans made health resolutions on  January 1 – promising themselves to quit smoking, eat better, lose weight, or start a serious exercise program. But within 2 months, only about 63% were still keeping their number one New Year’s resolution.  When one checks a year later, health resolution ‘survivors’ are a greatly diminished remnant.

What is it that gives us the motivation to hang in there when we are seeking to become healthy?   I will now have ‘survived’ two decades of consistently going to the gym, at least two times a week.  I have often been tempted to give up and crawl back on my couch.

One of my best motivators has been my dear wife to whom I have been married for 41 years.  She went to the gym many years before I went and often gently encouraged me to come along with her.  My initial impression was that I felt sorry for people who went to weight rooms.  They seemed rather masochistic to me.  Why would they inflict so much pain upon themselves?  I also felt intimidated by the endless variety of equipment with different levers ‘going in a thousand different directions’.  My fear was that if I pressed the wrong lever in the wrong direction, I might end up at the physiotherapist for the next year!

One of my most fun activities now is to work out at the weight room with my wife.  Every time I see her there, I am filled with admiration that she is taking such good care of herself.  I am looking forward to enjoying with my dear wife a healthy, active future fostered by the very weight training that we are both doing right now.

A second motivation for lasting at the gym has been the ‘personal trainer called pain.  Since my being ‘rear-ended’ in a November ’99 car accident, my neck and shoulder muscles have become very fine-tuned to reminding me when I need to work out.  As long as I exercise at least two times a week, my neck is relatively pain-free, my headaches are down by 90%, and my hips and back are remarkably stable.  As a result, my medical costs for physiotherapy and massage therapy are down by more than 80%!

But if I slack off and get too busy, I can feel the area of my former injury tightening up again.  The resulting pain and spasms once again will interfere with my work life, family life, and prayer life.  Chastened and reminded, I trundle back off to the gym, to my new friends who have been wondering what has happened to me.  My personal trainer ‘Pain’ can be a remarkable motivator if I will only listen to it and not just medicate it away.

A third motivator for going for two decadese to the gym has been the spiritual benefits.  Modern day life has all kinds of stresses built right into it.  I have found that the consistent discipline of weight training has deepened my sense of inner peace.  Not only has my pain level dropped; my worry level has dropped as well.  Working out actually helps me ‘let go and let God’.

The YMCA and YWCA were birthed out of the realization that all three parts of us need exercising body, mind, and spirit.  There is anonymity at the gym that lets one silently pray without any one else really noticing.  I have found that there is no better equipment than the stationary bike for truly integrating the merits of physical and spiritual fitness.  Over the last two years, the stationary bike and the Book of Common Prayer have become inseparable for me.

The term ‘exercise’ comes from the Greek word ‘gumnazo’ from which we derive the terms ‘gymnastics’ and ‘gym(nasium)’.  Exercise is helping me become more disciplined, a better disciple of my Lord Jesus Christ.  My prayer for those reading this article is that each of us may become more disciplined in our desires to be healthier in body, mind, and spirit.

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier/North Shore News

-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, Canada V4A 0A5.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, Canada V4A 0A5. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 


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Thank God for the Red Cross!

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

As New York and Washington reeled in 2001 from 9/11, the Red Cross  flew into action, saving lives and bringing hope.  Thank God for the Red Cross who time and again make a difference in times of great tragedy.

Great organizations invariably are birthed from great people.  The Red Cross was birthed from the vision and drive of Jean Henri Dunant, who received the world’s first Nobel Peace Prize.  Dunant was a Swiss businessman who ‘happened’ to be on hand to see the carnage and horror of the battle of Solferino, Italy, in 1858.  Forty thousand wounded lay in their death throes under a blazing sun, in suffocating heat, helpless and unattended.  Amid the anguished cries of the wounded, in an atmosphere of panic and confusion, he gathered together a team of volunteers to relieve the ‘inexpressible sufferings’ of war.

Four days after the battle, Dunant discovered five hundred wounded who had been overlooked.  Dunant commented: “I succeeded in getting together a certain number of women who helped me as best as they could to aid the wounded…Food, and above all drink, had to be taken around to these men.  Then their wounds could be dressed and their bleeding, muddy, vermin-covered bodies washed.  All this took place in a scorching, filthy atmosphere, in the midst of vile, nauseating odors, with lamentations and cries of anguish all around!”  From this courageous action by Dunant at Solferino, the International Red Cross was born.

Dunant returned to Geneva but was so preoccupied with what he has seen at Solferino that he wrote a book at his own expense in 1862 entitled ‘ A Memory of Solferino’.  He wrote at length about the wounds and suffering he had seen and the shambles in which urgently necessary surgery was done.  “Would it not be possible”, he pleaded, “in time of peace and quiet to form relief societies for the purpose of having care given to the wounded in wartime by zealous, devoted and thoroughly qualified volunteers?”

On August 22nd 1864, through the impetus of Dunant’s book, the historic First Geneva Convention was birthed.  It provided for the alleviation of the sufferings of soldiers wounded on the battlefield.  It gave neutral status to the military hospitals and medical personnel of the armies of the signing countries.  As an identifying symbol, the Geneva Convention decided that these non-combatants should wear a red cross on a white field, a reversal of the colours in the Swiss national flag.  In 1865 Great Britain and Canada added their names to the first ten European countries who signed the Geneva Convention treaty.

Tragically, Jean Henri Dunant subsequently suffered from business failure and deep depression.  Resigning from the Red Cross in 1867, he virtually disappeared from sight.  In 1895, Dunant was discovered in Heiden, Switzerland by a newspaper reporter. By then the Red Cross had become famous, and financial assistance to assist Dunant began to pour in from all around the world.  In 1901 Dunant shared with Frederick Passy, a French internationalist, the first Nobel Peace Prize.  From Geneva, his old home, came this message from the International Committee of the Red Cross: “There is no man who more deserves this honour, for it was you, forty years ago, who set on foot the international organization for the relief of the wounded on the battlefield.  Without you, the Red Cross, the supreme humanitarian achievement of the nineteenth century would probably have never been undertaken.”  Dunant gave all of the Nobel Peace Prize money away to charity, and died peacefully in his sleep on October 30th 1910.

Few people realize that Jean Henri Dunant also helped co-found the International Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA).  Dunant started very humbly by inviting a few friends to meet regularly at his house to study the Bible, to encourage each other in good works, and to bring about a spiritual awakening among young people.

Jean Henri Dunant proved that one person can make a difference.  One person can change this world.  Jean Henri Dunant knew Jesus Christ as his Bridge over Troubled Water.  My prayer during this time of great uncertainty is that many of us may turn to the Bridge who will give us the strength to care for our neighbours for better for worse, in sickness and in health, for richer for poor.

 

 

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier/North Shore News

-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, Canada V4A 0A5.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, Canada V4A 0A5. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 


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Mayor William Howland of Toronto the Good

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

Why is Toronto, Ontario, sometimes called Toronto the Good?

It goes back to Mayor William Howland of Toronto*, a public servant who was so dedicated to helping the disadvantaged that he gave away most of his wealth.  Son of the Honorable W.P. Howland, the first Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario, William was possessed with a bubbly enthusiasm and phenomenal capacity for hard work.

By the age he was 25, William was president, vice-president, or a director of more than a dozen companies in the fields of insurance and finance, electrical services, and paint manufacturing.  When he became president of the Queen City Fire Insurance Company in 1871, he was the youngest insurance company president in Canada.  As well, Howland was President of three influential organizations: the Toronto Board of Trade, the Dominion Board of Trade, and the Manufacturer’s Association of Ontario.  Out of his love for his country, he served as Chairman of the Canada First movement, personally financing its weekly newspaper ‘The Nation’.

At age 32, Howland was led to Christ by his priest, Dr. W.S. Rainsford of St. James Anglican Cathedral.  His life-changing experience gave him a new passion for helping the poor.  He became involved  helping with the Hillcrest Convalescent Hospital, the YMCA, the Haven Home for Unwed Mothers, the Prisoner’s Aid Association, the Central Prison Mission School, and the Toronto General Hospital.  Night after night, Howland visited the slums, going from house-to-house, and reaching out to the poor, the sick, and the alcoholic.  He also purchased 50 acres to start an Industrial School in order to steer youth away from the life of crime.  Other initiatives were his building an alternative school for drop-outs, and a Home for the Aged and Homeless Poor. When he began to teach an interdenominational bible study for 100 young men, his new priest J.P. Lewis objected to Howland’s involvement with non-Anglicans.  Out of this rejection, he began the interdenominational Toronto Mission Union, which operated seniors’ homes, convalescent homes, and Toronto’s first-ever home nursing service.

Because of his great compassion for the poor, he was elected as Mayor of Toronto in 1885, with a strong mandate to clean up the city.  Howland signaled his arrival in the mayor’s office by installing a twelve-foot banner on the wall, reading, “Except the Lord Build the City, the Watchman Wakes but in Vain”. Despite fierce opposition, Howland was so successful, that Toronto became nicknamed ‘Toronto the Good’.  As champion of the poor, Howland and his Alliance friend, Rev. John Salmon, would tramp the lanes and alleys, feeding the poor, praying over the sick, and comforting the sad.  With a population of just 104,000, Toronto had over 800 licensed and unlicensed saloons.  Over half of all criminal offenses recorded in 1885 were related to drunkenness.

Howland is described in Desmond Morton’s book Mayor Howland: the Citizen’s Candidate as the first reform mayor in Toronto’s history.  Due to bureaucratic corruption, municipal garbage collection was all but non-existent.  Even City Hall’s own garbage was rarely picked up.  Rotting garbage fouled the alleyways, yards, and streets, giving Toronto a reputation for flies, stench, and disease.  With no general sewage system, Toronto lived on the verge of a typhoid epidemic.  Children swam in the same Toronto harbour area into which raw sewage was flowing from the ditches. Toronto’s fresh water supply was sucked through leaking and rotting wooden pipes, half buried in the sewage and sludge of the Toronto harbour.

Howland believed that we didn’t usually need more laws; we just needed to enforce the ones that already existed.  He shocked the city bureaucrats by enforcing the already existing bylaw which forbid the depositing of garbage within the city limits.  After he threatened to send the city commissioner to jail for breaking this bylaw, garbage miraculously began to be collected!  Howland also worked hard in the construction of a trunk sewer system, to redirect the sewage away from the Toronto Harbour.  He had such a dramatic impact in reducing the crime rate that other mayors began visiting Toronto, hoping to imitate Howland’s miracle.

During his re-election campaign in 1887, all the taxi cabs were paid off by Howland’s opponent so that they would refuse to take Howland’s supporters to the polling stations.  Women however (2,000 widows and single women with property) had just been given the vote.  So they held up their long Victorian dresses, and trucked through the snow to give Howland the moral reformer a second term.  When Howland was re-elected by a landslide, over 3,000 of his supporters at the YMCA hall spontaneously burst into singing ‘Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow.’

After he unexpectedly stepped down as Mayor after two terms, Howland became the founding President of the Christian Alliance (which later took the name C&MA: Christian and Missionary Alliance).  The unique interdenominational nature of the early C&MA allowed Howland to be its president, while still remaining an Anglican.  When he died unexpectedly at age 49, his funeral involved Anglican, Alliance, and Presbyterian clergy.  With more than a thousand mourners on foot from all social classes, it was the largest funeral procession that had ever been held in Toronto.  A poem published in the Toronto Globe said of Howland:

And not Toronto mourns alone; All Canada his fame had heard; His name is dear, a household word, And far and wide, his worth was known.

May William H. Howland continue to be a living symbol of the difference that just one Canadian can make.

 

 

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

 -previously published in the Deep Cove Crier/North Shore News

* My Torontonian interest stems from being the great-great grandson of Thomas Allen who served as Toronto Alderman  for 19 years during the late 19th Century.

-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, #102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC V4A 0A5, Canada.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC V4A 0A5.

For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 


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Dr. James Naismith: Father of Basketball

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

Almost every North American has played basketball, even if only shooting a few baskets at the local park.  At my high school ‘Winston Churchill’, we had a passion for basketball. In Grade Eight, my dream was to become a basketball star.  My only limitations were getting the ball in the hoop and the fact that I was only five foot two.  Back then, I had no idea that basketball was invented by James Naismith, a Canadian on loan to the United States.  I was also unaware that basketball had deeply spiritual roots.

Dr. Naismith had a rough life growing up. When he was only eight, his parents died from typhoid fever.  Earlier the family sawmill in Almonte, Ontario, had burned down. Having visited the Naismith museum in Almonte, it gave me a deeper appreciation of the many challenges that James had to overcome.  After leaving school at age fifteen, James worked for five years as a lumberjack.  During his lumberjack phase, he had a powerful encounter with Jesus Christ which led him to attend McGill University in order to become an ordained minister.   Naismith commented: “Finally I decided that the only real satisfaction that I would ever derive from life was to help my fellow beings….”

Naismith studied so hard at McGill that he neglected regular physical exercise. His friends convinced him that involvement in sports would make him a better student.  He grew to love football, rugby, baseball, field hockey, and lacrosse.  Naismith discovered that his passion for sports helped him connect with young people when he shared the gospel with them.  His sister however was deeply disappointed that James chose sports ministry instead of looking after a local congregation. Sadly she never attended any of his later basketball games.

To pursue his sports ministry, James Naismith moved to the International YMCA Training School in Springfield, Massachusetts. The YMCA was a pioneer in the ‘muscular Christianity’ movement, being among the first to integrate prayer and bible study with athletics.  By 1905, almost 50,000 men took part in YMCA college Bible studies, including 1,000 at Yale University.  Naismith greatly admired Coach Stagg who made a point in the dressing room of saying “Let’s ask God’s blessing on our game.”  Naismith noted that Coach Stagg “did not pray for victory but he prayed that each man should do his best and show the true Christian spirit.”

James was asked by another coach Dr Guilick to create an indoor winter game for bored students. Calesthenics, involving sit-ups and marching, was not exciting enough for them.  Alluding to Ecclesiastes, Dr. Guilick had made the statement: “There is nothing new under the sun. All so-called new things are simply recombinations of the factors of things that are now in existence.”  James responded by saying: “All that we have to do is to take the factors of our known games and then recombine them, and we will have the new game we are looking for.” Two weeks later on December 21st 1891, basketball was invented.  The thirteen rules of basketball which James drew up have remained as the foundation of the game.  Drawing on another game called ‘duck on the rock’, Naismith had the students throw soccer balls into baskets.  Initially they used real peach baskets and there were no backboards to bounce off.  James intentionally invented a game that would encourage less violence and more sportsmanship.  By placing the goal way up in a basket, the participants were less likely to harm each other near the goal as in hockey. By not allowing players to run with the ball, he also eliminated the violent tackling found in rugby and football.  Even today basketball has far less group violence than other active sports.

William Baker said that basketball was first spread around the world by believers using the YMCA gospel of godliness and good games.  Canada was the first country outside of the United States to start playing basketball. Ironically because British women were the first to start playing basketball, British men saw it as a women’s game and initially refused to play it.  Basketball did not enjoy instant success at first. But now over 300 million play basketball around the world.

Both Canada and the United States claim James Naismith, with both nations dedicating special postage stamps to his memory. Though Naismith is honoured in eight Canadian and American Halls of Fame, he never profited from his invention of basketball, even losing two houses to foreclosure. Unlike basketball players today, Naismith did not endorse sports equipment, or sell products in ads. In contrast to the twenty-three million dollar top-NBA salaries today, Naismith saw basketball as being for fun, not for profit. James’ stated vision was “to win men for the Master through the gym.”

Naismith was not just the inventor of basketball.  After his brother Robbie died unexpectedly from infection, James decided to also become a medical doctor. As a minister, coach and medical doctor, he was able to minister to the body, mind and spirit.  The Journal of Health and Physical Education eulogized Naismith as “a physician who encouraged healthful living through participation through vigorous activities” and a builder of “character in the hearts of young men.” As one of his students mentioned, “With him, questions of physical development inevitably led to questions of moral development, and vice versa.” Naismith challenged the National Collegiate Athletic Association to “use every means to put basketball (as) a factor in the moulding of character…”

 With good coaching, said Naismith, basketball could produce the following results: “initiative, agility, accuracy, alertness, co-operation, skill, reflex judgement, speed, self-confidence, self-sacrifice, self-control, and sportsmanship.”  James saw self-sacrifice as “a willingness to place the good of the team above one’s personal ambitions”, saying ‘There is no place in basketball for the egotist.’  Sportmanship was described by Naismith as ‘playing the game vigorously, observing the rules definitely, accepting defeat gracefully, and winning courteously.’  In short, James wanted athletes to play by the Golden Rule and to love their neighbour.  May Naismith’s vision continue to inspire our young athletes to greatness and godliness.

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

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-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier/North Shore News

-award-winning author of Battle for the Soul of Canada

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, Canada V4A 0A5.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, Canada V4A 0A5. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca