Metropolitan Homesick Blues

Southampton Stories & Other Stuff

Archive for August 2012


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Controversy is always lying on our doorstep like some tattered old doormat. Big city, small town, wherever you live, wherever you go, controversy finds a way to seep through the cracks of life drawing you into its core. It is invasive, like a weed you can’t get rid of.

I thought I’d avoid controversy when I retired to my small town. What I have sadly discovered is that it is whirling all around me like a hurricane, touching down at will, spreading chaos into every corner of small town life. Some of the damage done is minimal, some major. Some has the potential to permanently and perpetually change what we now have. In my beautiful corner of the world (Southampton, Saugeen Township, Port Elgin) controversy is healthy and destructive.

In the parking lot of their sprawling summer retreat and convention center, the C.A.W. (Canadian Auto Workers) has erected a Wind Turbine that breaks all the setback rules and stands boldly over the homes of concerned citizens. The controversy swirling around this has seen many protests, some quite bitter. The potential of hundreds more Wind Turbines on the North Bruce Peninsula is alarming both permanent and seasonal residents, spurring town hall meetings, media finger-pointing and raucous confrontations with local councils.

Saugeen Shores Council has decided to enter the competition that could result in the burying of all of Canada’s high-level radioactive waste somewhere in our community. This waste would be buried in a Deep Geological Repository (DGR),  in an estimated area of 930 acres below ground and 250 acres above ground; deep enough to hold up to 144,000 metric tonnes of used nuclear fuel bundles that are still radioactive. And if you talk to people on the street, read the flyers, attend the SOS rallies (, council meetings and listen to the interviews, the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) aren’t helping to bring a balanced perspective to the situation. The NWMO is totally funded and its Directors appointed by the nuclear industry. They answer to no one except the PMO.

Vilification is in the air. Accusations of ‘who said what and lied to whom’ are part of every conversation. The negative impact of a high lever nuclear DGR is evident people who live here. They worry that this DGR is too close to Lake Huron, they fear quality of life; tourism and property values will suffer. They say we already have the Bruce Nuclear Plant just down the street where they already store low/medium level fuel bundles…why do we want more.

This controversy is far from over. It will rage on for years as people and politicians grapple with the pros and cons, the right and wrong, the morality of the situation. The damage this will do to relationships will probably have a half-life of a generation or two.

Controversy always leaves scars. Unfortunately.

If only folks would take a deep breath, wander down at sunset and read the advice posted on the side of the Range Light at the harbor mouth of the Saugeen River…




 Words to live by.




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When I was a kid, my last name was the reason why I always found myself involved in schoolyard fights.

I was constantly called, ‘nanny goat, granny nanni, nanny no no, ninny’ or whatever variation of  NANNI they felt was funny enough to their buddies laughing and chanting the insult in unison. At first I laughed along with them, but after a while, my temper got the best of me. It was tough being Italian in Toronto in the forties.

The end result of my frustration varied between broken glasses, scrapes, bruises, torn t-shirts and the occasional bloodied nose. At recess the schoolyard monitor shadowed me because my frequent outbursts had branded me a troublemaker. There wasn’t much else I could do but fight to show the pack that I was no push over. They had to know that messing with my name had consequences. Eventually it worked. Eventually my surname became by badge, my tag, my nickname, and my reputation that I was a kid of honour. After a couple of months, when I came out for recess or after school they would shout, “hey NANNI, we’re playing Red Rover…you’re on our side.”

Retribution! Besides, it was a lot better than, “hey Wop!”

The NANNI name is a derivative of GIOVANNI. At some point it was shortened to VANNI and somehow became NANNI. There is also a stream of thought that says it might be a derivative of BONANNO – which became NANNO – which became NANNI. Take your pick. Whatever its origin – NANNI is my family’s surname…pronounced NANN – E.

The NANNI men came to Canada pre World War Two. A good number of them settled in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. Our surname faced a major challenge when the NANNI men began working at Algoma Steel and the pulp and paper mill. The English foremen and bosses addressed everyone by their last name. And for some reason began emphasizing the last letter or our name making it NAN – EYE. This annoyed my family to the point where they changed the I to E to coincide with the pronunciation they were hearing every day.

Which brings me to the photo below.

Notice anything? It appears the change in spelling has stuck with some. Or the newspaper people are making the same mistake as those foremen at the steel plant. I asked my cousin who is building the family tree if he knew why this happened. He had no idea.

Even today, especially in the Soo, there are two spellings to our last name. Even in my own family. I still adhere to the original N-A-N-N-I.

My brother goes by N-A-N-N-E.

Written by metropolitanhomesickblues

August 14, 2012 at 5:10 PM