Reminiscences of June, a Traveling Grandmother
1976-1998 - June's Canadian Travels -Year of Diagnosis
- Published on Thursday, 29 May 2008 19:18
- Written by Stanton O. Berg
(Toronto and the CN Tower)
June has visited the Canadian cities of Montreal, Toronto (twice) and Vancouver. All four of June's visits to Canada have been in connection with forensic science conferences.
June's Visits to Toronto - 1976 - 1998
June's first weeklong visit to Toronto was in May- June of 1976. This stay in Toronto was to attend the conference and seminar of the Association of Firearm and Tool Mark Examiners. During this week June stayed at the Chelsea Inn. She was also a guest at a dinner given by the Government of the Province of Ontario. (The Honorable William G. Davis, Premier of Ontario) The most memorable part of this visit was a side trip to the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. June remembers that the view of the falls was not only spectacular but also very wet. Everyone had to wear a raincoat at one of the viewing points as that particular observation point subjected the spectators to spray from the falls.
(Photo below right - June at a Niagara Falls Observation point - Canadian Side - 31 May 1976)
June's last week long forensic visit to Toronto took place in late September/October 1998. The purpose of this visit to Toronto was in order to attend the conference of the International Association of Bloodstain Pattern Analysts. The IABPA conference was a joint forensic conference with the Toronto Police Forensic Identification Services.
June stayed at the Royal York Hotel. The name "Royal" is more than just a name. The Queen (Elizabeth) of England stayed at this hotel in 1997. June did some sight seeing. She also shopped at Eaton Center. The Eaton Center is Canada's 2nd largest shopping center. June also tried out the Toronto Subway system when traveling to Eaton Center.
Note: 1998 was a sad year for June. January 1998 was the month in which June was diagnosed with Alzheimer's following noted 1997 symptoms of short term memory loss.
June first noted her short term memory problems in 1997 and discussed them with her doctor of Geriatrics during her annual physical examination in December 1997. He told June what she was experiencing was not normal for her age. He made and appointment for June to have a series of tests at the University of Minnesota. Their report in late January of 1998 indicated a diagnosis of early stage Alzheimer's disease with severe short term memory losses...our life would never be the same. June managed to keep the disease at bay and remained in early stages of the disease through the year 2002. June did very well during the period of years from 1998-2002. We were very active and did the many things we had previously put off doing...we did much traveling including a final goodbye trip to London during the Sherlock Holmes Festival in 1999. We literally completed all items on our "Bucket" list.
The early symptoms of Alzheimer's are short term memory losses with some associated confusion. I recall very vividly the incident in the last visit to Toronto in 1998 in which June had trouble returning to the Hotel from the Eaton Center where she had gone shopping. She was long overdue at the Hotel and I was getting very anxious, worried and concerned. This was very unlike June as she had always been very capable and efficient in finding her way around and about large cities and metropolitan areas. Eventually she returned to the hotel approx. 1 hour late. June had gone shopping at the Eaton Center with a Canadian conference friend. They had split up for a time and were to meet at a pre-arranged later time and place. June had become mixed up on directions and on the time. June then tried to return to the Hotel on her own by using the Toronto subway system. She asked for and was given help, direction and assistance from the subway personnel. This was a significant turning point and a sad day in June's life - it meant a loss of her normal independence. Thereafter June could not and did not travel about large cities alone. June was the lady who in earlier years had given me instructions and demonstrations on how to travel around London by way of the London Underground. While all ended well, it was a frightening experience for both of us and a fore-shadowing of the future.
(Photo below right - June dining in "360 Restaurant" - CN Tower -1100 feet - October 1998)
The highlight of this week was visiting the CN Tower. (Canadian National) This was at that time, the world's highest freestanding structure. It rises to a height of 1815 feet. June had lunch at the 360 Restaurant located at the 1100-foot level. This is a revolving restaurant with a breathtaking view. Just under the restaurant, is a general observation deck. Part of this level has a section of glass flooring. June could not bring herself to walk on the glass floor. The view straight down was somewhat chilling. June noted that some of the children tourists would delight in pushing each other onto the glass floor.
Note: I received a letter in September 2009, from June's cousin Donna Jean Vaughan in Livingston, TX in which she forwarded a friendly letter she had received from June dated Sunday October 11, 1998. She thought I would like to have it. The last part of her letter referred to this trip to Toronto.
"We were in Canada last week. The weather was nice. Toronto is a beautiful city. We had nice dinner at a restaurant near the top of the CN Tower. It was a beautiful scene. It rotated so we could see all over the city. It had been 20 years since we were there last...Love June."
Friendly little letters of this type sent to June's relatives and friends were so typical of June.
Note: The CN Tower was completed in 1976 at 1815 feet. Currently the Burj Dubai Tower in Dubai, United Arab Emirates is at 2,625 ft. and expected to top out at 2,684 when completed later this year and claims the title of "World's Tallest Structure." The Willis Tower (former Sear's Tower) completed in 1974 in Chicago stands at 1,451 feet. (June visited the Sear's Tower during a visit to Chicago in the early 1990's.) The Taipei 101 Tower completed in 2004 in Taipei, Taiwan is 1,670 feet tall.
June in Vancouver - 1987
June's week long visit to Vancouver took place in August of 1987. The purpose of this visit to Vancouver was to attend the 11th International Meeting of Forensic Sciences, hosted by the International Association of Forensic Sciences. During her visit June stayed at the Hyatt Regency Hotel.
June was very impressed with the beauty of Vancouver and compared it favorably to Switzerland. Her room looked out on a bay surrounded by mountains.
June's activities for the week included, a visit to the VanDusen Gardens, a skyride to the top of Grouse Mountain, a bus and ferry trip to Vancouver Island and the scenic Gulf Islands, a ride on Royal Hudson Steam Train and finally cruising Howe Sound.
(The Photo below right is June Cruising Howe Sound, Vancouver BC, in August of 1987)
The American Heritage Dictionary defines a "Sound" as (1) a long, relatively wide body of water larger than a strait or a channel, connecting larger bodies of water - (2) a long wide ocean inlet.
Howe Sound is roughly triangular in shape with a network of fjords and is located northwest of Vancouver in British Columbia.
The mouth of the sound is at the Strait of Georgia and located between West Vancouver and the Sunshine Coast. The Sound opens on it's Southeast towards the Strait of Georgia. There are several Islands in the sound, three of which are large and mountainous.
The steep sided mainland shores serve to funnel the breezes as the daily thermal build the winds on a typical summer day to 20 knots (23 mph) plus at the Northern end of the Sound.
A small outcrop of volcanic rock is located on the Eastern shore of the Sound.
Spanish explorers were said to have observed the sound in 1791. However, Captain George Vancouver of the Royal Navy entered the Sound in 1792 and named it after the British Admiral Earl Howe.
June Visits Montreal in 1991
June visited the city of Montreal in September of 1991. This visit to Montreal was to attend the conference of the International Association of BloodStain Pattern Analysts.
During the week in Montreal June stayed at the Hotel Des Gouverneurs Le Grand, 777 rue University. On the evening of her arrival, she was treated to a wine and cheese reception.
Montreal is a bi-lingual city. (As is all Canada now.) It was noted however that the street and highway direction signs were remarkably larger in French then in English. This had a tendency to confuse English-speaking visitors. June noted that everyone seemed to be speaking in French, however, as soon as June would speak in English they would then quickly revert to English. See notes below on language.
The area that is known today as Montreal is said to have been inhabited by the Algonquin, Huron and Iroquois Indians for 8000 years although the oldest known artifact is only 2000 years old.
Jacques Cartier, a Frenchman, became the first European to reach the area of Montreal in 1534.
Montreal was incorporated as a city in 1802. Montreal is the second largest primarily French speaking city in the world after Paris. The 2006 census reports 1,620,693 people residing in Montreal making it the 2nd largest city in Canada and the 6th largest overall in North America. French is the language most spoken at home for 70.5% of the population per the 2006 census..
Debra Eng - Toronto, Ontario - (10 January 2016): "I can only imagine how scary that must have been for her getting lost. And I find that the overhead signage is not very clear, and TTC personnel are not very accessible when you need directions. I think they expect you to Google in advance of your travel. I have worked on the 39th floor of the Royal Bank plaza which is right next door to the Royal York hotel for 25 years. Everything is connected underground now through the PATH system. And you can walk all the way from the Eaton Centre to the Royal York Hotel. If I walk outside on ground level I get totally disoriented and don't have a clue where I'm going...I'm so glad she got to visit some beautiful landmarks while she was here. I was on the maid of the mist once, and have been up to the top of the CN tower once with Mum, about a year after they built it about 37 years ago. Now they have have an Edgewalk where you are tethered to a rope and can walk around on a very narrow ledge."
After an almost 12 year journey into the shadows of Alzheimer's, early one morning in late October 2008, an exhausted June felt God's gentle touch on her shoulder and heard the words: "Come Home June!" As June lay like a wounded soldier on a battlefield, it was God's Angels that ushered June into a Heavenly Kingdom and into Jesus presence to the sound of a chorus of Angels...and June's new home, a "Mansion on the Hilltop", where there is no pain, nor illness nor tears...June's funeral notice as published in the Minneapolis Star in October 2008 can be seen on this website in the drop down menu under the "In Memoriam" label - just Click on:
Reader's Notes: Readers are encouraged to read/review the other chapter's (31 chapters) in this story of June K. Berg's life. (Reminiscences of a Traveling Grandmother) Each chapter is intended to be a capsule view of a small segment of June's life and travels'. It is also intended to be a small segment of history from a time period of World War II and the periods both pre and post World War II. You will find the history is accurate and continues to be updated as new records and photographs become available.
June, a very humble person would never consider her life worthy of a story. To me June has been a lady for "All Seasons". A very unique, bright and highly principled Christian lady. While June like everyone, has likes and dislikes, I have never found her to be uninterested or bored with any thing that life has presented her. June was well traveled. She traveled to Europe eleven (11) times and made at least 100 trips in and around the United States. June would be included in Tom Brokaw's "The Greatest Generation."
It has taken the horror of Alzheimer's to awaken me to fully plumb the depths, and examine the scope of this remarkable lady.