To Remember

Written by: Sam Hancock

Remembrance Day takes place on November 11 every year, when we take a moment of silence at 11:00 a.m. This was originally done to honour the end of the “war to end all wars”, World War I. Unfortunately, peace didn’t last, and World War II was fought, followed by several international conflicts since.

Originally called Armistice Day to celebrate the official end of World War I on November 11, 1918 at 11:00 a.m., Remembrance Day has become a day to honour all those who have fought and those who continue to fight for freedom across the world.

A common concern as the generations who fought pass away is “what will Remembrance Day mean for our children?” Yet, in a recent Global News poll, millennials have been leading a resurgence in Remembrance Day ceremonies. (Source:

Encouraging news, because today more than ever, it seems we need to be reminded that the two greatest conflicts of the early half of the last century were fought to stop fascists, Nazis and other tyrannical despots from curtailing the freedoms of various cultures, religions and nations.

We asked ECOH staff to share why they celebrate Remembrance Day. Here are four stories…

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For Charlene McManus, Remembrance Day is a time to cherish how the McManus clan got their start. Her grandfather Charles (Charlie) McManus served during World War 2. He signed up with his brother Jack at the Elora Catholic Church along with other locals who were enlisting to fight for Canada and England. While Jack served in the Navy, Charlie was stationed as a cook in England when he met his wife Alice. She was serving as a radar detector for the Scotland Army. Romance can bloom anywhere, even during wartime.

Remembrance Day is also a time to cherish family for Rob Lovegrove, who had relatives who served in both World Wars. His grandfather drove tanks in WW1, where he was blinded by a gas attack. Rob’s wife’s great uncle was killed at the age of 17 during the battle of Vimy Ridge. Rob’s other grandfather fought for the British Army in WW2 in North Africa and Italy. Both of Rob’s parents were living in London during WW2 and were forced to evacuate and stay with families in Wales. While these evacuations were meant with good intentions, some of the children sent to live on farms in the country-side were treated as indentured servants. One of Rob’s uncles ran back to London to face the bombs rather than keep living on a farm.

Craig Maunder’s great uncle, Major John Arthur Willis of the Essex Scottish Regiment, 2nd Canadian Infantry Division, served our country in WW2. Major Willis died at age 38 during Operation Jubilee (Dieppe Raid). While the raid was an Allied disaster, resulting in the death, wounding or capture of 3,623 Canadian, British and US troops, it is also widely regarded as having identified fundamental flaws in the amphibious invasion tactics of the time.  The lessons learned at Dieppe, while at great cost, are thought to have profoundly shaped the planning of the Normandy invasions and allowed those later invasions to succeed.  “It makes me proud,” says Craig, “to know his sacrifice was not in vain.”

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My grandfather served in WW2 but never spoke of his experiences overseas. Whatever happened to him, he kept it to himself as if the war never happened. To me, that is why Remembrance Day is so important – to let veterans who served know that while we can’t possibly know what they went through, we value and appreciate the freedoms they fought so valiantly to preserve.

My eight-year old daughter attended her first Remembrance Day parade last year as a Brownie. She is proud to be able to honour her great-grandfather and all the veterans and current members of our armed forces.

Remembrance Day – what does it mean to you?



Safety Posters Through the Ages – A Short History

Written by: Sam Hancock


Workplace safety is everyone’s responsibility, but it never hurts to have handy reminders around the job site, whether it’s construction, health care or an office. One of the most effective and convenient ways to communicate workplace safety is with posters.

While we’ve been working since humans first stood upright, the safety poster didn’t enter the workplace until the mid-1800s once the Industrial Revolution was underway. The first World’s Fair in 1851 celebrated the rise of the machine age with exhibits dedicated to innovation and progress at work and at home. With workers migrating from the farm to the factory, labour became more and more reliant on machinery. More machinery meant more accidents.


As the Industrial Revolution got into full swing, the issue of worker safety quickly followed.  Early posters relied heavily on text, and often focused on rules of behavior in the workplace, including union meetings, breaks and smoking rather than safety procedures.

However, most workers in the Industrial Revolution came from the lower classes, and at that time had a very low literacy rate. Eventually, text-heavy posters made way for visual posters that packed a more emotional punch. Posters often showed the worst-case scenario—electrocution, dismemberment and death —and promoting fear to encourage safety became the standard.


“Open the doors and windows before you start the motor” (1925)



Graphic design has changed over the years. For example, the early 1900s posters depicted workplace dangers as anthropomorphized – carbon monoxide was a large brutish ghost that could choke a man. Safety posters inspired fear with realistic-looking violent monsters, devils, and animals. As Cubism, Futurism and the other mid-century -ism movements took centre stage in the art world, danger was now shown as an abstract figure in safety posters, with the emphasis, such as scraps of steel – or swarf – shown as a snarling guard dog, straining at its leash.



Up until World War II, most posters focused on men in the workplace, with women starring in home safety posters and materials. However, once women started playing a bigger role in the workplace in the 1930s and 1940s, they started appearing in more workplace safety posters. “Jenny on the Job” is a series of WW2-era safety posters designed specifically for women working during the war.

In this series, the posters reflect women’s important role during wartime, but only three posters depict actual workplace safety tips. The rest reflect the typical mid-century attitude towards gender roles. The posters make it clear - while it was necessary for women to work, they shouldn’t forget their womanly duties too. They suggested in a very paternalistic manner that despite doing a man’s job, Jenny still needs her beauty sleep, fancy fashions, and a reminder to shower regularly.




Plus, who’s going to clean up that filthy pigsty of a bathroom? Jenny, obviously.


As more and more women entered the workplace after the war, posters continued to reflect a slightly patronizing tone towards women, as exemplified in this image of a women’s long locks getting tangled in a drill press, suggesting that women are more concerned with beauty than safety.




Today’s posters focus on more positive messages – “Wear hard hats in this area” and “Hold the handrail” for example – versus earlier fear-mongering posters that emphasized what could happen should you fail to follow the rules. Not only do they focus on the physical dangers at work, they also shine a spotlight on mental health at work, which is just as important as your physical health.

Who knew health and safety posters at work had such a rich history? The design of these posters reflects the concerns of the era they were created, and are a great way to explore the history of work.


Curiosity piqued? Here are two interesting collections of historical workplace safety posters to peruse:



Happy Diwali

May the joyous celebration
Of this divine festival
Fill your heart with
Never ending joy and happiness!

Happy Diwali from ECOH.


Today is Diwali, a five-day celebration popularly known as the Festival of Lights. Diwali literally means “series of lights.” During Diwali, houses are adorned with candles and colourful lights as people share gifts and recite prayers. Observed by millions of Hindus, Sikhs and Jains, Diwali celebrates the triumph of light over darkness, good over evil, knowledge over ignorance, and hope over despair.

Diwali also coincides with the Hindu New Year, and celebrates the legend of Lord Rama and his wife Sita, who returned to their kingdom after a period of exile following the defeat of the demon king Ravanna. Diwali also pays tribute to Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, and lanterns are lit to guide her into people's homes to ensure a prosperous year ahead.

It’s a time renewal, with lots of cleaning, renovating, and decorating to spruce up the home. During Diwali, everyone dresses up in new clothes, and they light lamps and candles inside and outside their home. Families and friends also get together to pray, feast and watch fireworks.

Diwali runs for five days, with the main celebrations happening on the third and fourth day:

  1. Dhanteras: On the first day of Diwali, people consider it auspicious to clean the home.
  2. Naraka Chaturdasi or Chhoti Diwali: On the second day, people decorate their homes with lamps and create design patterns called rangoli on the floor using colored powders or sand.
  3. Amavasya: The third day is the main festival day. Families gather together for Lakshmi puja, a prayer to Goddess Lakshmi followed by feasts and firework festivities.
  4. The fourth day: This day has various meanings in different parts of India. It is the first day of the new year when friends and relatives visit with gifts and best wishes for the season.
  5. Bhai Dooj: The final day sees brothers visiting their married sisters, who greet them with love and a lavish meal.

If you are a guest at a Diwali party, consider bringing a “Shubh”, or auspicious gift for your hosts. This can be sweets, dried fruits, nuts, or something for the home, like candles. An auspicious and traditional gift shows your authenticity and sincerity.

May the warmth, hospitality and happiness you experience during Diwali strengthen your families, your friendships and your communities. Please accept ECOH’s best wishes for a meaningful and joyous celebration.

The Move to Ban Microbeads

Written by: Sam Hancock & Naomi Lai

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Personal hygiene is a multi-billion-dollar industry in North America. The global skin care market was worth an estimated $121 billion in 2016, and is expected to reach $175 billion by 2021. Manufacturers of body wash, lotion, toothpaste, acne care, and other beauty products keep creating newer and better products meant to keep us looking and feeling our best.

In 1972, microbeads were introduced and immediately praised for their exfoliating properties. Over the years they were added to hundreds of products and loved by consumers.

What are Microbeads?

Microbeads are tiny bits of polyethylene plastic. They are able to absorb large quantities of toxins, and their spherical shape makes them gentler on skin than other exfoliants. They can be found in all sorts of products from face wash to foot scrubs.

However, times have changed and microbeads aren’t exactly great for the environment. In fact, some countries including Canada, USA, UK and Ireland have pledged to ban the sale of all microbead-containing products within the coming year.

Why Ban Microbeads?


1.7 million plastic particles per square kilometer were recently found in Lake Erie. This is a dangerously high level, especially for particles that are not going to break down any time soon.

Thousands of marine species have been ingesting these microbeads, and the toxins they absorb move through the food chain, not only effecting the aquatic eco system but humans too.

When you wash product containing microbeads down the drain, they are sent through water treatment facilities, where they don’t break down, and then find their way downstream into rivers and lakes. The great lakes region of Canada and the United States has been of significant concern, as the concentration of microbeads has resulted in very high plastic particle water pollution. Greenpeace has referred to these particles as a toxic time bomb.

What is Anyone Doing About It?

The Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015 (USA) aims to phase out the use of microbeads in rinse off cosmetics by July 2017. Similarly, the Canadian government will put a moratorium on both the manufacturing and importing of products containing microbeads, and outlawing the sale of them effective mid-2018. Canada has already added microbeads to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act as a toxic substance. Additionally, most Canadian manufacturers have already committed to voluntarily phasing them out of their products.

What can YOU do about microbeads?

What about the cleansing benefits that will be lost with the extinction of microbeads?

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Don’t worry! A great number of alternatives exist, and they're just as capable of keeping your skin soft while being softer on the environment, too. Products rich in fruit enzymes and slight acids (like apricot and papaya) are great substitutions, and they’re easy to find! There are many companies that offer 100% natural exfoliants that can be found at your local drug store. You can check out reviews for natural exfoliant products here.

Additionally, products high in Vitamin C are known to be skin brighteners and produce collagen, which make them a multifaceted option. Lesser known substitutes include Rhassoul mud and rice flour for the body, which are 100% biodegradable and possess scrubbing qualities needed for proper exfoliation. Or, get creative and try making your own!

Using natural products and saying no to microbeads doesn’t just benefit the environment, it benefits your skin, too.