Thursday, September 2, 2010

Water Water Everywhere... and not a drop of common sense

There is an ad from a 1909 Montreal Gazette, which I can't show you due to copyright.. It is an ad for Laurentian Spring Water, the Robert White Company, 636 Craig Street East. It says, if you are concerned with you health and if you don't want to drink germ-laden tap water, buy Laurentian. 4 cents the half gallong.

I know a fair bit about this company, because it belonged to my father in law's family.

Robert White had a shoe company, and while drilling for water to enable tanning (or something) he discovered an artesian well (or something) and started this water company. They supplied bottled water to businesses and more elegant homes.

The blurb above explains why he managed to convince Montrealers that they needed bottled water.

Montreal had a contaminated water supply. (My own grandfather, Jules Crepeau, worked for the Health Department earlier in the century, and then the Clerk's Office, and later, in 1921, he became Director of City Services and then in 1930 lost his job over some scandal to do with the Montreal Water and Power Company. Talk about "all things are connected.")

As it happens, I am told, this Mr. White had a useless son, so he took in a nephew, Thomas Gavine Wells, to run the business. This Thomas Gavine Wells married a first cousin of General Douglas MacArthur, Mae Hardy Fair and they had 3 kids, one of whom, Thomas Gavine jr. married the daughter of Marion Nicholson of my Flo in the City novel, pictured above, being written about on this blog.

In 1909, Marion was in Montreal, working as a teacher. Her sister Edith was also in Montreal, but I have no clue what she was doing, so in my book, I make her a tutor to the daughter of Jules Crepeau.

Norman Nicholson, their father, is in the the woods near La Tuque, working on the Transcontinental Railway. He is the only one who talks about drinking water: he doesnt trust the water on the railroad. He`d rather go around parched. Hmm. (He did get typhoid in 1896 in Richmond.)

But I will have Marion and Edith discuss this water business. You know today, so many people go around with water bottles, taking continual sips, but I am not a convert. My friends tell me how important it is to drink lots and lots of water, saying that our bodies don't know when we are thirsty, but I think that is a load of malarkey. I think bottled water is the biggest hoax in the world and my instincts, which I do trust, tell me that drinking water out of plastic bottles is dangerous. (I hate the taste.) I trust my body to tell me if it is thirsty, too.

(The other day, some young counter girl at the grocery made me purchase a plastic bag (as per usual) and was trying to imply, in a patronizing tone, that these same plastic bags were bad for the environment. I just pointed to a mountain of plastic bottles in the aisle and said, "Gee, amazing. These bags that I recycle as garbage bags (saving me from buying those more heavy duty bin bags manufactured by DOW or some other evil entity) are terrible for the environment but bottled water, which is a huge money maker for the grocery stories, is OK. I sense some consumer age BS going on here."

I just came back from Lesvos Greece, where it was 104, so I did drink a lot of water. Tap water and I have never felt better. (And I had an ear infection from the airplane.) Not only that, these people used plastic bags for their groceries, but they also had FAR FAR less refuse than we have here in NA. A couple of small bags per family, from what I witnessed. (My brother had ONE small bag a week.Imagine! Here at home we fill up two recycle bins a week... Why?.. they eat mostly fresh produce in Lesvos... It's a no brainer: what we need to do to help the environment is to eat only from the meat and vegetable stand. But it's the over-packaged convenience foods that make the money for the grocer. If they could sell ONE pea packaged in 24 oz of styrofoam and 10 yards of celluoid or is it cellulose (plastic) wrap and charge us 50 dollars for that one pea, they would. Packaged lettuce leaves, anyone?? (Oops! I buy that :)Mea culpa.

My argument: If a person needs to guzzle water in Canada in 75 degree temperature, how much MORE water does her body need in 104 temperature. Let's face it, we hardly exert ourselves at all these days, compared to, say, in 1910. And we don't have to walk about in corsets and shirtwaist suits. So, if a person needs to guzzle water by the gallons to be healthy, why did they not die from dehydration back then?