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‘No qualms’: A Charlottetown taxi pioneer dies surrounded by love

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In the hours before his medically assisted death on Friday, Neil Harpham wasn’t worried about himself. 

He was fine. Relieved, even.

« I’m 74 and I’ve had my nine-and-a-half lives, » he said. « I’ve got no qualms about my life, that’s for sure. »

Harpham, a well-known Charlottetown businessman, was more concerned for those he was leaving behind.

Particularly, he said, his wife of 12 years, Deborah.

« Love’s a wonderful thing and when it’s kind of separated there’s going to be a lot of pain go with it and I feel bad for her, » he said in an interview on CBC Radio’s Mainstreet P.E.I., hours before his death at the Prince Edward Island Home.

« But aside from that, on my side, I’m happy. »

Suffered from cancer

Happy, he said, that he would no longer have to live in pain caused by three different cancers that were ravaging his body. He was getting weaker, and just moving around his apartment was getting to be a struggle, he said.

Soon he would have needed 24-hour care. Someone to help him walk, eat, go to the bathroom.

« Ain’t gonna happen, » he said. « My wife, she would do all that for me, but I don’t want her doing all that for me. »

Neil and Deborah Harpham on their wedding day, Aug. 3, 2006. (Submitted by Deborah Harpham)

He said he felt lucky to be able to make the decision to die on his own terms.

« The sadness of it all is that there’s probably 1,000 people or more around that probably wish they could but can’t. They just have to live through their misery until they die. »

The sadness of it all is that there’s probably 1,000 people or more around that probably wish they could but can’t. They just have to live through their misery until they die.— Neil Harpham

Harpham is survived by two sons, as well as Deborah, who was at her husband’s side and heard his final words when his suffering finally came to an end.

« He said I love you and I told him I love him, » she said.

On Saturday, Deborah said her husband, who operated two taxi businesses in Charlottetown, will be remembered « for the wonderful man that he was. »

« If you were ever in need, he was there for you, no matter what. » 

Even in his final hours, he was trying not to be a burden.

For instance, he was concerned about how Deborah would change the car registration into her name, since he wasn’t able do it himself on Friday because the roads were bad.

Started Santa Claus Parade

Harpham’s generosity extended into the community. In the 1990s, he brought the first Santa Claus Parade to Charlottetown with six of his taxis, a couple police cars and a fire truck.

« I couldn’t see Charlottetown not having a Santa Claus Parade, » he said. « The next year I had about 15 cars and we had eight or 10 floats and the third year I had 25 cars and I can’t even imagine how many floats we had. A lot. »

Every year around Christmas he would have Santa Claus in his one of his cabs to raise money for the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

He won an environmental award for 40 years participating in the P.E.I. Women’s Institute’s roadside cleanup. He helped bring the Credit Union to Stratford.

In the days leading up to his death, many people took the opportunity to thank him for his contributions to P.E.I.

« I’ve been involved myself in my community so much that I guess I don’t realize it because I’ve always been that way, but the amount of appreciation that you find is at a time like this, » he said.

« I mean other times you’d be smiling and saying hello and talking for a few minutes with just about everybody and then it comes to a time like this and then you got so you realize just how close people were. »

That was evident one last time when Deborah came out of the Prince Edward Home on Friday after saying goodbye to her husband.

« There was 33 cars across the street, taxis, a tribute to him, » she said. « I thought that was just beautiful. »

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A stunning Water Lantern Festival is coming to Montreal

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What might just be the most magical night ever is coming up for Montreal this year.

The Water Lantern Festival has announced that it will be gracing Mississauga with thousands of floating lanterns later this year, as part of a celebration that spans the entire world.

According to the festival’s official website, the event is a celebration of life with proceeds going towards charities and non-profit organizations within the area.

“Water Lantern Festival brings together individuals from all ages, backgrounds, and walks of life to join in one emotional and memorable night. At the Water Lantern Festival, we cherish these moments and will do our best to help you have a memorable experience that you’ll never forget as you witness the beauty of thousands of lanterns reflecting upon the water,” the website states.

The festival takes place throughout multiple cities around the world, with the Canadian cities of Quebec, Regina, Vancouver, Hamilton, Calgary, Ottawa, Mississauga, and, of course, Montreal taking part.

For the Calgary event, a date has been confirmed and tickets are already rolling out. Montreal shan’t be far behind, and you can click the Notify Me tab on the event’s site to be kept in the loop.

Expect an evening filled with food trucks, music, lantern designing and finally, a magical launch of the lanterns into the water as the sun goes down.

For our pals over in Calgary, their event includes a floating lantern, a commemorative drawstring bag, a marker, and a wristband. Expect something similar, if not the same, when more details float through about Montreal’s event.

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Euthanasia order on hold for Montreal dog that attacked children

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A pit bull dog that attacked four children and two adults in August 2018 in Montreal North will not be euthanized in the immediate future.

The euthanasia order has been temporarily suspended pending the appeal of a Quebec Superior Court decision.

On Tuesday, Judge Lukasz Granosik rejected a request to halt the euthanasia order issued by the Montreal North borough, which declared the animal a “dangerous dog.”

The City of Montreal has not changed its mind. This is only a delay before it proceeds with euthanizing the dog, a source told the Canadian Press.

Shotta, the one-year-old dog, was in the care of its owner’s acquaintance in August 2018. The dog attacked four children and two adults, causing serious injuries in separate incidents on the same day.

After the attacks, the dog was taken from the home and entrusted to the SPCA.

WATCH: Dog found dead in Angrignon Park

The Road to Home Rescue Support, an American shelter, asked the court if it could take in the dog. Christa Frineau, the dog’s owner, had also asked that Shotta not be euthanized.

Granosik refused to grant the request.

—With files from Global’s Kalina Laframboise

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9 Things To Do In Montreal This Friday, Saturday & Sunday

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Today’s sunny skies have me itching to make weekend plans. I absolutely cannot wait to make the most of this warmer weather. This might be the time to inflate my bike tires and dust off my running shoes…

Whether you want to brush up on your cooking skills, let loose, or fill your stomach with amazing food, there’s an event out there for you. Read on for 9 fun things you can do with friends or a fling this weekend.

TL;DR Read on for 9 fun things you can do in Montreal this weekend.

Let Yourself Go At Dress Up

Where: 185 Avenue Van Horne, Montréal.

When: Friday, March 29, 9:00 p.m.

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