Category Archives: Miscellaneous

Old Moreton Bay Tribes. Their Lost Languages.

Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 – 1933), Saturday 1 December 1923, page 19


Few people have any knowledge of the vast amount of works, reports, and papers that have been written on the anthropology, ethnology, and geological history of the aboriginals of Australia and Tasmania.

Australian Aboriginal party likely in the Brisbane area

Many of the books are rare, and many of the reports and papers are found only in scientific journals not accessible to the general public. Much valuable information is hidden away in the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain. Scores of papers, memoirs, and vocabularies are scattered over works of travel and exploration, and the trans-actions of scientific societies. About four hundred books and papers are catalogued, but there are not many complete books, and even all those are not standard authorities.

The late Robert Etheridge, junior of the Sydney Museum, in his valuable catalogue issued by the Mines Department of New South Wales when Sydney Smith was Minister, quotes Brough Smyth, J. D. Woods, G. Taplin, Fison and Howitt, William Ridley. Captain Sadleir, E. M. Curr, James Bonwick, J Dawson, and Dr. Topinard as among the best of the writers.

He omits one of the most important of all, L. E. Threlkeld, who was 14 years missionary among the blacks of Port Macquarie, and wrote a masterly work on the Awabakal dialect, the most complete of all recorded vocabularies, and the best explanation of the grammatical structure of any Australian dialect.

It was published in 1850. The people who spoke that Awabakal are long since extinct, and there are not many living blacks to-day who can speak much of even the once great Kamilroi, Wiradjerie, and Jucumbah (Yucumbah) dialects of New South Wales. Tribes after tribes have vanished, and their dialects have gone with them into oblivion.

Among the old Moreton Bay tribes there were seven dialects spoken, and they are all practically extinct. In my lifetime I have seen tribe after tribe disappear, one dialect after another become extinct, until there is hardly a soul left of the people who spoke the dialects familiar to me in my youth. The tribes of Moreton, Bribie, and Stradbroke Islands have gone forever, and all that is left of their dialects, presumedly, is what was taken down by me in 1870 and 1874. On Stradbroke Island there are still some half castes and quadrooms who speak part of the old Coobennpil dialect, but with them and even that will disappear, so that white people in the last short period of 30 years have seen whole aboriginal tribes and their languages passing silently away from us, like a series of dissolving views, into Eternity. It seems to me to be a scene so solemn, and tragic, and pathetic, as to be capable of exciting pity in the hardest hearted and serious reflections in the most thoughtless. When the Roman spies found Marius sitting among the ruins of Carthage he said to them. “Some day Rome may be like Carthage!” In some unknown future, where Brisbane stands, may be desolate as the sand dunes of Moreton Island, mighty cities of past ages lie hidden by the sands of the desert.


And they were so soft and euphonious, those old Moreton Bay dialects, that it was a pleasure to hear them spoken, especially by the women and children Our language is discordant by comparison.

You ask a Moreton Islander, “Where are you going,” and in a soft voice he would ask you “Wanyeegneen yanumba?” You say, “I don’t know,” and he merely replies “wanyeenggam.” You ask him, “Where are all the blacks?” expressed by him as “wanyee dan mah-gee?”

You ask him, “Where is the death adder?” and he would softly say it as “wanyee moonoom.” He called the native bee “cooneeda,” which recalls that beautiful poem of Essex Evans on the “Cymru,” and “the spirit of stern Cuneida, the last of the Brython Kings.” At Sydney rain was banna, and it was rain at Moreton Bay, reappearing as rain again at Cairns. At Moreton Bay the small pathway from the small to the big Bora circle was boreen, and boreen was a small crooked foot track in the Irish Gaelic. At Townsville the word for white was “alba,” pure Latin. Com-parative philology shows a considerable number of aboriginal words in English, Gaelic, Italian, Hebrew, Hindustani, and broad Scottish, in some cases, with exactly the same meaning, but all that proves nothing.

Stanley records “wee” for five in Central Africa, and it was the word for five at Bundaberg and Rockhampton. A word in one dialect may have quite a different meaning in another. At Moreton Bay, one, two, three, four were canyahra, boollah, tiyarra, mahjan. From Townsville to Cooktown canyahra was the crocodile. There was an amazing flexibility in the language ; and an astonishing modification of the verbs by the use of suffixes and affixes, so that one word would express three or four of ours. In the first dialect spoken by me, the Yoocumbah of the Clarence, the generic name of the race was Murri, a man was murri, a young man murriwan, a boy murriwanjin, a woman murri-wanggeen, a girl murriwanggeena.

In the Ahwabah dialect, ahwa was no, ahwa-bah the place where ahwa was no, and also the language itself, while ahwabbakal was the race who spoke that language, and the men of that race, while the women were ahwabbakaleen, the girls ahwabbakaleena. Our language has no such flexibility as that. Their nouns show the nominative, genitive, ablative, dative, accusative cases, and in addition to the remarkable inflection of the verbs they show the indicative, imperative, potential, and subjunctive moods, and past, present, and future tenses.

Usually the adjective followed the noun, as in French and Italian. An Italian, instead of saying a white horse, says “un cavallo bianca,” a horse white. And the aboriginal is as likely to ask where are you going, as you where going, or you going where? The verb is often omitted, especially with the interrogative adverb, such as “minta into ginda-hnya? what you laught at? and not what are you laughing at? If asking a Coobenmpil speaking man of Stradbroke Island to have a drink, I would say to him, “gnaleen yieeba jaleeba maroomba, literally “we together drink good.” A short toast would be simply “jaleeba maroomba,” or “drink good,'” much more euphonious than most of our meaningless toasts.


To show the effect of translating, and the difficulty of expressing the same sense, I shall give here the Lord’s Prayer in the Coobennpil dialect to show how it reads:

Come down to us: Bulka gnaleeba.
We do here what they do up there: Yaganna gnallee noonam tamanna,
To-day give us bread: Bayann, woodya gnalleegannoo binggin
Forgive us this time: Wallee gnalleegnanna banmal,
Don’t lead us to do wrong: Wallee gnalleegnanna waleemal,
Take us away from bad: Yandeegee gnalleegnanna waleenjee.
You are great, all is yours: Gnareeba nanamm, cooroomba beera, Coobaggoolabbo! (For ever!)

The reader is asked to pronounce the g and u always hard and short, as in gun.

Very surprising is the difference of the dialects of Moreton and Stradbroke Islands, separated only by a narrow channel, which probably had no existence at all 200 years ago ; but it is well to re-member that the Rhine, in Germany, and the Tweed, in Scotland, separate two languages, that there are four different languages in the small island of Britain Welsh, English, Gaelic, Lowland Scottish, really old Saxon, and a number of uncouth English dialects.


The aboriginal dialects differed widely from each other, some having a much more copious vocabulary than others, and, as in the case of ourselves, the average man only spoke a fraction of his own language, which not being fixed by printing and books, was frequently changing. Even literature fails to fix a language, for the English of Chaucer and Spenser would not be understood by the Australians of to-day.

On Moreton Island the aboriginal race was Mahgee, and on Stradbroke Mullara. North of Caboolture and thence to the Mary River, the race was Dahn. A fire-stick at Brisbane was chucabbil, at Stradbroke tucabbin, at Moreton weeramm, and north of Caboolture carba. At grand corroborees, great fights, or feasts of the Bunya, the various tribes camped apart, but there was a certain volapuk dialect by which tribes speaking different dialects could understand each other. In ordinary conversation today among the white race the average man or woman does not use more than from 100 to 200 words. No civilised man knows half of his own language. Usually an aboriginal could speak his own language, and the two adjoining dialects. As with us, there were some who were much more complete linguists and eloquent speakers than the others. If a Brisbane black took a Nerang Creek woman for a wife, she had to learn Wacca, and the children were brought up in that dialect, but they usually learned the language of the mother. If a boy or girl had a tendency to talk in a loud or harsh voice, loud calls of “no more black cockatoo,” or “no more leatherhead,” or “too much kookaburra,” or “you talk like a crow,” killed the harsh voice with ridicule, and ridicule with them was a deadly weapon. At the camp fire, riddles were a favourite pastime, and some were very ingenious. On Stradbroke, among those recorded by me, was one where a man had a boy who was a mischievous little rascal. His father had made a new boomerang, and one day when going out hunting he put it up in the fork of a tree, and warned his son not to touch it. Of course, the son assured him that nothing was farther from his thoughts, and when dad was out of sight he promptly climbed the tree, got the boomerang, walked down to the beach, and threw it away towards the West. The boomerang went away out of sight, and did not return for about four weeks! Great guessing in the camp, and sarcastic suggestions that the narrator was a splendid liar, until he explained that the boomerang was “Gillenn,” the new moon, and then there was hilarious laughter.

There were orators among them, eloquent men, capable of highly dramatic declamation, and they were listened to with rapt attention, in profound silence. There were no cheers, interjections, or in-terruptions. Ridley tells of a wonderful speech he heard from an old Kamilroi black on the wrongs of his race, and I heard two unforgettable orations on the same subject.

In voice and gesture savage Nature, spoke, and from their eyes the gladiator broke.

And now that ancient race of hunters and athletes, their soft melodious speech, their picturesque customs, their interesting and original weapons, their songs, dances, and traditions, are soon to be hidden in the closing mists of a dead, forgotten past, apparently the ultimate doom of all humanity, for such is the inexorable “Testimony of the Rocks.”

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A Pioneer’s Recollections – Part 2

Queensland’s Early Days
BY C. Duncan Laidley
Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 – 1933), Saturday 27 October 1923, page 19

I find it most interesting to read the Brisbane Courier from 100 years ago on a Saturday morning. It brings into stark relief the modern world, that which remains much the same and that which has evolved beyond belief in such a short period of time. Here is a transcription of the recollections of Duncan Laidley who as a 9 year old arrived in Sydney, Australia in January 1842 after a 4-5 month voyage. It should be noted that the discussion of our Aboriginal brothers and sisters may not reflect modern sensitivities.

In this article Mr. Duncan, who is 90 years of age, tells of the Brisbane of 66 years ago, and of his experiences at Bald Hills, Ipswich, Mary borough, Laidley, and other places.

Carseldine’s General Store in Bald Hills in the late 1890’s. James Carseldine open the store in 1969 and his residence is to the right . Courtesy Kris Herron
Continue reading A Pioneer’s Recollections – Part 2

A Pioneer’s Recollections – Part 1

I find it most interesting to read the Brisbane Courier from 100 years ago on a Saturday morning. It brings into stark relief the modern world, that which remains much the same and that which has evolved beyond belief in such a short period of time. Here is a transcription of a recollections of Duncan Laidley who as a 9 year old arrived in Sydney, Australia in January 1842 after a 4-5 month voyage. Below is the text, followed by the scanned copy of the relevant pages and a summary in poetic form generated by AI.




Born on December 8, 1833, near Brechin, in Forfarshire, Scotland, I am in the shadows of eventide, and ere the break of the new and perfect day I venture to put down some of the recollections of the past, that those who live in these times of ease and plenty may know something of what the pioneers endured in opening up this country. 

Bowerman, Henry Boucher, 1789-1840
This panorama landscape depicts the Moreton Bay Settlement in 1835. The viewpoint is from South Brisbane, on the site now occupied by the Queensland Cultural Centre. The Brisbane landscape and buildings of the period are depicted. Buildings depicted are the Windmill, with a fence in front and the treadmill building to the left; the row of buildings from left to right are the surgeon’s cottage and convict and military hospitals (three low set buildings in a row); the convict barracks, a multi-storey building with a walled yard; the military barracks, a multi-storey building with a low set guard house just visible to the left; the Engineer’s House, used during Bowerman’s time as offices for the commandant and commissariat staff; the kitchen for, and then the Parsonage building, which by 1835 was being used as quarters for commissariat staff; the Commissariat Stores buildings, with an arched wharf with a crane and sentry box to the front, a small boat house to the left of the wharf, and boat builders hut and storeroom to the right of the wharf; and the Commandant’s House, with a small kitchen/convicts’ quarters building to the left.
The building in the far right of the painting, shown behind a row of trees growing on the river bank, was the Government Gardeners house.
Continue reading A Pioneer’s Recollections – Part 1

Interesting Outcomes

“In 1923, seven men who had made it to the top of the finan­cial success pyramid met together at the Edgewater Hotel in Chicago. Collectively, they controlled more wealth than the en­tire United States Treasury, and for years the media had held them up as examples of success.

Who were they? Charles Schwab, president of the world’s largest steel company, Arthur Cutten, the greatest wheat spec­ulator of his day, Richard Whitney, president of the New York Stock Exchange, Albert Fall, a member of the President’s Cabinet, Jesse Livermore, the greatest bear on Wall Street, Leon Fraser, president of the International Bank of Settlement, and Ivan Kruegger, the head of the world’s largest monopoly.

What happened to them? Schwab and Cutten both died broke; Whitney spent years of his life in Sing Sing peni­tentiary; Fall also spent years in prison, but was released so he could die at home; and the others Livermore, Fraser, and Kruegger, committed suicide”.                                       

Donald McCullogh,  Waking from the American Dream

Charles Schwab

Charles Michael Schwab (February 18, 1862 – September 18, 1939)

Charles Michael Schwab (February 18, 1862 – September 18, 1939) was an American steel magnate. Under his leadership, Bethlehem Steel became the second largest steel maker in the United States, and one of the most important heavy manufacturers in the world.  A fortune of $500 million prior to 1929 was all but wiped out in the October collapse and he spent his final years in a small apartment.  Shortly after his death, World War 2 restored the fortunes of his steel company, Bethlehem Steel.

Arthur William Cutten (July 6, 1870 – June 24, 1936)

Arthur Cutten

Arthur William Cutten (July 6, 1870 – June 24, 1936) was a Canadian-born businessman who gained great wealth and prominence as a commodity speculator in the United States. He was all but wiped out in the 1907 collapse of the cotton markets.

He appeared before the Banking and Currency Committee during its investigation of the Wall Street Crash of 1929. The government issued indictments against him for tax evasion.  He died of a heart attack a few weeks short of his sixty-sixth birthday. The tax suit was settled by the executors of his estate as his fortune was vastly depleted by the stock market crash and the cost of lawyers to defend him from the government lawsuits.

Richard Whitney (August 1, 1888 – December 5, 1974)

Richard Whitney

Richard Whitney (August 1, 1888 – December 5, 1974) was an American financier and president of the New York Stock Exchange from 1930 to 1935. Having retired as president of the New York Stock Exchange in 1935, Whitney remained on the board of governors, but in early March 1938, his past began to catch up with him when the financial controller of the exchange reported to that Richard Whitney was an embezzler and that his company was insolvent. Within days, events snowballed, and Whitney and his company would both declare bankruptcy. He was convicted of embezzlement and imprisoned.  On April 12, 1938, six thousand people turned up at Grand Central Terminal to watch as Whitney was escorted in handcuffs by armed guards onto a train that delivered him to prison.

Jesse Lauriston Livermore (July 26, 1877 – November 28, 1940)

Jesse Livermore

Jesse Lauriston Livermore (July 26, 1877 – November 28, 1940) was an American investor.  A legendary trader who worked alone without partners and in isolation from others in an office of advanced technology for the time, receiving price data directly from the floor of the NYSE.  He made and lost his fortune on numerous occasions.  His skill was market timing combined with considerable mathematical skills and a clear trading strategy. He would invest a small portion of his planned amount and see how the market reacted.  If the price continued to increase, he would invest yet more until he was convinced of the general trend of the market before securing his ultimate position.  He would not tolerate a fall in price of more than 10% and would sell his position quickly, thereby not endangering his capital.

On November 28, 1940, Livermore fatally shot himself in the cloakroom of the Sherry Netherland Hotel in Manhattan. Police found a suicide note of eight small handwritten pages in Livermore’s personal, leather bound notebook. The note addressed to Livermore’s wife Harriet (whom Livermore nicknamed “Nina”) read, “My dear Nina: Can’t help it. Things have been bad with me. I am tired of fighting. Can’t carry on any longer. This is the only way out. I am unworthy of your love. I am a failure. I am truly sorry, but this is the only way out for me. Love Laurie”

Leon Fraser

Leon Fraser (born November 27, 1889 in Boston, April 8, 1945) was an American manager. 

Fraser graduated from Columbia University and from Colgate University Law School. He worked as a reporter for New York World until he was admitted to the bar in 1914. He enlisted in the US Army and fought in WW1 leaving with the rank of officer.  From 1922 to 1924 he practiced international law in Paris. He was a consultant for the Dawes Plan and from 1924 to 1927 was the Paris representative for reparations payments.

In 1930 he became president of the newly established Bank for International Settlements.  In 1937 he became president of the First National Bank of New York. He also held senior positions with General Electric, US Steel and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.  In the courtyard of his Granville home, Fraser shot himself in the head. His farewell letter pointed to depression.

Ivan Kruegger

Ivar Kreuger (2 March 1880 – 12 March 1932)

Ivar Kreuger (2 March 1880 – 12 March 1932) was a Swedish civil engineer, financier, entrepreneur and industrialist. In 1908, he co-founded the construction company Kreuger & Toll Byggnads AB, which specialized in new building techniques. By aggressive investments and innovative financial instruments, he built a global match and financial empire. He ultimately controlled between two thirds and three quarters of worldwide match production, becoming known as the “Match King”.

Kreuger’s financial empire collapsed during the Great Depression. A subsequent audit of his more than 400 companies concluded that “The manipulations were so childish that anyone with, but a rudimentary knowledge of bookkeeping could see the books were falsified.”  In March 1932, he was found dead in the bedroom of his flat in Paris. The police concluded that he had committed suicide although his family believed he had been murdered.

Albert Fall

Albert Bacon Fall (November 26, 1861 – November 30, 1944)

Albert Bacon Fall (November 26, 1861 – November 30, 1944) was a United States Senator from New Mexico and the Secretary of the Interior under President Warren G. Harding, infamous for his involvement in the Teapot Dome scandal. Fall was appointed to the position of Secretary of the Interior by President Warren G. Harding in March 1921. Soon after his appointment, Harding convinced Edwin Denby, the Secretary of the Navy, that Fall’s department should take over responsibility for the Naval Reserves including the Teapot Dome Naval Reserve in Wyoming.

In April 1922 Wall Street Journal reported that Secretary Fall had issued oil drilling permits within the Teapot Dome Naval Reserve in Wyoming to two of his friends, oilmen Harry F. Sinclair (Mammoth Oil Corporation) and Edward L. Doheny (Pan-American Petroleum and Transport Company) after receiving a bribe of $385,000. 

Fall was found guilty of conspiracy and bribery and was jailed for one year as a result—the first former cabinet officer sentenced to prison as a result of misconduct in office.

What is Your Real Age?

How old are you?  Before you respond, there might be more than one answer.  We have all noticed that there are always some individuals who seem to age slowly, have plenty of energy and vitality and don’t suffer from too many diseases.  There is a reason for this.

Heart Rate during exercise

The first answer to this question is of course your astronomical age, the number of times the Earth has rotated on its axis or around Sol.  If this metric was relevant then we might all age in precisely the same manner.  There is another metric that likely offers a more realistic measure of biological age and offers some indication about your likely longevity.  Fitness Age!

Exercise Analysis by Zone

This measure was created by Ulrik Wisloff and his team  from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.  It takes into account your  respiratory health with such measures as heart rate and weight, bodily dimensions, exercise routine and little more.  

This test is hosted by and managed by the university and has no advertising or “payment options”.

There are a  number of reasons why this test is significant.  The lower your Fitness Age relative to your astronomical age, the lower your mortality risk and that has to be a good thing.  Secondly you can use the “Back” key to alter the inputs and see what changes to your lifestyle mean to your effective mortality risk.

Fantastic Oatmeal Muffins

Healthy Oatmeal Blueberry Muffins

We all love muffins, but they are not the healthiest of snacks.  Here is an alternative, which is free of flour, refined sugars and added oils.  For those that believe they are gluten intolerant these contain no wheat flour!  This is a genuinely healthy alternative, high in fibre and essential nutrients.

In this recipe minimally processed rolled oats replaces refined flour, bananas or mangoes replaces oil or butter and a little honey sweetens the recipe and replaces refined sugar.  To take this a step further you can replace the eggs with chia seeds, just soak I tablespoon of chia in three tablespoons of water and allow to stand for 30 minutes.  I usually replace the banana with a large ripe mango for a different flavour and Rhum Clements 1952.


  • 2 ½ cups rolled-oats
  • 2 overripe bananas
  • 2 large eggs (beaten)
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup sultanas
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • ½ cup Pumpkin seeds

Step I (30 minutes)

  • Preheat the oven to 170°C
  • Place all the oats on a baking sheet or whatever and toast until very lightly brown – but no more than 6 minutes.  Let them cool to room temperature.  This gives a slightly nutty taste.
  • Put 1 ½ cups of toasted oats into a blender – and blend to a fine flour
  • Place bananas or mango (yes take the skin off!) in the food blender with milk and honey and vanilla and – blend until smooth.  No not 30 minutes!
  • Mix the dry ingredients, oats and your blended oat meal, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon in a large bowl
  • Add the sultanas and pumpkin seeds and lightly mix (its about time for a little Rum, we strongly recommend the Rhum Clement 1952 – you deserve it)
  • Fold in the dry ingredients and allow to soak for 10 minutes (the unprocessed oats will absorb some of the fluids)
  • Fold in the blueberries lightly
  • Spray a 12-pot muffin tray with olive oil
  • Spoon a generous portion of the mix into the muffin tins
  • Bake at 170° C for 20 minutes. Insert a tooth pick into the centre of a muffin –  if cooked it should come out clean.

Step 2

  • Allow to cool
  • Best served with anything cold and accompanied by tea or of course more the of the Clements.

Rhum Clements 1952


You can replace the eggs with Chia –  see above.  You can replace the blueberries with, dried cranberries, apple and walnuts, frozen raspberries, diced dried apricots, pecans or virtually anything else you must hand.


Likely about 50 cents per muffin and US$1,000 for the Rhum Clements 1952.

If this recipe results in a hangover –  Enjoy!

Understanding Donald J. Trump & Many Entrepreneurs

No-one likes me and that is Perfect! Image: CNN

To understand Trump (and a sizeable portion of the entrepreneur class) you only need one photograph and this is the one.

His level of trait Agreeableness is exceedingly low.  Sub traits Compassion and Politeness are  without question in the zero percentile.  What does that mean? If there were 100 people in a room, 99 of them would be more compassionate and polite than Donald J. Trump.  Likely,  its 1 in 10,000.  Importantly he understands this and he truly owns his low trait Agreeableness.

Courtesy of CNN

This is not a criticism of DJT, it is simply his  personality and likely a significant portion of that is genetic.  Is he so different to his father –  it would not appear so.  There is a  reason for the preservation of personality traits within the human population, those variations enhance the potential for survival of the species.

Now interestingly, those at different ends of trait Agreeableness (in particular) find it remarkably hard to understand the position of the other and this trait more than any other seems to be a determinant of political persuasion.  Low trait Agreeableness (plus low trait Openness)  and you are much more likely to be Conservative while high trait Agreeableness (plus high trait Openness), far more likely to be left leaning.

The challenge for those with high trait Agreeableness and high sub-trait compassion is that you are easy to manipulate and both the politicians and the media have become expert in your manipulation.  Why? It triggers the release of neurotransmitters Dopamine and Serotonin and it results in selling more newspapers and winning seats.  There are logical reasons for the evolution of the political environment in this direction!

Combine low trait Agreeableness and modest trait Conscientiousness (in the case of DJT it is off the charts trait Industriousness but low trait organisation) you have the perfect entrepreneur, who will never stop and who is not concerned about the consequence of action as long as their trait Neuroticism is low and DJTs is very low.  His level of trait Neuroticism, sub-trait Volatility is high but simply an act while his neuroticism, sub-trait Withdrawal is in the zero percentile.  Both sub-traits of Enthusiasm are.. off the charts.

There you have Donald, easy enough to understand.  As to outcomes, he will never stop, he speaks without preparation, he is not concerned about consequences and does not care what people say about him.  He cannot be understood by the left and never will be.  If within the sphere of DJT and you have similar personality traits to DJT, your days are numbered.  Those that survive likely are more Open, more Agreeable, more Conscientious and probably more Neurotic.

Where are you?

Institutional Investors led the way in proxy fights in 2017 and won!

Canadian law firm Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP has released its as always engaging review of proxy contests in Canada during 2017.

A proxy fight is an unfriendly contest for the control of in this case, a public listed company.  Proxy fights usually occur when shareholders become unhappy with management’s behaviour (corporate governance) or where economic outcomes are disappointing and generally involve disputes over directorships and management positions.

The disaffected group, sometimes a corporate activist, will solicit the proxies of shareholders via a proxy solicitation.  A proxy allows for an individual or institution to become the shareholders authorised representative.

Incumbent directors and management have a number of distinct advantages over the disaffected shareholder group.  They have access to the corporate treasury and can use it in a largely unrestricted manner, they can hire very expensive proxy solicitation firms, can engage in disparaging public relations campaigns though their existing public relations and shareholder list channels and lastly they can rely on the corporations law requirements to easily disqualify entire actions or individual proxies.  Boards can simply ignore the actions of disaffected groups who then must rely on the courts to seek remedy.

I have been involved in a number of proxy battles.  I have initiated and managed two and actively participated in a  third, all of which were  resounding successes for the dissidents.  A proxy fight should not be considered lightly,  it can be very public, is time-consuming and expensive and outcomes can be uncertain.  

The Fasken study concludes:

The number of proxy fights is about the same for the last three years, 2015-2017

75% of proxy contests targeted small capitalisation companies
Unlike 2016, when management dominated and largely lost,  institutional investors dominated the proxy contests in Canada during 2017 and won

If you get the opportunity attend the Fasken lectures at their offices in Toronto during the 2018 PDAC.   They were most informative in 2017.  Contact them here.


Ethical boardroom Article
How do proxy fights work
Typical proxy solicitation firm
Harvard Law School Library  – Proxy fights

We are Back – Blame the SQuirreL
An eastern fox squirrel. (Photo: Dawn/flickr)

Why am I always getting the Blame.  I had nothing to do with the lack of posts on this Blog I was far too busy with gathering fat-rich nuts, defending my territory and finding a mate before the winter.  Nope nothing to do with me.

OK  – it was not the Squirrel but the SQL  – our bad!

This is the culprit, a corrupt SQL file that did not allow any posts! Nothing to do with Squirrels as such.

A vexing little corruption that took the good people at Urban Design in Phonm Penh a day to resolve.  I strongly recommend Urban Design Studio for innovative and unique graphic and website designs.  From simple (!) logo design, to entire branding campaigns and website development, this team is exceptionally professional and cost competitive.

Urban Design Studio -Strongly Recommended for your corporate and website designs.

You can contact Urban Design Here.  Ask for Mark Lind or Sreychen Sok.

Now that we are back online –  its time to publish some materials.  There are a few projects that are evolving including a study of the relationship between CFCs and ozone, an analysis of the reported Fukushima radiation levels and releases and much more.