20
December
2017
|
16:00
Europe/Amsterdam

The best gift I ever got: Mike Flannigan

Wildfire expert remembers the beloved holiday gift that sparked a Christmas conspiracy with his brother.

By BEV BETKOWSKI

Who

Mike Flannigan, professor of wildland fire in the Faculty of Agricultural, Life & Environmental Sciences and director of the Canadian Partnership for Wildland Fire Science

What he got

A Lionel train set

Why it was the best

“I was seven years old, living in Regina with my family. We weren’t rich, so my brother and I often shared gifts. It was a couple of weeks before Christmas and we were looking for our gift. When my parents were out, we looked under the dresser in their bedroom, found this train set, took it out of the box and played with it. We returned it to its place and no one seemed to be the wiser.

“We did that three times before Christmas.

“When Christmas morning came, we tried to act surprised. It was a bit of acting, but we were definitely happy to receive this train set. This was special because this clandestine operation—James Bond-ish in a small way—was shared with my brother. This was second only to when I was eight and we got a road race set and we did exactly the same thing.”