Friday, June 22, 2012

Did You Know This ... About Canada?

 Canada is a vast country of lakes, rivers...prairies and mountains...
extending from the Atlantic to Pacific and Arctic Oceans.
Trains can travel visitors from Halifax, Nova Scotia through
eight immense provinces to Vancouver, British Columbia.
The landscape is diverse...the scenery superb:
 rolling countryside, cities and towns, the Great Lakes
to the expansive Canadian Shield, the northern forests,
sprawling prairie lands and through the spectacular Rocky  Mountains!

The Canadian National and Canadian Pacific Railways
are Canada's largest railways...with other smaller ones,
connecting rail lines, operating regionally.

Of Interest:  a few observations penned from a traveller
 aboard a Via excursion...

Via Rail's signature Train ... “The Canadian”
There are no billboards, fast food joints or railway trash
to clutter the view!
Just a rolling panorama of wilderness
with two glossy rails  pointing forward!

“The Mountaineer” route carries travellers
from Banff, Alberta through the Rockies to Vancouver.

Riding  Mountain National Park

Did you know that during the Second World War, Riding National Park in
Manitoba was an important site in helping with the growing fuel shortage? 
While rural communities weregiven access  to the Park to cut wood,
Riding Mountain National Park was also host to German prisoners who cut wood
for urban cities like Winnipeg. With the absence of the  Canadian labour force
during the War, the prisoners filled that gap...and being in the middle of Canada
in a remote location, there was little worry they would enclosing
walls and fences were built.  Since it was a minimum security camp, prisoners
often slipped into nearby communities...rumour has it that some attended a dance. 
They also organized a choir for themselves, created some impressive wood
carvings and raised pigs.
                                                   The prisoners were released in 1945.

River Journeys

Did you know that a team of 6 paddlers, led by University hydrology student,
Ross Phillips, has received a $25,000 Expedition of the Year grant awarded by
 the Royal Canadian Geographical Society and financed by the RBC  Blue Water
Project?  The Cross Canada Canoe Odyssey crew left Vancouver in April on a
165-day, 7,000 k trek to Saint John, New Brunswick to raise public awareness
of the importance of Canada's fresh water resources.

The Society is also supporting 2 expeditions along remote rivers this summer. 
Biologist Benjamin Dy of Rimouski, Quebec and expedition partner Simon
Barbarit will photograph and film the Koroc River that flows from the Torngat
Mountains to Ungava Bay.  The head water of this riveris in Labrador (Newfoundland).

Adam Shoults of Fenwick, Ontario and Wesley Crowe of Ridgeville, Ontario
 will embark on  the  the first-known exploration of a 165 k nameless river in the
Hudson Bay Lowlands of Northern Ontario

(The deadline to apply for a Society Expedition Services Grant
 for next year is March 15,2012.
For more information, go to

Canada's Highest Mountain Peak

Did you know that reigning over the expanse of rock and ice in Yukon's
southwestern corner is Mount  Logan...whose girth gives it the distinction of
 being the world's most massive mountain at 5,959 m...Canada's highest  Peak? 
Long the quarry of the world's mountaineering elite, Logan awes over the most
accomplished climbers.  It towers over Kluane National Park, eight/tenths of
 which is entombed in ice!  The remainder is a mountainous fringe penetrated
by glaciers and littered with moraines and braided milky rivers.

Mount Vancouver, a 4,800 m peak straddling the Yukon-Alaska border
 is one of 20 summits higher than 4,200 metres in the St. Elias Mountains...
one of the planet's most extreme environments.

Where the Wild Things Are

Did you know that just over two decades ago, Ian and Karen McAllister sailed
 into the little-known fiords of British Columbia's central coast and began
documenting what they found:  dolphins, sea otters, mist-shrouded forests,
salmon-choked rivers and grizzly bears feeding beneath thousand-foot waterfalls
and granite cliffs.  Before the couple's arrival, only a select group of loggers,
 fishermen, adventurers and  members of the First Nation knew much about
the region. The McAllisters changed that with their first book ...
”The Great Bear Rain Forest” published in 1997.  Full of stunning photographs
and compelling stories, it helped spark a conservation campaign of international effect that culminated in in 2006 with the protection from logging
of two million hectares in the world's largest tract of intact temperate rain forest...
an area about the size of Belize.

Their home is situated on a small island in the middle of nowhere, yet a constant
flurry of media interviews, photo shots, fund-raising deadlines, film crews and
scientists rendered the  place anything but tranquil.  Since then, Ian McAllister
has published books focusing his talents on the region's elusive and genetically
 unique wolves.

The McAllisters have never stopped exploring and advocating for this unique
corner of our much so, that Time magazine named the couple
”Leaders of the 21st Century”!

(the foregoing are excerpts from an article by  Karsten Heuer)

Note:  Ive been fortunate to have seen a couple of their  outstanding documentaries.

One Story, One Song

Did you know that walking through Calgarys foothills, Richard Wagamese
and his friend, Ojibwa elder, Jack Kakakaway, scout for sweetgrass? 
They walk in silence.  Kakakaway believes... this is the best way to hear the land
speaking to you. When an eagle soars overhead, Wagamese breaks the silence
by commenting with admiration on the bird's gracefulness.
“You only admire the display,” says Kakakaway. 
“The important thing is how the eagle learned to do that.”

Wagamese's second book...One Story, One a collection of personal
scenes and life lessons from the award-winning Ojibway writer. He discusses
how hard it was being raised outside his own culture...he was placed in a foster
home as a toddler.  He has now gained wisdom and peace by rediscovering his roots.

One Story, One Song...embodies his belief that only by sharing our stories and
 being strong enough to take risks, will we be able to understand one another. 
“We even have something in common with the eagle,” he admits in the Calgary foothills. 
“To become graceful, it needed faith
to make that first frightening jump from the nest.”

Merle Baird-Kerr . . . written November 17, 2011
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  1. Merle,
    We can sure tell that our dear friend Merle loves her Canada... she makes us proud speaking so highly of it. We are making the pilgrimage to Ottawa the Capital City of Canada to celebrate the country proudly on Capital Hill... Our First time.... July 1ST. We are proud Canadians proud and honest citizens of the Land.
    And please listen to Gordon Lightfoot's Canadain Railroad Trilogy... the best song description of our land ever created.

    Sherrie & Alan

  2. Your pilgrimage to Ottawa SHOULD BE A CELEBRATION!
    Anywhere you travel together is honorific!
    Shall listen to Gordon Lightfoot's Canadian
    Railroad Trilogy...a man who through music
    has promoted this Canada he loves.