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 escape...so...no 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.
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 www.regs.org/programs/expeditions.
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 proportions...an 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
The McAllisters have never stopped exploring and advocating for this unique
corner of our country...so much so, that Time magazine named the couple…
”Leaders of the 21st Century”!
(the foregoing are excerpts from an article by Karsten Heuer)
Note: I’ve been fortunate to have seen a couple of their outstanding documentaries.
One Story, One Song
Did you know that walking through Calgary’s 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 Song...is 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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