Friday, January 29, 2016

David Takayoshi Suzuki CC OBC

Born March 24, 1936 in Vancouver, British Columbia
Residence: Vancouver, British Columbia
Institutions: University of British Columbia
Alma Mater: Amherst College, B.A. (1958)
                                                    University of Chicago, Ph.D. (1961)
Notable Honorary Degrees, Awards and Honours
(numerous...well over 40)...including
Order of Canada (1976, 2006)
UNESCO’s Kalinga Prize (1986)
Right Livelihood Award (2009)

David Suzuki is a Canadian academic, science broadcaster and environmentalist. He earned a Ph. D. Degree in zoology from the University of Chicago...was a professor in the genetics department at the University of British Columbia from 1963 until his retirement in 2001. Since the mid-1970's, Suzuki has been known for his TV and radio series, documentaries and books about nature and the environment. He is best known as host of the popular and long-running CBC Television science program...The Nature of Things...seen in over 40 nations. He is also well known for criticizing governments for their lack of action to protect the environment.
A long time activist to reverse global climate change,
Suzuki founded the David Suzuki Foundation in 1990 to work,
to find ways for society to live in balance with the natural world.”

Early Life: A third-generation Japanese-Canadian, Suzuki and his family suffered internment in British Columbia from early during WWII until after the war ended in 1945. In June 1942, Suzuki's family's dry-cleaning business was sold by the government, then interned him, his mother and 2 sisters in a camp at Slocan in the province's interior. His father had been sent to a labour camp in Solsqua two months earlier. After the war, Suzuki's family (like other Japanese Canadian families) were forced to move east of the Rockies. The Suzukis moved to Islington, Leamington and London, Ontario. He credits his father for having interested him in and sensitized him to nature.
Attending London Central Secondary School,
he won the election to become Students' Council President in his last year
by more votes than all the other candidates combined.

Broadcasting Career: In 1970, he began in television with the weekly children's show...Suzuki on Science. In 1974, he founded the radio program...Quirks and Quarks...which he also hosted on CBC AM radio from 1975 to 1979. Throughout the 1970's he also hosted...Science Magazine... a weekly program geared towards an adult audience. Since 1979, Suzuki has hosted...The Nature of Things...a CBC television series 'to stimulate interest in the natural point out threats to human well-being and wildlife habitat...and to present alternatives for achieving a more sustainable society. Suzuki has been a prominent proponent of renewable energy sources and the soft energy path.
His 1985 hit series...A Planet for the Taking...
averaged more than 1.8 million viewers per episode
and earned him a United Nations Environment Programme Medal.
His perspective: “We have both a sense of the importance of the wilderness and space in our culture and an attitude that it is limitless and therefore, we needn't worry.” He concludes with a challenge for a major 'perceptual shift' in our relationship with nature and the wild.
For the Discovery Channel, Suzuki also produced in 1997
Yellowstone to Yukon: The Wildlands Project .”
The conservation-biology based documentary considers how to create corridors between and buffer-zones around large wilderness reserves as a means to preserve biological diversity.

David Suzuki's Blue Dot Tour with Neil Young, Feist, Margaret Atwood, Raffi, Shane Koyczan...and more...wraps up in Vancouver at the Orphean Theatre on November 9...he calls it, “The most important thing I've ever done.” He wants a clean environment! That's why the 78-year-old environmentalist and host of CBC's “The Nature of Things” is crossing Canada with his Blue Dot Tour ~ the last major endeavour of this kind Suzuki will undertake in his career!.
Occasionally, in the past, he organized small boat cruises for passengers
to view first-hand needs of the environment and remedies.
Friends of mine have accompanied him along the coast of Labrador,
others along the Pacific Ocean's island properties and mainland near Alaska.

His Social Commentary:

On Education: Education has failed in a very serious way to convey the most important lesson science can teach ~ skepticism. An educational system isn't worth a great deal if it teaches young people how to make a living!!! But doesn't teach them...'how to make a Life!'

On Social Responsibility: Now, there are some things in the world we cannot change ~ gravity, entropy, Thermodynamics and our biological nature that requires...clean air, clean water, clean soil, clean energy and biodiversity for our health and being. Protecting the biosphere should be our highest priority...or else, we sicken and die!

On the Environment: Human use of fossil fuels is altering the chemistry of the atmosphere.
Oceans are polluted and depleted of fish.
80% of the earth's forests are heavily impacted or gone, yet their destruction continues.
We drop millions of tonnes of chemicals (most untested for their biological effects...many highly toxic)
into the air, water and soil.
An estimated 50,000 species are driven to extinction every year.
We have created an 'ecological Holocaust.'

Our very health and survival are at stake...
yet, we act as if we have plenty of time to respond.

On the Future:
We're in a giant car heading towards a brick wall
and everyone's arguing over where they're going to sit!

The human brain now holds the key to our future.

We have to recall the image of the planet from outer-space ~ a single entity
in which air, water and continents are inter-connected. That is our home!

Written by Merle Baird-Kerr...March 26. 2015
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Monday, January 25, 2016

Haley Wickenheiser

Women's Ice Hockey Player from Canada

Born August 12, 1978, she was the first woman to play full-time professional hockey in a position other than goalie. Wickenheiser is a member of the Canadian women's national ice hockey team. She has represented Canada at the Winter Olympics five times, capturing four gold and one silver medal and twice being named tournament MVP...and one time at the Summer Olympics in softball.
She has the most gold medals of any Canadian Olympian
and is widely considered the greatest female ice hockey player in the world!

Medal Record: Competitor for Canada Women's Ice Hockey Tournaments
Olympic Games: GOLD in Salt Lake City 2002, Torino 2006, Vancouver 2010, Sochi 2014.
SILVER in Nagano 1998
IIHF World Women's Championships: GOLD in United States1994, Canada 1997, Finland 1999, Canada 2000, Canada 2004, Canada 2007, United States 2012.
SILVER in Sweden 2005, China 2008, Finland 2009, Switzerland 2011, Canada 2013.

Women's 4 Nations Cup: GOLD~Canada 1996, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2010.
SILVER ~Canada 1997, 2003, 2008, 2011.
Hockey Career
Minor Hockey: Wickenheiser started playing on outdoor rinks in Shaunavon, Saskatchewan, her hometown when she was five years old...exclusively on boys' teams until she was 13. Minor hockey continued in Calgary, Alberta after moving there with her family. In 1991, she represented Alberta at the 18-and under Canada Winter Games. Alberta captured the Gold Medal in the tournament. Scoring the game-winning-goal, she was named Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the final game.

International Hockey: In 1994 (age 15), Wickenheiser was named to Canada's National Women's Team and has remained a member since. Her first international tournament was the 1994 World Championship, held in Lake Placid, New York. She played 3 games and picked up her first international assist and Canada won Gold. Her second World Championship in 1997 also produced a Gold Medal...and she earned a spot on the tournament All-Star Team...the first of 4 such honours (1997, 1999, 2000, 2005).

Wickenheiser was a member of Team Canada at the 1998 Winter Olympics, when women's hockey was introduced as 'a medal sport'. She also played 21 games for Team Canada during their pre-Olympic tour. (Her performance at the 1998 Winter Olympics impressed Men's Team Canada General Manager Bobby Clarke, that he invited her to participate in the Philadelphia Flyers rookie camps in 1998 and 1999). On Team Canada's pre-Olympic tour, Wickenheiser played 26 games and racked up 36 points.

Professional Hockey: In 2003, Wickenheiser became the first woman to score a goal playing in a men's professional league...playing in 23 games, scoring 2 goals and adding 10 assists. Joining a European league to play professional hockey, was not entirely a smooth process. Initially slated to play in Italy, the Italian Winter Sports Federation ruled that women were ineligible to play in a men's league. Finland's Hockey Federation unanimously supported her to debut with HC Salamat...the third highest hockey league in Finland on January 10, 2003. In 2004 and 2007, she played with other Finnish teams before practice games with a couple Swedish teams.

Wickenheiser was named one of the “Top 100 Most Influential People in Hockey” by The Hockey News (ranked #50 on the 2011 List) of the “25 Toughest Athletes” by Sports Illustrated...and one of the “Top 50 Most Powerful Women in Canada” by The Globe and Mail.

University: Wickenheiser joined the 2010-11 University of Calgary Dinos women's ice hockey season that competes in the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS). While with the Dinos, she will be playing for her former teammate, Danielle Goyette, who is the team's head coach. Hayley will be working to complete a degree in kinesiology at Calgary. In her CIS debut against the University of Regina, Wickenheiser scored two goals and added an assist in a 4-3 victory. With this team, she captured a spot on the conference's First All-Star Team. On March 9, 2011, Wickenheiser was named the Canadian Interuniversity Sport player of the year in women's hockey...and the first ever Dino to win the Brodrick Trophy as CIS MVP.

Softball and Fastball Career: An accomplished softball player, Wickenheiser was named to the Canadian softball team for the 2000 Olympics. In 1994 she participated at Canadian Midget Nationals where she was named “All-Canadian Shortstop and Top Batter” in 1995. As member of Team Canada at the World Junior Fastball Championships, held in Normal, Illinois, Canada finished fifth. She continued competing until the Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia.

Personal Life
Her parents are Tom, a physical-education teacher and Marilyn. She has a brother, Ross and a sister, June. Hayley Wickenheiser lives in Calgary with her adopted son, Noah. .

On July 15, 2011, her hometown of Shaunavon named a new 14 million dollar recreational complex after her...Crescent Point Wickenheiser Centre.

Her Passion for Sport is matched with her desire to 'Give Back to the Community' in her work with organizations as...Operation Smile...Jump Start...KidSport...Project North...Right to Play...Ovarian Cancer...and many others. In 2007, she travelled to Rwanda with a team of Canadian Olympic athletes for 'Right to Play' athletic-driven global organization using the 'transformative power of play' to educate and empower children and youth. In 2011, she returned to Africa on a similar goodwill mission in Ghana.

She is constantly working to provide mentoring opportunities for young athletes...including her Legacy Project ~ The Wickenheiser World Female Hockey Festival (

On June 30, 2011, she was named an An Officer of the Order of Canada
(one of the country's highest civilian honours) by Governor General David Johnston.

Most recently, she was inducted to Canada's Walk of Fame.

Hayley Wickenheiser Honoured to be Part of the IOC
Representing Olympic Athletes
For as long as she remembers, she wanted to represent other athletes on the global stage. Her election by fellow competitors to the IOC in 2014 is one of her greatest career accomplishments. She takes it as a grand responsibility to represent the voice of Olympians the world over. Hayley sits on both the Athlete's Commission and the Medical Commission (falling in line with her goal to study medicine).

In the Words of Hayley Wickenheiser:
For us in Women's Hockey...the Olympics is our Stanley Cup!

Motherhood is my No. One priority in life, bar none. I adopted Noah (now 13), her former partner, Tomas Pacina's son, when he was just a tot. He's now in Grade eight. Time Flies.

Over the last 16 years, I've chipped away at my Bachelor's degree in kinesiology from the University of Calgary before graduating in June 2013 with distinction. I have recently submitted my application to the University of Calgary Medical what could prove to be the most challenging tryout of my life. The challenge is 'balancing a concerted drive for both academic and athletic endeavours.'

Merle Baird-Kerr...compiled March 1, 2015
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Saturday, January 23, 2016

Cruising the Northwest Passage

There are billions of places out there that we know nothing about.
This fact excites me...and I want to go out and find out about them.
And that's what science is! (Brian Cox)

Recall history when John Frobisher, in the 1800's, commanded expeditions to locate and cross Arctic's Northwest Passage. Both his ships: the HMS Terror and HMS Erebus became icebound and were abandoned by all crew. It wasn't until 2008 that Parks Canada researched for six weeks to locate these ships...without success. In 2014, the wreckage of one ship was discovered.
Today...70 years later, an Arctic cruise operator “Adventure Canada”
out of Toronto, Ontario, offers journeys through the Northwest Passage.

In the Travel section of November 7's Hamilton Spectator, is a majestic photo
of The 'Ocean Endeavour' in Karrat Fjord on the west coast of Greenland.

John and Sandra Nowlan, veteran cruisers, based in Halifax, having recently cruised the dramatic Arctic beauty of the Passage, write their impressions about this journey.
Venture Where Few People Have Ever Been
to See Spectacular Icebergs and Plenty of Polar Bears

It's the first cruise we've taken where the majority of guests were Canadian. Our fellow passengers from almost every province were interested in seeing a massive section of our country that is stark, stunning and spectacularly beautiful. Only recently has climate allowed cruise ships to successfully navigate the historic Northwest Passage in the late summer and early fall.
Adventure Canada specializing in expedition cruises to remote locations,
quickly realized that following the Arctic trail of Sir John Franklin
would be very appealing for people with a sense of adventure and history.

In the western Nunavut community of Kugluktuk (formerly Coppermine) we boarded the 200 passenger, ice-strengthened 'Ocean Endeavour' for a leisurely two-week cruise among the many islands of Canada's north...and then on to the iceberg-laden west coast of Greenland. It's not a cruise for everyone, since the Arctic is remote...cold...and often windy with unpredictable ice patterns.
But the pleasures far outweigh the risks
and every one of our fellow passengers loved the chance
to explore an area, few get to see.

Built in 1981, the 'Ocean Endeavour' has had extensive refits and now boasts a spa, swimming pool and hot tub, a mud room for changing boots and clothes, an extensive library and three lounges for lectures and entertainment. It carries twenty 'Zodiacs' which are used for exploring and landings. The ship's dining room is large and bright with a surprisingly good menu selection (including, on some nights, fresh Caribou, Arctic Char and Halibut).

Adventure Canada is well known for the quality of its naturalists and we were very impressed by the large staff of Arctic specialists who gave lectures and guided us at the various stops. On board, we had a top Canadian geologist, a veteran archaeologist with two dozen Arctic trips to her credit and specialists in birds, plants and marine mammals.
Perhaps the most emotional stop on the whole cruise
was at remote 'Beechey Island' where Franklin was known
to have wintered and where the graves of three of his men were found.

Every day we were on the lookout for wildlife and were rewarded with seeing about a dozen polar bears. By 'Zodiak' we explored centuries-old-ruins of the pre-Inuit culture and visited abandoned Hudson's Bay Company stores or former depots used by the RCMP.

Two small Inuit communities, Gjos Haven (named for the small boat Roald Amundsen used in 1906 to complete the Northwest Passage for the first time) and iceberg-lined Grise Fiord (the northernmost community in Canada) welcomed us with town tours and lively displays of drumming, dancing, throat singing and unique Arctic athletic competitions. It was wonderful to mingle with friendly and generous people who have adapted so well to the harsh climate of the north.

In addition to polar bears, we saw seals, muskoxen, Arctic hares, Arctic foxes plus bowhead whales and beluga whales. In late summer there was still plenty of bird life, particularly on the tall cliffs of Prince Leopold Island. Colourful Arctic plants still clung to the rocks and tundra in late September, laid out in a pattern that one of our photography lecturers said reminded him of a well-attended Japanese garden.

The most striking icebergs were seen after we crossed to western Greenland. “Karrat Fjord', jotted with bergs from nearby glaciers and surrounded by snow-capped mountains, was literally breathtaking. One woman from California said it was the most beautiful sight she'd ever seen.

Even more amazing were the icebergs further south at the
UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Ilulissat Icefjord.
(Her photo dramatically shows icy waters and rugged snow-capped mountains)
The fastest (up to 40 metres a day) and most productive glacier in the Arctic, it calves huge icebergs into the fiord...most larger than apartment buildings or even city blocks. Many of them end up in the North Atlantic off Newfoundland. Experts believe the Titanic berg started its infamous journey here.

On the final night of the cruise, the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights)
put on a spectacular display of colourful formations that seemed to dance in the sky.
It was a perfect ending to one of our best-ever cruise adventures.
Adventure Canada website:

Of Interest: 'Adventure Canada' which offers journeys throughout the Northwest Passage is among the winners of the Canadian Museum of Nature's 2015 Nature Inspiration Awards promoting environmental sustainability through educational voyages that include hikes, lectures and workshops. The 2016 summer offerings include visits to fiords in Greenland, a bowhead whale sanctuary in Nunavut, Torngat Mountains National Park in Labrador, Hudson's Bay Company ruins on Devon Island and Canada's most northern community Grise Fjord on Ellesmere Island.
The annual awards honour individuals and organizations
that 'Connect Canadians with the Natural World'.

Arctic Wisdom
We need to save the Arctic, not because of the polar bears...
and not because it's the most beautifully dramatic place in the world,
but because our very survival depends on it.
(Lewis Gordon Pugh)

Scripted by Merle Baird-Kerr...November 7, 2015
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Sunday, January 17, 2016

"HMS Terrror" and "HMS Erebus" ~ Part 3

Local Scientist Helped Find the Long-Lost Franklin Ship
(written by Mark McNeil of the Hamilton Spectator September 12, 2014)

For nearly 170 years, the fate of Sir John Franklin's lost ships was a blank space of mystery in history books that told nightmarish stories of stranded sailors freezing and starving to death on a doomed mission to find the Northwest Passage. Scores of archeologists and adventurers came up empty tryinig to find Franklin's Erebus and Terror. But that all ended this week after a Burlington hydrographer (someone who maps bodies of water) decided to take a trip to a remote island in the southern Queen Maud Gulf...away from the main search area inNunavut.

The breakthrough seemed to come serendipitously,” said Scott Youngblut, 37, who works for the Canadian Hydrographic Service. He was part of Parks Canada-led effort to find the ships and has been up north since early August. In a satellite-relayed interview from the CCGS Sir Wilfree Laurier, Scott said he asked a couple of archeologists from Nunavut to join him in a helicopter run to the island where he was going to set up equipment. Queen Maud Gulf lies between the mainland and the southeastern corner of Victoria Island. As luck would have it, the helicopter pilot (Andrew Sterling) noticed a significant artifact (an iron fitting) was later confirmed that is was likely from one of the ships.

Therefore, we changed the search area to be more closely aligned to where that find was made,” said Youngblat. “And, sure enough, shortly after, the Parks Canada archeological team's side-scan sonar was able to find the wreck.” The discovery was formally announced by Prime MinisterStephen Harper.

Youngblat's role in the Arctic has been to lead a team of 5 others from the hydrographic service, also working at the Canadian Centre for Inland Waters (Burlington)...all of whom live locally. Their job has been to help ships involved in the search with navigation and to expand hydrographical knowledge of the area. “Only 10% of the Arctic is charted to modern standards and that is a real challenge,” said Youngblat. “Our primary mission up here is to expand on the existing corridors that link communities, to make up what is referred to as the Northwest Passage.” Although a father of three young children, he has been making annual four-six week trips to the Arctic for several years. He is thrilled with the discovery, “It is amazing to be part of witness be an active participant. With 'the window closing with the weather' he expects to spend another week or two up north before returning home to celebrate their wedding anniversary with his wife and family. She's wondering about the Franklin ship...which could be either the Terror or the Erebus.

Franklin Ship Discovered in Arctic Confirmed as HMS Erebus
(announced by Canadian Press...October 2014)
The historic shipwreck found in the Arctic has been identified as HMS Erebus, the vessel on which John Franklin himself sailed ~ in search of the Northwest Passage. The discovery of the wreck, found some 11 metres below the surface in the Queen Maud Gulf, was confirmed. The two ships of the Franklin expedition and their crews, 129 members in all, disappeared during an 1845 quest for the Northwest Passage. So far, the location of the other ship, HMS Terror, remains a mystery.
Terrible Tragedy to Franklin and Cozier...
so expectant of 'exploration success'!
Terrrible Tragedy to Britain for the loss of 129 men and 2 ships
and the country's aspiration for discovery.

Franklin Ship's Bell Recovered by Arctic Divers ~ Nov. 7, 2014
Seven dives made to HMS Erebus before weather conditions drove them away.
It wasn't supposed to be a recovery dive. Two Parks Canada divers were meant only to survey the wreck. Any recovery operations would come later after assessing the wreck's site. One of the divers noticed a small bronze object on the deck and Marc-Andre Bernier exclaimed, “I found the bell.”

Two bronze cannons, numerous pieces of the ship's rigging, even old rope have been spotted in the debris surrounding the wreck. Those artifacts will have to wait for subsequent dives next summer when the Arctic ice recedes. Every ship that sails has a bell...staying with that ship for the entire career until lost in action or until the ship is decomissioned.

The final resting place of the HMS Terror remains to be found.
The remains of the ships are designated a National Historical Site of Canada.
The exact location is withheld to preserve the wreck and prevent looting.

Implications of Tragedies
Consider: We have astronauts exploring 'outer space' ~ not all have been successful...lives were lost.
Consider: Remember New York City when unexpected circumstances occurred...thousands were killed when terrorists crashed the Twin Towers...the World Trade Centre rebuilt.
Consider: Boston's Marathon of 2013 killingly disrupted by terrorists.
Consider: Policemen shot in 'the line of duty' and firemen who daily risk their lives.
Consider: Hurricane Sandy's devastation and destruction along America's east coast October 2012.
Yet, the deciduous trees in autumn lose thier colourful dress,
their branches suffering from lack of leaves and birds without their treetop nests.
After a harsh winter, the trees know (within their veins)
they will be refreshed when spring arrives!
When obstacles give us unimaginable setbacks, it's often years before we see 'any good' from disasters.

Consider the words of John D. Rockefeller (American businsessman born 1839):
I do not think there is any other quality so essential to success of any kind as the quality of perseverance. It overcomes almost everything...even nature. He further states: I always try to turn every disaster into an opportunity.
It is my hope that readers of the foregoing history
have been as intrigued as I have been..

Merle Baird-Kerr...rewritten January 17, 2016
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Postscript: Lost at Sea, published July 2015 from Raleigh, North Carolina
Scientists using underwater vehicles and sonar have found a shipwreck off the coast of North Carolina that may date back to the American Revolution of the late 1700's. The expedition led by Duke University marine scientist, Cindy VanDover, found the previously unknown wreck in mile-deep waters
on July 12 using an underwater robut and a manned submarine. They found artifacts including an iron chain, glass bottles, an unglazed pottery jug and navigational instruments including a metal compass. Archeologists say the wreck appears to date back as far as the 18th century...a rare find!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

"HMS Terror" and "HMS Erebus" ~ Part 2

Franklin Expedition Ship Discovered in Arctic
(from the Canadian Press & published in the Spectator September 10, 2014

The key to unlocking the mystery of the missing Franklin Expedition came just days ago when a coast guard helicopter pilot spotted a dark U-shaped object in the Arctic snow the size of a man's forearm. The time-ravaged orange-brown hunk of metal, vaguely in the shape of a tuning fork, bore the markings of the Royal Navy. It was a davit ~ part of the lifting mechanism, likely for a lifeboat, for one of the two lost Franklin ships.

On Tuesday, the davit sat on display in Parks Canada's Ottawa laboratory, the only tangible link to one of the most tangible mysteries in both Arctic Circle and Canadian history. “That's the clue that tells you: Look Here. That's the flag,” said John Geiger, president of the Royal Canadian Geographic Society. Geiger was with the search team that finally confirmed the discovery of one of two lost ships from Sir John Franklin's doomed Arctic expedition.

The remarkable find completes one half of a puzzle that long ago captured the Victorian imagination and gave rise to many searches throughout the 19th century for Franklin and his crew. The search team confirmed the discovery in the early morning hours of Sunday using a remotely operated underwater vehicle recently acquired by Parks Canada. They found the wreck 11 metres below the water's surface.
It is not known yet whether the ship HMS Erebus ~ the flagship on which Franklin himself was sailing and believed to have died ...or HMS Terror.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper who recently came close to the search area on his annual northern trip, could barely contain his delight Tuesday as he delivered news of the 'great historic breakthrough'. “For more than a century, this has been a great story and mystery.” The ship appears to be well preserved. A sonar image projected at a media conference showed the ship five metres off the sea floor in the bow and four metres in the stern.

Ryan Harris, a senior underwater archeologist and one of the people leading the Parks Canada search, said the sonar image showed some of the deck structures are still intact, including the main mast, which was sheared off by the ice when the ship sank. “The contents of the ship are most likely in the same good condition,” Harris added. “You can see the tackle from the ship...different riggings in the centre.” 'This shows you how intact it really is,” added Andrew Campbell, a vice-president at Parks Canada, as he screened the underwater footage of the ship on a large flat screen television. The entire profile of the ship is there!”

Campbell said a combination of previous Inuit testimony, past modelling of ice patterns by the Canadian Ice Service and the actual measurements of the two lost ships ~ they are both so similar, they can't yet be told apart ~ convinced the searchers that this was a Franklin ship.

The discovery came a day after a team of archeologists found the tiny fragment from the expedition in the King William Island search area. Until Tuesday, those artifacts were the first ones found in modern times. The two ships of the Franklin Expedition and their crews disappeared during the 1845 quest for the Northwest Passage. They were the subject of many searches throughout the 19th century, but the mystery of exactly what happened to Franklin and his men has never been solved.

The moment the ship was discovered this past weekend” said Geiger, “we were surrounded by ice ~ we were in the noose of ice ~ and so it was a real sense of connection, of immediate connection to Franklin and the men on those two ships. A few of us said a prayer to sailors lost at sea at that moment because we felt a real personal bond.”

Since 2008, Parks Canada has led six major searches for the lost Franklin ships.

Franklin Expedition an Enduring tale of Misery, Death,”
writes John Ward of the Canadian Press.

Expedition's crew dealt first with crowding, terrible cold...and eventually cannibalism.
The ill-starred Franklin expedition was a quest for the Northwest Passage, the Holy Grail of Arctic exploration for three centuries. It ended in suffering, misery and death and has haunted Canadian imaginations for almost 170 years. The saga resurfaced in dramatic fashion, heralding the beginning of the end of one of Canada's greatest mysteries. The Northwest Passage intrigued mariners since the 16th century when Martin Frobisher, John Davis and William Baffin made tentative forays north. A northern route would have shaved months from voyages to the Orient by avoiding the long southern loop around either Cape Horn or the Cape of Good Hope.

In 1845, the British Admiralty decided the biggest and best-equipped expedition ever! They gave the command to Sir John Franklin, a naval officer, who as a young man, mapped hundreds of kilometres of the Canadian Arctic coast. Franklin had two ships...HMS Erebus and HMS Terror...small vessels of 372 and 325 tons, respectively. They were specially strengthened for the ice and were each fitted with a 20-horsepower steam engine. Jammed to the gunwales with provisions for three years, the ships captained by John Franklin and Francis Crozier left England May 1845. At the end of July, they were seen by whaling ships off the west coast of Greenland. Then, they turned west and sailed into legend.

The 129 men aboard the ships would spend three winters in the Arctic, crammed into claustrophobic lower decks of their ships. By modern standards, the level of crowding would have been impossible for us either to conceive or accept; the stench alone must have been overpowering. But the hardships were always there. Men had to go in the bitter cold and darkness to chop away ice and shovel snow from the decks. The only communication from the expedition that survived was a piece of paper tucked in a cairn on King William Island and found by an 1859 search mission. The first message, dated May 1847, said the two ships had wintered in the ice and were continuing. Franklin and the crew were well.

The second note, scribbled around the margin of the paper a year later, was more dire. It said Franklin died June 11, 1847. The ships had been locked in ice since September 1846 and the crews abandoned ship on April 22, 1848. They were planning to head south for the mainland. By this time, the note stated that nine officers and 15 men of the original complement had died. It didn't say how. Relief expeditions found other relics, including bodies. One boat was found with two bodies in it and a clutter of useless baggage, including silver plates and spoons and a copy of the novel, 'The Vicar of Wakefield'. It appears the last survivors did reach the mainland, only to die at a spot later named, Starvation Cove.
What happened to Captain John Franklin & Captain Francis Crozier was tragic!
Still a mystery...was the discovered wreck that of the 'Terror' or the 'Erebus'?
Be sure to read Part 3 of this historic saga.

Merle Baird-Kerr...written October 2, 2014
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Saturday, January 9, 2016

"HMS Terror" and" HMS Erebus" ~ Part 1

Who'd have believed that 2 little boys, John and Francis, growing up in Britain, 
would become not only sailors...they became expeditioners and explorers...
whose names would go down in history books, long to be remembered?
 Understandable, considering Britain to be a sea-going country with a great Navy. 
 The life of John and Francis is 'History behind the History'.

The HMS Terror...(launched in 1813)..was a bomb vessel designed by Sir Henry Peake and constructed by the Royal Navy. It saw service in the 'War of 1812' against United States. In 1828, she was commissioned for service in the Mediterranean ~ running aground near Lisbon, Portugal, as a result of a hurricane. Repaired for Arctic service in 1836, command of 'Terror' was given to Captain George Beck for an expedition to the northern part of Hudson Bay with a view to entering Repulse Bay. 'Terror' failed to reach this Bay and barely survived the winter on Southampton Island, at one point being forced 40 feet up the side a cliff by the ice. In the spring of 1837, an encounter with an iceberg further damaged the ship which was in a sinking condition by the time Beck was able to beach the ship on the coast of Ireland at Lough Swilly. Repaired, 'Terror' and 'Erebus' were next assigned expeditions to the Antarctic; they made 3 forays from 1840-1843, sailing through the Weddell Sea. The volcano, Mount Terror on Ross Island was named after the ship.

The HMS Erebus...was also designed by Sir Henry Peake and constructed by the Royal Navy in Pembroke dockyard, Wales in 1826. A Hecia-class bomber vessel, she was named after the dark region in Hades, of Greek mythology named 'Erebus'. After 2 years of service in the Mediterranean, 'Erebus' was refitted as an exploration vessel for Antarctic service. Captained by James Clark Ross, she departed from Tasmania for Antarctica in company with 'Terror'. In 1841, the crew of both ships landed on Victoria Land and proceeded to name areas of landscapes after British politicians, scientists and acquaintances. Mount Erebus on Ross Island was named after the ship itself. They then discovered the Ross Ice Shelf which they were unable to penetrate. Late in the season, they returned to Tasmania. The following season, 1842, they continued to survey the Great Ice Barrier. The two ships wintered in the Falkland Islands before returning to the Antarctic for the remaining1842 season and 1843 season. The ships conducted studies in magnetism and returned oceanographic data and collections of botanical and ornithological specimens.

Franklin's Lost Expedition

Both ships were outfitted with steam engines and iron plating was added to the hulls on their voyage to the Arctic with Sir John Franklin as the overall command of the expedition in 'Erebus' and 'Terror' under the command of Captain Francis Moira Crozier. They were ordered to gather magnetic data in the Canadian Arctic and complete a crossing of the Northwest Passage...which had already been charted from both the east and the west....but not entirely navigated. They entered Baffin Bay in August 1845. The disappearance of the Franklin expedition set off a massive search of the Arctic and the broad circumstances of the expedition's fate were revealed during a series of expeditions between 1848 and 1866. Both ships had become ice-bound and were abandoned by their crews...all of whom died of exposure and starvation while trying to trek overland to Fort Resolution, a Hudson's Bay outpost 600 miles to the southeast. Subsequent search expeditions continued up until the late 1980's : information was gleaned from autopsies of the crew members, testimonies from the local Inuit; also revealed was that their canned rations may have been tainted by both lead and botulism. Remains of a few crew members were found on King William Island in the late 20th century.

On August 15, 2008, Parks Canada, an agency of the Government of Canada, announced a CDN $75,000 six-week research, deploying the icebreaker CCGS Sir Wilfred Laurier (named after a Prime Minister of Canada) with the goal of finding the two ships. The search also intended to strengthen Canada's claims of sovereignty over large portions of the Arctic. Further attempts to locate the ships in 2010, 2011 and 2012 ~ all of which have failed to locate the ships' remains.

On September 8, 2014, it was announced that the wreckage of one of Franklin's ships was found on the 7th of September using a remotely operated undersea vehicle recently acquired by Parks Canada.
(At this writing, it is not yet known which ship has been found...
but the remains of the ship(s) are designated as a National Historic Site of Canada.)

The precise location is withheld in order to preserve the wreck and to prevent looting.  Is this wreck "The Terror"...or is it "The Erebus"?
Yes! Recent knowledge indicates it is 'Erebus'.
Be sure to read Part 2 of this significant history!

Man's merit lieth in service and virtue...
and not in the pageantry of wealth and riches.
Written by the Rhui Institute
(Quote sent to me by Meg)

Merle Baird-Kerr...written October 2, 2014
Comments appreciated...e-mail to:

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Sailors of Renown

Found after 500 years: the wreck of Christopher Columbus' flagship...
Santa the coast of Haiti...
one of the most significant discoveries in history. 
 He was the first person to cross the Atlantic and return.”

Reading this news item recently, caused me to consider other sailors who set out to discover new lands and opportunities. Is this not like LIFE...where we, too, set out on a journey of discovery? Perhaps we just want to go where we've never been before...a path of self-exploration.

Biblical Ships and Sailors

In ancient times, people had a great fear of the ocean and truly, there was reason for this dread since the mariners had no charts of the sea or compass to guide them. Travel by ship was usually inconvenient and windstorms often necessitated great delay in arrival at a destined port.

Jonah: This Phoenician ship in which he sailed was travelling from Joppa to Tarshish as a merchant ship when the storm came.

Paul: The ship in which he was to sail for Rome, got into difficulties because those in charge risked getting the ship to another harbor before winter set in.

The Egyptians: They easily plied the Mediterranean Sea. Light-weight vessels of bulrushes (papyrus) were piloted by both Egyptians and Ethiopians on the Nile River.

Explorers of the New World
Impossible to name the list of hundreds,
here are names (in alphabetical order) that are recognizable to me:

Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin...Neil Armstrong...John Cabot...Sebastian Cabot...Rene-Robert Cavelier (whom we know as La Salle)...Samuel de Champlain...James Cook... Francis Drake...Leif Ericson...Sir John Franklin...Simon Fraser...Vasco da Gama...Sir Edmund Hilary...Henry Hudson...Ferdinand Magellan...Henry the Navigator...Robert Peary...Zebulon Pike...Marco Polo...David Thompson...George Vancouver.

Some returned as heroes...others lost at sea even impacted in ice of the Arctic, Greenland or Antarctica.

Ship disasters in recent years have taken many lives: ships during wartime, the Titanic and other cruise ships gone off-course...ferry boats in storms...freighters in fog, wind and hurricanes.

Ensuing blog submissions re 'Explorer' Exploits:
In October 2014, I detailed writings about Sir John Franklin's HMS Terror and HMS Erebus. This was huge significant news!!! In July 2015, The Canadian Press published, Reporter Resigns from Toronto Star over Franklin Coverage. For your information, here are a few excerpts from the article.

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Paul Wilson said Wednesday, he quit the country's largest newspaper so he could get the truth out about last year's successful search for Sir John Franklin's lost ships in the Canadian Arctic. The veteran reporter said fear leads to silence, which in turn breeds more fear.
It's time. No more fear.
Stand up for the people being silenced and give them voice.
That's the only way we'll take our democracy back.”

Watson said at a meeting Tuesday in Vancouver with Star editors, he submitted his resignation over “the newspaper's refusal to publish a story of significant public interest.” Resigning, he said was the only way he could resume that reporting and fulfil his responsibilities as a journalist. “My reporting is an attempt to give voice to the federal civil servants and others involved in the gruelling, High Arctic search for British Royal Navy explorer, Sir John Franklin's lost ships,” He told the website 'Canadaland' that the Star ordered him to stop reporting the story.

The Canadian Press is jointly owned by Torstar
and the parent companies of the Globe and Mail and Montreal's La Presse.

Be sure to read “HMS TERROR and HMS EREBUS” ~ Part I
in my next posting (written May 21, 2014).

Philosophies re Sailing Through Life

You could never cross the ocean unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore. (Unknown)

Life's roughest storms prove the strength of our anchors. (Unknown)

The man who has experienced shipwreck, shudders even at a calm sea. (Ovid, poet)

The pessimist complains about the winds; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails. (William Arthur Wald ~ writer).

The Maptia Maniesto: I want to see the world...follow a map to its edges and keep going. Forego the plans and trust my instincts. Let curiosity be my Guide. I want to change hemispheres and sleep with unfamiliar stars. And let the journey unfold before me.

We must free ourselves of the hope that the sea will ever rest.
We must learn to sail in high winds.
(Aristotle Onassis ~ shipping magnate)

Dream higher than the sky and deeper than the ocean ~
and may your joys be as deep as the sea.

Merle Baird-Kerr...written May 21, 2014
Comments appreciated...e-mail to:

Friday, January 1, 2016

Life on the Front Porch

Food for Thought for this Forthcoming Year!
(with thanks to Tom for this rendition)

On the first day, God created the dog and said, “Sit all day by the door of your house and bark at anyone who comes in or walks past. For this, I will give you a span of twenty years.” The dog replied, “That's a long time to be barking. How about only ten years...and I'll give you back the other ten?”
And God said that it was good.

On the second day, God created the monkey and said, “Entertain tricks...and make them laugh. For this, I'll give you a twenty-year span.” The monkey said, “Monkey tricks for twenty years?
That's a pretty long time to perform. How about I give you back ten like the dog did?”
And God again said that it was good.

On the third day, God created the cow and said, “You must go into the field with the farmer all day long and suffer under the sun...have calves...and give milk to the farmer's family. For this, I will give you a life span of sixty years.” The cow considered and said, “That's kind of a tough life you want me to live for sixty years. How about twenty and I'll give back the other forty?”
And God agreed it was good.

On the fourth day, God created humans and said, “ enjoy your life. For this, I'll give you twenty years.” But the human replied, “Only twenty years? Could you possibly give me my twenty, the forty the cow gave back, the ten the monkey gave back and the ten the dog gave back; that makes eighty, okay?”
God reconsidered, “Okay, you asked for it!”

So that is why for our first 20 years...we eat, sleep, play and enjoy ourselves.
For the next 40 years, we slave in the sun to support our family.
For the next 10 years, we do monkey tricks to entertain the grandchildren.
And for the last 10 years we sit on the front porch and bark at everyone.

Life has now been explained to you!
There is no need to thank me for this valuable information.
I'm doing it as a public service
If you are looking for me...I will be on the front porch!

Michael Josephson Writes:
The New Year will bring new challenges.
Whether we seize them or not...this year will bring you new opportunities.

A New Year is like a blank book ~ the pen is in your hands.
It is your chance to write a beautiful story for yourself in 2016.
(Author Unknown)

Notable News to Commence the New Year!

Burlington Man Completes Solo Row Across the Pacific Ocean! John Beedon, a 53-year old covered 7,400 nautical miles in 209 days (which he originally planned to accomplish in 180 days). He made landfall Sunday, December 27, 2015 to become the first man to row solo non-stop from North America to Australia. His journey started in June from San Francisco. “Every day, there was some massive challenge ~ being much harder than anticipated. I'm exhausted, heat and humidity...horrible!” he twitted to his family on Christmas Day...just hours before Australia came into sight.

Drunk Driver Tires to Hide in Nativity Scene! The Washington Post reported that the Tadcaster, England, tableau had all the necessary components of a good Nativity scene...infant Christ...Mary and Joseph...three wise animals resting on a bed of straw. It was the suspected drunk driver who seemed out of place. The North Yorkshire Police Roads Policing Group said that a man attempted to hide from police in a nearby Nativity scene after crashing his car into a metal barrier. The man, easily distinguishable from the rest of the characters in the creche by virtue of not being an animate object ~ was apprehended and administered a breathalyzer test, which he failed.

People's Cauldron Coming to Waterfront (reported by Joel Ophart, The Hamilton Spectator). Arcelor Mittal Dofasco announed Tuesday, it was working with the city to bring the three-metre pinecone-inspired artwork (for which Dofasco supplied all the steel to the city). Mayor Eisenberger said in a statement featured on Dofasco's blog that “the legacy of the Pan Am Games will be preserved for future generations with the cauldron located on the waterfront.”

The People's Cauldron is the smaller sibling of the Pan Am Games Cauldron, both of which were lit in the opening ceremonies in Toronto. The smaller one is a third of the size of the 34-tonne version and was only lit temporaritly during the opening ceremonies.
Back in Janauary, Arcelor Mittal Dofasco hosted an event
that brought 300 people from 30 communities together in Hamilton
to take part in the creation of the People's Cauldron.
Each group was asked to create art
representative of their community using pine cones.
Those designs inspired the creation of the 'scales' on the cones of the cauldron.
Creating and building both cauldrons took 18 months and 34 tonnes of steel, 10 types ~ from basic hot rolled sheets to galvalume. This magnificent colourful People's Cauldron will adorn the waterfront.

The difference between perseverence and obstinancy is that
perserverance means a strong will;
obstinancy means a strong 'wont'!

The foregoing compiled by Merle Baird-Kerr...December 29, 2015
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