Tag Archives: Canada

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All Hail King 45

ALL BOW LOW AND BE RESPECTFUL OF 45. HE DEMANDS OBEDIENCE. Not only from his own but from the whole world he covets. Do not challenge his wisdom, there is none. Do not dispute his intelligence. It is limited.  Do … Continue reading

Gord Downie and what it means to be Canadian

I can’t even begin to try to count the good wishes and kind words since Tuesday morning and The Tragically Hip Management released a statement. Gord Downie has terminal brain cancer.  I know many of my world wide friends will not know his name or the band’s music but believe me when that announcement went live across Canada. It was like an arrow was shot into the collective hearts of a nation.

There are very few artists of any genre that capture the soul of a nation, Pierre Burton, Tom Thompson, Gordon Lightfoot captured the rough and tumble nature, angst of my father’s generation.  Leonard Cohen encapsulated the Montreal vibe and took the 70’s not just here but in the heart of the New York jungle with his verses.

To try to understand The Tragically Hip in a few paragraphs is like trying to catch smoke in your bare hands.  I don’t honesty believe that Canada has ever produced an artist quite like what he and the band are together. The often misused word synergy comes to mind, if you’ve seen them live or on youtube you’ll know what I mean.  Watching Gord Downie on stage is like watching a force of nature dipped in gasoline, set on fire after a huge bong hit and energized by his rabid Canadian fans.

But I digress how does this speak to the nature of Canadians?  Well every truly Canadian heart possesses a few key things to live on in the cold of winter and then live in perpetual exuberance in summer.  We tend to be a quiet people, not prone to flag waving, but we are tough as hell. There is a reason why Logan aka Wolverine is Canadian. We will not stop, we earned the respect in every war Canada has been dragged into by other nations. 

Canadians like Gord and The Hip have a very multifaceted soul, this country is not a Melting Pot, but rather a cultural mosaic. Very hard to get your head around at first but if you travel across the country by car or train you’ll see that every community is distinct. Some Metis French, some Quebec separatist, some Hutturite German.  Across our breadbasket, Ukrainian, Finnish, Polish. Every little town and hamlet a different community, but tied together in this huge ides called Canada.

Somehow The Hip have managed to capture the Canadian ideal, the Wheat Field Soul. The hockey rink, that first love, the desperation of a man wrongly accused.  The lyrics take Canadians home, but get us live at a Hip Show and you’ll see another animal all together. Gord riffing, ranting, begging, destroying and creating.  His off course mid song sojourn from song to song. When he’s live you never ever see the same show twice.

And that I guess is the Canadian soul, rock steady, steeped in the traditions of many cultures. The resiliency that our climate brings, it melds people together expecially in the Prarie where the winter winds can kill in minutes and then in summer we celebrate.

These things the great Canadian artists understand. The things that make every part of Canada different but also make us great. 
The power of Canada has never  been in military force, but in uniting as a people when the chips are down on last call.
I think of the Fort McMurray fire, Terry Fox and his selfless run across Canada on one leg, and now to rally behind one of our poets and song writers in his family’s moment of need.

If nothing else speaks to the Canadian soul it’s our resilience. Our sports have months long playoffs where people regularly lose teeth, sometimes get an artery cut and almost bleed to death on the hockey ice.  Football in fog, mud and the chill of a Canadian cold snap going down into -20c.
But we hardly bitch and moan.  Lest to say it’s a dry cold.

These artists really get that Canadian enui, our cold silent nature.  All the while giggling at anyone that doesn’t get us.

Polar Vortex: A how to survive primer.

So what I do when I’m caught in a polar vortex of arctic cold?  Would I call the Police Department, Fire Department or a Canadian?  Given a choice I would call the Canadian. But let’s hope it never get’s to that.

Note the location of Winnipeg in this graphic. Source: BBC.com

Note the location of Winnipeg in this graphic.
Source: BBC.com

Hi Glad to meet you my name is Bob, I live in Winnipeg, Manitoba one of the coldest city’s on planet earth.  For example this week Winnipeg was colder than the planet Mars.  If I can do it you can do it. Don’t freak out I’ll show you how.

Source: AccuWeather.com

Source: AccuWeather.com

Question: My Car won’t start in the cold. 

Answer: Plug it in.

Have you ever been driving in the Canada and noticed that almost every car has an electric plug sticking out the grill or from under the hood? It’s not that we have electric cars, we have just developed a simple remedy to keep our cars running in the coldest of temperatures

The easy fix for most of you will be to buy and install a block heater

. It very simply is a heating element that fits into the engine block of your car.  It can be installed by any licensed mechanic and will plug into a household extension cord that has a ground.

Question: How do I go outside if I don’t have winter gear.

Answer: Layers.
We Canadians have learned many tricks from the Inuit (Eskimo) and one of them is dressing in layers.  Even if you don’t have thick clothing, dressing in many layers of loose breathable fabrics will help.  Try to avoid wet layers or layers that absorb moisture.  One fact in winter is that moisture freezes, if you can stay insulated while letting moisture escape you’ll be well along your way.

A simple graphic describing winter layering techniques. Source: clothing to wear.com

A simple graphic describing winter layering techniques.
Source: clothing to wear.com

Fact: Dryness Kills.

The opposing force to staying dry in the extreme cold is staying hydrated.  Every breath you take wicks moisture from your body.  In normal conditions is a good and natural thing. But in Desert and Arctic conditions where the humidity is very low body hydration is crucial.  Just because you are cold does not mean that your body is not working.  So drink lots of liquid water.  Do NOT eat snow. Only eat snow as an ABSOLUTE LAST RESORT.  Yes snow is water but it takes the human body energy to melt and convert that snow to liquid water.   Use fire or other sources of heat to melt the snow to liquid form.

Question: I’m stuck in the snow on the highway and it’s not very cold but I can see lights in the distance should I walk for help?

Answer: No

For a couple of good reasons, your vehicle is shelter, if you go outside of it in the snow you leave that protection.  One fact many people fail to realize is that cold is only one factor.  Canadians have built into our temperature scale a reading of WIND CHILL.  The temperature may read one degree but the way our bodies perceive it is completely different.

The wind can wick away heat from anything warm.  Our bodies, a tent, a building.  The stronger the wind the lower the perceived temperature can go.  DO NOT MESS WITH WINDCHILL!

windchill

Question: My house is freezing what can I do?

Answer: Insulate

Like the above post on how to go outside, your house IS outside.  If you don’t keep the walls warm how do you expect to keep warm?  Now this does not to have to be expensive in the short-term.  First thing I would to is to cut drafts.  If you can put towels under drafty doorways, to keep the wind out.

Silicone or other caulking methods could work around windows frames that may have leaks in them to the outside.  In extreme situations early settlers used “Wattle and Daub” or mud and Straw to plug leaks.  In harsh extreme conditions, paper or cardboard could be mashed with water to fill cracks where combustion is not an issue.

Even covering up leaking windows with a blanket will help keep cold out. But remember on sunny days to keep southern exposures clear to let the sunlight in and warm the surfaces of the room.  Also do not block all sources of fresh air.  DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES use gas appliances to heat your home.  Every year people die trying to use propane heaters and even BBQ Grills to heat their homes.  Gasses trapped inside the home will kill you faster than the cold. So bundle up and tough it out.

Question: Help I’m trapped in the snow. No Help is coming.

Stay with your vehicle, run it for limited periods to keep from freezing. NOT just to stay warm.  Go outside only for limited amounts of time, to eliminate waste (Pee, Poop). Collect water in the form of snow if you do not have water.  Clear exhaust pipe so the engine can run, and to keep vehicle visible to rescue crews.

Question: Help I’m Trapped outside in a field, and no help is coming.

Answer: You’re still not dead, keep your wits about you and you can live.  Read everything above, if there is snow and you have a means to build a shelter there are a couple of options.

A: I’ve got trees around me.

Start taking branches and making a shelter. If you have big branches make a lean-to. Taking the sticks and propping them against the tree to make a space for yourself.  Line the ground with branches to stay off of the cold ground.  Make it as small as possible for you to fit into but thick so it will keep out the cold if you do not have fire.

B. I’m in a bald field of snow.

Don’t panic.  You can survive. If you have the time and energy try to build Qunizhee, a mound of snow. Do it slowly and don’t get to exhausted in the process.  Let the mound sit and settle, then slowly dig into the mound of snow to create a cavity.  Snow an insulator, it’s really fluffy and has lots of air to trap heat.  So the center of your little mound may keep you nice and warm.  If you have a candle  you have a heat source that can keep you alive for the night.  But make sure you leave an escape for any gasses that are created.  Like a small vent made by a stick in the top of your hut.

The most important thing to remember in the cold is to stay warm, and stay calm.  Panic will kill you faster than cold.  Stay calm and access your situation and act logically.  Do not run for help if you can not see it, if you have shelter use it.  If you can make fire or stay warm do so.  Help will come to you.  Stay warm and make water from snow if you do not have water.  Eat to keep your strength up.

Stay sane and stay safe

Winnipeg Meets Nunavut.

I’ve written these pages now for almost 5 years, since fate smiled upon Darlene and I and we were whisked away to New York City. Over the years I’ve covered many topics before finding my voice and becoming a cheerleader for my adoptive home town of Winnipeg. As any blogger will undoubtedly tell you writing is only half the job of running a blog, the other portion includes reading vast amounts of other people’s work and striking up constructive friendships that help hone the craft.

One such friendship that I cultivated is with the author of I’ll Have Nunavut, a blog by Suzanne Parm-Etheridge and her husband Ian.  Two people adapting to life in Canada’s far north.  Imagine my surprise when I found out that Suzanne was coming to Winnipeg as part of a conference and would be staying less than 10 minutes from our home.

Suzanne and I with Darlene enjoying a nice evening stroll on Corydon Ave.

Suzanne and I with Darlene enjoying a nice evening stroll on Corydon Ave.

We met at the Forks Market where Suzanne stayed and journeyed out to UnBurger in Osborne Village.  Suzanne frequently commenting on Winnipeg’s beautiful parks and neighborhoods.  In return Darlene and I asked questions about the far northern reaches of Canada.  It was like we had been old friends for years.

From Osborne Village to Corydon Avenue the three of us strolled, enjoyed Italian Gelato and shared stories of our lives.  As the sun dipped below the horizon a starlight tour of Downtown Winnipeg seemed in order.   Suzanne loved the stories of old Winnipeg and really seemed to get a kick out of visiting Portage and Main, Winnipeg’s most famous intersection.

Darlene and Suzanne ham it up for the camera at Portage and Main.

Darlene and Suzanne ham it up for the camera at Portage and Main.

Thanks for visiting Suzanne, I hope I didn’t bore you with my long-winded explanations and rambling stories.  It’s one thing to have made a friend though our writing but it’s an absolute joy to have met you in person.  Come back to Winnipeg anytime!

To wrap it up here’s a great song about Winnipeg by two hometown boys Randy Bachman and Neil Young with Prairie Town.

 

Sir Paul McCartney triumphantly returns to Winnipeg.

When people sit around and talk about the average 70-year-old person certain things tend to come up in the conversation.  Retirement issues, health concerns, loss of hearing and perhaps even ambition.  For the exceptional pensioner they may talk about vibrancy and youthful appearance despite the age.  One thing is for certain though Paul McCartney does not fit into any group labeled ordinary.  I count my lucky stars that I have now seen this living legend twice and by all reasonable standards he just keeps getting better and better with age.

Welcome to Winnipeg!

Welcome to Winnipeg!

Let’s face it Paul is a rock and roll icon of the highest order and now into his 7th decade could very easily rest on his laurels and slip most contentedly into obscurity.  The fact that this ground-breaker and might I add billionaire chooses to go out on tour again speak volumes.  One of the most critical things I look for in any performance is whether or not the principals are enjoying themselves and I can happily report that it sure seemed like Paul and his band mates were having a blast on stage in Winnipeg!

Yours truly waiting for the show to start!

Yours truly waiting for the show to start!

Slideshow warming up the arriving crowd.

Slide show warming up the arriving crowd.

Darlene and I sat midfield in the lower bowl of the stands giving us an excellent wide-angle view of the entire stage setup. Two huge High Definition screens flanked either side of the stage helping with close up views of the band.  The evening began with cover versions of Beatles tunes played in time with a scrolling montage of kaleidoscopic images of Paul though out his life.  At 8:30 sharp the band took the stage to thunderous applause from the 31,000 in attendance.  The audience, as one would guess, spanned the age spectrum.  Families with children hand in hand eyes wide with wonder at the unfolding spectacle, teens decked out in tight shirts and silly grins.  Older women and gentlemen seeking to recapture their youth in the songs bound to be sung that perhaps they courted each other to.  The crowd had it all.

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Our date with Eric and the Dinosaurs Unearthed!

Every now and then my ever suffering partner Darlene gets a wistful look in her eyes and asks if our nephew Eric can stay over for some quality time with his Auntie Darlene and Uncle Bob.  I can hardly ever say no to her requests partly because she loves Eric to pieces, but also because even I have to admit that hanging out with a 6 year old can be pretty cool also.

This time however we had a plan for something extra-special to do with our little buddy.  The Manitoba Museum is currently displaying Dinosaurs Unearthed, a interactive and robotic showcase that displays the latest thoughts on the lives of dinosaurs millions of years ago.  For a 43 year old man-child and a 6 year old this was a must do event.

Being Spring Break for the schools here in Canada, coupled with it being Good Friday we planned on going early to avoid the insane crowds that the day off would inevitability bring.  The first thing we could hardly avoid as we approached the Manitoba Museum from Main Street was the life sized robotic Tyrannosaurus Rex standing guard outside the main entrance to the building.  I thought this was going to spell trouble at first as Eric seemed a bit freaked out by the moving T-Rex and the way it growled and howled at us.

DSC_0149

And you thought your pit bull was good for home protection!

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Hé Ho: Le Festival du Voyageur 2013

I know that for most of my southern friends my yearly Festival du Voyageur posts are loved.  This weekend past Darlene and I took in all that Festival had to offer.  From the fiddle music, and meals packed with Bannock, spit pea soup and fresh ham.

The wood fires to warms your bones against the cold, and of course historical re-enactments of life in the 1700’s when this part of Canada was settled.   Any of you who are also using WordPress may have been having trouble with the recient updates in adding pictures.

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