Category Archives: General

RIP Gord Downie

“I looked up to the GORD above and said, Hey man, Thanks”  ~ Gordon Downie /  Adelle Chabot

This little edit one of the great lyrics of New Orleans is Sinking by family relative Adelle Chabot showed up on her facebook feed and I couldn’t agree more. Thank you Gord.

I wanted to tell my own little Gord Downie story of the time I met him. It was in Yellowknife. I was convinced to move to Yellowknife by my second cousin Art Wolfe as I would never stop telling stories of my time up there. Art was right.

Gord Downie came with his Coke Machine Glow Tour to Folk on the Rock in 2001. Not surprising Gord was the Sunday Night headliner for the northern capitals largest music festival of the year.

At that time there was a bar in the basement of a building on Franklin Avenue called the The Cave in the Gallery Building. It has a Monday Night open mike a jam session.

I think Gord was asked by every 20 and 30 something if he and his band would come to The Cave and join in. It was the worst kept secret in Yellowknife that day.

The Cave was packed for a Monday night, shortly after 10pm Gord and “the Goddamned Band” showed up and listen to a few songs and had a few beer. He was already a few drinks in but weren’t we all that night.

Gord went up to stage with  said, anyone have a guitar, three appeared magically. Julie Doiron got a bass handed to her. Dave Clark got behind the house drums. But the piano player (who’s name I have forgotten and can’t find in my research) didn’t have his keyboard. Their was one at the other end of the bar and I had never seen it played much less moved. The over capacity crowd almost immediately lifted the piano and crowd surfed over to the stage in what felt like an instant. It was a pretty magical moment to say the least. Gord played a few tunes… did one of his signature rants and did some impromptu jamming. It wasn’t perfect (neither was the piano) but it was very memorable and many beer was had and many thanks for said for Gord Downie showed up to open mike night at The Cave in Yellowknife, NWT.

Also here is a favourite photo of Gord Downie by friend and Toronto photographer Ernest Doroszuk.

Canada 150

I have always been a patriot Canadian. For my birthday once I asked for a Canadian Flag. While we’re not perfect and we still have some work to do, I say we celebrate what we do have because when you think about it. It’s a lot!

During College, my best friend was and still is a very patriotic Canada naturally so am I. It wasn’t until we had hung out for a couple months and had more than a few beers that I realized just how patriot his was. Because it wasn’t a wear it on your sleeve type of patriotism.

So when I heard Canada was celebrating its 150 birthday. It hough visiting old friends and see some national historic sights would be a good idea.

So I called up my College Friends Amber Rider in Victoria and Scott Crabbe who lives in Jasper and told them to roll out the “red carpet” and expect a visit.

On Victoria Day long weekend… Go to Victoria.

The view from Fisguard Lighthouse from the grounds of Fort Rod Hill National Historic Site.

Seeing Victoria for the first time in 10 years was pretty awesome. I flew in from Vancouver to Victoria on Harbour Air, avoiding those dastardly ferry sailing waits and delays.

Amber, Fin and Robert at Fort Rod Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.

We visited Fort Rod Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse, something I had visited often as a child with my parents. With Canada 150 celebrations all National Historic Sites and National Parks had free entry all year. It was the perfect time to reconnect with Amber and to see the park and how it’s changed since I was a kid.

The Fort was originally built before World War one in 1878 to protect Esquimalt Harbour and CFB Esquimalt which is home to the Maritime Forces Pacific.

Fisguard Lighthouse in Victoria, BC

We then drove up the Island and took a stop in the wonderful town and murals of Chemainus. Something I hadn’t seen since childhood as well.

The Island is so close to Sechelt and the Sunshine Coast, but yet so far if you need to travel to it. Luckily I escaped the ferries again and was able to take Harbour Air from Nanaimo to Sechelt.

Stanley Park

Third Beach on a sunny day in Stanley Park. While the Park is a National Historic Site it is under the management of the Vancouver Parks Board and not Parks Canada.

Another college buddy Ernest who lives in Toronto came to Vancouver for a visit and we took a walk through Stanley Park in Vancouver with his family. I haven’t walked through Stanley Park in a number of years. It truly is an urban forest! We came out of Third Beach. While the Stanley Park is a National Historic Site it is under the management of the Vancouver Parks Board and not Parks Canada.

Sometimes all it takes is to be a tourist is in your own backyard.

The Great Canadian Road Trip

A gif of the flowing Athabasca River in Jasper National Park.

Getting to visit Scott would take more doing then it would Amber. But he is much further afield as well. In Jasper National Park. I was able to fly into Vancouver on Harbour Air and along with my flight I was able to get a deal on the car rental through them at Canada Place and I hit the road making stops for second breakfast in Hope. (Hobbit’s aren’t the only ones that know this is very Important for travelling)

A stop in Kamloops for gas and a few snacks for the road. (When did Kamloops get so hot?, oh right… it’s part desert!)

I turned north on the Yellowed Highway named after fur trader and explorer Pierre Bostonais who had streaks of yellow in his hair and was nicknamed Téte Jaune or Yellowhead.

Anyone who grew up in the 80’s knows this old Park Canada branding well. The beer inside was really decent as well. It was a hit with the locals for sure!

The Yellowhead is mostly a two-lane highway that twists and turns through the more northerly of the three main passes through the Rockies.

I made good time getting into to Jasper. My plan was to have a wiggle room day just in case of traffic or car trouble you never know.

I was staying with Scott Crabbe and family and he had some special Jasper Brewing Company Beer in the old school Parks Canada Colours waiting for me.

Next day we took off to the Jasper Skytram to drop off the company truck and do some biking down the hill and back to his house. What I thought was going to be a ride down the road was truly so much more. Scott had a single track route all planned out and we crossing a road and highway a couple times. True to form for Scott he always has an adventure up his sleeve. The scenery on this beautiful day was second to none and the exhilaration of the beauty of Canada’s National Parks kept me going.

I spent Canada 150 birthday in a National Park with an old college friend and his family. I don’t think I could have picked a better place or had better weather.

On the road driving down Highway 93 The Icefields Parkway from Jasper to Banff, Alberta.

I left Jasper on July 2nd for the Ice Fields Parkway and Calgary. I was told by many, take your time on the parkway Calgary is closer than you think. With The Tragically Hip blasting from the stereo, I hit the road for some true Canadiana.

Thus I did. The race to get from A to B three days earlier was just a memory and taking it all in stopping where you want is all part of this journey.

Last time I did the parkway was the summer of 1985 I was eight years old and it rained and was cloudy the entire time. This time there was barely a cloud in the sky and I set the cruise control to 50km an hour and took it all in.

A panoramic view from the Big Bend Hill Lookout on Highway 93 the Icefields Parkway from Jasper National Park to Banff National Park in Canadian Rockies.
Tourists walk up the path to the Athabasca Glacier at the Columbia Icefields in Jasper National Park.

Whenever there was a vehicle behind me I just pulled over let them pass. Don’t let the view pass you by. Take it all in. Your on this route for the journey, not the destination.

Reaching the Columbia Ice Fields I purchased a $7 ham and cheese sandwich. (When will I learn?) I skipped the Glacier Adventure Snow Coach at $85 per person and took a walk up the hill to see the receding Athabasca Glacier.

Sad to see the glacier getting so much smaller than when I remember it some 32 years ago. But that is our changing environment.

After a stop at Saskatchewan River Crossing for a coffee, as I didn’t want to mess with Banff or Lake Louise on Canada Day weekend, I hit the road non-stop to Calgary.

Gord and Gabby on some paddle boats on Bowness Lake in Calgary Alberta.

I visited Gord and Aleta and their 4 kids and they took me to Bowness Park which I had visited in the winter but never in the summer. The Park had been completely flooded in the 2013 flood. But the park was nicely remodelled and we took out the paddle boats and road the train and had a great day of fun.

 

Gord Chilling on his Pocket Couch in Calgary, Alberta.

Visiting with old friends is great, but getting beaten by a 5-year-old at go fish 4 times in a row is a humbling experience. I can’t wait for a rematch Gabby!

The Road Less Travelled

Aleta and Gord encouraged me to take the Crowsnest Pass home and they were quite the lobbyist…  They told me about a Lancaster Bomber at Bomber Command Museum of Canada in Nanton, Alberta. About of the beautiful views of Highway 22 the Cowboy Trail as it leads you to the Rockies.

With an extra day of car rental and some Canadian History awaiting me just down the road, I said my goodbyes to Calgary and hit the road south on the road less travelled.

The Lancaster Bomber, impressive in size, small in creature comforts. Natan’s Bomber Command Museum is home to one of only 17 still standing. While it is no longer airworthy the engines still operate and are fired up every year.

Seeing one of the 17 remaining Lancaster Bombers in Nanton was pretty special. Out of the 7377 that was actually built in Canada and the Uk. The one is Nanton engines are still able to fire up but the historic machine is no longer airworthy. According to Wikipedia, there is only two left flying in the entire world.

Turtle Mountain the location of the Frank Slide in Frank, Alberta. The largest landslides in Canadian history. For scale, there is a mini-van for scale in the lower right corner.

I also stopped by the Nanton Candy Store to pick up a few goodies, it’s quite the store to see if you have a moment.

I arrived in the Crownest Pass community and stopped to see the town of Frank and one of the largest landslide in Canadian History. The amount of rock that was moved was impressive and hard to fathom. The Frank Slide Liquor Store is a bit of a hoot if you want to check it out as well.

The Columbia Brewing Company in Creston, British Columbia. Home to Kokanee Beer.

I filled up with the last of the cheap Alberta gas and hit the road for Creston, BC and the home of Kokanee and Columbia Brewery. While the Columbia Brewing Company only survives in name since it was purchased by Labatt’s in 1974, it still makes Kokanee on site and a sailing buddy of mine loves Kokanee so I had to check it out.

Beer vat in the Columbia Brewing Complex in Creston, British Columbia. Home to Kokanee Beer.

Next stop on this roadshow was Osoyoos. I didn’t realize how much further Route 3 was then the Trans-Canada. It’s only 253 kilometres longer. But it winds and wiggles along the US border and is a two-lane highway with a few passing lanes along the way. Road Trips are fun but sometimes you just need to put miles in. I use a combination of Podcasts and upbeat music to let the kilometres melt away.

Even with A/C and cold drink, a car is a hot place in the summer, so I had one goal for a hotel in Osoyoos. clean hotel with a Pool, nothing fancy… just a pool. Super 8 fit the bill and I spent the evening poolside. Last day of my road trip I wanted to leave Osoyoos and it’s 40C degree heat. But with the heat comes the fruit and with that comes fruit stands!

Being a good friend means…

As I left Osoyoos listening to some Dehli to Dublin to keep the upbeat tempo going. I came across some fruit stands in Keremeos and picked up some fresh fruit for my foodie loving cookbook authoring friend Rebecca Coleman.

I also got some cherries myself as they are a great snack food for the road.

I filled up again in Hope the round trip was almost over. I hadn’t seen the Crowness Pass since I was a kid!

Looking back on the epic Canadian Road Trip I was extremely lucky not to be affected by any of the forest fires that have hit a number of community I travelled through and my thoughts are certainly with them as they battle and rebuild.

On BC Day Long Weekend go to the birthplace of BC

National Historic Site Fort Langley modern entrance.

Completely by accident, I went to the Birthplace of the colony British Columbia, Fort Langley on BC Day Long Weekend. I had been wanting to go to Fort Langley for some time, but when my brother asked me to watch his dogs for the long weekend I said sure as long as I can go to Fort Langley in his car! A deal was stuck and off I went.

A re-enactor talks about her camp at the National Historic Site Fort Langley on the BC Day Long weekend.

Fort Langley was the birthplace of British Columbia as a British Colony, although BC Day as a holiday didn’t start until 1974 the colony signed into order on August 2, 1858. This was a pre-emptive move to forestall any drives for annexation of the land to the United States.

I had not been to Fort Langley since childhood and since it was BC Day long weekend there were a number of re-enactors had set up camps and volunteers giving talks about hunting, trapping and trading in 1840 through to its closure in 1886.

Gord a Volunteer gives a talk about rifles used during the period where Fort Langley was in its hay day.

I also checked and yes Fort Langley still takes my Hudson’s Bay Master Card. LOL.

Conclusion

We have a vast and varied and huge country and while we still have work today we should celebrate our achievements. Get out and enjoy our country you don’t need a 150 anniversary to do it, just the need to explore your own backyard.

If my writings have helped you out, you can buy me a coffee or a beer via paypal:

bus logo black on white

The Bus Shirt Story

Good friend Rebecca Coleman invited me to do some co-hosting for her youtube channel on Aquafaba and her cookbook Aquafabulous. While we were filming I thought it was a great idea to wear my famous Bus Shirts. Rebecca decided to make a trailer of my our conversation and how the Bus Shirt came to be.

Thanks to Pacific Speciality Brands for letting us film in their awesome showroom.

Vimy 100

This post is an email from my father. When I visited Vimy Ridge I had no idea our relative John (Jock) MacGregor commonly known as Uncle Mac fought at Vimy Ridge I knew of his service since high school but never knew he fought in this historic Canadian battle until I returned from my trip abroad. 

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MacGregor V.C.: Goodbye Dad: Biography of the Man Who Won More Awards for Valour Than Any Other Canadian Soldier
MacGregor V.C.

This weekend marks the 100th Anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. The ridge had long been held by Germany with the Allies trying unsuccessfully to capture the ridge several times. This was the first battle where Canada’s troops were together under Canadian command.

We have a relative who played a key role in winning the battle. He was John (Jock) MacGregor who later married Granny Newman’s (nee Louisa Amelia Nelmes) niece, Ethel Flowers. To the family they were Uncle Mac and Aunt Ethel and lived in Powell River, B. C. Their oldest son, Jim, wrote a book about Uncle Mac’s life titled MacGregor VC.

Sargent John MacGregor V.C.

Sergeant MacGregor was in charge of “C” Company and at 5:30 am on April 9th, 1917 he led them through light snow flurries to the attack. Their objective was an enemy trench line 700 yards away through heavily defended terrain as shown in the pictures. Part way through, they were pinned down by machine gun fire. Sergeant MacGregor told his men to take cover as he went on ahead and singlehandedly took out the machine gun nest, killed the crew and captured the gun. He then led “C” Company to their enemy trench objective. Sergeant MacGregor then fired three white flares that signified their success. They had secured their objective in 30 minutes, a few minutes ahead of time. The opening battle was won – soon followed by Canada taking the ridge.

We visited Vimy last June and I have included some pictures of what it looks like now. It is peaceful, green and eerily beautiful. How they could advance against the well entrenched enemy is beyond me. I checked with an historian there and he confirmed that “C” Company was the first to reach their objective.

Uncle Mac went on to more heroic deeds. He ended up being Canada’s most decorated WW1 foot soldier. He was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal, the Military Cross with Bar, and the Victoria Cross (our nation’s highest award).

I have a hard time relating the quiet, soft spoken man I knew with the man revealed in his war record. In fact, I didn’t know much of his war history until I started doing Family History.

Canada’s success at Vimy is often credited with our country coming of age and taking its place as an independent nation. Uncle Mac played an important role in it.

There is much more about him and the battle on the internet and I have a file on him.

The pictures are of the battlefield (seen below), the modern concrete version of one of the trenches, and one of the allies tunnels. Since the ridge battle lines were stable for a couple of years, both sides built tunnels. The tunnel was right where “C” Division prepared to go out and over the top of the trenches.

Bob Dall

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Post Script:

While I will be watching the ceremonies on TV. I really enjoyed walking around the imposing monument alone in the rain. I was awestruck by it’s beauty in quite contemplation.

The recreated trenches made out of concrete (instead of sand) at The Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France.
A new sign showing “Dead End” in the tunnels of the The Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France. I felt the sign was very apropos for the purpose of the tunnels and the troops waiting for battle inside.
The trenches had names of local area that were familiar to the soldiers so they didn’t get lost on making there way around the battle field at The Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France.
Artillery shells created a bumpy landscape at The Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France.

French Toast

Some see the drifting continents of the world via plate tectonics. Other’s just see French Toast.

 

As kids run around playing Pokemon Go adults go to say goodbye to a band that defined their Canadian generation.

Tragically Hip Final Vancouver Concert July 26, 2016

Great UX, hard demanding but fulfilling work. NOTHING is ever as easy as it appears.

50 Year Anniversary of “The Maple Leaf”

The largest collection of Canada Flags I have seen. Yes even more then the previous Canada Day.
2010 Olympic Hockey Gold. The largest collection of Canada Flags “The Maple Leaf” I have seen. Yes even more then the previous Canada Day (2009). Since the Olympics I have seen more love of our maple leaf.

For a nation that is still quite young in many respects it certainly has had a large number of flags flown over it’s soil. Although I don’t know one that suits it more then our Maple Leaf, Happy 50th Birthday.

I call Seattle my adopted American home town because I visit it so much. My sense of direction get better each time I visit, but I still use a fuzzy logic called:

I don’t necessarily know where I am going but I certainly know when I am lost.

One of our long-standing family traditions from our Scottish side. Is the coal at New Year’s Eve. Commonly known as the  First-foot.

In our family home we run outside on to the porch with a bunch of noise makers and the enter the house via the other porch door in the new year.

Over the years we have all done it. One year we made the family dog Toby do it tying the coal to a bag to his collar and the calling him from the other door.

We haven’t done the tradition in years but my nephews were up this year and my youngest nephew Oxford wanted to do it with me.

It was kinda a fun to rekindle an old tradition I haven’t done in over a decade.