Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Where to Find Native Art in Vancouver

Arts in Canada lists more than 100 contemporary native artists in British Columbia. Most of them from the Haida tribes of the West Coast. Their masks, sculptures, and original paintings can be found in Vancouver, on Vancouver Island and scattered around the whole province.

More than 3,000 years ago, Indigenous peoples of the coast of British Columbia developed artistic traditions that are heralded throughout the world for their imaginative and stylistic qualities.  The masks and totem poles of the Northwest Coast Aboriginal art powerfully impacted the work of major American abstract artists. It gave rise to a revival of craftsmanship on the NW Coast over the past thirty years and shaped the work of contemporary native artists.  Visitors will be introduced to the Northwest native art here:

Vancouver Intl. Airport
Just stepping out of an airplane at YVR, one will discover an impressive public collection of native art.  Exhibits display more than 180 sculptures, carvings, masks, poles, panels, paintings and weavings in the international terminal.  YVR's art exhibitions are located throughout the airport.
Vancouver’s Stanley Park

There are nine totem poles in Totem Park, just off the seawall at Brockton Point, carved between 1955 and 2009 by some of the province's most influential carvers. The totem poles represent a variety of First Nations, from the killer whale and Thunderbird of the Chief Wakas Kwakiutl pole to Norman Tait's Nisga'a beaver crest pole and Bill Reid's Haida mortuary pole.
Museum of Anthropology

The MOA, on the University of British Columbia campus in Vancouver, is the premier place to view Northwest Coast art and artifact collections.  MOA initiated native carving programs in the 1950s, restoring old poles and creating new ones.  Don't miss the stunning yellow cedar carving The Raven and the First Men by Haida artist Bill Reid, depicting the Haida creation story.

Squamish Lil’Wat Cultural Center

This museum in Whistler joins the two First Nations in the region under one roof, with traditional art, craft and artifacts including cedar baskets, button blankets and massively carved spindle whorls depicting the history of weaving here. The SLCC Café features First Nations cuisine, from venison chili to bannock panini sandwiches.
Royal British Columbia Museum

The provincial museum in Victoria has a large collection of carvings, masks, artifacts and both historic and contemporary poles, some inside the museum building, some outdoors in Thunderbird Park.


Kitselas Canyon

This national historic site is another recreated village, complete with carved poles and longhouses, displays of carving and weaving, and tours for the public.
Tsimshian First Nations have occupied this site for more than 10,000 years. Kitselas Canyon is a stretch of the Skeena River in northwestern British Columbia, Canada.
‘Ksan Village Museum
A living museum and cultural center, this historical First Nations village in Hazelton is open for tours with local guides. Complete with several longhouses with decorated house fronts, totem poles, and artifacts, it offers a glimpse into early Gitxsan village life.

Museum of Northern B.C.

In Prince Rupert, you can see the work of many contemporary Haida and Tsimshian carvers, both in the stunning longhouse museum overlooking the waterfront and on street corners throughout the city.  It's here you'll find original poles carved by important artists like Freda Diesing and Dempsey Bob.  Visitors are met with the scent of cedar and the beauty of Northwest Coast architecture.  The massive cedar posts and beams are set off by large works of glass art.

Famous Canadian Artist Emily Carr 
She came to paint the totem poles of the northwest coastal people nearly a century ago.
The tradition of carving survived, despite nearly a century of suppression. In 1884, Prime Minister John A. Macdonald banned the potlatch feasts and dances, the center of the coastal peoples' unique social and legal system.  Many poles were removed, toppled, even burned, and the skill of carving such ceremonial articles all but disappeared.  By 1951, when the ban on the potlatch was finally lifted, only a few carvers remained.
History of Indigenous Art
The history of Indigenous art in Canada begins sometime during the last Ice Age between 80,000 and 12,000 years ago. To date, however, the oldest surviving artworks are datable to the last 5,000 years.  First Peoples of the West Coast did not see Europeans until the late 18th century. Decorative and representational carvings from the earliest periods have been found in the Lower Fraser region of British Columbia by archaeologists through excavations. The development of Indigenous art in Canada may be divided into three distinct periods: prehistoric art (much of the art has been lost), the contact, or "historic" art, and contemporary native art.  Read more about the native art of the NW Coast:
Olympic Installations

Artist Dean Heron's art was selected by the Vancouver Olympic Committee for the Cypress Mountain Olympic venue.  His massive installation – painted across 20 canvases and representing a huge snowboard decorated with historic paddle designs – is a permanent fixture at the ski resort which hosted 2010 Olympic freestyle and snowboard events.

Explore the work of Northwest Coast Native American Indian Artists
such as Bill Reid, Robert Davidson and Coast Salish and other First Nations. Don’t miss to visit Vancouver's most famous spot for First Nations art shopping and a must-see for any visitor to Vancouver, the two Coastal People Fine Art Galleries that are specialized in museum-quality, handcrafted artwork by aboriginal artists from B.C.'s Northwest Coast. 

The province of British Columbia is home to the highest diversity of First Nations societies in Canada, each with its own language, traditions, and history.  Aboriginal cultures are increasingly accessible to visitors, with growth in everything from Aboriginal-owned art galleries and cultural centers to First Nations-operated wilderness treks, wildlife viewing tours, and cultural experiences.
A growing number of Aboriginal-owned tourism operators are also encouraging visitors to enjoy BC's wilderness, wildlife, culture, and history from a First Nations point of view. Experiences range from paddling a traditional ocean-going canoe to seeking out the mysterious Kermode (Spirit) bear in the Great Bear Rainforest, from watching a dance performance to joining a generations-old purification ceremony.

Read more:
Coastal Peoples Gallery
Native Artists' Biographies
Hill's Native Art Gallery Nanaimo


Green Lawns = Sick or Dead Dogs and Cats

Dog owners get their pets almost daily or twice daily outside to enjoy the sunshine and lush greenery - or let the cat out of the house.  However, according to a study published earlier this year in the journal Environmental Research, walking across the lawn might actually be dangerous to your pet's health (and maybe yours too).

The study, conducted over a six-year period at the Foster Hospital for Small Animals at Tufts University's Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, showed that exposure to lawn pesticides – specifically those applied by professional lawn care companies – raised the risk of canine malignant lymphoma (CML) by as much as 70 percent!
From the published study, dogs at highest risk for acquiring CML were:

  • Over 50 pounds
  • Living in homes where pesticides and herbicides were professionally applied
  • Living in homes where owners - or neighbors - use lawn care products containing insect growth regulators (insect growth regulators are chemical killing agents)

Dogs and Thick Green Lawns
People usually wear clothes and shoes outside – dogs don't. So whatever collects on their feet and fur outdoors stays there until the next time they get a bath - or until they lick their paws!
Dog owners beware pets to be exposed to chemical lawn treatments!

  • Don't apply pesticides to your yard, and if you use a lawn care service, don't allow them to use them, either.
  • Avoid lawn care and other gardening products that contain insect growth regulators (IGRs). (And be aware that the chemical pyriproxyfen, an IGR, is used in certain flea/tick spot-on treatments.)
  • Don't allow your dog access to any lawn unless you can confirm no pesticides have been used.

If you think your pet has rolled around on the chemically treated grass, my recommendation is to bathe him as soon as possible. If you've walked your dog in a suspect grassy area, giving him a foot soak as soon as you get home should flush away any chemical residue that may be clinging to his feet and lower legs.

Read more: 


And as we are at it:
Chemical Flea/Tick Control Products contain pyriproxyfen as well!
The new Advantage® and K9 Advantix® are probably good examples of the direction these products are headed – Bayer added another pesticide into the formula.

With 44,000 reported adverse reactions including 600 deaths in 2008 – which represented almost a 60 percent increase over the prior year: the risks of these products are too great to warrant routine, monthly use.

In fact, there is no pesticide that doesn’t have the potential for side effects. It doesn’t matter whether the product is in pill form, in a dip, a shampoo or a collar, it’s not entirely safe.

Remember that what goes on your pet also gets inside the through absorption or ingestion.


Thursday, September 28, 2017

Two Must-Visit Canadian National Parks

Fall is the perfect time to visit the Canadian National Parks for FREE!  Here are two lesser-known true hidden gems, where you won't find the tourist crowds: Yoho Ntl. Park in BC and Waterton Ntl. Park in Alberta.

Waterton Ntl. Park
Located at the end of HWY 5, it rises up from the golden grasslands of the Canadian prairies, into the high Rockies. When I traveled through the Blackfoot Nation territory in the northern part of the park, I saw lots of Bisons in the rolling hills. But the Grizzly Bears, Cougars, and Wolves who live in the mountains where hiding - thank goodness. The only dangerous animal found my dog: a Rattle Snake, but a dead one. Later that day we would encounter a Brown Bear mother with three cute cups which was safe as we had just entered our car.

Crypt Lake Trail Hike
From the Waterton Park Townsite take the ferry to access the trail. The hike passes the famous Crypt Falls which spectacularly ascend 150 meters down into the Crypt Lake. The tour is voted by National Geographic as one of the best hikes in the world. The area is also unique as there is a "green border" between Canada and the US - designated as an International Peace Park

Waterton Lakes National Park is bordering Montana’s Glacier National Park. It’s known for its chain of lakes, including the large Upper and Middle Waterton lakes, flanked by the Rocky Mountains.
Get maps and brochures of this year-round Park: 


Yoho National Park in British Columbia
Not far from the "border" to Alberta, adjacent to the famous Banff Ntl. Park, and close to the Trans-Canada Hwy, one can almost miss this hidden gem.

I stayed overnight in Field, in a classic 50s lodge, and admired the grandiose mountain scenery in the morning, and watched a bunch of snowshoe hikers who started their ascent into the April day.

Yoho is a Cree Name
It means "wonder" and "awe" for a reason: There are 28 mountain peaks, rock walls, and lots of stunning waterfalls. I was glad to travel the area in April, as the mountains looked gorgeous with their snow caps.
I also saw the sign "Kicking Horse Pass" when traveling east towards Lake Louise, but only later I learned what the funny name means. During a 1858 expedition to the West, one of the participants was kicked in the chest by a horse. He named the nearby mountain pass "Kicking Horse Pass" and the name stays forever. What I missed on this trip where the breath-taking Wapta Falls in the area, just an easy 40-minute hike from the pass away.

Maps and Info:


Friday, June 24, 2016

Crossing the Canadian Rockies

Canada Highway through the Rockies in early April

Growing up close to the European Alps, with 12,000 ft high mountains, I really did not expect to be so impressed by the mountains of the Canadian part of the Rockies. I had inadvertently chosen the best time of the year, or at least the most photogenic: there was still snow on the mountains, half way down.  And the lovely sunshine was just what made it a perfect trip from Vancouver to Calgary.
Here are some impressions, I randomly picked from hundreds of images I took:


Hiking, mountains in sight

Historic Railway Hotel

Yes, there was still some snow on the Pass

Approaching Roger Pass


Trans Canada HWY is clear

Lucky with the weather....


Rooms available in April - between Winter and Summer Season


Mighty Mountains

Matterhorn of the Rockies


Casino and Lodge near Lake Louise

Towards Lake Louise

Hotel Lake Louise

Downtown Banff, Alberta

Canmore historic sign

I can highly recommend this drive for spring and fall.


Thursday, April 7, 2016

The Yearly Tulip Festival in Ottawa

Tulips around the Symmes Museum in Aylmer

The Canadian Tulip Festival is a celebration of the return of spring, with over a million tulips in 50 varieties blooming in public spaces across the National Capital Region. And it's a celebration of the friendship with the Netherlands.

How it all Began:
Ottawa, Canada’s capital, gave a safe haven for the members of Holland’s exiled royal family received during World War II, and Canadian troops also played a role in the liberation of the Netherlands.  Even a Dutch princess - Margriet - was born in Ottawa, and setting the flag of the Netherlands on Parliament she was technically born on Netherland's soil.  
In 1945 Princess Juliana of the royal family of the Netherlands gifted 100.000 Tulip bulbs to Ottawa. Tulips in Ottawa have grown to become a symbol of peace, freedom and international friendship. Since then each year, the Dutch Royal Family and the Dutch Growers Association each send 10,000 more tulip bulbs to Ottawa.

The highest concentration of tulips can be viewed in the flower beds of the Commissioners Park, on the banks of Dows Lake, where 300,000 flowers bloom.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Champagne-Powder in Big White, Kelowna, British Columbia

When I visited the resort town of Big White, just 60 km out of Kelowna, at the end of November, early December, I found already 3 feet of snow.  Both, me and my dog wished we had snow shoes with us, as we sunk several times into the deep snow trying to make a shortcut to another road.  Right now the top levels have risen to almost 7 feet of snow (over 2 meters).  The location of this resort is outstanding, the views are stunning and you have sun almost all day long and on most days you can see the panorama of mountains and hills for hundreds of miles.  Several days a week you can even ski at night from 4pm to 8pm.
During my whole stay I did not experience any waiting times at the ski lifts, in fact only approx. 20 percent of the ski lifts were used, almost entirely by young Aussies who seem to man the whole resort workforce.  They are very friendly, upbeat and an awesome bunch of youngsters and students who work in the resort during the season from mid November to the end of April.  On their days off or after shifts they can ski for free as much as they want.  

What You Need to Know about Big White

1. Big White is for Winter Sport. Period.

The resort town is in a very remote area, no villages around and no grown infrastructure.  I could count the number of houses I have seen in the last 40 kilometers on one hand... The population in and around Big White consists of 60 people, however with visitors it grows to 22,000 during the Christmas and New Year's high season.  Don't compare it with Breckenridge in Colorado, Whistler near Vancouver, BC or any of the ski towns in Europe: Big White is marvelous and a perfect place for skiers and snowboarders, but that's it.
Barely any apres-ski activities, other than going out for an evening dinner or some music entertainment. Concerts, a library, movies, shopping malls etc. are absent.  No critique here, just to let you know what to expect - and to let you know that snow and skiing are the big thing here - not partying.  

2. Transportation is Solely by Car or Bus. 
There is a shuttle bus from Kelowna's airport to the resort - in my eyes the safest way to get there.  
Even though the resort is only 60 kilometer from Kelowna and its international airport, the drive can be tough, and it is for sure longer than an hour, it took me more than two hours!  I was lucky to make it without winter tires / snow chains, as I drove very carefully and slow. The road will be plowed, but not salted. My drive was both ways during the week, so not any traffic to speak of.  The road is very winding and in parts pretty steep.  Should you have an accident on the road or on the ski hill or any health condition: Transportation to the Kelowna hospital is via the only connecting road.  No helipad available at the resort!  When you travel by air to Kelowna, don't spend any money for a rental car.  You don't need it in Big White as the lifts start directly in town.  The roads are very narrow and there are no parking spaces unless you have one in your own vacation rental place.

3. Shopping and Groceries.
My camera quit on me at the last hour of my stay. For the way back and until I could purchase a new one, I wanted to buy a small digital camera.  No luck, to buy a camera, nor can you find batteries, memory sticks etc. 
I asked a local security guide and I went to all six shops in Big White. Yes, six is the total amount of stores there, where you can buy anything at all and only in one you can purchase groceries (at inflated prices, but somehow: everything needs to be extra-delivered to this high-altitude place).
When renting a vacation apartment in Big White 
organize your purchases before you travel up - and even if you are in one of the very few hotels and don't want to eat in restaurants three times a day, or if you are on a special diet.  Better don't forget anything!  If you arrive at Kelowna airport, take a taxi to the nearest grocery store or Costco in the city and stock up for the whole time of your stay.  Not only food, but drinks, water, milk and everything else you might need - before you enter your shuttle bus to Big White.

Still a Fantastic Place to Spend Your Ski Vacation!
I haven't seen better snow anywhere else! Really!  And I have been skiing the Rockies and the Alpes in Europe! "Champagne Powder" as the snow is called, falls in huge amounts every year in this vast acreage for skiers, snowboarders, nordic fans, skaters and sun lovers.

Make sure not to miss the 
Free Mountain Tours: Local "Snow Hosts" will show you the best ski and snowboarding spots on Big White with a Complimentary Mountain Tour.  This tour will open your eyes to the locals’ favourite ski and snowboard runs, providing you with the ins and outs of Big White Resorts.  Guided cross-country skiing tours are offered Thursday to Sunday to introduce you to the 9 miles / 14 km of nordic trails

Lots of Praise for Big White:
Big White, 40 miles / 60 kilometers from Kelowna in British Columbia was named one of the Top Ski Resorts from a world-renowned German resort test portal.  After an assessment using 18 stringent criteria, the site Skiresort.info awarded Big White 4.3 out of a possible five stars.  Canada's largest, totally ski-in ski-out resort village Big White was also awarded North America’s #1 Family Resort. 
Did I mention the wonderful clear and clean air?  Coming from the city it was such a treat to smell this fresh and unpolluted air.  I am looking forward to the next ski and snow vacation in Big White!  Maybe even this spring when they offer specials after the Easter Holidays.  


Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Fascinating National Parks in Canada



It’s the quintessential Canadian travel or weekend experience:  visiting one of the many National Parks to be away from civilization and enjoy nature. These parks are also something that is very unique for a G20 country of this size to support so many parks.  Canada's Nation Parks can be found from the "Banana Belt" up to the Arctic.
13.5 million visitors came to Canada’s National Parks and Marine Conservation Areas in 2014-2015.  The Banff National Park alone had 3.6 million, and I was in Spring one of them  : )


My Favoured Canadian National Parks:

Thousand Islands National Park 
Located is this beautiful area 3 hrs east if Toronto, or 1,5 hrs south of Ottawa:

Even though it is Canada's smallest national park, St. Lawrence Islands is spread over a remarkably wide swath of terrain. The park stretches for 80 kilometres along the shores of the St. Lawrence River.
Many of the islands are barely above the water line and are continually being washed clean of anything that might want to grow there. Most of the larger islands, however, are perfect places to while away a warm, sunny, summer afternoon. 

Hidden away from much of the major traffic of Canada's greatest river, these 21 islands and 90 islets offer the perfect get-away for folks that live in the Kingston-Ottawa-Montreal triangle or anyone else travelling along the Trans-Canada Highway.
Don’t miss the nearby Prince Edward county close to Belleville with its lovely small towns, wineries and farmer markets - and the Sand Dunes Ontario Provincial Park which gives you the feeling to be on an Ocean as you will see only sand and water.



Fathom Five National Marine Park, 3 hrs north of Toronto
Georgian Bay and the waters surrounding the Bruce Peninsula are crystal-clear and a breath-taking sight. I spent a week there and will return this year for sure.  Diving or chartering one of the boats with glass floors will allow you to see amazing shipwrecks in a fascinating underwater world. Lots of ship traffic during the eighteen hundreds left also lots of shipwrecks. However not only underwater, but also on dozens of island treasures can be found if you like nature: The oldest forests in Eastern Canada with very rare Orchids and Ferns.  Beautiful sand beaches stretch for hundred kilometres around Georgian Bay and invite swimmers, surfers, sailers, hikers and sun-lovers.


Banff National Park
Coming from Austria in the Alps, I did not expect at all to be impressed by the Rocky Mountains. Boy, was I wrong!  Leaving a rainy Vancouver in early April I headed to the mountains and expected even roads to be closed due to snow. But no, the next day turned out beautifully and I had chosen the best time of the year:  The mountain tops were still snow-covered to about half of the elevation and this made for an outstanding driving experience.  I guess I shot about 500 photos, and stopped every 5 km to soak in the beautiful sights.  Would I have driven in summer through the Rockies, I would have seen water in Lake Louise near Banff, instead of the snow in April, but all the mountains would have been green-brown-grey and wouldn’t have so fantastic sparkled in the sun.  Lucky as I was, I even found a hotel room close to Banff and Lake Louise with a million-dollar-view towards the snow-covered mountains and with a balcony for only US$28 on the internet. Cheers to the nice Australian girls who work there for the winter season. You made my day too. 
I only regret that I did not drive up to the many Hot Springs in the vicinity.  They must be marvellous at this time of the year, hot steaming pools surrounded by snow-covered trees and meadows. 


How to Get to the Ontario Parks:
From Toronto and Ottawa are express bus rides offered to the Algonquin Park and a dozen other parks, if you don’t want to drive by car. Parkbus also offers all-inclusive packages for camping.


Where to Stay Overnight:
Many visitors camp out in the wild, but if you like it a bit more comfortable or don’t have a tent, or don’t want to carry one around, there are often tents provided or Yurts, which are equipped with a wooden floor, windows and beds. Ontario has 74 of these yurts in 10 Provincial Parks. Gatineau Park close to Ottawa features Yurts in some of its campgrounds for overnight stays. 

Ontario Parks Canada also has a wildly popular program in weekend overnight sessions were you can learn to camp and cook in the outdoors. 

FREE Entrance for New Canadians:
A Cultural Access Pass allows new Canadians for one year after they received their citizenship to visit four National Parks for free - including up to four of their children.




Small Selection of National Parks in Canada and Accommodations










http://explore.gov.ns.ca http://www.canadianparks.com/ontario/ffivemp/index.htm