Sunday, November 29, 2009

Book Review: Malak's Canada

Moving from Montreal to Canada’s Capital I did not like this city, in fact, I found it dull and ugly. But everywhere I saw brilliant photographs of Ottawa.I visited the photo museum for an exhibition and learned about this artist who must have loved Ottawa, to celebrate it in such beautiful images: Malak Karsh.
In his latest coffee table book the reader does not expect less then prefect images of Canada’s nature and beauty. But not only this: they also show again his love to Canada and introduces the reader to the diversity of landscapes and the soul of the country in this journey through all provinces.

“Canada: The Land that Shapes Us” explores our magnificent country in 105 colour and 30 black-and-white images. Karsh captures the vast beauty that is Canada. From the quaint fishing villages of Atlantic Canada to the majesty of the Rocky Mountains, Malak offers a unique visual portrait of the people and places that make up this remarkable nation. Most importantly, however, this book is a beautifully designed retrospective of a photographer's lifelong love and work.

About the Author
Malak has had photographic exhibitions at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, the Ottawa Congress Centre, in the Netherlands and many other countries. His awards include the Order of Canada, the Whitton Award, the CAPIC Lifetime Achievement Award, Photographer of the Year and the National Film Board's Gold Medal.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Covered Bridges in New Brunswick

Almost every year the number of wooden covered bridges declines, as weather, wear-and-tear, neglect, and wilful destruction take their toll. Despite the odds, preservationists persist in trying to save these old wooden truss bridges as they are a part of our built heritage. A few have been carefully dismantled and then reassembled in a new location for tourists to admire.

When the population and prosperity of an area increased, roads and bridges were built to connect communities to each other and to more distant markets. By the 1830s, covered bridges were appearing. During the heyday of covered-bridge building in Canada, several hundred were built in New Brunswick.

Only 64 are still remaining in the province, the most famous one passes over the Saint John River in the town of Hartland. Initially an open bridge in 1901, it later became, at 391 m (1,282 ft.), the longest covered bridge in the world.

John and Stephen Gillis, the authors of "No Faster than A Walk", believe that familiarity with the covered bridge and knowledge of the efficiency of the wooden truss may well have been
imported into New Brunswick with the arrival of the United Empire Loyalists in the 1780s.

Covered wooden truss bridges had been built in medieval Europe, and Italian architect Andrea Palladio had explained the mechanics of the truss—a structural frame that exploits the rigidity of the triangle—in his sixteenth-century "Treatise on Architecture". Nonetheless, covered-bridge building in New Brunswick became popular only until after they appeared in the United States.

As people believed that a wish, made while driving through a covered bridge would come true, covered bridges were referred to as “wishing bridges.” Because they offered a secluded spot for romance, they were also called “kissing bridges

Book Review: Wings Across Canada

One hundred photographs of forty historic planes, "Wings Across Canada" is a retrospective of Canada's aeronautical technology.

The famous “Silver Dart“ completed the first flight in Canada in 1909, soaring less than a kilometre, and bringing the nation into the dazzling new world of aviation.
The Curtiss JN-4 Canuck recorded more firsts than any aircraft in Canada: first to be mass-produced, exported in large quantities, and used for military, airmail and survey flying. Bush planes are among the country's greatest aviation achievements, Curtiss HS-2L, an aerial workhorse, the Noorduyn Norseman could land and take off in tight spots on floats, skis or wheels.

The all-metal de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver, the Avro Lancaster, the most successful heavy night bomber of the Second World War, the first aircraft in the world built specifically to fight forest fires, the Canadair CL-215 ...

From the eccentric Fairey Battle to the lethal-looking CF-18, from modern airliners that have no defects (and no character) to the classic North Star (which had both in plenty), here is the ultimate line-up of the aircraft that have served Canadians in the last century.

This book does not compare the planes, or claims that all are "classics" in the traditional sense of the word. Instead, it is a celebration of a love affair with aircraft that all served a purpose in their own time.

Take flight with this soaring read about the story of Canadian Airlines International from its start flying into the bush to its growth into an international airline.

About the Author
Peter Pigott is the author of several aviation books such as Flying Canucks: "Famous Canadian Aviators", and Gateways: "Airports of Canada".

Peter Pigott chronicles the development of these pioneer landing strips into vital gateways for travel they are today. Canadian airports offered a home base for air aces, bush pilots, Charles Lindbergh and excited tourists. In Gateways, readers will learn how RCAF Liberators hunted for U-boats, how the Avro Arrow soared briefly at its pinnacle, and the story behind C.D. Howe's transcontinental airline.

This is an amazing book packed full of information on the Canadian airline industry.
It also covers the history of Canadian Pacific Airlines in-depth, and has a wealth of photos I've never seen anywhere (including a CP Air Boeing S.S.T.) It is a "must have" book for anyone who is interested in Canadian Airlines, CP Air, PWA etc.

Wings Across Canada
An Illustrated History of Canadian Aviation
Peter Pigott

Northern Lights
Northern Lights
Northern Lights

Several cultures have their own folklore surrounding the lights. An Algonquin Indian myth held the lights were the souls of ancestors dancing around a fire.

Northern lights (Aurora Borealis) are present year round, especially between August and March. Longer nights and earlier nightfall contribute to their sightings. Active solar winds are common during this period, which gives the sky a wonderful glow.

This magical phenomenon begins at nightfall. Often green, sometimes purple or red, the lights start dancing on a starlit backdrop. Witness the greatness of the universe. At times, it will seem as if the rays touch the ground and you could almost catchits beauty.

In mid-August, a shower of shooting stars join in the dance along with the northern lights. Up north is very little light pollution, therefore it is easier to find an excellent place to gaze the sky.

Many tourist destinations in Canada's north, such as

are offering special tours and there is even more than one Aurora forecast website. Google Images counts more than 600,000 photographs of these fascinating northern lights.

The Japanese fascination with the lights also has its own myth:
Conceiving a child beneath the lights will bring good luck. No wonder: more than 20,000 Japanese visitors travel every winter to Yellowknife.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Eastern Canada Heritage Towns

Lunenburg, NS
Old Lunenburg has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Over 400 buildings are part of the designated area, an exceptionally well preserved example of a North American colonial settlement. The building that best illustrates Lunenburg's distinctive style is the Morash house at 55 Montague Street.

It was built in 1876 and features Lunenburg's famous dormer windows, which are larger and finer than traditional dormers, attributed to Joseph and Salomon Morash. Some dormer windows covered two stories while others opened on to nearly a whole room.
Most of Lunenburg's handsome residences are painted in the same colours as the fishermen's boats and some of their architectural features illustrate superstitions attributed to seamen.

Aylmer, QC

Aylmer has a wealth of some 500 heritage houses and buildings - the greatest number in Canada’s National Capital region - many of which were built before Confederation.

Aylmer Road is the region’s last remaining heritage highway and still retains its original character with green spaces, unspoiled by high-rise buildings and car dealerships.

Aylmer’s early settlers, and those that followed, left a rich past. Their legacy is seen in Aylmer’s impressive public buildings, splendid stone mansions, elegant brick houses, charming wood frame homes and solidly crafted log cabins. A heritage tour is an excellent way to educate and sensitize to the architectural gems that survived in this town.

Tour Canada's Most Eastern Vineyards

Nova Scotia Wineries - not only Canada's but North America's most eastern vineyards. From the warm shores of the Northumberland Strait to the fertile Annapolis Valley, over 70 grape growers with more than 550 acres in 7 regions across the province are dedicated to wine.
Since twenty years, several thriving vineyards are producing award-winning wines, that can be tasted and tested during the popular wine tours from May to October.

The earliest vines in Nova Scotia were planted i
n 1611 by Champlain’s hardy band of settlers. Today these internationally successful varieties chosen by vineyard owners include:

  • Marechal Foch
  • Baco Noir
  • Seyval Blanc
  • L’Acadie Blanc

Jost Vineyards on the northern shores of the province produced the first icewine outside of British Columbia and Ontario to be lauded as the Best Ice Wine in the country at the All-Canadian Wine Championships.

Attend a wine appreciation event, hosted by the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission: “Annual Port of Wines Festival” and the “Wine and Spirits Showcase”, or book a reservation at one of the many Halifax restaurants that are famous for their wine cellars, such as Seven, Gio, Chives Bistro, Da Maurizio, Onyx or Wolfvilles Blomidon Inn.

Even better: enjoy a leisurely tour of all Nova Scotia wineries, with lots of tastings. Most wineries are open year-round, not only during the Fall Wine Festival and some wineries participate at the Ice Wine Festival.


Monday, November 23, 2009

St. Lawrence River Whales

Impressive Mammals are swimming in the St. Lawrence River.  Every summer hundreds of  Whales are coming from the Atlantic Ocean and share the waters of the St. Lawrence River with Belugas and Seals.  They come here for the abundant food provided by the Labrador Current, a cold water current from the Arctic that travels up the St. Lawrence all the way to the Saguenay Fjord at Tadoussac.

Whales arrive in the spring to eat the plentiful food and depart in the fall, once they have fattened up! The more food a whale eats, the thicker its layer of fat, or blubber, becomes. When it returns to the Atlantic for the winter, the whale will live off its stored fat.

Whale Watching

For a long time, little was known about the whales of the St. Lawrence until about thirty years ago, when researchers began studying them in earnest and whale-watching became a popular activity.  Some whales make impressive leaps into the air, much to the delight of heir human audience.  Others exhale a spectacular plume of spray at the surface of the water, before taking a deep breath and diving in search of more food.

Hunted for centuries for their blubber, whales are still being followed by people in boats trying to get a good shot - now using cameras instead of harpoons! 

However you don't need to board an expensive zodiac, whales are easily to observe from the shore at sunrise or after sunset.  Observe St. Lawrence Belugas in Sainte-Marguerite Bay all summer long.  Walk to the lookout to see if you can spot the whales!  From May to October many
 types of Whales are abundant, especially in the area between Tadoussac and Rimouski.

Threads to the Whales through Oil Pipeline: