Saturday, January 28, 2017

Natural Wonders Galore

Can't get enough of the natural wonders of Canada?  Here are a few more ... (and some of the man-made ways to view them)

Mount Asgard

"An impressive mountain, made of 2015 m (6610 ft) high twin towers, can be found in Auyuittuq National Park. The name comes from Scandinavian mythology, where Asgard is the kingdom of the gods, while it is called Sivanitirutinguak by the Inuit. "


It's only fitting that a place named after the home of the Norse Gods has a spectacular view of the Northern Lights.




The Glacier Skywalk

A glacier ... and the only real way to see it and admire the awe-striking sight is from above.







Ice Pillars and Stalactites




Capilano Suspension Bridge

A river amid a gorgeous forest and a looonnnnngggggg bridge to view it from.




Parts of the bridge are like something out the Swiss Family Robinson.  Or Star Wars in the Ewoke village.




And no list would be complete without ...

Niagra Falls






Friday, January 27, 2017

First Nations Pipe Ceremony over Okanagan Lake

This month, John Wisdomkeeper, Juliet Waldron's research partner for her Canadian Historical Bride book, is joining up and sharing a short story with us about a First Nations Pipe Ceremony.  We hope you enjoy!


Union of the Sacred Pipes
by John Wisdonkeeper

In the hills around Okanagan Lake Valley is a place called Bear Creek.  As I hiked through these rocks, the echo of fast rushing water vibrated like thousands of flutes playing to the rushing waterfalls that all flowed into one giant lake.  One day I mediated on a large rock in the middle of the Creek - the only access being to jump a log jutting into the water.  Opening my eyes to father sky, I watched crows chase a golden eagle.  The eagle flowed upward in ever expanding circles, and the crows followed, but the eagle flew higher and higher.  A fine mist rose from the rocks and powerful medicine herbs waved in the gentle breezes.  The sweet smell of Lavender and the pungent tang of pine filled the air.  When I stopped and listened closely I heard the footsteps of the ancestors passing through the canyon - stepping from stone to stone - as they followed the game trails.

One day a white brother came to visit from Texas - a police officer - who loved the culture as I do, and wanted to share the pipe with some of the Native brothers.  We climbed a trail through a ravine of rocks to an old sacred clearing.  At the entrance to the clearing--a circle of rocks covered by moss and surrounded by juniper and Saskatoon bushes--we stopped and I offered tobacco, asking the ancestors to welcome our visitor.  The winds stopped, and a peace settled over the clearing, inviting our entrance.  We sat together, on the ground, waiting for some brothers who were pipe carriers to join us.
 One by one each brother showed up from his journey.  One brother traveled from a rain dance ceremony; another brother came from the sweet grass fields in Montana; a third brother came late, joking that as he had traveled the shortest distance he came on Indian time.  My friend from Texas offered a medicine bundle from his home region and asked for prayers for his family.  He explained that he had spent a lot of time studying and learning the culture of the Cheyenne, the Apache, the Arapaho and the Hopi nations, and to him it was a great honor to come to this sacred ground where lay the bones of ancestors who had traveled here before, and join with this group of pipe carriers for other Native nations.

Together we sat down in a circle and opened our medicine bundles.  Father sky peered over our circle like a bright blue blanket streaked with orange and fringed with white clouds. Wisps of white floated around us as the spirits of many ancestors, gathered around our group as we prepared to share the sacred pipes.

We began by filling our smudge bowls with sage and sweet grass, which we lit and fanned with eagle feathers until the smoke drifted towards Father Sky.  Each of us reached into the smoke and brushed our arms and legs and heads with smoke to cleanse the hardships of our travels and prepare ourselves for the ceremony.  The pipe carrier facing the North started the traditional song of offering to the ancestors, and one by one we joined into the song, lifting our voices to invite the ancestors to travel across the spiritual realm and join us in our ceremony.  As one, we bowed our heads in the circle, sharing prayers for our loved ones and the great nations, asking for blessings for all mother earth’s living and spiritual beings.  We offered prayers for the animal kingdom, the plant world and the mineral world.  The pipe carriers lifted their pipes, pointing the stems to each of the four sacred directions requesting blessing for the circle, and then the pipes were lit. As we passed the pipes, we shared the stories and teachings of our ancestors, and laughed together at the antics of trickster and the pranks he had played on our friends and elders over the years.

When we fell silent, each of us settled into the peace and harmony that had fallen over the sacred circle.  In the darkness the voices of a thousand crickets hummed in harmony, and beyond our circle the coyotes howled to the night spirits.  Grandmother moon rose into the sky and shone her light over our circle.

When the pipes were out, we packed our medicine bundles.  Standing, we joined hands, offered prayers for a safe journey for the travelers, and returned to each a hug of friendship and a common wish for a future reunion of the pipes.

John Wisdomkeeper
 Sus' naqua ootsin'


OKANAGAN VALLEY, B.C. - Located in southern British Columbia, Canada - the Okanagan Valley is one of the warmest regions in all of Canada.  

The Okanagan includes the cities of Kelowna, Penticton, Vernon and Osoyoos.  During the summer months, visitors are offered countless sandy beaches, hot sun, and a variety of outdoor and water activities.  Okanagan Lake provides the valley not only with excellent swimming but is also a spectacular backdrop to the golf courses and Okanagan wineries and popular ski resorts located in the rolling hills of this wine valley.

- See more HERE 

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The Beauty of Canada by A.M. Westerling



It looks like I’m the last one posting on Canada’s beauty and I must say I have some big shoes to fill. But here goes:


When I think of Canada’s natural beauty, three things come to mind: mountains, forests and water. Lots and lots of water. Canada is listed as one of the top five countries as far as fresh water supply and you see it everywhere, in tumbling waterfalls, placid lakes, and wild rivers, which were the road of the fur traders who explored this country.

Takkakaw Falls in Yoho National Park, pictured right, is one of our regular picnic destinations.

  



Up and in behind Lake Louise, Alberta you'll find Moraine Lake and the Valley of the Ten Peaks. Summers are busy and visitors are taken in by bus. Unless you want to hike, of course! 

Anyway, these are a couple of my favorite pictures of the Canadian Rockies. We live an hour's drive away and we make sure to take advantage of it.

  
  

Like the U.S., Canada stretches from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean. We have about 1/10 the population so we are a large, sparsely populated, and, (dare I say!?) cold country. Yet nothing can beat the sweetness of a Canadian summer. When the air is velvet soft and the sky darkens from indigo to plum to ebony. We’re pretty far north so twilight lasts for hours.And what better way to enjoy a beautiful evening than being outdoors?   



 My husband and I are avid campers and our destination of choice is British Columbia. Imagine camping at night, with a cozy campfire crackling at your feet and a canopy of millions of stars overhead. 

If you’re lucky, you’ll see shooting stars, or the northern lights rippling overhead like curtains of light, or best of all, a meteor. I like to set out tea lights in the forest. 


Imagine too, the silence, occasionally broken by the sough of the wind in the tree tops or the prattle of a squirrel, annoyed because you’re infringing on its space. Or the cheerful chatter of birds: pine siskins, wood peckers, warblers, finches, chickadees, whiskey jacks, robins and jays. Listen to the soothing pitter patter of rain on the roof of the motor home, or how about starting your day not to the buzz of an alarm clock but by finding a sunny spot among the trees and enjoying the peace and tranquility with a fresh cup of coffee? 



Speaking of morning, nothing beats the fragrance of an evergreen forest unless it’s the aroma of bacon, eggs and hash browns frying outside over the camp stove. 

Actually, the only thing better than smelling bacon frying outside is eating bacon and eggs outside!  

Monday, January 23, 2017

Cover Reveal: Nova Scotia


Beauty of Canada—Northwest Territories/Great Slave Lake by Juliet Waldron

Canada—to this east coast American— is terra incognita. As a child, I visited Niagara, both sides, and Montreal, but otherwise was unfamiliar with my northern neighbor. Then my publisher, BWL, asked me to co-author a story with Canadian John Makowski (a First Nation gentleman who writes as Wisdomkeeper). I used to love Due South, and the fantasy Mountie hero of that TV show came from Nunavit. So when I was asked to choose, my impulse was “NWT.” Slowly, as John and I kicked ideas for our story around, we decided to move our story to the Great Slave Lake area. Now, I had my research cut out!


The first thing that struck me was the immensity of the lake and its surroundings. Geologically speaking, on the East, the Great Slave touches the ancient Canadian Shield, on the West, it rests upon the younger “interior platform” of the North American continent.   This affects the look of the place, the trees, the vegetation, the terrain. After being crushed by the glacier for thousands of years and then flooded by great rivers of run-off, the land is fairly flat. The dark spruce forests of the northwestern arm give way to praire. Other parts are filled with glacial pothole lakes, long stretches of muskeg, eskers, and everything you’d expect after thousands of years of icy burial and subsequent violent, watery resurrection.

This is a terrain, which, until a hundred and fifty years ago, was near primeval. The First Nation people and their furred, winged, and finned brethren had this vast landscape to themselves. Life went on just as it had for thousands of years, a nomadic cycle which followed the seasons. Sometimes there was feasting; sometimes, starvation.

The Great Slave Lake is one of the largest bodies of fresh water in the world. It’s deep, too, and cold and full of fish. These fish were the summer work of the First Nations, who both ate them and preserved them in great quantities for winter.  The Mackenzie River, which leaves the Great Slave Lake at the west end and heads north to the Bering Sea, will also be in our story, where the Fort Resolution Indian Residential School was situated. Here there are low spruce forests. In traveling north, in the general direction of Behchoko and Yellowknife you’ll find the muskeg swamps, glacier-scraped down to the bone. Bright lichens color the rocks above the peat bogs and the night sky, even in August, may flaunt the drama of a green/gold aurora. The stars, seen from here, are myriad, nothing like the hazy skies of my US backyard.

The more I learn about this part of the world, the more I would like to see it for myself, to walk the land and learn to know it.  Any time would be good—from the long darkness and ferocious cold of winter--all those radiant stars—to the summer, when everything green is in a big 100 day hurry, when the great lake thaws beneath those 20 hours of summer sun, and welcomes people to fish, boat, and swim.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Interview with Juliet Waldron


It took some doing, but I finally managed to catch up to the extremely busy Juliet Waldron and get a few questions answered ...

Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reins of the story?

I’ve only had a two characters hijack a story, one recently in Butterfly Bride, where the heroine refused the nice hero I’d provided. The weirdest and, truthfully, life-changing experience I ever had was while writing my first novel, My Mozart. The teen heroine began to talk, and then she would not stop. She talked all night so I couldn’t sleep; she talked while I was supposed to be working, too. Eventually, to retain my sanity, I had to quit my day job because it was impossible to focus on anything but the story she HAD to tell. Nanina Gottlieb took over my life. In doing so, she forced me to take writing seriously.  

If you could spend time a character from your book whom would it be? And what would you do during that day? (PG-13 please :)

For me, it’s a toss-up between Hamilton and Mozart, but I think I’ll go with Mozart’s Wife for one particularly amazing day in the composer’s life. Constanze and I will go to the first performance, in Prague, of her husband’s famous opera, Don Giovanni. We even know the date, October 29, 1787, close to All Hallow’s Eve, and therefore perfect for a tale of the supernatural. I will be 28 years old, and dressed in ivory silk, , a Robe a la Anglaise, embroidered all over with tiny flowers—with a plumed bergere perched upon my piled curls, with matching gloves and heels, seated in a box with Constanze and the Mozart’s coterie of artistic friends. From here, we are all looking down into the candle-lit jewel-box of a theater. (By some miracle, this relic still exists, and was the venue used for the opera scenes in the movie Amadeus.) Among these writers and musicians crammed in beside us, would be the aged rake Cassanova himself, who is reputed to have helped Mozart and his writer (librettist) with the plot.  The performance ended with multiple encores, flowers raining down on the stage, and Mozart weeping, arms open to his adoring audience, declaring Mein Praguers Verstehen mich! (My Praguers understand me!) The after-party, beginning with street celebrations, were the 18th Century version of a Rave which spilled out all over the city.


What is a favorite childhood memory you can share with us?

Soaking in a hot spring on the island of Nevis with my mother. Life with mother had its ups and downs, but back in 1957 when my Hamilton mania began, she decided to take a side trip from Barbados, so I could see the place where my hero Alexander was born. The spring was beautiful—just a crevice in the rocks, surrounded by all sorts of delicate orchids and ferns. It was as if we’d entered fairy land. And because almost no one traveled to Nevis in those days, we were alone there with a slight breeze, the perfume of the flowers, the rustling palms, and the meditative healing of hot water.   


What genres do you like to read?

I read a lot of non-fiction because I mostly write historicals because I am always searching for inspiration. I really enjoy light science writing, too, and just finished a really fun book called “My Beloved Brontosaurus” by Brian Switek, which was a break from my usual fare. I am a long-time reader of S/F from the days of pulp onward, although I’ve never completed anything I’ve begun in the genre. Obviously, I read a lot of historical novels in many time periods, favoring writers like Sharon Penman, Cecelia Holland and old timer Margaret Irwin. I also read literary fiction, (Margaret Atwood, Jamaica Kincaid, etc.) which I wish I had the chops to write.    


Of all the characters you have created, which is your favorite and why?

My favorite character is Rose, from Roan Rose.  She’s flawed, sometimes weak, sometimes full of spite, but she makes hard choices, and then braves the consequences without self-pity. She is wonderfully courageous, and, although it lands her in trouble, she follows her heart. Her spirituality, flowing from the Yorkshire dales where she ends her life, seemed to come from somewhere far beyond my imagination.  


Juliet, thank you for taking the time to share with us.  

Saturday, January 21, 2017

The Beauty of Vancouver Island by Katherine Pym

Pacific Inlet on  Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
I've visited the BC area of Canada a few times. As an American who lives in the Seattle area, you'd think we'd pile in the car and visit several times a year but life got too often in the way.

We have friends who live in Port Alice, located at the bottom of a deep inlet on Vancouver Island. The map shows it only a finger width away, but in actuality it took two solid days to get there.

Vancouver Island ripped from mainland
If you look at Vancouver Island on the map, it's slightly askew, ranging from Southeast to Northwest with an archipelago of San Juan Islands scattered between it and the mainland. The border of Canada and the US slices through the San Juans. Vancouver Island is near the Cascadia Subduction zone and must have ripped off the mainland during a massive, plate tectonic earthquake (my theory anyway).

We had to take a ferry and even though it's quite a thrill to travel that way, it is time consuming, what with the lines and the wait. We landed at Sidney BC (a wonderful place with so many bookstores-heaven!), went through customs and kicked the petal to the metal.

We headed north, and more north and even more north than that. As you get into the wilderness, there are fewer roads. You can't cross from one side of the island to the next due to a mountain range that seems to march up the center of the island. Lakes abound. Pacific inlets cut deeply through the landscape. Wildlife peeks at you from the fence strung along the road.


Sea Otter
Once we reached Port Hardy, which is as about as far as you can go in a car, we headed back south again. Black bears crossed in front of us. Eagles perched on the high branches of trees.

We meandered on a narrow road with twists and turns, crossing the island toward the Pacific Ocean. Fur trees towered overhead. Every once and awhile, lakes would shimmer beyond the pine fronds and thick trunks. At nightfall we reached Port Alice, a tiny town nestled between the inlet and the mountainous foothills.

Bald Eagle
It was almost dark when we pulled into the drive.  Our friends and dogs bustled out of the house and helped us with our bags. 'We'll go fishing, tomorrow,' Nick said. 'You'll love it,' Sue added.

The next day dawned calm and breathless, the inlet glassy. You could hear sounds travel from miles away. It was beautiful, breathtaking. We clamored onto the boat and motored the length of the inlet to open sea.


  ~*~*~*~*~*~    

Coming July 2017

The story of Sir David & Lady Kirke of Ferryland, Newfoundland, a saga of sorts that begins with David and his brothers conquering Québec, and ending with Sara as North America's foremost female entrepreneur.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Avalon

The Province of Newfoundland is Canada’s newest province and it is also home to the oldest settlement in Canada - Avalon.


PILLARS OF AVALON
Canadian Historical Brides (Newfoundland) 
by Katherine Pym, researcher Jude Pittman

Excerpt 1
Avalon as seen through the eyes of Sir David Kirke in 1629

“A dark smudge lay on the water under heavy clouds. As the sails filled and their ship gained speed, the spot grew larger, more pronounced. Icebergs floated north of them. A whale careened out of the water, its fins like arms straight out, then hit the surface with a mighty splash. David laughed, for he considered this a message from Lady Fate. Great things awaited him on this land.

Small, outer islands protected the mainland. Heavy mist clung to the cliffs, swallowed coves and inlets that lined the shore. Last year they’d provisioned at a fishing camp higher up the coast called St. John’s but as they sailed along, David noticed a better established colony. The barren, desolate land with few trees reminded him of the highlands in Scotland, which was a cold, unforgiving place.
Buildings hugged the coast, with a mansion on the lee of a grassy hill. Smoke rose from chimneys into the mist and low lying clouds.

‘’Tis a beginning town much like those in our West Country,’ Dawson remarked.

‘Aye, ‘tis very pretty,’ David thoughtfully answered, for he could smell opportunity. Fishing boats crowded along the grand banks. All he needed do was stretch out his hand and coins would fill his palm.

This plantation must have been sanctioned by their king. He recognized a fishery works, which would be a good business. He’d fill his ships with wine, goods and trade them for salted fish, sell them to merchants in Portugal and Spain.

‘We will go there,’ he pointed and Dawson nodded. ‘Seems there’s a protected harbour.’

As they sailed between a large island and a peninsula, the winds calmed. By the time they followed the long length of land and found themselves in a large pool, the waters were clear as a lake. The bells from fishing boats, and a tall ship dinged lazily.

People emerged from their dwellings of stone and from a longhouse built next to the water. They carried swords, cutlasses, Wheelocks and cudgels.

‘Drop anchor,’ Dawson ordered.

‘I’m going ashore to see what this place is about.’ David turned to see the other ships dropping their anchors. ‘Send messages to my brothers and bring about a pinnace.’

‘Not sure it’s a good idea, sir,’ Dawson calmly said as he gazed at the throng on shore.

David grinned. ‘It’ll be fine and dandy, Dawson. Don’t fret. If there’s trouble, burn the place to the ground. After all, we’ve the letter of marque stamped with His Majesty’s broad seal, which allows us free rein to do as we please.’

He grabbed the rope and lowered himself to the pinnace, almost stationary in the smooth as looking glass water. He gazed up at his first mate’s worried face and laughed.

As David and his brothers neared the dock, several men greeted them with scowls and threatening gestures. ‘Art thou filthy French pirates come to harass our good town?’ one asked and he shook his cudgel.

The pinnace bumped onto the pilings and a seaman jumped out to secure rope to a cleat. David climbed onto the stone wharf. ‘No French pirates, here. We are of God’s good England and we come in peace.’ He would not crouch and stood tall, even as those he walked up to looked menacing.
Shoulders relaxed. A disturbance rattled the group and people parted as an older gentleman stepped up to him. David was aware of his brothers climbing out of the boat and onto the wharf. With them beside him, nothing could go wrong.

The gentleman extended his hand. ‘George Calvert, Lord Baltimore, here. I welcome you to Avalon Province.’


Excerpt 2
Seen through the eyes of Sir David Kirke’s wife Sarah in 1632 as they approach the shores of Avalon 

At dawn the next morning, amidst what seemed hundreds of fishing ships and shallops along the grand banks, gulls screaming overhead, the Gervase left the fleet and rounded a spit of land. They meandered through a cluster of small islands and entered suddenly quiet water.

Fishing boats anchored nearby. People worked within and without the stone buildings that clutched the shore. Small rowing boats bobbed at the pilings.

‘We’re in the Pool,’ David said with a smile. As they glided toward a buoy, he breathed deeply. ‘All of this is the Province of Avalon. That there is Lord Baltimore’s mansion. Last time I was here, his lordship was in the process of vacating it.’ He wrapped his arm around Sarah’s shoulders.

Her gaze swept the grassy land toward the grey skies where sea birds soared in the wind currents. The house stood on the lee of a hill, a sprawling two-storied structure built of stone, the roof a combination of thatch and flags. Beyond the house rose grassy hills.

A cold, damp wind soughed off the Pool and up the barren hill. The ship’s bell clanged. The deck creaked. Chains and cables squealed as the sails furled.

The land was barren but had its own beauty. It made her think of the books she’d read on Northern Scotland, a brash, wild country by what they and others who’d been there said of it.  There were few trees, here, except those planted about the headland.



Newfoundland and Labrador has a long and colourful history. In fact, there isn't a rock, cliff, tree or cave around here without a legend attached. 


Early Aboriginal Cultures

The rich and complex human history of this province can be traced to about 9,000 years ago when the first groups of a marine-oriented people moved into southeastern Labrador. By around 8,000 years ago the culture of those first groups had developed into what is now called the Maritime Archaic Indians. Around 7,500 years ago they buried a child in what is the oldest known funeral mound in North America. Around 5,500 years ago their descendants moved into Newfoundland. In the 1960s a Maritime Archaic cemetery was discovered in Port au Choix during excavations for a cinema. The cemetery is now a National Historic Site with a nearby Interpretation Centre which interprets the various pre-contact cultures of that area.

About 4,000 years ago, a separate and distinct culture arrived in northern Labrador. These arctic-adapted people we now call Paleoeskimos spread to the Island of Newfoundland where they lived until around 1,000 years ago.

Some 3,600 years ago a new culture shows up in the Labrador archaeological record. They are known as the Intermediate Indians. These people moved into central Labrador, and shortly after that the Maritime Archaic tradition vanishes from the archaeological record. It is not clear how or if the Intermediate Indians were related to the Maritime Archaic tradition.

Then, about 2,000 years ago, the ancestors of the Innu and the Beothuk are recognized in the archaeological record of Labrador and the island. These Recent Indians were more land-adapted than some of the earlier groups.

The most recent aboriginal group to arrive was the Thule people who migrated across the northern part of the continent from the Bering Strait to Labrador about 1,000 years ago. The descendants of the Thule are today’s Inuit.


The First European Visitors to North America

The oldest known European contact was made here a few thousand years later when Leif Eriksson and his crew of Vikings landed on the Northern Peninsula in 1000 AD. Although they didn't settle permanently, they left their mark on this part of the world at L'Anse aux Meadows – now a National Historic Site and UNESCO World Heritage Site – where you can explore an ancient Viking landing site and recreated sod huts.

Fast forward hundreds of years to 1497, when Italian-born Giovanni Caboto – more commonly known as John Cabot – dropped anchor in Bonavista and "discovered" the New World.


Arrival of Portuguese, Spanish, French, and English migratory fishermen

In the sixteenth century, Basque whalers established the first industrial station in the New World at Red Bay in Labrador to process whale oil. The site was chosen because whales migrated – and still do today – through the Strait of Belle Isle. In June 2013, this mythical place was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site, one of three such designations in Newfoundland and Labrador.

During the 16th and 17th centuries, fishermen from France, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, and eventually England arrived to feed on the fish of Newfoundland and Labrador. Most of the early permanent settlers came from southwest England and southeast Ireland, with the majority emigrating between 1750 and 1850 prior to the Great Irish Famine.

Although Newfoundland was England's oldest overseas colony, France played an important part in helping shape our history. French explorer, Jacques Cartier, arrived in 1534 and eventually the French established a colony in Placentia in 1662. By then, tiny settlements popped up around Placentia Bay, the islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon – still a colony of France today – and beyond the Burin Peninsula into Fortune and Hermitage Bays. During the 17th century, Newfoundland was more French than it was English. Oddly enough, by the middle of the next century, French settlement had disappeared mostly due to military success elsewhere in North America.


Canada's Youngest Province

Before 1949, Newfoundland had a history as a British colony, Britain’s "Grand Cod Fishery of the Universe", eventually becoming equal to Canada, Australia, and New Zealand as a full Dominion of the British Empire. Newfoundland and Labrador joined Canada on 31 March 1949 and the next day, the leader of the Confederation campaigns, Joseph R. Smallwood, became the new province’s first Premier.

Today, even though we're the youngest province in Canada, we're considered one of the fastest growing in the country with booming oil and gas, mineral exploration, and marine and IT industries. On the cultural side, St. John's is brimming with musicians, artists, writers, dancers, and craftspeople from the province, throughout Canada, and around the world – and all are drawn to Canada's eastern edge by our inspiring natural beauty. In fact, it's been said the city has the highest concentration of artists per capita in Canada.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Beautiful Towns and Cities

Each of these places is the focus of an article on Places To See In Your Lifetime.  Links are provided below the pictures if you want to read about them.

BANFF AVENUE



Learn more ...


PETIT CHAMPLAIN



Learn more ...


ST JOHN'S



Learn more ...


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The Wilds of Canada, from British Columbia to Nova Scotia via New Brunswick.


When I was eight years old my family drove north from California and entered the wilds of Canada. British Columbia came first, and I was amazed at the lush beauty of the country. So much greenery, bright blue lakes, and tall, elegant pines. The wooden totem poles with their carved, scary faces, and the fact I had to wear a sweater in August. 

We took a huge ferry over to Vancouver Island and visited a botanical garden. A mock-up of Ann Hathaway’s thatched-roof cottage was there. My mother said she was Shakespeare’s wife. I don’t remember if I knew who he was at the time, but I vowed to see the original cottage in England when I grew up—and I have.

We dallied so long on the island, that we missed the ferry and had to stay the night. My father wasn’t happy because the inn was expensive, but my brother and I thought it a great adventure. The hotel we stayed in resembled an old English castle, with dark paneled walls and suits of armor lining the front hall.

Back on shore we traveled through Alberta and Saskatchewan, visited Banff and the magnificent Banff hotel. Even at the age of eight, that place impressed me. But British Columbia will forever have a place in my heart.

My next foray into Canada was many years later when I attended a writers’ workshop in Liverpool, Nova Scotia. We visited a nearby lighthouse where we climbed up into the wooden dome and watched a recording of a man who’d grown up in the lighthouse.

My husband and I drove around the island and looked at other lighthouses, one a bright red, watching out on a windy, pristine shore. We saw an ancient rampart in Halifax.
We visited pretty wooden villages, ate lunch at Indian Falls in Lunenburg and had the best haddock ever. To get to Nova Scotia, we drove the entire length of New Brunswick. The main road cuts a swath through towering pines, a wilderness I wish we’d had more time to explore, but we were late for the workshop.

This coming May I plan a trip to Saint John, New Brunswick where I’ll delve into its history in depth, watch the famous tides that can drop forty feet in the Bay of Fundy, and stand on the knoll of Fort Howe—unfortunately this fortress no longer exists—where some of my upcoming story on the settlement of New Brunswick takes place.

Coming in February 2018
 
 
To discover more about me and my books, please visit my BWL Author Page:
And my website:

Friday, January 13, 2017

The Beauty of Canada by Kathy Fischer-Brown


Salmon Beach, Chaleur Bay
Twenty days after setting sail from Saint-Malo in Normandy in April of 1534, Jacques Cartier reported: “The fairest land that may possibly be seen full of goodly meadows and trees.” His small fleet had just arrived for the first time on  the coast of New Brunswick. He named the bay where his ships moored “Chaleur” (now Chaleur Bay), which means “warmth” in French because of the heat they encountered in May of that year. His first impression of the interior of Canada was not so favorable: The land should not be called New Land, being composed of stones and horrible rugged rocks…. I did not see one cartload of earth and yet I landed in many places… there is nothing but moss and short, stunted shrub. I am rather inclined to believe that this is the land God gave to Cain.” Cartier obviously was no naturalist; nor did he have an appreciation for the untamed beauty that greeted him. His mind was fixed on discovering a western route to China.


View from Mount Royal
In 1535, Cartier made a second voyage across the Atlantic to New France, ever hopeful of finding riches for his sovereign. Instead, he was greeted along the St. Lawrence by natives of Iroquois-Huron extraction at Stadacona, now Quebec City. From here he was determined to sail farther west upriver to Hochelaga, an Iroquois town of over 1,000 people living in bark longhouses surrounded by palisaded fortifications. By then, autumn had settled over this wild country, coloring the leaves in bright hues that astonished these French seafarers, who remarked they were “the finest trees in the world.”


From there they continued their journey west in long boats up the St. Lawrence, ever hopeful of finding that elusive Northwest Passage. Thirteen days later they came upon open fields in the shadow of a great mountain. “On reaching the summit,” he wrote, “we had a view of the land for more than thirty leagues round about. Towards the north there is a range of mountains running east and west. And another range to the south.” Cartier named this summit Mount Royal, today’s Montreal. Again, no mention of the colors of fall against an azure sky, or the sheer thrill of viewing nature in an unspoiled state.


Countryside in Quebec Province
Four hundred-and-thirty-some-odd years later, during my childhood and a few times while in my teens and early 20s, I visited a few of these same places in Canada on vacation excursions—mostly with my family to visit historical sites and landmarks—and later with friends. Even though the weather was cold and drizzly that spring in 1964, our trip to Quebec was remarkable. With its narrow cobbled streets, ancient brick buildings in the characteristic New France architecture, and the magnificent Chateau Frontenac of late 19th century vintage rising above the Old City walls, I experienced a sensation of having been taken back in time. I remember during the drive through the countryside that the land around the area was rustic, with miles of open farmland and everything just beginning its transformation from winter to spring. Set against the gray dippy sky, the scene resembled a water color painting.


View of Ottawa
Montreal’s Plains of Abraham were memorable—if not a bit soggy in the rain—as were the restaurants and shops and trying to speak French with the wait staff. The sun finally came out during our jaunt to Ottawa, where we toured the imposing Parliament with its gothic revival style and posed for pictures with the Mounted Police on duty there. (That was an extra-special treat for me, as I’d been a long-time fan of the TV show, “Sergeant Preston of the Yukon” since I was a kid in the mid- to late 1950s.) 


On another trip, we ventured to New Brunswick, where to our amazement, the Saint John River magically reversed its course as the Bay of Fundy’s changing tides exerted a power I’d never seen before or since. 


Montreal a second time had its charms in wintertime, especially the underground shopping and dining, which I experienced anew during a romantic weekend getaway prior to an enormous blizzard that closed down the Northway just hours after our harrowing escape return to upstate New York. Unfortunately, we did not get to see the city blanketed in snow, but that is all well and good, since I’ve never been a fan of cold and snow anywhere.


A visit to Toronto in 1971 with a friend, whose parents had relocated there from Connecticut, was also memorable. The nightlife was spectacular, especially for us young ’uns. Although not exactly a natural beauty, the city’s subways—the trains and stations—which we utilized to get around, impressed me with their bright white tiles and exceptional cleanliness


Street scene in Old Quebec
Beauty is many things to many people. While I greatly appreciate and admire the natural beauty of lakes, rivers, and mountains, of foliage in spring and autumn, sunsets and moonrises, fireflies on a warm summer evening, I take special pleasure in the monuments built and left behind by rugged pioneers and settlers—their homes and places of worship, their struggles to survive and thrive. My travels in Canada have left me with lasting memories and a few faded photos. It is my hope to return again soon.


~*~



Kathy Fischer Brown is a BWL author of historical novels, Winter Fire, Lord Esterleigh's Daughter, Courting the DevilThe Partisan's Wife, and The Return of Tachlanad, her latest release, an epic fantasy adventure for young adult and adult readers. Check out her The Books We Love Author page or visit her website. All of Kathy’s books are available in e-book and in paperback from Amazon.