Reading Farley Mowat

This summer, I’ve been on a bit of a reading spree. I’ve focused on books by one of my favourite authors Farley Mowat (1921-2014) who wrote 42 books (translated into over 26 languages) as a freelance writer over the span of 50 years. Farley Mowat was the most prolific writer in Canada and sold over 10 million books – so why wouldn’t I want to read some of his books that I’ve collected over the years! “Subjective non-fiction” and “cause-oriented” as Farley said of his writings – he was an environmental activist to be sure.

Reading FMwm

Reading The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be

Farley Mowat wrote books about animals (domesticated and wild) like caribou, owls, dogs, wolves, and whales (Owls in the Family; The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be; Never Cry Wolf; Sea of Slaughter; etc.) or books about vanishing people who we knew nothing about like the Inuit (People of the Deer; The Snow Walker; The Desperate People; No Man’s River; etc.); or books about disappearing ways of life as in the outport posts of Newfoundland (The Grey Seas Under; Bay of Spirits; The New Founde Land; etc.) ; or books which tell a tale about a place I’ve never been to like the arctic or Siberia (Walking on the Land; Sibir: My Discovery of Siberia; etc.) > stories unwritten until Farley Mowat wove words together to share his experiences with artistic flare.

I’ve accumulated a number of his books over the years and placed them lovingly on my ‘retirement’ shelf to read ‘later’. Well ‘later’ has come this summer and I’ve been reading all my Farley Mowat books like a person starving for sustenance!

WoFMwmI started off reading The World of Farley Mowat: A Selection from His Works which is a compilation of excerpts from some of his books. I read and read and read until my vision became blurred when I looked out the window! (*Note to self: get eyes examined.) I thought I’d read my favourite piece until I got to the next chapter about another book and I loved it just as much! If I have to pick, I think I liked the story of “The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be” best. I was intensely interested in the story of the Inuit in “People of the Deer“, too. Farley Mowat is such an amazing writer! He captures the spirit of the setting and translates it with emotion. I laughed until I cried, literally, when I read his excerpt from “The Boat Who Wouldn’t Float“. I don’t think Nellie or Taylor heard me sitting there all by myself howling with laughter or they would have thought I’d gone crazy!! I enjoyed this book immensely!

 

I took a break because I recalled seeing on my bookshelves, another book by Claire Mowat, Farley’s wife, called ‘The Outport People‘ about their years living in an isolated village in Newfoundland. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this volume.

VirungawmI scoured my bookshelves for FM book #2 and decided on “Virunga: The Passion of Dian Fossey“. This biography about the famous Gorilla researcher in Africa was a very compelling read and worth every moment of my life spent devouring it’s pages.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TDWWBwmSurprisingly, I found “The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be” deep in the corner at the back of the top shelf of one of my bookcases. I was elated because I thought I didn’t have a copy anymore! THIS is the book I’m reading right now. It’s a small paperback so it won’t take me very long to read it. I also brought upstairs to read a copy of “Tundra“. These books were clearly visible on my bookshelves and I’m wondering what other volumes lie behind other books. I’m going to spend a few hours re-organizing some bookshelves to see what I’ve got……. and make room for more.

Every few years, we enjoy watching the movie made about Mowat’s book “Never Cry Wolf” as well. I want to add that I came across this amazing movie via the National Film Board about a young family who canoes the Farley route: Finding Farley https://www.nfb.ca/film/finding_farley/.

This morning I ordered “The Boat Who Wouldn’t Float; Owls in the Family; Born Naked, and Bay of Spirits from my local public library. I just HAVE to read as many of Farley Mowat’s books as possible!! I’m looking forward to the annual Book Fair in town at the end of August – I’ll be scouring the tables for more second-hand Farley Mowat books to buy! I just love reading books about the Canadian way of life – for good or for bad! I guess it’s my way of paying recognition to Canada’s 150th Birth day by learning more about my country and the people and places in it. I do believe that I’ll be reading Farley Mowat’s books for years to come……

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Expo 67

 

Today, July 1st, is Canada Day! This year, Canada turns 150 years old. I’ve been blessed that I was born in the 1950’s and have been able to participate in our country’s two milestone anniversaries: the Centennial (100 years) and now the 150th birthday. I’m not going to write or debate today about the way we, as a nation, arrived here. I simply want to write about my experience during the Centennial year when I attended Expo 67, the highlight of that year.

Expo Postcard WM

My Expo 67 Postcard

 

I remember very well when Canada celebrated it’s centennial in 1967. I want to take you back 50 years ago to share my experience when our family attended the Expo 67 World’s Fair in Montreal, Quebec, Canada in July of 1967 when Canada was 100 years young. “Man and His World” was the theme of Expo.

1967 was a memorable year for me. I was 14 years old and living at home with my parents and two sisters. We planned to go down home to the Gaspé coast to see my relatives that summer. We’d have to drive right through Montreal so my parents decided that we should take in Expo 67 to celebrate Canada’s 100th birthday, along with 55 million other people – pretty impressive since our country only had 20 million citizens. We camped near Montreal at Mont Ste. Hilaire, I think, and my Dad drove us into the city bright and early to experience Expo for an entire day! I think my poor Mom stayed at the campsite with our dog that day (she probably preferred it and had a lovely, quiet day).

Expo67logo2

Expo 67 logo

 

Expo was exhilarating, exciting, amazing and SO futuristic! It was built in the St. Lawrence River on several existing islands as well as some reclaimed land. Ninety participating countries built pavilions and I specifically remember the U.S. Pavilion looking like a giant ball of glass – actually a 250 foot diameter (76 meters) geodesic dome 200 feet high (62 meters). Currently, it’s the home of the Montreal Biosphere, which I had the pleasure of re-visiting with my youngest son a few years ago during a class trip.

There was also a Minirail – an elevated, open-air ‘train’ that took people all around the sprawling site. It seemed SO futuristic! But the best of all was La Ronde! This area was like an amusement park full of rides and games – we spent most of our day there.

La Ronde boasted rides like no other amusement park we’d ever seen before. Some of them, like the sensational, pyramid-shaped Gyrotron, were made of shiny metal and were VERY impressive: from the ground level, a rail car transported ‘travellers’ through the pyramid which attempted to reproduce space travel in a rocket. The ride suddenly ‘dropped’ into a hissing, spitting ‘volcano’ to be swallowed by a huge monster living within in it. Futuristic for 1967.

Gyrotron from Minirail WM

Gyrotron from the Minirail

 

Like any other fair, there were games galore. One particular game was a 10 cent coin toss into a plate to win a prize. I can’t figure out, to this day, what the point was of that game! My sister spent about $3.00 in dimes to win a twenty-five cent bowl or something. Hahaha!  La Ronde, still exists today as an amusement park owned and operated by Six Flags.

La Ronde WM

La Ronde

 

Fifty years have clouded my detailed memories of Expo 67 but I still feel an intense fondness for having celebrated Canada’s centennial year at Expo 67.

What do you remember?

HAPPY CANADA DAY!

What a Year!

 

2016 has been quite a year for me. It began with a shocking diagnosis of cancer and is ending with family game nights and Star Wars movies.

But l shouldn’t get ahead of myself. Let’s review 2016.

Winter was quite mild with very little snow compared to other years. Taylor was home for the winter, staying here and in the city. We celebrated birthdays in January & February which brightened up the cold days. In early February, I was diagnosed with cancer – basal cell carcinoma – and was told I’d need surgery in ‘two or three months’. I thought, oh great, I’ll get it over with before summer so I can get outdoors and garden. Ah, nope, it didn’t go as planned. I waited for nearly 9 long months before I had surgery at the end of October.

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Little snow at the end of February

In March, we sadly observed 8 years since Chris‘ passing – eight years. It seems like time has just flown by but at other times, time seems to stand still. I still miss him more than you can imagine.

Taylor and I made the two hour trek to the site of the Holleford Crater in March – we had talked about it for a few years and he wanted to drive there in his car before he left for work in Northern Canada in April. It was a great experience and I had a really nice time spending the day with my son.

When spring arrived, I was all gung-ho about getting outside and getting everything done all at once. I guess that’s what happens when you’re cooped up all winter long! I had some reservations about being in the sun since my diagnosis of skin cancer in February but I started slathering on SPF 60 sunscreen recommended by the dermatologist. I was glad to get out and tap my maple trees to gather maple sap for boiling down to maple syrup again this year. It was late March before all the ice melted off the river. There was no chance of flooding this year because the amount of snow was so minimal that there was very little run-off. In fact, the river was down about 3 feet and remained that way for months during the summer drought.

In my enthusiasm to work outside every day, I got my annual dose of poison ivy! But that didn’t stop me since I love the outdoors too much. My 20+ year old lawn tractor faithfully helped cut my large lawn again this year – a task that I thoroughly enjoy! My big project was to plant in the steep ditch that I’m unable to maintain any longer. I spent weeks transplanting and mulching and watering the new plants only to have a distracted city mower come down the road and completely shear off my entire month’s work. It was unexpected since they’ve only mowed the ditches three times in 35 years! And just when the plants started to grow again and near bloom, they slashed it down again! Unbelievable, twice in one year! I give up and I’ll just hope these plants come back next year…..

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Bumper crop of wild raspberries

During the wintertime, I researched the Little Free Libraries which were popping up all over North America. I thought to myself that I’d like to offer a Little Free Library too! So I worked on this project for weeks and placed my Library at the end of my dock for boaters and snowmobilers alike to use freely.

We were blessed with lots of new babies this year! First and foremost, my little granddaughter Elsie was born in British Columbia! Our whole family is ecstatic for Robin and Nici as they venture into parenthood (of a human being, in addition to their other ‘kids’ > goats, that is). I finally got to meet Elsie in September when I traveled to B.C. to visit – she’s absolutely perfect!

We also discovered baby kittens – 4 of them born to a feral cat who lived in our woodshed. This mother cat was just a kitten herself! Nellie and I knew that we needed to ‘rescue’ this wild litter and get them used to humans so we could get them spayed/neutered to end this insanity of feral cats in the neighbourhood. Mission accomplished …………. and we now have 4 new fixed, indoor kittens. The mother cat, Mochi, was also spayed and continues to live outside with her brother. Nellie constructed little ‘outdoor cat shelters’ for each of them to protect them from the cold winter.

While I was hanging my laundry outside, Nellie worried that I was going to fall through our rotting back deck. She sent Darin a text and said that they must do something before I fall through and break something! The hot summer weekends of deck building began. Melvin and Cassidy came to help when they could and grandgirls Kalia and Olivia chipped in too, to work with Darin, Nellie, and I in dismantling the old deck and rebuilding a new one. It’s beautiful and solid!

My cousin Maureen from down east came for a brief visit in August. We shopped till we dropped and enjoyed a tour of the Rideau Canal.

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Goose Spit, Comox, B.C.

At the end of August, I flew out west to British Columbia to visit my sisters Betty and Faye and my son Robin, Nici, and new granddaughter Elsie. I spent three glorious weeks with my sisters shopping at every thrift store for miles around and as many garage sales as we could find within a 50 mile radius! We visited Fisherman’s Wharf in Victoria (where we had an amazing fish & chips lunch), Cathedral Grove, and Goats On The Roof in Coombs. Then we took the ferry over to spend a few days with Robin, Nici, and Elsie and enjoyed a relaxing time on their farm while getting to know adorable little Elsie. It was hard to leave…….

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Grammom & baby Elsie

I arrived back home to a surprise bathroom renovation by Nellie: she sanded, then white-washed the darkened pine boards and painted the doors and cabinets with the sea blue paint we’d chosen and purchased a few years ago. It looks so bright and awesome! We went to IKEA and bought a new mirrored medicine cabinet and another storage cabinet. Then we upgraded the faucet and cabinet hardware.

In October, I traveled to Moncton, New Brunswick for the Annual General Meeting of La Leche League Canada. The week after, I finally had my cancer surgery that I had been waiting for since February 2nd. Nellie came with me for the day in the hospital while Kristi drove us from her house nearby and picked us up, being on standby. It was a very long day involving 3 surgeries and 45 stitches to repair the loonie-size hole in my face. Recovery took longer than I anticipated and healing will continue for a full year.

Marty arrived for a visit at the end of October after driving with Taylor, Darin, and Carly from the Yukon down to visit Robin, Nici, and Elsie on the sunshine coast of B.C. then driving clear across Canada! It was great having him home but we missed seeing Jeanette, who stayed at home in the far north.

Another big announcement this year is that I’m going to be a Grammom again! Kristi and Mike are expecting a baby in April 2017. There have been challenges with this pregnancy though, as Kristi has been put on bed rest for the remainder of her pregnancy. Jasmine turned 3 in January and Joshua turned 2 in September so they are pretty active children. They still have their 9 yr. old former foster child visit nearly every weekend too.

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Grandchildren Josh, Kalia, Livi, & Jasmine

Melvin comes home to visit whenever he can – he works hard, full time now and lives in Ottawa. His girlfriend Cassidy is a lovely girl who fits right in to our family. My ‘baby’ just celebrated his 22nd birthday.

Nellie continues to work hard with her online business, The Black Lory, successfully selling crocheted toys and items to people around the world. She received dozens of orders this Christmas and got them all made and sent in record time.

Darin got a promotion at work in the fall and is working harder than ever. Teenager Kalia grew taller than both Darin and I.  Eleven year old Livi continues to excel at gymnastics and has the most beautiful smile ever! Amanda keeps the ‘ship’ running smoothly.

I continue to volunteer for La Leche League Canada supporting breastfeeding families here locally and across the country. There have been additional challenges in the organization this year which have taxed me physically, mentally, and emotionally. Nuff said about that.

So 2017 is just around the corner. It’s hard to believe we are on the backside of this decade already! The more things change, the more they remain the same.

I wonder what 2017 will bring …….

Best wishes to everyone for a Happy New Year!

Grammom

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Autumn Sunset – ‘prime time’

Fireworks!

After a long, cold winter, we’ve celebrated the beginning of summer with a neighbourhood bonfire at our place on the Victoria Day long weekend in May. The entire neighbourhood, family, and friends were invited over after supper to sit around the campfire and catch-up on the news while the kids played. There were games like tag, volleyball, frisbee, badminton or bocce. Kids and adults alike could bring their fishing rods and cast away trying to catch little sunfish or larger pike from the river. We’d start the bonfire early, before dark, to get the most out of the party. Everyone would bring snacks to share and beverages for themselves as well as some fireworks to add to the communal collection for after dark.

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Neighbourhood dogs were also welcome as they liked to play with each other too. Everyone took their pet home before the fireworks began though because they were usually terrified of the loud bangs.
As dark closed in on us just after 9:00 p.m., everyone gathered closer to the campfire to wait until it was pitch black in the sky. Then the fireworks would begin!

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The older, teenage children were allowed to be in charge of the fireworks display. It was an honour to finally be old enough to set them off instead of just watching them. We usually had 3 or 4 five gallon buckets filled with sand to put each piece of fireworks in which were set up along the waterfront. The teenage ‘pyrotechnicians’ had already organized the fireworks during the daylight and decided in which order they would be set off and who would do it. It was quite the organizational feat! While waiting for dark, the younger children got to use Sparklers, with parental supervision – mostly there were no incidents of being burned with their own or someone else’s sparkler. The burned wires were put into the bonfire pit rather than left on the grass to damage my lawn tractor or bare feet.
Once the campfire died down to low embers after dark, it was time! The dogs were all taken home (and locked inside) and the adults and younger children sat about 25+ feet away waiting in excited anticipation for the fireworks display to begin! Years ago, we had driven to community fireworks displays in small towns and even the capital of Canada, Ottawa on Canada Day , so the children could see these amazing colours in the dark sky. It was always crowded, buggy, and a traffic nightmare to get home. Our homegrown neighbourhood fireworks and bonfire was just right.

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Over the years, all the older children who were in charge of the fireworks display did an excellent job! They set them off over the river with a multitude of different types of fireworks including rockets, roman candles, cone fountains, strobes, flares, pinwheels, etc. We always concluded with my personal favourite, The Burning Schoolhouse(s) – sometimes we had several.
After fireworks, everyone gathered around the bonfire to chat, roast marshmallows, play guitar, and sing songs. One former neighbour had a talent of writing songs and sang them at our neighbourhood parties, to everyone’s delight – some of the titles were: The Firetruck Song (that’s another story of one of our bonfire events); The Trespassing Song; and Mike always did an animated recitation of “The Cremation of Sam McGee” to everyone’s delight in front of the glowing campfire! Other favourite campfire songs over the years include “Dead Skunk in the Middle of the Road” and “They Built the Ship Titanic” plus I always loved it when someone played guitar and sang Gordon Lightfoot songs like “Black Day in July” or “Canadian Railroad Trilogy” or “Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald”. And of course, my granddaughter Kalia’s favourite “Moonshadow” (by Cat Stevens in the 1970’s). It’s a good thing we love music because now my children know how to play guitar and sing my favourite tunes! The little children and babies would fall asleep in their parent’s arms and be carried home in the dark after the embers in the campfire burned down.

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These days, we usually have a family bonfire at my son Darin’s place. It’s smaller and cozier but still has all the familiar songs, Smores, and roasted marshmallows!  And besides, I have trouble staying awake until after dark for fireworks now anyway!
Happy Victoria Day Canada and Happy Memorial Day U.S.A!

fireworks set

The Holleford Crater

Yesterday my son Taylor and I went on a road trip to the site where a meteorite crashed 550 million years ago: the Holleford Crater. I never even knew it existed so close to home until Taylor told me about it last year. We intended to go and see it then but never got around to it before he had to leave for work in the far north. It dawned sunny and above zero so we decided to make the two hour trek about 40 minutes north of Kingston. ROAD TRIP!!
We drove along country roads which followed the river, then climbed windy hills passing frozen lakes and rock-cuts while listening to Beatles music, at first – Taylor thoughtfully loaded a bunch of my favourite music. The last stretch of our journey to the crater passed by hilly farmland on backroads directed by the GPS app on his phone. We pulled over in front of Crater Farm and low and behold there was an official Ontario landmark sign for “The Holleford Crater”!

Holleford Crater

The Holliford Crater aerial photo

The plaque at the site tells the story of a 90 meter in diameter meteorite, traveling 55,000 kilometres per hour, smashed into the earth here eons ago, blasting a hole 244 metres deep and 2.5 kilometres wide. When the crater hit the surface it would have sent up a cloud of debris 2-5 miles into the Earth’s atmosphere.
In 1955, aerial photographs revealed the crater. Canadian scientists from the Dominion Observatory in Ottawa confirmed it was indeed a meteorite crater from a series of four geophysical studies: magnetic observations, seismic studies, gravity studies, and a diamond drilling program. The crater contains a thick layer of Palaeozoic sediments but still has the remnant of a rim, rising 100 feet. At first the depression filled with water, becoming a circular lake. Later Palaeozoic seas swept in sediments, filling the crater to its present depth of about 30 metres. The explosive impact of the meteorite is still evident in the hundreds of feet of shattered rock that drilling has detected beneath the original crater floor.
At the time of impact, the landscape was devoid of any kind of vegetation or animals except the odd algae life form. The North America continent was slowly drifting away from South America. It was a LONG time ago!

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Taylor at the Holleford Crater

We enjoyed our packed lunch while gazing over the countryside towards the impact area which looked ordinarily like most of the landscape. We spent 15 minutes there then left for home. We continued our journey on another road taking a circuitous route towards home along narrow country roads.
Both of us were very pleased that we finally visited the crater and got to spend a pleasant day together on this road trip.
The Holleford Crater is N 44° 27.511 W 076° 37.985 about 27 km north-north-west of Kingston, Ontario.

Meteorite 550 Million Years Agometeroite550millionYearsAgo

 

The Link

I’ve been blessed with many, many cousins – hundreds probably! The vast majority of them are on my Mother’s side – down home cousins like Maureen and Carolyn; Montreal cousins; second cousins; second cousins twice removed; and even newly found cousins in the USA. But there is one cousin on my Dad’s side that has always been near and dear to my heart – Graham. Until the last few years, Graham had been my only paternal cousin that I ever knew and it’s all because of the special link that our mothers shared.
My father and Graham’s father were brothers. They both served in World War ll. My parents grew up in the same small town on the Gaspe coast and married after the war. It’s my understanding that Graham’s parents met during WWll in London, England and were married. So how did our Mothers ever meet and become friends? After the war, when Graham was a baby, my Aunt and Uncle moved back to his hometown where our Mothers met and became lifelong friends. Then both families moved on separately. My parents and oldest sister Faye, moved to Ontario where they would make a life. Graham’s family moved to Montreal briefly until Graham and his Mother moved back to England. That could have been the end of that. But that true friendship between our Mothers endured.

Our Paternal Grandmother and Aunt

L-R:  Our paternal Grandmother and our Aunt 1945

I remember the packages that arrived for my Mother from Auntie Ivy in England, when I was a child. I recall the smell of the paper that the magazines she sent were rolled in. Our Mothers always wrote to each other sharing who knows what but certainly telling each other news about their offspring. I saw my cousin Graham grow up in only a few photographs his Mother sent us.
After my mother passed away when she was only 45 years old in 1975, I began sending my Auntie Ivy Christmas cards every year to stay in touch. When we went to London, England in 1977, I arranged a visit with my Aunt and Graham, now grown up and married with two children. We met in Hyde Park then took a taxi to a museum, which was closed. The meet-up was short but sweet and I finally got to meet my cousin Graham in person! Auntie Ivy came to Canada for a visit in 1981 just before we moved but she stayed with us for a few days anyway.
Life went on as usual – Christmas cards every years exchanged updates on family life. Then one year, I received my Christmas card back stamped ‘deceased’. I was quite upset with myself for not getting Graham and Valerie’s address – how was I ever going to find them now?
One sunny, summer afternoon a few years ago, I received a phone call from Graham in England – he had found my phone number in his mother’s papers and hoped that I still had the same number. Hurray!! We were back in touch. After a long conversation, we exchanged emails and the promise to visit me in Canada. The next year, Graham and Valerie came to stay with me and travelled down east to our family’s hometown where he briefly lived as a baby. My sister Faye also came to stay for this impromptu family reunion.

Visiting National War Museum

Visiting the National War Museum:  Graham, Me, Valerie, Faye

Graham and Valerie have made a few trips to Canada to visit with me in recent years. We’ve enjoyed each other’s company – day trips to the War Museum or the Rideau Canal locks or just watching TV at night. In 2012, we met up in Florida when we were both there with our families at the same time visiting Disneyworld! We hadn’t actually planned it that way, but it was fortuitous. One of these years, I’m going to visit them again in England.
I am SO grateful to both our Mothers who, despite being separated by an ocean for decades, managed to remain close and keep in touch with each other. Their gift to both Graham and myself, was that lifelong link of family.

The Last Frontier

I arrived in snowy Whitehorse, Yukon in Canada’s far north after a remarkable flight over British Columbia mountains.  My son and D-I-L  were waiting excitedly for me at the airport – they drove nearly 2 hours from home to pick me up!  First stop was downtown Whitehorse with it’s amazing ‘old town’, gold-rush looking buildings which date back 100 years.  We strolled around in the windy, cold, snow-covered streets wandering down to the mighty Yukon River.  This place oozed history!  It was exciting to think about days gone by when gold prospectors filled this town and others like it hoping to strike it rich.  After a stop at the used book store, we headed out of town passing the S.S. Klondike, a dry-docked sternwheeler riverboat along the Yukon River and now a National Historic Site.  Then we turned on to the world famous Alaska Highway and headed towards their new home in Canada’s north!

What magnificent country!  Towering mountains on all sides!  Glacial lakes!  We even saw two mule deer and a family of three moose sauntering on the road on our journey!  We arrived in town just before dusk and made a quick tour of this historic ‘gold rush’ town along a glacial lake.  The whole area is surrounded by giant mountains and glaciers.  It’s like a picture out of a National Geographic magazine.  Then we arrived on the mountain at their new home overlooking all this splendor.

On my first full day, we drove further down their road to The Grotto.  Warmer, demineralized drinking water flowed out of a cave at the side of the road and rushed further down towards the lake.  Water cress was growing abundantly in the fast flowing creek so we harvested a handful to add to our stirfry.  A couple of local guys stopped by on their way home from their logging camp to get a few jugs of spring water and chat for a bit – they were interested in the new ‘Outsiders’ who had just moved to town.

Atlin Mountain overlooking Atlin Lake

View from their living room.

Day two found us taking a country drive back along the Spruce Creek to Surprise Lake.  In the early part of the last century, 10,000 gold prospectors lived in a town they created called Discovery, in tents, and panned for gold.  Remnants of old log homes and wooden gold ‘mining’ equipment still remain, like a monument to the past.  As we drove along, we suddenly spotted a wild lynx sitting along the far bank of the river!  At first I thought it was a wolf.  We skillfully skidded to a stop on the snow-covered road while my son literally jumped out of the car with his camera and ran to begin taking pictures and video.  The lynx stayed for about 10 minutes which shocked us because they are normally shy animals.  It was amazing to see such a wild, majestic animal!

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Lynx

We arrived at Surprise Lake Recreation Site and followed wolf tracks to a clearing which had picnic tables and an old cast iron Franklin stove, stocked with wood logs ready to burn.  All this overlooking the big lake, surrounded by snow-capped mountains.  My son told me that anyone can camp free at these B.C. Recreation Sites all over the province.  Who wouldn’t want to with all that privacy and breathtaking scenery!  On our way back to town, we stopped at a log cabin from the gold rush days which was being restored by the province.  It brought back memories of that bygone era when men and women came by ship up the west coast of North America and trekked over mountains by foot or dog sled, to arrive in these parts in hopes of finding their fortune in gold.

My daughter-in-law’s been cooking up a storm – she’s an awesome cook and I enjoy flavours from around the world when I’m with them.  We even had delicious breaded moose steak with salad – I’d never tasted moose before and enjoyed this wild game.

The next day, the clouds finally cleared out and I was able to see the tops of the surrounding mountains!  From their living room, I had to remember to breathe as I couldn’t believe that I was actually seeing this incredible site of a glacial lake and snow covered mountains.  Their lake is fed by hundreds of mountain rivers, creeks, and the Llewellyn Glacier and is the source of the mighty Yukon River, which has huge historical significance in this country’s past.

LLewellyn Glacier by http://mmellway.wix.com/photography and  https://www.facebook.com/martymellwayphotography/

LLewellyn Glacier

After cleaning the wood stove chimney, we ventured out to the beach on the lake.  We followed fresh wolf footprints along the shore in the bitterly cold wind taking pictures along the way until we were chilled to the bone.  Then we drove up the road to a viewpoint of the Llewellyn Glacier.  WOW!  The Juneau Icefield in the distance was enormous and the mountains went on as far as we could see, even to Alaska I think – wow this country is beautiful!  Then we ventured into town for a look-about and stopped at the infamous beached riverboat Tarahne which carried gold prospectors, supplies, and visitors across the lake back in the day.

The riverboat Tarahne

The riverboat Tarahne

I’ve seen more wildlife this week than in the past few decades:  Orca whales off Vancouver Island; Bald Eagles on Van. Isl. as well as soaring over my son’s house; Mule Deer including the one who sauntered right outside the front of the house, eating fireweed; a female Moose and her two calves crossing the road on our drive here from Whitehorse; a wild Lynx sitting along Pine Creek just outside of town at the old gold mining area of Discovery; a tiny Pygmy Owl that landed on a tree beside the front porch at dusk; a coyote sitting beside a frozen lake; and a pack of wolves crossing the road on our way back to the airport.

We went on a walking tour of town and explored the century old buildings, most of which are still in use.  This town is classic Frontier at its best!  I half expected to see a moose walking down the street (although there were moose tracks in the snow).  Remnants of the old gold rush days are still scattered among the town’s buildings and even the buildings themselves are historical monuments to this bygone era.

4General StoreWM

Century old log building

I wasn’t disappointed when the clouds cleared to reveal the spectacular Aurora Borealis, also known as the Northern Lights, on two nights I was there!  WOW they were spectacular!   We watched swaths of green (and once purple) swaying and waving, expanding then contracting, continuously moving as if a gently breeze of breathtaking colour in the night sky.  Our eyes were focused on the horizon and up in the night sky for hours while we stood at the windows snug inside the house, in the dark, watching in awe and taking photos.   I felt inspired.  There are SO many scenes I want to paint now.

Northern Lights by http://mmellway.wix.com/photography and  https://www.facebook.com/martymellwayphotography/

Northern Lights

I’ve had an amazing time in this part of the country.  It truly is the last frontier of Canada.

Thanks to my son for allowing me to use some of his photos.

 

 

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