Christmas Letter 2002


Over the past decades, I’ve always tried to write an annual Christmas letter to family and friends summarizing our family activities and highlighting our proudest moments. TODAY’S CHRISTMAS LETTER IS FROM DECEMBER 2002, word for word.

Merry Christmas!!
It’s been so long since I wrote a Christmas letter, I thought I’d better do one since my daughter began the tradition last year and put me to shame! What can I say – we’re all getting older and only some of us are getting better! Ha! Ha!

To start off the new year, we celebrated with our good friends and neighbours by hosting a New Year’s Eve Party in our ‘party room’ a.k.a. garage. A few years ago, Chris and Taylor put up drywall, some cupboards, added a woodstove for heat, and finished it with wall-to-wall indoor/outdoor carpeting. We use this space now for ‘overflow’, heating it whenever we have a gang for parties, Xmas, etc. but not usually for the poor Van.

Nellie turned 10 years old in January while Darin turned 25. Darin is the equipment manage of the Canadian Sledge Hockey team and traveled to Japan, Europe, and finally the Salt Lake City Olympics. I got to take the train to see my sisters, Faye and Betty, in Hamilton this month!!! Yeah – better than Europe to me!

In early February we held our annual skating party on the Rideau River in our backyard. As usual, we had a great time. On February 19th, Taylor turned 22 – he’s been living in Vancouver for a year and a half now and loves it. We REALLY miss him!

March began with a blast – Chris had a mini stroke which he’s mostly recovered from other than headaches which he never had, some memory loss, and slight loss of some small motor skills. However during the follow-up to find out what caused it, Dr.s discovered a hole in his heart! And he said he didn’t have a heart!! Not to be alarmed, though, since he’s probably had it his whole life and they’re just going to leave it for now. Poor guy – last year, after an ear infection (the only one he ever remembers having) he started to go deaf in his right ear. He’s mostly deaf in it now with some hearing loss in the other ear – he’s supposed to have an MRI, hopefully in 2003 (who knows with our health care system!).

We were distraught in April by the death of Grampa Bob Mellway. We will truly miss this wonderful Grampa, Dad, and friend. 😦

In May, I turned 49! – weeeeee…. headed for the big 50! Of course, the country held a national holiday for me and some babe named ‘Victoria’, so we celebrated with a bonfire and fireworks! Melvin resumed his summer schedule of wasp venom injections to build up his immunity to stings since he has a life threatening allergy. He even carries an Epipen in a waist-pouch where ever he goes.

We opened the pool and added the solar cover to boost the heat – I even went in during the heat wave!! I was briefly in the hospital for a heart scare. Chris turned 42 – I told him that once you turn 40 you are over the hill and start to fall apart! Everyone passed and was glad school was over. Darin graduated from Carleton University with a degree in Computer Science. Marty got a job at a local store and still works there on weekends.

The summer was hot and dry again. Marty went to summer school to boost his Math mark for a couple weeks. And Faye came up again this year for a week at the end of July. We always have a great time mostly just relaxing.

Kristi turned 20 in August, Robin turned 27, his wife Natasha turned 28, and Marty turned 16 years old! Whew! We traveled to Hamilton to Faye and Joey and Betty’s at the end of August. We took Faye and went to Niagara Falls and had a great time on the Maid of the Mist and the Caves Beneath the Falls – a must for any Falls tourist!

The kids resumed school in September: Melvin in grade 3 – his favourite subject is Math. He just loves to figure things out. He also loves to draw and is an avid outdoors player. Nellie is in grade 5 at the same school. Her favourite subject is Art. She is a social ‘butterfly’ and has many friends, her most special being Alyssa ( the one year old neighbour I babysat last winter). Nellie is almost as tall as me now! Marty is in grade 10 now and presently loves playing Playstation2. He wants to attend University of Victoria to study Marine Biology when he’s done high school.

Kristi lives in Ottawa and is in her second year at Carleton University – she maintains an A average, receiving a scholarship every year. She also works at the Ottawa General Hospital as a bilingual ER intake clerk, in her ‘spare’ time! The love of her life is Mike, whom she’s known since high school and now a student at Carleton University too.

Taylor works as a bartender in Vancouver and also does DJing, ‘spinning’ records at clubs whenever he gets a gig. His girlfriend’s name is Mary. Robin and Natasha live in Victoria, B.C. where Rob goes to U Vic and Natasha works. They say they love it out there, but it’s VERY far away……

Darin and Amanda got married this October 6th in a beautiful outdoor wedding. The day was absolutely perfect and they were so awesome – they honeymooned in Hawaii. At the end of October, Amanda celebrated her quarter-of-a-century birthday.

Faye and Joey came up for Thanksgiving this year and as usual we had a real nice time. The biggest surprise of the month was that Kristi and Mike got engaged!! They plan on waiting a few years while they finish University before getting married. Mike’s a really nice guy and the two of them are just like two peas in a pod – except Kristi does most of the talking!!

Well, November’s been an interesting month – Chris had a possible gall bladder attack (Stones? = ultrasound in December) and during the bloodwork they turned up some abnormal results, so they’ve run some further tests. He’s feeling better now, but still has constant vague discomfort. This weekend we are going to have a Canadian Football League Grey Cup party to watch the championship game – well, we don’t stare at the TV, it’s just an excuse to get together for a pot luck supper and good discussion while the football game is on!

December 19th, Melvin turns 8. But before that, I have to get my B.C. parcels ready to mail – which means making the usual Christmas cookies, squares, candy, and special surprises in early December. Oh yes, I still have to finish my Christmas shopping/decorating/creating – with 7 children, 2 daughters-in-law, and one almost son-in-law (let me see 7+2+1= that’s 10!) plus Chris, other family and friends, I’d better close this letter and get busy!!! I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and a blessed New Year. And if you find yourself in our neck of the woods, we’d love to see you!

Merry Christmas!
Linda, Chris, Melvin, Nellie and Marty

Long Distance Grammom

I just returned from British Columbia where I took my daughter Nellie and two teenage granddaughters, 14.5 year old Kalia and 12.5 year old Livi. We spent time on my son’s farm on the Sunshine Coast getting to know my two baby granddaughters, 2 month old Clare and almost 2 year old Elsie.



Clare and Elsie

Nellie, Kalia, and Livi had never met Clare and Elsie before but I had spent time with them recently when Clare was only a few weeks old. We had a grand time playing with Elsie and holding Clare.


Kalia, Livi, & Clare


Kalia, Livi, and Nellie also helped with some farm chores like feeding the goats, chickens, and rabbits as well as helping Rob install some gate posts. We picked cherries at a neighbour’s farm too and enjoyed them fresh and in a homemade pie. And of course we went to the beach every day looking for driftwood and beach glass!


Elsie, Kalia, Livi, & Nellie on the beach

It wasn’t easy saying good-bye.

Kalia and Livi (and my other 4 grandchildren) live near me so I’ve seen them often for their entire lives. We’ve spent birthdays, Thanksgivings, and Christmases together and sleepovers in between. It’s taking some getting used to being a long-distance Grammom.

Email, Facebook, and Skype have all helped me feel like I’m participating in Elsie and Clare’s lives. Pictures are a big help too. But nothing is better than holding your grandchild in your arms and watching them sleep or smelling their sweet new-baby smell or reading the same stories 10 times in a row. I feel like their Gramma when I’m with them.


Grammom and Elsie on the beach


I’m grateful that I’ve been able to travel across the country to spend time with them even though it’s only been a couple of times a year.

As my wee granddaughters grow, I hope to be able to visit them as often as possible and stay in touch through the latest technology.

……. because I love them as only a Grammom can.


Rob and his girls


Spring Is Here!

I think.  It’s beautiful and sunny and temperatures are now above seasonal! After a cold start to April with lots of snow, we’ve finally turned a corner into spring.

Last evening, I brought in the last of the maple sap and took the taps out of the trees. Maple sap runs when overnight temperatures are below 0 Celcius degrees (32F) and daytime temperatures are above zero. Those days are behind us now and the trees know it – sap production has dropped drastically in the last couple of days.

The last pot of maple sap is boiling down on my wood cookstove. I really don’t even need to make a fire these days with wake-up temperatures around zero but I want to finish up my maple syrup. This year I boiled down about 48 litres of maple sap and ended up with about 7 cups of pure, natural maple syrup and a half cup of maple taffy.


My Lake of Shining Waters

The ice is all gone now. My pond finally melted this week and now the wild Mallard duck couple, who come back every year, enjoy swimming in it. The river broke up weeks ago. Great Blue Herons, Robins, Canada Geese, Mallard Ducks, and Red Wing Blackbirds have all returned from their southerly winter homes. The little Goldfinches are changing from their winter olive colour to their summer bright yellow. Beavers swim by close to shore at dawn now too. Raccoons are up and about and I imagine the Black Bears too. Daylillies, daffodils, and tulips are poking through the ground and buds are swelling on the trees. The sun is SO bright especially when it reflects off the river and sparkles brilliant light. I’ll be glad when the leaves grow on the trees and shade my windows which will be much easier on my eyes in the morning. Thanks Robin for planting that Maple tree beside the back deck over 30 years ago!

This week, I hung some laundry outside on the line. WOW, do I ever love that fresh smell when I bring it in! The line was completely full of sheets and blankets that first day with the wind blowing them dry in just a few hours. I’ve hung laundry outside every day!



Outside chores are staring me in the face. Leaves have to be scooped out of the pond and the leaf net removed. Then I have to reconnect the pump hose that I accidentally disconnected before I hook up the pump and filter. That’s my first plan of action. I hope to revitalize my garden this year with a load of rotted horse manure; plant another row of raspberries; plant the 70+ trees/bushes I ordered including some Serviceberries and Highbush Cranberries to add to my berry production; pick up all the branches that blew down from the trees during the winter; rake leaves; freshen up the house trim, porch, and garage door paint; and spread the dump truck load of wood chips sitting in my driveway. After being diagnosed with skin cancer this winter (which I’m still waiting for treatment – I was recently told it would be six months!), I was feeling somewhat reluctant to plan a lot of outside work because of the fear of sun exposure. But I can’t live my life in fear of being outside so I’ll just continue to keep on keeping on…… with sunscreen now.

I know that Spring is really here because my son Taylor left this week for his job at the hot springs in northern British Columbia. I was sad to see him go because I know I will miss him but happy for him too, knowing he’s on a fabulous cross-country drive.

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!



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 and

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 and

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.



Visiting Vancouver Island

I spent last week on the west coast visiting my sister Betty, my son Robin/D-I-L Nici, and other family.  I love it when I have the opportunity to share time with my family in one of the most beautiful places in Canada.  Betty and I had a week full of adventures – and a pot of barley soup to eat – after I arrived late Sunday night!

We started off by visiting my cousin Jacklyn, her daughter Melody, and her mom Kathy.  It had been a long time since I’d seen Kathy so it was a real treat.   My niece Brodie, a talented singer, also dropped in for a quick hello too.

Robin and I Beachcombing @ Powell River, B.C.

Robin and I Beachcombing @ Powell River, B.C.

The next day Betty and I were off on the ferry to go across the Strait of Georgia between Vancouver Island and the mainland of British Columbia.  Waiting for us was my son Robin and later my daughter-in-law Nici and their german sheppard puppy Gerda, who was actually the size of a miniature pony!   We had an awesome time!  Robin drove us up to the little town of Lund which is SO picturesque – it’s actually Mile One of a highway that will take you all the way down the west coast to South America’s Chile, 15,202 kms.  We had lunch on the patio at Nancy’s Bakery overlooking the small harbour and the ocean dotted with gulf islands.  Afterwards we went back to the farm to check on the goats and chickens.  I even learned to milk a goat!

I milked a goat!

I milked a goat!

Robin spoiled us with delicious homemade dinners and desserts using veggies from their own garden and milk from their goats.  I’m proud to say he’s an awesome cook!  In the evenings, we enjoyed watching videos on the computer of our Family Frolics – 20 years of videotaping of family life now stored on my external hard drive.  We also spent hours beachcombing, looking for beach glass and unique shells which I’ll make into Christmas tree decorations for our tree this year.  Finally, all too soon, it was time to catch the ferry back to the Island and leave Powell River behind.   A small pod of Orca whales graced us with their presence as if they were bidding us goodbye.

Rob's pumpkin pie made with fresh goat's milk, fresh eggs, and garden pumpkins

Rob’s pumpkin pie made with fresh goat’s milk, fresh eggs, and garden pumpkins

Next, we drove down to Victoria, the capital city of British Columbia, picking up Betty’s granddaughter along the way to bring her down to her daddy Curt for halloween.  Betty and I stayed at our favourite hotel, The Mayfair, where the rooms are clean and affordable.   We spent a relaxing evening on our computers, each one of us propped up in our individual beds, watching more Family Frolics videos and laughing hysterically until the wee hours of the morning.  We leisurely drove back up Island, stopping along the way at a few new thrift stores and lunch in Ladysmith.  Once back at Betty’s ‘cave’ a few hours later, we got in our comfy clothes and ‘chillaxed’ for the evening since I was leaving very early the next morning.  A week sure flies by way too fast and now I was on my way back to Vancouver to catch another flight to the Yukon/Northern B.C., the land of the midnight sun.

Linda and Betty

Linda and Betty

Winter – Extended Edition


This week we celebrated the end of winter and the arrival of spring – officially anyway.  It’s hard to believe that ‘spring has sprung’ though.  This morning at 7 a.m., my outdoor thermometer read -20C degrees and the weatherman said it was going to reach a high of -8C.  Whoopie…..not.

Dripping Icicle

Dripping Icicle

There is still about 30-40 cms of snow in many spots around the property and 4 foot drifts.  We had finally been experiencing warmer, near normal, temperatures last week after the record-breaking coldest winter ever.  The snow began melting off the roof with 2 foot long dripping icicles hanging down.  The temperature was above zero during the day and below zero degrees celsius at night – perfect for maple sap running.  So last week, I tapped my maple trees to collect the sap for making maple syrup.  Now the little brother of the Polar Vortex has come calling and the sap has stopped running and the maple sap in frozen in the bottom of my jugs hanging on the trees!
My sister Betty shared photos over a month ago of temperate Vancouver Island, British Columbia where she lives: cherry tree blossoms, crocuses blooming, lush green grass.  The seasons here in Ontario seem to becoming 2+ weeks later.  What used to happen 30 years ago at this time of year, like the ice on the river breaking up, is later now.  The cold temperatures of January and February are now the bitter, unrelenting cold temperatures of February and March.

The only thing to do is embrace the sunny albiet cold days with the promise that warmer days are just ahead. Soon we’ll be living with hot, humid weather and lots of mosquitoes!
The one thing that remains the same is that we celebrate my sister Betty’s birthday on the first full day of spring.  Happy Birthday Bet!

My Big Adventure


Car, plane, plane, car, ferry, car, ferry, car, ferry, car, ferry, car, bus, ferry, plane, plane, plane, car. Well that pretty well sums up my big adventure. But I really want to tell you more than that!
I travelled to British Columbia on Canada’s west coast last month for a Board meeting in Vancouver. Afterwards, I had the pleasure of visiting my family all along the coast. I took the ferry across to Vancouver Island where my sister Betty picked me up. We drove down to Victoria to see her son and granddaughter then travelled back the next day to Courtenay, stopping at Cowichan Bay. This little town along the water was full of thing to see, like the marine museum, houseboats, and shops. It was a lovely, scenic drive.

Cowichan Bay, Vancouver Island, BC

Cowichan Bay, Vancouver Island, BC

While Betty worked for the next couple of days, I had the chance to visit with her partner Robbie, my sister-in-law Wanda and her son Brian and family, as well as my cousin Jacklyn and her baby Melody and of course my niece Brodie. The time flew by and before I knew it, Betty, Robbie and I were on the ferry to the sunshine coast on the mainland to visit my son Robin and his wife Nici at their new home. My other son and d-i-l were already there waiting for us to come. We had a great time touring Rob’s new homestead and meeting his new family members, Apple and Peanut (sibling goats) and the ‘girls’ who laid their first egg while I was there.

Robin, Apple, & Peanut

Robin, Apple, & Peanut

We walked down to the oceanside beach across from his house and drove up to the end of the Sunshine Coast highway to Lund, mile 0 of hwy. 101. Time was too short because before I knew it, we were leaving for the next leg of my adventure.

My son, D-I-L, and I were driving back to Vancouver then all the way north to Prince Rupert, BC – a three day trip. After we left Rob and Nici’s farm, we took our first ferry through mostly uninhabited waters of BC coastline, then drove along windy roads through beautiful rainforests with giant trees and coast mountains. It was breathtaking! We stopped in Gibsons (I’ve always wanted to go there: “Beachcombers”?) and bought lunch to eat on the ferry to Horseshoe Bay, Vancouver. My D-I-L’s sister was kind enough to host us for the night – it was lovely meeting her and her family.

Bright and early the next morning, we left for the north. It was amazing to me that the BC mountains could have such a diverse landscape: there were mountains; canyons; foothill-like sage brush areas; large valleys of grazing land; glacier-topped mountains; rainforests; just about everything! We drove through the Fraser Canyon along the Cariboo Highway 97’s Gold Rush Trail and stopped at Hell’s Gate canyon for a look.  Then we stopped in Spences Bridge at an old church along the way to take photos – we kept noticing these churches with the same design all along the route which were built by missionaries in the late 1800s.

Spences Bridge historic church

Spences Bridge historic church

A simple road sign took us out of our way for 5 minutes to an amazing, little known ‘Grand Canyon’ of Canada called The Chasm which was created when a melting Ice Age stream cascaded over a falls and cut into some of the lava flows about 10,000 years ago. Amazing eh!

The Chasm

The Chasm

By the time we got halfway to Prince George, it was snowing! We stopped overnight in Prince George, BC after 11 hours driving. Then we headed northwest on the Yellowhead Highway 16, named the Highway of Tears for all the missing women who have vanished along this stretch over the last few decades. We were 771 kms. from our destination near Prince Rupert along the Pacific Ocean. We passed through Vanderhoof which had pastures in the valleys stretching to the mountains seemingly far away. After a pit-stop in Houston (no we didn’t ‘have a problem’) we began to re-enter the Coast Mountains again. Moricetown has this incredible canyon and fast moving river which wild salmon moved through up ‘salmon ladders’ so we HAD to stop there for photos.


We stopped at Old Town Hazelton along the Skeena River for a look-about. This town, as well as the new Hazelton, is home to 3 native communities and then non-natives after 1866 including gold miners and the Hudson’s Bay Company. When we drove up to the old town and came around the corner, I couldn’t believe my eyes: there, in perfect condition, was this old town similar to Dawson City of the gold rush days! There was even a dry-docked paddleboat which was turned into a restaurant and many other original historic buildings. My grown kids are keenly interested in this area of Canada and will likely explore it further in the coming months.


Seven Sisters mountains

As the sun was setting, we arrived at their cabin in Port Edward along the Pacific Coast. It was great to get there and help them unload the groceries and boxes of squash purchased along the way.


During my few days there, we went into Prince Rupert and visited the Museum of Northern British Columbia – it was full of native artifacts and treasures and told the story of BC native communities and their interaction with non-native arrivals. It was very well done and we enjoyed it immensely on that pouring rain day (which is pretty typical for Prince Rupert).  We bought some fresh caught cod fish, mussels, and salmon for a seafood feast.

Museum of Northern British Columbia

Museum of Northern British Columbia

We were lucky to be shown the North Pacific Cannery National Historic Site on the last day of the season. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was blown away! There was SO much to this little out-of-the-way place. It speaks of how this company used Japanese, Chinese, and native Canadians to do the work and build the cannery businesses along the coast. And how these groups were segregated from the ‘white’ population in terms of housing, income, status, etc. It was fascinating!

North Pacific Cannery National Historic Site

North Pacific Cannery National Historic Site, Port Edward, BC

There was a huge building which housed the salmon canning floors; wharves for the fishing boats; the two remaining ‘Chinese housing’ buildings on the far side (which were about 24 x 24 feet and housed 12+ people in each family); administration houses; the General Store (where the workers bought on credit, then actually owed the Company at the end of a hard working year); Mess House; Japanese Bunk House (6+ to a room); etc. Amazing!

Cannery General Store circa early 20th century

Cannery General Store circa early 20th century

Sadly, my adventure came to an end and it was time to come home. Prince Rupert offers a shuttle bus service to the airport which is located on Digby Island via ferry (a.k.a A barge that fits only the two shuttle buses). I only had about an hour’s wait when I arrived in Vancouver then another hour during a stop-over in Winnipeg. Finally, I arrived home late at night to find my son Darin waiting for me at the airport.
I’m grateful that I was able to go on such a big adventure and see my west coast family. Now I’m home living my simple little life in my own simple little way.


*some photos by my son.




The Sides of my Fridge

The outside of my fridge is an anthology of the life that I’ve lived and the people who’ve lived it with me. The actual surface is barely visible under all the artwork, notes, fridge magnets, and other memorabilia. Almost all three sides are visible ….. and completely covered. To me, it’s a tribute …… recognition of accomplishments or places we’ve visited.



The front side is reserved for a special tribute to our beloved Chris. Front and centre is one of my favourite pictures of Nellie and Melvin with their Daddy on the beach in New Carlisle, Quebec. Anchoring the bottom of the freezer door are fridge magnets from the many places we’ve visited like Comox Valley, B.C.; Niagara Falls; Vancouver Aquarium; Montreal’s Biodome, Calgary; Tadousssac, Quebec; Pacific Rim National Park, B.C.; Bonaventure’s BioPark; and of course Perce Rock, Gaspesie, Quebec. Every time I go to the fridge, I am reminded of these happy times with my family from coast to coast. In the top corner, I can always find our ‘burn permit number’ magnet when we need to phone it in at the start of an outdoor fire, just to keep the fire department aware of deliberate fires. And beside it is a magnet with Emergency CPR instructions. I hope we don’t ever need that…..

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One side of my fridge has the oldest collection of artwork. There you will find a diagram of DNA and RNA that my oldest son Robin drew for his younger brother Marty about 15 years ago to explain how it all worked. There is also a chemistry Periodic Table which has been in the top left corner of several fridges for many, many years. It’s always handy to have this reference just in case you ever need the symbol for any of the elements ;). A wee note from my grown daughter Kristi, drawn when she was about 5 years old is held by a fridge magnet for our veterinary office. There’s a thank you letter from Marty and Jeanette after I mailed them their tent to British Columbia. And a computer printed picture of my son Taylor wake-boarding on the river. I like the fridge magnet with a picture of the Emerald Ash Borer – this insect is devastating the ash trees around here so it’s handy to have a visual reference in case I see one.  Near the bottom, there’s also a sketch of the relationship between gamma rays, x-rays, microwaves, UV rays, and radio waves and colours that looks like it was drawn by Marty a long time ago.

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The far side of the fridge is the most open and eclectic collection in the entire house. There’s the large Mother’s Day ‘memo’ board made by Melvin when he was 5 years old. And my granddaughter Olivia’s artwork including a googly-eye star and a colourful thanksgiving turkey. More fridge magnets of ‘how safe is the ice?’ or Telehealth phone number. Granddaughter Kalia’s baby and toddler pictures – she’s 10 years old now. Sometimes I have to rearrange things as they get knocked off when someone brushes by.

All in all, I love these moments in time that are displayed on the sides of my fridge.

Visiting Vancouver B.C.


I’ve been in the wonderful city of Vancouver B.C. for the past few days visiting my oldest son Robin and his wife Nici. We’ve had a great time! On Sunday we drove up to Whistler, the home of the 2010 Winter Olympics, in Rob’s Mitsubishi Delica and went to the top of Whistler Mountain on a small gondola.

Top of Whistler Mountain

Top of Whistler Mountain

There, we had a magnificent view of distant mountain tops, many with snow caps or glaciers. Across the deep gorge between Whistler Mountain and Blackcomb Mountain, was a larger gondola connecting the two mountain peaks together. THAT is why we were there! The sun was shining, the air was warm, and we were all pumped to take the gondola high about the valley below! I’m usually afraid of heights, but conquering that fear is on my ‘bucket list’.
Today was the day. The ‘Peak 2 Peak Gondola’ was fantastic!! It wasn’t scary at all. I was quite comfortable walking about the enclosed area taking pictures even though I expected to be hanging on to the seats and posts with a firm grip. lol

Peak 2 Peak Gondola view

Peak 2 Peak Gondola view

Whistler village was crazy busy with tourists and adventurers. Many of these folks came to bicycle down the mountain – yes, you heard me right. These people take their bikes up on the ski lift or gondola to various points up the mountain and bike down!! ……..ya, I know, isn’t that insane?! Okay, they have to wear helmets, but it’s optional to wear protective padding in vulnerable areas. I couldn’t believe my eyes as I witnessed them going at break-neck speed down the twists and turns of the dedicated pathways (Of course they have to buy tickets to use the facilities). And I was stunned to watch them leave the peak of the mountain. I saw two ambulances while I was there, making their way up the mountain to retrieve damaged bicyclists…… Crazy.

Bike trails down Whistler Mountain

Bike trails down Whistler Mountain

While Robin and Nici were at work on Monday, I went on an adventure. Now let me just say, that I have not been on public transit in my nearby city, ever. But I’ve enjoyed the transit system in British Columbia. The bus drivers are always helpful when I tell them I’m just visiting their wonderful city as I ask them if they can let me know that I’m getting off at the right stop. Of course, I researched my route extensively on the internet and printed out the directions. So my adventure was taking 4 buses and two trains to get to nearby Richmond to visit Nana Lil: a marvelous 93 year old lady who was my neighbour 45 years ago when I was a teenager. I was told that she has dementia but she certainly remembered me! We talked over and over again about the memories that she had. She was SO happy to have me visit for a few hours. I was SO happy to visit her for a few hours. She still lives in her little ‘seniors apartment’ with help from ‘Meals on Wheels’ and other assisted care. Even though I spent more time getting there and back than visiting, I’m really glad that I made the time to bring some happiness to her.
Nici had made a delicious soup for supper as well as apple pie! Oh it was SO good!! Afterwards, they took me to the University of British Columbia where they worked to show me their labs and offices. It was really great seeing all the gadgets they have to work with on a daily basis and now, when I think of them during the day, I can visualize exactly where they are!

Vancouver Island awaits

Vancouver Island awaits

I had such a successful transit trip to Nana Lil’s that I told Robin that he wouldn’t need to drive me all the way to the ferry terminal, fighting traffic there and back – I would take the bus! It was easy-peasy: I just hopped the bus 3 blocks from his place which took me downtown and then transferred to the Horseshoe Bay Express bus. I likely got there faster than a car would have. After a short wait for the ferry, I was on my way to Vancouver Island. So now I’m sitting here in the ferry terminal in Nanaimo B.C. waiting for the bus to take me up island where my sisters Betty and Faye are awaiting my arrival! Then its more adventures with the ‘clucking triplets’ as Robert calls us………… lol.


Instant Messaging

I have to admit, I love ‘instant messaging’ with my family whether it be by Windows Live Messenger (MSN), Facebook, or texting.  I think that’s it’s quite amazing that I can ‘talk’ to my family who are across the country in British Columbia, across the planet in Bali, or in their own bedrooms inside the house.

British Columbia ‘Sistas’ -Linda, Sylvia, Betty, & Faye

For instance, my son Marty and his partner Jeanette  just moved to Bali, Indonesia and are travelling around.  It’s great to be able to talk to him and hear about his adventures via Messenger or Facebook.  Most of the guest houses that they stay in have internet so they can update family about their travels.   Last time he was in China teaching English, the telephone connection was unreliable and unclear, but we were able to Skype live between our home in Eastern Ontario Canada and Eastern China or talk/write in ‘real time’ via MSN!  We got a tour of their apartment via webcam and a view of the city from their apartment.   Just this morning, Marty posted his latest story in his Travel Journal “Returning to Nomadism” @   and I received it instantly – from across the world!  Am I ‘old school’ or what – I am still amazed by the internet? ! lol

It’s convenient too.  I can always get ahold of my son Darin who is working in Ottawa.  And my daughter Kristi can be reached via text to her phone no matter where she happens to be at work.  I can let my kids at home know when I’m leaving to pick them up or text them when I get there.  I often talk to my sister Betty from Vancouver Island, BC on MSN……. in fact, we hardly use our home ‘land line’ at all anymore, except when we long to hear each other’s voice!  But Skype or MSN can take care of that with their live video feed.

I don’t feel that it’s an invasion of my privacy since I can control whether I choose to talk to anyone at any time.  I can adjust my ‘settings’ or who I wish to receive messages from……. I am quite comfortable with these options.

And as a Mom, I love it that I don’t have to yell at the top of my lungs anymore that “Supper’s Ready!!!” – I can just quietly text if I want to……lol.  I bet if my old neighbour, Ronny, was still living here, he’d love not hearing me yell, so that everyone with a mile would know that supper was ready at my house!

August Wedding – Family ties

So, ya, count me in – I love Instant Messaging!

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