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Justin Trudeau

Few countries in the world have a younger and better educated Prime Minister than the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. This well educated young man is the second youngest Prime Minister of Canada, second only to Joe Clark. And he is the first elected Prime Minister who is the child of a previous elected Prime Minister. He is the son of Pierre Trudeau, former Prime Minister of Canada. He has performed some amazing feats, one of which was to lead his Liberal party from third place (by the number of seats) to first place, thus winning a landslide victory. He had the largest increment in number of seats of any party in Canadian history. It is not surprising, then, that Forbes Magazine ranks him among the most powerful persons in the world. He stands 69th in that list.

Justin Trudeau was born Christmas eve in 1971, while his father was still in office. Despite repeated protests from his wife, Pierre Trudeau was permitted into the delivery room. Little did they know that their son would follow in his father’s footsteps. In fact, in April 1972, American President Nixon raised a toast “Tonight, we’ll dispense with formalities. I’d like to toast the future prime minister of Canada — to Justin Pierre Trudeau.” The Prime Minister noted that should this come true, he would want his son to have “the grace and skill of the President” (Nixon). In April 1972, Nixon gave a champagne toast during a buffet meal. His remarks have become known as the Nixon prophecy. “Tonight, we’ll dispense with formalities. I’d like to toast the future prime minister of Canada — to Justin Pierre Trudeau.”

 

In 2009, Trudeau spoke of his parent’s marriage. “They loved each other incredibly, passionately, completely. But there was 30 years between them and my Mom never was an equal partner in what encompassed my father’s life, his duty, his country.”

Since childhood, Justin was given the “normal” treatment, to make sure that he was raised without any unreasonable privileges. He was sent to a public school, and used the school bus (as opposed to a limousine) to his school.

Later in life, Justin Trudeau has used his public status to promote various causes. For instance, he and his family, started the Kokanee Glacier Alpine Campaign for winter sports safety in 2000, two years after his brother, Michel Trudeau, died in an avalanche during a ski trip.

In 2002, Trudeau criticized the British Columbia’s decision to suspend its funding for a public avalanche warning system.

In 2005, Trudeau fought against a proposed $100 million zinc mine that he argued would poison the Nahanni River, a United Nations World Heritage Site in the Northwest Territories.

He became involved with the Liberal Party from a young age, and that involvement progressed over the years. He won the party’s nomination in 2007, and in 2015, he led his party to win the elections in one of the biggest upsets in the Canadian political history. The rest, so far, is history.
For a good laugh, just watch the short video below. Some Americans’ thought on who Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is.

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Trudeaumania

Canada is a great country, having seen mostly peace for all of its existence, and being one of the countries whose history is almost impeccably laudable. Building that amazing history has partly been due to the fact that our leaders have mostly done the right thing for our country. And when the topic of good leaders come, our modern history has seen one whose name always stands out. Pierre Trudeau, the father of current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been an inspiration for an entire generation, with his wonderful period as a Prime Minister.

A personality that dominated the entire country with such ferocity as never seen in our country’s history, Pierre Trudeau had a great career as a popular political figure, loved by many. Beginning his career as a lawyer and activist in Quebec politics, Trudeau joined the Liberal Party in 1960s, and was quickly appointed the Parliamentary Secretary of Lester B. Pearson. He went on to become the Minister of Justice of the country. Such was his following that some even give it the term “Trudeaumania.” He stayed as Prime Minister for a long period, before resigning from his post finally in 1984. His leadership has been seen as a remarkable, and often favorably polarizing period for Canada.


An example of him holding tight to his decision in a crisis is the FLQ episode. Canadians were shocked on October 19, 1970 when Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and the House of Commons passed the War Measures Act.

The federal and Quebec governments where struggling with the Front de Liberation du Quebec(FLQ). The had kidnapped British Trade Commissioner James Cross on October 5. They held him for a ransom of $500,000 and demanded that the CBC broadcast the FLQ manifesto.

Then they abducted Quebec Labour Minister Pierre Laporte on October 10; his body was discovered eight days later.

At one point, from the steps of parliament, the press asked him about the extreme implementation of the War Measures Act, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau replied, “Just watch me.” That statement would forever become a part of Trudeau’s legacy.

Some of his biggest national achievements during his term as Prime Minister were suppressing the Quebec sovereign movement, and building Canada as a nation with unity as a core principle. He is also known for introducing bilingualism as official policy of Canada, and for his Patriation of the Constitution. It was under him that Canada stopped being ruled by British laws that could be changed by the British, and it was the moment when Canada finally got sovereignty. This event has had him hailed as the “father of modern Canada”.

PM Pierre Trudeau doing a pirouette behind the Queen

Every great person has critics, and so did Pierre Trudeau. His critics impugn him with claims of arrogance and poor economic management, and of having centralized the management of Canada (which has been hailed as a very good thing by others), thus robbing Quebec of the culture and economy of Prairies. But whatever the naysayers speak, Trudeau has been consistently shown up in a list of the greatest Prime Ministers of Canada.

Pierre Trudeau has been considered one of the most loved, and the most hated of the Canadian Prime Ministers. This is because of the charisma and confidence that he held, along with his focus on uniting Canada and making sure that the country has one holistic identity. But he is also known for his antipathy towards his political opponents, and his dislike for any sort of compromise have also gained him some critics. In fact, it has been said the it was Mackenzie King, who was the only other person who had matched such levels of electoral success as Pierre Trudeau. This mad made Canada what it is today, fought for recognition, and suppressed any factional uprisings to make the country whole. That is something that is going to be on the history books forever.

 

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Canadian Cuisine Timeline 1907-1980

Before I go on to the Canadian food inventions and innovations, I think it’s important to list in broad stroke of our timeline. Because of the length, I am breaking up the timeline into three posts.  This is post three.  You can find the introduction post at https://tkmorin.wordpress.com/2015/06/20/canadian-cuisine-intro/, and post one at https://tkmorin.wordpress.com/2015/06/27/canadian-cuisine-timeline-1497-1793/ and part two at https://tkmorin.wordpress.com/2015/06/27/canadian-cuisine-timeline-1816 -1890/ .

Canadian Food Graphic1907: The Meat and Canned Food Act becomes law. This enabled the federal inspection of meat-packing plants. As a result, Canadians stop dying from bacteria-infected meats and botulism.

1909: George Saunders hybridizes cold-tolerant, disease-resistant wheat called Marquis that sees distribution to all prairie farmers. After a decade, Saunders’ discovery accounted for 90 percent of Canada’s wheat crop.

1910: Arthur Ganong, a St. Stephen, N.B., chocolate maker, created the chocolate bar after deciding that fishermen might like a convenient form of his chocolGanong Chocolate Bar Pictreate. It is interesting  to note that the company was the first to introduce a heart-shaped box of chocolates in North America.

1914: World War I begins, and Canadians begin food rationing. Housewives learn to bake barley bread.

1919: Toronto grocers Theodore Pringle Loblaw and J. Milton Cork opened the first Loblaw Groceterias store modelled on a new and radically different retail concept, namely ‘self serve.’

1920: James Lewis Kraft, born in Stevensville, Ontario, added a Montreal cheese factory to his growing food-processing empire and gave Canada a taste of his patented invention – processed cheese.

1924: Clarence Birdseye founds the General Seafood Company and perfects his freezing technique through a device he called the Quick Freeze Machine. Clarence Birdeye’s Labrador invention enableed access to almost-fresh veggies all winter long. However, there was no way for storekeepers to stock frozen products. Soon, Birdseye invents a freezer that will help both the public and store-keepers.

1929: The Great Depression. Hard times have a marked effect on the nation’s eating habits, and dinners change from roast beef, to casserole, to creamed salmon on toast, to liver loaf with ketchup (meat loaf).

1929: The Wonder brand was licensed to George Weston’s Canada Bread and to this day remains one of largest-selling breads in Canada.

1937: Kraft Dinner first appeared on grocery store shelves.

1939: Canada was at war. With women working in factories, manufactured foods that can be quickly prepared became an intrinsic part of wartime family meals.

1940: Fred Moffat, an electrical researcher for the Canadian General Electric, invented the electric kettle, and breakfasts became even quicker.

1942: Food rationing became law. Sugar: 3/4 lb. per week per person was reduced to 1/2 lb.; tea and coffee: 1 oz. per week per person; butter: 1/2 lb. per week per person; and meat: 2 lb per week per person.

1945: Canadian servicemen and women who fought in Italy return from the war with a taste for pizza.

1946: American scientist Percy Spencer accidentally discovered that microwaves cook food when a radio transmitter he is perfecting melts a candy bar on his worktable.

1952: Our first television station, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), begins broadcasting in Toronto and Montreal, and one of the first commercial advertisers is the Campbell Soup Company with their famous Campbell Kids cartoon characters.

1954: The Saputo family, recently immigrated to Montréal from Italy, turns to making cheeses for the Italian community. In 1957, capitalizing on the rising popularity of pizza, they established a factory.

TV Dinner advertisement1956: Loblaw Groceterias began selling “TV Dinner Brand Frozen Dinner”, a C.A. Swanson product.

1957: McCain Foods opened a plant in Florenceville, New Brunswick to process potatoes into frozen French fries. Today they have over 30 factories around the world.

1962: Edward Asselbergs, a research scientist at the Canadian Department of Agriculture in Ottawa, invented instant mashed potato flakes.

1964: Tim Horton, hockey player, opened a doughnut shop in Hamilton, Ontario. Today, there are as many as 4,590 locations in Canada.

1980: M&M Meat Shops open a store in Kitchener, Ontario. Today there are about 500 stores across Canada.

In my next posts, I will focus on each province and territory and their individual flavours.

 

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Canadian Cuisine Timeline 1497-1793

Canadian Food Graphic

A lot of the food and dishes that are “Canadian,” are in fact a result of the early years’ immigrations.  As such, before I go on to the Canadian food inventions and innovations, I think it’s important to list a broad stroke of our timeline.  Because of the length, I am breaking up the timeline into three posts.

1497: Giovanni Caboto (better known as John Cabot) sailed from Bristol, England, in search of a trade route to the Orient. Three months later, he returned home to tell of finding a whole New World of tall trees and waters so thick with fish that could be hauled aboard in buckets. This secured him a five-ship voyage to return. It was disastrous for him as he died on the voyage, but his ships returned and corroborated his fishy tales.

1534: Jacques Cartier sailed into the Gulf of St. Lawrence to Chaleur Bay, where he met a group of Iroquois. He was invited to a feast of seal, cod and sturgeon, maple sugar-glazed moose loin, corn soup and cakes.

1580: New varieties of food were discovered on a regular basis: avocados, chili peppers, corn, peanuts, potatoes, tomatoes, pineapples, just to name a few.

1606: Samuel de Champlain, cartographer and explorer, established Port Royal. He created the Order of Good Cheer (L’Ordre de Bon Temps). Prominent members of the settlement took turns hosting special meals. The benefits were a healthy competition within the group, better nutrition and, it made it easier to wait for the spring. You can view my earlier post about this at https://tkmorin.wordpress.com/2013/05/11/order-of-the-good-time/

1670: England’s King Charles II granted the lands to the Hudson’s Bay Company. They, in turn, built trading posts and kept them supplied with trade goods and food. Every post was well stocked with butter, tea, biscuits, coffee, cane sugar, salt beef, and other necessities from home.

1755: The deportation of the Acadians from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and New England began. Many were transported back to France but most dispersed to southern areas such as Louisiana where they became known as Cajuns. Years later, almost half the Acadians returned to Canada, bringing not only their old Acadian cuisine but also their new Cajun style of cooking.

1759: Immigration to Canada increased. Consequently, ships were loaded with settlers arriving almost daily, and the Canadian food experience switched from a pork, fish, wine and sauce-based cuisine to one built upon mutton, beef, peas and beer. Taverns became popular with beer and roast beef with mushy peas.

1769: The Experienced English Housekeeper, written by Elizabeth Raffald, was published in London, England, and became essential reading for those headed for Canada.

1775: The American Revolution began. Staples such as salt, molasses, spices, citrus, tea and coffee become unavailable.

Because of losing the Seven Years’ War (1756 – 1763), France ceded Canada to Britain, which precipitated a mass migration, especially from Ireland and northern Scotland. Britain offered emigrants free passage along with some provisions – such as tools, salt, food rations, and armaments. Big meat ruled, but it was all tough as nails. Luckily, the English had learned the trick of tenderizing meat from the Romans, and after a few weeks of hanging and a bit of mould scraping, there was your Sunday dinner. It was a bit ripe, but a good long roasting fixed that, and from this habit of culinary utilitarianism came the British reputation for overcooking food.

Late 1700s, potatoes became as ever-present as corn and apples. Potatoes did very well in the Maritimes because the soil was suited to growing them. In addition, just like grain and apples, the excess could be easily distilled into alcohol.

1783: United Empire Loyalists fleeing the American Revolution arrived in all parts of Upper Canada and the Maritimes. They brought both their cuisine and their slaves, with each having an impact on the evolution of Canadian cuisine – roast duck laced with cayenne pepper was a culinary eye-opener for Canadian settlers.

1786: John Molson bought a small brewery in Montreal and began creating a financial, nation-expanding empire that would include banks, lumber, steamships, a railway and larger breweries. Called the nation’s greatest entrepreneur, John Molson and his business endeavours created a demand for timber and grains.

1790: A salt boiling operation was established at Twelve Mile Creek (now St. Catharines, Ontario) by William Merritt, an immigrant from Liverpool, England, a city with a long history of salt production. The British government in Upper Canada discontinued the practice of supplying each settler family with a barrel of imported salt.

1793: Slavery was abolished in what is now Ontario. Therefore, villages opened inns and taverns whose kitchens offered employment to displaced cooks, escaped U.S. slaves and returning Acadians. Some of them were famous for their dinners that were usually Southern-inspired dishes like slow-baked Virginia-style ham and biscuits, crayfish pie, fried fish, frog legs, cornbread, yams, tomato salad, corn on the cob and syrupy dessert pies, along with traditional roasts of beef, mutton, and wild game. A treat for travellers, Southern-style foods found approval in home kitchens, a fact that led to the design of Canadian cooking stoves with tops that facilitated iron frypans and boiling pans.

Some of my earlier related posts:

https://tkmorin.wordpress.com/2015/01/15/may-west-and-a-jos-louis/
https://tkmorin.wordpress.com/2014/12/17/today-we-celebrate-maple-syrup/
https://tkmorin.wordpress.com/2014/11/16/making-do/
https://tkmorin.wordpress.com/2013/07/01/only-in-canada-you-say/
https://tkmorin.wordpress.com/2013/06/28/pushing-his-luck/

Tomorrow’s post will cover the years of 1816 to 1890.

 

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101 Facts About Canada

Canada is interesting. I’ve said that many times. Some have asked me “in what way?” So here are a few ways:

 

  1. 10% of the world’s forest is in Canada
  2. 15.9% of the population is 65 or older. 68.5% are between the ages of 15 and 64.
  3. 17% of Canadians are daily smokers.
  4. 280,681 new permanent residents were welcomed to Canada in 2010. That number does not include temporary workers or foreign students.
  5. A 9.3 kg lobster is the largest documented lobster caught. It was caught in Nova Scotia in 1977
  6. About 90% of Canada’s population is concentrated within 160 kilometers (100 miles) of the Canada/U.S. border.
  7. Canada became a country on July 1, 1867
  8. Canada birth rate is 10 births/1,000 population
  9. Canada features the longest coastline in the world, stretching 202,080 kilometers (125,570 miles).
  10. Canada fertility rate is 1.59 children born/woman
  11. Canada has 198 jails.
  12. Canada has hosted the Olympic Games 3 times; 1976 in Montreal, 1988 in Calgary and 2010 in Vancouver.
  13. Canada has over 30,000 lakes.
  14. Canada has six time zones.
  15. Canada has ten provinces and three territories.
  16. Canada has the 9th lowest population density on the planet
  17. Canada highest point: Mount Logan 5,959 m
  18. Canada infant mortality rate is 5 deaths/1,000 live births
  19. Canada is home to 15 million cattle, 9 million of which live on the Prairies.
  20. Canada is home to about 55 000 different species of insects.
  21. Canada is rich in resources such as zinc, nickel, lead and gold.
  22. Canada is the largest producer of uranium in the world.
  23. Canada is the second largest country in the world by total area (Russia is the largest).
  24. Canada officially got its own national flag on February 15, 1965 — almost 100 years after it became a country (in 1867).
  25. Canada population growth rate: 0.77%
  26. Canada shares the longest land border in the world with the United States, totaling 8891 kilometers (5525 miles).
  27. Canada’s literacy rate is over 99%.
  28. Canada’s only desert in British Columbia is only 15 miles long and is the only desert in the world with a long boardwalk for visitors to walk on.
  29. Canadian sports icons include Wayne Gretzky (hockey), Steve Nash (basketball), Mike Weir (golf) and Cassie Campbell (women’s hockey).
  30. Canadians call the one dollar coin the loonie. When in full production, 15 million loonies can be produced per day.
  31. Canadians can deduct a number of things from their tax software, but I bet you didn’t know that dog food is tax-deductible in Canada.
  32. Canadians generate 640 kilograms per person per year of waste.
  33. Churchill, Manitoba sees one of the largest annual polar bear migrations.
  34. Daylight savings time does not occur in Saskatchewan.
  35. Despite being a huge country, Canada has the fourth lowest population density in the world, with only three people living per square kilometer! Almost half of the population in Canada were born in other countries.
  36. Fifty percent of the world’s polar bears live in Nunavut.
  37. Graeme Ferguson co-invented IMAX. There are over 500 IMAX theaters in 45 countries.
  38. Half of the country is covered with forests, which should come as no surprise considering one-tenth of the world’s forests are here.
  39. Ice hockey, football and baseball are Canadians favorite spectator sports.
  40. In 1576, Martin Frobisher discovered the strait that bears his name.
  41. In 1792-94, Captain George Vancouver painstakingly surveyed the west coast of Canada.
  42. It wasn’t until 1610 that Henry Hudson sailed through Hudson Strait into Hudson Bay.
  43. Its population density is 8.6 people per square mile, making Canada the ninth-most sparsely populated nation in the world.
  44. John Cabot was the first explorer to reach Canada in 1497.
  45. Mackenzie River is the Longest River in Canada
  46. Navigation of the north-west passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific was first achieved by the Norwegian explorer, Roald Amundsen in 1906.
  47. Newfoundland didn’t become a province until 1949.
  48. Newfoundland is nicknamed “The Rock.’
  49. Newfoundland was the first part of Canada to be explored by Europeans
  50. No cows in Canada are given artificial hormones for milk production.
  51. Prince Edward Island, Canada’s smallest province is only 225 kilometers long and 56 kilometers wide.
  52. Second-largest country in world.
  53. Six cities in Canada have a population of over 1 million: Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and Ottawa.
  54. Some of the world’s largest wheat fields are found in Saskatchewan.
  55. The 2 main languages spoken in Canada are English and French.
  56. The Bank of Canada opened its doors in 1935 and issued its first bank notes.
  57. The CN Tower in Toronto was the world’s tallest free-standing structure until 2007.
  58. The Canadian motto, A Mari Usque ad Mare, means “From sea to sea.”
  59. The Northwest Territories is called The Land of the Midnight Sun because the sun barely sets around the summer solstice.
  60. The Royal Montreal Golf Club, founded in 1873, is the oldest golf club in North America.
  61. The S&P/TSX is the fourth largest exchange by market cap in the developed world.
  62. The US buys more oil from Canada than any other country.
  63. The US, the UK and Mexico are the top countries visited by Canadians.
  64. The West Edmonton Mall is the largest in North America
  65. The age at first marriage for men is 29 years, 27.4 years for women.
  66. The average Canadian watches 21 hours of television per week. 128,000 Canadian households have TV’s in the bathroom.
  67. The average household size in Canada is 2.6 people.
  68. The average life expectancy at birth is 81.16 years – the sixth highest in the world.
  69. The baseball glove was invented in Canada in 1883.
  70. The capital city of Canada is Ottawa.
  71. The coldest temperature ever recorded in Canada was -63C (-81.4F) on February 3, 1957 in Snag, Yukon.
  72. The east coast of Canada was settled by Vikings in about 1000 AD. It’s definitely worth a visit to L’Anse aux Meadows.
  73. The first indoor ice hockey game took place on March 3, 1875 at the Victoria Skating Rink in Montreal.
  74. The highest mountain in Canada is Mount Logan, Yukon Territory, 5959 meters (19,551 feet).
  75. The intersection of Portage and Main Street in Winnipeg has been called the windiest place in Canada.
  76. The largest non-polar ice field in the world can be found in the St. Elias Mountains, Yukon Territory. It covers an area of 40,570 square kilometers of which 16,900 square kilometers are in Canada, the rest being in Alaska.
  77. The license plate for cars, motorbikes and snowmobiles in Nunavut is in the shape of a polar bear.
  78. The longest highway in the world is the Trans-Canada Highway which is over 7,604 kilometers (4,725 miles) in length.
  79. The median age is 41 years.
  80. The most popular sport in Canada is ice hockey.
  81. The name Canada comes from the word ‘kanata’ which means ‘settlement’ or ‘village’ in the language of the indigenous St Lawrence Iroquoians.
  82. The official languages of Canada are English and French.
  83. The population in Canada in 2011 was about 34.3 million.
  84. The regent of England, currently Queen Elizabeth II, is the Canadian head of state.
  85. The world’s most northerly sand dunes are in Athabasca Provincial Park in northwest Saskatchewan. They are 30 meters high.
  86. There are 459 cars for every 1000 people.
  87. There are about 200 species of mammals in Canada.
  88. There are diamond mines in the Northwest Territories.
  89. There are nearly 2.5 million caribou in Canada.
  90. There have been 10 Nobel Prize laureates in Canada.
  91. Thirty two percent of Canadians are very happy, 55% are quite happy
  92. Thomas Ahearn invented the electric cooking range in 1882.
  93. Wasaga beach is the longest fresh water beach in the world.
  94. Whistler, British Columbia is consistently ranked as one of the best places in North America for downhill skiing.
  95. Winnie The Pooh Was Based On A Canadian Bear
  96. Winters can be very cold in Canada with temperatures dropping below -40 °C (-40 °F) in some parts of the country.
  97. You can swim with beluga whales in Churchill, Manitoba.
  98. You’ll find about 630 bird species in Canada.
  99. Recognised regional languages include Chipewyan, Cree, Gwich’in, Inuinnaqtun, Inuktitut, Inuvialuktun, North Slavey, South Slavey and Tłı̨chǫ.
  100.  Currently, the Governor General is David Johnston, and the Prime Minister is Stephen Harper.
  101. The Vikings were the first Europeans known to land in Canada, in what is now Newfoundland, led by the Viking explorer Leif Erikson.
 

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Canada’s Worst Avalanche Disaster

The 1910 Rogers Pass Avalanche killed 58 men clearing a railroad line near the summit of Rogers Pass across the Selkirk Mountains in British Columbia on March 4, 1910. It is Canada’s worst avalanche disaster.

Photo of workers recovering bodies from the avalanche

Workers recover bodies and clear the tracks on March 5, 1910.

The winter of 1909–1910 provided conditions particularly conducive to avalanches; many slides experienced during January and February. On March 1, 96 people were killed further south into the Wellington avalanche in Washington State.

Three days later, on the evening of March 4, work crews were dispatched to clear a big slide which had fallen from Cheops Mountain, and buried the tracks just south of Shed 17. The crew consisted of a locomotive-driven rotary snowplow and 59 men. Time was critical as westbound CPR Train Number 97 was just entering the Rocky Mountains, bound for Vancouver.

Half an hour before midnight as the track was nearly clear, an unexpected avalanche swept down the opposite side of the track to the first fall. Around 400 metres of track were buried. The 91-ton locomotive and plow were hurled 15 metres to land upside-down. The wooden cars behind the locomotive were crushed and all but one of the workmen were instantly buried into the deep snow.

The only survivor was Billy Lachance, the locomotive fireman, who had been knocked over by the wind accompanying the fall but otherwise remained unscathed.

When news of the disaster reached nearby Revelstoke, a relief train consisting of 200 railmen, physicians and nurses was sent to the scene. They found no casualties to take care of; it became a mission to clear the tracks and recover the bodies beneath 10 metres of snow. Several of the dead were found standing upright, frozen in place. Among the dead were 32 Japanese workers.

The disaster was not the first to befall the pass; in all over 200 people had been killed by avalanches there since the line was opened 26 years before. The CPR finally accepted defeat and in 1913 began boring the five-mile long Connaught Tunnel through Mount Macdonald, at the time Canada’s longest tunnel, so bypassing the hazard of Rogers Pass. It was opened on December 13, 1916, and the railway abandoned the pass.

To read a wonderfully written article, with photos and a map, I suggest clicking your way to the Weather Doctor.

Stay warm and safe everyone!

 

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My Top 5

It is said that the weather is something Canadians talk about a lot.  I find myself counting the weeks left to see Spring temperatures.  For today’s post, I decided to describe my top 5 weather stories of 2013.

Photo of a street in Alberta during the floods of 2013

Alberta Floods in 2013

 

1.  Alberta’s super flood of May/June washed across one-quarter of the province and through the heart of Calgary – the fourth largest city in Canada.  The damage losses and recovery costs from the flood to exceed $6 billion, including a record $2 billion in insured losses. Trees were literally skinned of their bark 10 metres above the ground by gravel and boulders barrelling along in rushing waters. In Calgary’s downtown, 4,000 businesses were impacted and 3,000 buildings were flooded. Water rose at the Saddledome up to the 10th row. In Stampede Park, stables and barns were under more than two metres of water.

2. Toronto’s Torrent of July  when the city faced two separate storm cells – one on the heels of the other – that slowed then stalled over the city. The one-two weather punch delivered more rain in two hours than Toronto usually sees during an entire July. Exacerbating the storm’s impact was the 38 mm of rain that had fallen on the city the day before. The Insurance Bureau of Canada estimated the July 8 storm costs at close to $1 billion in damages – the most expensive natural disaster ever in Ontario. Videos captured cars bobbing up and down on streets and highways, sinkholes opening up and snakes swimming inside stalled commuter trains. Thousands were stranded, necessitating rescue by boat in some instances. About 500,000 households were without power for as much as days.

3. February Fog on Fogo. No one got off Newfoundland’s Fogo Island for five days at the end of the month because heavy ice conditions and dense fog shut down ferry and air travel. The Island’s school closed, stores ran low on supplies and residents were unable to attend off-island medical appointments. Feelings of isolation and frustration only increased as strong winds blew more fog in on the Island instead of blowing it away.

4. The Nightmare during Christmas, happened the weekend before Christmas as a vigorous winter storm coated parts of eastern Canada with a thick mixture of snow, ice pellets, rain and freezing rain that plunged large parts of the region into days of cold and darkness. Thick glaze left roads and sidewalks slick and dangerous and knocked down power lines, leaving over 500,000 people without electricity. Though

Downed trees on a road

Nightmare During Christmas

picturesque, the Christmas storm created extremely dangerous conditions as fallen power lines intertwined with broken tree limbs dangled across streets and property. The affected area extended from Lake Huron, across the Greater Toronto Area, east along Highway 401 to Cornwall, through Quebec’s Eastern Townships and across the central Maritimes centred on the Bay of Fundy. The epicentre of the freezing rain was in southern Ontario between Niagara and Trenton where between 20 and 30 mm fell – more than two-year’s worth in two days. It crippled North American transportation at one of the busiest travel times of the year.

5. Prairie Perpetual Winter. Environment Canada considers the months of December through February as winter. Tell that to Canadians on the Prairies, where cold, snow and ice went on for seven months from October 2012 to April 2013, inclusive – the longest and coldest period in 16 years. Snows came early, stayed late and never disappeared. As a result, it felt and looked like winter from before Thanksgiving to a month after Easter. And with deep snow on the ground any warm-up was stalled until late May. Persistent cold – between March 1 and April 30, the average temperature in Regina was -8°C; eleven degrees colder than the previous year and the coldest period in 113 years. The prolonged winter was especially costly for governments. By the end of January, Saskatchewan had already spent $6 million more than usual on snow and ice control with much more to come.

I guess this year’s winter isn’t so bad after all.

 

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