Category Archives: Technology

Renowned Canadian Explorer as you have never seen him …

Dr. Joseph MacInnis is a Canadian physician, author, underwater diver and aquanaut. He was born on March 2, 1937 in Barrie, Ontario.

He first learned to scuba dive in 1954, at the age of 17.

He earned his MD from the University of Toronto and did his internship at the Toronto General Hospital. It was during his internship that he came across John McGean, a tunnel construction worker who came in suffering from decompression sickness. This was the beginning of his lifetime passion in diving medicine and studying the effects that undersea exploration has on their psyche and physiology. He transferred McGean to a pressure chamber in Buffalo, New York. The patient fully recovered.

Between 1970 to 1974, MacInnis led four major scientific diving expeditions to Resolute Bay 965 kilometers (600 miles) north of the Arctic Circle.

On the third expedition, MacInnis established the first polar dive station, “Sub-Igloo.” This led to the very first filming of Harp seals and Bowhead, Narwhal and Beluga whales.

His team also discovered the remains of the HMS Breadalbane in the Northwest Passage, at 104 meters beneath the surface. The British ship sunk in 1835, crushed by ice.

He was heavily involved in the 1985 exploration of the Titanic. In 1991 he co-led a team in the filming of the IMAX movie of the fated ship.

Dr. Joseph MacInnis has written 9 books covering his explorations.

I would highly recommend dropping by Dr. MacInnis’s official website. And, to top things out, here are a few books he wrote:



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Like the Apollo Moon Landings

Have you heard of Mars One?

It’s goal to establish a human settlement on the planet Mars. Human settlement of Mars is the next giant leap for humankind. Mars is the stepping stone of the human race on its voyage into the universe. Human settlement on Mars will aid our understanding of the origins of the solar system, the origins of life and our place in the universe. As with the Apollo Moon landings, a human mission to Mars will inspire generations to believe that all things are possible, anything can be achieved.

Mars One

Mars One

Mars One will select and train the human crew for permanent settlement. The search for astronauts began in April 2013. More than 200,000 registered for the first selection program.

The first humans to land on Mars are planned to start their journey from Earth In 2024. First humans will land on Mars in 2025.

In 2026, a settlement will expand with departure of Crew Two. With the second crew, the cargo for the third crew is also launched. The second crew lands on Mars in 2027. They are welcomed by the first crew, who has already prepared their living quarters. The hardware for crew three will land a few weeks later and will be added to the settlement. This process continues as more crews land every two years.

At the moment, there are 4 Canadians training and preparing for the one-way trip:

1.   Joanna Hindle, age 42.  In her self-introduction is a quote from James Stephens – ” Curiosity will conquer fear even more than bravery will.” and continues to say, ” This adventure is full of hope and curiosity—two characteristics I believe have driven humanity’s most positive steps forward. I’m ready to give up everything I know to be a part of it. Her interests include learning, reading, pondering, writing, dreaming, outdoorsing, laughing.

2.   Sue (I could find no mention of her last name), age 42.  In her self-introduction she says, “Ever since I was a small child, I have dreamed of becoming an astronaut.  I am filled with wonder about what is out there in space, and I long to find out. I am a mom and a grandma, and while my life here on Earth has been a blessing, now that my daughter is grown and has a family of her own, I am ready for my next adventure.  It would truly be an honour to be selected to go on an amazing journey to colonize Mars.”  She quotes, “To infinity, and beyond!” from Buzz Lightyear.  Her interests, she tells us, “I love adventure!  You can find me hiking, backpacking and exploring the backcountry.  I enjoy SCUBA diving, yoga, learning about other cultures, volunteering in the community, and I aspire to travel to space one day.  I want to be a Martian!”

3.   Karen (I could not find any mention of her name either), age 53.  In her self-Introduction she says, “I’m a longtime TV journalist, freelance writer & teacher with a love of telling people’s stories and a real thirst for adventure. I freelanced as a reporter for network television (OBS) at the London 2012 Olympics. I’ve spent time in third world slums in Calcutta & Africa, volunteered in Haiti post earthquake, volunteered in New York after Hurricane Sandy & have taught in China.  I love to be a witness – to be other people’s eyes and ears. I love to tell a great story! Interests Committed to disaster relief & helping people in trouble.After the Tsunami in SE Asia,I helped launch a telethon at my TV station, raising close to a million dollars for the Red Cross. Have trained as a yoga/meditation & mindfulness teacher at the Kripalu Center in Massachusetts. Ommmmm 😉 Also have a certificate in Permaculture Design from The Omega Institute in New York.  This will come in handy when we start growing our own food on Mars and designing sustainable agriculture systems.  I can’t wait!”

4.    Daniel (Again I could not find mention of his last name, except where he says his name is Ben Cringer), age 28. In his self-Introduction, he continues, “I’m a PhD Candidate at the University of Waterloo, in Ontario, Canada. My research focuses on quantum error correction, but my real passion is colonizing Mars.”  His interests include Rocketry,  Light Gas Guns, and Space Elevators.

To learn more about the candidates and the program, you can start at Mars One Homepage.


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Zoom Zoom Zeep!

I fractured my back a awhile ago, and the only mobility I had for a few years, was a wheelchair.  That gave me the independence to go out and do my own grocery shopping, for instance.  Those years are behind me, but the appreciation for the chair has stayed with me like a dear friend.  When I’m downtown and I see people with an electric wheelchair, I smile inside, and say, “Go for it!” Quite the invention!  So today, I would like to introduce you to George Johann Klein.

George Klein sitting in his electric chair

Klein Drive Chair (sitting) in 1953. National Research Council Canada – From .


Klein was born on August 15, 1904 in Hamilton, Ontario.  He struggled in high school to maintain a consisten grade C (that’s between 50 to 59%).  Still, he did manage to attend University of Toronto, and became an inventor.  Besides his key contributions to create the first  electric wheelchairs for quadriplegics, he also invented  the first microsurgical staple gun, the ZEEP nuclear reactor (Zero Energy Experimental Pile, the first atomic reactor outside the US.),  the international system for classifying ground-cover snow, aircraft skis, the Weasel all-terrain vehicle, the STEM (Storable Tubular Extendible Member) antenna for the space program, and the Canadarm.

He worked for forty years as a mechanical engineer at the National Research Council of Canada laboratories in Ottawa  from 1929 to 1969.

In 1968, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada.  He died on November 4, 1992, at the age of 88, in
Ottawa, Ontario.  In 1995, he was inducted to the Canadian Science and Engineering Hall of Fame.

If you wanted to read about George Johann Klein, I would suggest the book: George J. Klein: the Great Inventor. For more information on the Internet, I would suggest the Canada Science and Technology Museum.


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Please share to show my pupils how far a photo can go (even if you don’t want it to!)

Everyone, not just children, should learn this lesson. Hopefully, this will help someone. -tkmorin

Not about everything

Sharing this, because it seems an interesting lesson.

I am teaching E-safety to my pupils at the moment and wanted to try a little experiment. Please share this photo and see how far it gets, I want to show my students how easily photos etc can go viral, even when you may not want them to. Share it and see how far it goes!


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This week in Canadian History – December Week 2

Canada’s Sherlock Holmes!

Murdoch Mysteries

Murdoch Mysteries (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Detective John Wilson Murray was the Canadian version of Sherlock Holmes. Are you familiar with Canada’s Murdoch Mysteries, a Canadian drama television series on both Citytv and CBC Television, featuring Yannick Bisson as William Murdoch, a police detective working in Toronto, Ontario, in the 1890s? Well, it’s based on Murray.

For most of his thirty-one year career during the late 1800s, he was the only provincial police detective in a jurisdiction that extended east from Montreal to Rat Portage in Manitoba. He never gave up on a case and his tenacity earned him the nickname “Old Never-Let-Go.”

Murray was born in Scotland in 1840 and moved to New York as a child. At seventeen, he enlisted in the United States Navy and he had his first taste of detective work during the Civil War. In 1862, he uncovered a complicated plot to free 4,000 Confederate prisoners.

After working as a special agent for the Navy he joined the Erie police force and, ultimately, came to Canada as Head of Detectives for the Canadian Southern Railway. In 1874, Ontario Attorney General Sir Oliver Mowat persuaded him to accept the position of Provincial Detective of Ontario.

Murray proved to be a tireless investigator who was far ahead of his time in scientific criminal detection. Many a conniving soul found themselves convicted literally by their soles, since he was one of the first detectives in the world to realize the importance of footprints. He regularly requested an autopsy on murder victims and had clothing and murder weapons chemically tested for clues.

Between 1875 and 1880, counterfeiters embarked on a bold effort that sent over one million dollars in phony bills into circulation throughout North America. The plates used to make the bills were so finely crafted that even the bank officials could not identify the fakes. In the far north-west $200,000 of such money was used to pay for furs that were shipped to England, Montreal and New York.

After contacting known “con” men in New York, Murray determined the bills to be the work of John Hill and Edwin Johnson, who were very skilful engravers. After discounting Hill as an active suspect, Murray spent months tracking Johnson and his family to Toronto.

He staked out the Johnson house, and began conducting covert interviews with everyone from the family’s butcher to the milkman to find patterns of behaviour.

Everything appeared normal, until one day Murray followed Johnson on a boozy, bar-hopping session from Toronto to rural Markham. After many stops, the tipsy Johnson paid for a drink with a counterfeit one dollar bill, and continued to so so at various stops, culminating in a four dollar purchase of a neck tie. Johnson was arrested.

Plates valued at $40,000 were unearthed in a north Toronto wood-lot, where they had been carefully wrapped in oilcloth and encased in a protective coating of beeswax. There were twenty-one separate copper plates used to recreate seven different bills, including a U.S. five dollar note. Johnson’s wife and seven children had all been involved in the creation and distribution of the phony money, which was printed only once a year and quickly turned over to wholesale dealers known as “shovers.”

Johnson’s fatal flaw was his penchant for using the counterfeit money when he was inebriated. His nemesis, Detective John Wilson Murray, noted: “Crime lost a genius when old man Johnson died.”

Fascinating man, don’t you agree? This is just one anecdote. To read more about Murray, here are a few places to start: for instance, there is the Dictionary of Canadian Biography, and then the Mount Royal University, as well as The Torontoist – all great reads! To read more still about this great man, you can download the 500-page book, “Memoirs of a great detective” by Victor Speer from 1904.


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Their clocks could be heard

Bell on the telephone in New York (calling Chi...

Bell on the telephone in New York (calling Chicago) in 1892 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In 1905, when Alberta and Saskatchewan became provinces, thousands of people were flocking to the Prairies. In the first ten years of the century, Winnipeg‘s population grew from 42,000 to 136,000. Regina‘s from 2,250 to 30,000. Edmonton grew from 2,600 to 25,000. Calgary‘s from 4,400 to 44,000. Saskatchewan from 113 to 12,000!

Because of this rapid growth, the provincial governments and municipalities were under pressure to offer public services. On November 1, 1908, the government of Saskatchewan established a Department of Municipal Affairs. Saskatchewan and Manitoba were the first provinces to do so.

The majority of newcomers were taking up holdings on the land, and their huge wheat-growing areas meant that their homes were widely spread apart. Alexander Graham Bell‘s new-fangled telephone had been fully accepted after a long struggle, and was a blessing to the Western farmers. In fact it was so essential to their welfare that a Rural Telephone Act was passed, making it possible for groups of five people to build, maintain, and use a rural telephone system.

In his book Saskatchewan: The History of a Province, J.F.C. Wright has an amusing story of how the rural telephone systems provided entertainment before radio. One prolonged ring on the line was a signal for all subscribers to lift the receivers and listen. There might be an announcement of an auction sale, dance, or public meeting, or perhaps serious news about a fire or other tragedy. Telephone conversations were seldom private, and were made with the knowledge that probably most of the other subscribers were listening. Their clocks could be heard ticking, or perhaps the shout of a child at play, or a sudden snore from grandfather asleep in his chair However, no one ever “let on” that he or she was listening If someone heard that a neighbor was going to town, he or she would allow an interval to elapse, then phone the neighbor and say, “Do you happen to be going to town today? If so, I wonder if you would mind bringing back some groceries for us?”

I remember “listening in” on what was called a “party line” when visiting a relative who lived in the country.  I must have witnessed the more boring conversations.  However, I do remember the parties talking finally knew someone was listening, and I soon heard, “Get off the line!”  I did.


Telephone (Photo credit: HowardLake)

Radio was a blessing in later years but it never provided the intimate entertainment of the country telephone system!

If you would like to read more about today’s post, I suggest going to Archives Canada, and there is a rather extensive article at the Canadian Journal of Communication. There’s an interesting article, also, at the Grey Roots Museum and Archives.


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Crazy Bell

English: Mabel Gardiner Hubbard, wife of Alexa...

English: Mabel Gardiner Hubbard, wife of Alexander Graham Bell, half-length portrait, seated, facing front (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The inventor of a telephone, Alexander Graham Bell, did some of his most important experimental work at Brantford, Ontario.  His profession was teaching deaf people to lip-read, and curing impediments of speech.  He also liked to play the piano.

One day he was visiting the home of Mabel Hubbard in Boston.  He was playing the piano and suddenly she said to her father, “Mr. Hubbard, sir, do you know that if I depress the forte pedal and sing “do” into the piano, the proper note will answer me, like this?”  He pressed the pedal and sang “do”; the piano responded like an echo.  Then he went on to explain that if two pianos in two different places were connected by a wire, and a note was struck on one, the same note would respond in the other!  It was the beginning of what was known as the “multiple telegraph” from which Bell developed the telephone.  Mr. Hubbard became one of his backers, and Bell married his daughter.

American publications often do not mention Bell’s work in Canada on the development of the telephone.  When the Bell Memorial was unveiled in Brantford, Ontario, on October 24, 1917, Alexander Graham Bell said that the telephone had been conceived in Brantford in 1874 and born in Boston in 1876.  Brantford could justly claim the invention of the telephone and the first transmission of the human voice over real live wires.

In 1876, using the wires of the Dominion Telegraph Company, Bell installed a telephone transmitter in Paris and a receiver in Brantford, twelve (eight miles) away.  This was the first telephone call in history.  Transmission went one way only but voices came through so clearly that Bell knew that his father was one of the speakers although he had not expected him to be there.  The transmitter was in Paris, the receiver in Brantford, and the electric battery that enabled the sound to travel through wires was in Toronto, 109 km (68 miles) away!

Alexander Graham Bell had wire strung all around Brantford, using stove pipes for poles.  He was known as “Crazy Bell,” and invented the telephone a Boston newspaper insisted that he should be arrested for leading people to believe that it was possible to talk through a wire.  Altogether, he had to face 600 lawsuits from others who claimed that they had invented the telephone.  One of the claimants was a man called Reis.  When his “telephone” was demonstrated in court, it failed to transmit speech.  His lawyer explained, “It can speak, but it won’t!”  The patent for the telephone turned out to be the most valuable in the history of the world.

If you want to read more about this great man, I would suggest first reading a fascinating 71-page (.pdf) document “The Unveiling of the Bell Memorial” at the Brantford Library, and then visit the City of Brantford, and finally I suggest the Library of Congress
to read a letter from Alexander Graham Bell to Frederick W. Baldwin, December 24, 1917 – interesting digital version!


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