Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Bermagui - 36° 25' 35" S 150° 04' 17" E

Last week, Gabby received a call from her friends Allan and Vicki.  They were having their new catamaran delivered from Perth, Allan had fallen ill and they needed crew.  Would Kate and Sean be able to help out by crewing from Portland to Bermagui?

It didn't take much pondering and we found ourselves on two trains and then a bus bound for Portland. Portland is in the SW of Victoria and Bermagui on the south coast of NSW. Therefore our route was to include a transit of Bass Strait. Bass Strait is the passage of water that divides Tasmania from mainland Australia. It has the reputation as one of the world's most treacherous waterbodies due to shallow water, currents and weather systems. Indeed, the coastline from Port Fairy to Cape Otway is known as The Shipwreck Coast. 

"I have seldom seen a more fearful section of coastline." 

- Captain Matthew Flinders

What were we thinking?!

Our route

Fortunately due to improved navigation and weather forecasting, a transit of Bass Strait is no longer the crap shoot it once was. That said, there was a very nasty system blowing through and we needed to stay in front of it.

"Red sky in the morning, ... " (Portland Sunrise)

We arrived in Portland to discover that Keshi was more an apartment than a sailboat! At 46' long and 26' wide, she was as big as two Popeyes lashed together. And she is fast; we would need to be fast if we were to stay in front of the weather. We met the skipper - Mark, the most delightful chap - full of excellent stories and sailing adventures.

And off we went!

Keshi - on the wharf and ready to go

The salon

Able-bodied crew, ready for cold and wet weather

We past Cape Otway at sunset - we had survived the Shipwreck Coast! We rounded Wilsons Promontory, the southern most tip of mainland Australia, at sunset the following day.  We weaved through the oil rigs, recalling horror stories of 70kn winds at The Prom and the Tasmanian Ferry pounding into 11m waves.  The system was just behind us.

The Spirit of Tasmania pounding through the waves

Keshi's well protected steering station (not dissimilar to a ferry!)

We rounded Gabo Island and within half an hour, the lighthouse was recording huge seas and 50kn winds.  Gabo Island is the eastern gateway to Bass Strait and once around, we headed north and into more protected waters. Phew!

Looking out 'the back porch' towards Gabo Island lighthouse

We arrived in Bermagui after a voyage of 541nautical mile taking us 65 hours, 13 minutes - averaging over 8 knots with a maximum speed of an impressive 24.2kn! We enjoyed a few days exploring around Bermagui before flying back to Melbourne. What an adventure!

Safe in port with Captain Mark


Keshi's galley

Bermagui sunrise

Keshi's Owner's cabin

Not all champagne and sunsets - Mark and Kate doing some engine maintenance

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Portland (AUS) - 38° 20' 46" S 141° 36' 39" E

Having accomplished the task we came to Australia for (Graham's memorial service), we wanted to get back to some 'normal' routines.  As autumn is surely on its way, preparations like cutting and stacking firewood for the winter are things that need to be done.  As all the Findlay girls and their husbands were available, we jumped into this task with both feet.

Susan and Graeme turning logs into bite-sized pieces

Log-splitting fun!

The two properties have no shortage of firewood, having at least 50 acres each that rolls down to Main Creek.  Graeme and Wendy headed down to cut up the bigger deadfall at the creek and put it on the trailer.  It was then brought up to the shed, where we had a hydraulic log splitter waiting.  If you've never had the opportunity to play with one of these marvellous toys, I enthusiastically endorse the satisfying and effective work that can be done with it.  We all finished the work with our fingers and toes attached and working (except for Graeme, who started with half of one missing).

We also had the opportunity to help out on one of the neighbouring farms - Nazaaray Estates.  The farm (vineyard, actually) is owned by Param and Nermal Ghumnan, a lovely couple that sometimes put out the call for assistance when it is time for grape picking.

Gabby, Marcia, Sean and Tom picking 

Immigrant workers (shhh!  Don't tell the Immigration authorities!)

Many hands are needed for a short time and farmers are used to jumping in to help on these occasions.  Kate and I get to be part of the fray for a day and were involved in the 2021 Pinot Grigio harvest.  We had a lesson on how to cut the grapes from the vines without including a finger or even quantities of blood in the harvest.  Nermal made scones for an afternoon lunch and we got to have a look at the combined fruits (literally) of our labour after lunch.

Labelled Tupperware - Kate was here!

Not just work, though - we were invited to join the early morning swimmers at the Flinders Jetty - fun!

Swimming amongst anchored yachts - extra fun!

Other little tasks are getting accomplished, too: handrails firmed up; flyscreen replaced on screen doors; pantries re-ordered and stocked for winter.  Having these things to do helps to ease us back into the rhythm that brings a longer-term perspective to life after a big loss.  And then, suddenly ... the call came.

Gabby has some friends that she and Graham met while sailing.  In December, Vicki and Allan purchased a beautiful, big catamaran that they plan to use along the stunningly-beautiful cruising grounds along the east coast of Australia.  They are in the process of sailing from Perth, where they purchased it, to their home on the Sunshine Coast.  They made it as far as Portland when Allan became quite ill and needed to be hospitalized.  They had put out a call for crew to help the hired captain to bring it across the bottom of Australia and partway up the coast.  A sailing adventure ... on a catamaran!  We were very excited to do it!

Kate and I had never sailed on such a big catamaran and wanted to understand the pros and cons of this type of vessel.  This experience would help us to determine if a catamaran would be a consideration when the time came for us to purchase a vessel.  The need to get there and get moving was urgent - a weather window would be open between Wednesday and Saturday ... and it was Tuesday.  We hastily confirmed with Vicki and Allan, booked train and bus tickets, packed that night and get a ride to Frankston with Gabby first thing the next morning.

Masks on, we boarded the trains, then the bus and ten hours later, stepped onto Percy Street in the town of Portland.  It looks like a very quaint spot, but we won't have much time to explore before we cast off the lines tomorrow.  Captain Mark, whom we have not met, is arriving by bus tomorrow.  We'll make sure the boat is provisioned and ready to go when he arrives.

Wish us luck.

Thursday, March 4, 2021

Quarantine with Monkey - 33°51'57" S 151°12'41" E

 The story of Monkey, Popeye's HIGHLY Unofficial Mascot ...

When we were in Thailand, about to embark on our grand adventure bringing Popeye back to Australia, Craig commented that he would like a piece of artwork to fill the blank wall above the salon table. 

That big, blank wall needs something ...

"What a fine idea," we thought and immediately embarked on finding the perfect piece of art.  We had a few criteria for this search: it needed to fill the space, it needed to be as hideous as possible and it could not cost more than $10!

We came across stunning sunsets painted in gaudy colours on black velvet but were unable to negotiate prices much below USD 50. (seriously!) And the same with the water colours and those stunners on banana leaves.  Yet we persevered! 

It was in Bali on a visit to the Gitgit Falls.  

On the walkway down to the falls, we had to 'run the gauntlet' of vendors with the warning not to take interest in anything or the vendors will swoop.  It was then Sean saw him.  Monkey. Or more specifically, Monkey in a Boat! He was perfect, perfect size, perfect colours... But when asked the price, we were told USD 200. So Sean offered USD 5.  The negotiations continued until we were the proud owners of Monkey for USD 10!

Nyoman (our driver) and our newly-purchased artwork

And he made us laugh.  We laughed as we transported him back in the dinghy. We laughed as we hung him on that blank wall above the salon table.  We laughed when we thought of Craig's reaction when he first came aboard in Saumlaki. 

Monkey proved a perfect crew member.  His eyes would track you and we could see him from the helm. He kept us company on those late night solo watches.  He was always calm. Even when the Trade Winds blew up the seas and we were crashing and bashing and exhausted, Monkey stayed calm. He never dropped his oar and clung to the side of his boat no matter what the weather threw at us.  Indeed, he was such a part of the crew that we had forgotten that he was a joke when Craig finally met us.  

And Craig's roar of horror was well worth the effort!

Roll forward to today. We arrived in Sydney yesterday and brought to a hotel to quarantine for 14 days.  Craig kindly dropped us off a package filled with champagne, chocolate, books and... a framed photo of Monkey!

We are so enjoying having Monkey in quarantine with us.  He reminds us of our past adventures and the ones we will have in the future when we, once again, have the freedom to travel.

Wentworth Sofitel in Sydney - 33°51'57" S 151°12'41" E

Want or need to go to Australia right now? Here’s what you need to do:
  1. Have a valid reason for going. Australia has restricted the number of people that can fly (or even come by ship) into the country. You may end up waiting months for permission … even as an Australian citizen.

  2. Apply for an exemption for the travel restrictions (if you are not Australian) and prepare to wait weeks for an answer. Oh, and you must be married to an Australian or the answer is no.

  3. Once you get your email with an exemption for the travel restriction, ponder if you still need an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) - you do.

  4. Go onto the Australian Border Force website, find the online application for an ETA, fill it in until you reach the screen that won’t let you continue, saying that no one can apply for ETAs right now due to travel restrictions.

  5. Find and call the number for Australian Border Force, then find out about the unpublished website for applying for an ETA with an exemption.

  6. Fill out secret ETA online form, enter your credit card details.

  7. After 3 or 4 days, get your ETA.

  8. Purchase a return flight, costing at least $5,000 per person.  Melbourne is currently closed to international arrivals so try Sydney.  You’ll need to look for a flight that will not get cancelled or shut down by the ever-changing COVID restrictions, so you’ll need to book one that is leaving in the next couple of days. If you can find one…

  9. Complete the Australian Travel Declaration to determine whether you have to quarantine. Unless you are travelling from New Zealand, the answer is always yes. Be sure you print out the QR Code ‘cause you’ll need it!

  10. Drive all the way to Calgary to get a COVID test, but not until you have less than seventy-two hours before your flight. By the way, you’ve heard about someone that was turned around for having let seventy-SIX hours lapse between test and flight. Yikes.

  11. Remember that you've offered to help your BFFs move into their new house, so you both spend two of your remaining 3 1/2 days in Canada carrying cardboard boxes.  You are honoured to be part of their life-changing day and even going into this commitment, you wouldn't have missed it for anything.

  12. Wait at least a day for the results, knowing that a positive or false-positive test will waste all the previously spent money and effort.

  13. Pass your COVID test.

  14. Print out your travel exemption, your ETA, your COVID test results, your Travel Declaration QR Code, a copy of the memorial service details, a copy of your marriage certificate and take all of them with you

  15. Arrange for your house to be vacant for however long you will be gone. The walk will need to be shoveled; someone will need to be inside your house looking for leaky pipes (etc.) every few days; mail will need to be collected. You’ll need to turn down the hot water tank and the furnace; go through the fridge and cupboards and give away anything that might spoil while you are gone.

  16. Resign from all your volunteer commitments.

  17. Go to the grocery store and load up on enough snacks to last you through the whole trip, as you are likely to not be served on the airplane (COVID restrictions) and travelling through airports that aren’t busy enough for the restaurants and shops in them to stay open and serve you anything.

  18. If you don’t want to pay $18 per day to store your vehicle at the airport, arrange for a ride to the airport with the friend that will be looking after your vehicle.

If you have missed or made a mistake doing ANY of the previous steps, you will need to start again.

  1. When you check in, the airline agent won’t know how to check you through because you are travelling to a country that isn’t allowing non-citizens to go there. Your passport has been red-flagged and they can’t print you a boarding pass.

  2. Produce all your paperwork and explain why you are going.

  3. Bite your nails for an hour while they are on hold with their internal bureaucracy, trying to figure it out.

  4. When given a boarding pass with a seat number, proceed to the gate and hope the flight isn’t cancelled for mechanical or weather issues.

  5. Get to Vancouver and then prepare to connect to the United States.

  6. Go through US Customs in Vancouver and declare the apple you hadn’t yet eaten. Be dragged off to secondary processing. Wait. Watch lots of personal milling around, seemingly chatting about the weekend ball game. Wait a little longer. Does your apple have a sticker? No? Wait some more. Be politely but firmly reprimanded for having an apple in your bag. Get your passport stamped with a huff and be sent on our way.

  7. Hear your name being paged – to report to the gate for "an important message."

  8. Encounter another airline agent who says your boarding passes are invalid, there is a red flag against your passport and they cannot let you on the plane until you have a boarding pass for the flight leaving the United States (and let's just complicate this with a non-Australian entering Australia on an exemption and a dual citizen using one passport to enter the ‘States and a different passport to enter Australia).

  9. Explain your reason for going to Australia, prove you are married to an Australian, produce all your paperwork again, including your checked luggage tag, wait another hour whilst standing at the little booth as all the folks give you the hairy eyeball for taking up the agent’s time and making them wait behind you.

  10. Overhear the second agent radio the baggage guys to hold off loading your suitcase.  Then wonder if your suitcase will get reloaded when/if this issue is cleared up.

  11. Listen as the agent on the phone tries to figure out how to get rid of the red flag against your passports so she can print the boarding passes. Finally get your boarding passes.

  12. Worry whether San Francisco will be fogged in and the flight will get re-routed.

  13. Fly into San Francisco and have a five-hour layover in a terminal that is mostly deserted with not a single restaurant open. Now realized that it has been ten hours since breakfast.

  14. Have a moment of satisfaction because you did a good job of Step 17 (but you wish you'd been able to keep that apple).

  15. Be paged at the gate once again. Provide the agent with all your paperwork – passport, ETA, Exemption, Travel Authority, COVID test certificate, boarding pass. Freak out quietly and hope all your paperwork is in order. Breathe a quiet sigh when an OK is stamped on your boarding pass.

  16. After thirteen hours of traveling, watch as two people get turned away from boarding the flight because they have been vaccinated for COVID but did not think to get a COVID test anyways.

  17. Finally get on a near-deserted plane (twenty-five passengers on a 787 Dreamliner meant to hold three hundred) and revel in having your choice of empty rows.

    Pretty much all that are going to Sydney tonight.

  18. Fly for fourteen hours and try and get some sleep along the way, thanking your deity of choice that you can stretch across three seats.

  19. Finally land. Stay on-board until the previous flight has fully cleared the area.

  20. Deplane and walk and walk and walk until you are corralled by health officials.

  21. Have your temperature taken.

  22. Be interviewed by a health nurse about COVID symptoms.

  23. Shuffle around the corner and have you Customs Declaration ticked with a big, green tick by health officials, as a group, staying 1.5m apart, proceed to Customs.

  24. Provide passport, Travel Declaration QR Code, Exemption and have your passport stamped. Welcome to Australia. Oh and share a laugh with the customs official – you’re not in Kansas anymore Dorothy!

  25. Proceed to baggage collection. Pick up bag and join the line-up waiting for everyone to pick up luggage.

  26. Wait. And wait. And wait. Not quite sure why so let’s wait just a little longer.

  27. Proceed to Bio-security. Show declaration and have passport photographed.

  28. Join another line and wait. And wait. Until everyone is cleared. Yes even the lady who decided that home-made meals in Tupperware would be OK to take through Australian Bio-security.

  29. File past an Australian Federal Police officer and show passport.

  30. Be greeted by a friendly NSW police officer who is just there to say hi and direct us down the ramp to the armed forces personal.

  31. Be directed onto a bus by armed forces personnel who load our bags to be driven to your quarantine location.

  32. Wait for your police motorcycle escort.

  33. Get really excited when you hear that the hotel sounds really posh and is in downtown Sydney.

  34. Arrive at hotel and have a friendly NSW police officer board the bus to give you another form to complete and a bit of a briefing on next steps.

  35. Fill out the form and wait while you are called off the bus one by one.

  36. Finally your turn! Leave bus and enter hotel lobby. Point out your bags to the police officer who will carry them to your room.

  37. Hand in a form at a folding desk sporting two police officers and several laptops. Receive a dining menu and your room assignment.

  38. Go to a desk outside the lifts but neither of you can recall why because at this point, you are both super-jetlagged.

  39. Enter lift with friendly officer carrying your bags. Chat as you walk to room 952.

  40. You find your room to be quite large, a suite in fact with a separate bedroom and two bathrooms but you only have a view of other buildings and not the Harbour Bridge or the harbour. (Sigh)

  41. After thirty-two hours of travel, you may now, and ONLY now, take off that fucking mask.

  42. Realize that the reason they didn’t give you a room key when you were checked in (by military personnel wearing gloves, hospital scrubs and face shields) is that you aren’t allowed on the other side of your hotel door. AT ALL.

  43. Contact all of your Australian relatives because you didn’t want to get everyone excited and then crush their hopes because you were tripped on one of the previous steps. Tell them that you aren’t coming to Australia – you are already here.
How we let everyone know we were here was via a cheeky video.

You now have fourteen days to sleep, get over jet lag, arrange for a mobile phone (because you have to be able to communicate here), get any essentials that the hotel isn’t supplying (because they are used to their guests being able to go out and get their own toothpaste and arranging clean underwear for themselves) and figure out how you are getting from your quarantine hotel to your final destination. Wasn’t that easy? By the way, a similar process awaits you to get home.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

A COVID Project - 51° 04' 58" N 115° 22' 07" W

 COVID lockdown has enabled us to knock off items on our longterm to do lists.  Things such as touching up chips in the paint in the hallway around the house, rearranging the artwork and sorting out the coat closet where things had been shoved the day we moved in.  Those tasks are the "nice To Do" list - they are things that have minimal impact on your day-to-day life but give smug satisfaction when they are complete.

It was while sorting out the coat closet that I came across the bag of courtesy flags from our trip on Popeye from Thailand to Australia.  The six flags (Thai, Malaysian, Indonesian, Singaporean, Australian and Canadian) were in varying degrees of discolour and tattiness.  They represented a grand adventure but, really, what to do with them?  Toss them?  Ohhh, that's as tough as parting with baby memorabilia.  Are you even allowed to toss flags? What is the etiquette on flag disposal?  Hang them?  Hmmm, faded, tattered and torn nautical flags are not a fit in our mountain-themed decor. Thankfully, an epiphany presented itself!

What to do with faded, tatty flags?

Make a quilt!  

Inspired by the beautiful quilt Rachael made me when Dad died, my own quilt seemed the perfect way to preserve the flags and create something useful. The fact I had never made a quilt and knew absolutely nothing about the quilting process was no deterrent! So Google was consulted and I learned about batting and backing and binding and walking feet.  I created the design and discovered the quilt needed to be queen-sized to accommodate the flags.  This was in part due to the Indonesian requirement that their courtesy flag had to be bigger than the boat's national flag.  The Indonesian flag is huge!

Quilt design 101 - a self-study course

A trip to Fabricland supplied me with the thread, needles, fabric, binding and batting that the Internet said I needed. The Internet also told me I needed to buy specific tools at great expense.  A rummage through various boxes in various cupboards supplied old sheets for backing, a carpenters' set square, a cutting board and a rotary cutter, not quite as the internet insisted but I was sure they would be adequate for my needs.

Quilting tools rummaged from various boxes

I was very pleased the design asked only for four little sailboats as I cut and pinned and stitched.  I discovered that having fourth year university maths is a distinct advantage when quilting. 

We decided that I could not make a "Thailand to Australia" quilt without a nod to Monkey. So we organised to have a photo of Monkey printed onto cloth to incorporate on the back of the quilt. This took a little time and while I was waiting it did occur to me that perhaps I should have a little practice before I attempted to quilt a queen-sized quilt.  Having enough fabric and batting left over, I whipped up a couple of matching pillowcases! 

Monkey was finally ready but sadly, they had printed him sideways on the carefully sized and cut out fabric we had given the printers - and he was slightly crooked and off centre!  Never mind.  My stitching was slightly crooked and off centre anyway so Monkey fitted right in!

Monkey - still calmly paddling his boat!

Then in a flurry of pinning and taping and stitching and unpicking and restitching, double-checking with the Internet, head scratching, ironing and more stitching than one could ever believe was possible ever, the quilt was finished. Ta da!

The finished quilt

The backside with Monkey

A little summary of our adventure

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Lac des Arcs - 51° 03' 08" N 115° 10' 19" W

It's known locally as Wild Ice. It is a phenomena that occurs for only a few days a year, early in the winter.  It is when we have a sustained deep dip in temperatures as winter approaches, causing lakes to freeze before the first snow fall, thick and safe enough to skate on.  From a distance, it looks like water with the surrounding mountains reflecting on the ice.

This year we had that cold snap, so a flurry of posts to the local Facebook group began to appear, as anticipated as the first few kernels of popcorn on a saucepan over a fire.

"Get your skates sharpened.  It's at least 8 cm think at Gap Lake."

"Has anyone tested Lac Des Arc?"

When we felt it was safe (because those who are too keen and too early can and sometimes do fall through), we made arrangements to meet Rick and Sue early, while the morning air still held some bite.  The days are getting noticeably shorter, making it feel that much more of an intrusion on time that should be spent in bed, or huddled at the kitchen table with both hands wrapped around a warm first mug o' tea.  Driving along the secondary highway, the one that doesn't carry all the tourist traffic, with headlights still necessary to the agreed-upon meeting place, we pull into the deserted parking lot and kill the engine.  From the back of the van we remove the bag of skates, the hockey sticks and a milk crate to sit on at the water's (ice, really) edge.  

Rick and Sue are only a few minutes behind us.  We strategize about where to plop ourselves and equipment so as not to damage the skate blades by using them to wobble over rocks and to not have to penguin-walk too far in our shoes on slippery ice.  Although the sky above us is now light, we will still feel cloaked in darkness until the sun makes it's way above the peaks that create the Bow valley and it's not-warm-enough beams reach us.

Kate on Gap Lake


It is a magical feeling skating across a lake.  Through the ice you can see the lake bed - rocks, mud, weeds and sometimes, the odd fish.  The ice doesn't freeze exactly smooth and the imperfections cause a bumpity-bump feeling as you glide along.  Moving away from shore feels odd and an on-shore breeze holds us back more than you think it should.  Our legs feel stiff and heavy to start with, for the first twenty or thirty strides.  As we get further out, muscle memory takes over and we are able to take longer, smoother glides.  There is hardly anyone else on the whole lake and we feel very alive and humble and in awe of the beauty of this little nook in the mountains.

Feeling very Canadian at Lac des Arcs

This part of Canada is a wondrous place - and not just in the middle of summer.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Canmore Nordic Centre - 51° 5' 25" N 115° 23' 16" W

At the moment, Huntsville, Ontario is snowless and it has ended up benefitting us.  

In September, Kate had noticed a posting on a Canmore facebook group that was looking for someone to billet two athletes who wanted to get an early start to their cross country skiing training.  As we live just down the road from the Nordic Centre (where athletes from all over Canada come to kick and glide over 110 kilometres of well-groomed trails) and no prospect of visitors to occupy our two guest bedrooms, we offered to take in these unknown teenagers.

Several e-mails, phone calls and text messages later, we were primed to expect a 15- and 17-year-old from an area we had just visited in September.

Sophie and Mya at the Nordic Centre

Having Mya and Sophie has been delightful.  Enthusiastic, helpful and good company, Kate and I are very much enjoying their company.  They both train very hard - working out 3 - 4 hours a day.  Although they have prescribed workouts from their coach in Ontario, they are self-motivated and manage their schoolwork, music practice (Mya plays the flute) and dryland and ski training with no nagging or reminding required on our part.  They proven they can both eat like true athletes, contrary to their visible lack of body fat.  Kate, acting as a surrogate-Italian mama, plies them with overflowing bowls of dinner which they happily plow through.

They always seemed to have something to do and Kate and I appreciated having them around to occupy our COVID-restricted time and attention.  Even though the Nordic Centre is very close (as the crow flies), we offered to drive them when they needed to get there as it was pretty much uphill the whole way.  When the girls weren't training, they were always keen to tag along on our adventures.  We managed to get to Lake Louise for two days of recreational cross-country skiing.  We did a hike up Sulphur Mountain and happily rode the gondola down - no charge for us locals and our "kids."  We did a few pizza nights, sing-a-long nights and although we didn't socialize with anyone outside the house, we had lots of fun as a group.

Top of Sulphur Mountain - great weather!

Being good billetters, we are helping them with homework when we can.  One of Sophie's homework assignments was to identify and gauge the mood of music played in the soundtrack of Lord of the Rings.  As Fellowship of the Rings was available on Netflix, we decided to make it a movie night.  As the credits started to roll, Kate quipped, "... and that's it?!?" She didn't realize that the movie we had just watched was one of THREE.  Luckily, we had two more nights before they had to head home and dedicated ourselves to getting through all eleven hours of cinema before they had to go back to Ontario.

We now have a reason to keep up with the Ontario Cross-Country Age Group standings.


We were happy to have you stay with us and you are welcome back any time.  Just give us some warning so we can have enough groceries in the fridge.  

Monday, October 19, 2020

Time Zones, Meridians and the Longitudinal Centre of Canada - 49° 44' 29" N 96° 48' 35" W

According to worldwide standard time, there are six time zones in Canada - Pacific, Mountain, Central, Eastern, Atlantic and Newfoundland.  We live on the western edge of Mountain Time and we expected to lose an hour as we crossed into Manitoba (Central) then again as we approached Thunder Bay (Eastern) in Ontario.  Things appeared so orderly and simple.

No so fast...  

Canadian Time Zones as they really are!

Saskatchewan is Central Time (except for Lloydminister which is on Mountain Time) but choses not to observe daylight savings, so in the summer they line up with Mountain Time.  Manitoba is on Central Time but observes daylight savings. Western Ontario (west of 90°) is on Central Time and observes daylight savings, except the Atikokan and Pickle Lake areas.  They run on Eastern Standard Time year round.  Ontario (east of 90°) and Québec observe Eastern Time.  Oh, except for Québec east of the Natashquan River.  They observe Atlantic Standard Time year round. 

Phew.  Confused yet?  

So were we - and so was the GPS in our car.  Our phones, watches and car clock were often out of sync.  And we could not look skyward to judge the sun's angle to approximate the time as there is a big issue with the time of sunrise and sunset due to the size of some time zones.  The Eastern Time Zone is huge.  It is 2,500km from Thunder Bay to Gaspé.  The sunrise and sunset in Thunder Bay is an hour and three-quarters later than in Gaspé. So the sun rises at 6:45am in Gaspé but not until 8:20am in Thunder Bay.  No wonder we never knew what time is was!  

And it was a Canadian who gave us worldwide standard time - Sir Stanford Fleming! Now Sir Stan was a bit of a legend. Not only did he come up with the idea of time zones linked to the Prime Meridian, he designed Canada's first stamp, proposed the use of 24-hour time and engineered much of the Canadian Pacific Railway - and that was only in the first half of his life.  Quite the overachiever!  

The Meridians of Western Canada

So let's talk meridians.  They are very important in Western Canada.  When carving up the west to provide land grants to settlers (and in the process, breach the treaties and generally screw over the First Nations and Métis), The Dominion Land Survey created a series of meridians.  These are lines of longitude running between latitudes of 49° N and 60° N. The first meridian is at 97° 27' 28.4" W,  just to the west of Winnipeg and chosen because it was the extent of settlement at the time.  In creating the next six meridians, things became a little more orderly and the second meridian was established at 102°W.  Subsequent meridians are every 4° of longitude until the Seventh Meridian at 122°W.  

The Fourth Meridian, which establishes the border between Saskatchewan and Alberta is the world's longest surveyed straight line!  A definite need of a plaque for that!

Oh look! A Plaque...

Another point of interest is the Longitudinal Centre of Canada - the line midway between the extreme east and west of Canada - is at 96° 48' 35" or just east of Winnipeg on Highway 1.  The actual centre of Canada is 1 500km further north at 62° 24' 0" N 96° 28' 0" W.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Roadside Attractions of Canada - 49° 42' 00" N 96° 48' 35" W

If you are driving across hundreds and HUNDREDS of kilometres of countryside, it is very easy to whiz through the little towns and villages that lay strewn along your path.  The merchants of the petrol stations and lunch counters would prefer you to stop and toss a few sheckles their way, but what could tear your attention away from that endless dotted line that beckons you into the distance?  How about some of these things that we found?

8 metre tall moose statue,
Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan

Reginald, the giant grasshopper. 
Because everyone in Saskatchewan loves locusts.
Regina, Saskatchewan

At the tourist info centre in ...
(you guessed it) Indian Head, Saskatchewan.

Iroquois Falls, Ontario.

Spaceship with aliens looking out of the bottom portholes.
Moonbeam, Ontario.

The Big Loonie in Echo Bay, Ontario.  A huge display that
honors the most famous son of Echo Bay - Robert-Ralph Carmichael,
the designer of the Loonie.

Impressive statue for a village of 648 people.
Mattice-val-Coté, Quebec

Statue of Wolves About to Kill Two Moose
Hearst, Ontario 

Terrifying concept but great execution.
Beardmore, Ontario

Giant Snowman.
Beardmore, Ontario

There was no provincial dividing line on the country road
we used to traverse from Manitoba to Saskatchewan, so I made one.

The Big Nickel.
Sudbury, Ontario

Extra style points for saving this SUBMARINE from being cut into scrap metal
and somehow beaching it.
Pointe-au-Peré, Quebec

Paddle-To-The-Sea monument.
Nipigon, Ontario

Not sure who is more manic looking.
The World's Largest Free-Standing Banana.
Melita, Saskatchewan  

The most forlorn-looking Mountie.
Redvers, Saskatchewan

The Big Goose.
Wawa, Ontario

A big, empty field ... except for this.

Honorable Mention: Bathtub Marys
These do the lawns of small Roman Catholic towns of Quebec.  These shrines are so named
as they are often former bathtubs from old farmhouses that have been entombed in brick,
rock and mortar and have a saint or apostle on display inside.