Category Archives: travel

The Saint Lawrence

Some pictures from September along the Saint Lawrence River:

Camera: Leica M3


The Grizzly Torque


Grizzly Torque, circa 1957

In the fall of 1956, Bristol Foster was itching to get out and explore the world. He had recently finished his masters degree in biology at the University of Toronto. Foster immediately thought of his friend, Robert Bateman as an ideal travel companion. The two men mapped out a trip that involved crossing four continents. They only needed a vehicle.


Foster and Bateman picking up the Grizzly Torque in England

“… it had to be a Land Rover,” says Bristol Foster. So they ordered a 1957 Series I with an ambulance body. Foster went to Solihull to pick up the Rover, and get trained on their off road course. Bateman arrived later and they took the Series I on a shake down trip through Scotland.


Camping out of the Torque

Foster & Bateman set off for Africa with the newly christened Grizzly Torque. They had agreed to send regular articles and illustrations documenting their trip back to the Toronto Telegram, where they became known as The Rover Boys.

The Rover Boys had a very loose schedule. There was a general direction they meant the trip to follow, but the route taken from Point A to Point B was by no means a straight line. They were free to do as they wished, at a time when this type of travel was ideal. Today, it would be virtually impossible to make the same trek. Not only due to safety concerns, but the difficulty of getting visas throughout the area.

In the Belgian Congo, the little four cylinder engine whined from the excessive load. Some thirty members of the Mbuti tribe were crammed into and onto the Land Rover along with the two Canadians up front. They bounced along a forest track, with the tribe members laughing and singing traditional hunting songs. Foster and Bateman were in Africa, on an adventure of a lifetime. Robert Bateman, thinking back on that time said, “One of the greatest senses of freedom I think we’ve ever had.”

Bateman, now a renown Canadian artist and naturalist, painted small murals along the body of the Grizzly Torque, documenting the places they traveled through. The artwork is stunning, and no doubt caused some excitement with the people they met along the way.


Elephant meets Grizzly

The trip was not without unexpected “adventures”. The Grizzly Torque was flipped over on its side in India, after swerving to avoid a bicyclist. A window was lost in the crash, and was replaced with plexiglass.

In total, The Rover Boys traveled over 60,000 kms, through 19 countries, on 4 continents over 14 months with their Grizzly Torque. The trip ended in Australia with the Land Rover being shipped back to Vancouver after traveling throughout the Australian Outback. From there, the Grizzly Torque continued to be well traveled.

Foster used it on what was then known as the Queen Charlotte Islands, as he pursued his doctorate. It was eventually sold to a student studying peccaries in Texas. The student was raising a juvenile eagle at the time, and the raptor learned to perch up front between the seats. As an adult, the eagle rode happily along, all across the state of Texas, on various expeditions. The student returned to British Columbia with the Land Rover, where he sold the Grizzly Torque to a rancher. Things become murky after that. At some point, the well traveled Land Rover gets sand blasted down to bare metal, painted light blue, losing the wonderful murals, and its identity. The old Rover then spends decades out of the public view.


A blue Torque (?)

Stuart Longair now enters the story. A rancher has four old Land Rovers out in a field, and he wants them gone. Longair, has been a Land Rover cult member from an early age, since riding along with his father in a Series I as a young boy. He buys all four Rovers, sight unseen. The now, faded blue Grizzly Torque, spends the next decade out in another field. Then Longair comes across an old picture of Foster & Bateman with the Grizzly Torque, and he starts to wonder about the neglected Rover he purchased over a decade ago. Longair gets a hold of Bristol Foster, and convinces him to come out and look over the blue Rover. Foster immediately recognized the Grizzly Torque under all of the neglect, but to make sure he went over to the driver’s side door, and found that it was still fitted with the replacement plexiglass from India.


The Grizzly Torque restored

Now that Longair knew that he had a piece of not only Land Rover history, but Canadian history too, he went about restoring the Grizzly Torque. Working off of old photos, Robert Bateman himself, repainted the Rover’s murals along the flat sides.


The Rover Boys reunite with a restored Grizzly Torque


The restored Grizzly Torque and its repainted murals


The eagle in the Grizzly Torque, somewhere in Texas

Photos credit: Bristol Foster & Robert Bateman; Video credit: Land Rover


Musée Gilles-Villeneuve

Berthierville, Québec


The Gilles-Villeneuve Museum

When we were in Quebec, The Curator, The Brazilian and I visited the Gilles-Villeneuve Museum, which is just north of Montreal.


A real-size bronze statue of Gilles Villeneuve outside the museum

The museum opened in 1988 in an old post office building. By 1995, the museum had outgrown the original building, and moved to its current location. The museum receives, on average, 20,000 visitors a year.

Villeneuve began his racing career on snowmobiles in Quebec. It was his main source of income as a professional driver starting out in his late teens. In 1974, Villeneuve won the World Championship Snowmobile Derby, which only heightened his popularity on the ice.

In 1977, McClaren offered Villeneuve a ride in five Formula One races, making his debut at the British Grand Prix. He finished ninth in that race.


Enzo & Gilles

Dropped by McClaren, Villeneuve signed on to race for Ferrari for the final two races of 1977 and the 1978 season, picking up his first win at the 1978 Canadian Grand Prix. In 1979, Villeneuve finished 2nd in the Formula One World Championship.

In total, Villeneuve won six Formula One races, with his last win coming at the 1981 Spanish Grand Prix.

Gilles Villeneuve died on 8 May 1982. During his final qualifying session at the Belgian Grand Prix at Zolder, Villeneuve came over a rise at 140mph, and hit the back of a slower moving car driven by Jochen Maas. Villeneuve’s Ferrari went airborne for over 100 meters before nosediving into the asphalt and disintegrating as it somersaulted. Villeneuve was 32.

The museum is full of Gilles Villeneuve memorabilia, including his personal Ford 4WD pickup. It’s well worth a stop if you’re in the Montreal area.


Florida Everglades

Through the lens of the 66:


A Water Life


Just one of many streams I found while hiking in Florida. The Everglades offer some phenomenal canoe routes that I’d love to experience sometime.

 

Camera: Kodak 66; Film: Kodak 120 Ektar 100


Saint Paul’s Union Depot


Saint Paul’s Union Depot in 1881

Union Depot first opened along the Mississippi River in Saint Paul, Minnesota in 1881. Nine railroads joined forces to form the Saint Paul Union Depot Company, they included the Great Northern; Northern Pacific; Chicago, St Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha; Chicago, Milwaukee & St Paul, Chicago Great Western; Chicago Burlington & Quincy; Minneapolis, St Paul, Sault St. Marie; Minneapolis & St Louis; Chicago Rock Island & Pacific.


Union Depot in 1889

The original depot was damaged by a fire in 1884 and was rebuilt. By 1888, 8 million passengers went through Saint Paul’s Union Depot, and 150 trains departed daily.
In 1913, the original Union Depot was completely destroyed by fire.


Union Depot today

New construction of the Saint Paul depot was driven by railroad tycoon James J. Hill. Architect Charles Sumner Frost was chosen to design the new Union Depot. Construction began in 1917, but World War I slowed the project considerably. It didn’t help that James J. Hill had died the previous year. The new Union Depot was completed in 1923 at a cost of $15 million. By contrast, the original depot cost $125,000 in 1881.


Inside Union Depot’s Great Hall

As luck and plans would have it, I’ve traveled through Saint Paul’s Union Depot several times over the past year. As a stop on Amtrak’s Empire Builder Line, there is daily service to/from Chicago and Seattle.

In 2010, Union Depot underwent a massive renovation by the Ramsey County Regional Railroad Authority. 10,000 square feet of Tennessee pink marble floors, walls and columns were cleaned of close to a century of use. The electrical, HVAC, and communications received extensive upgrades. One acre (38,000 square feet) of decorative ceiling plaster was restored. All 63 arched windows were removed & restored. The original oak cabinets, like the one in the photo above, were restored in St Paul, and put back in their original locations, complete with modern screens for train information.

After the $243 million restoration, Union Depot reopened to the public in December of 2012.

There is a small display of Union Depot’s history located near Gate B. Many of the items displayed here were found during the restoration in 2012.

Currently, Amtrak, the METRO light rail, Metro Transit bus service, Greyhound Lines, Jefferson Lines and Megabus all service Union Depot.


The Twin Cities Zephyr in Saint Paul, circa 1935


Algonquin Logging Museum


Algonquin Logging Museum Visitor Center

Located in Algonquin Provincial Park is the Algonquin Logging Museum. There is a visitor center with a bookstore and theater, but the exhibits are all outside along a 1.3 km loop trail. It’s a beautiful walk through the forest, but keep in mind the ground is uneven, so if you need the help of a cane, do not be too stubborn to bring it along.


Reconstructed “camboose”

During the 1800’s there were periods when over half of Canada’s able-bodied men, worked in winter logging camps. The earliest style of camp was the “camboose shanty”, a log structure with a rough wood floor and central fireplace. A camboose usually housed 52 men, had one entrance, and no windows.


Camboose roof

I loved the simple design of the camboose roof. Cedar logs formed into “scoops”, which provided a strong and waterproof roof.


Door to the horse stable

The horse stable was much like the housing for the men, just without bunks and fireplace. I took the picture, because I liked the hinges.


Horse-powered log lift

Prior to the arrival of logging trucks in the 1940’s, horse power was the means of log transport. Trees would be skidded to a loading area, then loaded by these lifts onto horse-drawn sleighs. The sleighs would then take the logs down to rivers and streams, and then floated out on the swollen rivers with the spring runoff.


Horse drawn V-snowplow

Due to the massive weight of a log-loaded sleigh, the haul roads had to be constantly maintained.


A water tanker

Loads could be as much as 20 tons. To keep the haul roads as slick as possible, crews would go out at night in their water tankers and spread water on the sleigh-runner tracks, which would freeze immediately. This particular tanker held 100 barrels of water.


The William M. “Alligator”

In 1889, hauling log flotillas across lakes suddenly became a lot easier. John Ceburn West had invented the “alligator”, a steam powered tug & winch paddlewheeler. The alligator ran on a 20 hp engine, which powered a paddlewheel on either side of the tug. The engine could be disengaged from the paddlewheels, to power the winch and log boom. The winch held 1.6 kms of steel cable. An alligator, powered by 3/4 of a cord of wood, could warp booms of 60,000 logs for ten hours. The alligator could also winch itself overland from lake to lake. The hull had two steel-plated runners, and progress overland was 1-1/2 kms per day.

The William M. was built in 1905, and is one of only three alligators that survive today in a reasonably preserved state. It steamed around the lakes of the Park’s north side until 1946, when it hauled itself out of the water for the last time. It was put on display in 1960.


Log chute

To float logs over obstacles or low water, a combination dam and log chute was built. This location saw the log chute in use in the 1920-30’s when logs were floated down the creek here.


Looking down the chute, per The Curator’s request

This chute is only 18 meters (60 feet), which would have been shorter than most of the era. Many were 100 meters long, and one (not in Algonquin) was known to be 16 kms (10 miles) long.


Inside the blacksmith shop

The blacksmith shop was from the 1940’s. The hand-powered, wall-mounted, drill press is purely for my enjoyment.


A “saddleback” locomotive

As late as 1959, log drives were made on some Algonquin rivers, but logs had been moving by rail long before that. The Ottawa, Arnprior, and Parry Sound Railway was completed in 1896 by timber barron J.R. Booth. At their peak, six different railroads operated in Algonquin Park. This locomotive was built in 1911 in Montreal. It’s a “saddleback”, due to its water tank mounted over its boiler. It originally ran on wood, but was later converted to coal.


International logging truck

The first trucks came into Algonquin in the 1930’s, and were used initially to pull sleighs. By the 1940’s the trucks had become powerful enough to haul the logs themselves. Horses were still used in the bush to skid the logs out, but even that ended by the 1950’s, with the introduction of the first mechanical skidders.


1953 International Harvester


Klondike Gold Rush Museum

Seattle, Washington

After checking into the Panama, I went out exploring downtown Seattle. First stop was a brewery and lunch. The second stop was the Gold Rush Museum. I have been to the Klondike Museum in Skagway, but this was the first time I have been to its Seattle counterpart.

The museum is located in the historic Cadillac Hotel building. The museum is not large, but they do a great job telling the story of the Klondike.

When word of the Klondike strike reached the outside world, men and women from all over, flocked to the port cities of San Francisco and Seattle. The effort just to get to Alaska was huge, let alone to get to the backcountry of the Klondike.

The museum offers you six people who joined the gold rush, to follow their journey from start to finish. One young man made his way across the country from Michigan when he heard of the strike. Buying passage to Alaska, he was offered either first class accommodations or second. First class slept with the horses, second class slept with the mules. He chose to sleep with the mules.

An estimated 100,000 individuals made their way to the Klondike in search of gold. 40,000 actually made it to the Klondike. Of those, only half (20,000) worked claims or prospected for gold. Roughly 300 Klondikers made more than $15,000 in gold, which would be around $330,000 in today’s dollars. Of that number, only 50 individuals kept their wealth for any length of time.


Klondike Packing List

The RCMP required that all stampeders entering Canada have a ton of provisions. That’s a lot of gear to haul on your back. That’s a lot of bacon!


The Golden Staircase on the Chilkoot Trail

Two young men who were visiting the museum at the same time, overheard that I was from Alaska. They hit me with quite a few questions, but it was obvious that they had one thing on their mind: The Chilkoot Trail.

As I’ve written on here before, I have hiked The Chilkoot, which runs roughly from Dyea, Alaska to Lake Bennett, British Columbia. I highly recommended that they get up to Skagway and hike the trail. Hopefully, they will do so, it’s a wonderful hike.