Tag Archives: Canada

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.


Tale of three bears

Wapusk National Park, Manitoba, Canada

Wapusk National Park is a 11,475 square kilometer park located on the western coast of Hudson Bay. The University of Saskatchewan has been studying polar bears within the park since 2011. Wapusk sits at the transition of boreal forest and Arctic tundra. The park contains three different, but equally dynamic ecosystems: forest, tundra and ocean. Wapusk is one of the largest polar bear denning areas in the world, with a population of over 1000 polar bears venturing in and out of the park. During a five year period, remote cameras were able to document the visits of 366 polar bears within the park.

Since the southern portion of the park contains the northern edge of a boreal forest, it was no surprise to find images of black bears on the remote cameras. Researchers were surprised to find that the number of black bear visits were almost as high as the polar bears.

For the first time, researchers were able to capture visits from all three of North America’s bear species within the park. It wasn’t just a few grizzly bears that had moved into the area, but many, and at least one is believed to be denning within the park.

Barren ground grizzly bears have been expanding their range in the Arctic in recent years. The question now for park managers is what, if anything, should they do about it. Prevailing thought claims that the grizzly is a threat to polar bears. Is that based on research, or opinion? Have the two bear populations benefitted each other in the past, or clashed?

With the continued decrease of sea ice, and the grizzly roaming into new territory for food and habitat, this interaction of the two species will only increase.

It’s an interesting study by the University of Saskatchewan, and they ask some intriguing questions.

Photo credit: University of Saskatchewan; Research by Douglas Clark, University of Saskatchewan


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


Quebec City: Trois

Through the lens of the 66: Chapter Two

Camera: Kodak 66; Film: Kodak 120 TMax 100


Quebec City: Deux

Through the lens of the 66:


The Château Frontenac from the Citadel

The first edition, of what will be a quick series: Some shots taken with the Kodak 66 from the Canadian excursion. This was the only shot taken with color film in Quebec City, and it was the final shot on that roll of film. Lucas & I made a quick visit to a pub, to change film, and I was back in business, although shooting B&W.

The camera certainly gives a different look in color; almost like a 1950’s era postcard. It’s one of only a few rolls of color film I have shot through this camera.

Camera: Kodak 66; Film: Kodak 120 Ektar 100


Tom Thomson


Tom Thomson (1877-1917)

Tom Thomson was a prolific artist over his short career. The Canadian painted 400 oil sketches on wood panels, and about 50 larger works on canvas.


Thomson fishing in Algonquin Park

An avid outdoorsman, Thomson spent a lot of time canoeing the waters of eastern Canada. In May of 1912, Thomson visited Algonquin Park in Ontario for the first time. That visit began a love affair that lasted the remainder of his life. It was Algonquin that inspired Thomson to seek out his first sketching tools.


The Canoe, Tom Thomson 1912

As an artist, Thomson was largely self-taught, and did not seriously start to paint until he was in his 30’s. His oil work on small wooden panels made it easy for transport during travels. Much of this work was inspired, or done in Algonquin Park.


Campfire, Tom Thomson, 1916

Thomson’s larger canvas work was mostly completed over the winter months in his Toronto Studio. The studio was an old utility shack, that was heated by a wood stove, located on the grounds of the artist complex The Studio Building. Thomson’s work and notoriety reached a peak between the years of 1914-1917.


The Jack Pine, Tom Thomson, 1916

On July 8 of 1917, Thomson disappeared on a canoe trip on Canoe Lake in Algonquin Park. His body was found eight days later floating in the lake. He was buried near Canoe Lake at Mowat Cemetery, although his brother later exhumed his body and brought it to the family plot.

Thomson was known as an honorary member of the Group of Seven. Also known as the Algonquin School, the Group of Seven was collection of Canadian landscape painters from 1920-1933. One member, Lawren Harris, said later, Thomson “was a part of the movement, before we pinned a label on it.”

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Totem on Hayhurst Point

Brazil Lucas and I spent some time on Canoe Lake during the Canadian Excursion. We canoed over to Hayhurst Point, where a memorial cairn stands honoring Thomson. Near the spot where Thomson’s body was recovered, the cairn was erected in September 1917 by J. E. H. MacDonald and John William Beatty.


Tom Thomson Memorial Cairn, Canoe Lake, Algonquin Park, Ontario


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.