Being Canadian

Today  July 1, 2017 marks Canada’s 150th year since confederation.  Canada is a young country by all standards.  Some of the cities in this country of ours are much older.  For example, Montreal turned 375 years old this year.   Canada had settlements and industry established across this land long before we joined together in confederation.

Sir John A. MacDonald became the first Prime Minister of Canada on July 1, 1867.

Growing up I can recall this day being referred to as Dominion Day.

We are a diverse country and there has been a lot of blood, sweat and tears that have fallen to arrive at where we are today.  We still have a lot of work to do in terms of peace and reconciliation with our indigenous brothers and sisters as well.

What we must remember, however, is that we are merely custodians in this land of ours.  The following article discusses the problems we are currently facing.

In Richmond, BC, which has some of the richest farm land in the province, urbanization has been eating up these lands.  Homes being built on these properties are alarming in size.  There was home on No. 5 Road that was 41,000 square feet in size and slated to have 21 bedrooms!

The owner, who has 13 other luxury properties in the area wanted it zoned as a hotel.  He was denied.

Below are a couple of articles that may be of interest.

by Tanya Brouwers

Canada is a nation of vast spaces and varied terrain. Nationwide, however, this seemingly endless land base has limited agricultural potential. In fact, 94% of Canada’s lands are unsuitable for farming. Of that small percentage of land that will support agricultural endeavours only 0.5% is designated as class 1, where there are no significant limitations to farming activity. Unfortunately, due to urbanization, poor farming practices and other non-agricultural activities, this small percentage of viable farmland is shrinking at an alarming rate. Statistics Canada, for example, reported that between 1971 and 2001, over 14,000 square kilometres of our best agricultural land had been permanently lost to urban uses.

The link below is for an article that was written in the Globe and Mail newspaper regarding the issue with Richmond’s current crisis.  You can see many of the homes that are now sitting on prime agricultural land that is not being farmed at all.  Blueberry bushes have been cleared and trashed.  And I can tell you the strawberries and blueberries produced in this area are so good!

When I speak about being custodian of this land of ours we must be diligent in our use of natural resources and how we develop this land.

There are more lakes in Canada than in the rest of the world combined!  And in British Columbia, the province that I live in, contains over 20,000 lakes and an abundance of streams and rivers.

Make no mistake.. Every area of Canada is populated, however, the majority of the population resides in the southern portion of the country along the coast lines and U.S. border.

One of the reasons I pointed out the issue in Richmond regarding the agricultural land is that approximately 6% of Canada is arable land.  What this means is that of the vast size of this country, this is the percentage that can be farmed.

We must come together as a community and as a country and take care of this land.  In the spirit of the French President Marcon,

“Let’s make this planet great again!”

And it starts at home.





Oil and Water…They Just Don’t Mix

duck 4Whales 1

 A duck covered in oil  and a pod of Killer Whales photographed a couple of weeks ago in English Bay, Vancouver, BC

I am fortunate to live in an area that is naturally beautiful with the benefit of rivers, lakes and the ocean within close proximity to my home.  We are sheltered by mountains here on the coast as well.  They too are easily accessible.

When the news broke that an oil spill had occurred in English Bay, I, along with everyone who lives here, became incredibly concerned regarding the environmental impact this would have.

The question has still not been answered, however, as to why this happened in the first place.  After all, it is a grain ship that is anchored in Vancouver’s harbor.  And bunker fuel was spilled?  How?

Heron 1

We’ve recently been enjoying the return of marine life such as whales and sea lions to this area.  Otters can be seen quite often as well.  And we have ducks, geese, herons, kingfishers, gulls and an abundance of other marine bird life in all shapes and sizes calling these waters home.

Whales 3Whales 4Whales 2

The whales drew quite a crowd and hung out in the bay for a few days

Still, upon reflection the explosion of technology in this industrial age of ours is concerning.  We have an oil company Kinder Morgan that wants to build an additional pipeline so that they can transport the stuff being pulled out of the oil sands in Alberta and transport it to places such as China.

Otterduck 3Duck 2

Over the last hundred years the changes to this world have been incredible.  And the impact that oil has had on us, well it has been a little more than frightening for this gal.  Considering that there are so many other clean ways by which to generate power, ideas and practices that have been in existence for a very long time as well, I know one of the reasons that oil and its subsequent affiliates have had the success they have is simply that in the beginning oil was not very expensive.  It was a cheap form of power and a dirty one.

Bulk Carrier

At the beginning of the industrial revolution we were wasteful as well.

Yet when I hear that the oil sands will produce enough energy and whatever else we use oil for over the next 100 years, it is concerning.  Hadn’t we best begin to look at some tried and true methods to produce energy such as wind and water and develop these on a large scale and sustainable one?

Gulf Coast Struggles With Oil Spill And Its Economic Costs


And it is imperative that we keep our water as clean as possible.

We’ve had an incredibly mild winter here on the south coast of British Columbia which won’t bode well for the salmon run.  With no snow pack all we can only hope for is a lot of rain this year to keep the water levels high enough.

Politicians are laying blame and pointing fingers. Then they raise taxes to  stop global warming but in truth I believe this world moves in cycles.  Oddly enough the east coast of North America was hit incredibly hard this year and they had a brutally cold winter with enormous amounts of snow accumulating.

Weather patterns are not really something we can change.  Perhaps we should study more of ice samples that are being taken from Antarctica. We can adjust how we live in this world, how we function and how we interact with this organic planet of ours as this is within our control.

By all counts, this planet can be a violent place.  It is the nature of the beast.

I saw images of Paris, France on the news the other day where the pollution hung thick in the air and was a major concern to the city officials.  Something to do with allowing free parking in the downtown portion of Paris, though having never been there,  I cannot say where that may be.  Still the images of the Eiffel Tower shrouded in air thick with pollutants is disturbing.

Was the cheap alternative of oil offered at the beginning worth it?

Here in Vancouver we at one time clouded the waterfront with any number of industries that polluted the waters to the point that they were something of a dead zone.  Marine life will not venture into such water channels as they will not survive.



Think of Paris and Beijing and how you feel breathing in these places then think of fish swimming through clouds of oil.  And like trees that die as a result of air born pollutants being caught in the rain that falls to feed them, hence the term acid rain, is it any wonder that barnacles and coral reefs are fast disappearing.

Politicians express outrage while the federal minister stands up and says ‘We dealt swiftly and effectively with this.’   Still no answer as to why it happened at all.

And it was just a small spill after all.  A few ducks and geese, a sea lion or two.  Somehow I feel like they are missing the point and the big picture all together.

This should not happen…ever…anywhere!  We have the technology, yet we don’t use it.

And today I feel such a deep sadness because despite the advances that we’ve made in so many areas, we still suffer from our own inhumanity on so many levels.

A host of isms still cloud our thinking.  When are we going to learn its not about us.

Vancouver is my birth place.  She has listened when I’ve screamed about indignities that were awarded me.  She has caught my tears on her sidewalks, in her grassy fields and on her beaches.  She has shared her quiet beauty with me time and again reminding me when I was in the depths of sorrow all I had to do is look around me to see the wonder of this world.

I’ve stood at the break of dawn being bathed is morning light watching the silhouettes of this city come alive.  I’ve sat naked on her beaches well past midnight letting a summer’s breeze kiss my skin.  I’ve run through her streets and parkways.

She is and has always has been a gracious and beautiful lay of land.


The thing is this whole oil thing is a global issue.  The spill in English Bay could have happened anywhere.  If it happened out at sea would there be concern?  Would we know?

I would like to share a few images and history of Vancouver, particularly the waterfront.

Some poor decisions were made back in the day born more of need than anything else.  And I get it.  We do know better now and collectively we need to recognize and adhere to this.

Last weekend of summer 2014 028

The following is an excerpt taken from historical accounts of Vancouver.  It is quite remarkable that city officials bought back much of the waterfront that was dominated by industry, converted it to shops and housing and began the slow process of restoring the water ways.

Archival photos were obtained from Flckr.

The following is in regard to False Creek:

‘During World War 1,  the easternmost part of False Creek, which formerly ran to Clark Drive, was filled in by the Great Northern Railway and Canadian National Railway to create new land for their yards and terminals.    For many years there was talk of draining and filling the inlet to Granville Street throughout the 1950s, but this never occurred.

The False Creek area was the industrial heartland of Vancouver through to the 1950s. It was home to many sawmills and small port operations, as well as the western terminus of the major Canadian railways. As industry shifted to other areas, the vicinity around False Creek started to deteriorate. In 1960, BC Forest Products plant and lumber storage facility on the south side of False Creek caught fire in Vancouver’s first-ever five-alarm blaze. Every piece of firefighting equipment and all of Vancouver’s firefighters fought the blaze for hours, but the facility was totally destroyed.

The future of False Creek south was subsequently shaped by debates on freeways, urban renewal, and the rise of citizen participation in urban planning. Through the 60s, the ruling NPA (Non-Partisan Association) city government and senior city bureaucrats had hatched a plan – with little or no public consultation – to run freeways through the city. In the same period, the City razed large portions of Strathcona under the aegis of urban renewal. A group of influential citizens formed The Electors Action Movement (TEAM) to oppose the freeway and to radically change the way decisions were made on land use. A key figure amongst these people was Walter Hardwick a Geography professor at UBC who envisioned the retrofit of this brownfield industrial site into a vibrant waterfront mixed-use community.

The North Shore of False Creek (NFC) was further transformed in the 1980s, as it took centre stage during Expo ’86. Following the Expo, the Province sold the NFC site to Li-Kai Shing who brought ideas of a higher density waterfront community to the downtown peninsula. Vancouver’s experience with South False Creek and the public participation that shaped it was key to developing NFC as a livable high-density community. For example, Ka-shing’s company wanted to develop “islands” of market condos on the waterfront but was soundly rebuffed by the public and by planners who favoured the extension of a 100% publicly accessible waterfront and seawall. The 1991 Official Development Plan enabled significant new density commensurate with the provision of significant public amenities including streetfront shops and services, parks, school sites, community centres, daycares, co-op and low-income housing. Since then, most of the north shore has become a new neighbourhood of dense housing (about 100 units/acre), adding some 50,000 new residents to Vancouver’s downtown peninsula.

On December 1, 1998, Vancouver City Council adopted a set of Blueways policies and guidelines stating the vision of a waterfront city where land and water combine to meet the environmental, cultural and economic needs of the City and its people in a sustainable, equitable, high quality manner.

Several decades following the suspension of industrial activity in the area, a number of shore and seabirds such as cormorants, ducks, herons, kingfishers, owls, geese, crows, and gulls have returned, as well as harbor seals. In an unusual sighting, in May 2010 a grey whale entered False Creek and traversed its length before returning to the open waters of the Strait of Georgia.

Factors working against the further return of wildlife include residual industrial contaminants, spillage from the sewer overflow system into the creek, and the seawall that constrains much of the shoreline with little habitat value. The city has attempted to recreate the natural shoreline in some areas and is working to phase out the antiquated sewer overflow system.’

I wanted to share this history with you because at one time Vancouver’s waterfront wasn’t particularly attractive over in the False Creek area.  English Bay has always been a jewel of sorts.  It sits next to Stanley Park and the area around the park has been protected over the years.  Vancouver’s Main Street runs from it’s northern most point south almost to the Fraser River.  In the downtown core of the street this was and still is a hub of industrial activity.

I want to look after what we have.  Let’s preserve it.  Oil and water do not mix.  And do we need more condo towers?  I have put together photo montage of Vancouver.  Enjoy.

Enlish Bay 19096085430331_d2a9022335_z6077703925_85dcff26e6_z

English Bay over the last 100 years…the gazebo still stands as does the Sylvia Hotel.  The Pier was removed in 1938.

Vancouver Courthouse 1930Vancouver Courthouse (VAG)Vag 2

 The Vancouver Art Gallery began has the city jail.  It still has cells in its bowels with brick walls a few feet thick.  It later became the courthouse and in 1983 has been the Art Gallery.
Vancouver Opera House (now Orpheum)orpheum-granville
The Vancouver Opera House and its subsequent transformation to the Orpheum Theatre.
Kitsilano Beach 1960kits 2
Kitsilano Beach and Pool then and now
Vancouver AirportVancouver Airport 1965Vancouver Airport 1950VIA
The Vancouver International Airport is growing every year.
Victory SquareVictory Square looking north 1913Victory SquareVictory 2
Victory Square through the years where all Remembrance Day ceremonies are held.
Hastings St., looking westHastings at CambieHastings at Cambie2
Looking west on Hastings Street from Cambie Street.  The Marine Building was at one time the tallest building in Vancouver.
Second Narrows Bridge No 1"Yamahide Maru" under both RR Bridges at 2nd Narrows6475192929_f2fb850bb8_z
The Second Narrows (Iron Workers Memorial) Bridge and its many transformations.  19 men were killed in a tragic accident during the construction of the newest model back in 1958. 
Granville St. Bridge looking north6407149829_be1c8929d5_zGranville b 2Granville b 1
The Granville Street Bridge in her many transformations.
Burrard st. 3Burrard st2Burrard st. 4Burrard st 1
The Burrard Street Bridge under construction and on opening day on July 1, 1939 and today.  It has remained largely unchanged. 
Fire Station at Nelson & Nicola in West End.Davie St. looking toward Denman St.Davie to English
The Fire Hall No. 6 still stands and is pretty much the same at Nelson & Nicola.  The view on Davie St. toward English Bay then and now. 
Davie Street looking south from Denman St.Denman & Davie2
Looking up Davie Street from Denman then and now.
I hope you have enjoyed this.  I will offer up more but for the time being I must have some dinner.  Cheers!


Wake Up Canada! Wake Up World!

I have been watching videos and reading articles about the Alberta Tar Sands all morning.  Recently Prime Minister Harper sold Canada out to the Chinese in this regard, but then Alberta has been selling off the Tar Sands to foreign investors namely the US market for years.  Now a pipeline is to be built across British Columbia to export oil to the Asian markets. 

I will stand with my fellow Canadians to stop this from occurring I was born and raised in this country and I love its natural beauty.  I cannot tolerate what is being done all in the name, once again of oil. 

We need to pull our heads out of the sand, namely the tar sand and really think about what we are doing.  Why are we not developing other means of energy?  Why are we not focusing on electric vehicles?  Why are we not further developing advanced solar power methods that can in fact store this energy.  We have the technology and don’t allow anyone to tell you differently. 

There is a plethora of information that we, the common people are not privy to.  When cars were first being developed and electric vehicle was manufactured.  Henry Ford and a few others saw to its demise.  The threat that this vehicle would trump the combustion engine that ran on gasoline was too great.  Money was at  stake.  A lot of it.  And look where we are today?

We need to wake up.  We need to change how we do business.  We need to step up and demand these changes. 

Right now we are being ruled by this thing we call an economy.  It is an oil based economy.  It has not been in existence for that long really.  And in the space of about one hundred years where has this economy taken us to?  Yet we have been led to believe that we need this and so our entire foundation as a people has been built on this idea over the last century.  And we continue to consume, we continue to want more money, bigger houses, faster cars.  To what end? 

I live in a condo that is heated with radiant heat.  Yup.  The old boiler method or also known as central heating.  For the last 14 years I have made certain that I have lived in buildings with this form of heat.  It doesn’t cost anything.  They have developed a way to better control them now.  I have one of those new fangled thermostats.  The only thing I pay for is my lights and the technology with lighting now using less energy means that my bill is somewhere in the $30 per month range. 

When I was living in houses that were heated by natural gas, the bills just kept rising expotentially.  I have friends who have houses and there bills are in the $300 to $500 per quarter range to heat their homes.  In fact, I will go there and need to keep my coat on in the winter months because they only turn the heat on for a little while as it has become too expensive to heat the home. 

When you have to decide whether to put food on the table or heat the house the sweaters and blankets come out. 

And how did we come to this point?  We are told that the world is running out of oil so naturally as demand increases and supply supposedly decreases, cost goes up.  That is how the game is played.  That is how the giant corporations that offer this product continue to make record profits year after year after year. 

And yet I live in a place that was built back in the 1970’s that uses radiant heat, which is simply hot water.  It is a technology that has been around for a very long time and could well replace the furnace.  I am not certain what the costs would be to change over though it is something I will perhaps do some research on.

Why not have all houses and condos built with radiant heat?  Why not look into the solar panels and how to store that energy for future consumption?  I am sure it is being researched and likely someone somewhere has developed this ability. 

I have said it before and I will say it again.  We need to change how we do business.  It is not going to be about profit in the future.  It will be about sustainability and longevity and fairness.  Everyone on this planet deserves to have a roof over their head, clothes on their back and food and clean water to consume.  Those are the very basic rights that should be afforded to all of us. 

Now I am looking at this deal that Prime Minister Harper has just brokered with the Chinese.  This scares me.  I did not vote for Harper.  In fact I cannot stand this man and his politics.  He is taking my country down a very dark path and I know I share this view with many of my fellow Canadians.  He still has two years left in his term.  We need to stop him from proceeding with whatever ideas are moving through that pea brain of his. 

And yes, I will insult the man.  He is not representing the whole of Canada as he should. He has an agenda that remains unavailable to the press and to the public.  This is frightening to me as this has not occurred in Canadian politics before. 

In two years what will Canada look like?  Will it have been divided even further, her resources having been sold off to the highest bidder? 

Let’s step up together across this land demand the changes that need to be made. 

I thought it interesting that people going to work in Ft. McMurray in Alberta, cannot afford to live there as the rents have skyrocketed.  Alberta’s inflation rate is being felt across the province and soon it will begin to be felt across the country. 

Time to slow this process down and review.  Time to say no to pipelines.  Time to change.  Time to stand together.  Time to take control of today so that we have a future. 

Let’s  do it.     

Writing on the Bathroom Wall

Strange head space these days. It is 2:00 AM on a Sunday morning.  Again, sleep is rather erratic at times.  So I am just exploring thought.  I did some editing on my book earlier, then printed off some chapters for my writing group meeting and headed down to a local pub to grab  a pint and review the work.  Upon finishing this task, I hit the washroom.

A sign in the bathroom stall read “Eradicate Invasive Plants…A good excuse to wear Plaid.”  The poster showed two attractive women and one man in a forest setting.  They were quite stylish in their appearance and yes, they were wearing plaid.

This struck me as being quite ridiculous.  Then I found myself wondering, while in midstream, what this ad was about.  Were they pushing plaid or eradicating invasive plants?  And what did one have to do with the other?

I have finished my business, yet I sit perplexed staring at the ad in the bathroom stall.

I begin to wonder what happened to good old-fashioned graffiti.  Seems at one point it was a form  of communication.  I can recall in my youth being something of a wall philosopher.  Poems and pondering were my thing.  And coming back to that stall of inspiration months later and seeing the responses to my writings would excite me.  These  were the days when computers were still in their infancy so this was mass communication in a very crude and localized setting.

And there was a devastation at finding your expressions painted over, your profundity discounted.

This night I find myself, oddly enough, contemplating the modern bathroom stall. Ads that have been contained in them  have advised me to use a condoms and not to drink if I am pregnant.  Okay, I can dig it.  The message of safe sex has been pounded into me and the issue of conceiving, nope, not going to happen for this girl anytime soon. That ship has long since sailed.

So I hit the bathroom one last time before heading home.  The poster that adorns this stall. bears a likeness of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ reaching for a white rabbit int the middle of a street and the caption reads ‘Urban Living”  Once again I am a bit confounded.  Out of curiousity I check another stall to see what advertisment lies within.  The last one was a poster that read.  “Tell me what does freedom look like?’

At this point the neurons are firing just crazy stuff in my head.  These rituals of distraction while we perform a very basic and necessary function seem to have matured and evolved, but into what?  I find it interesting that we have this need to perhaps be entertained, albeit rather mildly, while attending to these needs.

And here I am contemplating the writing on bathroom walls for no particular reason other than it seems to have sparked this weird little thought pattern.  And yes, I did need to edit this as earlier this morning the grey matter was shutting down and demanding sleep and the words attempting to surface were non-sensical at best and had no rationale at all.

In any case, no breakthroughs regarding the fate of mankind occurred last night as a result of delving into what all this stuff in bathroom stalls actually means.  Perhaps the point.  It isn’t supposed to make sense.  Who knows?

I will go now and see if I can wake up.  Coffee is calling.