Monday, August 15, 2016

A Walk in a Quaint Quebec Neighborhood

We are staying in an Airbnb, a row house two blocks away from the Museum of Modern Art in the Montcalm neighborhood of Quebec City. The area is picturesque this time of year with flowers filling window baskets, door stoops, and side yards of quaint historic buildings. All this and walking distance to some great attractions and parks. This morning I took a walk to the Saint-Jean-Baptiste church and neighborhood and took a few random photos along the way.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

2016 Antigonish Grand Street Parade

We thoroughly enjoyed the parade that preceded the 153rd Antigonish Highland Games, especially the pipe bands. During this parade and at the games themselves, we heard more bagpipe music than ever before and that includes our trip to Scotland. The bagpipes, the drums, the flair of the drum beaters combined with the kilted uniforms intrigue the senses and make for quite a show.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

153rd Antigonish Highland Games

The timing of our stay in the North Shore region of Nova Scotia this summer afforded us the opportunity of attending the 153rd Antigonish Highland Games. I was elated to have the opportunity to attend the oldest, longest running Highland Games outside of Scotland. There is just something fascinating about seeing big burley guys in kilts throwing around stones and tree trunks. Oh, and surprise! There were women competitors as well - awesome!
Profession Maritime Scottish Heavy Weight competitors Joe Hall, Jeff Kaste, Ryan Stewart, Jason Baines, and Robert Meulenberg in the forground. USA competitors wore blue and Canadians wore red. Some female competitors are in the background.
Robert Meulenberg of Bangor, Maine throwing a 17lb Open Stone
The caber toss is a crowd favorite at the games. Here you can watch competitor Nathan Burchett's nearly perfect toss. The goal is to toss it end over end into the air and have it fall at exactly 12 o'clock from your throwing position - thus the need for the judge to follow behind the competitor.

There were many other heavy events performed by skilled participants - most, if not all, were from Canada and the United States. A Junior League was also present to compete. The hope is that they will one day be professionals able to continue the tradition and quality of the games.

The most unexpected competition was the Tug of War events. It seems each community has their own team of strong and scrappy individuals. Each event is 15 minutes long. The most exciting moment occurs when the entire team switches their grip and turns toward the anchor man for a concerted lunge to gain ground. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. Unfortunately, during the two 15 minute events I never quite caught that moment on video, but there were other exciting moments that were.
Pictou Tug-of-War team trying to regain ground lost to the Antigonish team

In addition to all of this, there were also musical competitions for bag pipers, pipe bands and their drummers as well as a highland dance competition all occurring simultaneously. Bagpipes and drums were heard throughout the day as bands practiced while soloists competed and vice versa and all this mingled with the music of the bagpiper playing for the dancers and the voice of the announcer for the heavy weight events. The best show was put on by the bands as they played for the judges. Note how the drummers twirl their bass beaters in the video of 78th Highlanders Halifax Citadel Pipe Band. 

Highland dance competition at the 153rd Antigonish Highland Games

Our family enjoyed our day experiencing all the cultural sites that the Antigonish Highland Games had to offer which included a parade through downtown. Given that it was Highland Games weekend in Antigonish, we expected huge crowds and terrible traffic. We were astonished to find things very low-key, laid-back, and no huge crowds to speak of perhaps due in part to the cooler and somewhat damp weather. Whatever the cause, it helped to make our experience at the games a very positive one. I would certainly attend again should I get the chance.

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

CBC Photo Request: Dire Wolf by The Tragically Hip

Twice now we have gotten requests to use a photo of ours by another website or company. The first request was from Touristlink who ended up using one of our campground photos on their page.

Ironically, before leaving on our summer sabbatical to Canada, we were contacted again - this time by a Canadian news network, CBC. They were looking for images to use in a special interactive website for a very popular rock band in Canada called The Tragically Hip. This hugely popular Canadian band is in the middle of a tour despite the cancer diagnosis of lead singer, Gord Downie. Perhaps in preparation for it's August 20th broadcast of their hometown performance and as tribute to this iconic band, CBC put together an interactive online feature with lyrics and sound bites from several of Tragically Hip's songs.

In 2013, we took our travel trailer on the ferry from North Sydney, Nova Scotia to Newfoundland. The weather on the return voyage from Port aux Basques was foggy and more ominous as this picture shows. The song Dire Wolf by Tragically Hip was inspired by a rough ferry crossing and so CBC requested the use of this photo as a visual representative on it's interactive webpage.

I had heretofore never heard of The Tragically Hip, but I have since listened to some of their music. The poetic, story-telling is appealing, but it's unlikely that I will become a fan of their sound.


Thursday, August 04, 2016

Art Meets Geography: Canadian Provencial Flags

Today, we used a globe to geographically visualize our summer travels along the eastern coast of North America. We then selected a flag to draw from one of the three Canadian provinces that we have visited. Elisabeth chose the flag of Quebec with the Fleur de Lys in each corner, a stylized flower historically associated with all things French. Jonah intended to draw the Nova Scotian flag with the blue bars and a white background. He accidentally reversed the colors which is actually fitting considering the flag of Nova Scotia (New Scotland) is inspired by the Scottish Flag and the Cross of St. Andrew. I was left with the challenging New Brunswick flag with it's golden lion on a red background over an galley, which is essentially the same as their coat of arms. (I neglected to include the oars in my drawing.)
Flag of Quebec by Elisabeth
Flag of Nova Scotia by Jonah
Flag of New Brunswick by Shanna

Monday, August 01, 2016

Canadian-Themed Summer Reading

Before leaving the US for our summer in Canada, I purchased a handful of books to have on hand for the kids to read. It is particularly difficult keeping enough books of substance laying around for Miss Elisabeth. With our destination in mind, I intentionally chose books with Canadian settings as a means of complimenting the context of our surroundings. I am pleased with the few that I found and hope to read a couple of these myself.