Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Ida, Always

A few days ago, I happened across a children’s store, Mastermind Toys, on Dundas Street West in Toronto during a walk and popped inside to see what they had. In the book section the cover of this picture book was there among others enticing the reader to pick it up, first. Ida is a cousin’s name in my family, and that initially prompted me to pick up the book. Followed by the cute cover.

Ida, Always is a warm, comfortable story about friendship between two polar bears in a large city park: Gus and Ida. Their friendship enables them to face the illness Ida has and that she is not going to recover. Even after Ida is gone, Gus comes to understand that she is still with him: in his memories of their activities together.

Well before the end of the book, I was struck with emotion from similar encounters of my own experiences. Its an excellent book, done in a manner to enable young children to understand the grieving process.

This is a picture book for ages 4 to 8. Once again, Google and Blogger have not worked together to allow me to load an image of the book cover.

Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers


Chapters Indigo


Wednesday, 3 February 2016

The Mad Scientist's Daughter by Cassandra Rose Clarke

“Cat, this is Finn. He’s going to be your tutor.”

“He looks, and acts human, though he has no desire to be. He was programmed to assist his owners, and performs his duties to perfection. A billion-dollar construct, his primary task now is to tutor Cat. As she grows into a beautiful young woman, Finn is her guardian, her constant companion… and more. But when the government grants rights to the ever-increasing robot population, however, Finn struggles to find his place in the world.”

This novel is about a coming of age story for a young girl who has been raised and tutored by an android. It is also a romance with the usual elements of finding, losing and then rediscovery albeit with a twist.

Cat’s relationships reveal her outlook on the life: of being a selfish, conceited and impulsive character. Her interaction with Finn was one of trust with friendship coming later when she went to him in times of need. Some of those occurrences redefined Finn’s terms of service.

Finn’s personality is revealed in glimpses as he appears at various intervals. He is stoic, direct and mysterious. Although Finn insists he doesn’t have any feelings they are quite apparent to the reader. He has no smell, his movements and speech are slightly mechanical. Yet, there are those times when Finn vibrates that provide speculation.

Artificial intelligence has been developed in the robots and androids until it is recognized as a type of consciousness – thus, begins their demands for rights. Finn leaves his position at the Novak’s residence and begins employment and life on the moon at the research station.

As Cat continues her life without Finn, she struggles with the demands of society and happiness. Her behaviour remains the same, with no concern for the other person. It’s a sad state that her character does not improve with the passage of time or by the end of the novel.

My apologies to Angry Robot Books for not uploading a photo, but Blogger was unresponsive.

Book format: trade paperback, 400 pages

Publisher: Angry Robot Books, imprint of Osprey Publishing

Author website: Cassandra Rose Clarke


ISBN 978 0-85766-265-1

Amazon.com >


Saturday, 19 December 2015

Kettle Valley Rail Trail

The Kettle Valley Rail Trail is an abandoned railway bed that winds through central British Columbia between Midway and Hope. The 600km route offers the cyclist or hiker unique trail experiences: tunnels, trestles moving through mountain forests and a small desert. With the many camping facilities along the trail allows for extended trips or weekends.

Myra Canyon near Kelowna, B.C. has a series of 18 trestles on this portion of the picturesque trail. It may pose a challenge for those with fear of heights.


Photo Credit: wikipedia

Monday, 26 October 2015

Graydon Hall Park

This 5.3 hectare (13 acres) park is located at 215 Graydon Hall Drive, North York on a plateau near Don Mills Road and the 401. It can be reached by the 122 Graydon Hall bus which stops on either the west or east side of the road.

One hundred acres of farmland was purchased by the successful businessman, Rupert Bain, and transformed into the Graydon Hall estate. Graydon Hall, itself, was completed in 1936 at a cost of $250,000, an extraordinary sum for the time. This was followed by landscaping, and a 9-hole golf course, terraced pools in a garden area at the rear of the mansion. Bain was an avid polo player and a master of hounds at the Eglinton Hunt Club.

A large part of the Graydon Hall manor property was sold to EP Taylor on which he built stables, kennels, polo field, and race track in 1950. In 1951, the mansion house and grounds were sold to Nelson Morgan Davis to Intercity Forwarders. In 1952, Bain died of a cerebral hemorrhage after a riding accident.

Near the sign to the park is a pathway that goes behind the mansion along the southern edge of it.

The path leads past thick wooded and brush filled areas.

Leading to the rear of the mansion is a break off path through close underbrush.

After a short walk over a lush well kept lawn between two rows of trees bordered by low stone walls is an iron fence protecting the grounds of the Graydon Hall Manor.

Research: Sheridan Nurseries: One Hundred Years of People, Plans and Plants. By Edward Butts, Karl Stennson. Pp 100- http://www.torontoneighbourhoods.net/neighbourhoods/north-york/graydon

Photo Credit: BEMartin2015

Monday, 20 July 2015

On the weekend, a friend took me out to a farm near Caledon, north-west of Toronto to pick strawberries for an hour or so. As a child I had gone to the Okanogan in British Columbia to pick apples and pears from the trees in the orchard fields.

It wasn't much different. Instead of walking into the orchard to find the trees laden with ripe pears and apples, the farm provided a tractor and wagon with benches to take the pickers out to the fields, about 800 yards from the gate.

The scene and trip reminded me of John Steinback's novel "The Grapes of Wrath".

The berry picking went well, as there were plenty of ripe strawberries to be had in the numerous rows. In less than an hour, we had a full basket, and it was back to the gate to weigh in. The cost was $2.50/lb, with the basket coming to $15.00.

Also, at the farm were an assortment of pens of farm animals: a donkey (looked more like a burro as it was smaller than any donkey I had seen before), two goats, and some horses. I apologize for the photo of the goat who wasn't very co-operative as she was more interested in eating the grass at the edge of the fence and any strawberries children happened to drop specifically for her.

As for the strawberries when I got home, were a nice treat -- I must say they are alot better than the store bought ones. Perhaps a bit smaller, but juicier with more flavour.

Photo Credits: ©BEMartin2015

Monday, 13 July 2015

John Scadding's Cabin


Last year, while at Toronto’s Canadian National Exhibition with a friend, I stopped by to see the Scadding Cabin, located near Lake Shore Blvd. West to the southern portion of the grounds. In 2009 I had written a more comprehensive account of the history behind the Cabin and its exposure at the Toronto Industrial Exhibition held in 1879.


The log cabin, built in 1794, was first owned by John Scadding, a government clerk and close friend to Upper Canada’s first Lieutenant Governor, John Graves Simcoe. The cabin was located on Scadding’s 253-acre property on the east bank of the Don River near where Queen Street and the Don Valley Parkway cross today. Scadding lived on the property until 1796 when he returned to England with the Simcoes.


When John Scadding returned to York in 1818, he sold the property and its cabin to farmer William Smith, who used the cabin as an outbuilding. In 1879, Smith offered the cabin to the 10-year old York Pioneers Association.


In the summer of 1879, the York Pioneers dismantled the cabin and reassembled it at the location of the inaugural Toronto Industrial Exhibition now the grounds of the Canadian National Exhibition.


Volunteers from the York Pioneer and Historical Society dress in period costume to explain about the artifacts in the cabin.

At the time I visited, no one was allowed up to the second floor or bedroom area. Considering the narrowness of the stairs to the south it might pose a hazard to someone venturing up them.

Photo Credits: [1} Wikipedia Commons, [2][3][4][5]-©BEMartin2014


1894 Toronto's Industrial Exhibition

York Pioneers

Toronto Plaques

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Hiking the Sundance Canyon Trail - Banff


Trail Length: 4.3 km taking about 3 hours
Elevation Gain: 145 m (470 ft)
Maximum elevation: 1545 m (5,070 ft)
Maps: Banff Up-Close (Gem Trek)

Check trail and bear conditions from Parks Canada before setting out. Recently the population of grizzly bears has increased and are more often encountered and seen around the Banff townsite. An article in the Calgary Herald in August 2013 reported an incident where a very large grizzly bear (225-275 kilogram) killed and ate a small 45-kilogram black bear that had been foraging on the trail.

From the intersection at the south end of the Bow River bridge make a right turn onto Cave Avenue. Go 1.2 km to the parking lot where a paved walkway leads to the Historic Cave and Basin site. Walk past to get to the hiking and bicycle path.

Some years ago, the paved road to Sundance Canyon was open to vehicular traffic. However, now it is used only by hikers, horses and those who wish to bicycle or use roller blades.

The first portion of the trail leads down to the Bow River.


For about 1.5 km the trail follows the shoreline of the Bow River before turning south toward Sundance Canyon. Views of Mt. Cory 2789m, Mount Edith 2554m (the spike top), Mt. Norquay 2525m can be seen to the north.





The trail and bicycle access ends at the Sundance Canyon picnic area. There a 1.2 km foot trail climbs into this canyon, bridging the Sundance Creek, and looping back down the other side of the canyon.


Just before the trail loops around there is a fork leading off through Sundance Pass to swing around the southern end of Sulphur Mountain to the Spray River for those considering that route.

Photo Credits: [1] melanie CC=nc-flickr, [2][3][4] eric titcombe CC=flickr, [5][6] John Vetterli CC-nc-nd-flickr, [7] casium CC=nc-nd-flickr.

Research: ParksCanada