Saturday, 28 February 2009

Percé Rock

[1-from seaward side]

From Wikipedia:

“Percé Rock (French for "pierced rock") is an island and sheer rock formation in the Gulf of St. Lawrence just off the tip of the Gaspé Peninsula in Quebec, near the village of Percé. It is one of the largest and most spectacular natural arches in the world.

It is a massive limestone stack 433 metres (1420 ft) long, 90 metres (296 ft) wide, and 88 metres (289 ft) at its highest point. The rock gets its name from a large 15 metre (50 ft) high arch near its seaward end.

[2-Gaspe Peninsula from satellite]

Together with Bonaventure Island, Percé Rock is part of the provincial Parc national de l'Île-Bonaventure-et-du-Rocher-Percé.

[3-The Perce Rock with tide out - click to enlarge]

There were actually two arches in the rock, until the outer arch collapsed on June 17, 1845. For four hours at a time during low tide, the water recedes from a wide spit that allows the rock itself to be visited. Percé Rock is a major tourist attraction. It contains millions of marine fossils such as trilobites, tetracoralla, brachiopods and ostracods from the Devonian period.

[4-The Perce Rock in mist - click to enlarge]

As of May 2008, access to Percé Rock is only possible while being accompanied by a guide. Contact Parcs Quebec for more information.”

This is a place I have always wanted to visit and listen to the sea call to me.


Photo Credits: [1][2]-wikipedia, [3]-millsmontreal CC=nd-flickr, [4]-Christian et cie CC=nc-nd-flickr.

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Hiking Trails - Tonquin Valley - Day 6

[1-Outpost Lake with Outpost Mountain behind - click to enlarge]

This is a continuation of the post from last week where the hike stopped at the Wates-Gibson hut in the Eremite Valley.

Today’s hike of about 10 km goes to the Switchback campground on Old Horn Mountain before returning to civilization on the Astoria River Trail.

[2-Alpine Lupine]

Be prepared for the steep trail down to the Eremite Valley.


Returning to Chrome Lake the hike is uphill on rocky footing, and a reminder to wear your protective clothing as there will be those nasty mosquitoes to deal with when going back through the wet meadows.

[4-Return to the Ramparts in Tonquin Valley]

[5-Astoria River Trail in Tonquin Valley]

[6-Tonquin Valley - click to enlarge]

The distance to Clitheroe campground is 6 km and well sheltered in the trees. There are eight tenting sites equipped with pads, bear poles with cables and a privy.

From here it is 4km to the Switchback campground and most of it is up hill.

[7-On trail up Old Horn Mountain - click to enlarge]


[9-Hoary marmot in rocks - click to enlarge]

These little guys give shrill whistles to every intruder that goes by.

[10-Hoary marmot - click to enlarge]

[11- Ramparts and the Amethyst Lakes in Tonquin Valley - click to enlarge]

[12-Chrome Lake in the Eremite Valley from the shoulder of Old Horn Mountain - click to enlarge]

[13-Cloud capped Ramparts from shoulder of Old Horn Mountain - click to enlarge]

[14-Wildflowers on shoulder of Old Horn Mountain overlooking Chrome Lake in the Eremite Valley - click to enlarge]

[15-Scrambling up ridge of Old Horn Mountain - click to enlarge]


[17-Moss Campion - click to enlarge]

[18-Tonquin Valley from shoulder of Old Horn Mountain - click to enlarge]

[19-click to enlarge]

[20-click to enlarge]

[21-click to enlarge]

[22-Wildflowers on shoulder of Old Horn Mountain - click to enlarge]

[23-Chrome Lake from Old Horn Mountain - click to enlarge]

[24-Looking up at Old Horn Mountain - click to enlarge]

[25-Chrome Lake, Eremite Valley and unnamed tarn while going down toward the Switchback campground - click to enlarge]

[26-Unnamed tarn near Switchback campground with Thunderbolt Mountain behind - click to enlarge]

[27-Juvenile Gray Jay at Switchback campground - click to enlarge]

Source: ParksCanada

Photo Credits: [1]-Priya Biswas CC+nc-flickr, [2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18][19][20][21][22][23][24][25][26][27]-brilang CC=nc-sa-flickr. [10]-kiwehowin CC=nc-sa-flickr

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Samuel de Champlain - Part 5


It was in 1617 that Marie Rollet, the first European woman, came to Quebec. She was the wife of Louis Hébert, a former apothecary in Paris, and they and their children became the first true habitant (permanent settler supporting his family from the soil).

Champlain returned to New France with his wife in 1620, spending the winter building Fort Saint-Louis on top of Cap Diamant. (She remained with him until 1624 despite being forced to submit to great hardships.) In mid-May, 1621, he learned the fur trade had been handed over to another company led by the Caen brothers. Negotiations ensued with the outcome of a merger between the two companies. Champlain worked on his relationship with the Indians and was able to impose on them a chief of his choice, and to create a peace treaty with the Iroquois tribes.

Champlain laid the first stone on May 6, 1624 on the improvement of his fortification around what later became Quebec City. On August 15th he returned to France, with his wife, where he was encouraged to continue his work and look for a passage to China. By July 5th, 1625 he was back in Quebec where he continued to expand the city. His wife remained in France.

In 1627, there were 80 people in Quebec (including five women and six little girls), half of this number still living in the Habitation. This was a very small population compared to Virginia, which, founded one year earlier, had a population of 2,000. The fur trading companies were reluctant to bring over families which prevented Champlain from promoting his colonization project.

[2] Cardinal Richelieu, Regent of France, (photo) founded the Compagnie des Cent-Associés (Company of One Hundred Associates) to sponsor colonization. On the first ships sent by the Company were 400 immigrants, who were detained by Sir David Kirke and his brothers, English merchants, in 1628. Champlain refused to deal with them, and in response, the English cut off supplies from going to the city. By spring of 1629, supplies were dangerously low and Champlain sent people to Gaspé to conserve rations. On July 19th, the Kirke brothers arrived and without military forces, Champlain capitulated the colony. By October 29th, Champlain was in London as a prisoner. Quebec was taken over by the English in 1629 and would remain that way until 1632.

The Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye in 1632 between Great Britain and France stipulated that Canada with Acadia and Cape Breton were to be restored to France and on March 1, 1633 Champlain returned to his role as commander of New France on behalf of Richelieu. This made him a lesser rank of the nobility and enabled him to add “de” to his name, a frequent occurrence at the time. He returned to Quebec on May 22, 1633 after an absence of four years with three well equipped ships and 200 immigrants, primarily workmen. On August 18, 1634, he sent a report to Richelieu that he had rebuilt on the ruins of Quebec, enlarged its fortifications, constructed another habitation 15 leagues upstream and another at Trois-Rivières. As well, he had begun an offensive against the Iroquois Indians that he wanted them wiped out or “brought to reason”.

By October 1634, Champlain had a stroke and died on December 25, 1635 leaving no immediate heirs. Jesuit records state he died in the hands of his friend, Charles Lallemant, who also heard his last confession. He was buried temporarily in the church while construction was completed on the chapel of Monsieur le Gouverneur. This small building among many others, were destroyed by a large fire in 1640. Although it was immediately rebuilt nothing is known of it after and the exact burial site of Champlain is unknown.

[3 - click to enlarge] This statue of Samuel de Champlain is at the Place d'Armes, next to the Chateau Frontenac. This location is where Champlain's first fortifications were built.

[4 - click to enlarge]
The Promenade Dufferin is immediately infront of Champlain's statue which overlooks the St. Lawrence River.

Library and Archives Canada =
The Penguin History of Canada by Robert Bothwell, pp. 29.

Photo credits: [1][2], [3][4]-Djof CC=nc-sa-flickr.

Short Story Contest for Sci-Fi Writers

The deadline to the short story contest on ChiZine has been extended to February 28, 2009. They are looking for the best 1,000 word or less story set in the world of Brent Hayward's Filaria. Top prize is publication in ChiZine at the rate of $0.25/word. Further details can be found here. There are book reviews available on Filaria for those who can glean enough information to write a quick story.

Good luck to inventive and speedy writers.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Two Sentence Tuesday: 24 February 2009

This week I have been reading books by Dean Koontz, the master of horror storytelling at a thriller pace. I like his books because they often feature animals, often dogs. Also, he provides just enough description in his sentences to give information while allowing the action to move forward. An example of this are two sentences from "Watchers":

"Over there, a narrow field was choked with waist-high brown grass as crisp as hay, a few bristly clumps of mesquite, and some sprawling oleander bushes with roots deep enough to keep them green. When he stared directly at the field, he saw none of the movement he thought he had caught from the corner of his eye, but he suspected that he had not imagined it."

My two sentences are from my dark fantasy manuscript, Passage:

“Grasping a prominence on the ledge above, he pulled up on it, only to feel it give way and go crashing to the talus slope below.

As his body swung outward, he flung the free arm into the rock, bashing his knuckles but somehow managing to get his hand jammed in the crack.”

For other writers of Two Sentence Tuesdays visit Women of Mystery.

Tuesdays for Travis - Patricia Lake

Patricia Lake in Jasper National Park, Alberta, is smaller than its neighbour, Pyramid Lake, but is twice as deep at 40m (131 feet). There is a 4.8 km (3 mile) trail around the lake. Boat, bicycle and fishing rentals are available at Patricia Lake Bungalows.

Numerous lakes and streams teem with fish. Rocky Mountain whitefish and seven species of trout, including brook, brown, bull, cutthroat, lake and rainbow can be found here.

Source: Canadian Rockies Adventure Guide by Brenda Koller, pp.98.

Photo Credit: cblee-CC=nc-sa-flickr.

Sunday, 22 February 2009

My Town Monday - Toronto's First Post Office

The York Post Office became Toronto’s first in 1834, built in 1833 by James Scott Howard who was the postmaster of York, which served as a post office until 1839. It is the oldest ‘purpose-built’ post office in Canada which served as a department of the British Royal Mail. Howard had purchased the plot of land from the Bank of Upper Canada, thus creating a financial centre for a city with 9,000 people.

Postmaster Howard was caught up in the politics of the Rebellion of 1837 and framed as an aid to the rebels and unfairly dismissed from the bank’s directorship without formal charges. His position was given to Charles Albert Berczy, who resided in the post office until 1839 until Berczy relocated operations to Front Street west of Yonge.

Howard had moved his family north to a farmstead in 1835 and rented the building to various tenants until he was able to sell it in 1841 when it became the home of hardware merchant, Thomas Denne Harris. In 1873 Harris sold the building to the Christian brothers, who ran a school out of the old bank building (which had failed in 1866). During the passing of a century, the neighbourhood changed from residential to commercial and industrial and the building changed hands many times. A fire on June 30, 1978 seriously damaged the building, leaving it roofless. Rescued by private owners, it was lovingly restored and in December of 1983 was reopened as Toronto’s First Post Office under the direction of the Town of York Historical Society.

Today the building has a museum and a full-service post office run by the town of York Historical Society, and is located at 260 Adelaide Street East, one block north of King and one and a half blocks east of Jarvis. In the museum is a scale model of Toronto in 1837 as it was in Upper Canada. Visitors are provided with the opportunity to write letters with a quill pen and seal them with wax as was done in the 1830s. The style is in the late Georgian architecture.


Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Travis Erwin from Amarillo, Texas is the founder of My Town Monday. For other locations to visit please go to Travis' site here.

Friday, 20 February 2009

What Would Emma Do? by Eileen Cook (Book Review)

The story is set in a small town: Wheaton, Indiana, where Emma Proctor attends a private Christian high school. In school, Emma and her classmates are expected to question everything with “What would Jesus do?” Emma thinks that sitting around to discuss WWJD is a waste of time.

Emma is hoping for a sports scholarship to attend a university away from Wheaton. She has only applied to one, Northwestern, hoping beyond hope that she will be accepted on her track scores. She doesn’t like the small town atmosphere where everyone gossips and knows each others’ personal business. If they don’t know what’s going on, stories are fabricated.

Emma has always been comfortable with Colin Stewart, her guy friend, the next door neighbour who grew up with her. She’s never worried about saying the wrong thing, as he always seems to know what to say at the right moment or understand her moods. From an early age it had been suggested that when they grew up they would get married. But Emma’s plans had always been to leave Wheaton, and she had no reservations about Colin dating her best friend, Joann.

But before Emma can leave Wheaton, there is the Christmas kiss with Colin to clear up. The kiss Joann’s mother was witness to. Emma questions Joann’s ‘forgiveness’, knowing Joann would be uncomfortable about Colin hanging out with her. But the real question is why Colin kissed her. It is this question that haunts Emma enough to impulsively ask Colin to take her to a party at “The Barn” located in the countryside.

It is at the Barn where Colin and Emma witness a situation that carries consequences, and those engaged in it were unaware they were present.

When Colin takes Emma home this excerpt from the book sums up the kiss at Christmas where Colin tells Emma it wasn’t a mistake and that he thinks he really likes her:

“I don’t know. I’m not trying to piss you off, but I feel that I have to say something. I’ve liked you for as long as I can remember. I liked you since before I fully understood what it meant, but you were always so clear about wanting to be friends, just friends, that I never said a thing. Heck, I half convinced myself that I didn’t care. That I was fine with that. Besides, even if you liked me, I knew the relationship wouldn’t go anywhere. You’ve talked about leaving since you understood there was a road out of town. But I think I never stopped liking you. I felt like you should know. Then I kissed you, and you kissed me back.” Colin looked over at me. “You did kiss me back.”

When classmates begin passing out at school Emma knows why and who is behind it, and wants to report it. Colin reminds her that being at a party where there was alcohol would get her kicked off the track team, and there goes her scholarship. Also, Joann would find out they had been together.

Emma fears the worst when the town begins a witch hunt to find out who is ‘poisoning’ the high school students. A mob mentality develops when they begin to target students who are considered “loners”. Soon it becomes a “crime” to be different and Emma sees the hypocrisy in the town residents. How long will Emma let this go on? How many innocent people have to get hurt before she steps up and does the right thing?

This book covers the full range of emotions, because those teenage years have many situations packed into them – body changes, boys/girls, dating, social norms, grades, and growing up. When parents or older adults tell teenagers those years are the best of their lives, I think they have really forgotten how anxiety ridden they were. Not everyone has a smooth growth period during the teenage years. For some it was a horror they would prefer to forget.

Emma’s comments and thoughts are hilarious while she tests the waters around her. It’s a normal, healthy attitude toward the challenges of life. She’s smart, insecure, and a non-conformist; but is focused on her goal to leave Wheaton. Emma finds it scary in her search to find integrity in her life with others, while learning it is more important than many other things.

Each chapter starts with a journal entry where Emma talks to God over difficult choices and her faith. These journal entries were very amusing, thought provoking and entertaining. Emma learns a fundamental lesson about asking God for help and receives an answer in a dream.

Eileen Cook has created characters that are believable, and she has teenage angst down pat. What Would Emma Do? is a book that had me laughing out loud. I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a good read…regardless of one's age.

Format: Paperback, 307 pages
Publisher: Simon Pulse, Simon & Schuster
To visit Eileen Cook’s website:

Anyone commenting on this review will be entered in a draw on March 7, 2009 to receive a copy of “What Would Emma Do?” Raph Neckmann of Raph's Ramblings won the book

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Hiking Trails - Tonquin Valley - Day 5

This is a continuation of the post from last week where the hike stopped at the Surprise Point campground.

Today’s hike of 3.8 km goes south to Outpost Lake where the Wates-Gibson hut is run by the Alpine Club of Canada.

The trail from Surprise Point campground to Chrome Lake is a hike downhill on rocky footing. There will be a lot of mosquitos, so wear your bug hat, jacket, gloves, trousers and bug repellant.

[1-Trail south to Chrome Lake, at mid photo, and the Eremite Valley]

[2-Eremite Valley and Chrome Lake just visible in the centre of photo]

[3-Nearing Chrome Lake]

[4- Chrome Lake]

[5- Chrome Lake]

[6 - Mountain stream feeding Chrome Lake in the Eremite Valley]

[7- Eremite Valley - click to enlarge]

Once past Chrome Lake the trail will reach a junction with Eremite Valley trail and the Astoria River Trail. The trail continues on the left to Arrowhead Lake and the head of the Eremite Valley.

[8 - Peak in Eremite Valley]

[9- Eremite Glacier on Mt. Eremite]

[10- Eremite Valley - click to enlarge]

[11- Spruce Grouse on trail in Eremite Valley - click to enlarge]

Animals to be found in the Eremite valley are porcupines

[12- Porcupine]

and wolves.

[13- Wolf]

[14-Eremite Valley near Wates-Gibson hut]

[15- Creek near Outpost Lake]

The Wates-Gibson Memorial hut is another steep kilometre up the trail and set back from the shore of Outpost Lake.

[16- Outpost Lake - click to enlarge]

The Wates-Gibson Memorial hut was built in 1959. This Class “A” hut is a large and well-equipped log cabin is a perfect destination in summer or winter. There is a 30 person limit in the summer and 24 in the winter. Booking is required and fees apply. Reservations can be made up to three months in advance.

From the Wates-Gibson hut hikers can go west over the continental divide south of McDonnell Peak and Simon Peak to get a glimpse of wilderness considerably more remote and wild. There are also a number of excellent alpine and rock and mixed routes in the area including scrambles and hiking opportunities for everyone.

Sources: ParksCanada
Wates-Gibson Memorial Hut – Alpine Club of Canada

Photo Credits: [1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11][17]-brilang CC=nc-sa-flickr, [12]-Tiffany Schimmens CC-nc-sa-flickr, [13]-kielas CC-nc-nd-flickr, [14][15][16]-priya biswas CC=nc-sa-flickr.