Posts Tagged ‘Canada’

New Edward Snowden interview, conducted by German television

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014


Pretty interesting interview on German television and now distributed on LiveLeak. Worth watching. He’s very articulate, and Canada’s CSEC is mentioned.

Defeating Prime Minister Stephen Harper

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

Joyce Murray cooperation coalition

Sorry, another post on politics, not design (but see About). And this is one that will annoy my more partisan friends, though perhaps not as much as partisanship is annoying me.

So here’s Joyce Murray‘s idea for how to get Harper—Canada’s Republican/Tea Party equivalent—out of office in the next federal election. And it’s an idea that’s coming from a party I only vote for except when tactically necessary to ensure a defeat of the Conservatives. This candidate is making a call for cooperation among all the non-Conservative parties, parties which, when combined, always receive the vast majority of Canadian votes.

Within the federal Liberal party, Joyce Murray is the only leadership candidate pledging to do this. Nathan Cullen pledged this within the NDP party but did not win the party leadership; Mulcair won and he’s not talking cooperation. Nor is Justin Trudeau, who’s touted to win the Liberal leadership bid. On the other hand Elizabeth May, leader of the Greens, has stated  Greens’ willingness to cooperate from the beginning. And now David Suzuki has endorsed Joyce Murray.

What are your thoughts on this suggestion? Whatever they are, please let’s not allow Harper to be elected again through vote-splitting. Please let’s step away from party tribalism for a minute and throw Harper out before the country is plastered in prisons, fighter jets, bitumen and public asset fire sales.

Surveillance camera map, Vancouver

Saturday, November 17th, 2012

Big Brother is watching

Very nice map of surveillance cameras in downtown Vancouver, by the Vancouver Public Space Network.

Disturbing content aside, it’s a very attractive map.



Godspeed You! Black Emperor are back

Saturday, October 6th, 2012

Finally, a new album after ten years. Seems it’s only available on their tour merch tables right now. Beautiful album design, including the following:

More Godspeed You! graphics here

Radiant City – entertaining critique of the suburbs of Calgary and beyond

Saturday, August 18th, 2012

Radiant City is an entertaining 2006 Canadian film written and directed by Calgary filmmaker Gary Burns  (Kitchen Party, Suburbanator, Way Downtown) and Jim Brown. The  film focus on the Moss family, who introduce us to the brand new suburb they have recently settled in. You can watch the whole NFB film here.

Toronto urban designer Ken Greenberg appears, as well as Mark Kingwell, Beverly Sandalack, James Howard Kunstler (The Geography of Nowhere, Long Emergency), Andrés Duany and other urban experts.


“80% of everything ever built in North America has been built in the last 50 years. And most of it is brutal, depressing, ugly, unhealthy and spiritually degrading. The plastic commuter tract home wastelands, the Potemkin village shopping plazas with their vast parking lagoons, the gourmet mansardic junk food joints, the Orwellian office parks featuring buildings sheathed in the same reflective glass as the sunglasses worn by chain gang guards. The whole agoraphobia-inducing toxic brutal spectacle that politicians like to call “growth” …

“Suburbia disaggregates the elements of everyday life so that you have to drive from one to the other.”


Pack horse trip in the Northern Rockies: Muskwa-Kechika

Monday, July 9th, 2012

Muskwa-Kechika, creek wall, Day 1

[Update: The Globe and Mail has finally run the story about our trip. Wilderness guide and Globe travel writer Bruce Kirkby came along on our leg of the trip.]

I have been out of internet range for weeks, riding through the remote Northern Rockies on a pack horse trip. The expedition was led by Wayne Sawchuk. Wayne grew up in Northern BC, once worked as a logger and hunting guide and is now a wilderness guide and environmentalist. He spearheaded the protection of this place, which is now known as the Muskwa-Kechika Management Area. It is one of the largest and most species-rich protected areas in North America, and it is also the ancestral Dene territory of my companion for the trip. Along with us were 5 others most of whom work in one way or another with BC’s wild areas (including one of the founders of BC’s Breeding Bird Atlas, in which birders can participate).

Many of the passes and valleys we travelled through have not been visited much, at least in recent times. But this area is part of a route known by anthropologists as the High Trail, one of the paths taken 10,000 years ago by those who traveled across the Bering Sea ice bridge from Asia to North America, back when the last ice age was receding. People traveled south along the high ridges because they are rich in game (as we observed ourselves) and because this saved them from making constant ascents and descents. Today this trail is mostly hard to access unless you go in on a trip such as Wayne’s.

It is staggering to think most empires in history were built on horseback. Have you ever packed a pack horse and then ridden all day? It is not easy. It makes an hour of boot camp seem leisurely. The Hollywood movies of empire and the wild west don’t show each morning’s 3-hour process of building a fire, making breakfast, packing and striking camp, evening out the panniers and and luggage, and saddling the pack and saddle horses. Every morning we’d wake at 6:00 am; one day we broke a record by riding out of camp at 9:45. Then you ride all day, and do it all again, but in reverse order except for the fire, which always happens first.

The Northern Rockies are beautiful, quite strange and ancient. They are older than the Southern Rockies, containing rock from near the beginning of the world, long before life forms, before shells, before fossils. They come to an end just south of the Yukon border.

For more information about each photo, click to reach Flickr page.

Tuchodi Lakes - map
Above, the red pin drop shows Tuchodi Lakes, end point of 13 day trip. Dotted line above is Yukon border, and you can also just make out the yellow line of the Alaska Highway. (Green pin drop is Liard River Hot Springs; photos near bottom.) Click photo for bigger version.

My horse, Spunky
Spunky, my horse for the trip. He was given his name after surviving a 2 month-long pack horse trip while badly wounded in the shoulder as a foal. His mother Hazel is the pack’s lead mare, needed for keeping the pack string together, so she had to make the trip. Spunky had to go with her as he was not yet weaned.  He does have a sort of messed up front left shoulder, as you can see in the photo, but he’s fine.  The funny thing is that I asked Wayne for a spunky horse last January and Spunky is what I got.

Most of Wayne’s horses were saved from meat auctions. They get the entire long winter off, so they lead good lives. Some of them are a bit young or feral, or as Wayne diplomatically puts it, “unsophisticated.”

Cariboo in the high alpine
Curious, almost fearless cariboo approach us in the high alpine. Brian on Comet, John on Hazel. This is part of the High Trail.

Arriving at the Tuchodi River
Tuchodi River, Wayne answering a question about geology. In the foreground, an authentic stetson—there’s a pleasing irony in a First Nations man wearing a hat that apparently used to be known as an “Indian killer.”

Donna on the trail
Behind me on the pack string. Kailo, poet Donna Kane on Bucky, followed by Chrissy, Lock It, Mel, and way behind, Levi. Fording overflow from the Tuchodi River which was running high.

Donna in the pack string
Donna riding with some of the 10 pack horses

Moss campion, striped rocks at Henry Creek
 Moss campion at Henry Creek with striped rocks characteristic of the Rockies, which were created when ancient sedimentation was pushed high up by the collision of the earth’s plates

View from tent, Henry Creek
View from tent at Henry Creek

Percy's mane with dreads from the winter
Dreadlocks in Percy’s mane. The horses graze wild all winter on beautiful land in Rolla BC, so at the beginning of the summer their manes are matted. I spent hours untangling their manes so as not to have to cut all the dreads out, collecting any dead hair that came out to make horsehair bracelets for the group. Interestingly the horses, though a bit wild, seem to enjoy having their manes worked on. Instead of protesting they seem to go into some sort of trance, and soon the other horses drift over to watch or line up. They seem to want the contact. I was going to be on Percy  but in the end he went to Bruce Kirkby, travel and adventure writer for the Globe and Mail and the tallest rider. I did ride him into the Sweetgrass 905 Music Festival the week before our trip, as part of Wayne’s pack-horse packing demonstration at the fest.

Lock It and Hank
Lock It and Hank the day before the trip. Not shy.

Mel basking in high alpine
My favourite of all the pack and riding horses – friendly Mel, basking in evening sun in a high alpine meadow

Muskwa-Kechika, John Keller fording river on Hazel
Fording one of many creeks, John of the BC Nature Trust on Hazel. Hazel is the lead mare, the decision maker for the pack. She usually brought up the rear. 

Muskwa-Kechika, in the high alpine
Brian training Comet on the trail

Muskwa-Kechika, lunchtime on the high alpine trail
Lunch in alpine meadow. Lunch is whatever you pack in the morning and can fit in your saddlebags. There’s no unpacking the pack horses during the day. And usually you’re completely starving.

Muskwa-Kechika, Spunky on the trail
Spunky on the trail in a mossy valley wood

Gataga and friends grazing at night
Every night the horses are let loose, with some of them hobbled and 4 of them belled so they don’t wander too far and can be found in the morning. They stay in packs so you don’t have to hobble them all. That’s Gataga with a bell on – the prettiest horse in the pack. He always looks as if he’s wearing silver eyeliner.

Percy in stand of aspen, Tuchodi Lakes
Percy at 9 pm on the last night in a beautiful stand of white-barked aspen. It was quiet except for the trembling of the leaves. It’s beyond mysterious in there, as if an elf from Lord of the Rings could suddenly walk by on the way to Rivendell. I wanted to say goodbye to the horses so I hiked to find them. When I started untangling Percy’s mane for the last time, the whole pack string crowded around and all you could hear was their breathing.

Ed, sleeping off 13 hard days
Ed did very well on a very strenuous trip, partly by taking advantage of every chance to sleep off all the running. He was so camouflaged on this beach we kept tripping over him.

Urs arriving at E. Tuchodi L. camp to pick us up
The famed Urs picked us up in his Twin Otter to take us from Tuchodi Lake back to Muncho Lake on the Alaska Highway. Urs came here with his wife decades ago from Switzerland and bought the Northern Rockies Lodge. He pilots most flights in this region and knows it intimately.

Landing on Muncho Lake in Urs's Twin Otter
Approaching Muncho Lake by Twin Otter. That’s the Alaska Highway down there.

Landing on Muncho Lake in Urs's Twin Otter
Muncho Lake

Landing on Muncho Lake in Urs's Twin Otter

Landing on Muncho Lake in Urs's Twin Otter

Full moon, last night of trip
Full Moon, last night in the Rockies

Liard Hot Springs - ferns close up
Ferns and horsetail at Liard River Hot Springs

Liard Hot Springs
Liard River Hot Springs

Fort Nelson News' business section just called "Oil and Gas"
Back in Fort Nelson, waiting for flight back to Vancouver. The Fort Nelson News doesn’t have a Business section. They just call that topic “Oil and Gas.” I don’t think most people in Southern B.C. have any clue that much of the NE of the province is effectively oil patch. It’s another world up there.