Wednesday, 25 April 2018

V is for Vancouver ...

How could I not do Vancouver, though could have chosen Victoria, now the capital of Vancouver Island.

Location of Vancouver within
Vancouver in the late 1800s displaced Victoria as the leading commercial centre on Canada's west coast ... in part due to the prosperity arising from the Klondike Gold Rush and the arrival of the railways 1880s, which soon, in the main, superseded other modes of inland transport.

Early 20th C Vancouver developed its markets for fish, minerals and lumber - then the First World War severely declined economic prosperity ...

Stanley Park
... the 1920s growth resumed and the export grain trade held up during the Great Depression of the 1930s ... while its mild climate became a draw for many peoples ... this led to Vancouver replacing Winnipeg as the leading city in western Canada.

Port of Vancouver

... the outbreak of the Second World War ended unemployment, trade grew particularly through shipments of wheat to China.

I highly recommend this
saga - see note below

But ... the early settlers in the 1850s in the western coasts and Vancouver areas largely ignored the Indigenous members of the Coastal Salish linquistic group ... 'just taking their land' by proclamation under the Crown ...

The Speaker figure - Brooklyn Museum
19thC - the voice at the Potlatch ceremony

The Indigenous Peoples had been here for over 8,000 years ... and through the abundance found on the coast enabled them to live in larger, more socially stratified groups than was typical among Indigenous peoples in Canada. 

Their great wealth and complex social organisation produced elaborate cultural institutions as exemplified by the potlatch ceremony.

Vancouver's Chinatown - the largest
in Canada

... during the eighty years or so from the mid 1800s to the outbreak of WW2 many peoples from a wide range of countries had by choice, or by offer of employment, or by dubious coercive offers of employment had entered Canada via Vancouver ...*

... apart from the Europeans ... Chinese, Indians (Punjabis), Japanese made up most of the early immigrants obtaining work in the mines and thus establishing 'neighbourhoods' ... there are now many other different cultural areas ...

Statue of "Gassy" Jack in the historic
area of Gastown
Gastown was Vancouver's first downtown 'centre', named after "Gassy" Jack Deighton, a Yorkshire seaman, steamboat captain and barkeeper, who arrived in 1867 opening its first saloon.

Gassy Jack's tavern led to other stores and hotels appearing, which in turn led to the Canadian Pacific Railway extending westwards to take advantage of the large natural seaport - which became the vital link in a trade route between the Orient/Asia, Eastern Canada and Europe ...

Collage of the area

Now Vancouver is known the world over as the 'go to place' ... wonderful shoreline, stunning British Columbian interior, snow to enjoy, nature to explore, a multi-cultural diversity of ethnic groups ...

... offering delicious foods, choices of art theatre, music, film ... it is a film production centre - earning it the nickname "Hollywood North" ... and even the TED Conference has made Vancouver its home.

Vancouver was never recognised in his day -
yet posthumously has been.
It is thought that this recently found painting
might be of Captain Vancouver
To conclude this long post ... the city takes its name from George Vancouver (1757 - 1798) ... who explored and charted North America's northwestern Pacific Coast regions, the Hawaiian Islands and the SW coast of Australia.

Vancouver was a British officer, yet the family name originates from the Dutch "Van Coevorden", denoting somebody from the city of Coevorden, Netherlands ...

That is V for Vancouver both vanquished and victorious ... from Aspects by a British 'girl' in Canada ...

I have recommended this book before - but I'd highly recommend 'Vancouver' that is a Saga, an absorbing historical chronicle of the American coastal northwest and its settlers from the Siberian people through to today ... 

* as happened in other parts of the world during WW2 ... any immigrant from an ethnic background would probably suffer from internment - this too was prevalent in Vancouver

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

U is for Union Bay ...

This seemed a good choice for 'U' - as it tells the tale of an area born on coal, being wound down when the coal ran out then being reborn with new development on the coal slack mound deposits ...

Union village, now called Cumberland, was named after the Union Coal Company ... which in turn was named in honour of the 1871 Union of British Columbia with Canada.

This really did enlighten me on the
pioneering days and what it was like
to come from Scotland and make your
way - yes, he was one tough individual ...
but I learnt a lot of history, geography etc

My interest in the area was reading about how Robert Dunsmuir (1825 - 1889) came out from Scotland in 1850 ... first travelling to Fort Vancouver, before moving to the north of the Island, then to the Union Bay area.

Dunsmuir's mentor returned to Scotland, but Robert carried on working for the Hudson Bay Company negotiating with Governor Douglas to operate on his own behalf, further south on the Island.

I couldn't borrow it - as this was the
only copy - many wanted to read it - and
sadly many have gone awol - henc the notice
He rose to prominence through sheer hard work, canny ability - as a coal mine developer, owner and operator, a railway developer, industrialist and politician, becoming within twenty five years the richest man in British Columbia.

I drove up to Union Bay - its interesting history almost obscured by time - but I'm still enamoured with it ... and now I know the area - will return in due course.

Remnants of the area's historic use as a coal shipping terminal between 1888 and the 1960s can be found in the Bay ... black rock, pilings, bricks, rusting metal ... an industrial midden - which will await future archaeologists.

Beach 'midden' remnants littering the shoreline
c/o Island Nature - Union Bay Coal Hills

It is slowly being reclaimed ... but apart from huge logging booms in the deepwater Bay ... the area is now noted for its mussel, clam and oyster beds ... as well as fresh crabs ...

A beach full of mussels and mussel beds ...
it was a cool day ... but the coastline here on the west coast
is full of bays, inlets etc ...

Robert Dunsmuir enjoyed the high life after his hard work ... yet never managed to let go ... his fortune has gone, but he is remembered for opening up Vancouver Island ...

So tomorrow we go from here 'U' for Union Bay, Vancouver Island and its reincarnation in the 21st century  to Vancouver itself on the mainland.

That is U for the unique Union Bay ... from Aspects by a British 'girl' in Canada ...

'Midden' photo from Island Nature - wonderful photography and pertinent tales ...

The Dunsmuir Saga book by Terry Reksten ... brings their history to life - which covers the pioneering days here on the Island, together with changes occurring in the last 170 years was a fortuitous 2nd hand buy in the very local bookstore.

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Monday, 23 April 2018

T is for Thuja Plicata and Totems ...

I am living 'down the road' from the City of Totems - Duncan ... it is not a city at all, but a town of 5,000 - in its early life it was classified as a city - and that's stuck.

The upper part of the body of
"The Feast" ... the bald eagle stands proud

I've iphoned a couple of totems in the 'city' the other day - not very good records ... but I'll take myself on a tour to see the 40+ poles in the town.  My photos aren't brilliant - but you'll get an idea and I will elaborate on the meanings of some of them anon.

Thuja Plicata

Thuja Plicata - the Western Red Cedar tree - known as the Mother Tree - is the tree of choice for these First Nation carvers.

For thousands of years, cedar sustained the peoples of the Northwest by providing material for everyday items: ceremonial masks, medicine, transportation, housing, fishing nets, food bowls, clothing, firewood, storage boxes and more...

However in 1986 ... Duncan was designated as the City of Totems ... being found in the Cowichan Valley, traditional home of the Quw'utsun' People.

A fuller version of "The Feast"
- with an historical caboose behind
In fact ... the totems on display in Duncan represent carvers from across the Pacific Northwest, Quebec and New Zealand ... and bear witness to the proud heritage of carving amongst the First Nations people.

A Totem pole
in Thunderbird
Park, Vancouver

I will later on go into more detail about these amazing poles ... but for now - the First Nations relied on oral tradition to record their history, the carved totem poles created a permanent record of their lineage and historical events.

Ceremonies are performed at each pole raising ... these have come to be a combination of traditions and protocols from both native and (today) non-native communities ...

... and remind us that there is a spiritual connection between man and tree, that we are all aspects of a greater whole ...

That is T for Thuja Plicata and Totems ... from Aspects by a British 'girl' in Canada ...

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Saturday, 21 April 2018

S is for Shinplaster and Screamers ...

I guess both words could be linked ... but they're not - just Ss for short snippets ...
Screamer at the farm

I thought 'Screamers' was a heart-rending word for the ragged row of splintered ridges left when a tree is felled.

Screaming stumps at the farm

Emily Carr describes these torn stumps 'Screamers' as the 'last chords to break, chords in the tree's very heart' ... so perfect a desolate description.

In another of her short stories "Noah's Ark, 1934," ... she reiterates similar words - per the image I post ...
Photo of Emily's description of "Screamers" I took
when I visited the art gallery with her work

To completely change the subject - how many of you scream, shriek or yawl when an elastoplast is pulled off - I grimace loudly!  But remember many a day in my early life when plasters were constantly applied, and torn off - sometimes after being soaked to ease them away ... sometimes not!

How about 'Shinplasters' ... those notes that were so worthless they were used to patch up broken skin ...

Canadian 25c "shinplaster",
front 1923

... or the quality of the paper used was so poor and worthless that with a bit of starch they could be used to make papier-mâché-like plasters to go under socks or warm shins ...

John Russell Bartlett's The Dictionary of Americanisms, defines a shinplaster as "A cant term for a bank-note, or any paper money.  It probably came into use in 1837, when the banks suspended specie payment, and when paper money became depreciated in value" ...

Canadian 25c "shinplaster",
back (1900/1923)

... it then quotes the New York Tribune in 1845: "The people may whistle for protection, and put up with what shinplaster rags they can get".

These notes were circulated by various entities ... and were often a variety of token ... sometimes used in company shop economies or peonages in place of legal tender.

So that is S for sad snippets at which you may shriek, shout, screech, squeal or squawk for Screamers and Shinplasters ... from Aspects by a British 'girl' in Canada ...

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Friday, 20 April 2018

R is for Red River Carts ...

These large two-wheeled carts were made entirely from local materials only - wood and hide ... nails were unavailable or very expensive as trading routes expanded ...

Red River Ox cart (1851)
by Frank Blackwell Mayer

They were used throughout most of the 19th century, particularly in the Red River area ... when beaver fur was most in demand ... and needed to be transported across the new lands ...

Red River carts at an early railway station

... as the cart was very light it was very adaptable to conditions ... it could be floated across streams ... be easily repaired, yet was strong enough to carry loads as heavy as 450 kg ( 1,000 lbs).

Red River trading area
Lake Winnipeg in the north, Regina in
the west, to Fargo and on in the south

This style of cart was responsible for the European traders trading their goods north and south, east and west, until the coming of the steam ships along the major rivers and then the railways ... when these wonderful Red River Carts were replaced as transport modes ...

That is R for Red River Carts ... from Aspects by a British 'girl' in Canada ...

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Thursday, 19 April 2018

Q is for Québec, Québécois ...

This largest province in Canada shares borders with Ontario, New Brunswick and Newfoundland ... as well as being neighbours with four American states: Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and New York.

Canada showing Quebec Province

Its name Québec was inspired by the Algonquian word meaning "where the (St Lawrence) river narrows".  The French in New France (1534 - 1763) used it solely to refer to the city of  Québec; leaving the British to use it in its now more common accepted usage.

Canada (the Province of Quebec) 1774

Québec feels like a country within a country ... France within Canada ... it is the only predominantly French speaking Province ... with French as the sole provincial official language.

Quebec City montage

It's a stunning part of the world ... with lots going for it - in the way of history, tourism, natural resources and innovative economic sectors ...

Québec city is the province's capital ... while Montreal is considerably the larger city ...

Rue du Cul de Sac in the heritage
part of Old Quebec city

Yet Québec gives Canada that extra French zip to life ... the historic neighbourhood of Old Québec ... now a UNESCO World Heritage Site ... confirms this area as a unique cultural iconic region ...

Old Quebec

Québécois ... the French Canadian spoken is not like the Parisienne French, even a Frenchman had trouble trying to understand it ... this is from Jo - thank you!

That is Q for Québec the ubiquitous French section of Canada  .... from Aspects from a British 'girl' in Canada ...

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

P is for Peter Pond's use of Pemmican ...

It is thought that Peter Pond (1739 - 1807), the fur trader, realised the value in the native people's staple food ... named Pemmican from the Cree word 'pimikan' ...

Some Pemmican made up

Peter Pond opened up the Canadian West ... with proverbial Yankee shrewdness realising the rich pickings away from the Great Lakes area ... before fading south in disgrace ... 

Showing N America and Canada
with the spread of the Saskatoon
berry tree - also giving an idea of the
territories needing to be surveyed,
explored and developed

Trading occurred between the natives, and the explorers and settlers - the Hudson Bay company's (incorporated 1670) trading posts along with expansion by entrepreneurial intrepid explorers searching this new land.  Pemmican as a food sustained people in these early days, as it had for the natives for centuries before ... 

Peter Pond's second-in-command during 1787-88, was Sir Alexander Mackenzie after whom the Mackenzie River basin is named.  Such interesting history here. 

The pomes of the
Saskatoon plant
Traditionally Pemmican is made from dried, ground meat, usually bison (moose, caribou, venison or beef), mixed with an equal quantity of fat (where the name Pimikan comes from - you might want to look away now! - "manufactured grease")  to which occasionally saskatoon berries, cranberries were added ... or on special occasions other small fruits.

A North American bison

It was then cooled and sewn into bison-hide bags in 41 kg (90 lbs) lots, which were easily transported across the trading regions - the prairies and further north ...

Fridtjof Nansen

Subsequently Pemmican has been recognised as 'an essential' - being used by Mackenzie on his crossing of Canada in the 1790s - twelve years before Lewis and Clark.

First Edition cover 1930

Other North American traders used it, as well as being taken up for use in the Boer War, the polar expeditions ... Shackleton, Scott, Amundsen, and by the Norwegian Fridtjof Nansen (1861-1930) ... another extraordinary person ...

Arthur Ransome, in his Swallows and Amazons series, had his children refer to their bully beef potted meat tins as Pemmican ... adding to their fantasy world ...

That is P for Peter Pond's sustaining Pemmican ... from Aspects by a British 'girl' in Canada ...

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories