All posts tagged: history

Lest We Forget –

Calgary’s Field of Crosses Each year, from November 1 to 11, over 3400 Memorial Crosses are placed in a park along Calgary’s Memorial Drive. Each cross represents a soldier from Southern Alberta who died in active duty during Conflicts and Peacekeeping Missions from 1899 to the Present. The Car Guy and I walked the length of the park to reach our destination at the east end of the Field – the marker of Henry William Vine, my grandfather’s brother. World War One Henry William signed his Attestation Papers for the Canadian Over-Seas Expeditionary Force in September 1915. He was 17 years and 1 month old, and likely lied about his age in order to enlist. The family story is that a woman handed him the white feather of cowardice, and that is what compelled him to join. Henry’s unit, the 49th Bn, arrived in France on March 26, 1916. Henry reported to base slightly wounded in June, 1916 but remained at duty. He was wounded again on September 15, 1916, apparently a gun shot wound …

The Race is On – Fall Harvest

Alberta has 21 million hectares (52 million acres) of agriculture land that is used for farming and ranching. Wheat, barley, canola, oats, rye, dry peas, lentils, flax, dry beans and potatoes are the primary crops. An Alberta Harvest – past and present. Irricana’s Pioneer Acres hosts an annual Farm Days which features working demonstrations of  the farm equipment that would have been used by our grandfathers and great grandfathers. This photo shows a wagon, a stationary thresher machine (which separates the grain from the straw and chaff) and a grain truck. The thresher is powered by a tractor (not shown). Today, harvesting is done by self propelled Combines that cut the crop and threshes it. The combine doesn’t even have to stop moving to transfer the grain to trucks. This is one of three combines that harvested the quarter section behind our place yesterday afternoon. It was a dusty day for everyone within a mile of the action (but probably not for the driver!) Farming has always been a risky business and that is no …

Blanche Russell Rock Houses

A few years ago, after a visit to the Grand Canyon, we drove east on Hgw 64, then north on Hgws 89 and 89A. We crossed the Colorado River on the Navajo Bridge, and were on final approach to the Vermillion Cliffs when we were surprised to see some mushroom shaped rocks that looked like a group of Smurfs had built houses under them. We stopped to investigate  and quickly realized they really were ‘Tiny Houses’. A worn and badly damaged sign nearby told the story of  Blanche Russell  and her husband William (Bill), whose car broke down in the area in about 1927 (or maybe 1920)… The pair took shelter under the mushroom rocks over night. Blanche liked the area so much that she bought the property and built permanent structures. She lived there for about 10 years and operated a business. When I looked online for more information about the Blanche Russel Rock Houses, I found a number of  ‘folklore’ stories on several sites: “Around 1927, Blanch Russell’s car broke down as she traveled …

A Peek at Bourton-on-the Water

Bourton-on-the-Water is a village in the Cotswolds Area of Gloucestershire, England. The houses and shops in the village are constructed of the yellow Oolitic limestone that is found in the surrounding hills. Cotswold stone is easily split into blocks and is quite weather-resistant. The Cotswold hills cover an area that is about 40 miles across and 120 miles long. It is an extremely popular tourist destination. A peek over just about any hedge or stone wall will give you a glimpse of why at least 117 buildings within Bourton-on-the-Water have been listed as Grade II or higher. This designation means the building has ‘special architectural or historic interest’. The building’s owners have to apply for consent to do most types of work that affect their home. A peek inside this wobbly hedge! I sure wouldn’t want to be the one who keeps it trimmed. In old age, and having been sprained by the weight of snow over the decades, the hedges now wobble along, imperfect, but full of vegetable dignity… – Description of Walmer Castle …

RCMP – Law, Order and the Musical Ride

In 1867, Canada became a nation. This year (2017) is Canada’s 150th Birthday! Six years after the Dominion of Canada was formed, the Parliament of Canada established a central police force and gave it the task of maintaining Law and Order in the newly acquired western territories of Canada. The force acquired the name “North-West Mounted Police” (NWMP). By 1886, the NWMP’s first riding school was established in Regina and in 1887, the horses and riders performed mounted precision cavalry drills on several occasions. It wasn’t until 1901,  though, that the drills, choreographed to music, began to be performed for the public. In 1920, the name of the force was changed to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). Today, the Musical Ride consists of 32 riders (plus one leader) in scarlet jackets on beautiful black horses. The RCMP has bred and raised its own horses since 1939. The Ride tours throughout Canada and internationally between May and October. More Canadiana – Best Canadian Puns, Jokes and Observations. This week’s WordPress.com Photo Challenge is Order.

Your car knows

Idaho and Utah – Driving By the Numbers

Our trip home from Arizona to Alberta took 5 days (April 29 to May 3, 2016) to cover a distance of 2600 km (1650 miles). This year we drove Sadie, a 2002 SL500 convertible that gets 10 L/100 km (28 mpg) and loves to gallop along at 129 km/h (80 mph) on the I-15. One of our fuel stops was in Monticello, Utah – elevation 2,155 m (7070 ft) where Sadie dined on 91 octane. I bought 1 bar of dark chocolate fuel for myself – our glove compartment had 0 gloves and 0 candy bars.   804 km (500 miles) later, we were in Idaho Falls, Idaho. We stopped at the Army Surplus Warehouse (after Sadie got some more gas, and I refilled the glove compartment with chocolate.) There are many interesting things for sale there, including an M129 leaflet dispenser that is 2.28 metres (7.5 ft long) and 40 cm (16 inches) in diameter. Its empty weight is about 52 kilograms (115 pounds) and when loaded with leaflets it weighs about 100 kilograms (225 …

A Vibrant Willys Coupe at Barrett-Jackson

Willys-Overland Motors produced the Willys Americar from 1937 to 1942 – either as sedans, coupes, station wagons or pickup trucks. The coupe version is very popular with the hot rod set, and this beautiful 1941 Willys Custom Coupe wears vibrant metallic pearl and royal ruby pearl paint. With extensive chroming from front to back, this car sparkled under the lights at Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale in January 2016. Willys-Overland’s biggest claim to fame is the famous 4×4 “Willys” which was chosen by the War Department as its light utility vehicle of choice. The “Jeep”, as it would become known, was based on the original Bantam design of the Willys company. A Willys Americar would have cost about $630 in the early 1940’s. As a hot rod, this one sold in 2016 for $80,300. In 2015, the same car sold at Barrett Jackson in Las Vegas for $110,000. What goes up, must come down, they say… Have you ever taken a big ‘hit’ when you sold a car? This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is Vibrant

Oil Field Dodge and Stalking John Dillinger

The Oil Field Dodge was the star of a Dodge Brothers promotional film that was apparently filmed in Texas in the 1920’s. (The piano music in this video is “New Walk” by Dave Hartley, released 2006.) The vehicle used in this video would probably have been produced after March of 1919 (when a four­ door enclosed sedan was introduced into the Dodge line) and before the 1924 model year when the wheelbase was extended to 116 inches, louvers were placed on the hood, and the entire car was given a lower appearance. The Dodge Brothers (John and Horace) began building motor cars in 1910. Initially they manufactured and assembled Model T’s for the Ford Motor Company. In 1913 they began designing their own car, and on November 14, 1914 the first Dodge Brothers vehicle rolled off the assembly line. In just three years Dodge became the fourth largest American automobile manufacturer. By 1919, the company was producing about 106,000 vehicles per year and in 1925 they sold their one millionth car. The Dodge Brothers both …

Belgium – WWI Memorial – A Brooding Soldier

Canada entered World War I as a colony and came out a nation… – Bruce Hutchison, Canadian Journalist – We’ve been to Europe a number of times. (I know that sounds like a big deal, but we were living in England at the time.) On one of our trips we visited a number of  WWI cemeteries and monuments in Belgium and France. I was looking for a cemetery that contained soldiers who had died on the same day that my Grandpa’s brother, Henry, had been reported missing in battle. (Read In Flanders Fields for the story of my family in WWI.) Near St. Julien we found the Canadian Memorial of The Brooding Soldier.  The bowed head and shoulders of a Canadian soldier with folded hands resting on arms reversed was carved from an 11 metre high piece of granite. It appears to be meditating about the battle in which his comrades displayed such great valour – a battle where the Canadian, British and French Armies met an enemy that launched the first ever large-scale gas …

Goldfield Arizona – Where History Comes Alive

Goldfield Arizona was an active community in the mid 1890’s. Today it is a Ghost Town, full of beautifully old things. It is even possible that the Saguaro cactus in the middle of the photo is almost as old as the town. The theme of the WordPress Photo challenge this week was Two Subjects. Which two subjects are your favourites in the photo above? Here are a few more photos taken in Goldfield:

Visiting Cards – Yesterday and Today

All visiting cards are engraved on white unglazed bristol board, which may be of medium thickness or thin, as one fancies. Etiquette absolutely demands that one leave a card within a few days after taking a first meal in a lady’s house; or if one has for the first time been invited to lunch or dine with strangers, it is inexcusably rude not to leave a card upon them, whether one accepted the invitation or not. – Emily Post (1872 or 1873 to1960). Etiquette. 1922 – These were my grandmother’s visiting cards. Emily Post would have approved. Fast forward eighty years or so, and internet visitors can leave Visiting Cards too. These ‘cards’ are computer generated graphics and they are generally called Avatars or Gravatars (Globally Recognized Avatar). You don’t have to be a blogger to have a Gravatar. Anyone can associate one to the email address they use when they leave comments on blogs. Many people use their photograph for their Gravatar. There are good reasons to do this, particularly if you want to …

lady laptop

Scanning my Mind and Computer for Memories

Everyone has a photographic memory. Some don’t have film. – Unknown – Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could plug one end of a USB cord into your ear, the other into your computer, and download every memory that resides in your brain?  A nifty little software program, like an Access database but far easier to use, would sort the memories by year, topic and any other category you wanted. Then a Scrapbook program would create wonderful photo journals of your life. I mention this because I believe the memory bank in my brain needs to be defragged. Bits of information keep getting mislaid. I found the date of my next Dentist appointment filed with the trip to Galveston in 1979. And The Car Guys office phone number is mixed in with the cost of my car in 1984. Retrieving information can be a challenge some days. It would be nice to have the contents of my brain on my computer – it has a much better search function than my head does. I’m not …

In Flanders Fields – Canadians in World War One

Canadians in WWI, 1914 to 1918 When Britain declared war on Germany in August 1914, Canada, as a member of the British Empire, was automatically at war. Canada’s troops were called the Canadian Corps and they fought on the Western Front in trenches that stretched from the Belgium coast, through France, to the frontiers of Switzerland. 65,000 Canadian military personnel lost their lives when they ventured beyond the trenches and into No Man’s Land. One of those men was my Grandfather’s brother, Henry William. It is said Henry joined the military because a woman approached him on the street and presented him with a White Feather, signifying she thought he was a coward. He was only 17 years old, too young to enlist, but he wasn’t about to be called a coward.  He lied about his age, and signed his Attestation Papers for the Canadian Over-Seas Expeditionary Force on September 8, 1915. Henry arrived on the front in France on March 26, 1916. He was wounded in  June and again in September of that year. …

Rim Up or Rim Down? A History of Dust in the Kitchen

It was always my belief that farmers developed strange theories of cause and effect because they spent too much time alone. A combination of incomplete information and a lack of critical review led to some odd conclusions. In the early days of farming, a reinforcing factor in all this was that horses seemed willing to accept almost any theory if it was accompanied by oats. It was a closed circle. – Leonard G. Lee, Lee Valley Tools – Rounding up dust bunnies is a dirty job – but our dirt woes today are small compared to the cleaning issues during the  Dust Bowl of the Dirty Thirties! My Grandmother, as did many other women during the Dirty Thirties, turned her drinking glasses ‘rim down’ in the cupboard. That ensured that the glasses were clean inside when it came time to use them. Water was scarce, so a clean glass meant this precious liquid wasn’t used to rinse out a glass before drinking out of it. A quick dusting of the outside of the glass was …

Canadian Beaver hockey stick

Canada Thanks You, Mr. Beaver

Castor Canadensis. The Canadian Beaver. Canada owes it’s beginnings to a rodent. A short, fat rodent, at that. In the 1600’s, European explorers were very disappointed when they discovered that Canada was not the spice-rich Orient, but a land full of beavers. Millions and millions of them. Ever alert to a new product, traders turned beavers into a fashion accessory.  The beaver pelts made very fine fur top hats. Popularity for the hats didn’t fade until an estimated 6 million beavers had disappeared, and the species was close to extinction. (As author Margaret Atwood noted, “Canada was built on dead beavers.”) Fortunately, by the mid-ninteenth century, the winds of fashion changed. Fur hats fell out of favour, and were replaced with silk ones. The industrious beaver population eventually rebounded, and in 1975 Canada bestowed the greatest honour a rodent has ever received. The Canadian Beaver became an Official Emblem of Canada. The Beaver likely thought this recognition was long overdue. Oh sure, it had graced Canada’s first postage stamp, the 1851 “Three Penny Beaver”.  And …

Jerome, Arizona – Historic Copper Town and Spring Flowers

Founded in 1876, Jerome Arizona, was built on Cleopatra Hill on top of what was the largest copper mine in the State. The population peaked at 15,000 in the 1920’s. The ups and downs of copper prices, along with other factors, finally forced the Jerome mines to close in 1953. By the late 1950’s, the population had dropped to 50 people, making Jerome the largest ghost town in America. Jerome is now a bustling tourist attraction with a thriving artist community. After a fire, the Bartlett Hotel was rebuilt with brick in 1901.  The building became unstable with the slides in the 1930’s and was abandoned in the 1940’s. Now a glass blowing studio called La Victoria, the ruins of the back building were originally a marketplace. The building in the foreground is the back of Lawrence Memorial (Spook ) Hall. Retaining wall with fence on top Douglas Mansion in the distance. This is a state park with a museum which exhibits photographs, artifacts, minerals and videos. There is a 3-D model of the underground …

six symbols

Disaster in Japan

News from Japan We may live in a world of instant news, but that doesn’t mean that all the news is accurate. Here is my roundup of information that appears to come from people who know what is happening. Science Insider published a series of articles titled Japan Earthquake: The Aftermath. Each article answers a particular question about the events of the Earthquake. TimeOut Tokyo is publishing a Japan Earthquake Live Report for English speaking residents. It addresses practical matters such as coping with power blackouts and finding accurate information. GaijinPot in Japan is reporting daily on what is happening throughout Japan, with an emphasis on presenting the information as accurately as possible. The Japanese in Canada Our family is honored to have in our midst a Canadian of Japanese descent. His family and mine arrived on Canadian shores several generations ago. Both our families helped to settle this country. His family, however, were victims of  Discrimination, as were many others of Asian descent. In 1942, in what is called the biggest black mark on …

Religion – What if You Don’t Believe in God?

I found a blogger last week who made the most remarkable announcement. I suspect she has been thinking about this for quite a long time, and was reluctant to put her thoughts into words. When she finally found the courage, she chose the beginning of a New Year to make her thoughts public. She wrote, “I do not believe in God.” What a brave thing to say! Believing in God isn’t normally a concept you inherit as a child, test as you grow, and discard when you are almost a rebellious teen. A child can believe in Santa Claus, and then question the belief when they discover Wal-Mart stickers on the Santa presents. A child’s faith in the Easter Bunny can be shaken for similar reasons. The Tooth Fairy can be easily forgotten after all the baby teeth have fallen out and been paid for. The Monster that lives under the bed is vanquished the first time the child safely reaches the bedroom door in the middle of the night. But how does a person come …

Christmas Peace – Keeping the Season Simple – 2010

I’ve been reading quite a few blogs over the past few days, and the general consensus seems to be that this holiday season has become anything but peaceful. “Crazy ideas of a perfect Christmas” is how one blogger describes her preparations. “Worst traits of humanity” is how another blogger observes the shoppers. “Madness that are the weeks leading up to Christmas”  is how another blogger sums up her last week of activity. I’m a perfectionist to the nth degree in many things. I have the potential on any given day to detail something to death. And sometimes I do. This is balanced at Christmas, quite thankfully I must say, by the fact that I am not a shopper, and I really don’t like to cook all that much.  It has simplified the Christmas holiday immensely. So while others are rampaging through the stores for yet another gift to add to the pile under the tree, I have placed just one. It is a power tool for my Spousal Unit. And I didn’t even have to …

Free Range Kids – The Slow Erosion of Childhood Freedom

If you were a child when I was, or even when my children were, you instinctively know what a Free Range Kid is. So how Free Range was I? I lived in a small town – a triangular shaped suburb whose borders were defined by “Our” city with a population of 235,000 people, a major river, and the Trans-Canada highway. Before we were even in our early teens, we knew every street and alley in town. We’d crossed the river at the bridge, and headed up and downstream for miles. We’d sprinted across the highway, and visited the horses that lived on the bordering farms. Compared to my parents, I barely traveled anywhere. My dad, by his early teens, was riding his bicycle all around “Our” city, and out into the country to nearby towns. At that time, the city was 85,000 people. I don’t know how Free Range my grandfather was in “Our” city  – when it was only 44,000 people. But suffice it to say that he was a Free Range  soldier in the trenches in France by the time he was …