Prince Edward Island

Traveled to Prince Edward Island yesterday. I made a quick visit about 4.5 years ago in the winter to visit some friends, but otherwise I hadn’t been in more than 20 years (I think). The bridge is less than 45 minutes away from my father’s house.

Our first stop was Green Gables. I wasn’t keen on paying $7.80 to walk the grounds of a fictional character, so I didn’t. Plus, it's not like Megan Follows is wandering around. Amber’s sister April went in and we hung out on the lawn with the kids. April confirmed that I didn’t miss much.

We continued our trip to North Rustico where Amber had determined that there was a festival happening with lots of activities for FREE. (Yes, I’m cheap) (One of my spiritual gifts is voluntary poverty) We ate at a local pizza joint called Amanda’s Restaurant. I tried fried clams for the first time. The festival was a great discovery. The kids did a treasure hunt, had their faces painted, won prizes, painted oyster shells, played in the sand, enjoyed a children’s performer and the playground. Blaise even got on stage during the performance on his own to get a secret code name from Michael Pendergast (he's the nephew of Father Pendergast according to a guy I sat next to).

We returned to Prince Edward Island National Park to see Cavendish Beach. The beach itself isn’t as nice as our local one de l’Aboiteau, but the red cliffs and dunes are gorgeous.

Instead of eating supper with the family, I spent an hour at Ripley’s Believe it or Not. Some amazing stuff for sure – and some sad stories too, like the one about the tallest man and the people who traveled around as freaks.

What is still amazing to me is the Confederation Bridge that spans 12.9 kms from NB to PEI. I think it is just one of the most beautiful structures ever built.

Le Pays de la Sagouine

We visited Le Pays de la Sagouine on the weekend. It’s an Acadian heritage park with dramas, live music, cooking demonstrations, kids activities, tours and historic buildings. It is located in Bouctouche on the east coast of New Brunswick.

Our tour began with a ½ hour account of the history of the Acadians complete with a demonstration of how to play the spoons and the reason for the quinquennial Congrès Acadian.

We then walked the boardwalk to the little island that houses a village on stilts. We tried poutine rapée, listened to some Acadian tunes, watched a drama put on by the chicaneuses, and toured the little shops and demos.

It was wild hearing the strong Acadian accent being used in a public forum – I’m used to it in private conversations, but publicly it’s pretty hilarious with all of its idioms and contractions.


New Toy: Nikon D90

My gracious wife granted her grace on this extravagant purchase after we reviewed a few of my friend Justin's pictures that he had taken in Guatemala. I went to Black's Photo and got the Nikon D90 with a couple lenses: 18-105mm f3.5-5.6G ED VR and the 50mm f1.8D. I've been clicking pictures ever since.

bee in calgary

cherry over citadel

getting pushed by grandma


pepere's beans

the fingerpuppet stands alone

Blaise cranks out moves at 4.5 frames a second


Hopewell Rocks

A mixture of clay and gravel stand against time, wind, and pounding waves to support giant figures complete with evergreen hair. 

A wonder of the world in the Bay of Fundy.



My Mémère (grandmother) feeds some feral cats on her front porch. Some of the other wildlife take advantage of the free food too. This skunk and raccoon have very little fear of humans (they won't let us pet them, but they don't run when we're just a few feet away) since they've been feeding on cat food and scraps.

She also has bird feeders set up above the cat food. I see humming birds, blue jays and lots of small birds out the front window. The jays are super messy and mean.

My father has flowers planted in manicured beds around the house and garage and in the yard, but near the garden he has let the wildflowers flourish yielding black-eyed susans, daisies, queen anne's lace, and a bunch of other flowers I can't name. They are absolutely stunning.

Cakes by Salomé

Fortunately for us, my sister Salomé has been in town to make amazing cakes for our children's birthdays. My son turned 4 a couple days ago and this was the cake he got.

Salomé used to work at a bakery and I think she should start her own cake decorating company. I could be her, um, promoter on my blog?

She made giraffe for my daughter back in April.

Plage de l'Aboiteau

It rained for the first few days we were in NB. We made it to the beach about a week later. 

The beach 15 minutes away is a provincial park in Cap-Pelé. It is shielded on one side by a sand dike and has a long and beautiful sandy beach that runs into the water for a few hundred metres that you can walk out to at low tide - perfect for little people.

Blaise kept himself busy with sand toys and Acadia slept. I didn't bring anything to do, so I burned - and I enjoyed it.


Wine Touring in Acadia

Yesterday, along with my family, I toured three wineries in the local area here in New Brunswick. We did a 2 hour loop passing through Dieppe, Memramcook, Sackville (the name gave Dean and I hours of entertainment), and Baie Verte.

Our first stop was at La Cave a Vin Boudreau in Memramcook. It is run by a couple named Paul and Rose-Marie who began planting their vineyard in 2000. We sampled seven varieties of wine and made a quick visit to the the tiny grapes (there were lots of mosquitos, so we didn't stay there too long). I found the wine to be very flavourful, but not too full bodied. I picked up a couple bottles to take home - a nice Seyval (white) and a Leon Millot (red).

Just down the road about 10 km is the Belliveau Orchards and Bourgeois Farms. There were no grape wines, but a large variety of fantastic fruit and berry wines. I found this to be the most enjoyable one since these products seem to fare the best in this cooler climate. The flavours were more familiar to my palette too: apples, pears, cherries, raspberries and blueberries. We sampled four kinds here - the best being the pear wine.

We picked up enough wine here to warrant a box. How am I going to get this home?

We drove through Sackville and almost to the Nova Scotia border and into Baie Verte to the Winegarden Estate. Amber and I had visited this vineyard four years earlier. It is run by a German family who began the operation since the mid-eighties. They have a large variety of red, rose, white and sparkling wines as well as liqueurs and desert wines.

Amber's favorite was the strawberry rhubarb wine which was a very mild and scented wine. I liked the maple wine - amazing aftertaste and a fair burn in the middle.

I had to pick up the two favorites and the Acadian Rose.


4-Year-Old Logic

Papa: Blaise, go get your sweater.

Blaise: Papa, you know Mama knows best.

Papa: Who told you that? Go get your sweater.

Blaise: No one, that's just the way it is.

Papa: Well, you know both Mama and Papa know best, not just Mama. Go get your sweater.

Blaise: Both you and Mama?

Papa: Yes, but we can be wrong sometimes too. Go get your sweater.

Blaise: Well Papa, you're wrong now.


Back in Touch

I'm in New Brunswick for July. 

As I lay in bed I hunt a lone mosquito. I spy both a skunk and a raccoon as they eat cat food off the front deck. I gaze upon hawks, herons and hummingbirds. I hear the rain pelting the window. I feel the cool wet grass on my feet. I sense the wind rustling the leaves. I pick strawberries and cherries. I wait to rise as the morning birds greet me. I watch a nearly full moon shine on the river. I paddle against the tide and then drift with it back home. I eat supper in the open air. I pee in the field. I dodge slugs and worms as I run. I drink water from the well. I savour deep breaths.

Hide 'n Seek

My son's favorite game is hide 'n seek. Blaise's favorite part is finding the hiding spot, being found is secondary as he'll usually pop out before being found. "Clounting" is also a key feature as he enjoys doing this on a regular basis whether there is a game on or not. Acadia loves to tag along with either her brother or me, usually giving away the hiding spot if she is hiding or watching while she is supposed to be counting as the other hides.

We've recently expanded the territory to all three levels. I get left in my spot for long spells so I hide with a book now.


Winnebago, Cherokee, Acadia, Touareg, et al.

This has always bothered me: corporations who take existing proper names and trademark them. Today, I've chosen the transportation industry to be my whipping boy.
  • More than 40 years ago a recreational vehicle was made that really defined RVs for years to come. It decided to take the name from the midwestern Ho-Chunk Native Americans who were at one time called the Winnebago (also where we get the name for Winnipeg).
  • In 1974, Jeep decided to name their new SUV after another North American Tribe called the Cherokee.
  • Two years ago, GMC rolled out their new SUV adopting the name of the oldest French Canadian colony: Acadia.
  • Volkswagon used the same method in choosing the name for their 2003 SUV, this time going to the north African Tuareg people for the Touareg.
You may think that I'm being too sensitive. My reason for offense is that these corporations really have no right to copyright a people group's name and heritage. Names are important. If the first thing you think of when you hear the word "Cherokee" is a Jeep SUV, then the Cherokee have lost a part of their distinction as a culture. 

You may be in the minority in knowing who the Tuareg or Winnebago are and think I'm off my rocker. What if you were Tuareg and whenever someone asked you who you were they would say "Oh, like the VW?"

I, being of Acadian descent, feel wronged that GMC has taken a word that makes up a part of my identity and has no connection to the General Motors Corporation in order to make a familiar sounding product name that will forever be associated with Acadia. 

A search of "Acadia" in Google yields the following results today:
  • Acadia University (an anglophone university in Nova Scotia)
  • an entry in Wikipedia on the colony of Acadia
  • GMC Acadia
  • Association for Computer Aided Design In Architecture
  • History of Champlain in Acadia
  • an entry in the Canadian Encyclopedia
  • an association of five First Nation reserves in Nova Scotia
  • and finally Acadia Pharmaceuticals
My issues are these: How long before the original meaning of Acadia makes it to the bottom of the list and corporations dominate? Will it take very long for most identifying people groups' names to be incorporated as trademark names for multinational corporations? What say should people have over the use of their corporate proper name by corporations?*  How can minority cultures maintain their identity in this current climate dominated financially by large corporations (bailouts with tax money for big business, Wal*Marts swallowing local businesses, multinational oil companies (war), etc.) let alone maintain their name.

*we know that individuals' names are protected - Ford can't call their next vehicle the "Michael Jackson" or the "Barack Obama"

Free Music

I was just exploring some music that a friend exposed me to a few months back and came upon this website of the choir Scala. They are a girls choir from Belgium who have traditionally sung pop songs a cappella / just piano accompanied. Great sound and great arrangements. So the website offers their latest album as a free download. Sweet.

Then, right around the same time, I discovered k-os was coming to Calgary on his rapidfire cross-Canada Yes! Karma tour. Turns out they are free concerts. So I went. It was an optional donation deal. If you donated something, you'd get a free CD of his latest album remixed by fans. It was a great show and a friend even caught me on the road on the way for a ride.

Cheers! to FREE music!