Monday, January 30, 2017


     We have a routine for making juice and it's a long drawn out procedure.

     Starting from the beginning. we have a few small berry bushes that we pick every year. We clean off the berries and put them in the deep freeze. Every two or three years or when the deep freeze gets full we juice the berries. The juice is put in bottles and then back in the deep freeze it goes. 

    We have Nanking cherries, black currant, red currant and somebody always gives us crab apples.

    Then over the two or three years we take out  a bottle of juice and cook it up and make either a syrup or jelly. You can't beat it.

   Now the pioneer way of juicing berries was to cook up the berries and put them in a cloth sack and let the juice drain into a container. This method isn't very efficient as you don't get a lot of juice. 

    So a long time ago we bought a steam  juicer. This gizmo consists of three parts.The bottom part is just  pot with water the produces the steam. The middle section is like a big funnel that catches the juice. The top part is a basket which contains the berries. As the steam goes through the berries juice is released . Each basket of different berries has a prescribed steaming time. Once the 50 minutes or whatever time is required we drain the hot juice out of the middle section and catch it in bottles.

   So the other day we spent the whole day on the juicing project. Today I had some delicious black currant syrup.

     You can see the three sections of the juicer in this photo.

     Two bottles of crab apple juice.

Saturday, January 28, 2017


     We are a small city of about 100000 people although we think we're pretty big. But then none of us have been to New York!

      We have a courthouse that handles most cases except for Court of Queen's Bench.

     Somehow a few incidents of security happened a few years ago. People involved in court cases became unruly. One poor guy accidentally entered through the back door and security attacked him. He had a breathing tube which they knocked out and the poor guy just about died. Then a security system was set up. The security system has grown larger and larger. In the old days people just walked in and went where they were supposed to. I was called three times for jury selection. I was called at other times for custody disputes. I walked to the rooms I was assigned to.

     So now you have to go through security to enter the Courthouse. A couple of years ago I went to the court house and didn't know there was security. I entered the wrong side of the door . They got a little excited.

    This month I went to the court House. I knew there was security and I thought I was ready. I don't hear well and if it's noisy I have difficulty. So I had to put my coat in a basket  and walk through the scanner while my jacket is being scanned. I got through and was looking for my coat. One of the security guys leans over and asks me to pull my pant legs up. I could have asked , "How high?" but that might have been  big mistake. So here's this old grandpa kind of guy who at times isn't steady on his feet and he has to pull his pant legs up at the same time. It's funny I didn't fall over!

    The pant legs up really got me going. Do they think some 77 year old guy is going to have a knife in his shoe or some other dangerous contra brand?

    I was not amused. I expect security to be able to size people up better than that. As we go about our daily lives our antennae are always up watching for someone who may pose a risk. Why can't security who do this work everyday have a little better sense of who to thoroughly check?

Image result for red deer courthouse

Wednesday, January 25, 2017


    I'm sure there are many questions from the past 6 posts . I will try to answer all questions if there is an answer.

    I like questions as it gives me a good idea of my writing. Am I making things clear? Do I miss things? So no matter if it's just curiosity, fire away and ask questions.

    I enjoyed writing the posts and I will like your questions.

Monday, January 23, 2017


     My job as Local Administrator had me doing many different things. It may not have been that time consuming but there was a great variety of things to do.

     I was the government contact for all government business. On the opposite side I contacted the government for all local business. There was lots of ordering and then maintenance for school, shop ,houses and power.

     We had a diesel generator producing power. We had two identical Diesel's. One would run seven days and then be serviced and the second would run for seven days. So Our mechanic would go out for holidays and I would look after the diesels. They had to be checked numerous times a day and then serviced. Guess who got the job? Me!

    One job I really enjoyed was buying soapstone carvings. Several afternoons a week I was open for buying soapstone carvings. The government gave me a monthly $2000.00 to buy carvings. So the learning curve was steep as far as pricing carvings was concerned. Most carvings were in the $10.00 to $20.00 range . There were a few good carvers and their pieces went for much more. I bought one carving for $1200.00. You should have seen the look on her face when I said $1200.00 She could buy 2 skidoos with that money. O emember the Inuit would say something like sikidoos

    Before the ship came in I had to tag and wrap all carvings...big job and not fun. If you wanted to buy the carvings from me the price was doubled.

   I also oversaw soapstone mining. 4 guys would go out in the winter, build an igloo and work for a week. They picked and pried the stone out of the rock. There were big and little pieces and all could be used. The rock was hauled in with sleds and skidoos.

    There were weird problems that came up. The government kept asking about a child and wanted me to identify the child. Families were paid family allowance. The government had been paying for this child but somehow did not identify the child. I would get a letter to check. I would go to the family and ask about this child. They would shake their heads and say they knew nothing about it. After two years they looked at each other and discussed. It was a baby that had been born out on an island and the baby died. Now the government had to get the overpayment back. 

   Any government people who came through stayed at my place. One very interesting person who spent a week with us was Fred Breumer a well known writer on the north. We learned so much from listening to Fred for a week. Another interesting guy was a French dentist who was doing research on teeth. He came every two years. He didn't speak English but we understood his Parisian French almost perfectly. We had difficulty with Quebecois French.

   We had surprise visitors when planes landed because of bad weather. Two twin otters landed one day. They had floats but there was no open water so they landed in the snow which was an amazing thing to watch. We were expecting to witness a crash. They made  an excellent landing and then took off the next day.

    There was something different every day that made things interesting.

     Now the Inuit would tell you something and say "Dima." Dima meant "I'm finished", "I have nothing more to say."

     So with this post I'm finished. It's been fun to reminisce with you.

    I will set up a question post in a couple of days.

Saturday, January 21, 2017


      The Micro manager knew more what she wanted than I did as far as northern experience. She was excited to go north.

      Jean is a nurse and wanted to nurse in an isolated settlement with very little equipment. She wanted to work with the people on their terms. She wanted to be in a minority. She got what she wanted and more.

     First, there was no position for a nurse. Health had been looked after by the local priest but he didn't have any medical training at all. After requests and negotiations Jean finally got an allowance of $50.00 per month. 

     So off she went with her $50.00 a month. There was a nursing cabin with some medication and equipment. First, she planned to open the cabin every week day for one hour and anybody who wanted anything could come at that time. This didn't work at all. The cabin was too cold and people didn't get sick from 1:00PM to 2:00PM. People were coming to the house at all hours of the day night or week. It's not as bad as you might think. There were less than 200 people so there were days and weeks when she didn't see anybody. Then there were times when all hell broke loose.

    Jean liked the job and the people and looks back at it as one of the best times of her life. The people loved her and she loved them. The called her Angiashoutiq which means little nurse. 

    Nobody died on her watch except for the murder victim. However, there were close calls. One little boy had spinal meningitis. With guidance from the doctor 3 hundred miles way she gave the best antibiotics but finally said to the parents that the only thing left was prayer and the priest was called . Jean came home for a few hours and then went back to see the kid. The kid was up and playing and laughing. They continued and the kid survived. You can bet these parents were happy. 

    Another time a young woman was having a baby and things didn't go right. Jean was terribly worried. After more than 24 hours the baby was born. Next problem, a retained placenta. Try as hard as she could Jean could not get the retained placenta. Now in the traditional birth the woman knelt on a seal skin. Somebody held her from the back supported and squeezed.  Now it was normal for quite a few people to come and go during the event. So one of the old fellows who was the local midwife said, "I think I know how to get it." So Jean scrubbed his dirty hands and applied alcohol. He went in and got the placenta and everybody survived. Jean never forgot that one and will remember this old fellow forever.

    During the 30 hours Jean did not get home. I would get a message from some kid that Angiashoutiq wanted  a sandwich and some tea so I made a lunch and took it down. I would stay and visit. Jean was glad to get home and bath and change clothes and sleep. 

   That was the last delivery in the settlement.

    Jean did not have an interpreter so over the two years became quite good with the language. 

    If Jean was writing this it would probably make a good book.

    Jean was sad to leave and the people were very sad to see her go as it was the best medical care they had ever had.

    Now the people had names for all the white guys. My name was Eehunga. I asked the kids what it meant. They made a motion on their face and said crooked mouth. Wow! Where did that come from? However, one side of my mouth was lower than the other. I had never noticed it but I went home and looked and sure enough my mouth was slightly slanted. I was always called Eehunga. When the kids spoke Eskimo I would know when they were talking about me. It was not something that was hidden.

    Those were the days. So you see we both worked hard.

     Oh yeah! One time Jean was starting a batch of bread when somebody came to the house and asked for her. She told me what to do with the bread and said , "I'LL be right back. " So I was to put in a little flour and stir. So I followed the directions. The problem was Jean didn't return when she thought so there I was stirring and stirring and afraid to quit if it would spoil the bread. We still laugh about that one. She said it was the best bread she ever made.

    The photo of us as a couple was a couple of months after we left Kangisujuaq. If you enlarge this one, take a good look at my mouth!

      Yes, she really was a nurse. No Uniforms in the north.

Thursday, January 19, 2017


    I went to Kangiqsujuaq to be responsible for three jobs. I was to be a teacher, principal and Local Administrator.

    The school had only been open for five years. The average age in my classroom was 15 . These kids did not start school until they were about ten years old. They had done well in five years. They spoke English very well. In fact, I'm surprised how well they spoke as they started school knowing very little English. They did well in reading. However, when I took over they were doing gr. 4 -6 work. The materials were all southern urban based. This did not have much meaning for these kids. Now that iIlook back at it, these kids should have been working at a much higher level. The education system seems to pigeon hole kids and keep them there.

     Most evenings I went back to the school to do preparations. I usually had lots of kids who dropped in for a few minutes. They also taught me many things. They told me who their wives were. There were arranged marriages. They told me about all the different spirits there were and that these spirits were real. That really bends your mind.

   These kids were not keen about going to school. They couldn't see any direct benefit to an education. They were used to very irregular hours. For example, they had no set bedtime or mealtime. Kids with little sleep or no breakfast don't do well. A breakfast program had been started before I came. so the kids came for breakfast. It was a way to get them to school. We also had a wash and tooth brushing routine. Then we started school. In spite of this it was difficult to get kids to attend regularly.Their parents found it difficult to support school.

   Looking back these kids got a smattering of education and lost their independence by not learning to hunt and live off the land.

   The local administrator job was most interesting and I was able to see some progress. After school every day I had a one hour time when people could come and see me. I had a soapstone carving project supervised by the government. The government gave me $2000.00 per month to by soapstone carvings so most days several people were there to sell carvings. I also gave out social assistance. Nobody was on a set monthly allowance. They came when they needed something. Usually they asked for ten to twenty dollars. Most of the time I gave them ten gallons of gas to go hunting.

    We also had some community social events such as dances and Christmas celebrations. Baked beans and buns for a Christmas celebration! It was much appreciated.

    Alcohol was a problem. They made their own with raisins. There were times when I was called that somebody was fighting. I did not go down to break up the fight as probably both fighters would turn on me. I never saw evidence of damage from these fights.

    I had one employee who looked after the mechanical things. We had a diesel generator to produce electricity. In fact there were two generators for safety.

     Ernie was my man and what a character. Ernie was a rural French Canadian. He joined the army and purposely chose an English division as he wanted to learn English. He did not know one  word of English. One funny story. The troops were lined up and they asked for a volunteer. Ernie said yes in a loud voice. They wanted someone to type and Ernie had never seen a typewriter before!

    I found that I was very busy with this routine. It was interesting but the load was too heavy.

Sunday, January 15, 2017


     The first time I had some free time I headed to the ocean shore. For this prairie boy it was the first time I lived on a coast and I was eager to get acquainted with the new territory.

      I watched until the tide went out and took my walk. The beach is very rocky and pebbly. It's also slippery. I boldy walked down to the edge of the water. Then I looked back. I became alarmed. I was looking up a hill. I almost panicked for an instant but I looked back at the beach and let it sink in. Tides there were a little over 40 ft. Currents in and out of the bay were 10 - 12 mph.

      The bay would freeze over with these huge tides. The ice would lie on the beach and when the water came back in the ice would rise. There were huge boulders and the ice would lean on the boulders. We could always walk out on the ice without worrying about going through a hole.

    So quickly back up to the high water mark. The settlement was on a steep slope. The government in its wisdom chose to put its buildings up at the top of the slope. The Administrator (me) could look out over his kingdom and have a good view. The Inuit were at the bottom of the slope close to the beach. The Inuit did not have to walk up the hill. Their business was at the water line where they would come and go and bring back seals and fish. Any time I had business I walked down the hill and then back up. I lost weight! I paid for my beautiful view.

   After 2  or 3 nights I heard and awful bang on the side of my house. It was a whoomf sound. It sounded as if a train hit the house. 3 or 4 days later another whoomf. The siding on the house was metal. I couldn't figure out what caused the noise. Gradually I discovered a strong wind would come up suddenly and hit the side of the house and the metal would bend in and make the noise. I had to get used to this for two years.

    It was very windy at times and the wind would blow for days on end. I looked at the weather yesterday and it was minus 24 C and the wind was 49 KMH.

   I consider myself to be lucky to live in a place with a beautiful sea and interesting terrain which was very colorful at times when there were different colored plants. Then there was a long time where things were white.

    The top of Quebec is fairly flat and drops sharply off into the sea. There are 1000 m (1600 ft) cliffs along the edge of the sea. There were some interesting places to walk. Almost every time I went out for a walk a few kids would show up and walk with me. I remember them telling me "Don't go there." if they thought it was dangerous for me.

     I'll finally get to work here but I wanted you to know what the place was like. I have many slides but haven't scanned them.

Friday, January 13, 2017


     Not long after our landing a couple of motorized canoes gingerly approached the pitching aircraft and attached themselves. They were to be our taxi to the shore. It was a challenge to get luggage and ourselves transferred from a bouncing plane to a canoe that was bouncing the opposite way. We were about .5 km offshore and since the swells were a factor we slowly moved toward shore where people were waiting to grab the pitching canoes.

     The trusty G 5 was there to load our baggage and take us up to our house. The G 5 was a small tracked vehicle that was like a small pick up truck. No roads, just ruts.

     Kangiqsujuaq was a village of 188 Inuit and 10 others. The school had been open for 5 years. The Hudson Bay trading post had been there for 40 or so years. the Catholic mission had been there about 30 years. Inuit had lived in the area and came to the trading post from time to time and pitched tents or made snow houses while they stayed a few days and visited. In the 1920's there had been a radio station for airplanes as they crossed to Europe. A few Inuit had worked at those places.

     However the government in its wisdom had decided it was an improvement to have the Inuit live in settlements and so provided housing and schools. Hunters were expected to hunt from the settlement which wasn't going to work. These people were nomadic for a good reason. They had to travel far and wide with the seasons to successfully obtain their food,

    So here I was in my house with all my baggage around me. We had to unpack quickly and get organized . We couldn't go to the local restaurant for dinner. We had to make that ourselves.

    Also, here I was , the principal of a one room school and the administrator of the settlement. My feet had to hit the ground running. I had responsibility for all federal government activity in the settlement. We had an engineer and power plant and assistant. There was a large warehouse with extra food. There were people who had government business.

    There were about 20 students in 2 classrooms. One girl was 20 and she had been in school for the five years. The kids had a pretty good grasp of English but most of the adults knew very little English. I used an interpreter to conduct business.

    We had decided to order our  years's supply of food. It was a huge job but worked out well.  The food was sent in by ship. The ship dropped off many other supplies. We had some fresh vegetables such as potatoes, carrots etc. We had frozen meat. We probably had a greater variety of meat than we've ever had since. We had lamb chops! There was only one problem . They put our potatoes in the freezer on the ship. They told me when the potatoes were thrown off the ship it was like a sack of pool balls.

    We had to make all of our own food. This time we did bake bread and fresh homemade bread was wonderful. Many days I came home from school for coffee and fresh bread.

    We did get settled in and got to work. It was a steep learning curve.


Wednesday, January 11, 2017


    I enjoyed writing a series of posts on my northern adventures from 1963 to 1966. I was young and adventurous. I was with many other young people and as young people we tended to have a good time.

    On my second venture things were different. I was older. I was married. I had much more responsibility. I saw things through different eyes.

    So in August 1967 I was on my way to Kangiqsujuaq (formerly Wakeham Bay.) Kangiqsujuaq is in northern Quebec. It's below the Arctic circle but the climate is very severe. It's on the Hudson Strait and Wakeham Bay which is a 24 mile deep bay. The tides are very high ...40 ft. The Bay froze up in late November. Small lakes froze up in late Sept. or early Oct. It was a very windy area as winds blew in from the Hudson strait or westerlies blew across northern Quebec and when they reached the east coast they dropped down to sea level with a bang. Snowfall wasn't great but what there was blew around and we had many blizzards. Snow would last from mid October to June. the ice on the bay would disappear in late July or early August. The ice actually went out on a tide to Hudson Strait rather than melt.

    Because of the severe climate vegetation was sparse and small. There were willows, spruce and birch trees. Some of these trees were knee high but most were half way up the knee. There were grasses , sedges and other plants. Flowers were plentiful and the spring was beautiful. In the fall much time was spent picking blueberries.

  So August of 1967 found me making my journey across Canada to this small isolated settlement.

  I first flew from Saskatoon , Sask to Ottawa. We were to spend 10 days in Ottawa for orientation. I was pumped for a 10 day orientation as I was going into something that was a completely different experience. There were three couples. We met the old superintendent the first morning and he suggested we look around Ottawa for the ten days and discover what we could find. Awesome. Just hang out. He shouldn't have given three young guys so much leeway. The 10 days went by . We learned a few things,  had a good time and felt more prepared for our postings.
    Notice that there were no flight delays or excitement over airplanes. We flew 900 miles northeast of Montreal on a Super Constellation. We were then in the small northern outpost of Fort Chimo. After a few days we were on our way to Kang on a twin Beech 18..a rather old airplane on floats. So another 300 miles and we land at Kang. The landing was exciting as there were 5 to 7 ft swells. the pilot had to hit the top of a swell and skip and bounce on two or three until the plane slowed down and awkwardly settled into the water. It was a landing like no other I had made.


Sunday, January 8, 2017


   Yesterday , in the local paper, a local columnist had a piece on climate change. The guy is very right winged and anti everything. He's also a very skillful writer.

   Of course I read his piece very carefully. He starts out by painting climate change people as people who use big words. He also twists a few things on science as science is to come up with things that are open ended so how could there be proof of climate change if the science is wrong. He skillfully asks questions and then provides the answers he wants. Of course, this guy has lots of followers here.

    One argument that plays well is that we produce a very small fraction of world greenhouse gases. If large green house gas producers don't make an effort to control greenhouse gases , why should we?

    Alberta Canada is an oil producing region. The first big gusher came in in 1948. Development continued rapidly after 1948. Many people made good money working in oilfields and others developed service businesses to look after the oil fields. Many of our people have made their living from oil so find it difficult to go along with climate change. Many of our people are very much to the right. They brag  about the value of private enterprise and they do not like any regulation that regulates what they do. They are an easy mark for someone trying to argue against climate change.

   Alberta has a large area of tar sands which are being developed. Billions have been spent on tar sands plants.

    We recently changed governments here and ended up with a left wing government. The right wingers have been foaming at the mouth ever since. They use Trump's call to lock her up as we have a very sharp female premier.

    Now the new government has brought in a carbon tax. Debate has been vigorous and ridiculous as facts seem to have become very scarce.

   Now if the people who are against carbon tax could stop and take a breath they might see that the purpose of a carbon tax is to cut use. Now if they controlled their use of carbon fuels maybe there wouldn't have to be a carbon tax. Maybe if they quit driving giant pick up trucks there would be less use of carbon fuels. 99% of the people do not need the big trucks so it would be easy to cut down.

    I'm afraid people want their toys no matter how much destruction  they may cause.

    A carbon tax is only one of the ways to deal with climate change. All of us can contribute to lessening greenhouse gases by just cutting our use.

Thursday, January 5, 2017


      The climate change issue has been on my mind for a long time.

      In this province, Alberta, a carbon tax has just come in on Jan . 1.

      Now the climate change goes off in many directions. Some people deny that there is climate change caused by the activities of man. What really gets me is people who talk about believing in climate change. You can believe in ghosts or fairies but when it comes to climate changes it's there. It can be measured and felt.

     Two stories stick in my mind when it comes to climate change. They are both northern in origin.

Image result for map banks island victoria island

     When I taught in Inuvik, we had some students from Sach's Harbor which is on the southwest corner of Banks island. When we flew across the Beaufort to take these kids home in mid June we found open water for 2 or 3 miles along the coast of the Beaufort. This quickly changed to ice and then solid ice.

     Now in the 1930's the Sach's Harbor people had a 60 foot boat. Their nearest trading post was Aklavik in the Mackenzie Delta. Once a year they would make the trip by sea. Follow the map. They would first sail east along the south shore of Banks Island (which is the 5 th largest island in Canada). Sometimes the ice was caught at Cape Lambton which is the bulge on the bottom of Banks Island. They would wait. The ice usually cleared but sometimes they could not get through and would go back to Sach's Harbor and wait and try again next year. Anyway some years they would cross the Beaufort at Cape Lambton to the mainland near Paulatuk.. They would then sail about 500 km west to the Mackenzie Delta and Aklavik. Some years they went further east and found open water close to Victoria island. They usually got to Aklavik in August and then had to go back. Sometimes they couldn't get back and stayed on the mainland for the winter.

    What I'm trying to tell you is that in the 1930's there was lots of ice and it was difficult to get to Sach's Harbor by sea.

    Now there's lots of open water. They can always cross at Cape Lambton. Today they cross that stretch of water in speed boats that carry lots of gas.

    So there has been a major melt of the ice.

Image illustrative de l'article Kangiqsujuaq
    Now I taught in Northern Quebec at Kangiqsujuaq. It's a barren area. The biggest trees were knee high but usually ankle height. They were spruce, birch and willow. We had lots of blue berries but the plants were only 2 or 3 in high. It was a bleak area but beautiful. Now you see photos of the village and there are large spruce trees. In the 1960's the maximum height of trees was 10 to 15 in. Now they have 20 ft trees. WHY? The temperature has warmed up and larger trees can grow.

     So climate change is with us and we have to take action before disaster strikes in some areas. We may debate about how to deal with climate change , but we have to deal with it in a very realistic way.

Sunday, January 1, 2017


    Since it's New Year's Day the usual thing is to say something of significance. I have nothing significant to say but that hasn't stopped me before.

    I'm not going to deal with how fast the year has gone by.

    To me there are new year's and that seem to be an important time compared to others. One such New Year was 2000, the millennium. The hype started a few years before the date. The hype got higher and higher. People were actually very frightened that the world would fall apart. People were worried. I remember being concerned about what might happen. 2000 came and went . It passed as quietly as any other New year's day. I always think back to the millennium which was now 17 years ago.

    The New Years Days from my childhood will be forever imprinted in my brain. Our New Years Day was exactly like Christmas without the presents. We lived in the country and still used horses for travel. (We didn't go very far.) Mom and her cousin would alternate Christmas and New Years. The big meal was at noon and I mean big meal. We had turkey and all the trimmings. It was an all day event. Adults visited and kids played. We had a warm up meal in the evening. Before going home at midnight we had a cold plate. Did I forget all the Christmas goodies? Yes all those too. It was a great day of celebration and I will never forget the New Year's of my childhood.

   Now I'm not anybody for resolutions so I'll stay away from goals.

   What I did find the other day was a blog that nailed the old year and new year. Martha at Plowing through life has a knack of saying  very meaningful things that are precise and concise. Her post made much sense to me. I hope you'll go over and take a look at what she had to say.

    In the meantime have a great 2017.