Adventure Canada, an expedition cruise line that’s been bringing passengers to Newfoundland and Labrador for two decades, has perfected many aspects of the cruise experience. One is the wake-up call.
No, it’s not a monotone voice on the other end of the phone gently nudging you from your cabin. At least on the morning this Downhome editor was aboard the Sea Adventurer, it’s the booming voice of the captain over the PA, announcing to passengers that the ship is sailing past a pod of orcas. I’ve never witnessed so many people (myself included) so eager to rise from slumber at 6 a.m. Sure enough, reaching the top deck I could just make out the black dorsal fins in the distance.
Downhome, as well as other media and tourism industry staff, was invited aboard the Sea Adventurer in late June for a special one-night sailing from St. John’s, Newfoundland to St. Pierre, France, in celebration of the company’s 20th year bringing cruise tourists to the province.
Others along for the ride include Newfoundland author Kevin Major, local storyteller Dave Paddon and a host of other famous faces from home. But this isn’t their first (and won’t be their last) Adventure Canada cruise. They are members of the company’s stellar resource team – typically locals with some area of expertise – who sail with cruise passengers to add that extra ounce of local knowledge and charm.
“For our guests it makes it very real. It’s not just the tour guide spiel,” Adventure Canada vice president Cedar Swan, a B.C. native now living in Ontario, tells me as we sail. “They’re actually getting the perspective of somebody that lives there, the pros and cons and the real-life situations, and I think that’s what people have come to know us for is for providing that type of insight.”
Food & fun
Throughout the journey I keep thinking that as we all filed onto the ship we must have looked like hungry souls, for they keep feeding us – and feeding us and feeding us. From hors d’oeuvres aplenty and a gigantic barbecue buffet on deck to a gourmet meal in the dining room, it’s a wonder the ship didn’t sink like a stone with all of us on it. (Still, I would have made off with the entire dessert buffet if I thought I could have done so without creating a scene.)
Canada’s literary queen, Margaret Atwood (another fixture on Adventure Canada’s resource team), is also on this trip. Shortly after we’re out to sea, the three wordsmiths – Paddon, Major and Atwood – go head to head in a game of “Nautical Bluff” in the ship’s lounge, which leaves everyone in stitches.
Late into the evening we’re treated to musical performances from talented members of the ship’s crew (which includes a saxophone-playing horse – seriously, I couldn’t make this up if I tried) as well as Juno-nominated Tom Barlow.
In the morning, as if on cue, humpbacks greet the ship upon our entrance into St. Pierre Harbour (perhaps the 6 a.m. orcas notified them of our impending arrival).
Canada, and especially our little corner of it, is indeed an adventure – one that’s best appreciated from the water. Next time I’m planning a cruise vacation, I might just consider sticking a little closer to home. – Ashley Colombe
Click here to view a slideshow of photos from the cruise.
There’s an interesting symmetry to Gerry Farrell’s life. In his first career, as x-ray technician, he spent his days studying images and looking at the human body in a different way than most of us do. His work inspired a new hobby, photography, which allowed him to capture images of other areas of life, often with a new perspective. And not surprisingly, he preferred to shoot in black and white.
Gerry’s photography passion continued as he transitioned from black and white to colour, and, fairly recently, from film to digital equipment. He also changed careers, graduating from Memorial University with a degree in medicine in 1974. After placements in Grand Bank, N.L. (not far from his hometown of Marystown) and Pictou, N.S., he’s currently a palliative care physician in New Glasgow, N.S.
As a photographer, Gerry says, “I am early morning person and like to take advantage of the ‘golden hour’ of sunlight, either at sunrise or sunset.” The tools he relies on to capture the best images include his Canon 5D Mark 3. “I use a variety of lenses, but my most frequently used is a Canon 24-105 f4 series. I enjoy wide angle shots and use a 17-40 lens for same,” he says.
Something more significant than good equipment that Gerry credits for his quality of photography was a special experience he had a few years ago.
“About five years ago, I spent a week with world-renowned photographer Freeman Patterson, and his inspiration made me a much improved photographer,” he says.
Gerry most enjoys shooting landscapes and, particularly, water features.
“Waterfalls have been an enduring subject for me, and I have visited many of the ones in Nova Scotia, and just returned from a photography adventure in Iceland, where there are waterfalls around every bend,” he says.
He and his wife (also a Newfoundlander, from Brig Bay on the Northern Peninsula) return to the island on a regular basis, where Gerry finds inspiration along the seashore. One of his favourite images was taken during one of those trips home.
“One image of sea urchin shells on the rocks along with seaweed at the Arches on the Northern Peninsula was made in the pouring rain two years ago. I wanted to make an image as a wedding gift for a friend. It included two shells and I titled it ‘Nestled,’” says Gerry.
“I always enjoy going to Newfoundland and Labrador, and walking along the seashore and photographing things I find there. Also, the fog in the early morning light creates a wonderful mood and makes one appreciate all the beauty around us.”
Click here to view a slideshow of photos taken by Gerry.
When we associate texting with our health, the topic is usually bad news: texting while walking/driving causes accidents; constant texting causes carpal tunnel syndrome; texting too much damages personal relationships etc. etc. However, as the following studies show, texting has also proven to have distinct health benefits. In fact, mobile phones have found a place in the modern delivery of health care. It’s called Mobile Health, or mHealth, which covers any use of laptops, cellphones, tablets etc. in collecting patient data, monitoring patient health and delivering services.
Here are four ways that sending and receiving text messages can improve our health:
• An emergency room doctor at Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Rhode Island led a study that offered a violence prevention and intervention program via text messages to young female patients who’d experienced peer violence. The teens overwhelmingly agreed to the follow-up service, believing the supportive messages could help them avoid violent situations in the future, and they indicated they would recommend the service to other young girls at risk. The results of the study were released this past March, and the positive outcome has the hospital looking at ways to expand the service to reach out to at-risk male youths and non-English speaking teens.
• A University of Connecticut study observed positive results in HIV/AIDS patients who connected with their health care providers via text messages. Earlier this year, The Center for Health, Intervention and Prevention (a division of the university) released the results of a study in which patients who received text message “intervention” were found to be more likely to stay on track with their drug regimen and have better health than those who just saw their physicians for follow-ups every few months.
• Persons at risk for type 2 diabetes could benefit from text message reminders about their health, according to a University of Michigan study. Persons who signed up for and received regular messages about eating healthier, drinking more water, exercising etc. were more likely to lose some extra weight and live a healthier lifestyle, according to the study results released in 2013.
• Receiving a simple “how r u” on their phone from a loved one can be a much needed lift to someone who is isolated or feels alone, according to a University of California Berkley study that began in 2010. The project, led by a clinical psychologist, involved sending mental health participants regular messages asking about their moods, suggesting they think about positive things that happened to them and reminding them to take their medications. When the program ended after a number of weeks, several patients reported missing the regular connection. To someone who’s depressed or under stress, a concerned text message is a welcome connection and immediately makes them feel cared for – proving that through texting you really can “reach out and touch someone.”
Feel Good Messages
Downhome asked our facebook friends, “What’s the BEST news you ever received via text message?” Here’s what some said:
“I got asked to be a godmother for the first time.” – Chantal Oake
“Friend’s baby’s arrival.” – Fousty Touton
“‘I’m coming to get you’ – when I was stranded.” – Tracy Perry Stepanuk
“Pics of my grandbaby-to-be.” – Wendy Roenigk-Crane
There are two main reasons to visit the Little, Big Bear Safari, located about 90 minutes from Moncton in Acadieville, New Brunswick. One, of course, is to safely view black bears as they roam onto the wilderness site. Another is to meet Richard Goguen, a.k.a. “the bear whisperer.”
“My husband has a gift with animals,” says Vivianne Goguen, who co-owns the attraction with her partner. The couple built an observation tower in 1998 with the intention of inviting the public to safely view and photograph black bears in their natural environment. But one bear had a slightly different plan. During construction, an orphaned cub wandered into the area and, as Vivianne puts it, “adopted” Richard. They aptly named the cub, which Vivianne says followed Richard around like a dog, “Pooch.”
“After a few years she had babies and we said, ‘Oh great, she’s going to become wild and that’s ok – but after a few weeks she brought her babies out and literally introduced them to grand-daddy,” says Vivianne. “She pushed them towards Richard.” Now 16 years later, the Goguens believe Pooch has passed on, but three generations of her descendants still visit the site very frequently and maintain the unusual bond with Richard.
Check out this shocking footage taken at the Little, Big Bear Safari. Richard enters the scene at 1:20.
While they do not guarantee sightings, Vivianne says their tour groups have missed out on seeing black bears only twice since opening to the public in 1998. Once visitors are safely inside the 26-foot-high tower, Richard lures the animals to the site with food. “We have the same permit as hunters – we have the right to leave little treats,” says Vivianne, adding, “but we shoot with cameras only.”
Local biologists have openly criticized the business, saying Richard’s close relationship with the bears is extremely risky – not only putting himself in harm’s way, but also anyone who may encounter one of these bears in the wild, outside the safety of the Safari. Vivianne maintains they have never had any complaints of that nature and believes the bears prefer Richard only. However, she warns, “We don’t suggest that people do that in their backyard. Don’t try to do this.”
To find out about other wild encounters available right here in Atlantic Canada, see the July issue of Downhome.
Editor's Note: Richard's interaction with black bears is extremely risky. Never, ever approach a black bear if you encounter one in the wild. To find out what to do if you do encounter a black bear, click here.
The following story appeared in the September 1994 issue of the Downhomer.
On June 25, several railway men and their wives, as well as reporters, photographers and politicians, gathered at the Royal Canadian Legion Hall (Caribou Room) in Clarenville, Newfoundland, to honour and present an award for bravery to Canadian National Railway's Engineman Melvin Ivany (retired). He was honoured for the part he played in risking his own life to save a fellow trainman from drowning at Gambo River Railway Bridge on July 6, 1970.
On that fateful day, regular scheduled Freight Train No. 51 was passing over Gambo River railway bridge en route to Bishop's Falls when the train's conductor, Eric Pack, slipped on the rear platform of the caboose and was catapulted into Gambo River.
On this particular day - and as luck would have it - the train was short in length and engineman Melvin Ivany saw conductor Pack fall into the river. The rear-end trainman notified Ivany by the train's radio that the conductor was being carried out to sea by the fast-flowing current.
After the train came to a complete stop, engineman Ivany ran to the scene of the accident. He quickly assessed the situation, and because Pack was a non-swimmer and there was no rescue equipment readily available, he decided the only way to save the conductor was to go into the river himself to try and rescue him.
Owing to the cold temperature of the river, which was flowing from the high country, and the strong current, Ivany quickly became exhausted. For his own safety, he would have to make it to the shoreline and forego any rescue attempt to save Pack from drowning.
However, some inner strength prevailed, and he decided to make one last valiant attempt to try and swim to the conductor, who had by this time submerged for the third time.
Ivany swam to the spot where he last saw Pack and was lucky to spot him on the river bottom through the murky water. He dove down, grabbed him and brought him to the surface, and finally to the safety of the shoreline.
Meanwhile, other members of the train crew had arrived to assist. They applied artificial respiration and conductor Pack began to breathe again.
Pack was then rushed by ambulance to the James Peyton Memorial Hospital at Gander, where he remained for a few days to undergo treatment for his ordeal.
Back in 1988, when the writer was researching some human-interest stories for one of his books on the Newfoundland railway, someone suggested a story be done on Melvin Ivany and his heroic deed. When the full details of the incident were obtained, this writer felt that Melvin Ivany deserved more than just a short story in a book. He deserved some long overdue recognition.
With this thought in mind, the writer fought for several years to have Melvin Ivany recognized for the part he played so many years ago in saving the life of his co-worker.
On June 25, 1994 - nearly 24 years after the near-tragedy - Melvin Ivany received his just awards. The award for bravery was presented to Ivany by the writer (also a railway man) on behalf of the United Transportation Union, Cleveland, Ohio, USA. Rear Admiral Fred Mifflin, MP Bonavista-Trinity-Conception, flew in from Ottawa to be the guest speaker for the occasion, and he presented Mr. Ivany with a certificate on behalf of his office and the Government of Canada for his act of heroism. Mrs. Caroline (Kay) Young, MHA, district of Terra Nova, also spoke at length on the life-saving incident at Gambo River. She presented Mr. Ivany with a plaque for heroism on behalf of her office and the Government of Newfoundland.
It was a most enjoyable event, and at times a little emotional, more especially when Eric Pack hugged Melvin for saving his life so many years ago.
Cabbage is packed with antioxidants, which have been found to prevent cancer. But really, who is going to sit down to a heaping bowl of cabbage? That's right, no one. But doesn't Cabbage and White Bean Stew sound appetizing? Registered dietitian Amanda Burton of St. John's, Newfoundland has scoured the internet for tasty recipes that contain cancer-fighting ingredients. See the October 2010 issue of Downhome for Amanda's list of 10 cancer-fighting foods.
Cabbage and White Bean Stew
1 cup finely chopped onion
2 carrots, halved lengthwise and sliced
1 lg rib celery, halved and sliced
1 tsp caraway seeds
2 cups chopped green cabbage
2 cups water
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp brown sugar
16 oz canned tomatoes, with juice
15 oz canned white kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 tbsp cider vinegar
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (optional)
Saute onion for 3 minutes in a large saucepan coated lightly with cooking spray. Add carrots and celery; saute 3 minutes. Add caraway seeds and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Stir in cabbage, water, salt and sugar. Simmer, covered, 5 minutes. Stir in tomatoes with their juice, breaking them up. Simmer, covered, 20 minutes. Add beans and vinegar. Simmer, uncovered, 5 minutes until heated through. Stir in parsley. Serve hot with plain non-fat yogurt, if desired.
Curried Lentils, Sweet Potato and Cauliflower
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
3 tbsp Indian curry paste
10 cardamom pods
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
3/4 cup Green or brown lentils, rinsed
2 cups vegetable broth
1 small cauliflower without leaves and stem, cut into small florets
1/4 cup fresh coriander leaves
Salt and pepper
Natural yogurt (optional)
Heat large, heavy saucepan over medium-low heat. Add onion and curry paste, stirring paste thoroughly into onion; cook, stirring constantly, for 2 to 3 minutes. Smash cardamom pods with large knife or meat mallet. Remove small brown seeds (discard pods) and stir into onion mixture along with sweet potatoes; cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in lentils and broth; cover and bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Add cauliflower and return to boil; reduce heat and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes or until lentils and vegetables are tender. Remove from heat; stir in coriander. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Let stand a few minutes before serving with dollop of yogurt, if desired.
Mustard, Beet and Apple Salad
3/4 lb beets
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp fresh dill
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
Pinch granulated sugar
Salt and pepper
2 McIntosh apples, peeled and diced
In saucepan of boiling, salted water, cook beets for about 10 minutes or until tender; peel and dice. Meanwhile, in large bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, dill, mustard, garlic, sugar, and salt and pepper to taste; toss with beets and apples. On large serving plate or 4 individual salad plates; arrange Belgian endive leaves like spokes of a wheel. Mound salad mixture in middle; garnish with dill springs.
Mushroom Artichoke Saute over Pasta
1 cup Portobello mushroom,
1/2 cup canned artichoke hearts, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 plum tomatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 medium onion, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp rosemary, dried
1 1/3 cups whole wheat pasta
Parmesan cheese, to taste
Chop all veggies into bite-sized pieces. Heat oil in large pan while boiling water for pasta. Saute onions and garlic in pan until tender, then add other veggies and sprinkle balsamic vinegar and rosemary over top. Cook pasta while occasionally stirring veggies (lower heat if veggies finish cooking before pasta is done). Serve warm. Add Parmesan, to taste.
Broccoli, Water Chestnut, Carrot, and Red Cabbage Gingered Chicken Stirfry
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tbsp extra light olive oil
6 oz baby carrots
1 1/2 cups red cabbage
2 cups broccoli
1/2 cup sweet peas
120 g water chestnuts, sliced
1 tbsp ginger
2 cloves garlic
113 ml Szechwan stir-fry sauce
Cook chicken in olive oil. Cook through and add vegetables, ginger and garlic. Heat until vegetables are cooked but still have some crunch. Stir in the sauce and cook for 5 minutes. Let sit for sauce to thicken. Serve with brown rice or eat alone.
On October 11, a group of enthusiastic runners set out to complete the first ever Trapline Marathon. The event not only offers a unique fitness challenge, but it also gives a respectful nod to the natural resource that played a critical role in the settlement of Labrador.
Starting at North West River, the 42-kilometre race route follows a path to Happy Valley-Goose Bay originally used by trappers more than 260 years ago. In 1743, a Frenchman by the name of Louis Fornel established a year-round settlement at North West River where he traded European goods for the local aboriginals' furs. The signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1763 saw control of Labrador pass from the French to the British, and before long the Hudson's Bay Company enjoyed a monopoly over the central Labrador fur trade that continued for a century.
But by the 1940s, many trappers had turned to the newly built air force base in Goose Bay for steady employment and a chance at a better life. This move contributed to the eventual collapse of the fur trade. The Hudson's Bay Company's Trading Post in North West River, built in 1923, remains today as a museum run by the Labrador Heritage Society. Next to it is a bronze statue of a trapper, situated on the banks of North West River as a tribute to the trade and the Hudson's Bay Company.
Now there is another tribute to local fur trading history, the Trappers' Running Club and its Trapline Marathon. Club president, Jamie Snook, says the idea for the marathon came after he and four other local runners ran the Bluenose marathon in Halifax last spring. "We were in the airport and everyone was saying how they had such a good time. Then someone said, 'How hard would it be to organize a marathon here in Labrador?' And then someone casually said, 'Oh, that shouldn't be too hard. Let's do it!'"
A committee was quickly formed and a Web site created. Once Air Labrador signed on as the marathon's first sponsor, "it really took on a life of its own," says Jamie.
Deciding on the route the marathon would take was the next step. They chose the route from North West River to Happy Valley-Goose Bay and that naturally led to the naming of the race.
"We decided to call it the 'Trapline Marathon' because the route coming up Highway 520 and from the (Trappers') monument is somewhat symbolic of what the trappers would do in the fall, leaving the community and going up the river. They went a lot farther than 42 kilometres, but it was in that direction," Jamie says. A map of the traditional trapline from North West River is on the club's Web site.
"It's just promoting the heritage aspect of the area," he continues. "It is a bit of a tourism thing. A lot of runners do travel and are looking for a unique event where they can see new areas."
He adds, "People are looking for something different. Some of the most successful marathons are in the north, like Iceland. Some people just like to run in cooler climates."
As proof, there is already a very active running community in Happy Valley-Goose Bay and so there should be no shortage of local representation in the Trapline Marathon, including Jamie, who's relatively new to long-distance running. "It started out with me walking to work for some exercise, and then I just started gradually running," he says.
The Trapline Marathon will be Jamie's third long-distance race. But there are a few participants for whom this is their first marathon experience, including Cathy and Michael Jong. They have lived in Happy Valley-Goose Bay for almost 25 years and have been married for 22 of those years. Cathy is a former physiotherapist-turned-consultant, and Michael is a doctor and medical director at the Labrador Health Centre.
Never in Cathy's wildest dreams would she have envisioned herself running a marathon. "I'm not really a good runner," she chuckles. "It's way too far - I think of myself more as a skier, a rower and a biker than a runner. I run for cross-training."
In fact, if it wasn't for Jamie's enthusiasm for the marathon and the opportunity to host it in Labrador, Cathy might have found herself conveniently "busy" on the day of the race.
Instead, Cathy's become quite serious about the event. The Jongs have taken up a training program that sees them running three times a week. Cathy says juggling practice runs, her career and home life has been a challenge.
"It's given me a much greater respect for people who run marathons on a regular basis. It's not a small-scale commitment," says the mother of two. With her youngest child now 16, Cathy says he's old enough and independent enough now for her and Michael to commit to their rigorous training schedule. "I could never have done this when he was two and three years old," says Cathy.
Cathy and Michael can cover 10-18 kms on weekday runs, while they stretch it to 22-32 kms on the weekends. But even with plenty of practice, Cathy expects the last 10 kms of the 42-km Trapline Marathon to be brutal - advice she picked up from other marathon runners. "There's a reason why the training programs don't go beyond 32 kms. It just eats up your body. So there's no point in brutalizing your body every time you go out," she says.
So why do this if it's so physically demanding? "I'm not in this for racing purposes. I'm in it to see if I can do it," Cathy says. "It's one of those things that are out there that's a physical challenge that I've never done before. And it's just a question of, can I do it? Is it possible?"
For Cathy, running a marathon for the first time "inspires people and provides a goal to shoot for. It's a positive thing and encourages people to be active and get fit. If nothing else, it's been a positive experience thus far. It is one of the ingredients, not the only thing, to a happy marriage," she adds with a laugh.
While Cathy and Michael are not yet looking beyond finishing their first marathon, Jamie Snook notes the Trapline route does serve as a qualifier for the Boston Marathon - so who knows where this one race could take runners in the future?
"We're hoping the (Trapline) Marathon will be an annual event," says Jamie. Not only does it create a healthy challenge, but it also could also contribute to the local tourism economy and make a welcome addition to the long list of outdoor adventures for which Labrador is so widely known.
To see photos and video footage from the Trapline Marathon, click here.