Ever since I can remember I've heard the comment that there is "no difference" between Canadians and Americans. I respectfully beg to differ as there is a difference on so many levels! We have unique Canadian culture consisting of Canadianisms, a Canadian perspective on world events, Canadian cuisine as well as products and foods only available in Canada. This blog is dedicated to celebrating all things Canadian from "my perspective" as a Canadian. Please enjoy your visit and be sure to visit often.

Garden Gnome
Americans should never underestimate the constant pressure on Canada which the mere presence of the United States has produced. We're different people from you and we're different people because of you. Living next to you is in some ways like sleeping with an elephant. No matter how friendly and even-tempered is the beast, if I can call it that, one is effected by every twitch and grunt. It should not therefore be expected that this kind of nation, this Canada, should project itself as a mirror image of the United States.
- Pierre Trudeau

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Aftermath of the G20 Summit in Toronto, Ontario

The aftermath of the G20 Summit held in Toronto, Ontario has left a sour taste in many mouths!  Many of the events that unfolded have over shadowed any positives of the G20 and in fact negated them, reflecting poorly on Ontario and ultimately Canada.  Looking back on the events, who has lost and what are the implications?

  • protest organizers - The anti-G20 protests began on June 25, 2010 with a large protest organized by the Toronto Community Mobilization Network.  They would later organize the police brutality peaceful demonstration on Monday (June 28, 2010).  Police have implied that the Black Bloc anarchist were associated the the TCMN and that the network helped them blend into the crowds.  The organizers of some of the peaceful demonstrations are upset that the events of Saturday's riot overshadowed their message.  They feel that people have focused on the violence of that day rather than the messages being given through peaceful demonstration.
  • protesters - As with any demonstration cooler heads do not always prevail.  Some peaceful demonstrators saw their voice squashed.  Others were physically hurt by the many skirmishes and others still were wrongfully and more than likely illegally (remains to be seen) detained.  The Black Bloc anarchists in particular got what they wanted - damage, violence, and media attention.
  • the citizens of downtown Toronto - Those living and working the the downtown area of Toronto were the clear losers with a day of violence followed by the shocking events that unfolded the day after rioting.  Store owners who had their stores damaged and/or looted have been told by the Federal Government, the very same government (aka Stephen Harper) that insisted the G20 be held in downtown Toronto despite even opposition from Toronto Mayor Dave Miller, that they will not be paying for any of the riot damage.  It is unknown whether insurance companies will cover the damage either.  Other citizens were arrested for being too close to the G20 security zone something that Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair would admit in a press interview on June 29 that the 5 metre arrest zone never actually existed yet police officers used the 5 metre mark as an excuse to arrest and/or search and/or detain anyone they wanted.  Still other citizens would see themselves detained for about 4 hours in the pouring rain under the threat of severe thunderstorms at Queen and Spadina.  
  • the Toronto Police and Integrated Services Unit (ISUT) - The police are taking a huge hit from citizens, organizations and the media over their perceived inhumane actions Sunday night and rightly so.  There was a large but peaceful demonstration Monday night decrying police abuse and abuse of power.  They even denied reporters the freedom of the press!  Organizations like Amnesty International are  demanding a public explanation for the inhumane detainment of citizen and pressing for a public inquiry.  At least one known lawsuit has been filed but I'm sure there will be many more.  Those wrongfully detained for hours in the rain at Spadina and Queen on Sunday night are being encouraged to file complaints with the the Toronto Police Services, Office of the Indepent Police Review Director (OPRID) as well as seek legal council.  Media sources are looking for individuals wrongfully detained to contact them and tell their story.  The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) is pressing for a public inquiry.  Their actions Sunday night have opened them up to intense scrutiny.  Given that lawyers, reporters and members of the community who were not part of the protest were detained without explanation is reason enough for a public inquiry. 
  • Ontario government quietly granted extra police powers under the Public Works Act (1939) - This has left an extremely bitter taste for many.  Premere Dalton McGuinty refuses to offer any explanation as to why the extra law was passed without public input despite the fact that this temporary ruling stripped any Canadian citizen within the G20 area of their civil liberties and rights guaranteed under the Canadian Constitution effectively turning the G20 security zone into a police state.  Why should Dalton McGuinty answer to anything when he is hell bent on turning Ontario into a facist province with no civil liberties?  If you think that sounds harsh that statement is rather mild compared to what many are saying.  McGuinty forgets who elected him, who has the power to get him out of office and who has the power to hold him accountable for his actions.  Mind you he also forgets his salary is being paid for by citizens of Ontario through their tax dollars.  In my opinion the ON government actually put the police in a very bad position leaving them to take the blame for using the extra powers granted by the Ontario government.  It also left the police hanging to interpret the new ruling to the point they wrongly detained and arrested Canadian citizens within a 5 metre perimeter of the G20 security zone even though the ruling did not give them that authority.  There is even speculation that the Black This certainly has not gained Dalton McGuinty any terms of endearment from the Ontario voters!
  • Ontario taxpayers - On the heels of the new HST that goes into effect on July 1 many in Ontario and even across Canada are questioning the billion dollar price tag attached to the G8/G20 Summits.  Many are seeing this as one more way both the Canadian and Ontario governement are not willing to reduce spending.  The problem is neither government is getting that we are getting tired of the heavy taxation with nothing in return.  Now the G20 detainees that were charged will have to have a court appearance and likely legal aid and in some cases a trial along with incarceration all at the expense of Ontario taxpayers.  The Ontario taxpayers will continue to pay for years for the McGuinty's govenment's decision to pass a bill quietly behind closed doors that ultimately will be drawn out in the courts for years.
As a result of the events that unfolded in Toronto during the G20 Summit many are questioning why any city would want to extend the welcome mat for hosting a summit.  In fact some cities have expressed the fact that a G20 summit would not be welcomed in their city.  In this day and age and given the history of violence and distruction at G8/G20 summits there is no reason these world leaders could not meet at a location where anarchists would have a hard time getting to.  I'm thinking somewhere where they would have to fly in such as the far north or a desert or an island.  Even better what about them meeting on a secured military base?  They want to meet face to face then fine do it, just don't involve citizens that want nothing to do with it in the first place and who sure as heck don't want to deal with all the expense and aftermath of the event once it is finished.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Day After G20 Riot in Toronto, Ontario

Saturday (June 26, 2010) was a day of violence and rioting in Toronto, Ontario.  The Ontario government had quietly given the police extra powers by declaring the G20 security zone a public work under the Public Works Protection Act (1939).  The G20 protests started on the 25th with anti-G20 demonstrations some of which included the Black Bloc anarchists who have since been blamed for the rioting that followed.  As the world looked on at the damage and mayhem in Toronto, many blaming the police for not acting to curb the riot, little did they know that less than 24 hours later there would be accusations and compelling video evidence of police brutality and their blatant abuse of power.  In addition to that there would be claims of the police denying civil liberties and conducting a huge social injustice.

From the get go on Sunday (June 27, 2010) the police showed a much different face to the public and that was very apparent.  Like many I was watching the new coverage of events in Toronto hoping that Sunday would see a peaceful day.  That was not to be.  Those arrested on Saturday were taken to a temporary detention centre located at 629 Eastern Avenue in Toronto.  Friends of those detained gathered outside the detention centre to demonstrate about 1 am early Sunday morning.  The police acted.  Later that morning the police came on even heavier handed with demonstrators wanting their friends released.  As detainees were released word of conditions inside the detention spread adding fuel to already angry protesters.  Tensions rose throughout the day with several skirmishes and smaller protests throughout the downtown area but this time the police acted with military precision.  A larger protest headed down Queen Street stopping at Spadina to block the intersection so the police took a hard line and here is where things get nasty.

According to the police three warnings were issued for the protesters and bystanders to leave the area or be arrested.  They then performed a military tactic blocking all those remaining in the area on all four sides preventing anyone within the cordoned off area from leaving.  They finally let a few reporters go and the rain started.  They systematically removed a few individuals from the blocked crowd to arrest them.  All the while it was pouring rain.  Within the crowd there were citizens who had been caught up in the coral who were not allowed to leave even though they had not been part of the protest group.  In the end after about 4 hours of standing in the pouring rain with no washroom facilities, no way of letting their friends or relatives know what was going on, and no explanation as to why they were being detained, the police suddenly let the remaining people in the area go.

According to those being detained the police had already rounded up those in the crowd they were looking for.  Many have claimed to be residents from the area that had been trying to get home that suddenly found themselves in the wrong spot at the wrong time.  There were reports of some within the contained area being out simply to walk their dog and others claimed to be there to take pictures of what they viewed as a historic event.  Others blocked from leaving were members of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) and the Toronto Community Mobilization Network.  The police have stated the saw a few doning masks a sign of the Black Bloc anarchists blamed for the previous day's riot.  For almost the entire duration of being detained at Queen and Spadina it poured rain.  Toronto was under a severe thunderstorm warning and there was localized flooding in the downtown Toronto area.

According to those watching the media coverage it quickly became quite apparent that the police were indeed abusing their power.  These people were blocked, prevented from leaving the area by the police, forced to stand in pouring rain under the threat of severe weather for about 4 hours.  They were not told why they were being detained, essentially denying them their civil rights.  In the end they were simply allowed to leave with no explanation.  This according to many was a gross abuse of police powers.  The conditions these people were held in were inhumane and many are calling it a social injustice.  Many immediately even before police released those remaining were calling for a public explanation of police actions. 

Monday, June 28, 2010

Lawsuit to Challenge the Constitutionality of "This Dangerous Police-State Law"

In Saturday's  post, Ontario Government Quietly Give Police Greater Power, I wrote about the Ontario government declaring the G20 security zone a public work under the Public Works Protection Act (1939).  The temporary designation is in force from June 21 to June 28.  I like others question the constitutionality of this temporary designation that essentially turned turned the G20 security zone and surround Toronto area into a police state, denying Canadians their constitutional rights.  This just opened the doors for one or more potential lawsuits.  While it was expected that a lawsuit would be filed I was surprised at how quickly the potential for a lawsuit came.

Dave Vasey, aged 31, was arrested under the new regulation on Thursday (June 24, 2010).  He was stopped by police near the security fence of the G20 security zone.  He failed to produce identification when asked under the new regulation.  He was detained for five hours and charged with refusing a request of a peace officer.  Vasey faces upto 2 months imprisonment or a $500 fine.

Vasey has announced that he is filing a lawsuit to challenge the constitutionality of "this dangerous police-state law."  He said "I intend to ask the courts to uphold our civil rights," the following evening at Allen Gardens in Toronto, the site of a tent city set up by protesters.  Vasey's lawyer, Howard Morton told the Toronto Star that law "clearly violates" the section of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms guaranteeing freedom of assembly and the freedom of communication.  Vasey said he obtained legal advice regarding the kind of protest allowed under Canadian law and believes he was acting legally at all times.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

A Day of Violence in Toronto

On the heels of yesterday's post, Ontario Government Quietly Give Police Greater Power, the downtown area of Toronto was turned into a virtual war zone.  What started as a peaceful demonstration for abortion and women's rights quickly turned into a nightmare as the Black Bloc virtually took over the protest.  The Black Bloc are an anarchist movement rather than an actual group.  They dress completely in black wearing masks or bandanas over their faces to prevent identification.  They are well known for the damage and vandalism that they cause.  They avoid being caught later by changing their clothes mingling in with other protesters or onlookers.

As the Black Bloc mingled with the peaceful protesters is quickly became apparent that the demeanor of the crowd changed.  Within a relatively short period of time the windows of a Starbucks were the first shattered.  As the crowd moved down the Queen Street more Black Bloc came out of the alleys armed with rocks and anything else they could throw.  They finally managed to set two police cruisers on fire.  Their path of destruction was horrendous.  Many buildings sustained damage and some were looted.

I, like many in Ontario, were glued to the television reports and following Twitter.  I could not believe the violence and destruction that was happening.  This is not the Canadian way!

Toronto Mayor David Miller condemned the rampage:

“They’re criminals who came to Toronto deliberately to break the law,”
“They are not welcome in this city.” 

Comments from the Black Bloc included:

"This is what democracy looks like, that is what a police state looks like."
“This is vandalism against violent corporations. We did not hurt anybody. They (the corporations) are the ones hurting people,"

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Ontario Government Quietly Give Police Give Greater Arrest Powers Near G20 Security Zone

The G20 Summit is underway in Toronto, Ontario this weekend. The event began on the 25th and will end on the 27th. For the past couple of weeks a G20 security zone has been set up. About a month ago under the Public Works Protection Act of 1939 the Ontario government quietly designated the entire G20 security zone as a temporary public work. Anyone entering or even approaching a designated area can be searched without warrant. Furthermore guards of public work sites (eg. provincial/municipal buildings) have the ability to demand a visitor’s name and, purpose for the visit, refuse permission to enter, and arrest without warrant. Essentially what this means for the G20 is the police have been granted powers they normally do not have.  The temporary designation went into effect June 21 and will be rescinded the day after the summit ends, on June 28.  Those found guilty under the act are subject to imprisonment for up to two month or a $500 fine.

There are a few problems with the designation of the G20 security zone as being public work from this Canadian's perspective:

  • The Ontario government quietly put this designation into effect without public input.  The Ontario government has essentially turned Toronto into a police state stripping Canadian citizens of their civil rights.  Canadians have the constitutional right to travel where they please.  Unless a citizen is doing something illegal or being stopped for a traffic infraction then they do not have to produce identification.  The very idea that someone could be arrested for not producing identification simply for walking near the G20 security zone is a clear infringement of the Canadian Bill of Rights R.S.C. 1985, Appendix II.
  • Reports have already come out with one reporter being turned away from the G8 security zone another clear infringement on the Bill of Rights R.S.C. 1985, Appendix II that guarantees freedom of the press.  The journalist,  Terry Pedwell is a veteran reporter based in Ottawa, who has worked for The Canadian Press for more than 20 years. He ihas reported from Afghanistan and covered many high-profile events around the world.  In his report of his G8 security zone detainment of 2 hours the police intimidation.
  • Police intimidation - The strong police presence has created episodes of police intimidation.  Police have been video taped physically pushing citizens that were simply walking past them.    A youth was surrounded by nine officers who spoke quite clearly of how intimidated and scared he was as the police searched his bag.  There were racial overtones in this particular incident.  Earlier this morning a young woman spoke to the press regarding police breaking into her home, pulling her sleeping guests from the beds and demanding identification.  A huge presence of police in riot gear further intensifies the intimidation many protesters are facing despite the have a constitutional right to peaceful demonstration.  Video evidence is confirming other types of police intimidation such as shouting at protesters and shoving them for no apparent reason.  I suspect some of the videos may lead to charges against police officers who abused their authority.
Tensions ran high as police formed a defensive perimeter during a scuffle at Yonge and College Sts. in the G20 security zone.   Police and protesters clashed during the first major G20 demonstration in Toronto on June 25, 2010.  Note how police actuall pushed protesters as they walked by without the protesters doing anything other than walking past the police.  This constitutes physical abuse.  Even the police do not have the right to physically touch anyone in such a manner.  This type of unprofessional police intimidation does not reflect well on the police or the province.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Earthquake in Quebec Reaches into the US

Image courtesy of CBC's Quake Shakes Quebec, Ontario

Yesterday afternoon I was sitting at the computer doing a bit of blogging when all of a sudden the house started to shake and sway.  It was a very scary feeling!  I quickly ran to the patio doors to see if perhaps a freighter had run into out seawall.  Our house is a two level house with the main floor mainly underground giving the full effect of the tremor.  The 5.0 magnitude earthquake happened at 1:41 PM ET with the epicentre in Echo Lake, Quebec, 60 kilometres north of Ottawa.  Echo Lake is near the Ontario border.  The earthquake was strongest at the epicentre withe tremors being felt throughout southern and eastern Ontario,  western Quebec as well as the US states of Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Vermont, New Jersey and New York.  A section of Highway 307 north of Ottawa near Bowman, Quebec collapsed shutting down that route.  Gracefield's church (about 40 km west of Echo Lake) , community centre, a local hotel,  and a local restaurant sustained significant damage.  Ottawa's City Hall windows shattered.  A  brick chimney came apart at the nearby solicitor's building causing further damage.  The Ontario Provincial Police reported no injuries due to the earthquake itself but warnings were given for people to protect themselves against aftershocks.

There are  mall fault lines along Lake Erie and Lake Ontario.  A relatively active fault line that runs parallel to the St. Lawrence Valley.  The last major quake on that fault line occured in 1998.  It was 5.4-magnitude.  Many outside of Canada do not realize that the Ottawa valley is an earthquake zone.  Smaller earthquakes occur about once every 5 days in the area of the epicentre of this earthquake.  This earthquake was originally reported as a 5.5 magnitude but was downgraded to a 5.0 magnitude.

Monday, June 14, 2010

The High Price of Increased Taxation in Canada

Despite Stephen Harper's campaign promises to not introduce any new taxes he has done so in the form of user fees for health care, television tax and HST in British Columbia and Ontario.  What effect are these new taxes having on Canadians?  From this Canadian's Perspective we are now seeing the following happening in Canada as a direct result of new taxation:

  • CPIF aka tv tax - This tax currently adds 1.5% of your programming charges to your bill.  At $1.45 per month the overall cost per year is  $17.40.  Canadians are waking up to the fact that they can do without actual television.  In fact a recent report found more Canadians are watching their favourite television shows online rather than through convention television signals.  With the onset of the CPIF some of our friends have resorted to discontinuing their cable television service while others have invested in addition equipment to use existing antennas.  So in the long run  the cable and satellite television providers are losing customers.  Whether this matters to them or not remains to be seen.
  • Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) - The HST basically is combining the Provincial Sales Tax (PST) and Goods and Services Tax (GST).  In Ontario this means 17% of goods and services including home heating fuel, gasoline and electricity will now see an additional 8% tax due to the HST.  Conservative estimates is this will cost each person in Ontario an additional $500 per year however some are saying it will be more like $1,000 per year.  This tax is going to hurt our working poor, those on fixed incomes and the working class the most.  What the HST is doing particularly in Ontario is strengthening the underground economy.  More people are willing to pay cash to avoid paying the tax even for larger repairs such as roofing.  People are more willing to barter, pay cash under the table, buy at yard and estate sales and in short do whatever it takes to avoid paying the HST.  Websites have popped up even advising that those in Ontario and British Columbia should secure employment where they can work for cash and not report the income.  Those living in border towns (ON/NY, ON/MI, ON/MN), (ON/MB or ON/QC) can avoid the some of the HST by shopping and buying gas outside of Ontario.  In hindsight I am sure at some point Stephen Harper and Dalton McGuinty is going to realize the HST was not a good idea and definitely the timing was extremely poorly planned.  Notice what is happening though?  Canadians are more willing to shop outside of Canada and in some cases are being encouraged to do so by bording US states.  Apparently Harper and McGuinty have not heard of snowbirds who can legally bring back a certain amount of goods duty free after being outside of the country for extended periods and that includes being tax free as well.  They also apparently haven't heard of Canadian tourists vacationing outside of Canada and even the ever present cross-border shopping.  Essentially with this tax Harper and McGuinty are driving consumers away from purchasing in Canada.
  • more protests - Surprisingly Canadians as a whole do not protest loudly against taxation.  Residents of British Columbia are actually protesting louder spurred on by Washington State offering tax free shopping for Canadians than Ontario residents that will feel the pinch of the HST more.  HST will be added to home heating fuel, electricity and gasoline in Ontario increasing the costs by 8% whereas it will not be added to these goods and services in British Columbia.  Even though the HST protests are going for the most part unnoticed things are getting a bit more heated as the July 1 implementation deadline draws near with people starting to realize what a tax grab the HST is.
  • food insecurity -  The sad reality is just in the HST alone food insecurity is going to increase in both British Columbia and Ontario.  That extra 8% tax on items that previously were not taxed is going to have an impact.  At an HST cost of $500 per person it works out to an extra $41.67 per person per month just in HST taxation.  That might not sound like a lot of money but for those on fixed incomes (pensions, social assistance) that is $41.67 per month that they don't have to spend on essential living costs like food and utilities.  If the predicted $1,000 per person amount comes to be as it promises to, then the average person somehow has to find and additional $83.33 per month just to cover the cost.  That is almost enough to feed a frugal family for one week!  Suddenly a  family that was just barely able to keep food on their table is a week short.  What happens?  The simple answer is more and more families in Canada go hungry and in most cases these are families consisting of single parents with children.
  • widens the distance between the rich and poor - Those who can afford the extra 8% HST or the extra 1.5% tv tax or the extra user fees are not going to be effected as much as the very poor in Canada.  What all these extra taxes do is move some from the poor to the very poor no longer being able to afford the basic necessities of life.  They in turn have to start relying on the social safety net (social assistance, food bank, etc) stressing those systems.  Meanwhile those who put the new taxes into place have no problem sitting down to enjoy a $1,000 meal courtesty of the taxpayers!  The problem is Stephen Harper and Dalton McGuinty will never feel the pinch of extra taxation and they are so far removed from the working class and poor that they will never understand the impact their policies are making on the lives of others!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Television Tax in Canada

The G8/G20 Summits and  HST in Ontario and British Columbia has overshadowed the issue of the television tax.  According to the Toronto Star March 22, 2010 article the CRTC was still to rule on the tv tax dispute.  Essentially if the CRTC says a tax is allowable on cable and satellite television services the service providers have said they will pass it onto their consumers.

It has come to my attention that Bell Expressvu is already charging a tv tax that shows up on your bill as 'Contribution Fee to CRTC's Local Programming Improvement Fund (LPIF)'. What this means is the cable and satellite television providers must now pay local programming for using their signal. Despite the fact that they already charge through the nose for their programming and making a profit the cable and satellite providers are choosing to pass this cost onto the consumer. Currently those using cable or satellite television services will pay 1.5% of their programming costs in the form of LPIF.

Now if you listened to Stephen Harper's campaign promises he said 'no new taxes'. In reality he has done nothing but add new taxes for Canadians. The shady part is the taxes aren't being called taxes. Notice in this case it is being called a fund, in the case of health care it is being called user fees.  The Canadian Government put pressure on and funding the HST movement in British Columbia and Ontario and despite the no new taxes promise 17% of consumer goods and services that previously were not taxable now are taxable under the new HST.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Fake Lake prompts YouTube parody ‘If I Had a Billion Dollars’

In honour of Stephen Harper's fake lake, Tony Clement's steamboat, and the billion dollar bill for the G8 and G20 Summits Milton singer, writer and municipal candidate Jennifer Smith wrote this parody to the tune of the Barenaked Ladies.  Her friend Lesley Stankaitis sing "If I Had a Billion Dollars".

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Canadian Nature Whispering

Canada is a vast land of changing landscapes ranging from tundra, frozen icelands, mountains, and flatlands.  Many images on imprinted on the minds of those who have never been to Canada because these are symbols of Canada's landscape.  I found this great short video highlighting some of Canada's symbols.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Horseshoe Falls, Niagara Falls, Ontario

Horseshoe Falls

Horseshoe Falls
May 8, 2005

Niagara Falls is one of our favourite weekend get-away destinations.  Niagara Falls straddle the international border between Ontario, Canada and New York State, USA.   Goat Island and the Horseshoe Falls are on the Canadian side while the American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls are located on the American side separated from the main falls by Luna Island.  This natural formation is magnificant to enjoy regardless of the weather.  They are the most powerful waterfalls in North America so are a valuable source of hydroelectric power.  Surprisingly while Niagara Falls is gorgeous in the summer months we actually prefer going in the late fall or early winter months.  Niagara Falls, Ontario is the twin city to Niagara Falls, New York.   Niagara Falls, Ontario is a Canadian tourist attraction and the Honeymoon Capital of the World.  There is a wide range of amenities there ranging from restaurants, motes, tourist attractions and a casino.  

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Maid of the Mist

Maid of the Mist
Maid of the Mist
May 9, 2005

The Maid of the Mist is a boat tour of Niagara Falls.  Each of the boats in the tour is named Maid of the Mist followed by a different Roman numeral.  It is North America's oldest tourist attraction.  The tour begins near the Rainbow Bridge in the Niagara River with boarding available from either the Canadian or American side of the river and ending at the same starting point.  The tour takes passengers pas the American and Bridal Veil Falls into the dense mist of spray in the curve of the Horseshoe Falls (pictured).

History of the Maid of the Mist
The first Maid of the Mist I (1846 - 1854) was launced in 1846 as a ferry service between the Canadian and American sides of the Niagara River.  It pre-dated the construction of the first Niagara Falls Suspension Bridge by two years.  When the bridge opened the ferry service lost business.  By 1854 a more luxurious Maid of the Mist was launched to become a tourist attraction instead.  The remaining Maid of the Mist boats are:
  • Maid of the Mist I (1854 - 1860) - double-stack steamboat ferry
  • Maid of the Mist I (1854 - 1860) - single-stack steamboat ferry
Both of these boats were sold to a Montreal firm in 1860 due to financial difficulties and the impending American Civil War.  A formal service was restored in 1895 and two new boats were constructed and launched under the new partnership, Maid of the Mist Steamboat Company.
  • Maid of the Mist I (1885 - 1955) - steam boat
  • Maid of the Mist II (1892 - 1955) - white oak steam boat
These boats burned in a pre-season accident on April 22, 1955.  Later that year two new boats were built and launched.  They are the same type and style of boat used today, constructed of steel and powered by diesel engines.
  • Maid of the Mist I (1955 - 1990)
  • Maid of the Mist II (1956 - 1983) - involved in the rescue of Roger Woodward, a 7 yr old boy who fell over the Falls wearing only a life jacket and the first to survive going over the Falls
  • Maid of the Mist III (1972 - 1997)
  • Maid of the Mist IV (1976 - present)
  • Maid of the Mist V (1983 - present)
  • Maid of the Mist VI (1990 - present)
  • Maid of the Mist VII (1997 - present) - twin of VI
  • The Little Maid - small tug-like vessel docked on Canadian side

Friday, June 4, 2010

Canadian Snowbirds - CIAS 2007 - Toronto Air Show

I previously wrote about a Canadian term, snowbirds, in reference to Canadians who winter in the southern US states mainly Arizona, Texas and Florida.  However, Snowbirds also refers to the Canadian icon the Snowbirds Demonstration Team  (431 Squadron).  The 431 Bomber Squadron was formed at Burn, England on November 11, 1942.  The squadron served for the duration of the war then after V-E Day they moved to RCAF Station Dartmouth, Nova Scotia where they disbanded on September 5, 1945.  On January 18, 1954 the 431 Fighter Squadron formed at RCAF Station Bagotville to display the Sabre to the public at airshows.  They disbanded on October 1, 1954.  On April 1, 1978 they were re-activated as 431 Air Demonstration Squadron flying the CT-114 Tutor.  The Sqadron was presented with their Squadron Colours on October 15, 1999 for 25 years of service.
The Snowbirds is comprised of a team of serving members of the Canadian Forces who demonstrate the high level of professionalism, teamwork, excellence, discipline and dedication displayed by women and men of the Air Force and the Canadian Forces.  They work together to bring thrilling performances to the North American public.  The team serve as Canadian ambassadors.  This year marks the 40th Anniversary of the Snowbirds Demonstration Team.  Their next performance is the Air Show (Borden) on June 5, 2010 in Borden, ON.  A full listing of their air show schedule can be found by clicking the link.

We have had the opportunity to watch the Snowbirds in action a couple of times.  They are a sight to behold!  The following  Snowbirds Demonstration Team  filmed during the 2007 Canadian International Air Show in Toronto on September 1st and 3rd, 2007.