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

Monday, July 26, 2010

Food Day Canada

We are real foodies here so would like to share with you that July 31, 2010 is the 8th annual cost-to-coast Food Day in Canada.   This event is a national celebration of restauranteurs, suppliers, grower, farmers and foodies who enjoy Canada's unique culinary diversity and creativity.  We will be celebrating with all Canadian foods that day but then we eat mainly Canadian foods most days.  Dinner will be grilled Canadian beef (ribeye steaks) served with local Canadian sweet corn and new potatoes served on the dock enjoying our view of the Great Lakes waterways.  We may have a campfire after dinner as well.  It will be a grand day filled with great Canadian foods!  You can be sure butter tarts will make an appearance for us to enjoy while the kids are filling themselves with fresh, local watermelon.

Friday, July 23, 2010

A Drive Through the Countryside

straw bales
Straw Bales
July 21, 2010

A drive through the countryside is always a pleasant diversion.  The farmers a baling straw this time of year which gives ample photo opportunities.  Straw is an important cash crop in our area.  It is used for both animal bedding and feed.  There are various ways that they bale straw with rectangle and round bales being the two main ones.  A freshly mowed field of straw with bales is always delightful to see.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


June 14, 2006

An Inukshuk is a stone landmark or cairn that resembles a human.  In Innuit it means I was here and serves for navigation, as a point of reference, a marker for hunting grounds, or as a food cache.  As a point of reference the arms are aligned along the north, south axis.  These are common landmarks along the northern regions of the Bruce Trail and in northern Ontario.  They are always built of stone and usually serve the purpose of not only marking but saying I was here without resorting to graffatti.  I had an Inukshuk in my last garden that served the purpose well.  I did not duplicate it in this garden but likely will in the next garden.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

KD aka Kraft Dinner - Canadian vs American

Like many Canadians we travel to the United States.  This gives me ample opportunity to compare similar products for similarities and differences.   Kraft Dinner topped with ketchup is reputed to be Canada's national food.  So I thought it would be interesting to compare the packaging from a box of Canadian Kraft Dinner and it's American counterpart Macaroni & Cheese.

Details - Kraft Dinner (Canadian) is manufactured by Kraft Canada Inc., Don Mills, Ontario.  Kraft Macaroni & Cheese (American) is manufactured by Kraft Foods Global, Inc., Northfield, Illinois.

Kraft Dinner - Notice that the product in Canada is actually called Kraft Dinner or KD for short and that is indicated on the packaging.  That is because most Canadians can recognize a picture of macaroni with the trademark neon orange colouring without being told that it is macaroni and cheese.   In very fine print near the bottom the product is identified as macaroni and cheese but that's likely a legal thing just in case some inexperienced Canadian can't identify the product by its picture and just happened to bring a magnifying glass with them while they were shopping.  In this case Canadians already know that Kraft Dinner is made by Kraft so we don't need a huge logo of Kraft to grace the box.  In fine print also needing a magnifying glass are short instructions for getting into the box likely because Canada's national drink (beer) may be involved when opening the box or again for those who aren't sure how to open boxes.  More likely is another legal thing due to our southern influence of suing if a mosquito lands on them.   Notice we don't need any fancy font or extra labeling claiming to be the cheesiest although on the top there is a Kraft logo on the top of the box that says made with real Kraft cheddar.    The box inculdes cooking instructions for both microwave and stove-top.  That's a good thing because the quicker you can cook KD the faster you can eat it.  As with all packaging in Canada labeling is bilingual.  Now here is where Canadians actually get a better deal for their dollar.  A box of Kraft Dinner is 225 g compared to the American Macaroni & Cheese that is only 206 g.

Kraft Macaroni & Cheese - The product in the US is labeled as macaroni & cheese with no mention of Kraft Dinner on the packaging.  This must be a legal thing to prevent someone from suing expecting a dinner in a box and all they got was dried pasta and a package of neon organge powder stuff.  The box has a considerably larger picture of macaroni and cheese.  This is likely for those consumers with poor eyesight or seeing eye dogs helping their owners find the culinary delight easily.  It also helps those who don't speak English to identify the product because the only language on the label is English.  The American package contains instructions on opening the box on top and on the side.  I'm not sure why other than maybe American's need to be told twice how to do some things.  The box only includes stove-top cooking instructions.  That's a pity since most Americans tend to be a bit more rushed than Canadians.  There is the notation on the box that it is the cheesiest but no mention as to what cheese it is so one can only wonder about exactly what that neon orange powder is..As already mention a box of the American version is only 206 g so Canadians are getting the better deal here.

My Recommendations for Americans - Buy Canadian.  You get more product that is clearly labeled as using cheddar and you can cook it in the microwave.  Be sure to cover your culinary delight with ketchup to make it truly Canadian!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Bruce Trail Northern Terminus Cairn

Bruce Trail Northern Terminus Cairn
Bruce Trail Northern Terminus Cairn
June 14, 2006

We have hiked portions of the Bruce Trail mainly between Tobermory, Ontario and Lion's Head, Ontario on the Bruce Peninsula several times.  We tend to focus on the trail portion that wanders through Bruce Peninsula National Park near the Cypress Lake Campground.  The trail can be rather challenging in this area.  The guys with kids in tow have hiked the trail from Tobermory to Cypress Lake Campground which is about a 15 km challenging hike that takes a good portion of the day.  The Bruce Trail Northern Terminus Cairn is located on Bay Street overlooking Little Tug Harbour in the Village of Tobermory.  The Bruce Trail is a hiking trail that follows Niagara Escarpment from Queenston to Tobermory in Ontario.  The trail is approximately 800 km long and traverses in some spots over privately owned land and farmland in central and southern Ontario.  The trail itself ranges from being quite challenging with a fair amount of climbing to areas of low, flat terrain.  The southern terminus cairn is located in the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake in Queenston Heights Park.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Niagara Escarpment Plaque

Niagara Escarpment plaque

Niagara Escarpment Plaque
June 14, 2006

The village of Tobermory is located at the northern tip of the Bruce Peninsula about 300 km northwest of Toronto.  The Niagara Escarpment plaque marking the northern extremity shoreline of the Niagara Escarpment is on Bay Street overlooking Little Tub Harbour.  It was erected by the Niagara Escarpment Commission in 1976.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Peaceful Protest in Canada

Yesterday I focused on how civil liberties were denied during the G20 Summit (June 25 - 27, 2010) in Toronto, Ontario.  Today I want to focus on the fundamental freedoms that essential gives every Canadian the right to peaceful protest (demonstration).  The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms under the Constitution Act of 1982 states that every Canadian:

2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:
(a) freedom of conscience and religion;
(b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;
(c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and
(d) freedom of association.
Essentially the fundament freedoms means you have have a right to express your beliefs and opinions through any media of communication providing it is peaceful and you have the right to associate with others in order to do so.  Here are a few peaceful ways to demonstrate in Canada:
  • demonstrations - Demonstrations usually involve a group of like-minded individuals coming together for a common goal and voicing that goal through such events as rallies, marches, sit-ins and that type of thing.  Public routes such as highways and streets may be blocked by these events for short periods of time or they may be open but dramatically slowed as when the farmers drove tractors from Windsor to Toronto slowing down the main artery Hwy. 401.  Quite often demonstrators use tactics like holding signs and/or flags, chanting slogans or phrases, and using blow horns to deliver the message to their intended target.  They may use tactics such as sit-ins at governmental offices to get their message across.
  • signs - The fundamental freedoms says you can communicate via other means of media of communication.  That includes the use of signs.  The signs may be carried, posted on buildings with the permission of the owner, posted on your own property or in the window of your residence, on your vehicle and anywhere else you get permission to post them.  The caveat with signs is to keep them tasteful and devoid of slanderous comments or name calling.  A sign on your property that simply says Say No to HST gets your point across without calling Premier Dalton McGuinty every name in the book that while he likely deserves them clouds the issue of the HST.  Avoid any type of personal attack on any signs you post.  Posted signs must not obstruct the view of you or your neighbours exiting their driveways and those posted on vehicles must not obstruct your view for safe driving and they must be securely attached so they don't present a road hazzard by flying off.
  • petitions -  Petitions are another media of communication.  Essentially what is needed for a petition is the cause clearly stated then as many names of individuals supporting the cause along with their contact information.  Once you have gathered a substantial number of signatures the petition is delivered to the person or office you are seeking attention from.
  • letters - Letters are another media of communication.  They include letters written to the editor of local newspapers, your MPP or MP or other political person of interest, and any agency or organization that may support your cause.  Again the letter should state the facts in a professional manner without resorting to name calling or derrogatory comments.  Letters definitely should never include a threat of any kind.
  • online sources - Online sources are also media of communication.  Three of the biggest are blogging, YouTube and Twitter.  Using online sources must comply with the terms of use (TOU) or terms of service (TOS) of your ISP and whatever third party service you are using.  In general you cannot incite hate through online services.  When blogging try to stick to the facts and your feelings about them like how they affect your life.  The personal touch adds more credence to your protest.  Clearly state that it is your opinion or use phrases like I think or I feel.
  • radio/television/newspaper interviews - These are all excellent mediums for protest when done properly.  If you are organizing a demonstration notify the press as to the date and time.  Write follow-up letters thanking them for the coverage after the event.
  • personal communication - This really becomes a word of mouth thing and here you basically have as much latitude as the other person or group will put up with.  Amongst a group of close friends well you can get as passionate as you want about your cause.  Amongst a group of coworkers you might want to tone it down.  At any rate you can get your cause known quite nicely through personal communication.

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Right to Protest and Denial of Canadian Civil Liberties

Copy of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms 
(courtesy Dept of Secretary of State, Canada)

The G20 Summit recently held in Toronto brought to light several issues surround protesters.  During this the time period of June 25 to June 27 we saw peaceful demonstration, rioting, unpeaceful demonstration and police abuse of their authority to the point of denying as well as infringing on civil liberties.  The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms under the Constitution Act of 1982 states that every Canadian has the right under Fundamental Freedoms:
2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:
(a) freedom of conscience and religion;
(b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;
(c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and
(d) freedom of association.
Furthermore under Legal Rights, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms states:
8. Everyone has the right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure.
9. Everyone has the right not to be arbitrarily detained or imprisoned.
10. Everyone has the right on arrest or detention
(a) to be informed promptly of the reasons therefor;
(b) to retain and instruct counsel without delay and to be informed of that right; and
(c) to have the validity of the detention determined by way of habeas corpus and to be released if the detention is not lawful.
12. Everyone has the right not to be subjected to any cruel and unusual treatment or punishment.
Protesters how were peacefully assembled and associating with other protesters who were also peacefully assembled were denied their civil liberties to peaceful demonstration.  Many were unreasonably searched and detained under what has been now admitted by Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair as a miscommunication regarding the 5 metre perimeter surrounding the G20 security zone.  On Sunday night the police arbitrarily detained protesters and anyone else who happened to be near the area of Queen and Spadina in what to the point of detainment had been a peaceful demonstration.  In short they viewed anyone who was not part of the protest as guilty by association simply by being in the wrong spot at the wrong time.  In addition to the arbitrary detainment those detained were denied their rights upon arrest or detention (10) and if fact all of the points under this section were denied to those being detained.  Furthermore, the detainment that Sunday night at Queen and Spadina in Toronto was quite contrary to the right not to be subjected to any cruel and unusual treatment or punishment.  That night servere thunderstorm warnings were in effect for Toronto.  Many detained stood in the pouring rain for close to 4 hours without food, drink or washroom facilities.  They were not told why they were being detained.    Many lined up asking to be arrested just to get out of these horrible conditions bringing into question cohersion and duress caused by the police.  No one asks to be arrested!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Indian Head Cove

Indian Head Cove
Indian Head Cove
June 12, 2006

Indian Head Cove lies just east of the Grotto at Bruce Peninsula National Park.  It is a favourite spot for swimmers and scuba divers.  The name of the cove comes from the shape of the rocks that resemble an Indian head.  The Bruce Trail goes out along the rocks so you can get rather close to the edge.  While we did not hike the Bruce Trail or up to look out over the rocks forming Indian head this trip we have in the past.  It is a beautiful but somewhat challenging hike with a few very challenging spots.  This trip we spent a bit of time lounging on the rocks of Indian Head Cove.  The guys climbed up onto the Grotto (not pictured) to jump into the still cold waters of Georgian Bay.  When we first started going to Cypress Lake before it became part of Bruce Peninsula National Park jumping off the cliffs at the Grotto was an expected event.  Now they have signs posted to prohibit jumping off the cliffs but folks still do.  The less daring go into to water in the shallow area of the cove and some will swim into the Grotto just to say they have done it.  We have been there several times and even in the hottest days of summer the waters are still quite cold!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Cypress Lake in Ontario

Cypress Lake, Ontario
Cypress Lake
June 12, 2006

One of our favourite camping spots is Cyprus Lake Campground at Bruce Peninsula National Park.  The campground opens onto Cyprus Lake.  It is rustic with no serviced sites but the atmosphere and landscape is well worth it!  Cyprus Lake Campground is about 15 km south of Tobermory, Ontario where the Bruce Trail begins.  The trail runs through the park an along with other smaller trails provides beautiful photo opportunitys while hiking.  This park and the surrounding area is a must stop for tourists and outdoor entheusiasts! 

Sunday, July 11, 2010

North Channel of the St. Clair River

North Channel
The North Channel
July 10, 2010

The St. Clair River connects Lakes Huron and St. Clair with the mouth opening onto Lake St. Clair.  The North Channel branches off to the west of St.Clair River at Algonac, MI emptying into Anchor Bay.  Anchor Bay is a bay off of Lake St. Clair.  The channel and bay is not deep enough for lake freighters but the area is a very popular boating spot enjoyed by both Canadians and Americans.  Land on both sides of the North Channel and the North Channel itself it on the US side of the International border however Canadians boat in this area on a very regular basis.  Closer to shore it is quite common to see smaller Canadian fishing boats.  There are a few marinas on the North Channel for fuel and docking.  Two have restaurants with outdoor seating to enjoy watching the boats while eating.  Canadians must have an I-68 or Nexus card in order to land by boat and you must report to US customs prior to leaving your boat.  You cannot land by boat in the US using your passport!  Canadians can call 1-810-985-9541 (Port Huron, MI) or 1-313-393-3942 (Detroit, MI) ahead of arrival or when you arrive with their boat number, identification information and location. Upon returning to Canada you must be docked at an approved marina before calling 1-888-226-7277 to report your return entry into Canada.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Did Police Break the Law During the G20?

The controversy over the police actions during the G20 Summit in Toronto continues to make waves across.  An article by the Torontoist questions whether the police broke the law during the G20.  They indicate that the legal implications of the police actions include:

  • failure to stop Saturday’s riot
  • misleading people about the fence
  • actions toward individuals
Much of the concern over the police actions have focused around civil rights infringements during the G20 weekend.  Of the 1,105 people detained about three-quarters have had all charges dropped against them or were never charged in the first place. The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) has threatened a lawsuit against the police.

The Ontario ombudsman under AndrĂ© Marin will investigate the introduction of a regulation that gave police broad powers to search and arrest people within Toronto's G20 summit perimeter.  They will specifically be looking at how the regulation was passed and why as well as how that regulation was communicated to the public.  The G20 regulation designating the G20 security fence and the area within it a public work under the Public Works Protection Act (1939) was passed by the Ontario cabinet on June 2.  On June 24 the regulation came to light when a man was arrested for refusing to provide ID to police while exploring the fence around the G20 "red zone" two days before the summit.  Marin's office only makes recommendations and they are not legally binding, but historically their recommendations have always been adopted by the provincial government.  Marin's office has received 60 complaints relating to the G20 including one signed by 129 York University professors.  According to Marin's office a "lack of transparency and public communication" about the temporary regulation led to an "atmosphere of secrecy and confusion and contributed to the violation of civil liberties".

Expanded police powers were originally reported to apply to a five-metre buffer zone outside the security fence.  Toronto police chief Bill Blair said in a press interview that the provision never existed but he was content to let people think it did.  Premier Dalton McGuinty acknowledges the regulation was passed and could have been explained more clearly but does not feel he owes the public an apology.  However, there are wide reports that police were stopping people well outside the G20 security zone, questioning them and searching their bags in public spaces.  The Toronto Police Services Board has ordered an independent review of police actions during the G20 protests.  An internal review of police operations will also be conducted.

In the meantime Mayor David Miller has issued a public apology on behalf of the city of Toronto to those who were detained.  The rest of Canada watches and waits to see what the outcome of this almost comedy of errors involving Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Premier Dalton McGuinty, Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair, and Toronto Mayor David Miller.  It's now all political posturing!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Boatwatching on the Great Lakes - Know Your Ships

Know Your Ships
Know Your Ships
July 8, 2010

Many on the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway do a bit of boatwatching as entertainment.  The variety of boats traveling the Great Lakes waterways is quite impressive ranging from smaller pleasure craft to the tall ships to the lake freighters and International ocean going vessels.  Marine Publishing Co., Inc. publishes an annual book called Know Your Ships.  This book is a guide to boats and boatwatching on the Great Lakes & St. Lawrence Seaway.  It includes the complete listings of the various freighters and other boat of interest traveling these waterways.  Listings include details like shipbuilder, year built, size, type of engine and those types of details.  There is also details like what the various horn blasts mean and featured historical points of interest.  The book is full of beautiful glossy prints of various vessels as well.  If you are interested in boatwatching on the Great Lakes be sure to pick up this handy reference book.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Lake Freighters

The Algoeast
July 3, 2010

Lake freighters are a common sight on the Great Lakes waterways.  Pictured is the Algoeast heading out onto Lake St. Clair.  The Algoeast is owned by the Algoma Central Corporation in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.  The vessel was built by Mitsubishi Heavy Industrys Ltd in Shimonoseki, Japan in 1877.  It served as the Texaco Brave from 1977 to 1986, Le Brave from 1986 to 1997 and the Imperial St. Lawrence in 1997.  The tanker now serves as the Algoeast.  It's current location can be tracked through the Marine Traffic website.  The website appears to be a bit behind as they are reporting she was on her way to Nanticoke on May 27, 2010 with and ETA of May 28, 2010.  I took this picture of her on July 3, 2010 at the mouth of the St. Clair River entering into Lake St. Clair.  Her station information indicated a destination of Nanticoke with and ETA of July 4, 2010 at 13:00.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

We Declare This Log Canadian Territory

Canadian flag on log
Declared Canadian Territory
 July 3, 2010

We live on the beautiful Great Lakes waterway and like many have a boat.  We boat on Lakes Huron and St. Clair, the St. Clair River and smaller connecting waterways.  Yesterday we went out to the mouth of the St. Clair River where it enters Lake St. Clair.  There is a great swim hole there that is a rather popular summer boating destination.  On the way back from the marina I spotted this log that appears to have been officially declared Canadian Territory.  The log was washed to shallow waters during the winter run off.  I noticed it in the early spring.  Some sporting Canadian with a sense of humour placed a Canadian flag on the log over the weekend.  The picture was taken from the east shore of the St. Clair River in Ontario, facing the west shore that is Michigan.  The International Border divides the St. Clair River so it is quite common to see Coast Guards from both countries, Border Patrol as well as the police patrolling the waters of the St. Clair River.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Reflecting on Canada 2010

Like many Canadians our Canaday Day celebrations span the entire weekend.  It has been a wonderful year so far for Canada.  We have hosted the world for the most part with style, grace and quiet patriotism.  Of note we hosted the Winter Olympics in British Columbia marked with an uncharacteristic show of flag waving patriotism.  We hosed two international summits, the G8 in Huntsville, Ontario and the G20 in Toronto, Ontario.  K'naan, a Canadian who was born in Somalia rocketed to fame with the soccer anthem: Wavin' Flag.

Canadians traditionally have not been a nation of flag wavers.  Oh sure the Canadian flag flies at all public buildings, many Canadians fly a flag at their homes and the flag is flown for parades but for the most part Canadians do not display an in your face type of patriotism.  The world sees Canada as the quiet, polite neighbours to the north of the United States.  The hosting of the G8/G20 Summits have some Canadians asking themselves how other people see us and who notices us.  The summits brought to light Canada's foreign policy and in fact some are saying Canada is heading towards a more aggressive approach to foreign policy but experts and the Canadian public are still mulling this over.  There are questions as to whether Canada's foreign policy is doing what we want it to do or whether it is harming local people.  Canadians think they're more influential globally than the rest of the world does according to a recent international poll by Ipsos Reid.  The reason fo this is Canada is a nation of content people.  Canada is a nation of great wealth, an abundance of natural resource and a nation at peace.  Immigrants are successfully integrated.  Some view this contentment as a sense of self-satisfaction, even smugness.

The reality is Canada is not held in high regard overseas over it's foreign policy.  Canadians perceive themselves as incredibly generous but rest of the world doesn't see it that way especially in the area of foreign aid.  We have failed to win a seat on the UN Security Council as a result of lack of coherence in diplomacy.  The Copenhagen environmental conference was unsuccessful with even Canadians being very critical of Canada and its view of global warming.  Canada has moved away from the issue of human rights into focusing of trade.  Some feel that Canada is falling short of our potential by overestimating our global influence especially on environmental concerns. Many Canadians are now unsure of what Canada stands for as a result of a lack of clarity.  Many Canadians believe we do what the U.S. says when it comes to international issues.  Sadly under the leadership of Stephen Harper Canada has lost face when it come to foreign policy.

Friday, July 2, 2010

The Old CBC TV Sign-off

Yesterday we celebrated the official Canada's 143rd Birthday.  For many Canadians including ourselves the celebration will continue on throughout the weekend.  Our celebration will focus on the four Fs - family, friends, food and fun along with the two Cs - Canada, community.  It is a wondrous time of the year to be thankful that we live in such a beautiful county, one of the richest countries in the world where our civil liberties are guaranteed, respected and defended.  Here is the old CBC television sign-off video with a few gorgeous clips of our amazing country, Canada!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Happy Canada Day! 2010

Happy Canada Day