Friday, 31 October 2008

Halloween Flash

Charles Gramlich has been showcasing flash fiction during the weeks preceding Halloween. Today is my contribution.


He woke to the soft notes of a flute, echoing through the tunnels beyond, coming in through the opening to the rooms of his cave chamber. The sound intrigued him—perhaps the goatherd was out with the goats in the orchard below. He moved quietly and quickly toward the tunnel leading to the waterfall, where a high ledge overlooked the orchard, the Keeper’s cottage, and Miller’s Woods.

Slowing his steps, Odin kept to the shadows along the side as he neared the bright beams of sunlight spilling onto the ledge. He edged his way to a dark niche in the rock wall where he could watch unnoticed. He could see four figures, their grizzled hair unkempt: three who sat side by side on the ledge, and a fourth against the side wall.

The waterfall lapped gently over the smooth stone lip. Within weeks the flow would grow to a noisy torrent, veiling the entire opening of the tunnel, its roar reverberating throughout the tunnels, down as far as the third level of the cavern. Spray flew over the foursome as they sat with their legs dangling over the edge. The three together were enjoying the last of a meal, gnawing on the gristle of a long shank and cracking rib bones with their teeth to get at the marrow.

The largest of the four males lifted his bone in salute to the others. “See what a cooperative effort brings? Now you know how stupid they really are.”

“I didna’ think they would lure so easily…great sport they proved to be.”

“Yeah, made ‘em tender with the chasin’…I do like ‘em carryin’ young. An’ now we don’t havta rely on stingy rations—we can pick out the plumper ones.”

The male who had just spoken turned to the smallest of the company, sitting alone at the far end of the ledge, next to the waterfall and the stone ladder that led to the bottom of the cliff. “Piper, you’re having none of this fine meat…pity.”

Piper shook his head while holding his bone flute in his lap.

“What’s the matter with you?”

“This’ll bring nothin’ but trouble…they’re not from the Colony stock.”

“Pah,” he scoffed, “the Keeper’ll never know…humans go missing all the time. We’ll just take what we need when the rations are low. Just not hungry, or are roots ‘n berries enough for ya?” Wrinkling his upper lip, he reached down to pick up a leather object and tossed it over, taunting him. “What does it say inside, Piper, o learned one of the caverns?”

Knowing it would be imprudent to refuse, Piper picked up the small leather package and pulled it open. He looked at the picture and the words on the thin, flat rectangle he found inside, and sounded them out in his head before he spoke, as Silas had taught him. “Washington driver’s license…David Lawrence…date of birth…”

From "Passage" by Barbara E. Martin

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Hiking Trails - Rockwall Pass Trail (Tumbling Creek Pass) - Day 9 of 11

This post belongs to the first series of an 11-day hike, which is a 11-day wilderness backpacking trip from Kananaskis, along the Continental Divide to Yoho National Park. Today’s post covers the ninth day.

Continuation of hike from Tumbling Creek Pass to Helmet Falls in Kootenay National Park
13km - 6 hours – moderate – closest town: Field, BC

71.3 miles (114.0 km) — Tumbling Pass. Elevation: 7,250 feet (2,175 metres)

[1-Near Tumbling Creek Campground with Tumbling Glacier behind]

From the campsite, the hiker does a moderate climb 375 metres (1,250 foot) up to Wolverine Plateau.

[2– wildflowers]

[3 Mt. Gray, rises 3,000 metres, marking the entrance to Wolverine Pass. This is the only break in the Rockwall for its 53 km length.]

[4-Wolverine Pass looking west]

[5-Meadows with Mt. Gray, wolverine Pass and Tumbling Glacier behind]

The trail climbs gradually for the next 5.6 km (3.5 miles) as it crosses the Rockwall Pass to the Limestone Summit, while the hiker watches out for falling rock.

[6- Limestone Summit]

The trail descends to Helmet Creek before climbing again to Limestone Summit at an elevation of 2,134.5m (7,115 feet).


[8- Limestone Pass with Rockwall on side]

Limestone Pass is next which again is a moderate climb and great views of the Rockwall. Then the trail descends 420m (1,400 feet) in 3.2km (2 miles) to Helmet Falls with glimpses of the 352m falls marking northern end of the Rockwall. While the hiker approaches the falls over an avalanche chute, the noise of the cascading water increases. The water that forms this waterfall begins from two separate sources, the Washmawapta and Sharp Glaciers. Washmawapta is a Stoney native term for “ice river”. West Washmawapta Glacier is below Helmet Mountain, 3124 m (10,250 feet).

As soon as you begin the descent to the campsite, look for an exciting view of Mt. Goodsir and Sentry Peak to the west.

[9 Helmet bridge to campground]

The trail crosses a bridge to the campsite. The Helmet Falls campsite is maintained in a natural state with a clear, cold stream flowing through it. There are 18 campsites with a pit toilet and food storage pole.

[10-Helmut Falls]

There is a short walk of 1.5 km to the base of Helmut Falls from a fork in the trail before the campsite. Here is a good place to see the Rocky Mountain Goat often in their lofty vantage points.

[11- Rocky Mountain goat with kid]

[12- Rocky Mountain Goat]

Research: Parks Canada,
Photo Credits: [1][3][4][5][6][8][9][10]-nordique-CC=flickr, [2][7]-dbuc-CC=nc-nd-flickr, [11][12]-natures calm-CC=nc-nd-flickr.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

A Case of Road Rage

This evening's Halloween video presentation is a different kind of horror: this one of pure evil.

The Car is a 1977 thriller/horror film directed by Elliot Silverstein and written by Michael Butler, Dennis Shryack and Lane Slate. It starred James Brolin, Kathleen Lloyd, John Marley, and Ronny Cox. The story is about a mysterious car which goes on a murderous rampage, terrorizing a small town.

The following excerpt from the film's beginning is certain to chill some viewers despite being 31 years old.

The movie was produced and distributed by Universal Studios, and was influenced by numerous "road movies" of the 1970s including Steven Spielberg's 1971 thriller Duel and Roger Corman's Death Race 2000 (from 1975). It has also been compared to Spielberg's Jaws, with a car replacing the shark. The film is memorable for its sound effects, most notably the terrifying horn blast the car makes when claiming a victim.


The movie is set around a small, fictional, Utah community of Santa Ynez, which is suddenly terrorized by a phantom black sedan that appears out of nowhere. The vehicle begins running people down – starting with some bicyclists and then a French horn-playing hitchhiker. After the car kills off the town's Sheriff Everett, (John Marley), it becomes the job of Captain Wade Parent (James Brolin), to stop the murderous driver.

The car enters town and begins running down the citizens, first attacking a marching band and then mowing people down at a carnival. It eventually chases a group of people into a graveyard – among them Lauren (Kathleen Lloyd), Wade's girlfriend – but curiously enough, the machine will not pass onto the consecrated ground and Lauren taunts it. The car then destroys a wall supporting a cross and leaves. The police officers chase the automobile down highways throughout the desert, but it destroys several squad cars before injuring Wade and then mysteriously disappears.

The hunt for the car becomes a personal vendetta for Wade when the automobile stalks and then eliminates Lauren by driving straight through her house. Wade concocts a plan to stop the horsepower-laden menace, but after discovering it waiting for him in his own garage, he is forced to carry out his plans post haste. He lures the car into a mountainous canyon area where his fellow officers have set a trap for the machine. There, a final confrontation settles the score and reveals the driver's frightening identity.

For trivia buffs the following: The evil car in the film was a customized 1971 Lincoln Continental Mark III designed by famed customizer George Barris who designed the The Munsters "Munster Koach" and the original "Batmobile" used in the 1966 television series Batman.

Although the movie has dated language, clothes, sideburns, it is a reminder of that era in the late 70s with its cliches and a different viewpoint on life.

Research: wikipedia

James FitzGibbon - Hero of War of 1812 (Canada) - Part 9

The following is a brief incident that occurred in Toronto, in 1866, illustrating James FitzGibbon’s ability to provide lasting impressions in the minds of those he had met or commanded during military service.

[photo of King Street East, Toronto, in late 1860s to illustrate era]

FitzGibbon's daughter-in-law, a widow, then living in a little cottage on Dundas Road, almost opposite the gates of Rusholme, and one of the very few houses at the time in that neighbourhood, was sitting up with a sick child. A tipsy Irishman forced his way into the house probably attracted by the light in the window. The man sat on an armchair and demanded something to eat. With no one in the house with her but the children, and unable to eject him forcibly, Mrs. FitzGibbon thought the best means of ridding herself of the intruder was to comply with his demands. The noise made in opening the door of the chiffonniere attracted the unwelcome visitor's attention. He turned his eyes full upon a large half-length portrait of Colonel FitzGibbon in his uniform. Staggering to his feet, the man stared, raised his hand to his cap in military salute, and stammered out: “Lord Almighty, save us, but it is the Kurnel himself. An' is it in any house belonging to himself I'd be doin' mischief? God bless him, but he saved me from a bad scrape wanst, an' was a kind frind to me after.”

Declining the offered food, the man staggered out, reiterated alternate apologies for his intrusion and anathemas against himself for “doin' the loike furninst the Kurnel's very face, God bless him,” until his uncertain steps and muttering accents died away in the distance, went away into the night.

Research: A Veteran of 1812: The Life of James Fitzgibbon by Mary Agnes Fitzgibbon (1894).
Photo Credit: wikimedia

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

The Reporter of the Supernatural

My Halloween evening presentation today covers a television series in the mid-1970s, which I watched faithfully and was sorry to see it go.

Kolchak: The Night Stalker was an American television series that aired in 1974. It featured a newspaper reporter, Carl Kolchak, played by Darren McGavin, who investigated crimes with mysterious and unlikely causes that the proper authorities would not accept or pursue. The series with twenty episodes was preceded by two television movies, The Night Stalker (1972) and The Night Strangler (1973).

The series version was set in Chicago and featured Kolchak as a reporter for the Independent News Service (INS). The series also featured Simon Oakland, again appearing as Kolchak's editor; Ron Updyke (Jack Grinnage) as a supercilious rival at INS; and Emily Cowles (Ruth McDevitt) as an elderly advice columnist (and the only character who is sympathetic toward Kolchak). Each week Kolchak investigated murders involving supernatural and science fictional creatures. The series was light-hearted black comedy and placed Kolchak in an office setting with quirky co-workers. Other recurring characters included Monique Marmelstein (Carol Ann Susi) as an intern whose father owned the INS, Gordy "The Ghoul" Spangler (John Fiedler) as a helpful morgue attendant who ran lotteries based on corpse statistics, and Captain "Mad Dog" Siska (Keenan Wynn), a Chicago officer who found his efforts to reign in his temper through group therapy constantly thwarted by Kolchak's abrasive nature. McGavin's wife and behind-the-scenes assistant, Kathie Browne, appeared in the final episode as Lt. Irene Lamont, who found herself forced to deal with Kolchak.

Episode 9 “The Spanish Moss Murders” was aired on December 6, 1974. A dreaming host conjures up the Creole legend of Pelemafair moss monster willing to kill anyone who threatens its survival.

The following are excerpts from this episode.

This last one is close to the ending.

Charles Gramlich began posting about Halloween last week in writing flash fiction stories. His link can be found under "Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Horror Writer Connection" on the sidebar.

Research: wikipedia

Tuesdays for Travis - Emerald Lake

[1-Emerald Lake from outside lodge]

Emerald Lake is in Yoho National Park, British Columbia, and was discovered in 1882 by Tom Wilson, looking for several horses that had gone astray, during the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway. The CPR built the original guest lodge in 1902 for its customers. In the mid-1920s the lodge was expanded and road access made it available to cars. After extensive renovations in 1986, the Emerald Lake Lodge reopened for year-round activities.

The lake is enclosed by the President Range mountains, Mount Burgess and Wapta Mountain; and located twenty-five miles west of Lake Louise. The best way to experience Emerald Lake is by staying several days at the Emerald Lake Lodge, which sits at the edge of the lake.


For fishing it is important to remember the waters in the National Parks are no longer stocked. Catch and release angling is requested. The general fishing season is July 1 to November 2nd, although the Lodge offers ice fishing in the winter. Brook Char and Rainbow Trout are frequent catches. Anglers under 16 years of age may fish without a permit provided they are with an adult who does have a permit.

For information about packages for staying at the Emerald Lake Lodge see weblink:

Research: Parks Canada,
Photo Credits: [1]-richd777-CC=nc-nd flickr, [2]-x@ray-CC=nc-nd flickr.

Monday, 27 October 2008

Shadow of a Doubt

This Halloween representation is of yet another type of horror, one that is of a personal nature: a family matter.

Shadow of A Doubt, released in 1943, is considered Alfred Hitchcock's best film and was his favourite. Hitchcock's use of overlapping characters, dialogue, and closeups provided a generation of film theorists with psychoanalytic potential.

A bored young woman, living in Santa Rosa, California, Charlotte "Charlie" Newton (Teresa Wright), is frustrated because nothing seems to be happening in her life and that of her family. Then, she receives wonderful news: her uncle (for whom she was named), Charlie Oakley (Joseph Cotten), her mother's brother, is arriving for a visit.

Two men show up pretending to be photographers and journalists working on a national survey of the average American family. One of them speaks to Charlie privately, identifying himself as Detective Jack Graham (Macdonald Carey) and telling her that her uncle is one of two men who are suspected of being a serial killer known as the "Merry Widow Murderer". This murderer has a modus operandi of seducing, murdering and robbing wealthy widows.

Young Charlie at first refuses to even consider that her uncle could be this person, but she cannot help noticing him acting strangely on several occasions, one being taking the front page of the newspaper, hiding it and then cutting out the article.

These two video excerpts reveal the escalating tension between niece and uncle. A scene with Herbie Hawkins (Hume Cronyn), a neighbour who appears periodically to discuss ideas for the perfect murder with Charlie's father, Joseph Newton (Henry Travers), sets Young Charlie off.

Young Charlie's growing suspicion soon becomes apparent to her uncle. He confronts her and admits that he is indeed the man the police are after. He begs her for help; she reluctantly agrees not to say anything, as long as he leaves soon, to avoid a horrible scandal in the town that would destroy her family, especially her mother, an emotionally fragile woman, who dearly loves and idolizes her younger brother.

Then news breaks that the second suspect was killed fleeing from the police, and is assumed to have been the guilty one. The detective Graham leaves. Uncle Charlie is satisfied at first, until he remembers that Young Charlie fully knows his secret. Soon, the young woman has a couple of near fatal accidents, falling down some very steep stairs, and being trapped in a closed garage with a car spewing exhaust fumes.

I am not providing the ending so as to avoid a spoiler. There are other interesting scenes in this movie not covered in this brief expose.

Research: wikipedia

Sunday, 26 October 2008

My Town Monday - Casa Loma in Toronto

My Town Monday is the brainchild of Travis Erwin in Amarillo, Texas where group participants tell something about their location on the globe. You can find Travis' weblink on the side bar under My Town Monday. {NOTE: History posts have been moved to Wednesday]

[1] Casa Loma (Spanish for “Hill House”) is the former home of financier Sir Henry Mill Pellatt and a major tourist attraction in Toronto.

Sir Henry commissioned Canadian architect E.J. Lennox to design Casa Loma with construction beginning in 1911, starting with the massive stables several hundred feet north of the main building.

[2] The stables [photo] were used as a construction site for the castle, with some of the machinery still remaining in the rooms under the stables.

[3-Standing stall has mahogany walls with Spanish tile flooring]

The house cost approximately $3.5 million and took a team of 300 workers three years to build from start to finish.

[4-Great Hall]

Upon completion in 1914, at 98 rooms, it was the largest private residence in North America. Notable amenities included an elevator, an oven large enough to cook a steer, two vertical passages for pipe organs, central vacuum, two secret passages in Sir Henry's ground-floor office and three bowling alleys (never completed).


Sir Henry filled Casa Loma with artwork from Canada and around the world. Casa Loma stood as a monument to its creator - it surpassed any other private home in North America. With its soaring battlements and secret passageways, it paid homage to the castles and knights of days gone by.

[6-Oak Room]

Sir Henry's numerous business and military connections demanded entertaining on a large scale.

[7-Round Room]

Casa Loma's romantic borrowing from the past, tempered by necessary modern day conveniences, provided the perfect setting. In the height of their years at the Castle, the planning of such a busy social calendar consumed much of Lady Pellatt's time.

[8-Lady Pellatt’s Suite]

In addition to hosting grand social events, the Pellatts were involved in a number of philanthropic projects. Sir Henry was a trustee and benefactor of Trinity College and a strong supporter of Grace Hospital. The organization of the St. John's Ambulance Brigade in Canada is due largely to his efforts. Lady Pellatt, in spite of her frequent confinement to a wheelchair, played an active role in the promotion of Girl Guides in Canada. She was appointed the first Commissioner of the Girl Guides of Canada and in 1919 was honoured with the Girl Guides' highest award, the Silver Fish.

[9-Guest Suite]

Many of the rooms were left unfinished, and today serve as the Regimental Museum for The Queen's Own Rifles of Canada. Pellatt joined the Regiment as a Rifleman and rose through the ranks, eventually becoming the Commanding Officer. He was knighted for his dedication to the Regiment. Later, Pellatt served as the Honorary Colonel and was promoted to Major-General upon his very grand retirement in Pasadena California.

[10-Interior of Top of East Tower]

Sir Henry was able to enjoy life in the castle for ten years, leaving in 1923. Vacant while proposals were considered for its future use, architect William Sparling put forward a proposal to convert the house to a luxury hotel in 1925. A long term lease was granted to Sparling to open a hotel within Casa Loma. He began completing the Great Hall and the Billiard Room, areas that Sir Henry had never finished. Sparling planned to add two large wings to the main building, one to the east and to the west, each wing containing 96 full suites and 56 rooms. At an estimated cost of $1 million for each wing, they were never built. The hotel failed in 1929.

During the late 1920s Casa Loma was also a popular nightspot. The Orange Blossoms, later known as Glen Gray and the Casa Loma Orchestra, played there for eight months in 1927–1928. Shortly thereafter, they went on tour of North America and became a major Swing Era dance band.

[11-Part of the five acre gardens from above.]

During the Depression, Toronto increased Casa Loma's annual property taxes from $600 to $12,000 (this approximately translates to an increase from $6000 to $111,000 in today's currency), and Pellatt—already experiencing financial difficulties—was forced to auction off $1.5-million in art and furnishings for $250,000 during bankruptcy hearings. In 1933 the city seized Casa Loma for back taxes owed, which totaled approximately $3000. Rather than file for bankruptcy and lose his knight hood, which Pellatt cherished, he was forced to sell Casa Loma for well below market value at $27,303 to the City of Toronto.

None of the suggestions for possible use proved feasible and the City considered demolishing the castle. In 1936, The Kiwanis Club of West Toronto proposed that they operate the Castle as a tourist attraction. The City of Toronto agreed and in 1937 Casa Loma opened to the public after extensive refurbishment by The Kiwanis Club.


Today this unique piece of Canadian history is open daily as a tourist attraction and hospitality venue. Casa Loma is financially self-sufficient and contributes close to $1 million annually to the City in licence fees and taxes. Net proceeds from the operation of Casa Loma support a wide range of the Kiwanis Club's charitable works.

Under the careful stewardship of the Club and its professional staff, the Castle remains one of Toronto's top ten tourist attractions and hospitality venues. In 1998, 375,000 visitors toured the Castle and gardens. A perfect backdrop for special occasions, the castle played host to over 200 functions with almost 30,000 guests attending during the year. Casa Loma's unique architecture has also made it a highly desirable location for film, television and photography shoots. For example, it has served as a location for movies such as The Love Guru, X-Men, Strange Brew, Chicago, The Tuxedo, and The Pacifier. Comic books and children's novels that have used it include the Scott Pilgrim series and Eric Wilson's murder mystery, “The Lost Treasure of Casa Loma”. It was also temporarily transformed into “Hogwarts” for the release of the 7th Harry Potter book.

[13-Casa Loma from the gardens.]

The tour of the castle is self-guided. Visitors can experience the castle at their leisure with the aid of an audio cassette and floor plan brochure. Casa Loma provides audio cassettes and tour brochures in the following eight languages: English, French, German, Japanese, Mandarin, Korean, Italian and Spanish.

[14-View of Toronto from Casa Loma.]

Casa Loma is on Austin Terrace, at the north end of Spadina Road on an escarpment (Davenport Hill) above Davenport Road. Davenport runs along the bottom of the escarpment which was the shoreline of Lake Iroquois, the predecessor of Lake Ontario. Casa Loma affords views down the escarpment and Spadina Avenue into the heart of Toronto.

[15-Casa Loma from gardens.]

Research: Wikipedia
Photo Credits: [1]-wikipedia, [2]-**Mary** CC=nc-sa, flickr commons, [3][10]- portfolium CC=nc-sa, flickr commons, [4][13][15]-Jeffrey and Rachel Vanneste CC=nc-sa flickr commons, [5][8][9]-Steven V. Rose CC=sa 2.5 wikimedia, [6][7]-Steven V. Rose CC=sa 3.0 wikimedia, [11][12]-flashfonic CC= flickr commons, [14]-Mark Blevis CC=nc-sa flickr commons.

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Don't Speak to Strangers

A famous wicked character often portrayed in horror movies is the vampire, Count Dracula. Count Dracula is a fictional character, the antagonist of Bram Stoker's 1897 Gothic horror novel Dracula. Some aspects of his character may have been inspired by the 15th century Romanian Prince, Vlad III the Impaler.

Count Dracula (his first name is never given in the novel) is a centuries-old vampire, sorcerer and Transylvanian nobleman, who claims to be a Székely descended from Attila the Hun. He inhabits a decaying castle in the Carpathian Mountains near the Borgo Pass (Tihuta Pass – photo). Contrary to the vampires of Eastern European folklore which are portrayed as repulsive, corpse-like creatures, Dracula exudes a veneer of aristocratic charm which masks his unfathomable evil.

Bram Stoker's Dracula is a 1992 horror-romance film produced and directed by Francis Ford Coppola, based on the novel Dracula by Bram Stoker. It stars Gary Oldman as Count Dracula in an ensemble cast, also featuring Keanu Reeves, Anthony Hopkins and Winona Ryder. The score was composed by Wojciech Kilar and the closing theme song “Love Song for a Vampire” was written and performed by Annie Lennox. The film was a notable box office hit and won three Academy Awards in 1993. It also established Oldman as a popular portrayer of villains in American film.

Research and photo: wikipedia

Friday, 24 October 2008

Four O'Clock

Today, continuing in the vein of the creepy things that make up Halloween, I am presenting a horror not of the supernatural.

The following video excerpt is from:

Four O'Clock, directed by Alfred Hitchcock, was the premier episode in the TV series SUSPICION which ran from 1957 to 1958.

In Four O'Clock, a watchmaker becomes insanely jealous when he suspects that his wife is having an affair. Fearing that she will leave him, he builds a time delay bomb and devises a plan to blow up his wife and her suspected lover.

While he is executing his plan however, he is interrupted by two burglars who tie him up in the basement, leaving him to die along with his intended victims at exactly four o'clock.

E.G. Marshall and Nancy Kelly co-star in this movie.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Garlic Anyone?

The movie excerpt this evening is from "The Brides of Dracula", a 1960 British Hammer Horror film directed by Terence Fisher. It stars Peter Cushing as Van Helsing; Yvonne Monlaur as Marianne Danielle; Andree Melly as her roommate, Gina; Marie Devereux; David Peel as Baron Meinster, a disciple of Count Dracula; and Martita Hunt as his mother.

Hiking Trails - Rockwall Trail (Numa Pass Trail) - Day 8 of 11

This post belongs to the first of a series of hikes, which is a 11-day backpacking trip from Kananaskis, along the Continental Divide to Yoho National Park. Today’s post covers the eighth day.

62.2 miles (99.5 km) — Floe Lake. Elevation: 6,700 feet (2.010 metres)

[1-Floe Lake campground]

Floe Lake to Tumbling Creek Trail – difficult – 17.4 km (11 mi) – 8 hours
Elevation loss - 150 m (490 ft).

[2- Floe Lake from trail]

Dawn at Floe Lake can be impressive, as the slowly increasing light gradually lit the distant snows far to the south and then crept under a pink sky along the length of the lake to turn the gray cliffs and dull dirty snow a warm gold and brilliant white. It is a blessing to have clear sun-filled weather for the walk beneath the Rockwall.

[3-Trail to Numa Pass]

From its shores the Rockwall Trail begins, running along the base of the 25 mile (40 km) long limestone wall, with the Great Divide running along its crest. The trail has several steep ascents and descents over three passes which are hard on anyone not fit or with knee problems. The hiker will pass forested canyons, several waterfalls, flower-filled meadows and magnificent alpine scenery.

[4-Alpine flowers]

Walking north, near a warden’s cabin is a creek that flows into Floe Lake, the trail rises steeply through alpine meadows. The trail passes under the pyramid of Foster Peak, at 7,725 feet (2,317.5m) the highest point on this section of the route which is above the treeline.


Gain: 315 m (1,033') to Numa Pass

63.8 miles (102.0 km) — Numa Pass. Elevation: 7,725 feet (2,317.5 metres)

The next 7km consists of steep switchbacks downward to 5,000 feet (1,500 m), passing some waterfalls to Numa Creek, where there is a bridge and a campground with 18 sites. This is a good place to stop for a lunch break as it has a pit toilet, food storage pole and a fire box. There are sites on both sides of the bridged creek that intersects the main trail.

[6- Numa Creek]

Continue on the trail for about 500 m below the campsite until you reach a signed junction, then turn left for Tumbling Pass. The elevation that was so quickly surrendered on the descent from Numa Pass will now be regained: almost 700 m in less than 5 km. The climb through the avalanche slopes can be exhausting on a hot afternoon. The forested section of the trail is not too long, and the upper part crosses a number of streams (easy fords) on open slopes that offer good views of the Ball Range. Finally, the reappearance of larch trees promises some relief from the endless switchbacks, and the trail emerges at the edge of a beautiful, level meadow. The summit of Tumbling Pass (2,210 m (7,249 ft.)) is approximately 1½ km further ahead after a short climb.

Here there are excellent views back to Foster Peak, a summit that dominates views south along the Rockwall throughout the walk.

[7– Tumbling Pass with first full view of Tumbling Glacier]

[8-Tumbling Pass further along next to Tumbling Glacier on Rockwall]

71.3 miles (114.0 km) — Tumbling Pass. Elevation: 7,250 feet (2,175 metres)
Gain: 685 m (2,247 ft) to Tumbling Pass

[9- Tumbling Glacier closeup]

[10-Tumbling Pass descending]

Descending again, the trail drops in a steep descent to 6,200 feet (1,860 m) at silt-laden Tumbling Creek where the hiker has to cross over a new aluminium bridge to the campground with 18 sites, pit toilet and a food storage pit. Here is a good place to stop to pitch a tent on the edge of a meadow.

[11-Tumbling Pass with Tumbling Glacier behind near campground]

Loss: 320 m (1,050') to Tumbling Creek

Research: Parks Canada
Photo Credits: [1][6]-Danny Cox, CC=nc-nd, flickr commons; [2][3][7][8][9][10][11]-nordique, CC=nc, flickr commons; [4][5]-dbuc CC=nd flickr commons.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Listen to the Wind Before Dark

The above video is an excerpt from the movie "The Return of Count Yorga" released in 1971, starring Robert Quarry, Roger Perry and Mariette Hartley. In the same year I had seen the movie and found it to be entertaining despite an ability to guess where most of the danger zones were. The creepy music adds to the magic. Enjoy while you see who lives in the shadows.

Charles Gramlich began posting about Halloween last week in writing flash fiction stories. His link can be found under "Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Horror Writer Connection" on the sidebar.

James FitzGibbon - Hero of War of 1812 (Canada) - Part 8

[1-James FitzGibbon]

On April 23rd, 1822 (St. George's Day), FitzGibbon was in command of the forces representing the militia of Canada, and was assembled before the Government House to receive the colours ordered to be presented by His Majesty, in token of his appreciation of, and gratitude to, the militia for their services in the war of 1812-14.

Immigration had been encouraged resulting in the influx of population in 1821, 1822 and 1823, and would resume for Manitoba and the unsettled districts further west.

A number of Irish families from the poorest districts in their own land, known as “wild Irish”, the majority ignorant of any language but their own native Celtic, had been sent out under the auspices of the Roman Catholic Bishop of Upper Canada, and had been settled on land in the county of Lanark, where many of them were employed in the construction of the Rideau Canal, not far from the town of Perth.

[2-The Rideau Canal connects Ottawa to Kingston, Ontario on Lake Ontario. In 2007 it was registered as an UNESCO World Heritage Site. The canal was opened in 1832 and remains in use today, with most of its original structures intact.]

The immigrants unused to the ways of the country had come out with “extravagant expectations of fortunes to be made, without the trouble of earning them, and with exaggerated ideas of the privileges and freedom of the New World and absence of the controlling arm of the law, — this with the national animosity of Roman Catholics and Protestants among them, resulted in disturbances and threatened riot.”

[3-Peregrine Maitland 1777-1854]

Alarmed at the aspect of possible riot, the magistrates of Perth had applied to Sir Peregrine Maitland for a detachment of troops to be sent. Before complying with this request the Governor sent for FitzGibbon, who begged to be allowed to go alone to the district, report upon the condition of affairs, and endeavour to settle the difficulty before calling out the military.

Confident in his knowledge of and influence over his countrymen, FitzGibbon went to the scene. He investigated the causes of the disturbance, and reiterated his determination not to resort to arms until all other means had failed. He assured the magistrates that the mere appearance of the military would but serve as a match to kindle the flame, and insisted that not a shot should be fired until he had at least spoken to the belligerents.

Upon his arrival at the area, FitzGibbon jumped down into a cutting, where gangs of these "wild Irish" had struck work and were assembled, one faction headed by a big, broad-shouldered giant, ready for a free fight and broken heads.

Facing them boldly, FitzGibbon poured forth a volley in their own Celtic language, and before the magistrates realized what he was attempting, the mob had paused to listen, and when he ceased, both sides cheered him. He then went among them to explain away misunderstandings, which their ignorance of the country and of English had originated; expostulated with them upon the folly of thinking that any country could be governed, or order, peace or safety to themselves or their property ensured, without the law being enforced and magistrates obeyed, and ended by standing sponsor for them with the authorities for their future good behaviour.

The result of his efforts was so satisfactory that a report was sent to the Colonial Office as obtained him the personal thanks of Bishop MacDonell upon the return of the latter to Canada. This was all the more satisfactory owing to the fact that before FitzGibbon's visit to the Irish settlement, the report of their riotous behaviour had been communicated to the Colonial Office, and Lord Bathurst (photo)

had written to Bishop MacDonell, then in Rome, on the subject.

Fifteen years later FitzGibbon received information from one of the magistrates, who had been the most anxious for the aid of the military, that there had been no riotous behaviour in that district since his visit in 1823.

In 1826 riots broke out among the Irish settlements in the township of Peterborough, and FitzGibbon was sent to keep the peace and restore order. Again the service was accomplished without force by his personal influence and individual efforts.

Research: A Veteran of 1812: The Life of James Fitzgibbon by Mary Agnes Fitzgibbon (1894), Wikipedia.

Photo Credits: [1][2][3][4]-Wikipedia

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Halloween Is Approaching

Every evening until that spooky night arrives, I will be posting a short story or video to set the mood. This first video from the Phantom of the Opera does have creepy scenes.

Tuesdays for Travis - Algonquin Provincial Park (Ontario)

This is a photo of a pool of water near the Whiskey Rapids Trail in Algonquin Provincial Park in central Ontario. I am going to allow Travis or any reader to imagine fishing in this pool in the autumn sunshine.

To borrow a question I saw in another blog, what plot does this photo inspire? You can answer in the comment section.

Photo Credit: Chris Walsh CC=nc-sa, Flickr Commons.

Sunday, 19 October 2008

My Town Monday - St. Lawrence Market and St. Lawrence Hall

Established in 1803, St. Lawrence Market is celebrating its 205th anniversary on November 1st. It is located on the NE corner of Jarvis and Front Streets.

The tradition of a Saturday Farmers' Market in Toronto began on this site in 1803. Over the years, the market has survived and thrived through many changes, including the Great Fire of 1849 and several reconstructions of the building.

From the Ontario Provincial Plaque placed at the NW corner of Jarvis and Front Streets in Toronto reads the following:

“In 1803, Lieutenant Governor Peter Hunter established a public marketplace here where farmers from nearby townships sold produce and livestock to residents of the town of York (now Toronto). A wooden building was constructed in 1820 and replaced in 1831 by a brick building, which was also used for city council meetings. The market expanded south of Front Street in 1844 with the construction of the Market House and City Hall. It was enlarged again in 1851 when the St. Lawrence Hall and Market was built north of Front Street. The market was an important source of revenue and the City of Toronto rebuilt the north and south market buildings in 1899. The resulting complex, including the present-day south market, was designed by John W. Siddall and completed in 1904. The market remains an important part of Ontario's commercial history.”

The St. Lawrence Market is one of two major markets in Toronto (the other being Kensington Market). It is located west of Jarvis Street, between King Street East and the Esplanade. It was established in the early part of the city's history and was once home to Toronto's first permanent city hall and jail house from 1845 to 1899. Designed by Henry Bowyer Lane, the first floor was formerly Police Station # 1.

Since 1901, the north façade and city council chambers have served as a museum for the city's archives as well as a north entrance to the South Market. Renovations were also made in 1978 following public outcry over a proposal to demolish the entire building in 1971.

A newer market, known as the North Market was built in 1803 under orders of Lieutenant Governor Peter Hunter. Destroyed by fire in 1849, it was rebuilt in 1851, replaced in 1904, and replaced again by the current building in 1968. A canopy that once connected the North and South Markets was removed in 1954. Today the North Market is different things on different days, but its principal claim to glory is associated with the colorful Farmers' Market, the largest in Toronto, that takes place on Saturdays starting at 5 am

On Sundays, from 5am to 5pm, there is an Antique Market where visitors can browse for free for antique collectables provided by over 80 antique dealers.

On the west side of the North Market (Farmer’s Market), the St. Lawrence Snack Bar, Vital Planet health foods, and the Antique Market Shoppe offer their wares during the week.

St. Lawrence Hall

Built in 1850 to serve as the City's public meeting place, the St. Lawrence Hall has hosted numerous memorable events such as: Jenny Lind, the Swedish Nightingale, sang to packed houses here in 1851; and ten years later, Tom Thumb attracted scores of fascinated spectators.

The architecture of the Hall has sweeping Corinthian columns and distinctive cupola, providing an idea of the elegance inside. Walk up the grand staircase (or take the elevator) to the Great Hall, perhaps the most beautiful feature. This authentically reproduced room, with its huge gas-lit chandelier and elaborate ornamental plaster ceiling, can comfortably seat 200 people for dinner. Included in the rental fee are several anterooms and a VIP lounge. Throughout, red plush furnishings and fine paintings complement the decor and add a luxurious touch to any function.

From Wikipedia:

“St. Lawrence Hall is a meeting hall in Toronto, Canada next to the St. Lawrence Market. It was built, alongside the new city hall, in 1850 after an 1849 fire destroyed much of the market. The Renaissance Revival style building was designed by William Thomas. It was created to be Toronto's public meeting hall home to public gatherings, concerts, and exhibitions. Its main feature was a thousand seat amphitheater. For decades the hall was the centre of Toronto's social life. It was here that prominent politicians such as John A. Macdonald and George Brown (fathers of Canadian Confederation) addressed the people of Toronto. It was the main venue for musicians and other performers who came to the city. The lower levels were integrated into the market and were home to stores and businesses. A third story section of the building was known as St. Patrick Hall, an important meeting place for the Irish Catholic Benevolent Union.

By the 1870s the growing city had a number of larger and more suitable performance venues and the Hall entered a long decline. It continued to serve a number of roles, including several years as the home of the National Ballet of Canada. It was fully restored in 1967 as the city of Toronto's project to mark Canada's centennial. Today the hall continues as a venue for events including weddings, conferences, and art shows.”

For a lovely virtual tour of the inside of the St. Lawrence Hall go to the link below.

Research:; wikipedia.
Photo credits: wikimedia.

My Town Monday is the creation of Travis Erwin, founder, (link on the side bar under MTM). There you can find links to other members of the group and their part of the world.

Friday, 17 October 2008

Dark Fire - C. J. Sansom (Book Review)

C.J. Sansom’s second book, Dark Fire, a complex murder mystery, was published three years after Dissolution in 2004. The paperback was released in 2007. The novel was awarded the Crime Writers’ Association Ellis Peters’ Historical Dagger award in 2005.

Dark Fire is set in 1540, in Tudor England, three years after Matthew Shardlake’s mission to Scarnsea (Dissolution). King Henry VIII continues to dissolve the monasteries after breaking with Rome and declaring himself the Supreme Head of the Church of England in 1534. Now spreading rumours throughout London are of Henry wanting to divorce his current wife, Anne of Cleves, and take Catherine Howard, a young and pretty Catholic, as his next wife. This would put King Henry’s Vicar General, Thomas Cromwell’s position in jeopardy as he had arranged the marriage with Anne of Cleves.

Despite Matthew Shardlake’s attempt to keep a low profile in his legal practice, his involvement in a murder case, defending a girl accused of brutally murdering her young cousin, brings him back into contact with Thomas Cromwell. Cromwell gives the girl a two week stay of execution with the stipulation that Shardlake undertake a dangerous assignment.

An official of the Court of Augmentations has discovered the formula to the secret of Greek Fire, the legendary substance lost for centuries, in the library of a dissolved London monastery. When Shardlake is sent to recover it, accompanied by Cromwell’s trusted assistant, Jack Barak, he finds the official and his alchemist brother brutally murdered, and the formula stolen.

While working for Cromwell, Shardlake manages to find the time to investigate Elizabeth Wentworth’s alleged crime. She has refused to defend herself, preferring to remain silent while imprisoned in a squalid dungeon. If she does not speak she will undergo pressing (torture of weights) until she does or dies. Shardlake is convinced there is more to her story than meets the eye.

Cromwell’s position is threatened by the resurgence of a catholic faction, led by the Duke of Norfolk; and he has promised King Henry VIII a demonstration of the Greek Fire in two weeks time. By presenting this ancient weapon to the King, it will secure the Vicar General’s position.

Soon Shardlake discovers it is difficult to distinguish friends from foe in both cases. The body count rises while Shardlake’s investigation brings him closer to the truth and the deadline for Elizabeth’s execution. He enlists the aid of Guy Malton, a former monk (from Dissolution), now an apothecary to explain ancient manuscripts in alchemy and to assist in curing the gaol fever Elizabeth has contracted from her unsanitary environment.

Dark Fire is well researched, providing descriptions that capture the stench of London, the conditions of the poor as they struggle to survive, the privilege of the wealthy, the legalities and cruelties of the era. There is also delightful dry British humour found throughout.

This book, like the first, was difficult to put down leading a compelling, brisk pace to discover the next set of clues.