When Tanya Northcott goes on vacation to Newfoundland and Labrador, so does her camera. Really, it’s an adventure for her camera, which doesn’t see much action back home in Ottawa, Ontario.
“My camera is not really used anywhere else but when I’m in Newfoundland,” Tanya admits. “When I’m in Ottawa it just sits on the shelf. I’m working on changing this, as there are many beautiful places in and around Ottawa, too, but it just doesn’t inspire me the way Newfoundland does.”
Tanya was born on the mainland and was introduced to Newfoundland and Labrador by her adoptive parents, who raised her there.
“I’m a descendant of Ojibway ancestry. My birth family once lived on the Wabigoon Lake Reserve, which is South of Dryden, Ontario. I was adopted by a wonderful Newfoundland couple who were living in Thunder Bay at the time, but after living there for a few years they decided to move back to Newfoundland and that’s where I grew up,” she explains. “I’m very happy to have grown up in Newfoundland; it’s a beautiful place with very friendly people.”
Her first experience with photography was during a vacation to the southern United States and Mexico in the 1980s, when she was gifted an Olympus camera to record her experience. “During this trip I was really inspired by the beauty of the ocean and landscapes,” Tanya says.
These days, Tanya captures scenes using her Nikon D-90 with its AF-S Nikkor 18-105mm lens. She also uses a Sigma 10-20mm wide angle lens and an AF-S Nikkor 55-300mm zoom lens. While her camera gear has changed over the years, what she trains it on has not. She is still is irresistibly drawn to the sea and landscapes.
“My favourite subject to shoot would be Newfoundland outports and landscapes simply because it’s so beautiful: the ocean, beaches, cliffs, wildlife, wharfs, boats and colourful houses…the only thing I need to do is to capture good composition and good lighting – the natural beauty of the land does the rest.”
She makes it sound simple, but to get the right composition sometimes means clamouring over cliffs or crawling beneath wharfs. And that great lighting? Well one could be waiting for hours or even days – sometimes even returning in a different season – for the best light. But it’s all worth it, as Tanya and every other photographer will tell you, when you get that perfect shot, that image that inspires you and others every time you see it.
Click here to view a slideshow of images taken by Tanya.
Adventure Canada, an expedition cruise line that’s been bringing passengers to Newfoundland and Labrador for two decades, has perfected many aspects of the cruise experience. One is the wake-up call.
No, it’s not a monotone voice on the other end of the phone gently nudging you from your cabin. At least on the morning this Downhome editor was aboard the Sea Adventurer, it’s the booming voice of the captain over the PA, announcing to passengers that the ship is sailing past a pod of orcas. I’ve never witnessed so many people (myself included) so eager to rise from slumber at 6 a.m. Sure enough, reaching the top deck I could just make out the black dorsal fins in the distance.
Downhome, as well as other media and tourism industry staff, was invited aboard the Sea Adventurer in late June for a special one-night sailing from St. John’s, Newfoundland to St. Pierre, France, in celebration of the company’s 20th year bringing cruise tourists to the province.
Others along for the ride include Newfoundland author Kevin Major, local storyteller Dave Paddon and a host of other famous faces from home. But this isn’t their first (and won’t be their last) Adventure Canada cruise. They are members of the company’s stellar resource team – typically locals with some area of expertise – who sail with cruise passengers to add that extra ounce of local knowledge and charm.
“For our guests it makes it very real. It’s not just the tour guide spiel,” Adventure Canada vice president Cedar Swan, a B.C. native now living in Ontario, tells me as we sail. “They’re actually getting the perspective of somebody that lives there, the pros and cons and the real-life situations, and I think that’s what people have come to know us for is for providing that type of insight.”
Food & fun
Throughout the journey I keep thinking that as we all filed onto the ship we must have looked like hungry souls, for they keep feeding us – and feeding us and feeding us. From hors d’oeuvres aplenty and a gigantic barbecue buffet on deck to a gourmet meal in the dining room, it’s a wonder the ship didn’t sink like a stone with all of us on it. (Still, I would have made off with the entire dessert buffet if I thought I could have done so without creating a scene.)
Canada’s literary queen, Margaret Atwood (another fixture on Adventure Canada’s resource team), is also on this trip. Shortly after we’re out to sea, the three wordsmiths – Paddon, Major and Atwood – go head to head in a game of “Nautical Bluff” in the ship’s lounge, which leaves everyone in stitches.
Late into the evening we’re treated to musical performances from talented members of the ship’s crew (which includes a saxophone-playing horse – seriously, I couldn’t make this up if I tried) as well as Juno-nominated Tom Barlow.
In the morning, as if on cue, humpbacks greet the ship upon our entrance into St. Pierre Harbour (perhaps the 6 a.m. orcas notified them of our impending arrival).
Canada, and especially our little corner of it, is indeed an adventure – one that’s best appreciated from the water. Next time I’m planning a cruise vacation, I might just consider sticking a little closer to home. – Ashley Colombe
Click here to view a slideshow of photos from the cruise.
There’s an interesting symmetry to Gerry Farrell’s life. In his first career, as x-ray technician, he spent his days studying images and looking at the human body in a different way than most of us do. His work inspired a new hobby, photography, which allowed him to capture images of other areas of life, often with a new perspective. And not surprisingly, he preferred to shoot in black and white.
Gerry’s photography passion continued as he transitioned from black and white to colour, and, fairly recently, from film to digital equipment. He also changed careers, graduating from Memorial University with a degree in medicine in 1974. After placements in Grand Bank, N.L. (not far from his hometown of Marystown) and Pictou, N.S., he’s currently a palliative care physician in New Glasgow, N.S.
As a photographer, Gerry says, “I am early morning person and like to take advantage of the ‘golden hour’ of sunlight, either at sunrise or sunset.” The tools he relies on to capture the best images include his Canon 5D Mark 3. “I use a variety of lenses, but my most frequently used is a Canon 24-105 f4 series. I enjoy wide angle shots and use a 17-40 lens for same,” he says.
Something more significant than good equipment that Gerry credits for his quality of photography was a special experience he had a few years ago.
“About five years ago, I spent a week with world-renowned photographer Freeman Patterson, and his inspiration made me a much improved photographer,” he says.
Gerry most enjoys shooting landscapes and, particularly, water features.
“Waterfalls have been an enduring subject for me, and I have visited many of the ones in Nova Scotia, and just returned from a photography adventure in Iceland, where there are waterfalls around every bend,” he says.
He and his wife (also a Newfoundlander, from Brig Bay on the Northern Peninsula) return to the island on a regular basis, where Gerry finds inspiration along the seashore. One of his favourite images was taken during one of those trips home.
“One image of sea urchin shells on the rocks along with seaweed at the Arches on the Northern Peninsula was made in the pouring rain two years ago. I wanted to make an image as a wedding gift for a friend. It included two shells and I titled it ‘Nestled,’” says Gerry.
“I always enjoy going to Newfoundland and Labrador, and walking along the seashore and photographing things I find there. Also, the fog in the early morning light creates a wonderful mood and makes one appreciate all the beauty around us.”
Click here to view a slideshow of photos taken by Gerry.
When we associate texting with our health, the topic is usually bad news: texting while walking/driving causes accidents; constant texting causes carpal tunnel syndrome; texting too much damages personal relationships etc. etc. However, as the following studies show, texting has also proven to have distinct health benefits. In fact, mobile phones have found a place in the modern delivery of health care. It’s called Mobile Health, or mHealth, which covers any use of laptops, cellphones, tablets etc. in collecting patient data, monitoring patient health and delivering services.
Here are four ways that sending and receiving text messages can improve our health:
• An emergency room doctor at Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Rhode Island led a study that offered a violence prevention and intervention program via text messages to young female patients who’d experienced peer violence. The teens overwhelmingly agreed to the follow-up service, believing the supportive messages could help them avoid violent situations in the future, and they indicated they would recommend the service to other young girls at risk. The results of the study were released this past March, and the positive outcome has the hospital looking at ways to expand the service to reach out to at-risk male youths and non-English speaking teens.
• A University of Connecticut study observed positive results in HIV/AIDS patients who connected with their health care providers via text messages. Earlier this year, The Center for Health, Intervention and Prevention (a division of the university) released the results of a study in which patients who received text message “intervention” were found to be more likely to stay on track with their drug regimen and have better health than those who just saw their physicians for follow-ups every few months.
• Persons at risk for type 2 diabetes could benefit from text message reminders about their health, according to a University of Michigan study. Persons who signed up for and received regular messages about eating healthier, drinking more water, exercising etc. were more likely to lose some extra weight and live a healthier lifestyle, according to the study results released in 2013.
• Receiving a simple “how r u” on their phone from a loved one can be a much needed lift to someone who is isolated or feels alone, according to a University of California Berkley study that began in 2010. The project, led by a clinical psychologist, involved sending mental health participants regular messages asking about their moods, suggesting they think about positive things that happened to them and reminding them to take their medications. When the program ended after a number of weeks, several patients reported missing the regular connection. To someone who’s depressed or under stress, a concerned text message is a welcome connection and immediately makes them feel cared for – proving that through texting you really can “reach out and touch someone.”
Feel Good Messages
Downhome asked our facebook friends, “What’s the BEST news you ever received via text message?” Here’s what some said:
“I got asked to be a godmother for the first time.” – Chantal Oake
“Friend’s baby’s arrival.” – Fousty Touton
“‘I’m coming to get you’ – when I was stranded.” – Tracy Perry Stepanuk
“Pics of my grandbaby-to-be.” – Wendy Roenigk-Crane
Finish off the perfect Thanksgiving dinner with a delicious, down-home dessert. Whether you're whipping up elaborate dessert pastries to serve to your dinner guests, or you're planning on digging into a bowl of ice cream, these gourmet spreads and syrups made by Pure Labrador, located in Forteau, Labrador, add a tasty hint of home. Choose your favourite among cloudberries (bakeapples), lingonberries (partridgeberries) or blueberries - picked by hand from the barrens and marshes of Labrador.
Move over cranberry sauce! Why not try a slightly different taste with your turkey dinner this Thanksgiving? Manufactured by the Dark Tickle Company in Griquet, Newfoundland, this tasty condiment is made from local wild partridgeberries. This traditional Newfoundland recipe goes great with poultry and wild game - good news whether you'll be opting for a standard turkey dinner, or you plan on serving up a feast from a successful fall hunting trip!
Fresh, Local Vegetables
This fall, spring for locally grown veggies for an even tastier Thanksgiving dinner. Check out nearby farms for produce, which will be fresher and more flavourful than vegetables of the frozen or foreign variety. Plus, you'll be supporting the farmers in your community or region and doing your part to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that result when food is transported over long distances to your dinner plate. You'll often find a wide variety of veggies available at a farmer's market, or even at a small roadside stand, which are quite common in smaller communities in Newfoundland and Labrador. Here is a list of locations where fresh veggies can be purchased in this province: Cormack Farmer's Market, Deer Lake; L.A. Farm Market, Gambo; Lester's Farm Market, St. John's; Organic Farm, Portugal Cove; Riverbrook Farms Country Market, Corner Brook; St. John's Farmer's Market, St. John's.
Time Well Wasted
Plan to have some Thanksgiving fun making fall crafts with the kids over the long holiday weekend. This family Web site is jam-packed with simple, yet adorable, crafts to suit the autumn season. Try your hand at making the "Tin Can Turkey" to fill with candies for your dinner guests. Provide your child with a recent family photo and let them create their own "mosaic frame," featuring the vibrant colours of fall. Or, help your kids trace their hands and feet to make a turkey using those cutouts - this will make a great keepsake! For these and many more crafty ideas, visit crafts.kaboose.com/holidays/thanksgiving.
Downhome staff started putting their not-so-crafty hands to work showing you how to make cute Christmas crafts in December 2004. Since then, we've glued, stitched and sewn together more than 40 holiday decorations for the pages of Downhome magazine. We hope you've enjoyed making them with your family as much as we enjoyed coming up with them. This month, we've taken some time to look back at all of those past decorations, and we've picked eight that we love the most! So gather together your craft supplies - and your family - and have a blast creating the "greatest crafts of Christmases past!"
#1 Clothespin Card Holder
Here’s a festive way to put your clothespins to good use during the winter months! (Originally appeared in the December 2011 issue)
26 spring-clip wooden clothespins
Green acrylic paint
Red acrylic paint
Stickers, if desired
Thin wire hanger
9 x 6 mm pony beads (beads with holes in either end, for threading wire)
Directions: Dismantle clothespins. Paint 13 clothespins red, and 13 green. (You may also choose to paint tiny festive designs on tips of clothespins, or stick on holiday stickers.) Once dry, reassemble clothespins. Using pliers, carefully unwind wire hanger, keeping hook intact. String beads on open wire (using a colour pattern, if desired) and after every third bead, clip a clothespin (alternating red and green, with “clip” facing outward). Once all beads and clothespins are in place, use pliers to close circle and re-wind neck of hanger. For a few finishing touches, fasten bow and hang bell from neck. Hang on your wall, and clip on greeting cards as you receive them.
#2 Mini Ugly Stick
Pay homage to the traditional ugly stick this Christmas by hanging this miniature version on your tree. (Originally appeared in the December 2010 issue)
Small jingle bells
White gum eraser
Hot glue gun
Black paint or marker
Directions: Use hot glue to attach bells to the wooden dowel. Wrap yarn around your palm several times until you have a ribbon about an inch thick. Remove hoop of yarn and secure it tightly around the middle, tying it off. Holding yard by the tied section (making it the top of the hoop) cut the loop at the bottom. Now you should have a mop top. Make a loop out of stretchy string and tie it around the tied section of the “mop top.” Glue this knot to the top of the wooden dowel. Arrange yarn hair. Cut eraser in shape in boot. Paint it black. When dry, glue to bottom of dowel. Glue a few random bits of ribbon to the ugly stick, to ugly it up.
#3 Christmas Mummer Wreath
This downhome-inspired wreath, created by former senior writer Kim Kielley, adorned the cover of the December 2008 issue.
1 grapevine wreath, 16" diameter
1 Christmas stair valance
3 different lengths of tree boughs (enough to cover the entire wreath), berries, pine cones
8 bunches of red berries
2 small “presents” on wires
1 small red bird
12 round Christmas tree ornaments
1 mummer figurine (we used “Ambrose”)
1 door hanger
Thick floral wire
Ribbon, 4" long, with wire on edges
Multi-purpose glue gun
Glue sticks (make sure they fit your glue gun)
Step 1: Place cedar boughs (the longest ones) under the vine wreath so that they’re not overlapping, but sitting beside each other, until you’ve circled the entire wreath with boughs. Once you’re satisfied with their placement, glue them into place by squeezing the hot glue onto the wire ends of the boughs and push those ends between the vines at the back of the wreath. Do this until the entire back of the wreath is encircled with glued cedar boughs.
Step 2: Place second longest tree boughs around edge of wreath and glue into place. Take remaining boughs and fill in the gaps, gluing the ends and fitting between vines of wreath.
Step 3: Choose a top end for your wreath. Visually divide the wreath into quarters; place a pinecone at each point (wire or glue them on). Fill in the space with the remaining cones, equally spaced. We used 12 for the whole wreath.
Step 4: Again, visually divide the wreath into quadrants and place bunches of red berries at intersecting points. Then, fill in the gaps to balance the colours. Once you’re happy with their placement, start gluing. Add the wired presents, drum and little red bird in a triangle and glue.
Step 5: Remove string from Christmas ornaments and replace with floral wire, threading through the hole and twisting at the top to secure. Remember the quadrants and place ornaments at intersecting points. Then, fill in the spaces until the wreath looks balanced and visually pleasing. Hot glue the wired end of each ornament and push it into the empty space. (Use a pencil to push the glued wire into place if need be.)
Step 6: To place the mummer in the centre of the wreath: Remove the gold string from the ornament and replace with floral wire. Weave the wire through a sturdy vine and twist the ends to keep the wire firmly in place, while allowing the mummer to dangle freely. To create a hook for the back of your wreath for hanging, make a loop out of floral wire and thread it through the back of the vine wreath. Twist the wire ends together tightly. Now it's ready to hang.
#4 Saltbox Cookie Village
An incredible, edible gingerbread outport appeared on the cover of the December 2011 issue. It was the yummy creation of Downhome's production manager and Bakin' Bits blogger Paulette Emberley. It was such a masterpiece, staff resisted the urge to eat the houses - and Paulette plans to decorate with them for years to come.
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup molasses
2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg Saltbox House Stencils
4 cups icing sugar
3 tbsp meringue powder
5-6 tbsp warm water
Food colouring (various colours)
Coloured sprinkles (for christmas "lights" on houses)
Sparkling white sprinkles (for snow)
Directions: Cream shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the molasses and the egg. Combine all the dry ingredients and add to the wet. Cover the dough and refrigerate for 1 hour. Flour a sheet of wax paper. Roll out dough to 1/8" thick on the wax paper. Flour the rolling pin frequently, as well as the paper, so the dough does not stick to either. Print off saltbox house stencils (available here). Place stencils onto rolled-out cookie dough. Using a sharp knife or cake spreader, cut out cookies by cutting close to the edge of the template. Carefully remove each cookie and place on cookie sheet. This may take a little practice as the cookies are quite large and may become soft when rolled out. (I used a large spatula.) Bake at 350°F for 8-10 minutes or until they start to lightly brown on the edges. Remove promptly to wire racks and let cookies cool at least 24 hours. Mix all ingredients for icing in a grease-free bowl. If using a stand mixer, set it to medium and let it mix for 10 minutes. Cover the bowl promptly with a wet cloth, as the icing will dry out if left uncovered.
Click here for Paulette's complete decorating directions.
#5 Sock Beanie Snowman
Remember this adorable snowman? This little guy appeared on the cover of the December 2006 issue of Downhome.
Plain white sock
2 rubber bands
1 white pipe cleaner
Black, orange and red (or green) markers
Scrap piece of flannel or other material (for scarf)
Hot glue gun
Draw a line with red or green permanent marker across the ribbed part of the sock at the halfway portion. With the same marker, colour in the sock from the line up to the top. This will eventually be the snowman's hat. Turn the sock inside out - this gives the snowman a terrycloth look. Fill the toe part of the sock with raw rice. Tie a rubber band around the sock just above the rice fill. (This makes the body.) Fill the next part of the sock with more rice. Tie a rubber band around the sock just above the second ice fill. (This makes the head.) Turn the opening of the sock down partway over the head to reveal the marker-coloured section. Glue a colourful pom-pom to the small hole on top to complete the hat. Use a black marker to make eyes and a mouth. Cut the pipe cleaner to make a pointy nose, colour it with orange marker and hot glue it to the face. For the body part, either glue buttons three in a row vertically, or use the black marker for this. Tie a scrap piece of flannel trimmed to look like a scarf loosely around the neck of the snowman.
#6 Cinnamon Tree Ornaments
These festively scented ornaments first appeared in the December 2011 issue of Downhome. To make, they require just a couple of ingredients you probably already have in your pantry. (Ed. note: Although they are made with food, they are definitely not edible!)
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 cup ground cinnamon
1 large Zip-loc bag or freezer bag
Christmas cookie cutters
Glitter glue (optional)
Directions: Pour applesauce and cinnamon in a plastic bag and knead ingredients together by squishing the bag between your fingers until the mixture has the same consistency as cookie dough. Place cinnamon dough on flat surface and roll out to 1/4 inch thickness using a rolling pin. Use festive cookie cutters to cut out desired shapes, and use a plastic straw to make a hole for the ribbon at the top of each ornament. (Recipe yields two to four ornaments, depending on size of cookie cutters used.) Place on wire rack in oven and bake at 150°F for three hours to harden. Wearing oven mitts, remove ornaments from oven and place on wire cooling rack. While still warm, poke straw through original ribbon hole to ensure an opening remains. Once completely cooled, use glitter glue to decorate your cinnamon Christmas tree ornaments to your liking. Once dry, cut about six inches of ribbon and loop through hole; tie a knot and hang on your tree or give to a friend as a sweet-smelling present.
#7 Crystal Snowflake
Borax - a natural mineral made of sodium, boron, oxygen and water – is used as an effective laundry whitener, general purpose cleaner...and to make Christmas tree snowflakes! (Originally appeared in the December 2006 issue of Downhome)
Deep, wide mouthed jar or plastic container
3 white pipe cleaners
String or thread
Borax (use the product called 20 Mule Team Borax Laundry Booster - the Boraxo brand will NOT work)
Blue food colouring (optional)
Directions: Twist the 3 pipe cleaners together in the centre to make a flat 6-sided, spiky snowflake "frame." Make sure this figure fits inside the wide-mouthed jar or container. Wrap the string or thread around the pipe cleaners to look like a snowflake shape. Trim the excess string. Tie a few inches of string to the end of one of the pipe cleaners. Tie the other end of the string to the pencil, so that the snowflake will hang from a pencil and dangle inside the jar. Take the snowflake out of the jar. Pour boiling water into the jar (have an adult do this part). Add about 3 tablespoons of 20 Mule Team Borax Laundry Booster per cup of hot water. Keep adding the borax at the bottom of the jar. Optional: Add a few drops of blue food colouring for a bluish snowflake. Hang the snowflake in the jar overnight. In the morning, your snowflake will be covered with beautiful crystals. As the supersaturated solution cools, the borax comes out of the solution (less of the borax can dissolve in cool water) and forms crystals on the pipe cleaners and string.
#8 Punched Tin Candle Holder
This craft requires a staple of the Newfoundland and Labrador diet: Vienna sausages - or more specifically, the tin they come in. (Originally appeared in the December 2009 issue)
Vienna sausage tin, emptied and cleaned, label removed
Paper and pencil
Directions: Measure the height of the can and mark the top and bottom on a piece of paper. Draw a simple holiday scene (tree, star, holly leaves etc.) that fits within the height of the can. Tape the paper in place on the can. Carefully use a finishing nail and a hammer to punch holes that trace the stencil outline. You can leave the tin bare, but if you want to cover any marks on it (e.g. factory codes, label glue marks), spray paint the entire outside. Place a tea light candle (real or battery-operated) inside, and enjoy the festive glow.
Those visiting the Coast of Bays this summer will have a chance to help ring in a very special anniversary. Sunny Cottage in Harbour Breton is celebrating its 100th year, and tourists and residents alike are invited to take part in the festivities all summer long. Built by local merchant John Joe Rose in 1910, and later inherited by the John B. Stewart family, the beautiful Queen Anne style home - one of the largest and few of its kind in Newfoundland - has been drawing hundreds of tourists each year since the Town purchased it in 1996. The heritage structure is operated by the Sunny Cottage Corporation. Tagged as "100 Days to Celebrate 100 Years," the anniversary celebrations kicked off on May 30 and will continue until September 9. To find out more about Sunny Cottage and the events planned, click here.
Miss Sunny Cottage, Heather Blackmore, helps Harbour Breton Mayor Eric Skinner (left) and Don Stewart (representing the Stewart family of Sunny Cottage) cut the 100th anniversary cake.
Harbour Breton Mayor Eric Skinner and Miss Sunny Cottage Heather Blackmore.
Miss Sunny Cottage on the Widow's Walk of Sunny Cottage.
Tea Room entertainment to kick off the 100th anniversary celebrations for this tourist season.