Adventure Canada, an expedition cruise line that’s been bringing passengers to Newfoundland and Labrador for two decades, has perfected many aspects of the cruise experience. One is the wake-up call.
No, it’s not a monotone voice on the other end of the phone gently nudging you from your cabin. At least on the morning this Downhome editor was aboard the Sea Adventurer, it’s the booming voice of the captain over the PA, announcing to passengers that the ship is sailing past a pod of orcas. I’ve never witnessed so many people (myself included) so eager to rise from slumber at 6 a.m. Sure enough, reaching the top deck I could just make out the black dorsal fins in the distance.
Downhome, as well as other media and tourism industry staff, was invited aboard the Sea Adventurer in late June for a special one-night sailing from St. John’s, Newfoundland to St. Pierre, France, in celebration of the company’s 20th year bringing cruise tourists to the province.
Others along for the ride include Newfoundland author Kevin Major, local storyteller Dave Paddon and a host of other famous faces from home. But this isn’t their first (and won’t be their last) Adventure Canada cruise. They are members of the company’s stellar resource team – typically locals with some area of expertise – who sail with cruise passengers to add that extra ounce of local knowledge and charm.
“For our guests it makes it very real. It’s not just the tour guide spiel,” Adventure Canada vice president Cedar Swan, a B.C. native now living in Ontario, tells me as we sail. “They’re actually getting the perspective of somebody that lives there, the pros and cons and the real-life situations, and I think that’s what people have come to know us for is for providing that type of insight.”
Food & fun
Throughout the journey I keep thinking that as we all filed onto the ship we must have looked like hungry souls, for they keep feeding us – and feeding us and feeding us. From hors d’oeuvres aplenty and a gigantic barbecue buffet on deck to a gourmet meal in the dining room, it’s a wonder the ship didn’t sink like a stone with all of us on it. (Still, I would have made off with the entire dessert buffet if I thought I could have done so without creating a scene.)
Canada’s literary queen, Margaret Atwood (another fixture on Adventure Canada’s resource team), is also on this trip. Shortly after we’re out to sea, the three wordsmiths – Paddon, Major and Atwood – go head to head in a game of “Nautical Bluff” in the ship’s lounge, which leaves everyone in stitches.
Late into the evening we’re treated to musical performances from talented members of the ship’s crew (which includes a saxophone-playing horse – seriously, I couldn’t make this up if I tried) as well as Juno-nominated Tom Barlow.
In the morning, as if on cue, humpbacks greet the ship upon our entrance into St. Pierre Harbour (perhaps the 6 a.m. orcas notified them of our impending arrival).
Canada, and especially our little corner of it, is indeed an adventure – one that’s best appreciated from the water. Next time I’m planning a cruise vacation, I might just consider sticking a little closer to home. – Ashley Colombe
Click here to view a slideshow of photos from the cruise.
There’s an interesting symmetry to Gerry Farrell’s life. In his first career, as x-ray technician, he spent his days studying images and looking at the human body in a different way than most of us do. His work inspired a new hobby, photography, which allowed him to capture images of other areas of life, often with a new perspective. And not surprisingly, he preferred to shoot in black and white.
Gerry’s photography passion continued as he transitioned from black and white to colour, and, fairly recently, from film to digital equipment. He also changed careers, graduating from Memorial University with a degree in medicine in 1974. After placements in Grand Bank, N.L. (not far from his hometown of Marystown) and Pictou, N.S., he’s currently a palliative care physician in New Glasgow, N.S.
As a photographer, Gerry says, “I am early morning person and like to take advantage of the ‘golden hour’ of sunlight, either at sunrise or sunset.” The tools he relies on to capture the best images include his Canon 5D Mark 3. “I use a variety of lenses, but my most frequently used is a Canon 24-105 f4 series. I enjoy wide angle shots and use a 17-40 lens for same,” he says.
Something more significant than good equipment that Gerry credits for his quality of photography was a special experience he had a few years ago.
“About five years ago, I spent a week with world-renowned photographer Freeman Patterson, and his inspiration made me a much improved photographer,” he says.
Gerry most enjoys shooting landscapes and, particularly, water features.
“Waterfalls have been an enduring subject for me, and I have visited many of the ones in Nova Scotia, and just returned from a photography adventure in Iceland, where there are waterfalls around every bend,” he says.
He and his wife (also a Newfoundlander, from Brig Bay on the Northern Peninsula) return to the island on a regular basis, where Gerry finds inspiration along the seashore. One of his favourite images was taken during one of those trips home.
“One image of sea urchin shells on the rocks along with seaweed at the Arches on the Northern Peninsula was made in the pouring rain two years ago. I wanted to make an image as a wedding gift for a friend. It included two shells and I titled it ‘Nestled,’” says Gerry.
“I always enjoy going to Newfoundland and Labrador, and walking along the seashore and photographing things I find there. Also, the fog in the early morning light creates a wonderful mood and makes one appreciate all the beauty around us.”
Click here to view a slideshow of photos taken by Gerry.
When we associate texting with our health, the topic is usually bad news: texting while walking/driving causes accidents; constant texting causes carpal tunnel syndrome; texting too much damages personal relationships etc. etc. However, as the following studies show, texting has also proven to have distinct health benefits. In fact, mobile phones have found a place in the modern delivery of health care. It’s called Mobile Health, or mHealth, which covers any use of laptops, cellphones, tablets etc. in collecting patient data, monitoring patient health and delivering services.
Here are four ways that sending and receiving text messages can improve our health:
• An emergency room doctor at Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Rhode Island led a study that offered a violence prevention and intervention program via text messages to young female patients who’d experienced peer violence. The teens overwhelmingly agreed to the follow-up service, believing the supportive messages could help them avoid violent situations in the future, and they indicated they would recommend the service to other young girls at risk. The results of the study were released this past March, and the positive outcome has the hospital looking at ways to expand the service to reach out to at-risk male youths and non-English speaking teens.
• A University of Connecticut study observed positive results in HIV/AIDS patients who connected with their health care providers via text messages. Earlier this year, The Center for Health, Intervention and Prevention (a division of the university) released the results of a study in which patients who received text message “intervention” were found to be more likely to stay on track with their drug regimen and have better health than those who just saw their physicians for follow-ups every few months.
• Persons at risk for type 2 diabetes could benefit from text message reminders about their health, according to a University of Michigan study. Persons who signed up for and received regular messages about eating healthier, drinking more water, exercising etc. were more likely to lose some extra weight and live a healthier lifestyle, according to the study results released in 2013.
• Receiving a simple “how r u” on their phone from a loved one can be a much needed lift to someone who is isolated or feels alone, according to a University of California Berkley study that began in 2010. The project, led by a clinical psychologist, involved sending mental health participants regular messages asking about their moods, suggesting they think about positive things that happened to them and reminding them to take their medications. When the program ended after a number of weeks, several patients reported missing the regular connection. To someone who’s depressed or under stress, a concerned text message is a welcome connection and immediately makes them feel cared for – proving that through texting you really can “reach out and touch someone.”
Feel Good Messages
Downhome asked our facebook friends, “What’s the BEST news you ever received via text message?” Here’s what some said:
“I got asked to be a godmother for the first time.” – Chantal Oake
“Friend’s baby’s arrival.” – Fousty Touton
“‘I’m coming to get you’ – when I was stranded.” – Tracy Perry Stepanuk
“Pics of my grandbaby-to-be.” – Wendy Roenigk-Crane
There are two main reasons to visit the Little, Big Bear Safari, located about 90 minutes from Moncton in Acadieville, New Brunswick. One, of course, is to safely view black bears as they roam onto the wilderness site. Another is to meet Richard Goguen, a.k.a. “the bear whisperer.”
“My husband has a gift with animals,” says Vivianne Goguen, who co-owns the attraction with her partner. The couple built an observation tower in 1998 with the intention of inviting the public to safely view and photograph black bears in their natural environment. But one bear had a slightly different plan. During construction, an orphaned cub wandered into the area and, as Vivianne puts it, “adopted” Richard. They aptly named the cub, which Vivianne says followed Richard around like a dog, “Pooch.”
“After a few years she had babies and we said, ‘Oh great, she’s going to become wild and that’s ok – but after a few weeks she brought her babies out and literally introduced them to grand-daddy,” says Vivianne. “She pushed them towards Richard.” Now 16 years later, the Goguens believe Pooch has passed on, but three generations of her descendants still visit the site very frequently and maintain the unusual bond with Richard.
Check out this shocking footage taken at the Little, Big Bear Safari. Richard enters the scene at 1:20.
While they do not guarantee sightings, Vivianne says their tour groups have missed out on seeing black bears only twice since opening to the public in 1998. Once visitors are safely inside the 26-foot-high tower, Richard lures the animals to the site with food. “We have the same permit as hunters – we have the right to leave little treats,” says Vivianne, adding, “but we shoot with cameras only.”
Local biologists have openly criticized the business, saying Richard’s close relationship with the bears is extremely risky – not only putting himself in harm’s way, but also anyone who may encounter one of these bears in the wild, outside the safety of the Safari. Vivianne maintains they have never had any complaints of that nature and believes the bears prefer Richard only. However, she warns, “We don’t suggest that people do that in their backyard. Don’t try to do this.”
To find out about other wild encounters available right here in Atlantic Canada, see the July issue of Downhome.
Editor's Note: Richard's interaction with black bears is extremely risky. Never, ever approach a black bear if you encounter one in the wild. To find out what to do if you do encounter a black bear, click here.
In my teaching, I meet people every day who say they can’t do yoga because they’re not flexible, or their mind is scattered, or they don’t have good balance, etc. etc. My response is always the same: people don’t do yoga because they’ve already mastered these things; they do yoga to practise and become more adept at them. Not flexible? Perfect! Yoga will help. Your mind runs a million miles per minute? Great! Yoga will help with that, too.
Not only are inflexibility and poor focus not reasons to avoid yoga, neither should age deter you. If you are a yoga beginner and an older adult or have limited mobility, it’s important to choose a yoga class and teacher with experience working with these populations. Anybody and everybody can do yoga; with a supportive teacher and the appropriate pose modifications, the practice can be adapted for the individual so that every experience is positive and uplifting.
Yoga is more than an exercise regime; it is an ancient philosophy of living that benefits both mind and body. The practice is made up of physical poses (called asanas), breathing techniques (pranayama), meditation and a variety of ethical precepts that offer ways to live a fuller life. Yoga offers myriad benefits including strengthening and toning the body, calming and relaxing the mind and bringing balance to an otherwise hectic modern lifestyle.
How-to: Three Part Yogic Breath
In any yoga practice, the method of breathing used is a key, foundational concept. There are many types of yoga breathing, but the first and most important is called the Three Part Yogic Breath. In this breath practice a full, deep, diaphragmatic breath is achieved. This calms the nervous system, relaxes the mind and creates a deep, mind-body connection.
Begin in a comfortable position lying on your back or seated in a firm chair with both feet planted on the ground (place something beneath your feet to support them if they don’t reach the floor). Close your eyes and notice how your natural breath feels. Then place both hands on your low belly, palms down, with the tips of your middle fingers meeting over your navel. Begin to breathe deeply into the lungs, encouraging the belly to rise on the inhalation and fall on the exhalation. As you breathe in, your hands will rise and move apart; on the exhalation they will lower and draw together. Take five deep breaths like this, in and out through the nostrils if possible (if there is restriction in the nose it is okay to breath through the mouth, but breathing through the nose is more effective).
Now move your hands up so the heels of your palms are resting on the sides of the low rib cage and your middle fingers are touching. Keep the belly stable as you move the breath up into the space of the rib cage. As you inhale, the rib cage will expand in all directions: front, back and into both sides. Your hands will move up and apart. On your exhalation, let the rib cage soften back to a resting position, hands moving down and together. Take five deep breaths like this, in and out through the nose if possible.
Finally, move your hands up so the fingertips rest on your collarbones. Keep the belly and ribs in a neutral position as you breathe into the upper lungs and upper chest. Your hands will move up and apart on the inhale, down and together on the exhale. Take five breaths here, knowing that these breaths in the upper chest may feel more shallow and constricted than in the belly and ribs. Don’t force the breath; breathe slowly.
Now you are ready to practice the full Three Part Yogic Breath. In your comfortable seated or supine position, rest your arms by your sides. Breathe in through the nose. You should feel your belly rise first, then the rib cage expand and finally the collarbones lift and separate. As you exhale the chest softens down, ribs move back to neutral and the belly draws back towards the spine. Take five to 10 breaths like this, increasing the number of breaths as you feel more comfortable with the practice.
At first this may feel very challenging and you may not easily feel the distinction of each of the three parts. Most often people breathe into the upper chest, creating a rapid, shallow breath. The belly and rib components may take more time to develop. Remain calm and comfortable at all times, never forcing the breath. Keep an inward focus as you breathe, focusing your attention on the sensation of the breath.
How to: Tree Pose
Tree Pose (or Vrksasana, as it’s called in yoga class) is a challenging, yet attainable pose to develop muscular legs, open hips, a balanced mind, a strong will and determination. The process of losing balance in this pose teaches us to try, try and try again without judgment or irritation.
To do Tree Pose, start near a wall for support, standing side-on with your right hand placed on the wall. Stand tall, pressing your feet down into the earth and lengthening the spine by drawing the crown of your head up towards the sky. Now shift your weight into the right leg and turn your left knee to the left, placing the toes on the ground and your left heel onto the right leg, above the ankle. Place your left hand on your waist. Focus your eyes on something stable – a spot on the floor or wall – and gaze intently. If you feel steady you can lift your left foot onto the calf muscle of your right leg (be careful to avoid the knee, placing the left foot below the right knee). Press your standing leg into the lifted foot, and the lifted foot into the standing leg. Notice the sensation of being grounded as your right foot connects to the earth, and enjoy the feeling of freedom in the upper body as you balance on one leg. Take three Three Part Yogic Breaths here and then place your left foot on the floor, remove your right hand from the wall and turn around to do the other side.
How to: Seated Spinal Twist
Using the support of a chair, this spinal twist encourages mobility in the spine, strengthens the back muscles and massages the abdominal organs, which assists in healthy bodily functions (including digestion).
To begin, sit at the edge of a chair so there is space between your back and the seat back. Plant both feet firmly on the floor – if they don’t reach put a blanket or even a telephone book underneath them. Lengthen your spine, the sides of your waist and even the sides of your neck. Make your chin parallel with the floor. Place your right hand onto your left knee. Rest your left arm at your side. Take a breath in and lengthen from your tailbone to the crown of your head. As you exhale, begin to turn your belly to the left. Take another breath in and lengthen, then exhale and turn your ribcage to the left. Take another deep inhale and as you exhale, turn your chest and shoulders to the left. Let your gaze follow this internal movement and rest over your left shoulder. With every breath in, feel your back-body grow longer, and with every breath out twist more deeply. Stay for three to five breaths, then with an inhalation, slowly come back to centre. Do the same thing on the other side.
The twist should never be forceful, but rather a natural extension of your deep breathing as though the body moves on the wave of the breath. If you feel tension or pinching in the pose, release it and try again with a more gentle approach. Always balance your practice by doing the pose equally on each side.
Staff from The Gaff
Dear Downhome; Mike Shufelt and I are collecting stories about the Gaff Topsail, the old railroad community located on the Gaff Topsails, and we need your readers' assistance in identifying the railroad workers in this photo. This group shot was taken at "The Gaff" in 1960 by Ed White, a Frontier College labourer and teacher who was working with the CNR ballast and lift gang. We have the names of his students, perhaps not all those pictured here, and would like some help in matching these up.
The names we have for the men who worked there and attended classes through Frontier College are: Sonny Croucher, Stanley Rowe, Stan Best, Len Vivian, Jacob Vivian, Ches Smith, Vic Green, Joe Cramm, James Barrett, Eric Barrett, Selby Croucher, Albert Holloway, Max Peddle, Frank Peddle, Cliff Ryan, George Thomas, Andrew Gushue, Eric Prosper, Charles Snook, Pleaman Wheeler, Lester Warren, Francis Webber, Junior Sutton, Arthur Burke, and Walt Little.
Any help in identifying the others will be useful.
Corner Brook, Newfoundland
If anyone can help in this project, you may contact Floyd by e-mail at email@example.com, by phone 709-634-5712, or by regular mail by writing to Floyd Spracklin, 10 Ingrid Avenue, Corner Brook, NL, A2H 6P2.
Elliott Family Reunion
Dear Ron; We are having an Elliott family reunion August 8-10 for all descendents of Thomas Elliott, who was the first settler of Port Albert in 1883 (then known as Little Beaver Cove). Thomas had three sons - Herbert, James and John - and four daughters: Rachel married Joseph Bennett; Rhoda married Gideon Day; Jennie married a Pelley and later, an Ackerman; and Margaret married George Mercer. They were my grandparents.
There may be many relatives who we do not know about, and I would like for anyone who has not received an invitation to contact me. I would appreciate your help.
Port Albert, Newfoundland
Descendents of Thomas Elliott, the first settler of Port Albert, who would like more information about the family reunion planned for August may contact Margaret by telephone at 709-241-3271, via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by writing to her at General Delivery, Port Albert, NL, A0G 3R0.
A Puzzling Picture
Dear Ron; I've been a Downhome subscriber since last July when I revisited Glovertown, near Terra Nova National Park. My first time in your picturesque province was back in 1983 when I began my park warden career in Terra Nova. I worked there six months before I returned home to Cape Breton. I went back to Terra Nova in 1994 to work for another nine-month term before I transferred to the Quebec lower north shore in 1995.
The reason I'm writing is to respond to the letter written by Rev. Walter Sellars from Ottawa, in the June 2008 issue, asking about the picture on the puzzle he found in a second-hand store. Seeing the photo while leafing quickly through the magazine, it seemed to me I had seen this scene before. What triggered my memory is the two Canadian flags (one at the small wharf; the other near the cabin on top of the hill). I could be mistaken but it reminded me of Park Harbour Warden Station, located in Terra Nova National Park. The station used to be manned by seasonal wardens and it was also used for boaters to drop in for information or in case of emergency.
Thanks for your letter, Gerald. I have no idea where this puzzle place is (pictured below), however we've also heard from two other readers offering opinions. Irving Saunders of South River, Newfoundland, thinks it's a cabin located on either Joe's Lake or Crooked Lake just north of Badger on the Trans-Canada Highway; Richard Carroll of Gander also says it's a cabin that can be seen from the TCH, but that it's located at Paul's Lake, between Badger and South Brook.
Dolly's Tolerance On YouTube
In the March 2008 issue of Downhome, I really enjoyed your article in the "Notes from Home" section about Dolly's Tolerance, the airplane built by Ivan LeDrew. I'm sure many of your readers enjoyed this story as well, which brings me to the reason I'm writing: A video of the Dolly's Tolerance in flight can be viewed online. Just search the phrase "Murphy Rebel airplane amateur built floatplane landing."
Teacher and Class Reunion
Dear Ron; We are traveling to Newfoundland this summer to spend some time with my family in St. John's. My wife is looking forward to her first trip to one of the most beautiful provinces in Canada. Her parents are coming with us for a week to reminisce about their time spent in St John's in the 1950s as a newly married couple stationed there with the Canadian Air Force. It is their first trip back and most likely their last!
While Mr. Harry Hillman (my father-in-law) was in the Air Force, Mrs. Verneal Hillman taught at the Holloway School in 1954-55. I am including some pictures of the school and the Grade 3 class that she taught. I don't believe that the school is still there, but we thought it might be nice to see if some of her former students want to be reunited with their old teacher.
If any readers were in Mrs. Hillman's Grade 3 class at Holloway School in 1954-55, and want to see her while she's visiting St. John's, you may contact Mr. Frank McAllister at 709-726-7428, or e-mail him at email@example.com to arrange a get-together.
Seeking White Pudding Recipe
Dear Ron; Well another subscription was just placed with your wonderful newsy magazine that I prefer to call a book, as there is so much enjoyment inside those covers. Although I am not a Newfoundlander I feel like one; I have been married to one for 17 years and I love your wonderful province! My husband is from Mary's Harbour and we usually go home every other year.
I am looking for the recipe for white pudding and I hope someone in your reading audience will be able to help me with this request. It is one of my husband’s favourites and I would like to surprise him.
If any readers can help Betty with a recipe for white pudding, they may e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Roosevelt Thompson has been a pig farmer since 1979, when he set out to follow a dream he had always carried to own and operate a farm. That year he bought a farm in Point Leamington, Newfoundland that produced pork and eggs. His customers were mostly grocery stores in the Central Newfoundland area, as well as the provincial government's abattoir in St. John's. Although Roosevelt did some slaughtering at his farm, most was done at the government abattoir, which is where all the other pig farmers took their pigs for slaughter.
Then in 1992 the government abattoir closed, which put all the pig farmers in the province out of business. It also left a void in Roosevelt's business. To survive, he needed more outlets for his product to take the place of sales lost to the government abattoir. All the other producers at the time opted for the government buy-out; unless he came up with a bigger market for his pork, he would have to do the same thing. Meanwhile his daughter, who was just a little girl at the time, had a Cabbage Patch doll that came with adoption papers. This gave Roosevelt an idea.
"When all the hog producers in Newfoundland went out of business, I was caught wondering what I was going to do," he says. "But my daughter's doll got me thinking that perhaps we could start an adopt-a-pig program."
Roosevelt's idea was a simple one: People would pay a $50 deposit on a young pig, which would then be raised to full size (220 pounds on the hoof) at Leamington Farms – a process that takes about five months. The customer would then pay another $200 for Leamington Farms slaughters the pig and butcher it to the customer's specifications. For an additional fee, customers could choose to have sausages, breakfast bacon and cured ham made as well.
Implementing the adopt-a-pig program required an investment of $60,000 (which over the period of a few years turned into more than $100,000 for such things as building expansion, grinders, meat saws, stainless steel sinks and tables, an extra cooler room, a smoker, sausage stuffer, etc.), but it was either that or take the government buy-out and give up his dream of farming. Roosevelt chose to put his money where his heart is.
To make people aware of his idea, Roosevelt made up flyers that not only described his idea but showed the types and numbers of cuts (chops, leg roasts, shoulder roasts, etc.) one would get from a full-grown pig. He distributed his first flyers to households in Twillingate, about a two-hour drive from Point Leamington. The idea worked like a charm, and has been working well ever since.
"After I put out that flyer, I really couldn't keep up with the business," he says. "I had to stop putting the flyer out because I was getting more orders than I could handle at the time."
Sixteen years later, Leamington Farms has become so successful as a pork-producing business that the farm gave up the egg enterprise entirely. One of the reasons for its success is that the enterprise is a "win-win" situation, for the farm as well as the customer.
The farm wins because it never has to produce something it can't sell - the product is presold. Also, the $50 "adoption fee" gives Leamington Farms a working capital to cover expenses until the product is marketable. Some customers pay off the adopted pig in monthly installments, which also helps with the farm's cash flow.
The customer is also a winner: The pork he or she gets is guaranteed fresh, unlike mainland-produced pork, which is at least six days old before it gets to the supermarkets in this province. Leamington Farms' pork is totally grain fed, as opposed to being waste-fed (scraps and food left over by humans, and sometimes animal by-product), which is the case with a number of pork producers in this country. Although some animals supplied to abattoirs by pork producers in mainland Canada are totally grain fed, both grain fed and non-grain fed pigs are slaughtered together and there is no way of the consumer knowing the source of the pork he is buying at the supermarket. Leamington Farms' government-licensed facility guarantees its pork to be grain fed. Not only that, Newfoundland pork is also disease free.
"Pigs in other provinces have many diseases and have to be continually vaccinated, but our pigs have never seen a needle," says Roosevelt. "Before the abattoir in St. John's closed, other countries, such as England were buying our breeder pigs because they had no diseases."
The price is also a winner for the customer, who gets 150 pounds of pork (dressed) for a total of $250, or $1.67 a pound.