Friday, August 22, 2008

Pier 21 Canada's Immigration Museum

Pier 21, Halifax, Nova ScotiaA place that is very near and dear to my heart is Pier 21. It's a museum/interpretive centre/art gallery located along Halifax's waterfront. In 2007, it was voted one of Canada's Seven Wonders in a national contest.

It was at Pier 21 where 1 million immigrants, displaced persons and war brides first stepped foot on Canadian soil between the years of 1928 and 1971. To these people, every day was Canada Day. Canada was a country of hope and promise for a better future.

This National Historic Site was lovingly restored and re-opened with national fanfare on July 1st, 1999. I had the privilege of working at Pier 21 for 4 1/2 years. I've never worked in a place where I was so inspired and so moved. It instilled in me a strong pride in my country and it's immigrants. Cause, when you think of it, we are all immigrants (with the exception of First Nations, such as the Nova Scotia Mi'kmaq).

We all have a story to tell and Pier 21 is all about stories. Some are poignant, of surviving the holocaust and weeping for joy when finally arriving in Halifax to start anew. It was always nice to see them, years later, return to the new Pier 21 with their families. The emotions of that day of arrival are still very raw and sometimes there are tears. I recall one day a man stood quietly alone, looking pensive, after a very long time, he knelt down and kissed the floor.

That's my Canada.

P.S. The guy in the photo is our friend Rob from BC. His father arrived in Canada through Pier 21 from Holland.

Teepee Town

Our house in Halifax backs onto a wooded area near Long Lake Provincial Park and it's where "Teepee Town" is located. Teepee Town was built 2 years ago by my kids and a few of their friends. It's a busy town. It's constantly is going through upgrades, demolitions and additions.

Fallen trees from Hurricane Juan are perfect for building teepees and shelters. The currency there is tree bark and moss. Two slices of bark and a handful of moss will get you a ground floor condominium and a skylight.

There is even a mayor (my son, who appointed himself). Council meets infrequently and a couple times they've come close to a mutiny.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Collecting beach glass

If you are walking along any shore in Nova Scotia and spot of blue piece of glass, where it's edges is smoothed by the ocean, pick it up. These guys are hard to find. Sure, there is plenty of green, brown and white beach glass to be found but the real find is the blue kind. Let's see if you can find red or pink!

Sand developments not castles

Taylor Head Provincial ParkMy kids are world class architects and developers. They create cities, residential areas, freeways and industrial parks. Just add sand and lots of imagination. No tools necessary - seaweed, driftwood and rocks will do perfectly. I am assured they're the greenest of cities, they rely on solar, tidal and wind power.

The beach at Taylor Head Provincial Park is a blank canvas that provides hours of fun. The rise of the tide creates opportunities for these urban planners to erect dikes, bridges or swimming pools. As the tide falls, new building materials expose themselves. Streams and sand bars appear that are in dire need of causeways.

Mackerel Fishing

No technical fishing knowledge or gear required. All you need is a wharf that you’ll share with the locals. Sometimes, if they are “running” you can catch 10 mackerel in 10 minutes. One time my sister tied a ring on the end of her line and a bunch of mackerel tried to bite it! They'll bite at anything flashy. That's because they are after huge schools of minnows.

Mackerel fishing is one of best childhood memories growing up along the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia. It's a social gathering for the locals. They welcome any newcomers, they might even give you some of their catch because their freezer at home is already full.

In this photo, my brother and daughter are showing off their big catch. No exaggerated fish stories here!

The Great Annual Lobster Fest

Each year my family gathers to celebrate the opening of lobster season along the Eastern Shore. It’s the equivalent of Thanksgiving but with the added mess of eating lobster. We all agree, this isn't the event to introduce the new person you are dating. One is bound to "miss their bib" and it's inevitable that something will get stuck in your teeth. It's best to leave the first impressions for another time.

Dingle Tower

Take the challenge of counting how many steps there are climbing up to the Dingle Tower. When you reach the top your reward is a panoramic view of Northwest Arm. This park is also known as Flemming Park in Halifax.

Taylor Head Provincial Park

Taylor’s Head Provincial Park
If it wasn’t located along the Eastern Shore, its sandy white beaches could be classified as a tropical oasis. A kayakers dream, a sandcastle builders mecca and a hikers paradise.

Lavender Jelly

Every year, my family and I make a visit to Annapolis Royal. First thing on Saturday morning I head over to the Farmer’s Market. It’s an open air market that is bursting with the smells, sights and sounds of the Annapolis Valley. For a few locals it’s a weekly social gathering, for others it’s a plethora of local produce and fresh baked goods that can easily stir you to dizzying heights.

As I was walking past the local town crier who was handing out fliers for that evenings Kings Theatre performance, I glanced at a table of jellies and other preservatives. I never used to like jelly. Don’t know why. Maybe it’s because I’m a messy eater and can imagine the inevitable.

As I handed over the cash, the nice lady standing behind the table must’ve sensed my trepidation when out of the corner of my eye I noticed a jar of lavender jelly.

“What?” I exclaimed, “Lavender jelly?” The lady told me that the recipe was her grandmothers and it’s one of her best sellers. Knowing this, I simply had to give it a try.

Monday morning when the toast popped up, I had the jar of lavender jelly and a knife ready to go. Suddenly, as I opened up the Mason jar a thought came to me. What if I hate it? What if the one thing I boasted about (before even tasting it) is something that will end up in the back of my fridge beside the expired prune yogurt and the baking soda box?

So I slathered it on my toast and took a huge bite. WOW! Thanks to lavender jelly for Annapolis Royal’s Farmers Market, I can enjoy summer from a jar on my toast and am now looking to experiment with other flavours.

By the way, I’m not a fan of marmalade!