July 31, 2011

How Does Someone Born in Sask in 1925 get Ukrainian Citizenship?

I ran across this public art record of employment at a shipyard in North Vancouver today. There are a series of employment record cards in the display, with some visible to the public. I assume families were contacted to get permission for this display, as some of the details are private.

Anyway, one of the visible records is for a fellow who was born in Saskatchewan in 1925, yet who is listed as having Ukrainian citizenship. I found that a bit odd, since my Dad was born in Saskatchewan of Ukrainian descent in 1927, and he was never a citizen of Ukraine.


Posted by Paul at 08:33 PM

Mine’s Smaller than Yours ;–)


The 225' Attessa (foreground) and the 330' Attessa IV near Lonsdale Quay in North Vancouver.
Sure glad I've been married to a lovely woman for 18 years who has been just as happy with a 16' canoe as I have

Posted by Paul at 08:09 PM

July 27, 2011

Vancouver Japanese Powell Street Festival this Weekend

The annual Powell Street Japanese Festival is on in Vancouver this weekend.

Get a taste of the fun with my photos on this blog from last year.

Posted by Paul at 10:39 PM

Metro Vancouver Ecological Health Action Plan–Open to Comment

Received the following interesting info from Metro Vancouver today (I've shortened it a bit):

Over the past decade Metro Vancouver has been working towards expanding and aligning regional efforts to improve our quality of life while supporting the integrity of our natural environment. The wide range of services Metro Vancouver provides the region and its related investment in public infrastructure and lands creates a unique opportunity for us to promote and support actions that improve our ecological health.

Join us to discuss our draft Ecological Health Action Plan.

The draft Ecological Health Action Plan is a pragmatic next step based on short-term actions clearly within Metro Vancouver's mandate. The document describes how Metro Vancouver has incorporated ecological health into our regional plans and strategies, four areas of opportunity for improving ecological health and 15 initial projects.

Link arrow Learn more about the Draft Ecological Health Action Plan

Open House: (no registration required)
Date: August 9th, 2011
Time: 6 pm - 8:00 pm (presentation at 6:30)
Location: Metro Vancouver Head Office, Information Centre
               4330 Kingsway, Burnaby, BC

We welcome your feedback. Please provide comments by August 15th, 2011

Posted by Paul at 04:53 PM

July 26, 2011

Slew of Articles on Fish, Biodiversity, Environmental Assessments

I sometimes wonder why I put so much volunteer time into streamkeeping, when so much of the news is so bad so much of the time. Sigh. It's also so demoralizing when our federal government is not fulfilling its mandate when it comes to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and Environment Canada.

But what else can we do but keep trying?

Cuts to environmental assessments could lead to ecological disasters in Canada - Vancouver Sun: http://bit.ly/rsMoaY

Canada's Environment Minster warned that urban sprawl is hurting biodiversity - Vancouver Sun: http://bit.ly/pJLxO6

Ocean food chain threatened by overharvesting of small fish - Vancouver Sun: http://bit.ly/oCuLUl

Feds silence scientist over West Coast salmon study and the Cohen connection: http://ow.ly/5O35F

Posted by Paul at 04:19 PM

July 19, 2011

Coyote Kits in Byrne Creek Habitat

When I was down in the Byrne Creek habitat checking the sediment flow from the broken water main on Southpoint Dr. in SE Burnaby, I ran across a family of coyotes sunning themselves. The mom took off immediately, but the kits were curious until she called them away.



I continued home back up the ravine.




Posted by Paul at 08:42 PM

Southpoint Water Main Blowout Dumps Sediment in Byrne Creek

The City of Burnaby called me this afternoon to let streamkeepers on Byrne Creek know that a water main had blown out on Southpoint Drive in SE Burnaby, and that a significant amount of sediment had entered the creek through the storm-drain system. I went to check it out, and was relieved to find no dead or distressed fish. While sediment is not good for the creek, at least it's not toxic, and fish can usually find refuge in tributary creeks. When I got there, I'd missed the main action. Crews were doing a good job of cleaning the roads and patching holes.


I presume the above was the site of the break.


While much of the road had been cleaned up,
the flow down the hill was still evident.


It must have been quite the flow, because it deposited
gravel over the curb a hundred or more meters away.


Here you can see the flow where it had hit the new rain garden
at the Southpoint cul-de-sac.


The top of the rain garden looking downhill
toward Southridge Dr.


Some of the flow bypassed the rain garden
and caused some significant erosion along the path.


You could even see where water had flowed
along Southridge Dr. toward Byrne Park Dr.


This is the sediment pond in the Byrne Creek artificial spawning
habitat. The hole at the top is where the sediment flow entered the
creek through stormwater pipes.


A reverse view from the one above. As of around 4:00 pm,
the water entering the pond was clear.

Posted by Paul at 05:04 PM

July 18, 2011

Computer Makers Need to Include HD Backup, Standard

Another friend just lost a bunch of data when a hard disk died. Yep, she had no backup. Me, I'm a backup fanatic because I've dealt with at least three dead HDs in my house/home office, and have helped clients with that many more, though I'm an editor, not a computer tech. I've had a multi-disk setup going for years now.

Whenever I buy a computer, I either order it with dual HDs to begin with, or add one myself as soon as it arrives. With 1TB HDs retailing for C$45-55 these days (so what does that price them at when ordered wholesale by the thousands? Ten or fifteen bucks each?) I wonder why the heck computer makers don't include dual HDs standard, with auto-imaging set up by default. Would save a lot of heartbreak.

Not to mention oodles of tech support time. HDs fail. That's a given. Customers are clueless and angry. That's a given. Why not, for $30-40, include imaging to a 2nd HD? Why don't Intel and Microsoft make this obligatory to receive certification?

Maybe I'm missing something. I guess a lot of computer techs make a lot of money off this. . .

Posted by Paul at 09:10 PM

July 13, 2011

Choices Supports Streamkeeepers Again

Choices in the Park will be having a by donation BBQ this Sunday, July 17, from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. with proceeds going to the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers. Thanks to manager Greg Goossens and all the Choices staff.

Streamkeepers will have our booth set up, with great maps of the watershed, and lots of info on how you can make a difference to water health in your neighbourhood. Come on out, have a chat, and something good to eat! It's just steps from Edmonds Station on the Skytrain, and also just steps from the creek!


Photo from Choices/Byrne Creek Earth Day event earlier this year.

Posted by Paul at 08:20 PM

July 12, 2011

Russian Guns in Kingston–Tracking a History Mystery

I ran across some mysterious guns (cannons) when visiting Kingston, Ontario, in June 2009. Intrigued by what I thought were Imperial Russian markings on them, I went on a quest to discover how they had come to Canada.


A close-up of one of the guns in Macdonald Park. The double-headed eagle caught my eye. . .

So as we continued visiting historic sites in Kingston, I kept asking about the guns.


I had no luck at this nearby Martello Tower. The student on summer duty did his best, even searching the Internet, but came up with no information. Also had no luck at the Marine Museum of the Great Lakes not too far away, though it was fascinating in its own right.

Later we were out at Old Fort Henry, and that's where I hit pay dirt. Touring the fort was a wonderful experience, especially watching the re-enactments of drill, musket firing, and big gun firing.




It occurred to me to ask for the curator's email address, and I sent him my question. He had the grace to respond quickly, while I didn't even get around to posting on my blog until two years later. Sorry! Here's his answer:

Dear Paul,

Mark Bennett, our Supervisor of Programs passed along your request for information regarding the two guns with double-headed eagles in front of the statue of Sir John A. Macdonald, our first Prime Minister.

The guns are Russian, hence the Czarist, double-headed eagle emblems. Following the Crimean War, 1854-55, an offer was made by the government in London England, for guns captured at the great naval base of Sebastopol in the Crimea to be displayed in cities throughout the British Empire. The fortifications were taken by assault and the abandoned stores were captured and returned to England at the conclusion of the war. Many cities in the Empire applied for these trophy guns and they were subsequently delivered in the following years. The City of Kingston received two of these guns, whereas most locations received only one. I know of several cities in Canada that have Crimean Guns.

The Sebastopol guns are famous for another feature. Queen Victoria instituted a new medal for gallantry at this time. It is known as the Victoria Cross and has become the most sought-after decoration for gallantry arguably in the world. The simple bronze crosses are made of bronze from the cascables of guns  that were captured at Sebastopol (identical to the ones you saw in Kingston).

I hope that this answers your question. Thank you for visiting Fort Henry and we hope you will visit us again soon.

Ron Ridley
Fort Henry National Historic Site of Canada
St. Lawrence Parks Commission
Ontario Ministry of Tourism

Now that's what I call service. Thank you Ron, my apologies for my tardy post, and hope everything at Fort Henry is going well!

Posted by Paul at 09:35 PM

July 10, 2011

Saving Dragonfly from ‘Indoor’ Cat

Yes, Choco the cat is supposed to be a completely indoor cat. That's to protect her from the coyotes in the ravine just outside our back gate, and to protect birds from her natural instincts, well-fed as she may be. Cats are cats, and love to chase. . . But we do let her out on the balcony, and in an unsupervised moment today, she managed to snag a lovely dragonfly.

Yumi soon rescued the dragonfly, which wasn't too worse for wear. In the photo below, one wing appear off kilter, but after the shock wore off, it straightened out, and the lovely little darling buzzed off into the ether. Fly, fly my dragonfly - and catch, and eat, as many mosquitos as you can : -).



Posted by Paul at 08:56 PM

July 09, 2011

Korean War Monument in Burnaby’s Central Park

Yumi and I have been getting out cycling more. Today we went from our place in SE Burnaby to Central Park. We did several trails in the park and then returned home. While we were in the park I wanted to visit the relatively new Korean War Monument, which I had not been to yet. The Korean War was my Mom's generation - as I recall she knew young men who fought and died. She was about 17 when Canada entered the war as part of the UN forces.





I also noticed that one of the names on the memorial was that of "Takeuchi Takachi," as sh0wn below. That struck me as odd, because I spent over a decade in Japan, and the name just did not ring right.


I naturally turned to Google, and quickly found the site of the 2RCHA, or Canadian Horse Artillery. Under the Regimental History link, there is a section called "Off to Korea" where the name is spelled Gunner Takashi Takeuchi, which makes more sense (at least in the Western order of given name, followed by family name). I hope this can be rectified, for this is one of those strange confluences in history. There was no love lost between Japanese and Koreans for centuries. To have a Japanese-Canadian die in the Korean War on the side of freedom and democracy has a certain poignancy to it. . .

Posted by Paul at 07:57 PM

July 06, 2011

Giving Things Away While Honouring Parents, Culture

Yumi and I are pretty good about donating stuff to the Salvation Army or Burnaby Hospice Society. If we're not using it, out it goes. And while we donated lots of my late Mom's stuff, it was harder to me to contemplate giving away more personal items, like her collection of Ukrainian music. A few months ago I got in touch with an old friend of mine that I hadn't seen in decades, who is now a folklore professor at the University of Alberta. I told him I'd run across a notebook describing Ukrainian dance steps, and entire dances for performance by groups, in my late Mom's stuff. And there was the music.

He happened to be out on the west coast awhile back, and we got together at our place. The visit was  too short, but I did give him the old notebook of steps and dances written in a beautiful Ukrainian hand, and a bunch of Mom's Ukrainian music.

Today I was surprized and pleased to find a letter of acknowledgement in my mailbox.


There's even a reference number if I would want to access the donation  in the archives.

Cool!  And thanks for your kindness and professionalism, Bohdan Medwidsky Ukrainian Folklore Archives at the Kule Centre for Ukrainian and Canadian Folklore at the University of Alberta.

So if you've got some interesting materials sitting around from your grandparents or parents - be they letters, or books, or music, or photos - and don't want to hang on to them anymore, be sure to contact places like the ones mentioned above. I'm happy that students and researchers will have access to my late Mom's music collection, as modest as it may have been. I've kept a few favourite pieces for myself, but I really don't miss the rest. And I've still got to go through a couple of boxes of Ukrainian children's books and folk tales. You may be hearing from me again, Kule Centre.

Posted by Paul at 10:37 PM

July 04, 2011

Eerie Adjacent Tweets

I was dipping into the Twitterverse this evening and saw the following two Tweets pop up one after the other:

"The place where you are right now, God circled on a map for you."

"8 Missing in Mexico After Vessel Sinks"

Of course they were totally unrelated to each other, yet somehow... something... if you know what I mean...


A screenshot of my TweetDeck feed

Posted by Paul at 10:17 PM

Firefighting Foam Enters Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby Again

Late afternoon today I saw an email from a fellow Byrne Creek Streamkeeper that there was a car on fire near his apartment and that firefighters were responding with foam. I had just come home from a walk around the creek and had not noticed anything. I pulled out my stormdrain map of the Byrne Creek watershed and noted that the area he referred to was right on the edge of the escapement. So I ran back outside and checked Griffiths Pond near the Edmonds Skytrain station. Sure enough, there was lots of foam coming down the fish ladder, spreading over the pond, and flowing downstream.

Here's how it looked at 5:15 p.m.:


Now we streamkeepers are a bit sensitive because runoff from a house fire in the watershed back in November 201o did kill a lot of fish in the creek. That was attributed to chemicals stored at the house, as firefighting foam is said to be non-toxic.

I did not see any dead fish at 5:15, and resolved to check again later in the evening. Here's how the pond looked at 7:15 p.m.:


Much of the foam had dissipated. I checked carefully in and around the pond again, and did not find any dead fish, or any in distress. I saw one alive, swimming just fine. I worked my way slowly down the creek about 75 meters, and also did not see any dead or distressed fish, and saw several darting about alive.

I'll check again in the morning, but, knock on wood, perhaps we have escaped yet another kill in our creek.

UPDATE [July 5, 2011]: I checked the pond this morning at 7:30 a.m. and it was clear. I am pleased to report that I did not see any dead or distressed fish. I also checked the sediment pond near Meadow and Southridge in the artificial spawning habitat, and again saw no dead or distressed fish. I did see several dozen live ones, ranging in size from about 8cm to 30cm. I should also acknowledge that I did not have time to backtrack the flow of the foam, so it is an assumption on my part that it was related to the fire in the upper watershed. I am assuming it was from the fire due to the timing of the foam's appearance, and its quantity.

Posted by Paul at 09:12 PM

July 03, 2011

Reifel Bird Sanctuary Ramble

Yumi and I went to the Reifel Bird Sanctuary this morning - one of our favourite places around BC's lower mainland.


Barn swallow


Barn swallow tail feathers












Heron with fish


House sparrow








Posted by Paul at 08:03 PM

July 02, 2011

Mom Black Bear & Cubs

Saw this mom black bear and cubs grazing at the side of the road on northern Vancouver Island on the May long weekend. Needless to say, I took all my photos from inside the car.


Posted by Paul at 07:18 PM

Campbell River Estuary Shorebird

These shots are from a tour of the Campbell River estuary on Vancouver Island the May long weekend. The tour was part of the 2011 SEP Workshop (BC Streamkeepers' Conference). Even with my bird books, I'm not sure exactly what this is.


Side view


Front view


In flight

Posted by Paul at 07:04 PM

Seattle Space Needle

I'm way behind on getting photos up on this blog! Here's a teaser from a trip we took to Seattle at the end of April this year. I took nearly 100 shots of the Space Needle and the fountain.


Posted by Paul at 06:52 PM

Steveston Walk

Yumi and I headed down to Steveston on this sunny Saturday. It's one of our favourite places to ramble around. Great waterfront walks, interesting shops, good places to eat.


Near Fisherman's Wharf


Yumi using her binoculars to check out a pair of young eagles
in a nest across the river


Dappled sunlight resulted in this shot of a rose bush

The above photo was not manipulated in any way in
post-production, and the camera was a nearly "auto-
everything" pocket job. The dramatic effect is simply
from the pinpoint of sunlight on one blossom on a large,
green bush, with the auto-exposure capturing the highlights
and everything else thrown to black.

Cool, eh?

Posted by Paul at 06:12 PM