Together with Aase and Viggo - my parents-in-law - Birgit and I have visited Canada for the first time. The reason for our visit was, that our son Claus had settled in Vancouver a year ago. During his 3-years stay in Saudi Arabia he met - and fell in love with - Janet, who worked as a nurse in Rhyadh. They decided to move to Canada, where Claus is working with Meta-Soft, and Janet is studying at University of British Columbia (UBC). After having met Janet last summer we also fell in love with her. And now we have come to Canada to meet with them, get acquainted with Janets family, and to see for ourselves, if Canada really is as great, as anybody says. I also planned to meet with my cousin Enis, who emigrated from Denmark to Canada in 1956 together with her family.
Our conception of Canada before coming here was appreciating its vastness, recognising its flag and knowing a few well-known physical features. Like the majority of travelers we were attracted by the opportunity to explore Canada's wild areas and natural wonders. Of course there is a lot more to Canada than maple trees, Rocky Mountains and wide open spaces. Yes, Canada has a common culture, that identifies her from the rest of the world. Canadians are known in Europe for being kind and polite. A Canadian distinguishes herself from other English speaking persons bye ending every sentence with an 'eh'. Practical, eh?
And we were not disapponted. Vancouver is maybe the most wonderful city in the world. Her position close to the Pacific and the coast mountains is second to none. We did not see many of the problems, we have met in Paris, Rome, Prag, Miami etc. No wonder that UN has rated Vancouver among all major cities in the world the place with best quality of life. We visited the national parks Jasper, Banff (remember the 2 f's, Pete?) and Yoho. The sceneries were breathtaking. The wild life is so strange to us from Europe - anyway for us Danes, coming from a country, where the highest mountain is 500 feet. We call it the "sky mountain".
But what we loved most, were the people. Not alone Janet's family, who were just as kind and loving as she. Not alone my cousin Enis and her husband Jim. Not alone Georgia and Hugh, our landlady and her husband. But every person we met, were so polite, kind, helpful, and interested. We will not claim, that the Canadians are the most kind people in the world. After all we have only travelled in 25-30 countries (mostly Europe). But nowhere have we felt more comfortable than here. Viggo - my father-in-law - after a few days told us, that he would have no problems with settling in Canada. And this statement comes from a man turning 80 this year. Funny enough we were often asked, if we were German. And then I had to explain, that Denmark lies close to Germany, and that German in fact is a minor Danish dialect. I don't know if they bought that?
Canada is the world's largest country, after the collapse of the Russian Federation. Situated north of the USA, between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, it extends some 7700 km east to west and 4600 km north to south. Aase and Viggo told, that a friend of theirs some years ago had assisted his uncle in moving his home and his belongings from Ottawa to Vancouver (a good idea, eh?). This had taken more than a week!
Nearly 90% of Canadians live along the 6379 km southern border with the USA. Canada has 10 provinces and 2 territories, each with its own capital city: Alberta; British Columbia (Victoria); Prince Edward Island (Charlottetown); Manitoba (Winnipeg); New Brunswick (Fredericton); Nova Scotia (Halifax); Ontario (Toronto); Quebec (Quebec City); Saskatchewan (Regina); Newfoundland (St. John's); Northwest Territories (Yellowknife) and Yukon Territory (Whitehorse). Though much of the land is lake and river-filled forest, there are mountains, plains and even a small desert. The Great Plains, or prairies, cover Manitoba, Saskatchewan and parts of Alberta. These former grasslands are now responsible for Canada's abundant wheat crop.
Canada will have a new Northern territory in 1999, when the present Northwest Territories will be divided in two. The eastern part of the existing Northwest Territories will be known as Nunavut. In the Inuit language Nunavut means "Our Land." The creation of this new territory is the result of an agreement made between the Inuit and the Canadian Government regarding land settlement and Aboriginal rights. Nunavut will encompass almost one quarter of Canada's land mass.
Diversity is the keynote of Canada's geography, which includes fertile plains for agriculture, vast mountain ranges, lakes and rivers. Wilderness forests give way to arctic tundra in the Far North. There are of course many climatic variations in this huge country, ranging from the permanently frozen icecaps in the north to the wonderful vegetation of British Columbia's west coast.
Canada has set aside more than 100 national parks and historic sites in honour of the people, places and events that have marked the country's history. 37 national parks are spread throughout the country. Banff (don't forget the 2 "f"-s, Pete!), located on the eastern slopes of Alberta's Rocky Mountains. Canada is a rich country. The principal natural resources are natural gas, oil, gold, coal, copper, iron ore, nickel, potash, uranium and zinc, along with wood and water. Canada has an incredible mix of native flora and fauna. It comprises eight vegetation zones, most of which are dominated by forest. Some of the common tree species include Douglas fir, western red cedar, white pine and the sugar maple, one of Canada's best-known symbols - the maple's leaf appears on the country's flag since 1965. The animals include the grizzly, black, brown and polar bears, beaver, buffalo, wolf, coyote, lynx, cougar, deer, elk, and moose. There are also 500 species of birds, such as the Canadian goose.
Canada's population is approx. 35 million. The majority of Canadians, 77 percent, live in cities and towns. In fact 31 percent of the population live in the three largest cities: Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. English is the mother tongue of 16.1 million Canadians, and French, the language of 6.5 million. These are Canada's two official languages. However, many Canadians have a mother tongue other than English or French, including Italian, Chinese, German, Portuguese, Polish, Ukrainian, Dutch, Greek or other languages - not to mention Danish.
The Aboriginal cultures are the true cultures of Canada, since all other Canadians were originally immigrants. They began moving to Canada in the 17th century, bringing with them their manner of dress, food preferences and customs. Canada opened its doors to immigration from all over the world in the early 20th century. Aboriginals are thought to have arrived from Asia 10 000 to 30 000 years ago by way of a land bridge between Siberia and Alaska. Some of them settled in Canada, while others chose to continue to the south. When the European explorers arrived, Canada was populated by a diverse range of Aboriginal peoples who, depending on the environment, lived nomadic or settled lifestyles, were hunters, fishermen or farmers.
First contact between the native peoples and Europeans probably occurred about 1000 years ago when Norwegian vikings settled for a brief time on the island of Newfoundland. But it would take another 600 years, before European exploration began in earnest - and a long betime earlier than Janet's grandparents come over from Norway to seek their fortune.
Seeking a new route to the rich markets of the Orient, French and English explorers exploited the waters of North America. They constructed a number of posts -- the French mostly along the St. Lawrence River, the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River; the English around Hudson Bay and along the Atlantic coast. Although explorers such as Cabot, Cartier and Champlain never found a route to China and India, they found something just as valuable :rich fishing grounds and populations of beaver, fox and bear, all of which were valued for their furs.
Permanent French and English settlement began in the early 1600s and increased throughout the century. With settlement came economic activity, but the colonies of New France and New England remained economically dependent on the fur trade and politically and militarily dependent on their mother countries.
Inevitably, North America became the focal point for rivalry between England and France. After the fall of Quebec City in 1759, the Treaty of Paris assigned all French territory east of the Mississippi to Britain.
Under British rule, the French-speaking inhabitants of Canada had a single aim: to retain their traditions, language and culture. Britain passed the Quebec Act (1774), which granted official recognition to French civil laws and guaranteed religious and linguistic freedoms.
A large number of English-speaking colonists (Loyalists), who wished to remain faithful to the British Empire, sought refuge in Canada, after the United States of America won its independence in 1776. The increase in population led to the creation in 1791 of Upper Canada (now Ontario) and Lower Canada (Quebec). Both were granted their own representative governing institutions. Rebellions in Upper and Lower Canada in 1837 and 1838 prompted the British to join the two colonies, forming the united Province of Canada. In 1848 the joint colony was granted responsible government except in matters of foreign affairs. Canada gained further autonomy, but remained part of the British Empire.
Britain's North American colonies - Canada, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland - grew and prospered independently. But with the emergence of a more powerful United States after the American Civil War, some politicians felt, that a union of the British colonies was the only way to prevent eventual annexation. In 1867 Canada East, Canada West, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick joined together as the Dominion of Canada.
British Columbia, already a Crown colony since 1858, decided to join the Dominion in 1871 on the promise of a rail link with the rest of the country. In 1898, the northern territory of Yukon was officially established to ensure Canadian jurisdiction over that area, during the Klondike gold rush. In 1905, two new provinces were carved from Rupert's Land: Alberta and Saskatchewan; the residual land became the Northwest Territories. Newfoundland preferred to remain a British colony until 1949, when it became Canada's 10th province.
After World War I Canada grew slowly in stature and prosperity, becoming a voluntary member of the Commonwealth in 1931. With the onset of World War II, Canada once again fought alongside Britain against Germany, though this time it also entered into defence agreements with the USA, declaring war on Japan after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
The creation of new provinces resulted in an increase of immigration to Canada, particularly to the west. Immigration peaked in 1913 with 400 000 coming to Canada. There are not many families in Norway, Sweden or Denmark, who do not have a family member, who emigrated to the new world. A brother to my mother-in-law emigrated to Alberta in 1917. My cousine Enis and her sister Kirsten emigrated to Canada in 1957 together with their parents. And in 1997 our son, Claus has been able to seek his fortune in this great and hospitable country.
Canada's substantial role in the First World War won it representation distinct from Britain in the League of Nations (the predecessor to United Nations) after the war. Its independent voice became more and more pronounced, and in 1931 Canada's constitutional autonomy from Britain was confirmed.
Since World War II, Canada's economy has continued to expand. This growth, combined with government social programs such as family allowances, old-age security, universal medicare and unemployment insurance has given Canadians a high standard of living and desirable quality of life. I know, that right now there is a recession - and it annoys any Canadian, that the US dollar is in a better state than the Canadian, but I think and hope, that the situation will soon turn.
This was the day, our journey started. Up at 4 AM. Picked Aase and Viggo up at 5. Drove 130 km to Billund, a minor Danish airport. Departure time 7.25 for Frankfurt, Germany. We had almost no time in Frankfurt. In German style we entered the plane row by row. Usually you just fumble in. We had a late start and landed almost 1 hour late in Toronto. On the 9 hour trip over the Atlantic we watched Titanic - wonder if they would have shown this movie to us, if Titanic had been an airplane?
We landed in Vancouver according to schedule at 17 PM. While we were waiting for our suitcases, Janet and Claus showed up. It was good to se them. Claus left for Canada August 15 the year befors. And we had not seen Janet since December 1996 in Denmark. Janet was excited and told, that she had a surprise for us. And she certainly had! Outside the terminal a large, white limousine was waiting to bring us to our home.
The first impression of a new place is always important to us. And we really enjoyed the 20 minutes drive from the airport to our accomodation. Everything nice, fresh and clean. Vancouver is nestled between ocean and mountains in the southwestern part of British Columbia. The parks are numerous and large. The town is situated on both sides of a river, with several bridges crossing. There are sandy beaches close to the city. The port, which is the largest on North America's west coast, operates all year - especially on Japan and the Orient. The US border is just 65 km south. No wonder that many people consider it the most beautiful city in the world. And I am not only referring to people, actually living there.
Through the windows in the huge limo we could see, that the avenues run east-west and the streets north-south. The avenues are numbered, fx 4th Avenue. Some of the larger streets and all the avenues have a east-west orientation, depending on whether you are east or west of Main Street.
Our home during our stay in Vancouver was a wonderful villa in 3 storeys. The address is Hugh and Georgia Humphries, 4103 West 10th Avenue, Vancouver B.C., V6R 2H2, telephone/fax (604) 222-4104. A beautiful garden (where Birgit, Aase and Viggo would spend quite some time watching the cool smoke from their cigarettes vanish into thin air). Haven't I told you, that smoking is practically forbidden in Canada? And I don't think, that it is due to fear of fire. This puristic attitude is also slowly coming to Europe and Denmark. But I'm glad, that none of our sons are smoking.
Our hosts were Georgia og Hugh. Hugh had come to Canada, when he was 19 years. His family comes from Wales, which you could detect from the tone of his language. Georgia told us, that they had been making improvements to the house for almost 8 years. And right now Hugh was busy working in the lower regions of the house. We had 2 lovely rooms upstairs, beautyfully furnished. I think that the furniture in our room came from Belgium. The rooms was decorated in different colours - very tasteful. All over the house were art items from various places in Asia and Europe. Almost like a museum, but service was much better. When Birgit and I return to Vancouver we will no doubt stay at Georgia and Hugh. We can very much recommend "bed and breakfast", since you meet many interesting people from different parts of the world. And the price is very reasonable. No, we are not related to Georgia and Hugh, but why shouldn't you have a perfect stay in Vancouver like we had?
After a while (read "smoke") we carried on to Janet og Claus' appartment at Toronto Road, some 2 km further out along 10th Avenue. While we were being introduced to our home, Janet had picked up the car, which we had rented for our stay. It was a nice car, with space for 7 persons. The appartment is located on the 5th floor, one bedroom with white cupboards in kitchen, spacious dining and living room, balcony with big trees in front and a garden and across the street from the UBC. Among the facilities are a sauna, whirlpool, and a swimming pool. Janet told, that one morning she had encountered a squirrel on top of the fridge. Quite an experience.
While having dinner, Janet and Claus outlined the program, which they had carefully planned. We would stay in Vancouver for 4 days. Then go to the national parks in the Rockies - Jasper, Banff and Yoho - for 5 days. Then return to Vancouver for the rest of our stay. Sweet music to our ears.
At the breakfast table we met a young girl from Singapore, who was to return the following day. A little later a jewish couple appeared. They were visiting friends in Vancouver, and had to go back to Haifa a few days later. They had come by plane to Edmonton, then by bus to Jasper, and then by train to Vancouver. This had been rather stressful. We talked about Israel, and we mentioned, that we knew some Danes, who had been working in the kibbutz. The man said, that he felt, that the kibbutzs had accompliched a great job in the past, but that their time was over (he drew a parallel to the fall of Communism), and said, that they could only survive due to support from the Government.
For breakfast we first had a large plate with fresh fruit: orange, blueberries, grapes, apples, raspberries etc. The following days we realized, that this fresh fruit was going to be daily routine. Wonderful! Then we got french toast with Canadian maple syrup. And of course juce, coffee and tea. After breakfast we were picked up by Janet and Claus, who took us to Stanley Park.
Stanley Park is named after Governor General of Canada Lord Stanley. It is located at the west end of Vancouver on a peninsula, and is one of the city's most notable landmarks. Covering an area of more than 1,000 acres, Stanley Park is larger than Central Park in New York!! - and much prettier! It has many offers to it's visitors: beautiful gardens, a swimming pool, a water park for kids, a farmyard, a tennis court, the Vancouver Aquarium, a miniature railway, three beaches, and many cycling paths. Along it's perimeter is a 8.85-kilometer pedestrian seawall for strollers, joggers and cyclists.
We took a guided your for about an hour in a horse-drawn carriage around the park. There is a free shuttle serevice, which will bring you to the 10 most popular attractions in the park, but we did not try this. One of the first things we noticed, were some totem poles on the left. Janet told us, that we would se much better totem poles on UBC the nest day. But we found even these impressive.
To the right we spotted a small island, named Deadman's Island. Today this island contains a large white building, which houses HMCS DISCOVERY, a Naval Reserve Division - so you will not be allowed to enter, unless you volounteer to the Navy. Back in 1792 Captain Vancouver mentioned a small island off the shore of what is now Stanly Park. In 1862, when John Morton, Vancouver's first white settler, visited the island, it was the tree burial grounds of the Squamish Indians, and he saw hundreds of cedar boxes in the upper boughs of trees. Some of the funeral chests were so fragile, that they crumbled when touched, raining bones on those below. Nevertheless Morton attempted to acquire the island. However his mind was changed, when pointed out, that the island was "dead ground" and had been a scene of a bloody battle between rival Indian tribes in which some two hundred warriors were killed. The early white settlers used the island as a cemetery. During the 1880s, it was the site of "pest houses" constructed to quarantine smallpox victims. Later, sick prostitutes were banished there, so you might think, that the place has 'deserved' it's name 'Deadman's Island'. In 1930 the island was offered to the city by the federal government to be used as a park. The park never materialized. So in 1944 HMCS DISCOVERY was allowed to turn the island into a naval reserve, which Deadman's Island has remained ever since.
Later on we saw a statue on a rock, looking very much like like "the Little Mermaid" in Copenhagen's harbor - remember that, Janet? When we got closer, we could see, that she was a real girl. Everybody calls her the mermaid, but her real name is "Girl in Wetsuit". When the tide comes in, she will be sitting with her feet in water. The guide told us, that they had asked Copenhagen for permission to make a copy of "the Little Mermaid", but had been denied (I'm not too proud of that, but nobody asked me). Unfortunately it did not manage to get af photo of the "Girl in Wetsuit" - so here I show you the model from Copenhagen.
Prospect Point offered the most spectacular view of the mountains and Lions Gate Bridge. This famous bridge was built in 1937 by the Guiness family - you know, the beer folks. This 1,476-foot structure was the longest suspension bridge in the world during the first few years of its life. More than 60,000 drivers go across the three-lane bridge every day.
Stanley Park is a favorite site for Vancouverites and visitors alike. A couple of great places to visit in the park are the Lost Lagoon, Stanley Park Zoo and Vancouver Aquarium. The Lost Lagoon is a bird watcher's haven. A feeding program has been in place since 1938 and thousands of birds of different species gather in their designated home. The Stanley Park Zoo is a great place for a family to spend a day at. It 's home to polar bears, penguins, river otters, seals and monkeys. The zoo has an aviary which contains several exotic bird species. The Vancouver Aquarium is a fascinating underwater experience. Featuring 8,000 animals and 600 species, the Aquarium is a plays host to thousands of visitors every day.
We bought tickets for the aquarium at the booth, where we had bought tickets for the horse ride. It saved us for some time standing in the line at the aquarium. Talking of tickets - almost every time, we wanted to buy a ticket, there were special prices for students and seniors. This is not so common in Denmark. The aquarium, which is the largest in Canada, offers more than 8,000 aquatic animals representing 600 species. It is a private, non-profit institution and it has more than 55,000 supporting members. Members are on hand to tell visitors about the animals and their behaviors. The Pacific Coral Reef is a replica of a shallow South Pacific lagoon. Sharks and coral reef fish swim about in the display. The Amazon Gallery is home to Amazon jungle animals, you know, snakes and spiders.
The killer whale is the largest of dolphins; a shiny, black creature with white patches above and behind each eye, on the chin and throat extending along the belly. The body is robust and powerful with a blunt, round head and slight beak. The male averages 27 feet and weighs up to 11 tons; the female 23 feet, 8 tons.
It is an extremely fast swimmer, exceeding speeds of 30 mph, it breaches often, making it a wonder for whale watchers. Its blow is up to 10 feet high and often has a loud, explosive sound. This intelligent creature remains in a family pod of 5 to 20 for all of its life. They will eat anything that swims or floats (except humans) including seabirds, turtles, other cetaceans (including great whales), seals, sea lions, all types of fish and squid. The female has a gestation period of 15 months and calves at intervals of 3 years. A population of 260 killer whales frequent the waters off of B.C.; they are listed as not threatened, but reduced salmon stocks may be affecting the growth of northwest populations.
Then we had lunch on a bench in the park. Janet and Claus had brought picnic for us. While eating we studied the Canadian animal life: peacocks, Canadian geese, squirrels etc. The Canadian Goose is the most common of geese in Canada. The size decreases northward with the smallest living in the high Arctic coastal tundra. A brownish body with a black head, long black neck and white chin strap characterize the colouring of this goose. A rich, musical honking is the call of the larger species and a high pitched cackling is that of the smaller. This goose lives throughout most of North America in lakes, bays, rivers and marshes. They have become a semi-domesticated bird in city parks and on reservoirs. A splendid bird., in my opinion.
Then we drove to Janet's and Claus' appartment, where we had coffee. After that we strolled about in the neighbourhood and admired the beautiful sorroundings and the impressive houses there. Then back to dinner, where Claus had made Danish meatballs. Aase was particularly fond of the Danish schnaps. She takes one (at least) every day for the circulation. If you ask me, I think she likes it.
The next morning another great breakfast (breakfeast?) table with fruit, juice, tea, coffee, homemade jam, cheese, cookies etc. At the table we met 2 young men from Austria, who were studying at UBC. Janet and Claus picked us up and brought us to the Anthropological Museum, approx. 2 kilometres from where we lived.
The Museum of Anthropology (MOA) houses probably the world's finest examples of Northwest Coast First Nations art (native, aboriginal). The museum building, which itself has won a reward, is overlooking mountains and the sea. In some ways it reminded us of the Danish art museum, Louisianne, situated north of Copenhagen. MOA is built from concrete and glass.
In MOA's Great Hall are huge totem poles, feast dishes, and canoes of Haida people and other tribes from the coast area. In the Masterpiece Gallery are displayed carved works in silver, gold, stone, and wood. Outside the museum building are built two Haida Houses and ten totem poles.
The Koerner Ceramics Gallery holds a large collection of 15th to 19th century European ceramics. Furthermore the museum has an impressive collection af Japanese and Chinese ceramics. This collection was donated to the museum some years ago by a private collector. Through out the year special programs and exhibitions are presented. But focus seems to be on the history and culture of First Nations people in British Columbia.
The Museum has the world's largest collection of works by the Haida artist, Bill Reid. The most impressive (to us anyway) was Reid's famous sculpture in yellow, laminated cedar, The Raven and the First Men. Furthermore there were two large sculptures in the Great Hall: Bear and Sea Wolf as well as a number of smaller works. In 1994, the Museum opened a permanent display of his smaller works in gold, silver, and wood. The day before we had seen "Lord of the Under Sea", a killer whale sculpture at the Vancouver Aquarium.
Born in Victoria, Bill Reid was always proud of his heritage and strongly attached to his maternal grandfather, a Haida silversmith and carver. While working in Toronto for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, he studied the Northwest Coast art displayed in the Royal Ontario Museum, and began to explore his cultural heritage. At the same time he completed a two-year course in jewellery-making. In 1958 he accepted an invitation to create part of a Haida village for UBC. These long houses now stand outside the Museum of Anthropology. The village was a turning point in Reid's artistic career. His work, which revived traditional Haida carving techniques and designs, went on to achieve international prominence. The Haida village was first of a series of large-scale works, for which he is best known.
Hundreds gathered at MOA on March 24 to remember Bill Reid, who died March 13 at the age of 78. The great Northwest Coast artist's ashes were brought into the museum in a canoe carried by 12 friends. More than 50 speakers paid their tribute to this great artist.
The sculpture depicts an old Haida tale: After the great flood Raven gazed up and down the beach. There, half buried in the sand was a giant clamshell. As his shadow fell upon it, he heard a cry. Peering down into the opening between the halves of the shell, he saw it was full of tiny creatures, cowering in fear at his shadow.
It wasn't long before first one and then another of the little creatures emerged from the shell. Very strange creatures they were: two legged like Raven, but otherwise very different. They had no feathers. Nor fur. Their skin was pale, and they were naked except for the dark hair upon round, flat-featured heads. Instead of strong wings like raven, they had think stick-like arms that waved and fluttered constantly. They were the first humans.
Raven himself felt strange protective urges for these first people. He would again and again provide for these creatures he found in the clamshell. In time he would bring them the Sun, Moon and Stars; Fire; Salmon and Cedar, teach them the secrets of hunting, and the world. Raven would watch these weak creatures become both strong and loving, courageous and compassionate, able to fend for themselves and survive.
And their children were no timid shell-dwellers, but they continued to be children of the wild coast, of the stormy shores between the land and the sea. They challenged the strength of the stormy north Pacific wresting their livelihoods from the sea even as they made their homes on its shores. A lovely tale, not so far from our culture's tale of creation.
After visiting UBC we drove along the beach. There were many people on the beach, but not in the water. The beaches looked great. Nearby lies a nude beach, which has been mentioned even in the Danish press. This of coure has resulted in quite a lot af - dressed - people. If we went there to peep - of course not.
In the evening we dined at Earls - a restaurant on our way downtown. Earls is a chain with restaurants all over Canada. You can't make a reservation - but a call short before you go proved helpful. We started with a pitcher (6 beers) of Albino Rino Ale, which is the special beer of the house. A strong beer with a touch of sweetness. Most of us chose sirloin steak from Angus beef. This meat is so great, that it has been rationed among the restaurants. Service was extremely good, and the servant smiling and helpful. Over time we realized, that this was standard in Canada. The capucino after dinner was poor. Axording to Aase and Viggo, who likes the stuff, they only once enjoyed a decent cup of capucino. We decided, that we would come back at least once, before leaving Canada. But - as we shall learn - Fate had other plans for us.
The next morning Janet and Claus picked us up after lunch and we went to Langley. We had been invited to Janet's sister Jane and her (Jane's) husband Terry. The Nichols family family lived in Langley, a suburb to Vancouver approx. 50 kilometres south of the city. On the way we picked up Aunt Ruth, who is a sister to Elvin, Janets father. She turned out to be an impressing lady of 82 years - and still capable of speaking Norwegian. The day before Aunt Ruth had come from Grande Prairie by plane to visit her sun, William, who lives in Vancouver. William had been invited to Langley too, and had been allowed to bring a date. However William would turn up later on his bike. Driving to Langley Aunt Ruth told about Christine Nordhagen, who was gold medalist at the 1994, 1996 & 1997 Women's World Wrestling Championships in her weight class and the winner of six consecutive Canadian Senior Championships. Quite impressing women, they have in the Nordhagen family.
Arriving at Langley we had a warm welcome of Jane and Terry - not to forget the boss of the family: the 17 yrs old poodle Sparkey, who is in a surprisingly good shape (Sparkey - not Terry!). Aunt Ruth got out of the car as the last person, surprising everybody in the family. They lived in a wonderful house. Like most houses in Canada it was made of wood. We said hello to the family, who besides Jane and Terry comprises their sons Jason (studying crimonology?) and Ross (considering to study information technology). Fine, polite and kind young men. Soon we left the family to visit Fort Langley for a few hours.
Before going to the fort - the birthplace of British Columbia - we had coffee in the town. We visited a couriosity shop, where Janet and Claus had seen a signed drawing of the Danisk King Kristian on horseback, crossing the Danish - German border in 1920. This year the Germans returned some old Danish land, which they had occupied more than fifty years earlier. Unfortunately the drawing turned out to depict the king's grandfather. But anyway it was quite an experience. And we could have used another hour in the shop - but maybe next time.
On a hilltop overlooking a channel of the Fraser River lies a wooden palisaded fort of mid-nineteenth century design, which affected the course of Canadian history and gave birth to the province of British Columbia.
As the first permanent point of contact between European traders and the Native peoples of the area, it soon became a significant centre of cultural interaction and trade: exporting furs, salmon, cranberries, and agricultural products to domestic and overseas markets and importing manufactured goods from Britain and elsewhere.
In 1858, the discovery of gold initiated a rush of some 30,000 miners up the Fraser River. Most of them came from the gold fields of California. Fearing an American takeover, the British Government suspended the commercial monopoly of the Hudson's Bay Company and declared direct imperial control over the territory. The Crown Colony of British Columbia was proclaimed by Governor James Douglas in the name of Queen Victoria on November 19, 1858.
The ceremony took place on the upper floor of the "Big House" at Fort Langley, as a tribute to the hard-working and enterprising people. Hence, the site is known as the "Birthplace of B.C.". In 1871 British Columbia entered Confederation, extending the new Dominion of Canada from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
After 1858 the fort fell slowly decayed. In 1886 a new Hudson's Bay Company saleshop was constructed in the nearby village, and Fort Langley ceased operations as a company post. In 1923 the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada declared Fort Langley to be of national historic importance. The process of restoration was begun for celebration of the centennial of the Colony of British Columbia in 1958.
Today much has changed, but the fort still stands, partially reconstructed since 1958 around the surviving storehouse. The farm developed so long ago remains under cultivation. Across the river, where The Kwantlen tribe built their village shortly after the company built its fort. On the day, we were there, a pow wow was taking place, but we did not have to time to pay a visit.
As mentioned Fort Langley was the birthplace of British Columbia and played an important role in the fur trade activities of the Hudson's Bay Company west of the Rockies. Outside the fort is a large building offering various information of the site. Besides there is a gift shop. Fort Langley was originally built in 1827, four kilometres downstream. It was relocated to its present site in 1839 and rebuilt following a disastrous fire in 1840. It closed its operations in 1886. The fort now houses a collection of 3,500 objects from the area. Fort Langley was declared a site of national historic significance in 1923. We were so lucky to show up, just as a series of small plays, describing various events in earlier times, started. The actors, who were non-paid (I asked one) volounteers, were dressed in costumes of that time.
Of sixteen original buildings situated within the palisade, only the storehouse dating from ca. 1840 remains. The others were destroyed by time. Six buildings and the palisade have been constructed in the past few decades to help tell the story of Fort Langley.
Servant's quarters were built for the 1958 centennial of British Columbia. Inside the quarter a young girl explained about everyday life in the 19th century. Here lived the company's workmen together with their native wifes and their children. There lived about 100 people on the fort. Only 1 leading officer had a white wife. Many of the workers were Hawaiian - probably living almost like slaves, and many of them did not survive forlong. There were also many French-Canadian and Scottish workers employed at Fort Langley. The fact, that all the workers married native women, is probably the reason, why the fort was never attacked by the indians. In fact they came along very well.
The original Big House (administration building) was the place, where James Douglas was sworn in as the first Governor of the new Crown Colony of British Columbia. This reconstruction was also built for the 1958 centennial. The house is quite impressive with 2 stores. Besides James Douglas lived the Yale family in the building. Every night the 2 men met for dinner, discussing problems of the fort. On the terrasse the proclamation from British Parliament, that made British Columbia a British colony. We witnessed Union Jack go to top.
This store house building is the only original structure at the fort. It was built around 1840, after the fire. The three storehouses held goods awaiting shipment to foreign markets, transport to inland posts and for use at the fort. Actual trading was carried out in a trade shop, that straddled the north palisade. The traders at Fort Langley had access to a large variety of resources including beaver, black bear, fox, and racoon. Salmon was both a major food source and component of trade for both Fort Langley and the inland posts. The bulk of the salmon runs would have occurred during the fall, the size of the runs varying considerably from year to year. These salmon runs can still be witnessed today and salmon remains a local favourite both fresh and smoked. Later the same day we should benefit from that fact.
The fort blacksmiths made axes and other goods for trade as well as hardware for the fort itself. Metal tools were highly valued by native customers. During the gold rush, the blacksmiths were busy making pickaxes for sale to the prospectors.
This building is located south of the original cooperage building. It was constructed in 1993. It was demonstrated to us, how barrels were made. They used barrels for a lot of different purposes: transport and storage of goods like salmon and cranberries, in the housekeeping, fx. for cooking.
Besides buildings there was a kitchen garden in the fort. And an outdoor bake oven. We were all thrilled to expierence the past of Canada and get an impression of, how it all started. Finally all the actors lined up for a foto session. Would you honestly believe, that aunt Ruth is more than 60 years old?
The bastions served as lookouts and temporary accommodation for visiting servants. Access to the gallery is possible from the second story. From the bastions we could overlook the river and se the native reservate on the other side.
Then we returned to the Nichols home. William called and told, that he had problems with his motor bike, and the 2 sons of the house went to pick him up. It seemed like every person in the household has his/her own car. In Denmark you pay 225 percent tax, when you buy a car. And approx. 1½ dollar for 1 liter fuel. Maybe this is part of the explanation. When William showed up, we experienced a Canadian protocol, which is different from the Danish one. A person, who joins a group of people, has to be introduced by somebody. William - almost in despair - exclaimed: "Won't somebody please introduce me?!
From left is Aunt Ruth, Aase and Birgit. In the back Jim is testing the beer. I too can testify, that the beer was great. Then our hosts: Terry and Jane.
Terry told us, that he was working for "Save on foods", a retail chain with more than 700 stores in B.C. and Alberta. The company started as a grocery in 1915 by an entrepreneur named Robert C. Kidd´. He developed several innovative merchandising techniques to attract customers to his store. His most famous 'trick' was adding an extra two ounces to each pound of his Indian and Ceylon-blended teas. The store was soon known as the "overweight tea" store. When he opened his second store, Kidd decided to call it "Overwaitea". In 1968, the company directors sold controlling interest in Overwaitea to Jim Pattison, a successful Vancouver-based business man. The sales is approx. 5 billion dollars a year. When I asked Terry, if his company were planning to expand eastwards, he ansvared, that "Save on foods" was only a minor chain in Canada! But probably larger than the biggest chains in Denmark.
While we had visited Fort Langley, Terry had been busy barbecuing a salmon. No, not a salmon, but the salmon. None of us had never seen a salmon this huge. Almost 18 pounds - without head and tail. I wonder if someone will believe me, when I return to Denmark. We get a lot of salmon in Denmark from Canada, but these usually don't weigh more than a couple of pounds. Probably produced on salmon farms. Unfortunately we did not get a foto of the monster. But we did et a foto of the cake, that Jane and Janet had made for us.
At 4 o'clock Enis og Jim Bare arrived - directly from the golf course. Enis is my cousin, and we had not seen each other since she and her sister Kirsten and her parents Frida and Ove emigrated to Canada in 1957. 41 years ago. For the last 10 years we have been keeping in touch. It was quite an experience to meet after so many years. The Nichols had been generous enough to invite these strange people to their home. I very much appreciate that! It turned out, that both the Nichols and the Bares were passionate golfers. Jim told, that he and Enis had the ambition to play on every golf course in B.C. And as far as I remember, they had a score of more than 50 percent. I remember having spoken once to Jim on the telephone. It was about X-mas time and I asked Jim this silly question: "How is the weather in B.C.?" - and Jim, who is a walking encyclopedia, gave me a lecture of the size of B.C. It is so vast, that there is no such thing as "the weather in B.C", since you often have 10 centigrades in the south and -40 centigrades in the north. Enis and Jimmy invited us to dinner the following Saturday.
Claus, Enis, and Søren.
We told, that we would go to Jasper National Park the following morning. And there were no ends to the warnings, that we got. I think, that the boys were trying to 'mob' Claus. The claimed, that it would take at least 3 hours just to get to Hope. Nevertheless we had a great evening with some wonderful people, and we were hoping to get the opportunity to meet with the Nichols at least once more before going back to Denmark.
This was the day, when we would go to Jasper National Park, approx. 900 km from Vancouver. We got up at 5 AM. Georgia and Hugh had prepared some breakfast for us, and had programmed the coffee machine to start af 5. We left at 6:10. Before 8 we were in Hope. When we came to Kamloops, we took coffee (and doughnuts) at Tim Hortens. Kamloops lies in the most wonderful surroundings with lakes all around. On our way back from Jasper, we planned to stay overnight on a horse ranch close to Kamloops.
Now we entered the rockies, and we really enjoyed the sceneries: moutains, rivers, lakes, forrest etc. When we approached the National Park, we had to pay a small amount (30 dollars?).
When we spotted Mount Robson, we made a stop. About one hour's drive west of Jasper. No photograph can truly describe the impressive 3000 meter rise from the base to its peak. Janet told us, that we should see even more impressing sights. We made the stop at the Terry Fox monument, and read the moving story of this young athlete's achievements. I must confess, that I had never heard about Terry Fox before, and it made a great impression on all of us.
Terry Fox was born on July 28, 1958, in Winnipeg and moved to Port Coquitlam with his family in 1966.
He lost his right leg due to cancer at age 18. While he was in hospital awaiting the operation, Terry read about a one-legged runner, who had competed in the New York Marathon. This story inspired Terry to take on a challenge, that would eventually raise tens of millions of dollars for cancer research. His goal was nothing less than to run across the country and receive one dollar in donations from every Canadian. Two years later Terry had obtained sponsorship and planned his route, and on April 12, 1980, he was in St. John's, Newfoundland.The "Marathon of Hope" began.
Initially there was little media attention but as he survived dangerous road hazards, semi-trailers that almost blew him into ditches, hailstones the size of golf balls, police barring him from parts of the Trans-Canada Highway and trouble with his artificial leg, the image of this courageous young man and the story of his crusade began to take hold of the public's imagination. Media excitement began to build. By the time he reached Ontario, Terry Fox was famous, a Canadian hero.
But as his run continued westward, Terry began to be bothered by a persistent cough. His cancer had metastasized and spread to his lungs and he was hospitalized. He had run for 143 days, averaging a marathon (42,195 kilometres) a day, and raised $1.7 million for cancer research. Canadians flooded Terry with messages of love and support and continued to contribute money to his campaign. The Port Coquitlam post office reported that, during December, 1980, Terry got more mail than everyone else in town residential and business - combined!
Terry Fox died on June 28, 1981, one month before his 23rd birthday. His parents work today to keep the Marathon of Hope alive. The first Terry Fox Memorial Run was held September 13, 1981, at 880 sites across Canada with more than 300,000 participants. In 1995 there were more than 275 runs in 50 countries, raising more than $10.5.
In 1997, there were 300 International Run sites in 52 countries and in places as disparate as United Arab Emirates, South Africa, Mexico, India and Ghana. Over $4.5 million was raised for innovative cancer research. It is a fitting tribute to a man who knew that cancer had no boundaries. In total, over $14.4 million was raised in 1997 for cancer research.
The 18th Annual Terry Fox Run will take place on Sunday September 20th, 1998. On July 17, 1981 British Columbia named a 2,639 meter peak in the Rocky Mountains, 80 kilometers west of Jasper, Alberta, as a lasting symbol of Terry's courage.
We arrived at Jasper at 17 PM. In fact it was 18 PM, since Alberta is in another time zone than B.C. We quickly found our accommodation - a wonderful log house in the outskirts of Jasper. Nearest neighbour to a small wood. We had 3 fine rooms. Marilys's husband was away, working in Nigeria, Africa. The smoking part of the family were abandoned to the terrace, when they wanted to smoke. We took a quick stroll through Jasper, where Janet and Claus had been the year before. Down by the railway station we spotted the huge totem pole (21 m), The Queen Charlotte Totem Pole, one of the tallest in existence today. The pole was made by a Haida artisan from Queen Charlotte Islands. We also admired the beautiful tourist office, which is considered the most beautiful in the world. The lawn is a popular meeting place and often populated by tourists.
We found a Greek family restaurant, where we dined. The food was delicious and plentiful, and the price was low compared with Danish price level. Amazing sinze Jasper is a tourist area. The service was great - and smoking was allowed. While eating we planned what to se the following day. As usual Janet had done her homework well and we got an introduction to the attractions in the neigbourhood of Jasper.
Jasper National Park is the largest and most northerly of the four Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks, which comprise the UNESCO World Heritage Site. More than 10,878 km square. We could choose to go to The Athabasca Glacier, Miette Hotsprings, Sunwapta and Athabasca Falls. Visit Mount Edith Cavell's impressive glaciers and the Maligne Canyon and Maligne Lake. We could ride the tramway to the top of Mount Whistlers to experience the alpine beauty and varied wildlife ecosystem of Jasper National Park. Janet told us, that we would see elks several times. But I had my doubts. She told, that it is common to see herds of elk on the lawn in front of the information centre or just walking through town. And she told us to keep a safe distance when observing these animals. We might also see bighorn sheep, commonly found along the slopes near the town. But she hoped, that we would not meet a grizzly bear. I for my part would very much like to see at least a brown or a black bear - but I did not say anything.
And then back to the loghouse and early to bed - after a breathtaking drive of more than 800 km. How much beauty can a brain hold. I said to myself several times: One more beautiful scenery - and you will forget your own name.
Breakfast at 8.30. OK - but far from the standard at Georgia and Hugh. Viggo claimed, that he had seen some deer outside the window early in the morning. Incredibly what a couple of beers can do to a mans judgement. We decided to drive to Maligne Lake - approx. 50 km from Jasper. On the way we would pay a visit to Maligne Canyon and Medicine Lake.
Maligne Canyon is situated only 12 km from Jasper town. It is the longest canyon in the rockies. Here the Maligne River plunges plunges 50 metres into a narrow gorge of limestone. Janet and I discussed the meaning of Maligne. Janet meant, that the name was derived from Indian language. Later we read in a book, that the word 'maligne' refers to the dangerous stream across the river. We 'climbed' down the canyon and admired the view from some of the bridges. On the last bridge Janet told us to throw a coin into the stream and make a wish. If it works, I shal return to Canada within a couple of years.
We continued in direction of Maligne Lake. On our way we made a stop at Medicine Lake, approx. 27 km from Jasper town. I had read, that water level in the lake fluctuates due to an underground drainage system - the larges underground riversystem i North America. In summer the level rises, and in fall the lake is almost empty.
Standing there we spotted an animal swimming across the lake. At first I thought it was a Canadian goose. But then we realized, that it was a moose. How would I know - I had never seen any of these creatures. But a moose is apparently a good swimmer. Janet and Claus ran half a mile to get a better shot of the animal - with the camera of course. But they had no luck. The moose disappeared, when it had got ashore. But an amazing experience.
Maligne Lake is no doubt one of the largest attractions in Jasper National Park. 22 km long and 100 m deep it is the largest natural lake in the four mountain parks. It offers white water rafting, canoe renting, hroseback riding, trout fishing etc. And the view is spectacular. Janet had been to Maligne Lake at least one time before, but had nor yet visited Spirit Island, so she and Claus took a cruise on the lake for approx. 1½ hours. In the meantime we enjoyed the scenery and the birds and the small animal. There were many red squirrels close to the restaurant, where we had coffee. A couple had even brought a cat in a leash. I am not sure, that I find this a good idea. When Janet and Claus had returned from the trip, we drove back to Jasper.
The first thing we saw, when we returned to Jasper, was a herd of elks grassing along the mainroad.
In the evening we dined at a local Italian italiensk restaurant. The food was excellent, the price reasonable, and the service lausy. Janet 'punished' the girl by giving her the exact amount - down to the last penny. Did you know, Janet that Canadians have a reputation in the USA as being lousy tippers? What's the difference between a Canadian and a canoe? A canoe tips.
And to-morrow we were going to meet Janets family. We were not sure, who were going to show up. Quite thrilling for all of us. I wonder, what Janet´s family were thinking.
Janet told, that her family would probably arrive just after noon. She was not quite sure, who would accompagny her parents. We decided to spend the morning going to Mt. Whistler, approx. 6 km south of Jasper.
Usually Birgit is not very fond of heights. But she overcame her natural fear and joined us, when we took the tramway - almost to the top of Mt. Whistler. Jasper Tramway is Canada's longest aerial tram operation. The upper terminal lies at 2,500 metres. A one-way trip in the 30 passenger cabin takes 7 minutes. In fact the distance is longer, than you would think. Because when you think, that you have reached the top, you realize, that you are only half way. The view of the surrounding area is spectacular. On a clear day you can see 75 km to the south to Columbia Icefield, 100 km to the west to Mt. Robson. Right in front of you is Jasper Town and Athabasca River. There is a cafeteria, a dining room and a gift shops at the top. Besides that there are hiking trails to and around the top.
Janet and Claus continued towards the top. Some people seem to be unable to relax and enjoy the view. In the meantime we enjoyed the many chipmunks. Of course, I did not feed them! Too many people were watching me. The color of the chipmunk varies from yellowish-grey above with tan dark stripes to brownish-grey with black side stripes. The striped continue to the base of the tail; the sides are generally an orange-brown; the belly greyish-white. The tail is long and light brown above, yellowish below with long, black-tipped hairs. It is the most widely occurring species in Canada.
This picture of Janet and Claus was taken, after we had returned safely to mother Earth. Janet suggested, that we should drive to a place in the neighbourhood of Jasper, where chances were good for seeing mountain sheep. And sheep we saw. A herd of maybe 30 or more, close to the highway.
A dangerous situation occured when a mother sheep was separated from her baby, who preferred the green grass on the opposite side of the heavy traficated highway. The mother just crossed the highway and brought her baby back, and then they climbed the rather high rocks. A spectacular view. And now back to Jasper to meet Janet's family.
The Nordhagen clan
Janet's parents - Mildred and Elwin - were accompagnied by sister Linda and her husband Pete(r) and their 2 sons, Thomas and Alexander. We quickly split up, so that the women went shopping, and the men would find a place to learn to know each other. Reluctantly we followed Pete into a shabby? bar. I don't know, how he found this bar, since there were no signs to be seen from the street. Did I tell, that Birgit followed the men - she has never missed the chance for a beer. And they do have great beer in Canada. Birgit and I had been a bit anxious, whether we would have any difficulty in talking to Janet's family. But we had no reason for worry. Both Elwin and Pete proved to have lot of homour. Elwin has retired, but they were still living on the farm in Hythe in Alberta. Their son Jim was busy with the harvest. And his wife Lorna busy with sewing on their daughters wedding gown, She is to be married in November this year.
Mildred and Elwin have 1 son and 5 daughters. I asked Elwin, if he in the earlier days ever wanted, that he had had 5 sons and 1 daughter - like his parents had had. And he told us, that Mildred had often driven the tractor, when it was needed, and they had been working 24 hours some days.
I asked, if then had not considered moving to Hythe, after they had retired. Elwin told, that in fact they had had a house in town for some time. But that Janet one day had put an "On Sale" sign in the window and sold the house 'over his head', when he had been ill. The first house in Hythe to be sold for 10 years. (When I later blaimed Janet for this, she just told me, that she had not even got a commission for the work). Determined women in that family! Pete seemed to be a busy man, Besides running a farm he has 2 computer shops in Grande Prairee. But he did not seem stressed, and like Elwin wit a lot of good homour.
Janet proposed, that we should go to Lake Patricia and Pyramide Lake, which are situated approx. 7 km north of Jasper. As you can see, these lakes are just wonderful and very quiet. After some 10 minutes walk, Mildred and Elwin turned around and went back to the cars. Janet told, that her mother was afraid of bears. At first I could not believe this, but I have later seen in a book. that bears and coyotes are often met at these premises. Strange for us Danes, who only know Yogi Bear from the cartoons.
Pete said, that it is impossible to outrun a bear. But as Thomas wisely pointed out, you just have to outrun the slowest member of the company.
When we had returned to Jasper town, we made a short visit to the museum. I don't think, that our Canadian friends found the museum very interesting, since they were very familiar with the development, that was represented. But to us Danes it was quite an experience to learn fx. how the railroad come to the region.
In the evening we had dinner at the Greek family restaurant, which we had frequented earlier. After dinner we followed Janet's family to their hotel in Ametysk Lodge, where we continued talking until late at night. When Birgit and I walked back to out bed-and-breakfast, we spotted 3 elks lying in the grass in the middle of the road. It had been a heartwarming experience to meet Janet's family. The only uncomfortable thing was, that we had not been allowed to pay for the food or the beverage. We had promissed to come to their hotel the next morning, before leaving Jasper.
The next morning we departed from Janet's family. They were considering taking to Mt. Whistler tramway, but the weather was not to convincing. After all they had a 5 hours drive back to Alberta. Our plan for the day was going south through Banff to Yoho National Park.
We drove along Icefields Parkway, that connects Jasper and Banff - 230 km. The way was built during the depression in 1930s as an employment project. We made a stop for lunch at Columbia Icefields, which is a tongue of the vast Columbia Icefield. The icefield covers an area of 325 sq km, and parts of the ice are more than 900 metres thick. After having been at the glacier we wedt to the large information centre, which presents a spectacular view. If we had more time, we could have seen films on glaciers (for free). By means of Janet's binoculars (an X-mas gift from Claus) we could see vehicles, taking tourist out into the ice. Very impressing. We were told, that 75 percent of the water supply came from these icefields. Its melting water flows into the Mackenzie, the Saskatchewan and the Columbia Rivers.
Our next stop on Icefields Parkway was at Lake Louise in Banff National Park. No wonder that the lake in the small valley surrounded by sbow-capped mountains often is called "The jewel of the Rockies". The water is green as emerald. That's the reason why Tom Wilson, the first white man at the lake in 1882, named it Emerald Lake. 2 years later it was renamed to Lake Louise after Queen Victoria´s daughter. Close to the lake is fantastic Chateau Lake Louise. Janet said, that the movie "The Shining" with Jack Nicholsen had taken place at the hotel. I can add, that one of the first musical movies, Rose Mary was taken at Lake Louise. If you don't remember the movie, I'm sure you have seen the mountie Nelson Eddy sing "Rose Mary, I love you" and "Indian Love Call" to the beautiful indian girl, Jeanette MacDonald. Oh, you are not that old. On the opposite side of the lake is impressing Victoria Glacier. We also visited Moraine Lake, the picture of which used to occur on the Canadian 20 dollars bill (I think they have changed that?)
Through Kicking Horse Pass (1643 m) we entered Yoho National Park, which is situated in British Columbia. The park has several mountain tops over 3000 m. The word Yoho is the Cree word meaning awe, astonishment or wonder. This 1313 sq. km national park is filled with gem coloured glacial lakes and waterfalls, snow-covered peaks and dense forests of western red cedar and western hemlock. The park is located on the western range of the Rocky Mountains and borders on the Banff and Kootenay National Parks.
Kicking Horse Pass got its name i 1858, when sir James Hector during an expedition was kicked to dead by a horse. His Indian men were about to burry him, when somebody noticed, that he was still breathing.
At Emerald Lake we saw a 'dam' made by beavers. But unfortunately we did not see any beavers. They seem to be on on a permanent night-shift - a time when many predators are less active. But I can show you a picture of one.
Adapted for travel in water, beavers sport webbed hind-toes, a large flat tail that acts as a rudder and a thick undercoat of fur, that insulates against wet and cold. Flaps in their nose, ears and behind their front teeth close, when the animal is underwater. Elwin told us, that a beaver is quite a large animal. If it is attacked by ie. a dog, he will fight back, And his tail is a terrible weapon.
Why, I am so interested in this animal? Because the beaver was responsible for the European exploration and colonization of North America. The luxurious rich, brown fur of the beaver soon caught attention across Europe. A fashion rage for beaver hats swept the European continent, and the beaver became the most lucrative commodity in North America. Explorers and fur traders followed waterways and penetrated deep into the heart of the continent, bringing sweeping changes to native cultures and the land itself. Canada was born on the back of the beaver. And when we had returned to Denmark, we read in the newspapers, that the Government has decided to bring the beaver back into the Danish wildlife, from where it disappeared some thousand years ago.
We arrived late in the afternoon to the log house, that Janet had rented for the night. Situated just 50 meters from Kicking Horse River, just opposite to Cathedral Mountain. There was a fire place in the room and plenty of wood. If we were allowed to smoke in the house, when we could have an open fire? Of course not! But there was a small veranda, suitable for the purpose. Janet made a portrait of Claus in the sand of the river. Have I told you, that many members of the Nordhagen clan are gifted artists. Janet's mother Mildred carves in wood, and she has decorated the local church. Even people from Beaver Dam has recognized the art work. Birgit and I would very much like to see it for ourselves. At Janet's and Claus' appartment we admired one of Mildred's works: "Howdy Stranger". Elwin has taken up painting after his retirement. And he was not able to hide his pride, when he told, that he had sold a work. Janet usually says, that she hasn't got an artistic touch, but we don't quite beleive her. Janet told, that we this was the kind of surroundings, where we might see bears. But I think, she was just trying to cheer me up.
In the evening we drove to Fielding, a small town in the neighbourhood, where we dined at the one and only restaurant within miles. Here we had an excellent meal. Not the best and certainly not the most plentyful meal, we had in Canada. And the price 50% higher than in Jasper. I think this demonstrates, what competition (rather lack of) means to the price level. When we came back to our log house, Birgit and I took a walk to a camping ground on the other side of the highway. Here we saw a camper with a mobile solar panel. We had never seen this kund of equipment before in Europe. When we came back, we relaxed in front of the fire place. Since we all had to sleep, Janet was worried, if somebody would be snoring. But I think that we all were so exhausted, that nobody heard anything.
The next morning I got up early. Not because I wanted, but I usually get up early. And furthermore - and to be honest - I had not realized, that we were back in B.C., which is in another time zone. When I got out on the porch, I spotted an elk, crossing the Kicking Horse River. We have a saying in Denmark, that "the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence". I don't know, it you have s similar saying in Canada, but the elk must have felt so, because it started grassing 30 metres from our loghouse. I quickly alerted the others, and Claus got outside with his camera in his underwear. I think the elk remained for about 20 minutes. A long time to jump around in the nature in ones underware. But Claus will go through fire and water to get the best motive.
I succeeded to sneek on the other side of the elk to get a shot (not with a gun, bur with Viggo's camera), where our loghouse could be seen in the background. Several cars stopped on the highway to stop the elk. It was so beautiful and big. And the horns were quite symmetrical, which I understood from Janet is not always the case. After a while the elk disappeared along the highway. I hope that this beautiful animal did not get hurt. After having had coffee, we packed the car and continued our journey.
While driving Janet got more and more worried about the car. One of the tires seemed to loose air, and finally we drove into Revelstoke town, which lies on the eastern side of Columbia River, surrounded by mountains. Just north of the town is Revelstoke Dam, which produces electricity on a large scale. Janet found a tire(d) mechanic, who checked tha car. And of course Janet was right, and we had the tire fixed. In the meantime we visited s local pottery, where Janet and Claus bought 4 wonderful tea mugs. On our last night in Canada they were given to us as presents.
We arrived to Jandana Horse Ranch late in the afternoon. I think that Janet was a bit stressed, because the last 25 km she drove like an angel - "a hell's angel". But when we reached the ranch, where we were going to spend one night, we all relaxed. Janet and Claus had found this wonderful ranch on the Internet. There were 4 houses on the ranch, we had the 2 leftmost houses. The ranch was situated approx. 30 km from Kamloops in the most spectacular surroundings. Janet and Claus drove to the nearest store and bought beans, bacon and eggs - and a couple of beers. Real cowboy grub (I don't know, if the spelling is OK - but the food was).
After dinner, which we took outside the house, we watched a riding lesson. On the ranch there are about 60 horses - running around most of the time. In obe of the other houses lived 2 young men, who had come from Pittsburg in Pennsylvania to ride the trails. They were going to stay there for a fortnight. Besides horses there were a mule, dogs, cats, hens etc. One of the dogs had only 3 legs, but the owners told us, that they would keep the dog as long as possible. You could even bring your own horse and let it participate in the training sessions, which took place according to a special system.
In the evening w were sitting on the porch and enjoyed the fine weather and the spectacular view over the landscape. On the farm there is a beautifuk lake, where you can skate in wintertime. Alas, we did not see any northern light. Birgit and I have just seen this phenomena once, while Janet often had experienced it on the family farm in Hythe. The following morning Janet suggested, that we should have been looking to the northern part of the sky. She is probably right, but what a time to come up with this. We all wanted, that we could have stayed a whole week in this great place. Another wonderful day had come to an end.
This day we just relaxed until noon. We were going to visit Jane and Terry in the afternoon. Birgit and I took a walk down to 8th Avenue, where we visited some shops. Had a beer, and bought a book for the flight back to Europe. Janet and Claus picked us up at 1 P.M. and we went downtown.
The center of Vancouver is called Gastown after "Gassy Jack". John Deighton was born in Hull, England. He was an adventurer, who landed his canoo full of whisky here and opened a bar at Maple Tree Square. He was best known for his "Gassy" monologues as a saloonkeeper. His Deighton House Hotel burned in the great fire in 1886. In 1986 this statue was dedicated to the City of Vancouver. The statue stands exactly where the old maple tree stood, under whose branches the pioneers met, and chose the name "Vancouver" for the city. In fact nobody knows, what the famed saloon keeper looked like. So it is said, that a random photo was picked from a pile of ancient photos. "This fellow looks as if he could be a Gassy Jack."
Entering Gastown is like taking a step back in time to 1867 when the city of Vancouver was founded. Back then it was named after a colorful saloon owner named Gassy Jack Deighton.In 1886 a huge fire completely destroyed the city. The blaze was sparked by a Canadian Pacific Railway fire that spread out of control. In less than an hour only two of the 400 original houses were left standing in Gastown. A year after the fire, Vancouverites celebrated when the city was chosen as the western head office of the Canadian Pacific Railroads and would finally be connected to the rest of the country by rail.
More than 100 years later, the area still features 1900-century street lamps, cobblestone streets, and Victorian architecture. Much more of Gastown's history is to be seen along the way. The Steam Clock can be heard throughout Gastown every 15 minutes. The clock is operated by a small steam engine, like the one kids used to play with in my childhood (1950's). It looks old, but is in fact about 20 years old. It is as unique as "Jens Olsen's World Clock" in Copenhagen. Gastown has everything a shopper wants or needs, ranging from souvenirs for a few dollars to quality antiques, paintings and jewelry for thousands. Boutiques in the area feature famous local and internationally recognized designers. We entered a gallery for First Nations art, and Birgit and I bought 2 small drawings - now hanging in our living-room as a souvenir.
We did not take a walk in Chinatown, but had to settle with a drive through the area. It is the second-largest Chinatown in North America, next to San Fransisco's. The first Chinese immigrants settled in the area during the Fraser Gold Rush in the 1850s. The next wave were Chinese workers from the work on the Trans-Canadian railway. Many Chinese people decided to settle in Vancouver. And today they are fully integrated. Millions of people tour Chinatown every year. Its architecture is distinctive to China. The Sam Kee Building is the narrowest commercial building in the world.
We also missed Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden. The Canada and the People's Republic of China collaborated to create this Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) garden. More than 50 artisans from China were involved in the creation of this beautiful garden. Another reason for coming back to wonderful and rainy Vancouver.
Jane and Terry - our hosts.
In the afternoon we drove to Langley. In Langley we visited the local "Save on foods" - and we were impressed. In Langley Terry had been busy barbecuing a roast of 16 pounds!!! Since our previous visit the family had "grown" with another member. A son of some friends from Alberta were going to stay at the Nichols, while he was studying. We also said hello to Jason's girlfriend, who was going to be a vegetarian??? The study would take about 6 years. I can believe that, when I consider the amount of meat, being consumed in that house. It turned out to be a mistake, since she was studying to become a vetenarian. Once again a great evening with the hospitable family in Langley.