Decoding Orkney by channelling the subtle Norse air

Part 1: A Scottish contribution to Canada’s Arctic genome can be found in the deep history of these remote islands

Decoding Orkney by channelling the subtle Norse airWhen you hear mention of the Orkney islands, off Scotland’s northeast coast, what do you think of? For me, they conjure up a northern vision of Orkneymen, the founding of the Hudson’s Bay Co. on May 2, 1670 (I still recall this date after wearing hundreds of HBC clothing labels over the decades), the Arctic…

Calgary’s potential for renaissance can be found in its history

Here's how the best of the city's founders would approach the problem of rebuilding the city

Calgary’s potential for renaissance can be found in its historyCalgary is becoming a city of ghosts. And it’s from ghosts that salvation may be found. I lived there for 30 years and pursued three careers – in oil, academia and museology, about one a decade. Each time I moved on, I did so enriched by stories of the founders of Calgary and with new…

Calgary’s down, but is it out?

A former Calgarian returns to find empty office space, a battle over a multimillion-dollar hockey rink, and deserted restaurants and hotels

Calgary’s down, but is it out?After a summer spent up B.C.'s Sunshine Coast, I recently returned to Calgary for board meetings. The onset of fall is the uptake of my work as a member of five boards. They all crunch back into business mode almost the same week that ocean swimming becomes unpleasant. Every September, swimming is replaced by Robert’s…

Are we wired to follow our parents’ occupational footsteps?

Does it even matter what your parents did in their work life?

Are we wired to follow our parents’ occupational footsteps?To what degree do parental occupations influence their children’s choices? Does it even matter what your parents did in their work life? And how is this playing out in the day-to-day lives of older children, especially after the death of key parental influencers? These questions have been circulating in my brain because of the realization…

World needs a Canadian perspective, steeped in small-town values

Our store of creative capital, entrepreneurial risk taking, peacekeeping and a welcoming attitude rooted in our small-town history

World needs a Canadian perspective, steeped in small-town valuesFor the past year, I’ve been living in a small town. It has about 20,000 residents counting the ‘highway people’ – those few thousands of us who live along Highway 101, which stretches about 30 km north and south of town. We’re seasonally augmented by a few thousand ‘island dwellers’ who essentially show up for…

Canada and the U.S.: A tale of two countries

Compared to the Americans, we’re showcasing a national unity and sense of purpose that verges on the exemplary

Canada and the U.S.: A tale of two countriesThe Syrian food concession at the Powell River Saturday farmers’ market is doing a crackerjack job of introducing us all to hummus, manoushi bread, falafel and tabbouleh. There’s now a lineup every market day to sample and buy from the community’s two adopted Syrian refugee families. They also had their food tent set up on…

Chaos on the poop deck but the U.S. ship sails on

Donald Trump’s vision is myopic and shambolic, but there appears to be only the promise of more of the same in the future

Chaos on the poop deck but the U.S. ship sails onIt’s seven months into the Donald Trump presidency and what have we learned? Are things going as planned? Is there a plan? Does the future augur a new tomorrow or more of the same? There are a few home truths on broad display: our man loves to play golf, on his courses, in states where…

The joyful Zen of a well-tended, bountiful garden

Having a garden has enriched our diet, our appreciation of the natural world, and our relationships with family, neighbours and guests

The joyful Zen of a well-tended, bountiful gardenIt’s funny what people who don’t grow their own vegetables and flowers think about those who do. Five years ago, when we cleared a patch of brambles and created our deer-fenced garden at Skelhp, visiting friends and family from the city were unanimous in their comments. “Wow – that’ll keep you busy!” “Will you get…

B.C.’s Sunshine Coast gets a taste of the raging wildfires

70 years of Smokey the Bear and aggressive wildfire suppression efforts filled the forests with a tinder load just waiting to blow

B.C.’s Sunshine Coast gets a taste of the raging wildfiresThis past week has been a record breaker for B.C.’s Sunshine Coast. People started to notice what at first was euphemistically called ‘haze’ on Tuesday. By Friday the view south from Skelhp, roughly two- thirds up the coast, was a series of increasingly brown clouds that completely hid Texada Island, and covered half of Nelson…

Learning about life from my first real boss

What we think of as progress doesn't cut it for someone who actually remembers when it took hard work and skills training to make a living

Learning about life from my first real bossMy first real boss was Ed Raymond, the foreman of the skidding crew I worked for in Juskatla logging camp, run by Mac and Blo (Macmillan and Bloedel Ltd.) in what was called the Queen Charlotte Islands (now Haida Gwaii). The fact that you have to explain who Mac and Blo were, and what Haida…