On wings and dorsal fins: how fall arrives on the West Coast

As the local orca family hunts sea lions, the resident bald eagles leave for a pre-winter feast of salmon

On wings and dorsal fins: how fall arrives on the West CoastWhen you live in the coastal rainforest, you learn the natural indicators that presage seasonal change. The mornings are getting darker, the days are becoming shorter and the evenings are definitely cooler. We swam on Sept. 3 but the ocean was noticeably colder. And we spent less time out front going through our exercise routines…

Smoke gets in your eyes – and spoils your plans

The summer of 2018’s last trip into Desolation Sound ended abruptly, and not because the weather changed

Smoke gets in your eyes – and spoils your plansOn the morning of Sept. 2, we decided to take a last trip in our boat into Desolation Sound, the world-class boating destination that lies a mere half hour from our Westview Marina berth in Powell River. All summer we’ve been popping in and out of this destination, taking advantage of blue skies and 30C…

John McCain’s legacy of public service and sacrifice

In the selfish era of Donald Trump, McCain’s life offered a shining example of how to serve with distinction

John McCain’s legacy of public service and sacrificeIt’s hard for Canadian citizens to take the full measure of an American politician like John McCain, whose route to public service glory began in the combat of the Vietnam War. Our country doesn’t particularly valourize the military and those who serve, unless perhaps they do peacekeeping missions with the United Nations overseas. McCain’s career…

Connecting the dots in the summer of smoke

Right across Canada, dramatic signs of climate change are casting a pall on the landscape

Connecting the dots in the summer of smokeThe last five summers at Skelhp, on B.C.’s Sunshine Coast, have been progressively drier. We’ve had one significant wildfire nearby, in Sechelt Inlet, which wafted ash in a big brown plume over our regional air shed. The smoke from this fire three years ago caused us to close all the windows in the July heat…

Is a run for the presidency in Ronan Farrow’s future?

The author of War on Peace demonstrates the kind of qualities that suggest a political career in the making

Is a run for the presidency in Ronan Farrow’s future?War on Peace: The End of Diplomacy and the Decline of American Influence (2018) by Ronan Farrow is a prescient work in the sense that it was five years in the writing, predating the diplomatic idiocy of U.S. President Donald Trump by a good three years. Its opening chapters detail the initial steps to weaponize the…

‘There’s a bat in the house!’

Falling asleep with bat gear ready, you don't know what to expect. You just have that Boy Scout sense that you’re prepared

‘There’s a bat in the house!’“There’s a bat in the house!” shouted our daughter, fresh off the plane from London, just as she was preparing for a restful night in her parents’ country house. My wife and I were prepared, to tell the truth. The previous night we had heard the telltale swish of batwings in our bedroom and in…

Adrift and perilously close to abandoning ship

After more than a little high-seas misadventure, the Frankie finally proves seaworthy – and sanitary

Adrift and perilously close to abandoning shipBack in 2012, we had a dreamboat, an 18-foot Hourston Glascraft. It was brand-new, had a magnificent 150-horsepower Yamaha four-stroke outboard, and quickly became the envy of the Skelhp government wharf. We paid monthly wharfage dues all summer and used it to fish and cruise. We christened her the Francine, after my then 90-year-old Mom.…

An old white man awakes to his privilege – and its power for good

I’ve become much more prone to analyze daily social situations on the grounds of age, ethnicity and gender

An old white man awakes to his privilege – and its power for goodBeing older (I’m 67 and increasingly told this is old), white and male is being pointed out more and more these days. In less than glowing terms. While Donald Trump is arguably the global archetype of the boomer personae I’m describing, the phrase “old white man” is getting more deliberate usage in different parts of…

Nation to nation at the Calgary Stampede

So long, Indian Village. Welcome, Elbow River Camp. The Stampede spirit shines through to embrace reconciliation

Nation to nation at the Calgary StampedeAs a member of a family who never missed a Calgary Stampede in 30 years of Calgary residency, I was made incredibly happy by Facebook pal George Brookman’s recent post. His announcement was simple, and direct: “A wonderful representative of the Indigenous people, Cieran Starlight will be the last ‘Indian Princess’ to represent the ‘Indian…

The heavy footprint of climate change can be seen everywhere

I've been alive to observations and anecdotes of climate change for years. I now have hundreds of them stored in my memory

The heavy footprint of climate change can be seen everywhereImagine drilling into the accumulated layers of ice on Mount Logan, the highest peak in Canada at 5,959 metres in Yukon’s Saint Elias Mountains, to extract ice-cores for scientific study. Dr. Gerald Holdsworth, expeditionary climber and climate scientist at the University of Calgary’s Arctic Institute of North America had been doing it for years when…

Out of the roiling heat of Montreal, into the heart of artistic genius

And a full dose of air-conditioned museum comfort certainly doesn't hurt the appreciation of Picasso

Out of the roiling heat of Montreal, into the heart of artistic geniusLast week, thousands of Montrealers began to experience what I expect will gradually become a new phenomenon in global art gallery visitation – viewing art to get out of the heat. The heat wave (CBC news referred to it as “a heat event”) really descended on the city on the previous weekend, with Saturday’s temperatures…

Championing the human spirit in dispiriting times

The human spirit has evolved over several hundred thousand years and will survive Trump's crude behaviour

Championing the human spirit in dispiriting timesMore and more, Newton’s third law makes sense in my volunteer life: For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. For many of us, these are dispiriting times. Trade wars, trashing of environmental regulations, insulting of long-term allies, and validation of racist and crude behaviours emanating from our American neighbours aren’t the norm…

Keeping a father and son tradition afloat

Putting the Frankie back in the water signals the coming of summer adventures. But first we must perform the ritual launch dance

Keeping a father and son tradition afloatThe day we put the Frankie back in the water and moor her at the community marina is a day of ritual celebration at our house. The day symbolizes a return to some of our family’s favourite activities – cruising in the local waters of the Salish Sea, fishing for wild salmon, and swimming in…

Fake tough: Donald Trump’s tantrum over Canada

How do we cope with a bully? We stand united, with balance and nuance, and a boxer's certainty in our responses

Fake tough: Donald Trump’s tantrum over CanadaOver the last year, we’ve watched and listened as the new American president demonstrated his rules of combat. Donald Trump is quick to anger and engage, but doesn’t like to fight in an open forum. He prefers after-the-fact actions, which mostly involve his basic vocabulary and most often find form on Twitter. Twitter is the…

Revisiting Gwaii Haanas, a hallowed and reborn place

Forty years ago, it was a deserted ground, tinged in sadness. Today, the region is enriched with spirit and purpose

Revisiting Gwaii Haanas, a hallowed and reborn placeForty years ago, in 1978, my wife and I agreed to cap our first year of marriage with an adventure. We decided to follow in the paddle-strokes of good friends who had just kayaked to what was then called the South Moresby archipelago of the Queen Charlotte Islands. We chose the first two weeks of…