Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Black Pearl

Black Pearl by Wanderfull1
Black Pearl, a photo by Wanderfull1 on Flickr.
Last Sunday I found the Black Pearl (with plugins) docked near the Simmons Building in East Village. Opera in the Village was putting on performances of The Pirates of Penzance.

Sour Toe Ritual in Dawson City

sour toe by Wanderfull1
sour toe, a photo by Wanderfull1 on Flickr.
There's a rite in Dawson City where people pay $10 to drink strong liquor with a frozen human toe dropped in it. Jack Daniels is the drink of choice for men. Women choose Grande Marnier with their toe. The toe has to touch your lips for the rite to count. I watched one guy gulp his drink down, toe and all, then slowly pull the toe out of his mouth. Ewww.

CBC Radio recently ran a radio interview with one of the bartenders that supervised a Sour Toe ritual that went very wrong. Listen to the broadcast... it's hilarious. : )


Friday, August 23, 2013

Corporal Alfred Aspinall of the Northwest Mounted Police

Corporal Alfred Aspinall by Wanderfull1
Corporal Alfred Aspinall, a photo by Wanderfull1 on Flickr.
Corporal Alfred Aspinall of the Northwest Mounted Police in his buffalo coat. My great grandfather.

Photo was probably taken in the late 1800s while stationed in Calgary. Found through the Glenbow Museum Archives.

Alfred came to Canada from England around the mid-1800s to ranch with his cousin William Campbell in the Bowden/Innisfail area.  William Campbell kept a diary and in it are several entries of Alfred trying to make a go of it. At one point Alfred traded his "opera glasses" for a horse harness.

Alfred joined the Northwest Mounted Police for five years, while attempting to ranch at the same time.  Unfortunately, it didn't always work out.  I found letters where Alfred asked for leave to help round up cattle.  Permission was denied.

During his time as a Mountie, Alfred volunteered to fight in the Boer War in South Africa as part of a mounted rifle battalion. He was discharged within a few months after being shot at eight times (judging by the holes in his coat) and hit three. After the war he had a brief posting in the Yukon where he was returned to Calgary seriously ill with typhoid fever.  Most of his five year contract was spent stationed in the Calgary and Banff areas.

When Alfred's contract with the Mounties ended he did many things on the side while still trying to make a go of ranching.  For a time he worked in Murphy's General Store in Mayton (now a ghost town) where he met his future wife, Carolina Murphy.  Eventually, Alfred sold his land and they moved to Innisfail where they had three daughters. Alfred did many jobs to support his family, including real estate and Justice of the Peace.

In 1948, the year before he died, Alfred sent a scathing letter to the RCMP regarding the conduct of their officers.  The gist of it was that during his time of service Mounties were more honourable and not condescending to the people they served.  A proud and honourable Mountie, with or without the buffalo coat.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Ancestors and Sunflowers

Bowden SunMaze 2013 - 5 by Wanderfull1

Bowden SunMaze 2013 - 5, a photo by Wanderfull1 on Flickr.
Yesterday, a friend and I got lost in the Bowden SunMaze which just opened August 6th. Actually, we got lost in their corn maze. The sunflowers, dwarfed by a June hail storm, were mostly buds and a little over five feet tall.  It might be worth going back to in September when it's not so hot.  I think it was 26 Celsius, but it felt like 30.  I didn't take a whole lot of photos, but I did discover that even an extreme f-stop of f40 will not bring a red barn in focus when it's several miles away.

Since neither I nor my friend are great with heat, we wound up not completing the corn maze hike and explored the Bowden Museum instead.  Like most small town museums, the collection is reliant on what families donate.  Someone in Bowden really loved Avon products.  We had a few what-the-heck-is-that moments in the kitchen goods area.  Just before we left, we found some information about my great grandfather who ranched in the area. It sparked the desire to hit more museums along HWY 2a, but it was almost three o-clock. We were short on time and getting hungry.

The museum volunteer recommended Jack's Kitchen, but it was closed for a golf tournament.  Told that the Starlite Diner was pretty expensive, we headed to Olds and had a late lunch at the Chinese restaurant; the one (according to historical information framed on the restaurant wall) that used to be the Public Lunch cafe in 1918.  The food was large in quantity and yummy.  I asked our waitress if she was related to the original owner.  She said her family used to be their neighbors in a village in China.

Highway 2a has always been one of my favorite roads to road-trip, but even so on the way back, after such a large meal and feeling nappy, my mind wandered.  In it's wandering I thought of a way to remember all the places along the 2a between Airdrie and Red Deer.  First I came up with the super easy to remember Harry Potterish "DOBI"; for Didsbury, Olds, Bowden, and Innisfail.  Then I added Cross-Car for Crossfield and Carstairs.  Run it together, Cross-Car-DOBI, add guttural tones, and it almost sounds Klingon.

Today, when I checked Google Maps, I realized I forgot Penhold.  Hmmm.  Cross-Car-DOBIP? Nah.  Cross-Car-DOBI-Pen?  M-m-m-maybe.


Saturday, August 10, 2013

Calgary International Street Theatre Festival - goofy Kiwi

Calgary's first International Street Theatre Festival was touring around downtown this week. One of the places they hit was Eau Claire Market's busker stage where I saw a goofy Kiwi play electric guitar while riding a tall unicycle, some kamikaze fire jugglers, a sword swallower, and a flaming knife thrower. 

They started performances during Saturday's Sunfest (I thought they were Fringe Fest performers) and last night they performed at the Inglewood Night Market. Today is the last day of the Festival.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Inglewood Sunfest 2013

Inglewood Sunfest 2013 - retro bass by Wanderfull1
Inglewood Sunfest 2013 - retro bass, a photo by Wanderfull1 on Flickr.
Spent most of Saturday in Inglewood. Every time I go to Inglewood I find something new to love.

First, I started off the day wandering the back streets of Inglewood with a new photo Meetup group called Photo to Brew. The idea being we meetup, take photos, and then go for a brew. The call to shoot the Inglewood Sunfest was strong, though, and I didn't join the group for the lunch and brew part. Maybe next time.

At the festival vendors lined both side of 9th Avenue for blocks and performers (some from the Fringe Festival) were everywhere. There was a lot to see and a lot of people wandering around looking. The regular neighborhood stores had special sales, as well.

Robinson's Camera had a big sale on Pentax stuff. Wound up unexpectedly buying a new lens (75-300mm), a double pack of remote cable releases, and a level all for less than $200. I won't go into what I got at Recordland, but I could've easily spent that much there, too.

The performers were great, but I found myself returning to The Blues Can. First I saw a trio called Stone of Nowhere. They described themselves as being mostly 14 year olds, but their style was vintage. (This photo is their bass player.) They nailed a Led Zeppelin classic better than some musicians I've heard twice their age. Later on I saw some older fellows doing some majorly smooth blues riffs. Pure heaven.  Will definitely have to check out more of The Blues Can, I think.

The Inglewood Sunfest is not quite as big as the Lilac Festival or Kensington's Sun & Salsa Fest, which is a good thing.  You can get still get close to the vendors and performers.  Still, I think it will become another major festival to check out every summer.


* Inglewood Sunfest

* The Blues Can

Stone of Nowhere

* Inglewood Sunfest - Flickr Set

* Robinson's Camera

* Recordland

* Photo to Brew - Meetup Group

* Calgary Fringe Festival