Sunday, February 5, 2017

birds and a turtle

Banaba is a raised coral island with less than 300 inhabitants on its 6 square kilometres. it is prone to drought as it has no natural streams and in the 1870's a three year drought decimated three quarters of the population. 
there was a legend that Banaba was perched on a great column of rock and supported by the turtle god. or that the turtle god, Tabakea, lived in the great darkness with several other gods including Auriaria the giant who pierced the heavens with his staff when he became lord of the darkness and the rock (Banaba means 'rock') fell into the sea, landing upside down trapping Tabakea the turtle underneath.

a tradition on Banaba was the capturing and taming of frigate birds. they like to perch in high trees which makes it impossible to catch them there, so the birds have to be caught while flying, which is quite challenging as they are very strong flyers, staying up high only coming down towards land when they see food. they usually fly in groups with some colonies being up to 1,000 birds.
there is a lot of skill involved in catching these birds - a weight made of stone or metal that is perhaps the size of a man's thumb is attached to a long string of coconut fibre and thrown like a lasso so that the weight is caught around and under the wing. you have to be careful not to hit the body of the bird or it might be injured or killed. the birds are then tethered to the village perch where they are tamed. these birds aren't caught for food and once tamed, they tend not to leave the island.

Kiribati is the only country that lies in all four hemispheres. Apart from Banaba, there are also 33 atolls and reef islands. The land mass is 800 sq km, but it is stretched but over 3.5 million sq km! The international date line swings out to the east so that all the the islands are in the same time zone, which is UTC +14 so, the first place to see the sunrise and the new year!

find more stamps from the southern hemisphere at Sunday Stamps

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

grave post - Marie-Anne Gaboury

At the Cathedral Cemetery in St Boniface is the grave site of the Lagimodière family - Jean-Baptiste and his wife Marie-Anne Gaboury. 
Jean-Baptiste was born in 1778 and would become a voyageur in the fur trade. He and Marie-Anne married in 1805 and moved to the Red River Settlement where he was a hunter and trapper and frequently acted as messenger for the Hudson's Bay Company. They had 11 children, one of whom, Julie, would marry one of their neighbours, Louis Riel Sr. In 1844, she gave birth to Louis, who would grow up to be a celebrated and controversial Metis leader.
Marie-Anne Gaboury (born 1780) was known not only as the grandmother of Louis Riel, but also as grandmother of the Red River. Many Metis can trace their ancestry back to her. From a life in domestic service to the parish priest, she and her new husband embarked on an arduous journey through Quebec, Manitoba, North Dakota and the Northwest. She was said to be the first white woman to live in western Canada. The semi-nomadic life with other French Canadian fur traders and their native wives would have been challenging and dangerous yet she lived to an impressive 95 years of age.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

winter fun

If it is going to snow in winter, then one must learn to enjoy it,
 preferably starting at a young age.
In 2008, Canada Post issued these Christmas stamps featuring children playing at making a snow angel (domestic rate of .52), learning to ski (US rate .96) and tobogganing (international rate 1.60)

"To bring this traditional subject to life, we turned to traditional methods," designer Susan Scott explains. "The illustration process began with drawings that were later transferred onto lino blocks. The images were then carved out of the blocks and printed onto textured paper. Finally, the prints were filled in by hand with coloured pencils."
Once you're past the snow angel stage and you've learned how to ski
you might be tempted to defy gravity and try freestyle aerial skiing.
 Aerial ramps as high as four metres allow for jumps at angles of up to 70 degrees, dropping from a height of 9 to 12 metres.
or stay indoors and gravitate to curling - a very popular sport in Canada. (not to brag, but both the men's and women's teams have won a medal in every Olympic Games since 1998)                           

There are four players on a team: the Lead, the Second, and the Third (Vice Skip). The Fourth (Skip), is the captain, who directs the game and calls the shots. Curling is played on a constantly groomed ice surface, and the object of the game is to accumulate points by finishing with your stone or stones closer to the button (or centre) than your opponents.
These stamps are from 2002 for the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.  Not sure why they don't have the Olympic logo, but they do show the official team uniforms. Personally, the fun colours of the children's clothing is more to my taste and I wish we saw more of it in winter. Those colours were "inspired by Christmas decorations and conventional greeting cards"
find some more fun in the snow at Sunday Stamps II

Sunday, January 1, 2017


Sometimes, a work of art just leaves you speechless, in awe.
Mary Pratt's paintings do that to me.
I've been trying to write a description of why this is a favourite stamp, but am almost at a loss for words. I would obviously make a dreadful art critic.
This was part of the Art Canada series and issued in 2007.
A couple of years ago there was an exhibition of her art at the McMichael Gallery and I went back several times just to gaze at her paintings of domestic scenes and especially food, and wonder at the luminous light and feel as if I could reach out and touch the actual jars and smell the jelly inside.

This description is from the Canada Post website:

To achieve the effect of her photorealism pieces, such as "Jelly Shelf" shown in this Canada Post stamp issue, Pratt carefully eliminates any traces of brushstrokes through a painstaking process that involves using small sable brushes and painting cross-hatched strokes with a mix of turpentine and Liquin. Like other New Realist artists, she often works from slides.
Her subject matter, however, remains uniquely hers and is heavily focused on things found in the kitchen of her home in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador. When asked by Canada Post whether she thought that she'd transformed the images of the domestic sphere into the subjects of serious art, Pratt replied: "They are serious art, the things women handle every day-the fruit, the jars, the jelly. [...] My role seems to have been to make people see things that are around them all the time that they never noticed before... to help them find the beauty of the simple things. I think that, in the past, people have not given enough weight to the images that women see. We have to eat. Food is important."
see other tiny pieces of art on stamps on this first Sunday Stamps of 2017

Saturday, December 31, 2016


People in Toronto are going through a period of
 nostalgia and mourning
for the end of an era
of a giant discount store.

the store lit up 5 years ago (above) and today (below)
By now, many of the lights have burnt out. No one quite knows what will become of the iconic sign that has been a part of this corner at Bathurst and Bloor since what feels like forever, but has really only been since the early 1980's - though the store itself has been there for 68 years. 
Long before the ubiquitous Dollarama and other dollar stores, Honest Ed's was the place to go for cheap deals. 

As you can no doubt guess, Ed Mirvish was larger than life with a personality and generosity unmatched by anyone else in the city. (he died in 2007)
He sold pretty much anything you could possibly need 
from the tacky...
 to the necessary

a bit of a backstory here is needed - Ed was also a theatre impresario and with his Royal Alex Theatre in an unlikely area of town near the railway tracks, he also opened up several restaurants in the area to attract people. One of them was Ed's Warehouse, and if you wanted to dine there, you (well, the men only) had to wear a jacket and tie. No worries if you were neglectful - a closetful of old ties and jackets was available for your choice to borrow!

The store had shrunk in size over the years, and the maze of aisles and corners and stairways to get out of the place is long gone as other businesses leased space in the massive building and as stock decreased over the three year closing. 

By the time I went for one last walk around, things had been well picked over and there was an empty, sad, it's-time-to-go feel to the place. The things left for sale weren't particularly memorable. Though you could buy a t-shirt (and yes, I did)

And then there are those signs.

Thousands upon thousands of hand painted signs for those unmemorable (and sometimes memorable) things for sale. Or, in the case of the Thanksgiving Turkeys that drew long lines of hopeful people happy to stand for hours to get their hands on a free bird...
It was the signs that people really wanted to have as a souvenir
Ed enjoyed a good pun, and the store - outside and inside - was full of them

and yes, the floor did have a definite slope to it!

But, now it is finally time to turn off the lights and say goodbye

a final stroll around Honest Ed's for Restless Jo
and signs for Lesley

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Three Wise Santas

In 1992 a series of International Santa Claus, or "Christmas Personages" was issued. These were all designed by Stephanie Power.
I couldn't find any explanation for why these particular countries were chosen, but we have the domestic rate stamp with Estonia, the US rate stamp with Italy, and the overseas rate stamp with Germany.
Estonia's "Jõuluvana" is clothed in a brown sheepskin coat and matching hat, hand-knitted mittens and a walking staff. Imported from German legend, he carries a bag of presents for good children and uses his stick on the naughty.
Based on an illustration by Anita Kunz

"La Belfana" of Italy, is a benevolent witch-like woman who rides a broomstick on the eve of Epiphany, January 5, carrying presents for the deserving and charcoal for the erring. After leaving small gifts and consuming snacks left for her, she sweeps the floors with her broom. Italy also enjoys a second gift-giver, Babbo Natale, a Santa figure similar to ours who brings larger or more expensive gifts on Christmas Eve.
Based on an illustration by Jamie Bennett

Germany's "Weihnachtsmann" is a thin, stooped, heavily laden, white-bearded old man who makes his rounds on Christmas Eve with his sack of presents and a Christmas tree. He is a secularized version of Saint Nicholas, who is still associated with December 6.
Based on an illustration by Simon Ng

fly on over to Sunday Stamps II for more Christmassy themed stamps

Sunday, December 11, 2016


The western part of Canada is where our majestic mountains lie.
And within those  mountain ranges are several National Parks.
This series of stamps from from 1979 to 1986.

  • Waterton Lakes National Park (issued June 18, 1982, based on a painting by Brent Laycockis in Alberta within the Rocky Mountains and has the deepest lakes in the Rockies
  • Glacier National Park (issued August 15, 1984, based on a painting by Brent Laycockis in British Columbia within the Columbia Mountains
  • Banff National Park (issued June 21, 1985, based on a painting by George Weberis in Alberta within the Rocky Mountains and includes Lake Louise and Moraine Lake (shown on stamp)
  • Kluane National Park (issued April 27, 1979, based on a painting by Alan Caswell Collier) is in Yukon and includes the within the North Coast Mountains which has the highest peak in Canada, Mt Logan (5,959 metres)

find more mountains for climbing up, skiing down or simply admiring from a safe distance, at Sunday Stamps II

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

street signs - Third St

Cobourg's Heritage District has these unique street signs featuring a sailboat with gulls and an image of the cupola from the Victoria Hall.

nearing the end of the alphabet with this 20th edition of the street signs series

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

the Garrick

While wandering the streets of Winnipeg, looking for signs and murals and interesting architecture, I came across a place selling the "coldest beer in Winnipeg". This may sound unappealing to anyone outside North America reading this. But really, depending on the beer, drinking it very cold may be the only way to get it down. As a general rule light body and low alcohol beer tastes better cold, while full body and high alcohol beers taste better when served warmer. What is being served here is probably something "lite" - Bud,  Miller, Coors, or Molson's ...
Had it been one of those unbearably hot southern Ontario summer days, I may have ventured inside for a look around and a quick one, but it wasn't. Anyway, I prefer my beer with more alcohol, and more flavour.

The Garrick Hotel was built in 1906, making it 110 years old this year. I'm sure it has a storied past, especially during Prohibition which started in 1916 and wasn't repealed until 1921, by which time the Wellington Hotel (the original name) had suffered one too many liquor violation fines and was sold by the bailiffs. The Garrick opened a year later after a makeover but while Prohibition was over there were still many alcohol restrictions and it was raided several times until finally being shut down in 1924. New owners re-opened it, but then the Depression hit which ruined many of the hotels and bars with owners simply walking away and abandoning their debts. Creditors were mostly the breweries who would often take over the premises.  Shea's Brewery were the lucky ones to inherit the Garrick. By 2008, it lost its vendor's licence and became the only historic hotel in downtown Winnipeg to not serve beer. Things improved so much by 2014 that it won an Achievement Award for "best business transformation in downtown Winnipeg".  It is now described as a downtown bar venue with vintage ambiance with state of the art sound, lights and special effects.
You can still see the faded sign for the original name Wellington Hotel.

some signs for Lesley's signs, signs and a not highly recommended hotel for Travel Tuesday

with thanks to this site for help with the history lesson

Sunday, November 13, 2016

war effort

This set of four stamps was issued in 1990 to celebrate Canada's contribution to the war effort during WWII showing realistic scenes and focusing on the effects of war on people
The whole series ran from 1989-1995. Pierre-Yves Pelletier designed these stamps with the help of illustrations by Jean-Pierre Armanville.

Clockwise from top left, the first stamp reflects the hardships endured by people who stayed on the Home Front followed by the Communal War Efforts where the "many communal activities, organizations and programs that were created boosted the morale and provided assistance to troops, prisoners of war and their families".

"Through research, inventions and innovations, scientists and medical doctors made significant technological developments, which helped to win the war" for Science and War. And finally, Canada's important contribution in Food Production helped feed the Allied nations.

The details are a bit hard to see unless you can enlarge the stamp, which I have done here for you with this one from the Canada Post Archives.
Mother may be knitting socks for the troops, while one child is hanging stockings which may or may not have an orange in the toe. Another child is perhaps wrapping a present in old newspaper after Grandfather has finished reading the latest updates.

see more stamps reflecting war or peace at Sunday Stamps II, the 100th edition