Archive for July, 2007

Iain Schentunkel

Thursday, July 5th, 2007

A few weeks ago I made it up to Shell Lake, getting in a bit of fishing with the man known in our family as Ancient Uncle, and his dog Very. After we had caught a couple of small pike and one walleye, Ray and Very decided to go looking for mushrooms. Here’s a picture of what they found.

Ancient Uncle, Young Fawn, and Very

(Ray informed me that, following the lead of a nephew and niece who have changed their names lately, he plans to change both his first and last name. He likes the Scottish name Iain, and an obscure Dutch surname Schentunkel. At least the name Iain Schentunkel shouldn’t be hard to remember, at least if you say it fast enough)

UPDATE: Realizing that on a small monitor it might be hard to see what’s in that picture, here’s another.

Ray with fawn

Book Review – Canoeing the Churchill

Wednesday, July 4th, 2007

Many years ago I paddled a couple of stretches of the Churchill, and now that the kids are older, I’d like to do some more. Meanwhile reading about it lets me live vicariously.

I originally wrote this book review for the December 2006 edition of Treelines, the newsletter of the Saskatchewan Forestry Association.

Canoeing the Churchill: A Practical Guide to the Historic Voyageur Highway

by Greg Marchildon & Sid Robinson 2002

Reviewed by Phil Loseth

A recent instalment in the Discover Saskatchewan series produced by the Canadian Plains Research Center at the University of Regina, Canoeing the Churchill is clearly a labour of love. As the book’s title indicates, it offers practical advice to paddlers on how to navigate the Churchill River, but it is much more than a technical handbook, being packed with fascinating historical information, descriptions of the communities along the route, and other information. An impressive amount of academic research has been combined with personal observations from the authors’ trips on the Churchill, all presented in a highly readable style.

The route described, referred to as the “voyageur highway” or “guide route” due to its significance to the early exploration of western Canada and to the early fur trade, includes parts of three river systems stretching across northern Saskatchewan from close to the Alberta border almost to Manitoba. Starting where the Cluff Lake Road (Highway 955) crosses Warner Rapids, step-by-step directions guide the reader down the Clearwater River, across a height of land via the gruelling Methy Portage into the Churchill River system, and down the Churchill to Frog Portage, where a much lower height of land is crossed to the Sturgeon-Weir River, ending at Cumberland House.

Although the route covers approximately 1100 km, which the authors paddled in one summer, most paddlers will want to break the trip into smaller segments taking anywhere from a couple of days to more than a week, and the book is organized into chapters accordingly.
An introduction provides general information about the route’s climate, vegetation, and wildlife, in addition to helpful information on canoe trip planning. This is followed by a chapter on the history of the route, from the earliest known archaeological evidence of human habitation, the indigenous Cree, Dene and Métis, and the early fur trade. What could have become a dry academic history is enlivened with anecdotes from the journals of early explorers and traders. The subsequent eleven chapters describe segments of the trip:
• Clearwater River to La Loche
• La Loche to Buffalo Narrows
• Buffalo Narrows to Île-à-la-Crosse
• Île-à-la-Crosse to Patuanak
• Patuanak to Pinehouse Lake
• Pinehouse Lake to Otter Rapids
• Otter Rapids to Stanley Mission
• Stanley Mission to Pelican Narrows
• Pelican Narrows to Denare Beach
• Denare Beach to Sturgeon Landing
• Sturgeon Landing to Cumberland House

Throughout these chapters, the descriptions of the river’s rapids and portages and the recommended routes across lakes are interspersed with descriptions of local communities, historical events and colorful characters, rock paintings, and other interesting tidbits. The non-technical information is formatted in shaded boxes to easily set it apart, a nice feature for canoeists wanting to find information quickly. Advanced canoeists may find the authors overly cautious in their recommendations regarding which rapids can be safely run and which should be portaged (most Class 3 and many Class 2 rapids). However considering the number of voyageurs buried along the
route, most paddlers, especially those at the novice to intermediate level, will appreciate the emphasis on safety.

At 480 pages, this book may be too bulky to fit in the canoeist’s shirt pocket, but an advantage of canoe tripping compared to hiking is that a bit of extra weight isn’t as much of a concern. Canoeing the Churchill should be a welcome addition to anyone considering a trip on Saskatchewan’s historic voyageur highway.

Did they take the Hippocratic oath?

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2007

According to this Reuters news story, at least four of the suspects detained in the latest British terrorist attacks are medical doctors.

I thought that doctors were supposed to save lives, not take lives.

Everything Matters

Monday, July 2nd, 2007

I suppose that 50-year-old guys like me shouldn’t talk about being fans, but I’m becoming a fan of Pierce Pettis.  I first found out about him from the Mark Heard tribute CD “Strong Hand of Love“, where he sang the Mark Heard song “Nod over Coffee”.  It took me a few years, but I finally picked up one of his CD’s, “Everything Matters”, and I think I’ll be buying more of his music.  Good songwriting, and a folk/roots style that appeals to me.  It’s not “Contemporary Christian Music” (CCM), but his Christian worldview does come through on several songs.

(by the way, I still mourn for Mark Heard)

Western Mensurationists 2007

Monday, July 2nd, 2007

The Western Mensurationists meet once every year, generally rotating between Oregon, Washington, California, and B.C. Since this year’s meeting was in Canada, June 24-26, I put in a request, and was fortunate to have it approved.

I’ve been to a couple of Western Mensurationists meetings before, but this year’s agenda was perhaps the best I’ve seen. The panel discussion on forest productivity was especially interesting. I’ll need to check out Jim Arney’s proposed measure, but it seems impractical for application with a large photo-based forest inventory such as Saskatchewan’s.

One of the most interesting talks was Robert Monserud’s discussion of the analysis he and Shongming Huang conducted using Alberta site index for lodgepole pine, projecting into the future using climate change models. They concluded that lodgepole pine site productivity is likely to increase across much of the species’ Alberta range, but the range will shrink. Most alarming of all were the maps showing lodgepole pine disappearing from Cypress Hills entirely by 2080. I wonder if perhaps the climate models are so coarse that they use Prairie weather stations for the hills. Lodgepole pine seemed to survive well in Cypress Hills during the drought years of the 1980s and 1990s, largely because the hills get considerably more rainfall than the surrounding prairies.

Long-lost aunties and cousins

Monday, July 2nd, 2007

Sunday June 24 was a long day, starting with the 1 1/2 hour drive to the Saskatoon airport to catch a plane to Kelowna, for the Western Forest Mensurationists meeting. Since my Auntie Esther Tjosvold lives in Kelowna, and I hadn’t seen her in many years, I made arrangements to drop in on her. She lives with my cousin Ann (or is that Anne with an “e”), who happens to have a beautiful acreage, and had hosted an outdoor wedding for one of my cousins x-times removed, the previous day. Several cousins were still there, and since I hadn’t seen some of them in decades, if ever, it was a good chance to catch up on one branch of my mom’s side of the family. My mother (Clara) was Esther’s youngest sister.

Auntie Esther with Cousin Ann

It was also nice to be able to visit with my cousin Tim Tjosvold and his wife Brenda, and meet a couple of his kids (Jemma and Joseph). Although I hadn’t seen Tim in many years, I get their email newsletter with regular updates on their missionary work in Niger, the poorest nation on earth.

Grad Lunch

Monday, July 2nd, 2007

(Once again, this post is considerably after the fact)

We invited some friends and relatives over to our place to honour Luke on his Graduation. Saturday June 23 was another pleasant day, the only annoyance being an occasional wind burst that sent plates and cups flying. A good visit. Unfortunately I didn’t think to snap any photos of the guests. Here’s a pic of Luke with his sister and mom.

Luke's Grad Lunch, 2007-06-23


Luke has graduated

Monday, July 2nd, 2007

I’m posting this considerably after the fact.

A significant milestone in Luke’s life occurred on Friday June 22, with his high school graduation. With Luke being the eldest of our four, this was a learning experience. I don’t want to bore you with all the details, but here are some impressions:

- Carlton High School is a really, really big school. Although the day’s events were very well organized, by the time the 300th (?) graduate had been announced at the cap and gown ceremony, Fiona was complaining that not only were the plastic bleachers uncomfortable, but chunks of her skin were coming off (she gets her gift of exaggeration from her mom).

- Luke had indicated that he was on the honour roll again, but we were all pleasantly surprised to hear that he was graduating “Honours with Great Distinction” (I think that means his average was at least 90%). I can’t imagine what his marks would have been had he actually studied. I wish I were that smart.

- One of the valedictorians had a 100% average. Not just 99.9%, but 100% in every subject. Kudos to him, he sure deserves the Governor General’s award, but that average just seems inhuman.

- In the afternoon, the families of some of Luke’s friends had a pleasant informal backyard get-together, with a catered supper, at a friend’s house. A nice time with good company and great weather.

- Back to our place for some photos of Luke and his classmate Lana. Luke looks good in formal wear. I wonder how many years before he gets into another suit?

- The Grand March was another long event. I managed to snap this pic of Luke and Lana.

Luke at grand march, Grad 2007, with Lana

- I think Luke enjoyed the aftergrad event. Winning an Ipod Shuffle in one of the draws was a plus.