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True Patriot Love: A Canada Day Photo Essay

Today is Canada Day, our national holiday marking when we officially became a country, July 1, 1867. I always think of myself as a Canadian first, and am proud to have grown up and continue to live here. I also consider myself fortunate to have experienced much of it – having visited all 10 provinces, living in 3 of them so far, and spending significant time visting 2 others over the years. To celebrate, here are some photos I’ve taken the past few years of some of my favourite places and things across the country. It’s not an exhaustive list – it’s dependent on where I’ve been with a high-resolution camera these past few years, but it has also reminded me of many of the things and places I love, and haven’t been back to see in far too long (hello Montreal, Toronto, Niagra, and Annapolis Valley!)

On Canada Day, I hope you get to spend some time with – or thinking about, your favourite things from this country too.

I suggest you look through these images while listening to Joel Plaskett’s True Patriot Love.

Mountains! Taken in Banff

Mountain Peaks

Calgary Folk Fest at Prince’s Island Park. Slipping away from the action to relax along the Bow River is always a pleasure.

Bow River

Street life on Rue Saint Jean in Quebec City, which turns into a pedestrian-only street during the summer.

Rue Saint Jean

The Waterfront Trail in Ottawa. One of my favourite places to run.


The coloured row houses in St. John’s is one of the city’s best features.


Oceans! The Atlantic Ocean, taking off from St. John’s


…and the Pacific, on a boat near Victoria.


Speaking of Victoria, the Legislature is amazing at night.


The public gardens in Halifax was one of my favourite places to go when I lived there.


The Market! My home on Saturday mornings during the summer in Edmonton.

City Centre Market

Baseball at Telus Field in Edmonton.

The Pitch

One more from Edmonton – overlooking the River Valley, truly the city’s world class feature.

Saskatchewan Drive

Speaking of world class, the Black Sheep Pub in Wakefield is one of the country’s great music venues, yes?


Parliament Hill in Ottawa. I get a thrill every time I visit. I hope that feeling never goes away.


Hiking above Jasper, Alberta, where my family has gone regularly since I was a little kid. Here’s an overhead view of the town.


Finally, atop the Sulphur Skyline near Jasper – one of my favourite hiking trails. That’s me taking in the view. We truly have a beautiful country.

Admiring the View


Photo Essay: My Year in Cities, 2009

Earlier today, Jonah Keri, one of my favourite writers, posted his “year in cities” list. It’s a concept borrowed from Jason Kottke. You post a list of cities where you spent a night during the year (this excludes cities you visited but didn’t stay overnight in, such as Fort McMurray/Wood Buffalo in my case).

I really like this idea, and decided to add on to it. I’ve included an accompanying photo for most of my destinations from 2009 (for two of them I have none at my disposal). Here we go, in roughly chronological order:

Cantley, QC
I stayed at the EcoNiche resort for a conference in late May. It’s located in Cantley, Quebec, a beautiful area full of farmland and scenery. Here is a picture of a farm located down the road from where I stayed.

Ottawa, ON
Canada Geese
My Uncle and I went for a walk along the Ottawa River Parkway; it was full of Canada Geese that day.

Calgary, AB
The Decemberists "Hazards of Love"
The Decemberists performing at Calgary Folk Fest.

Jasper National Park, AB

A group of whitewater rafters on the Athabasca River near Jasper. I’d gone rafting earlier in the day, but was obviously unable to photograph that trip. This group came by in the evening.

Seattle, WA
Fremont Troll
The famous Fremont Troll in the Fremont neighbourhood, aka The Center of the Universe.

Portland, OR

Chicken BLT
A gluten-free Chicken BLT, accompanied by a gluten-free beer at Deschutes Brewery. I was in heaven.

Hinton, AB
Molly, my friend Nathan‘s family dog.

Victoria, BC
The Leg at Night
The British Columbia Legislature lights up at night. It was well worth the walk through a torrential downpour to catch this sight.

Pittsburgh, PA
6th Street Bridge
The 6th Street Bridge, also known as the Roberto Clemente Bridge, connects PNC Park to downtown Pittsburgh (seen in the background).

Cleveland, OH
Quinn to Furrey
Monday Night Football in Cleveland: the Browns hosting the Baltimore Ravens. Brady Quinn completes a pass to Mike Furrey, one of the few positive plays for the Browns in a game they lost 23-0.

Hamilton, ON
(no photo available)

Red Deer, AB
(no photo available)

Edmonton, AB
Churchill Square
I spend most of my nights in Edmonton; the waterfall in Churchill Square is one of my favourite daytime sights during the summertime.

My summary: 13 places, 2 countries, 4 provinces, 4 states in 2009. Where, dear readers, did you spend 2009? Post your list in the comments section, or if you blog, make sure to post a link.

Photo Essay: First Snowfall in Edmonton

Oh, the weather outside is frightful,
But the fire is so delightful,
And since we’ve no place to go,
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!“, Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne

Edmonton woke up to snowfall this morning. Some people rushed for cover, I rushed for my camera to go capture the sights. In the midst of the excitement, I locked myself out of my house in my pajamas, with no wallet or phone on me. I managed to trudge through the light coating of snow, find a spare key, get back inside, and get my day underway. I even brought my camera with me once I did. Here are some sights from Edmonton on the first day of snowfall.

This guy is really keen. He’s already ensuring any snow falling doesn’t interfere with his car.

Clearing Snow

This SUV slows to a stop as the snow continues to fall.

Slowing Down

The remants of fall poke through the fresh lair of snow.

Foliage and Snow

Snow doesn’t slow some people down. Here, a lady and her dog are out for a morning run.


That lady’s not the only one who won’t let winter get in the way. The bike rack at the South Campus Transit Centre/LRT station is still full.

Biking in the Snow

Students and other passengers on the LRT are dressed for the weather.

Walking to the LRT

The LRT pulls in to South Campus station on a snow-covered track.

Train in the Snow

The Oliver/Downtown skyline, as seen from the Menzies bridge. I’m on the LRT heading northbound here.


After a brief mid-morning reprieve, the snow started to fall again in Churchill Square downtown.

Churchill Square

The public art piece “Lunchbreak” in Churchill Square was getting covered in snow.

Lunchbreak in the Snow

People run for cover under the scaffolding heading from City Centre Mall to Rice Howard Way.

Running for Cover

The snow falls on the River Valley and the Muttart Conservatory.

Snow on the Valley

In spite of the snow, some runners weren’t slowed down.

Running in the Snow

As the snow fell, a fog obscured the skyline of Saskatchewan Drive.


Workers clear off snow and ice from the steps to the Williams Engineering building downtown.

Clearing Snow

The intersection of 114th and 87th Ave on the University of Alberta campus.


The University of Alberta Quad. The ladies at the table on the right were giving away free hot chocolate for people with reusable cups.


The snow stopped and the sun came out in the afternoon, but we had a brief snowfall again around dinner time. Here the snow falls around 6pm as drivers make their way home.


This lady out walking her dog (obscured by the tree on the left) is bundled up, and clearly ready to handle winter.

Walking in the Snow

Over the weekend, I’ll be posting more photos from today on Flickr.

Photo Essay: A Trip to the Oil Sands

The Oil Sands are back in the news, as a new round of Greenpeace efforts are targeting Suncor, the second time in recent weeks.

I have a tough time fully forming my opinion on the oil sands. Without a doubt, I am worried about their impact, particularly on our water sources. The greenhouse gas emissions are also a concern, but I worry that environmentalists are focusing too much on the oil sands. Most research shows that the bulk of the GHG emissions in the life-cycle of oil production comes in the transport fuel combustion phase, which is to say, when it is used by consumers. Product from the oil sands does create more emissions than conventional sources, but does it justify the effort that environmentalists are putting in to stop them?

My thought right now is no. We’d be best served focusing our efforts on reducing the need for oil. No demand, no oil sands production. It’s that simple. I worry that we’re going to lose the big picture in going after the oil sands.

But I’m open to arguments, and am by no means set in my view. I’d love to hear thoughts from others on this topic. In the meantime, here are some pictures of the oil sands. I had the opportunity to tour Syncrude’s Mildred Lake mine in July, and I appreciate the opportunity greatly. Here is a selection of photos from my visit.

The North Mine at Mildred Lake.

Mildred Lake Mine

The open mine pit, with the sulfur stack seen in the background.

Mildred Lake Mine

A truck gets ready to haul the product away.
Mildred Lake Mine

Want to get an idea of how big the trucks are in the mine? That’s one of the tires. Anton, in the foreground, is 6’7.
Big Tire

Machinery at work.
Syncrude Plant

Nice lake? Try tailings pond. Can’t tell the difference from a distance.
Tailings Pond

The tailings pond goes on for miles.
Tailings Pond

Here’s a closer look.
Tailings Pond

To be fair, this is all reclaimed land. You’d never know the difference. Syncrude started reclaiming this former mine site a few decades ago.
Reclaimed Land

The famous bison herd that has been reintroduced to the area.

Still, you tend to more remember sights like this:
Mildred Lake

And another one of the mine:
Mildred Lake Mine

And the giant trucks. We were told that one driver described it like “driving your house from the second story”

Trucking Sand

To end, a little bit of nature on the edge of Fort McMurray.
Fort McMurray

You can see my full photo set here.

Photo Essay: Summer in Edmonton

I bought a new camera in May. I’d spent about 3 years debating whether or not to buy a good camera. On the pro side, I thought ‘I always had fun with photography when I was younger’. On the con side, I thought ‘I rarely use the camera I have now’, an older Digital Camera model. I finally decided to bite the bullet, and I’ve barely put my camera down for the past four months. You can check out my Flickr page to see my photos from the summer; there’s no doubt I’ll keep adding to it as well.

Though you wouldn’t know it from the weather in Edmonton (thank you weather gods! Please keep it up), yesterday was the first day of Fall. I always consider summer in Edmonton to be between the Victoria Day and Labour Day long weekends, but since summer officially ended this week, I’m posting some of my favourite shots of Edmonton this past summer to commemorate it.

The waterfall in Churchill Square. In my opinion, one of the best sights in Edmonton. It’s always a little sad to see them turn it off and drain the pool. You know summer is over when that happens.

Waterfall in Churchill Square

There are few better ways to pass a nice summer evening (or afternoon) than watching baseball. Here, the Edmonton Capitals host the Long Beach Armada at Telus Field in late June.

The Pitch

Many different communities in Edmonton host Canada Day celebrations. Terwillegar Towne hosts a Canada Day parade and get together, which involves a walk around the neighbourhood.

Canada Day

One of the marquee events in Edmonton is the Folk Music Festival. Gallagher Park is a great venue, in part because of the great view you get of downtown Edmonton from the hill.

Downtown Edmonton Skyline

Here’s another shot from Folk Fest. The crowd rises to applaud Joel Plaskett after his Saturday afternoon concert.

Standing Ovation

I love nature and wildlife. We get to see our fair share in Edmonton, in large part due to the river valley and ravine system that attracts them. Here is a picture of a robin perched in a tree, not far from the Whitemud Ravine.


Edmontonians take advantage of the outdoors in summer. Here is a family riding their bikes as the sun sets in the distance.


One of my favourite things about summer in Edmonton – the beautiful, colourful sky at sunset.

I had a dream that I…..stood beneath a purple sky.

Purple Sky

I used to live up the street here on 87th Ave. It’s rarely quiet, but it was at this moment, with most of the north side demolished to make way for new development, and an absence of cars and pedestrians.

Empty Street

Dusk in Edmonton. The park is largely empty, but it still makes for a great picture.


I love the way cities look at night, with the combination of street lights, signs, and lights from vehicles lighting up the scenery.


A fireworks display lights up the Edmonton sky.


So long summer. ‘Til next time.