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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.

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

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

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…and the Pacific, on a boat near Victoria.

Seals

Speaking of Victoria, the Legislature is amazing at night.

Legislature

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

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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?

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

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

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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

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Dear Chicago

Chicago turns 175 today. It’s a city that feels younger. Some of that is borne out of necessity – the great fire of 1871 destroyed much of the city. Much of it, in my observation, comes from a culture of innovation and openness, a willingness – common to most successful enterprises – to constantly reinvent itself.

The signs of reinvention are everywhere – in the repurposed buildings and spaces, to those, like Millennium Park, that turned utilitarian spaces into great public ones.

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Former warehouses brought back to life with new businesses and residents northwest of The Loop.

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Navy Pier. Not my favorite, but a repurposed space that has become a popular attraction.

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Millennium Park and the Gehry-designed Pritzker Pavilion, truly one of the great public spaces, in my opinion.

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Admit it, we all love the bean (that’s me taking the photo in the middle).

You’re always looking up in Chicago. The birthplace of the skyscraper, the skyline towers over you. Waves of glass and steel, celebrating generations of style and design, crowd alongside the Chicago River, vying to capture your attention.

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Buildings loom over Michigan Ave and Millennium Park.

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Skyline, as seen from the Chicago River near Navy Pier.

Chicago is a city you experience from above – from the heights of its tallest buildings, or from the El that rises and travels above the city.

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The El, traveling above you along State Street.

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The second-story high station in Wicker Park.

Yet, the city doesn’t overwhelm you. It’s also a city you can disappear in. Being mere steps away from the glass and steel forest can feel like an entirely different world.

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Finding solitude amidst the business district is easy with amenities like this pool

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The beach along the Lakefront, steps away from the skyscrapers in The Loop.

Further out, as you travel along the El, you find what is still a bustling city, but one that exists at a more human scale. It’s easy to get lost on a sunny afternoon at Wrigley, or a peaceful morning in Wicker Park.

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Afternoon baseball at Wrigley Field.

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The farmers’ market in Wicker Park.

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Peaceful Sunday brunch, in the secluded courtyard at Jam, just off the beaten path in Wicker Park.

Every moment can be an adventure. The character, and spontaneity which so often make cities so great, is abundant. It keeps drawing you back, not just to the city, but to the same places.

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People having fun at Millennium Park on a hot summer day.

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Alternately, many of buildings have details and touches you may not appreciate if you don’t stop and truly explore.

At 175, Chicago doesn’t feel old. It feels like a city that is constantly evolving, and will keep you coming back to see what’s next.

Happy birthday, Chicago. Until next time.

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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
Farm
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

Rafting
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
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: 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.

Robin

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

Biking

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.

Dusk

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

Intersection

A fireworks display lights up the Edmonton sky.

Fireworks

So long summer. ‘Til next time.