New Year 2016


Very belated Happy New Year’s wishes to my dear readers! I hope you have all had a wonderful holiday season and that this new year will be a good one. So many in the world do need hope for safer and better lives. Will that ever change?

One of the New Year traditions, at least in our neighbourhood, is the receipt of new calendars from some of the local realtors. Some feature gorgeous local scenery while others feature exciting spots around the world to attract tourism. I fell in love with one of those latter images, of some standing stones called the megaliths of Callanish. Here is the text:

Its remote location on the Isle of Lewis, in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides, means that the megalith of Callanish attracts fewer tourists than its counterpart Stonehenge; however, these standing stones are just as impressive and equally puzzling. Erected around 5,000 years ago, the stones form the shape of a Celtic cross. Some archaeologists suggest the site was used as a lunar observatory while others, of a less scientific bent, prefer the local folklore, which tells of giants petrified for their refusal to convert to Christianity. Perhaps because its origins are undetermined, the Callanish Stones have a mystical quality.

Of course there is much more information online, which I will be studying for as many of you know, I find it a fascinating subject and have only seen Stonehenge and Avebury.

Though I no longer put up wall calendars I do save certain images… this one is a keeper! I could not find the photographer’s name to give due credit.

news about St. Michael’s


Some readers may recall my posts about our fall 2013 island hopping trip along some of our BC coast, and particularly about Alert Bay where we saw St. Michael’s Indian Residential School. Though that terrible place was eventually closed in 1974, it was left standing as a haunting memorial to those many First Nations children who had lived there.

Now there is news that it will be demolished this month. I only learned this when the reporter requested permission to use my photo for the report in The Prince George Citizen. This has reawakended in me some of those feelings of shock, sadness and horror in seeing it, though nothing like those feelings surely experienced by the families that were affected, so I wish and hope this demolition will bring some peace for them.

Added Feb.15th, 2015: more in CBC/BC News and Global News, the latter with a photo taken in 1970.

Added Feb.19th: Alert Bay residential school survivors gather for the demolition ceremony, in the Globe & Mail, with interesting additional links and video which includes views of the interior of the building.

Plus this heart-rending and heartwarming story and video on The Tyee .

radical Canada Day


Happy Canada Day! Happy 147th Birthday, Canada!

I love my adopted country. But I weep for the way it is being degraded.

Thus David Suzuki’s profound message about Canada today speaks for me. Please read.

read these


Instead of words from me, here are some suggested readings, both related to textiles, which inspired me this week:

On Thursday June 12th Charllotte Kwon, owner of Maiwa Handprints and founder of the Maiwa Foundation, received an honorary doctorate from the University of the Fraser Valley for her work empowering artisans from developing nations and battling poverty by providing a market for their traditional crafts. Read her wonderful address to the audience.

A rare, 2000-year-old funeral shroud went on display at a museum in Lima, Peru. The pre-Incan, fragile textile is part of Paracas textiles that Sweden is returning to Peru. Stunningly gorgeous work that has preserved for so very long. Do check out all the links in this article to see some of the work. Many thanks to Susan for sending this to me!

Image above: A section from a collagraph test print which I later made into a card.

under the bridge


found in the annual purge of the photo album, not my usual subject matter


the underside of Granville Street Bridge, the section over Granville Island


maintenance repairs and upgrades for earthquake resistance


made me think of a few ‘bridge’ quotes:

I am seeking for the bridge which leans from the visible to the invisible through reality.
– Max Beckmann

We will burn that bridge when we come to it.
– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

London Bridge is broken down, my fair lady
– Henry Carey: Namby Pamby

Added Feb.2, 2014: How timely! The Vancouver Sun has posted an article and many photos of the Granville Bridge’s opening to great fanfare 60 years ago. The bridge was built above an earlier Granville Bridge that had spanned False Creek since 1909. The 1909 bridge had replaced a third Granville Bridge which was built in 1889, when Vancouver was only three years old.

two candles


Two candles placed in the window of each home for Finland’s 96th Independence Day, is a long tradition on this day rooted in a time to remember and bring home safely the soldiers who freed Finland from Russia in 1917. The president of Finland even remembers Finnish expatriates in his speech on this day. Happy Independence Day to Finland and my Finnish readers!

On a deeply sad note these candles are also to honour the life and death of Nelson Mandela who died yesterday. So many tributes pouring in for this great man – here is one of many that I like: The Lincoln of Africa

Two candles for a birth of a nation freed from another power.
Two candles for honouring a man who fought for the rebirth of his nation and its people.

old technology

I have been revisiting some of my husband’s photos taken inside the Sointula Museum. He only had his camera phone so unfortunately they are not very sharp. I’m quite intrigued by a couple of examples of very old technology.


The card on the switchboard says:

Telephones first came to Sointula January 23, 1956. This is the ORIGINAL SWITCHBOARD used by the North-West Telephone bilingual exhange telephone service. Sointula jumped from eight telephones on one party-line to one hundred telphones and a switchboard managed by operators who were fluent in both Finnish and English. It is believed that Sointula is B.C.’s first bilingual telephone exchange.

Below, as labelled, is a Finnish typewriter, patented 1912.


I asked myself, does it have a Finnish keyboard? I blew up the image to try to read the worn out keys. I could tell it’s not our current English keyboard. With the help of a little photoshop sharpening, I think that the two lower left keys are an ä and ö, very important letters in the Finnish language.

Alert Bay’s Residential School


Some time before our own island hopping journey last month, some dear friends had done a similar trip a bit earlier going farther north but also visiting Sointula and Alert Bay. They warned us about a very disturbing sight at Alert Bay. Indeed, as we approached Cormorant Island on the ferry and saw the village, we were stunned by the vision of a huge prison-like brick building standing out above the smaller structures.


This is St. Michael’s Indian Residential School. It operated from 1929 to 1974. When the school was closed, the First Nations residents of the island took over the ownership and decided to leave it standing, its deteriorating condition being a horrific testament to a tragic past of cultural genocide.


The Indian residential school system was implemented in 1879 by the Canadian government to eliminate the “Indian problem”—that is, to absorb the Aboriginal population into the dominant Canadian identity, and to impose Christianity, English or French as the primary languages, and the abandonment of cultural and family traditions. St. Michael’s Indian Residential School in Alert Bay was one of 140 Indian residential schools that operated in Canada. (quote from the Museum of Anthropology page regarding an exhibition I just learned about and must go see.)


It is located right next to the U’mista Cultural Centre which I wrote about yesterday. One side about a loss of culture, pride, language and family connection, the other about reviving pride in one’s culture, language and history.


Viewing this was all very very disturbing for us all, and quite the eye opener for our European visitors. It still remains with me, making this a difficult post to write. Man’s inhumanity to man.


This scene is in the grassy treed area in front of the school. In its innocence, it still made me sad when thinking of the long ago suffering children, yet suggesting hope and happiness for today’s.

We were to learn that while we were here, back in Vancouver was a huge gathering of First Nations from across Canada for the Truth and Reconciliation Week. There were many many articles in the media about this event, but I’ll just post a few below should you be interested. Do at least visit the first one, a heartwarming story by a local well-known blogger who was there:

Walking Reconciliation by Chris Corrigan

CBC: Seeking Truth and Reconciliation in Vancouver

To Break Residential Schools’ Dark Legacy, Understand Why

ADDED later: more photos of St. Michael’s

Alert Bay history


‘Namgis Bighouse, next to the world’s tallest totem pole


the front doors of the U’Mista Cultural Centre

As I mentioned in my first Alert Bay post, we learned, unfortunately for us, that the U’Mista Cultural Centre was closed for two reasons, one that it was now on the fall/winter schedule with a Monday closing, and secondly and more seriously because of a recent fire.

In our wanderings around the village, we came upon U’Mista with its stunning doorside panels. I’m sorry I did not get a good picture of the larger structure. Unable to go inside, I thus want to point out their excellent website which I’ve been studying several times. For starters, the meaning of U’Mista is enlightening:

In earlier days, people were sometimes taken captive by raiding parties. When they returned to their homes, either through payment of ransom or by a raid, they were said to have u’mista. The return of our treasures from distant museums is a form of u’mista.

Do have a look at the gorgeous masks in the collection.

I’m grateful for websites like this and that we had managed a visit to Quadra Island’s Nuyumbalees Cultural Centre with its similar masks and other works, their stories and their sad history with the arrival of the Europeans.

Here’s more about that history.

more Alert Bay



Above: details of just two sections of the World’s Tallest Totem Pole. The Totem Pole is comprised of a 163 Foot and a 10 Foot pole making it 173 feet tall. Unlike most Totem Poles, which are specific to a particular family, the figures on this pole represent some of the tribes of the Kwakwaka’wakw. (from the PDF about Alert Bay’s Totem Poles)



There are several totem poles located around the village and we visited quite a number, thanks to the map. It is fascinating how unique each is. Some are fairly recently created memorials placed in front of homes of the deceased. The above linked PDF document is certainly worth a read.