Posts Tagged ‘Serendipity’

Free at last! I’ve pre-flighted and packaged up the Invisible Army.

Tomorrow it goes off to the printers – who knows what adventures await?

Still waiting for the final cover – trying to work in a late-breaking quote, but no biggie.

Now I can start work on my next project – an annotated bibliography of all the material that I consulted in the course of the research for the book. Any suggestions for the bibliographic style?


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May 29, 2009

 Courtesy of the RVCA

Canadian Rivers Day Cleanup


Sunday, June 14th is Canadian Rivers Day and to help celebrate our local creeks and promote clean water, the City Stream Watch program is holding a stream  cleanup on Sawmill Creek in Ottawa.  

From its headwaters along Lester Road, Sawmill Creek flows north through the community of South Keys and along the heavily-urbanized Bank Street before eventually joining the Rideau River at Billings Bridge.   Because of its urban watershed, a lot of garbage tends to collect along the banks and in the stream itself which can harm the important fish and wildlife habitat along the creek.  

The Sawmill Creek Cleanup runs from 9 am to 3 pm, with on-site lunch generously provided by the Monterey Inn Resort and Conference Centre.  If you would like a sandwich, please register by Monday, June 8th.   

We will meet at Heron Park and wade along the creek from there.   Heron Park is off Heron Road east of the Airport Parkway and west of Bank St.  From Heron Road, turn north onto Clover St., and the community centre and park is on the left side of the street.  We will park and meet there at 9 am.    Please bring your own drinking water, sun block, rubber boots, chest waders (if you own them) or sturdy footwear.  

To register or for more information, please contact Julia Sutton – City Stream Watch Coordinator at citystreamwatch@rvca.ca or  613-692-3571  x 1180.

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Dad-sketch-5Flash! The great wall of the Rideau is being rebuilt and for only $2 million –  read all about it this morning in the Ottawa Citizen. Minister John Baird is positioning this expenditure as necessary to remain attractive to tourists –  something like Botox ?

I recall reading that the post-WWII Department of Reconstruction paid then-big money to rebuild thousands of feet of concrete wall along the canal and around Dow’s Lake. This was aimed at stimulating an economy just making the transition to peace-time industries and looking for employment for returning soldiers.

When the Canal Basin was abandoned and filled during the late 1920’s, the original thousands of feet of concrete wall went up. There was 1455 feet worth from Connaught Place to Laurier Avenue on the west side; over 6100 feet of concrete went up on both sides of the canal from Bank to Bronson; 655 feet on the north side of Dow’s Lake, and a further 3000 feet planned to join this small wall to the rest of the canal.

The late 1920s was the flourishing era of the new concrete technology – it quickly pushed out the original stone masonry of the canal lock structures. Stone in the necessary sizes had become scarce, and thus expensive – concrete was one-third the price and didn’t need skilled masons, stone-cutters, etc.

Hartwells, Long Island, Burritt’s Rapids, Old Sly’s, Beveridges, Beckett’s Landing, Nicholson’s, Smiths Falls Combined, Chaffey’s, Jones Falls, Ottawa Locks – all had facilities reconstructed in concrete over this period.

I guess that we can’t go back and replace the “heritage” concrete with stone now, even if we could find it and the skills (and the money) to do it. It just wouldn’t qualify as “shovel-ready”.

Sic transit gloria mundi ……

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dad-sketch-53More info:

Ken advises that  his tour and talk is all about:

“Merrickville Landscapes:  Pre- and Post – canal landscapes of the area around the locks.”

A chance to stretch the old legs without undue danger of breaking a sweat – sweet!

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dad-sketch-52Howzat for alliteration, eh!

This Very Saturday – May 9th – The Annual Spring Meeting of the Friends of the Rideau – Legion Hall – Merrickville – 9:30 AM. Scawf down coffee and sweets, including coffee cake.

The Visual Landscape Strategy for the Rideau update from Heather Thomson, Heritage Planner, Parks Canada, is the highlight. It will be followed by a tour and talk by the one and only Ken Watson, webmaster, author and all-around guru of the Rideau.

See you there!

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dad-sketch-51Now that spring has sprung , we expect to see the return of the familiar birds – loons, ducks, and all the array of colourful and not so colourful creatures that give  the context.

The Migration Research Foundation (MRF) carries out Frontenac Bird Studies in the Frontenac Arch. They have a number of programs that they intend to launch this year – “Frontenac Breeding Birds”, “Project Whip-poor-will”, and “Frontenac Migratory Owl Watch”.

“Project Whip-poor-will” appeals to me. We’ve been visiting our cottage on Thirty Island Lake since 1975 . I distinctly remember hearing these plaintive calls in the evening,  sitting on the porch and contemplating nothing at all. Occasionally, we’d catch a glimpse of a gray-brown little bird flitting around a nearby big cedar tree. I don’t know when we stopped hearing them, but there’s been nothing over probably the past 5 years.

The loons are still coming – we  love listening to their ululating calls and watching the little ones paddling along behind their parents. The grandchildren think this is wonderful and endless merriment, trying to imitate the call and taking credit for a call-back. 

Much more at the web site, http://frontenacbirds.ca Many thanks to Margaret Brand of the Westport Review-Mirror for letting me in on this great program.

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In my earlier books on fishing guides along the Rideau, there were some 500 names that I found – there were probably another couple of hundred that I’m still not aware of. Life is like that.

Moving to a different topic – lock staff on the canal – has brought back the guides. One of the issues that the lock staff still face is managing water levels. Well, if water levels are lowered too quickly to a too low level, then it seems intuitive that fish will be hurt.

In the spring, it could ruin spawning. In the fall and winter, it would be fish survival, if they get caught in shallow holes that then freeze to the bottom. This also leads to winter kill of fur-bearing animals, such as muskrats ( ‘rats”). A lot of guides also trapped rats.dad-sketch-56

In the 20’s and 30’s, there were a number of petitions drawn up to protest water level management and that claimed massive fish and rat kills. While it seems that these claims were somewhat exaggerated (they were fishermen, after all), there was some truth to it and besides, it was possible to “fine tune” water levels. Anyway….

What I wanted to say is that I was surprised to see  the original petitions with the original signatures. Legendary guides such as Carl and Bob White of Elgin/Jones Falls, Fred Randolph of Chaffey’s Lock, Bill Lake of Newboro, and other guides from Westport, Seeley’s Bay, and Battersea are all there, along with names of guides that are new to me.

Great stuff! Now how to get this into a second edition of “Fish Tales” or maybe just put it into the almost-ready third book, “The Invisible Army”.

Stay tuned. If you have any views or questions, I’d like to hear them.

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