December 31, 2015

Fergie's at Sunwolf in Squamish

One of the reasons we decided to stay at Sunwolf was their restaurant called Fergie's. It's become at go-to place for breakfast and brunch, for locals and visitors alike.

The chef, Jason Nadeau, uses fresh, seasonal and local products in creating a menu that's down-to-earth and delicious.

Fergie's Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The restaurant is small. In fact, the overflow, and there is a morning overflow of diners, goes outside, which can get a bit chilly on these frosty mornings. No matter, the food is excellent and the service warm and friendly. The only improvement might be the addition of an espresso machine for those of us craving a proper cup of Joe, but that's a minor quibbling as Galileo coffee is served here.

Open for breakfast and lunch everyday, the menu is what you might expect, heavy on eggs and hash, with a veggie option and fantastic house-smoked lox. The sausages are spicy and delicious. Daily soups and specials appear too.

Fergie's is open to public, not just for those staying at Sunwolf. It is a great little cafe and not to be missed when in Squamish.

Photos by Jeem. Copyright 2015 by Jim Murray.

December 30, 2015

Sunwolf in Brackendale

Getting out of town at this busy time of year is always a treat. There's something about snow on the ground and fresh mountain air in your lungs to make one forget about the frenetic pace of the holidays in a city.

So, just before Christmas we found ourselves staying at the Sunwolf resort in Brackendale, about 13 km from Squamish.

On the banks of the Cheakamus and Cheekeye rivers, this is a year-round resort offering whitewater rafting, fishing and eagle-viewing float trips. Brackendale is the winter home for thousands of bald eagles and that's another reason for our stay at Sunwolf.

There were a number of rustic riverside cabins available, but we chose the Logger's Shack because it featured a wood-burning stove, which sounded fantastic on a cold winter's night.

Our bed was located in the loft. The loft provided almost no headroom at all. which was not unlike the loft in number seven at Lakeside Gardens! We understand this kind of place.

The ceiling did not allow one to stand up in the loft; crawling, or slouching into bed, was required. There was only one night table by the bed, with one light, which made reading in bed a wee bit difficult for two people. All that being said, the bed was comfortable and cozy.

When we arrived, the cabin was cool and we went to work building a fire in the small stove. Starting the fire was easy enough, getting it to stay lit, to provide heat, was more difficult. Jeem, regaling us with his experiences in the Paris demonstrations of 1968, suggested using the gasoline tanks we all noticed near the stand of firewood.

Once a proper fire was underway we were toasty-warm all night.

All in all, we had a relaxing and enjoyable stay in the Logger's Shack at Sunwolf. All the staff we met were attentive and friendly; they seem to like working here and our experience was positive indeed.

And... on our way home to Vancouver, we were able to pick up Jeem from the burn unit at the local hospital just in time for his appointment at the police station for further questioning.

Photos by Jeem. Copyright 2015 by Jim Murray.

December 28, 2015

Galileo Coffee Company in Britannia Beach

On the Sea to Sky Highway, between Vancouver and Squamish, in the town of Britannia Beach, rests an amazing coffee roaster and café known as the Galileo Coffee Company.

The place is not quite wheelchair accessible; "not" being the operative word, though I'm sure friendly folk would always help someone in need of a caffeine fix.

Galileo Coffee Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Housed in the Matheson House, which was built in 1905 for the manager of the nearby copper mine, the café offers fine coffees, in-house baking and quick sandwiches for those driving the 99.

Open since 2005, Galileo Coffee Company is a specialty roaster of coffees, including the usual organic varieties. Small batches of coffee are roasted regularly, with a stated desire to bring out the essence and flavour of the beans, and freshness is readily apparent.

Of note, Galileo Coffee Company has teamed up with Howe Sound Brewing in Squamish to create a wonderful coffee ale based on an organic Mexican coffee bean. Mexican Chiapas Coffee Ale is full of coffee flavour and brewed in the Howe Sound tradition of fine ales.

Getting back to the coffee, my espresso was full and rich with a hint of chocolate, while the latte was a wee bit too milky for Jeem's taste.

Santa's Brew coffee, a seasonal blend, had the expected spice notes and a rather pleasant nutty taste. Delightful.

We will be back.

Photos by Jeem. Copyright 2015 by Jim Murray

December 13, 2015

The Christmas Eve Truce ~ Joyeux Noël

War can be a difficult thing to manage.

The war was supposed to over, but by the beginning of December 1914 there existed a stalemate of sorts. Hastily built defensive trenches began at the edge of the English Channel and continued all the way to Switzerland. Barbed wire and parapets defended the trenches and between them stretched a no-mans-land that in some places was no more than ten-metres wide.

Life in the trenches was horrible; continuous sniping, machine gun fire and artillery shelling took a deadly toll, as did rain, snow and cold. It was monotonous.

By Christmas Eve both sides had received Christmas packages from home, including food, presents, and alcoholic beverages.

And somehow, men in the trenches decided to end the war, if only for a few hours or days. How it all happened varies, but all along a fifty kilometre line, soldiers came together in no-mans-land to talk, sing, exchange gifts and to play impromptu games of football. And to bury their dead, often with joint services. It seemed absurd, and it was. Yet it happened at the end of 1914 on the European theatre of war.

When the high commands on both sides found out, orders were given to stop the fraternising. At once. Immediately. In some areas the truce ended Christmas Day. In other areas the following day, and in others it extended to New Year's Day. Men were disciplined, but few if any, were were subject to courts martial. That would have meant trials and even more publicity for an event the political masters wanted to disappear. In fact, much of the story only came out because of letters from the front that were posted and missed the censor's pencil, as this one released by the family last year.
Dearest mother, I think I have seen today one of the most extraordinary sights that anyone has ever seen.
About 10 o'clock this morning I was peeping over the parapet when I saw a German, waving his arms, and presently two of them got out of their trench and came towards ours.
We were just going to fire on them when we saw they had no rifles, so one of our men went to meet them and in about two minutes the ground between the two lines of trenches was swarming with men and officers of both sides, shaking hands and wishing each other a happy Christmas.

He goes on to talk about the football match and the sound of the bagpipes that played all day.

A French movie made in 2005 remembers the Christmas Eve Truce. Joyeux Noël  (or see the English version of the movie's website ) is a wonderful film, featuring the truce as celebrated by three forces: the Scots, French and Germans. If you haven't seen it, view the trailer, and get the film. And yes, the pipes get a big part in the movie. As they did in 1914.

War is a hard thing to manage. The politicians and generals need our approval. Why do we give it so readily I wonder?

War is over if you want it.

Copyright 2015 by Jim Murray.

December 06, 2015

Remembering the 14 from École Polytechnique and the hundreds of missing and murdered...

On December 6, 1989, a 25 year-old man entered École Polytechnique in Montréal armed with a hunting knife and a .22 calibre rifle. He went from class to class in the engineering school, separating men from women and open firing on what he called "une gange de féministes." His rampage stretched three floors and several classrooms. He murdered 14 women simply because they were women.

A year later Parliament established the anniversary as the National Day of Remembrance and Action
on Violence Against Women.

In 26 years not much has changed in this country. Violence continues against women and girls across Canada. Inaction by governments and police agencies has become routine.

In fact, a report released by the RCMP earlier this year marked the first time that police in Canada have attempted, at the national level, to identify how many First Nations, Inuit or Métis women and girls have been murdered or have gone missing.

According to the report, 1,017 women and girls identified as Indigenous were murdered between 1980 and 2012. This is a rate 4.5 times higher than that of all other women in Canada. Additionally, the report stated that as of November 2013, at least 105 Indigenous women and girls remained missing under suspicious circumstances or for undetermined reasons. For years our national government has refused to act. It's time for that to change.

December 01, 2015

Global Climate March in Vancouver ~ November 29th

It was a bright, cold Sunday afternoon at the end of November, with temperatures hovering near the freezing mark for much of the day. A little warming might have been welcome, but that's not what brought thousands of us together in downtown Vancouver.

We assembled in the shadows of the Vancouver Art Gallery, within the reflection of high rise buildings and the bustle of a consumer society weekend.

We were greeted with drumming, more drumming, speeches and more drumming. The atmosphere was inviting and hopeful, and most assuredly: family-friendly.

Finally, in our thousands, we took to the street to walk through the downtown. There were chants and slogans, yells and cheers, and singing too. 

Many groups were represented at the march. The United Church was there, as were other faith groups. Unions were involved, including the BCTF and the BCGEU. Jeem's comrades with the Marxist-Leninist Party were proudly present too.

And so we marched. And marched. And chanted. Some of us might have been heading in the wrong direction, but...

It was all good fun. Apart from being cold of course.

When we rounded the corner at Burrard we came upon an inspiring sight, that of an Esso station being occupied by students.

                                                                                                                                                                       The "occupation" was all in good cheer too of course, and it gave us pause to consider how much power citizens actually hold, and maybe   how much power we have been willing to hand   over to politicians and corporations. 

                                                                                                                                                                                                    While many of the day's marchers were probably supporters of the New Democratic Party, I didn't see a visible sign of the party's direct involvement in the day's events. Of course we don't expect the Liberals or Conservatives to be present, but wouldn't this event be a natural for an activist party moving ever more steadily towards a fully green platform?                                                                                                                    Who will speak for us? In Paris, in Ottawa or in Victoria?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                             And why, after all these years, are we still having to march in the streets for something that should have settled forty years ago? To ask that question is to come back to the question of who speaks for us.                                                                                                                                                                                              Photos by Jeem.   Copyright 2015 by Jim Murray.