Saturday, July 17, 2021

Signs of the Time . . . .

It has been tough for small business during the COVID-19 Pandemic and many have been forced to close. The ones that have managed to remain open have had to find ways to survive, some have transitioned to a different model or changed how they do things. As I walked around Toronto looking into the stores that are slowly working their way back to ‘normal’ one strategy I have seen is the use of unique and perhaps odd signs that make potential customers stop, notice and then maybe go in. Here are some of the examples I saw on my walks. 

This one I have seen previously and I am not really sure what the building is . . . I suspect some sort of bicycle shop or perhaps a bicycle ‘chop-shop’, but their exterior doesn’t even have a sign, just odd decoration.

Again, I am not sure what this shop, diner or service is because it is not in a language I recognize, but the use of recycled old lumber did catch my attention and make me stop to snap a picture. 

Now I certainly do know what the name of this shop is, but how many times do you need to say it. 

I do not know what their Apple Cake is like, but I do question the placing of the sign right above their garbage and recycling bins?

So, I think I should be safe to shop here with all the rules clearly posted outside the door. 

If I was in the market for some, I think this sign might make me choose this location over the competition.

Well, this is one way encourage people to get vaccinated . . . . .

Wednesday, July 14, 2021


You might recall my post back in June 2018 about the dogs in Kejick where our daughter Alisha works as the school Principal. This post is about another Kejick dog. Alisha is definitely a ‘dog person’, she loves dogs and they love her. As well, she has turned into a bit of a ‘dog whisperer’, showing amazing ability to effectively train dogs. On one trip to visit her in Ottawa we found her dogsitting a little old dog called ‘Peanut’. After two weeks away, Peanut’s owners returned to collect their beloved pet, but were greeted by silence when they entered the apartment. “Oh my god, what happened to Peanut?” They exclaimed thinking he had expired because he always barked like mad when anyone came in the door. Alisha called him and explained that she did not allow that behaviour and had fixed it. I guess you can teach old dogs new tricks. 
Puppy Mochi & Bob

 Alisha found it hard to live among all the Kejick dogs without finding one she was so attracted to that she had to adopt him. This finally happened two years ago as the COVID pandemic hit. She met a little puppy and fell in love with him. He joined the household and has become part of the family. Bob the cat who was already #1 in the pet department was not pleased at first, but eventually whipped this new addition into shape and decided to accept him (He knew he had little choice I suspect). 

 His name is Mochi, and he looks like a lean German Shepherd, but like many of the dogs from the Reserve, he is probably part wolf. However, there is nothing wild about him, he has turned into a kind, gentle, well behaved fellow, and I finally got to meet him on this visit to Ontario. Of course I watched him grow up via Pandemic Sunday Dinner video chats every week, but it was nice to finally get to meet this newest member of the family. I had become friends with Bob the cat during our two visits to Kejick and I think Mochi has approved me as family as well. 
Mochi looking His Best!

 Alisha has done an amazing job training this canine friend. He is so well behaved, and comes instantly when called and follows commands perfectly. Although he will briefly bark at strangers, once he meets you he is calm, friendly and affectionate . He even accepted the indignity and embarrassment of having to wear booties when visiting Ryan and Ben to protect their new hardwood floors. Alisha and Derek bought a boat soon after Mochi arrived and she insisted he learn to be comfortable on the boat, so it has become an activity he really enjoys. He was with us on the Trip through the Trent-Severn locks and was perfectly behaved except for one time he found he was in the boat and Alisha was on the shore watching us through the lock; he worried and fussed about not being with her and Derek said “Yea, he does that for her, but doesn’t much care if I’m not right there.”. He is very definitely “her” dog. 

All Dressed up!

 Every time I saw this dog via video I knew I wanted to meet him and now that I have, I am even more impressed with him. Of course I think it helps that he seems to really like me as well.
Mochi Guiding the Boat

Mochi & Friends at home In Kejick

Adding More Locks

You probably recall my previous posts about boat locks, so if this is of no interest to you, you may skip this post. Living in Dartmouth, close to the Shubenacadie canal system, I was familiar with locks and how they worked. I have been through the Panama Canal locks twice and enjoyed this experience greatly. I then started taking Narrowboat vacations in the UK, and learned by experience how the locks worked, as we actually worked many locks on our three trips there. A river cruise from The Netherlands to Hungary allowed me to experience a lot different and larger locks through Europe, and a cruise on the Nile added to the number of locks I have visited or passed through. Although I still have not actually counted the number, I expect it is close to 100. On this trip, I was able to add to that number by touring some of the Trent-Severn Waterway in Ontario. 

Waiting for the Lock to Open

My daughter and her husband live on a large lake in Northern Ontario and they bought a boat to enjoy the lake there and all it has to offer. Since we had not seen them in two years they decided to make this visit to Ontario extra special so they trailered their boat from Lac Seul to Peterborough where his family lives, and where you can easily access the Trent-Severn waterway. Our son-in-law, Derek offered to act as captain and tour guide so we loaded all six of us onto the boat along with the dog, and set out to spend the day exploring a section of the waterway. 

Although similar in design to the locks we experienced in England, these are bigger to accommodate larger boats, but are still operated by hand. Here I did not have to get out and actually operate the locks myself, strong young people were on hand to open and close the locks for us. I thought what a great summer job this must be; out in the fresh air meeting people every day, and the lock operators seemed to conform this with a seemingly genuine interest in the job. You were greeted with a smile and given a friendly wave as you left their assigned section of the waterway. Everyone was friendly and willing too chat and discuss their jobs with us as we passed through. 

Running the River

As we approached the first lock, we sounded a horn and the two lock attendants came out to greet us. They then allowed the lock to empty of water and we motored in. The doors closed and water gates were opened on the opposing doors, allowing the lock to refill, floating us up to the next level. This first lock was more complicated, as once we were through, one of the operators had to jump on a bicycle and pedal to the swing bridge a short distance along the canal which she then had to stop traffic and open to allow us through. As we were travelling on a slow Monday, with very little water traffic, the lock attendants phoned the next location and informed them we were coming so after having to wait at one lock, most of the others were ready for us and we did not have to wait for the lock to empty or fill. 

The Peterborough Lift Lock

There are 44 locks on this waterway, and we explored locks 21, 22, 23, and 24 before time made us turn back to get home before everything shut down for the day. Of these, lock 22 is probably the most interesting as it is a Lift lock, where you are lifted 60 feet from one level to another via hydraulics. There are two metal tubs of water that boats enter and as one is lifted the other descends. We experienced the Anderton boat lift in the UK that was 50 feet high but this one in Peterborough is higher by 10 feet. 

All in all, a great experience and a chance to spend time with family once again. And I got to add four more boat locks to my vacation adventures. 

The Swing Bridge 

Lock 21

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

COVID Toronto

Since our son moved to Toronto, I have discovered that I really enjoy the city, and love visiting he and his partner and exploring all that the vibrant city has to offer. However, visiting during the COVID-19 pandemic has certainly been different. Toronto had a serious outbreak and the area where our son lives was one of the most affected areas of the city for the virus. On the upside, they were able to get fully vaccinated quicker than even us ‘seniors’ back in Nova Scotia. Things have certainly settled down a lot, infection numbers are way down and with all of the family fully protected by two vaccinations, we felt quite safe, but dealing with the virus and the pandemic in a big city is different than in Nova Scotia. The population density is just so much greater and there is not as much space anywhere to social distance. Back home you might meet one or two people when walking somewhere, where here there is a steady stream of people sharing the sidewalks with you. For the most part people in Toronto are taking the virus very seriously, and most people out and about either wear a mask or have one around their neck, ready to pull it up for protection when needed. As a result, we are tending to spent time visiting the children at home rather than out exploring the city as much as we did. However, on a rainy Sunday after we arrived, I did decide to explore the neighbourhood around their new condo. It is an interesting neighbourhood, with many old heritage homes, and some beautiful newer condos and apartments, but as with any big city, also some seriously diverse areas, so the walk around the streets in the neighbourhood was an interesting one. I saw beautiful gardens, lovely parks but also tent dwellings for the homeless, some low rent buildings and, even one woman having a violent fist fight with an innocent garden plant that was obviously causing her concern. She was literally beating the s*** out of the poor plant with her fists as she cursed and swore at it - I moved out onto the street and hurried by worried that I might do something equally concerning to her.

I have attached a few photos from my exploring the neighbourhood.
A beautiful city garden

Just one of my "Art" photos
One way to encourage people to get vaccinated
Just another one . . . .
How long before the windows are covered?
Plants sharing space with natural gas lines

Friday, July 9, 2021

On The Road Again, Again!

On The Road Again!
After over two years of COVID-19 imposed Maritime isolation, we finally reached the 14 day safety date after our second vaccine ‘jab’, and decided to venture once more out into the world beyond our nice safe Maritime Provinces zone to go visit our children in Ontario. Our son and his partner had donned multiple masks and face shields to escape their pandemic hot spot in Toronto and come to the relative safety of Nova Scotia last summer, but we had not seen our daughter and her husband for two years, so we were really looking forward to all getting together at our son’s new condo in Toronto. 

We really did not know what to expect leaving the province, but none of the provinces we traveled through had any border restrictions, although we did notice a line-up of people coming back into New Brunswick from Quebec, so expect to be stopped and quizzed on our vaccinations on our way home again. 

The first thing we noticed was that although there were lots of trucks on the roads, traffic in general was light and the drive was pleasant all the way. The lack of licence plates from other provinces and states was very obvious, most people were still sticking to their home provinces. Other than a U-Haul trailer with a Nevada plate towed by a car from Ontario I noticed no foreign vehicles at all. 

We stopped in Levis Quebec for the first night, and stayed at a motel owned by a couple from Venezuela. It was hard not to feel sorry for them as their motel was barely a quarter full and they had shut down the restaurant because of COVID. But they were happy to be here in Canada and not in their native country where they would have had to deal with not only COVID, but also a corrupt government and a large criminal element. 

Quebec City from across the River
Then we tried to find a place for dinner. A quick search on TripAdvisor gave a list of the 10 best restaurants in Levis, QC. However after a closer search, we found that nothing was open on Wednesday, except the chains or the fast food joints, and we wanted someplace interesting. However bouncing between the TripAdvisor site and the actual restaurant websites showed many different opinions of hours and days. One spot we were interested in showed it open on Wednesday on TripAdvisor, but the actual website said it was only open for take-out. Frustrated and confused we decided to get in the car and drive downtown and see what was there, and if we had to get fish & chips to go and sit on the bank of the St. Lawrence to eat dinner it would have to do. Locating the restaurant (Actually a very cool gastro-pub), we found a parking lot full of cars, and people out on a patio enjoying cool beverages. Obviously someone forgot to update the website. Not only were they open, they had really improved their menu and we ended up having a delicious dinner and excellent drinks. 

A rainy drive through Ontario

The following day, we drove through the rest go Quebec and into Ontario, arriving in Toronto happy to be able to connect with our children once more. 

So, our first real road trip revealed that although things are defiantly not back to “Normal”, things are improving and we may be on the road to recovery.