Location: North Vancouver

Our ArtsQuest 2012 Highlights

Our ArtsQuest 2012 Highlights

Autumn leaves in P.E.I. National Park

Well here we are; the start of 2013 and so much has happened in our previous year, and I suppose so much didn’t happen such as the end of the world for the doomsday believers! Our ArtsQuest journey from coast to coast and back was filled with adventure, wonderful people, challenges and warm memories. From traversing the winding Duffy Lake Road between Pemberton and Lillooet in British Columbia, to a rocking and rolling fifteen hour ferry ride on our way to Newfoundland (it was supposed to be 7-8hrs!), we were never short of Mother Nature’s gifts and reminders of who is in charge as we ambled along through this vast country in our (mostly) trusty 1991 VW van, Arty.

Some highlights include…

British Columbia’s beauty seducing us at our own private wooded campground along the Lillooet River in Pemberton, offered up by the kind brother of an interviewed artist while we were scrambling to find a place to stay for the night. We also happened to be “adopted” by our new friends from Creston while hanging out at the Tourist Info Centre in Cranbrook, and now referred to as “the kids.”

Pemberton, B.C. private campground

Alberta provided familiarity with family and friends. That familiarity was a most welcome beacon of help as we incurred our first coolant leak while stopping over in Calgary, home to our trusted VW mechanic who fixed Arty up. Our home province also gave us new discoveries such as Medalta Potteries in Medicine Hat and a free bag of black beans from the Tourist Info Centre in Bow Island where “Pinto MacBean” greets passersby.

Sunrise in Bergen, AB

Saskatchewan’s beautiful Cypress Hills gave contrast to our second, troublesome coolant leak which we managed to fix in the Canadian Tire parking lot in Moose Jaw, a task made most unpleasant by the unrelenting heat. As a reward, we found a charming, free, mostly serviced municipal campground in Eyebrow where we were greeted by hoards of Monarch butterflies mingling with the lilac bushes. Consequently we decided to stay for three days. Sweet! Other flying creatures proved not as hospitable as we were overwhelmed by billions of blood-thirsty mosquitos in Moose Mountain Provincial Park and had to bid a hasty retreat in hurricane force winds and rain to the relative safety of the Bear Claw Casino parking lot. That night a fifth wheel was blown off the road not far from us.

Moose Jaw…of course!

Manitoba was an awakening of new discoveries as I reconnected with my Mennonite roots and relations from thirty five years ago while also meeting many, many, more new ones. I am grateful for this reunion as well as the yummy farmer’s sausage and perogies that came with the territory. The European flavoured town of Notre-Dame-de-Lourdes, with its French heritage, was such a friendly town with numerous people striking up a conversation and making us feel welcome. They also had a nicely shaded campground and the best ice cold, spring fed drinking water.

A barley sunset in Hartney, MB

Ontario is big, really big! Our refreshing swim in Lake Superior at Agawa Bay was just a brief glimpse of the endless shoreline between Thunder Bay and Sault Ste. Marie, a distance of over 700 km! Complete strangers inviting us to stay at their lakeside cottage in Marmora and an impromptu tour of Napanee from yet another stranger on the street were just a couple of examples of people giving generously of their time and reaching out with hospitality and kindness. Oops! Coolant leak number three in Cornwall and fixed up p.d.q. by the VW dealership!

Ontario fall colours emerging

Québec, here we come! Our pitiful grade 12 French, empathized by the gracious and mostly bilingual residents, made our visit to La Belle Province not quite as embarrassing as we had imagined. The old Quebec City fortifications, farmer’s market cheese, Le Ricaneux Portageur port wine, Wakefield, Vaudreuil-Dorion and the Eastern Township are but a sampling of Québec’s charms! Exploring the Gaspé Peninsula and north of the St. Lawrence Seaway are a must for our next trip.

Fresco mural in Sherbrooke, QC

Aahh New Brunswick! The forests and waterways of this pristine province are an outdoorsman’s paradise! It is also the king of recycling, providing less garbage disposal opportunities and more recycling and composting options than its neighbours. Kouchibouguac National Park was a delight, with its boardwalk, lagoon and sandy beaches. Camping by the Bay, a private campground located on Chaleur Bay in Black Point provided a spectacular site overlooking the beautiful water, sea birds, sea sounds and sunsets. All areas of NB such as Edmundston, Fredericton and Miramichi were filled with beauty and wonder!

Sunset over Chaleur Bay, NB

Prince Edward Island, accessed by the 13 km Confederation Bridge was a breathtaking, rolling, red-soiled, pastoral landscape. Cows Creamery ice cream, The Prince Edward Island Preserve Company in New Glasgow with their to-die-for raspberry cake, and the miles of sandy beaches for those long walks will be repeat attractions. Despite Arty getting egg on his face from some nefarious ne’er-do-wells at 3:00 am in a Walmart parking lot in Charlottetown (a fox came along and licked up the ground remains!), we were unaffected as we celebrated our 11th year wedding anniversary at the Prince Edward Island National Park campground.

Happy 11th Year Anniversary in P.E.I.!

The Fortress of Louisbourg and the Grand-Pré National Historic Site are a must to see in Nova Scotia, as well as dozens of other towns and attractions such as the picturesque home of the Bluenose: Lunenburg. This was also the stop for our seafood dinner at The Old Fish Factory with a gift certificate from friends. Visiting family in Hackett’s Cove and friends in Eastern Passage were welcome stops. A partial tour of the Cabot Trail on our way from Baddeck to Inverness whets our appetite for more exploration of this historic and breathtaking road.

Peggy’s Cove, NS

Newfoundland. As my opening paragraph would indicate, it is not just a hop, skip and a jump to get there. With rough seas more often than not, even the strongest of stomachs may find themselves spending more time in the head (toilet for you landlubbers) than on deck. Once on solid ground though it is a world of wild blueberries, unforgettable fish and chips at Chafe’s Landing Seafood Eatery in Petty Harbour, Vikings at L’Anse aux Meadows, stunning sunsets in Twillingate, the Tablelands in Gros Morne National Park, the Mummers, canned moose meat and moose collision stories with their genesis from a resident moose population nearing that of its human inhabitants. Unforgettable, wild, distinct and worthy of more than the two weeks we were on “The Rock.”

Viking dwelling at L’anse aux Meadows, NFLD

Click on the thumbnail images below for a larger view of our memories:

As you can see from our tip-of-the-iceberg tasting of Canada’s attractions there is so much to see and do in our vast country, and that’s without setting foot (yet!) in the northern territories, Labrador and the unexplored regions of the provinces we already visited.

This coming year will be a momentous one for both ArtsQuest.ca and us personally! With the launch of our marketplace website combined with another tour of duty (read fun!) across Canada combined with finding a permanent home for us, we will be busier than a mosquito at a nudist colony! Stay tuned for the seven remaining 2012 interviews that we will be posting for your viewing pleasure while at the same time springboarding into 2013!!

Artists For Conservation Festival 2011

Grouse Mountain in North Vancouver, British Columbia is currently host to the Artists For Conservation Festival 2011 where we enjoyed an event filled opening day on Saturday; taking in the sights, sounds and beauty of this idyllic setting.

Our day began by taking the 8 minute gondola Skyride past the resident wolves; retired from the movie industry and still living the same cushy lifestyle they have grown accustomed to from their raised-in-captivity upbringing. (I think Corinne would have preferred visiting them at their ground level abode than be hanging from a cable in a box high above the ground, so I give her credit!) Once at the top we refreshed ourselves by walking past the blowing snow making machinery enroute to the grizzly bear refuge, where Grinder and Coola were patiently waiting for their camera shots from the arriving paparazzi. Being popular has its obligations!

Coola and Grinder working the crowd

The abundant wildlife wasn’t just from the visitors; Corinne also had a chat with Grouse Mountain’s newest Wildlife Ambassador Tyto, a male Barn Owl recently adopted from the Canadian Raptor Conservancy. Welcome Tyto!

Barn Owl Tyto giving a press conference

Our morning progressed with keynote lectures from world renowned Canadian wildlife artist, environmentalist and naturalist Robert Bateman, and as well from artist/diver/conservationist Guy Harvey from Florida.

Robert Bateman discussed the progression of art through history, arriving at his own life’s work and then ending with his views on nature tying in to a healthy body, environment, family, and ultimately a happy and healthy life. A simple solution: Spending time in nature can alleviate virtually any disfunction; a common refrain from many, including Dr. David Suzuki in his article Sustainable activism in the March 2011 issue of the magazine Common Ground. Mr. Bateman urged people to reconnect themselves and their children back to nature and one way to do that is through the creative connection between their senses, their brains and nature. It is certainly no secret then why the connection that 500 artists have to their natural surroundings has led to the creation of the non-profit conservation organization Artists For Conservation through founder Jeffrey Whiting.

Robert Bateman and his new original painting unveiled

Dr. Guy Harvey, a fierce advocate for marine sustainability, has dedicated his life to educating people of the importance to conserving our water ecosystems and fisheries. He noted that in some parts of the world eco-tourism fishing and scuba diving has gleaned more dollars for the economy than if those fish species had been put on someone’s dinner plate for a one time cost. Barbados, for example, took in 80 million dollars in one year in those industries which is exponentially higher than what the consumptive profits would have been. In other words, those fish were worth more alive than dead! Food for thought…

We also took in the premiere showing of How an Artist Saved the Mountain Gorilla; a film showing the journey of Stephen Quinn from the American Museum of Natural History retracing Carl Akeley’s expedition to Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo to study the endangered mountain gorillas. Akeley was an icon with the museum and catalyzed the creation of Africa’s first national park. Quinn and co-expedition member Jeffrey Whiting sought out the site using a painting created from Carl Akeley’s team member and used it as a map to seek out the location in the dangerous Hutu militia occupied area. Once found, he recreated the painting in the exact spot that William R. Leigh painted it 90 years ago. Akeley’s famous diorama of the mountain gorilla which was inspired from Leigh’s painting is still on display at the museum. Carl Akeley’s efforts to preserve the mountain gorilla and its habitat eventually had its toll and he died of dysentery and malaria in 1926. He was buried at the site of the famous painting.

Stephen Quinn's painting of the mountain gorilla scene

Stephen Quinn's sketch book