Sunday, December 23, 2007

Restoration of the Argyle II

I am the Secretary-Treasurer on the Argyle II Restoration Committee, a group of people from the Kenora, Ontario area who have dedicated them selves to the salvage and restoration of the old wooden boat Argyle II. This boat once plied the waters of the Lake of the Woods as a transportation vessel - essentially a "water bus" that took people who could not afford their own boat out on to the lake to enjoy its natural beauty and recreational opportunities.

One of the major trips was the excursion to Coney Island Beach, just a 5 minute ride from the Kenora Harbourfront where you could spend the day swimming, playing on the beach and enjoying a beautiful summer day. I went on the boat at least once when I was a child and perhaps more - I can't remember exactly how many times to tell you the truth.

Regardless, I do remember what a thrill it was to step on this boat's deck and watch as we pulled away from the dock and embarked on the short trip to Coney Island. The fare was around $1.25 per person or something ridiculously cheap like that. The boat was manufactured in 1936 and plied the waters as a commercial transport for almost 5 decades. It was sold to private interests in the mid-1970s and the folks who bought it used it as a cottage on the water for several years. However, the boat eventually fell into disrepair and the owners had planned to scuttle it in September of 2007. This is what the boat looks like today.

After looking at this image, you may be thinking I and the other people on the Committee are crazy - there is nothing to save. Hardly, the superstructure of the boat is still in fairly good shape and the steel ribbings on which the carvel wood plankings are attached is in very good condition. We do realize that it is and will be, a monumental effort to restore the boat and that it will take tons of sweat equity, time and money to do but what the hell, anything in life that is worthwhile is usually challenging - otherwise it would not have been worthwhile in the first place.

Our first task is to prepare a business plan for the salvage of the boat and present it to and have it accepted by, the current owners. We have to float the boat from its current location on Channel Island on Lake of the Woods to a drydock location at Kenora Forest Products in Keewatin. Once accepted by the current owners of the boat, we plan to execute the salvage phase of our plan between May 1 and May 14,2008.

As a Committee, we are in the process of incorporating as a not-for-profit entitiy and we hope to also obtain charitable status so we can provide tax receipts to people who give donations towards the restoration effort.

We are in need of cash right now however - and have raised about $6000.00 so far - but we estimate the salvage effort alone will cost between $10,000.00 to $12,000.00 to pull off. So if you agree this is a worthwhile endeavour, why not consider sending a donation to our Committee? Cheques can be made out to the "Argyle II Restoration Fund" and mailed to the Argyle II Restoration Committee, c/o Box 647, Kenora, Ontario, P9N 3X6.

As a token of our Committee's appreciation, anyone who makes a donation of $250.00 or more will receive a limited edition, 16x20 inch signed and numbered print of the Argyle in her hey day taken by re-knowned Kenora photographer Tom Thomson. There is a value to history and to preserving things from the past so why not consider lending us a hand?

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Fall is a Time of (Quick) Change in this Part Canada

Well it is almost October and up here in Canada, Fall is here and it is here NOW. Compared to most of the United States, our Fall in this part of Canada lasts only about 2 months and then the last month to month and a half (although technically is still "Fall") looks a heck of a lot more like winter. We get snow in this part of Canada usually by the first week of November and it doesn't go away until mid-April on average. Sometimes the snow and cold weather linger into the early part of May but that is pretty rare.

While our Fall is short and winter comes early, the "change" is truly beautiful and it occurs rapidly. Our "Fall colours" only last for 2, maybe 3 weeks and then all the leaves fall. This doesn't make it any less beautiful however. While I am used to winter, snow and cold because of where I live, and I don't mind winter too much, the fact it comes so early and leaves so late can be a little depressing. On the positive side the fishing is great at this time of year and since I love muskie fishing, I try to get out at least two or three times before the snow flies. It can be cold in the boat especially when the wind blows but the fish are hungry and are usually in the mood to bite. This guy certainly was and my buddy Marc caught him trolling last week. He was about 40 inches long and he weighed somewhere in the range of 15-18 pounds. Once we got him in the boat we took a few quick pictures and released him back into the lake. Maybe we'll catch him again next year!

I am not looking forward to winter this year, at least not now anyway. My kids love the seasonal change of course. Playing in the leaves is one of their favourite things to do in October - as it is for just about every kid I'm sure. I remember loving it as well when I was a kid so I guess some things never change and in my opinion, that is a good thing. Since we have two dogs one of the important things to do in our yard is making sure you clean up the doggy d00-doo BEFORE you rake the leaves. If you don't well, I'm sure you can figure out the potential consequences.....

Hockey season is also just about to get underway and boy, I hope the Maple Leafs actually do some this year. Making the playoffs would be a good start. They have not won the Stanley Cup since 1967 so hell it's about time don't ya think? Anyway, hockey means winter so I guess that I don't want to rush things as pretty soon, the beautiful fall colours will be gone and the land up here will look a lot like this- yikes!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

All those lost yesterdays

I was surfing a site I like to visit called Find A Grave. It has biographies and information about famous and not so famous people, where they are buried and other interesting facts about their lives. Usually I surf through the famous graves - mostly actors and actresses - as I recognize many of these people from watching TV and movies throughout my life.

As I was surfing through the names it occurred to me just how many of these people I recognized from the past and then it occurred to me that all these people were dead! I didn't realize that time has a way of passing quickly and all those men, women and even a few children I remember seeing on TV and the movies are all gone.

For example I didn't know that the actor who played the son of Captain Kirk in the first Star Trek movie was dead. Neither did I realize the guy who was the shopkeeper on Sesame Street for all those years was dead - but he is! Hell, over 50% of the actors and actresses I remember watching on TV or at the movies when I was a kid are dead - it still seems hard to believe - and I don't necessarily understand why I feel that way. There were many examples of this occurring every time I clicked on a new name. I didn't even recognize some of the names but I remembered the people from the pictures they post with their Biography.

Anyway, as I was looking and seeing how all those famous people have had their lives end it made me realize it wasn't all that long ago I was watching them on TV. Made me realize time flies and maybe that is a sign to do some things I've been wanting to do now, before its too late. I know that my kids, now 10 and 11, will be gone and out of the house in no time really, so NOW is the time to be with them. Not that I wasn't doing that mind you, but it reinforced by commitment to spending quantity and quality time with my kids. It also made me realize that both my parents don't have much time left at 77 years old.

In the fullness of time an individuals own lifespan is meaningless, not even a drop in the bucket in the big picture. What it did the most though was bring home the importance of the here and now, and that "seize the day" really is a meaningful expression. With all those lost yesterdays in my life, now is the time to act and make the most of the opportunities that come my way.

Cause in in the end, no one knows what tomorrow will bring. If you want to visit the website I was talking about click here

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Words of wisdom from another time

One of my favourite historical figures from the 20th Century is Albert Einstein. I am sure most of you know all about him or have at least heard of him and if not, then what rock have you been hiding under? Just kidding! If you don't know who he is here's a link to his biography:

In my opinion. Einstein is one of the greatest minds of the 20th century if not of all time. Yes, he contributed to the development of nuclear weapons but realized the potential consequences of those contributions and stated them clearly. if one looks back at his writings - which were extensive - one should come to the conclusion that his ideas were well ahead of his time and probably still are today.

I am no fan of the current world situation be it Muslim fanatacism, American foreign policy or religion in general. I think the latter (formal religion anyway) is one big conspiracy inflicted on mankind by man. Don't you notice that at the end of a sermon in church or on one of those stupid religious programs inflicted on TV viewers every Sunday it always comes down to "make sure you donate". For most of these so-called "men of God" all that really matters to them is money. Look at the the sex scandals of the Catholic Church or the way Muslims treat women etc - it is all bad in most cases.

The dogmatic nature of most religions - Catholicism and Islam are just 2 examples - have contributed to more death and destruction in the history of the human race than any other cause - even more than imperialism. To me the only religions which make some sense are Buddhism (essentially don't harm others is its mantra) and some of the beliefs of native Americans which I don't really think were really "religion" in the formal sense of the word. I admire the latter because the Native Americans believed in the link between the earth, the animals, plants, themselves and what they called the "Creator" - which most other religions call God. Unlike most other religions, native Americans saw themselves as part of the earth, not the supreme beings the other religions say we are. Most of our environmental problems we see today are the result of this "species superiority complex" humans have.

In relation to the subject matter of this post is that Einstein was a leader of the World Government Movement, which essentially proposes that if any order or peace is ever to be found amongst humans and some of the problems we face/create on a global scale, there must be a level of Government that looks at things from a global (as opposed to a nation-state) point of view. Sounds like a good plan to me yet there is little talk of it in todays world even with all the problems we are facing. Religion and nationalism are of course the major stumbling blocks as are human racial predjudices of course to achieving World Government.

Anyway, I want to encourage anyone who reads this post to learn more about Einstein and the concept of World Government. If we reflect on his wisdom and start looking towards global solutions while worrying less about national concerns or interests then and only then do we have a chance to survive what inevitably, will be our own self-destruction. The saddest fact is humans will take down the rest of the world with them when this happens and if things keep going the way they are, the "End" may be closer than we think.

Here are a few quotes from Einstein for everyone to read and ponder what meaning and application they might have in today's sorry world situation.

Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions which differ from the prejudices of their social environment. Most people are even incapable of forming such opinions.

Albert Einstein

I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.

Albert Einstein

Laws alone can not secure freedom of expression; in order that every man present his views without penalty there must be spirit of tolerance in the entire population.

Albert Einstein

Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former.

Albert Einstein

The ideals which have lighted my way, and time after time have given me new courage to face life cheerfully, have been Kindness, Beauty, and Truth. The trite subjects of human efforts, possessions, outward success, luxury have always seemed to me contemptible.

Albert Einstein

The release of atomic energy has not created a new problem. It has merely made more urgent the necessity of solving an existing one.

Albert Einstein

Try not to become a man of success but rather to become a man of value.

Albert Einstein

Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen.

Albert Einstein

Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.

Albert Einstein

The significant problems we have cannot be solved at the same level of thinking with which we created them.

Albert Einstein

You cannot simultaneously prevent and prepare for war.

Albert Einstein

If A is success in life, then A equals x plus y plus z. Work is x; y is play; and z is keeping your mouth shut.

Albert Einstein

Human beings, vegetables, or cosmic dust, we all dance to a mysterious tune, intoned in the distance by an invisible player.

Albert Einstein

Friday, July 20, 2007

Hello world!

My First Blog Post - Dryberry Lake

My brother is an avid blogger so I thought I'd give it a try. He is great at thinking of things to
post so I will (initially at least) pale in comparison to him. I thought I'd begin this journey with a post about my favourite place in the whole world. This is a lake in Ontario called Dryberry Lake. I love to go their to relax and to fish of course. This lake is known for its excellent trout and muskie fishing but really, I go there primarily just to get away. If you are ever searching for that perfect place where time seems to stop and where nothing is really all that important, then Dryberry Lake certainly qualifies as one of those places.

I have been there at times on a warm summer day and after beaching the boat, I find a nice granite outcrop to sit on and enjoy the view. I swear that if you close your eyes and listen to the silence, the feeling of peace and contentment you get is truly remarkable. To me this place is Heaven on earth! While the relaxation of visiting the lake is a real important reason I go there, even more important is the fact the lake has awesome muskie fishing.

The muskie, is one of North America's most sought after game fish. It is larger than its close cousin the northern pike and probably a bit smarter. They call the muskie the "fish of 10,000 casts" because relatively speaking, it is hard to catch. The image at the top is of my first ever muskie caught on Dryberry Lake. That's me on the left with my friend Marc holding the fish. Not huge or anything at 37 inches (they can grow to almost 60 inches and weigh over 50 pounds) but a great fish nonetheless.