Friday, January 26, 2007


There is an article this week in the Manitoulin Expositor about the Norisle. Apparently the costs of keeping up are just getting too great for Manitowaning to handle and something will have to be done with it soon. Some suggestions so far include selling it for the scrap metal value or even sinking it to become a diving platform. The former would recover some of the costs of keeping the ship up over the years and the latter may bring in revenue in the future. It would at least keep the Norisle in the area and hopefully still draw some tourist dollars to the island.

I found the following information about the history of the Norisle at Wikipedia...

“The ship was 215ft in length and was one of the first vessels on the Great Lakes that could accommodate a large number of automobiles and livestock. The Norisle was built at the Collingwood shipyards in 1946—the first ship built in Canada after the end of World War II. Her engines were actually designed and built for a Royal Canadian Navy destroyer, however because of the end of the war, they were put into the Norisle instead. She sailed until the year 1974, when she and her sistership, the MS Norgoma, were replaced by the much larger and more modern MS Chi-Cheemaun which could accommodate a much larger number of automobiles, and passengers (but no livestock).”

Manitowaning just wouldn't be the same without this great reminder of the past inviting us onboard and I hope some way can be found to keep this bit of history afloat in the area.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


So, the Ontario Government can spend millions of dollars of our money constructing smokers lounges at their casinos because they are not in the business of selling food and drink? This is a menu from just one of the restaurants at just one of the casinos that they own and operate. Looks like food is available to me, what about you??

I'm not against the smoker's areas, just against the people we've elected ignoring their own laws to help themselves while at the same time discriminating against the bingo halls, restaurants and bars on this topic. Shouldn't people have a choice as long as they’re not hurting someone else? What’s wrong with giving smoker’s a separate area to relax or gamble in?

This photo is one that I saw on the MyChoice web site and is just one of the THREE our Provincial Government endorsed and paid for at Casino Windsor alone. Of course there are still four other casinos that the Government controls and each of them has, or will have, smokers shelters paid for by you and me at a minimum cost of $250,000.00 each. Makes me wonder what other double standards we have here in Ontario. What do you think?

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

I'll Take Three...

Been playing some on-line poker lately. Not for money, just at some of those fun sites like PartyPoker where you can play all day and work on sharpening your skills for free. I used to play a lot of money poker years ago but gave it up as someone always seems to get mad when it’s for real cashable bucks.

My first posting with the Hudson’s Bay Company back in the early 70’s was to Mistissini, about 60 miles north of Chibougamau, Quebec. This was a huge location for trapping and I’ll write a little bit about the community in another entry some day. Most of the people spent the entire winter season in the bush and twice each winter our store manager would charter a plane and visit each of the bush camps taking in supplies and buying fur. Anyway, to get to the point of the story for a couple months each winter we had pilots staying with us at the house and poker was the evening ritual. These were the fun times where no one ever lost more than $10 in the nickel and dime games. Later on after I went to a few other communities the hands got into the big money and just weren’t as much fun any more because none of us could afford to lose, so I quit the game for a lot of years.

I’m enjoying the on-line challenge although I think the game is easier to play when you have a physical opponent sitting across from you. It’s a little difficult to get a read as to whether or not they’re bluffing when you just have an avatar staring at you! So anyway, if you’re playing virtual poker some day and find yourself sitting at the same table with the WikyLion… take it easy on an old guy, will you?

PS: I think I lost to this bulldog the other day. He's one smooth pooch!

Thursday, January 18, 2007


It’s amazing what difference a little snow can make. Normally we have the Chickadees and Nuthatches but as soon as we get a little bit of white stuff the Purple Finches, Tree Sparrows and Juncos also show up on the deck. Of course there are the persistent Blue Jays that I’m at war with because they just swoop down, fill their gullets and disappear leaving nothing for the smaller birds but at least I get some exercise going back and forth to the window scaring them all day.

Speaking of birds… there is an interesting article in the Manitoulin Expositor this week about possible introduction of the Wild Turkey to the island. I thought that they had already brought some in but the impression I get from the article is that they are still just talking about it. I’ve always wanted to see a Turkey around the house and was sort of looking forward to perhaps a future hunt (Sorry, Chrissy!) but now I’m wondering if it’s true they would indeed do damage to our farming industry. I can see them eating grain but would it be that much more than the geese already do? It also mentions that they can trample the crops… hmmm, don’t know about that one. (Turkey photo is from Anita Gould's Flickr Site.)

I agree that they are not indigenous and if they were meant to flourish here then they probably would be around already. Maybe they were here long ago and died out for some reason. I’ll have to ask my in-laws and find out as I heard once upon a time that there used to be some in the M’Chigeeng area.

I’ve read somewhere that the English Sparrow was introduced to North America at one time and weren’t Pigeons imported as well? English Sparrows have some nasty habits and I’ve seen them take over other bird’s nest and throw the existing eggs out. I know nothing about the Wild Turkey and its characteristics but I wouldn’t want them to drive out any of our existing populations…. unless maybe we can pit them against the cormorants? (Cormorant photo from Dan Kaiser's Flickr Site.)

Monday, January 15, 2007

3 years 166 days and counting…

That’s what the countdown to retirement clock on my web site reads.

Just got the call the other day to start my years travel for Northern again and I’ve got to admit to mixed feelings. I received the e-mail in the morning asking if I would be available for a management relief in Northern Quebec and you know… it took me most of the rest of the day before I finally said yes. I’d known all along that I would, but there is a complete lack of excitement about starting another year of troubleshooting, training and take-overs. Maybe it’s because I’ve had better than two months off but it seems harder than usual to get started again.

A very good friend of mine wrote to me in an email today that he’s just scared of the term “early retirement.” Well, I would be too if that meant doing nothing but I’ve got too much to do, too many plans made, too many books to read, too many memories to document and I have no intention of just sitting on the deck and waiting for the rest of my life. There are things to build, a half dozen little money making little projects I’ve always said I’d start some day and a dozen more still just tickling the back of my mind, some of which will hopefully help pay the groceries. If they don’t… so be it. It’s all going to be fun anyway.

Here’s to the future… what’s in yours?

Friday, January 12, 2007

Ghosts and Memories...

A photo that Kusari posted on his Flickr site the other day finally inspired me to take this shot. I look at this abandoned farm on Highway 6 every single time I go past it and remark on the trees around the old house, wondering about it’s history and the memories that must still linger inside.

The buildings sit in the middle of the field with these huge old trees surrounding the homestead. I can visualize the lady of the house telling her husband not to cut them down when the house was being built, but to leave them for shade and character. Perhaps it was he thinking of her and the pleasure she would get from them. Perhaps they were even planted by the couple after the home itself was up. It just seems to me that these trees would have made the home complete. I can visualize the two of them sitting out front, tired after a long day in the fields just sitting or rocking, looking out at their domain, proud of their accomplishments, planning for the future… hoping they hadn’t made a mistake in betting their lives on this particular piece of Manitoulin Island.

Who were they? Did they succeed in their lives here, did they move away, did they die here on the island; are their descendants perhaps even now working the still active adjoining farms? Ghosts and memories…

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Tag this!

In keeping with what seems to be a “travel” theme lately, what with Flight Simulator and the travel maps I’ve found an offer for everyone to take advantage of.

If you go to the KLM Royal Dutch Airlines site they have a link where you are able to order your personalized KLM luggage tags. There is a choice of uploading a photo of your own or choosing from one of their themes such as Holidays, Destinations, Airplanes, Business or Cities. Just plug in your information and within 2 weeks you should receive your tags. I got this tip off the Airliners web site and know of several people who have received their tags already. Mine are supposed to be on the way to me.

Meet you at the airport!

Friday, January 05, 2007

Where's Waldo?

Just ran across an interesting site. You can plug in the countries or states you have visited and it will create a map for you. Christine... it would be interesting to see your "world" filled in!

Monday, January 01, 2007

Up, Up and Away!

So now you know what I’ve been doing the past several days.

We’ve been flying Flight Simulator for 15 or 20 years now and just may have more hours logged than a lot of real pilots. I’m still trying to master the different helicopters that come with this version but the J3 Cub is a pleasure to fly, as is the Beech Baron. It also has a very realistic Beaver on floats but my favourite so far is a great handling little Ultra-Lite. This week I’ve explored most of Manitoulin with it and although it lands great on the beach in front of the house it’s a little too slow for the longer cross country flights. I’ve parked it at CYEM (Manitoulin East Airport) and switched over to a DC-3 for a flight up to Timmins and points north. Right now we’re just passing over the Sudbury radio beacon and will probably go on to park it in Moosonee for the night. Sometime in the next few days we’ll try out the jets and hopefully be flying 747’s by the weekend.

My older FS versions weren’t equipped with a GPS so there’s been a learning curve with this new feature for me. I’m having trouble entering waypoints directly into the GPS and leaning what all it’s switches are but filing flight plans and staying in touch with various control towers around the world is fairly simple. A real nifty feature of FS-X is that it will stay online full time with the weather service so whatever it’s doing in real life is what you have to deal with in the simulator. Needless to say I haven’t had to handle too much in the way of snow or icing conditions so far!

We left Alert up in Nunavut a couple days ago and discovered that a Mooney just doesn’t have enough fuel to get from there to Pond Inlet on the tip of Baffin Island. That particular aircraft is now parked at the Thule Air Base and I’ll have to go retrieve it some day and bring it home to Manitoulin. How about it, anyone else out there hooked on this particular game educational tool?