Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Train ride to Wawa, in the footsteps of the Group of Seven and Glen Gould

We spent a weekend north of Sault Ste Marie with academics who are part of CAPT - the Coalition for Algoma Passenger Trains and who gave us insightful talks about the Group of Seven, particularly AY Jackson who they were honouring on this trip, and Glenn Gould who spent a lot of time in the area.
On Saturday we started our journey in the rail yard in the Soo so we had a few minutes to wander around and check out the rolling stock and the steel mills in the background.

Once aboard the train it was difficult to take great pictures.  The constant movement of the train, coupled with a steadily worsening weather didn't lend itself to good shots.  But we could see that the scenery was spectacular, and the fall colours were just beginning with brilliant reds that we don't often see around our cottage in the Townships.  And it was interesting to find out that the artists would take this same train route up the Agawa canyon, get off in the middle of the bush with their supplies and their canoes and spend weeks painting.  Joanie McGuffin gave a wonderful talk and used pictures taken by her husband of the area in the fall.  She also showed photographs that he took from the very same spot that the artists probably used to create their works - and she showed the paintings too so we could see the juxtaposition.

The Wawa Motor Inn (motel) has been here for quite a while.  Glenn Gould was a regular guest and would draw inspiration from the local area, especially the falls.

Sometimes the artists would take one of these velocipedes to travel along the rail from place to place. 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Stratford, Ontario

 Since we moved back to Canada 13 years ago we have made an annual visit to the Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Ontario.  The festival was started in 1953 with a production of Richard lll starring Alec Guinness.  It has gone from a 6 week 2 play season in a tent to a  main festival theatre and 3 other venues over a period of 6 months.  Many other types of plays and musicals are also performed.  And the calibre of the performers is consistently great.  

This year we saw King John, directed by Tim Carroll as an Original Practice - keeping as close to production as it might have been in Shakespeare's time.  His use of choral music at the beginning and end was superb.  
Next up was Beaux Strategem - a light farce that was again well performed.  Then Anthony and Cleopatra followed in the evening.  Beautifully costumed and acted, but not one of my favourite plays.  I don't feel that Shakespeare developed the tragic element in this as well as he has done with other characters such as Romeo and Juliet or King Lear.  
Today we saw Crazy For You which had us all howling with laughter - my sides were actually hurting! with some slapstick comedy.  Great costumes, choreography, acting and singing.  And of course, the music of George Gershwin was fun to hear.  Interesting that this is a play created in 1992 by Ken Ludwig who had been offered the music by the owner of all the rights if he created a story to go along with the music which had been written 70 years earlier. 

Below are a few pictures of  some of my favourite things in the town.

Balzac's for our early morning latte

Shakespeare in the garden of the Festival theatre

Swans on the Avon river

water flowers in the Festival garden

Stratford City Hall

The other geese on the river - making the footpath an obstacle course!

Amaranth in the garden
And restaurants are plentiful here.  We tried a new one this year in the pricey Bruce Hotel that's just been opened.  And won't again.  Dreadful service, okay food and (gasp!) plastic wine glasses!

But our old stalwarts, Raja for Indian cuisine and Pazzo Taverna - modern and delicious, were up to their usual high standards.

We are staying in an apartment this time above the Indigena gallery so have been able to eat breakfasts and some lunches in.  Our usual room was booked so we were given this place.  Feeling very spoiled indeed. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014


Our Text'art group spent 2 great days in Tervete, a Latvian camp which Lauma looks after in the summer.  It's a lovely spot on the Rouge River just northwest of Hawkesbury.  We did several nice walks, one up to the hydro dam that no longer is used for producing electricity, but has a very loud showy falls.  It was a relaxing two days, with lots of good food and friendship. 

The Hydro Dam

The house

Set for breakfast
A private little lake

Lauma and Gynt working with their bees

A look into a hive
We learned a few things about bees.  That they don't
like to mess about on cloudy days, that smoke calms them, and that drones don't sting.  Here are a couple of shots of the
frames from inside the box.

A drone - we learned that they don't have stingers