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This past weekend I was at the Great Outdoors & DIY Weekend show at the Toronto International Centre….if you weren’t there you missed a great show….actually 4 shows under one roof (Fall Cottage Life Show, Canadian Handyman Show, Outdoor Canada and Explore shows)….it was huge.

I was helping out Bruce Smith (paddle maker/canoe builder extraordinaire)….Bruce had a great show displaying his paddles and canoes….sold lots of paddles….even signed up a few for future paddle making and canoe building courses (early next May Bruce will be doing a one day workshop on making your own cherry paddle, based on his design….with your choice of length and blade type, including the secondary grip and oval shaft, for only $100; a canoe building course is scheduled for August-September, likely over a couple of weekends and a few weeknights to build a beautiful wood canvas canoe….both courses are limited to only a few participants….these workshops will be at Bruce’s workshop near Elora, north of Guelph….more info will be on Bruce’s website soon). I got to talk to a lot of folks about canoeing and paddling (and I love to talk about canoeing and paddling….OK OK I just love to talk LOL LOL….hope I didn’t bore too many of you). Several friends dropped by the booth….including Mike Ramsay (of Badger Paddles and Swift Canoes), Chris Scerri (The Canadian Outdoor Equipment Co.), Murat Vardar (Paddlemaking Blog),  Gordon Haggerty (ORCKA)and many others….folks like Ron Frennette (of Canadian Canoes), Peter Feindel (wood kayak/canoe builder), several folks from my home town, university buddies of Bruce’s (one still has a paddle that Bruce made in 1974), and the daughter of an old friend (I worked with Terry T. at Kandalore and Bruce worked with him at several camps including at Bark Lake…..Terry persuaded Bruce to incorporate the secondary grip that Bruce is known for….it is great for certain one handed style paddling moves like the running and standing pry….Bruce and I haven’t seen Terry in years so meeting his daughter was amazing).

It was a great show as I had a chance to chat a bit with Kevin Callan (one of the guest speakers….and I don’t think Kevin did a dance in a giant canoe from the Olympics although the giant beaver was there LOL LOL), Dave Graham from Camp Kandalore, the folks from the Canadian Canoe Museum, and so many others. We were pretty busy all weekend in the booth….so I missed a lot of people I wanted to say HI to….or booths I wanted to check out. But what I saw was great….and if anything, the show(s????) were just too big to cover it all….probably why I spoke to a lot of folks who had bought a weekend pass….for the first year in this format, I think it was a success. It was great fun.

Some photos of Bruce’s booth at show:

Carol, Bruce’s sister (who kept us all in line) and Zach, Bruce’s son.

Original note from Terry T. (written in late 70s) describing need to incorporate secondary grip.

Photo of Bruce’s wife, Dorothea, on canoe trip in Quetico.

Look up…..way up.

Photos by yours truly.

Paddles up until later then….and get out to next year’s Great Outdoors & DIY Weekend.

Last Sunday was the Santa Claus parade in Toronto….so I guess it’s safe to say that Santa is coming (or should that be has already arrived LOL LOL)….any way I have decided to post a poem I wrote last year (and that was posted here then)….it’s entitled Twas Paddling Weeks Before Christmas (my version of Twas The Night Before Christmas LOL LOL)….and I still think that Santa guy looks a lot like Bill Mason LOL LOL:

Twas Paddling Weeks Before Christmas

Twas out paddling my favourite wood canvas canoe mere weeks before Christmas

The lake still being open with weather so balmy that no snow had yet come to pass

Still the water was more than quite frigid and so brisk was the early morning air,

Maybe too windy to be out in a canoe, but it wasn’t a gale force blow so I didn’t care.

I paddled over to the far side of the lake to where a river spilled in

Landing my canoe at the portage next to the whitewater roarin’.

I sat on a rock in the warming sun wearing layers of fleece under my old PFD,

Right next to the moving water, leaning my back up against an overhanging tree.

When further upstream there arose such a clash

I was startled, and slipped, and fell in with a splash.

My glasses went one way, my paddle went another.

Cold water went down my back….more than a bother.

The gleam of the sun on the river around,

Was lovely, but heck, I was going to drown!!

When what to my wondering eyes should appear?

One of those tupperware boats. Was my rescue near?

This bright red canoe had a jolly old fella, rather too fat to fit into a solo playboat,

With such a wide girth it was hard to imagine how his canoe could ever stay afloat

Even through the rapids he teetered, bouncing off each and every big rock.

This old guy looked to enough of his own big trouble, I thought with a shock.

But he slid in so slowly, so graceful, even stopping to surf the waves in one huge hole

As if none of the river’s challenges had ever required him to have to attempt a roll

And then he glided in softly, as smooth as can be,

Into the eddy, bothering nothing except maybe me.

And then in a twinkling he popped out of his craft

Like a cork from a bottle, I shouldn’t have laughed.

With flowing long hair and very scruffy beard, all of which were quite white

His unkempt appearance, complete with such frosted whiskers was really a sight.

He looked like he had been on the trail for far too many weeks

His canoe was covered in duct tape to prevent any further leaks

His paddling jacket encircled his ample frame

With pockets full of gadgets, too many to name.

He waded right in to help pull me out of the water where I’d fallen

He didn’t waste a second or even a minute standing around or stalling

Then just as fast back out in his canoe, twirling his paddle high over the top of his head

He chose to surf the waves or play in an eddy rather than accept my praise or thanks instead

Yet he still hadn’t spoken a word but went straight to his fun,

And he portaged his canoe back for yet another river run.

But before putting in, he turned to me and said “I got something to tell ya”

“I’m Santa Claus….although I’m still mistaken for that Bill Mason fella.”

He sprang to his red tupperware boat, out into the current with a good pushing.

And then he shot downstream with a splash and nothing from rocks to cushion.

Now I’d have thought old St. Nick would be more of a traditionalist in his choice of boat

Something all wood or a canoe of wood and canvas with a shiny red painted coat

Something in keeping with his image (and likeness to such a famous paddler of Chestnut canoes)

Yet it appeared that Santa had taken to the synthetic materials and much more modern views

But I heard him exclaim as he drifted almost completely from sight.

“Always paddle safe, and remember to keep your canoe upright.

I have a number of canoes and kayaks up at the North Pole

And my favourite wood canvas just isn’t the easiest to roll

Although I’d have far more room for all these gifts in a Prospector

These tiny play boats don’t have enough space to properly store

Now I’ll have to get used to making my deliveries by paddling a boat

Because a sleigh and twelve reindeer just never could float

With global warming and polar ice caps beginning to melt, raising water levels so high

Soon a canoe could be the only answer to getting around rather than having to fly

Although I admit it won’t be so easy once the snow has started to fall

But for now let me just wish a Merry Christmas to all.”

And with that old St. Nick was very much gone

His concern about the environment was obviously quite strong

But I liked his choice of a canoe of any type as a mode of transportation

So I’ll just add Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to the whole paddling population!!!!


From http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-20880019/stock-photo-santa-in-a-canoe.html.

I still think that Santa guy looks a bit like Bill Mason!!!!! Remember you only have about 31 paddling….I mean shopping days until Christmas!!!!

Any way, I guess I’m getting lazy posting, rehashing old posts….but I did think that it was appropriate….and you might enjoy reading again….maybe it was just old age catching up on me (I seem to be repeating myself a bit these days LOL LOL).

However I will be quite busy the next few days….I’m helping out Bruce Smith (canoe builder/paddle maker extraordinaire, http://www.brucesmithpaddles.com/index.html) at this weekend’s Great Outdoors & DIY Weekend, http://www.cottagelife.com/index.php?ci_id=47508&la_id=1. This should be a fantastic weekend….great way to wrap up the paddling season….to buy some gifts for that paddler or outdoors person on your Christmas shopping list….hear folks like Kevin Callan talk….Kevin is doing a number of presentations including Paddling Routes of Ontario: Algonquin, Killarney, Quetico,  Camping:Eat Drink, Be Merry! and 5 Things I Never Paddle Without….there will be other great presentations on things outdoors by folks like Mountain Equipment Co-op (on subjects such as bike maintenance, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and camping); Winter Adventures in Ontario with Barrie Martin (Yours Outdoors); Kayak Tripping with the iPad by Jamie Kent (Grand Experiences); What’s SUP???? Stand Up Paddling Demonstration by Canoe Toronto; Map, Compass and GPS Navigation with David Arama (W.S.C. Survival Schools); Bike Train to Adventure by Todd Lucier (Northern Edge Algonquin); New In Paddling for 2011 with Muskoka Paddle Shack; What’s the difference between a kayak and a fishing kayak? by Swift Canoe and Kayak; sled dogs from Haliburton Forest; wildlife displays, slacklining and canopy tours as well as great outdoor related films; plus so much more on the outdoors, cottage life, and even woodworking….see http://www.cottagelife.com/index.php?ci_id=5292&la_id=1 for details of the full schedule of special features.  The Canadian Canoe Museum is there too (check out their workshops such as paddle making….make a great Christmas gift). There is even a giant beaver taking part (this beaver was seen at the Vancouver Winter Olympics….maybe Kevin Callan will be dancing in a giant canoe too as he did at the Canadian Canoe Museum’s Beaver Club Gala LOL LOL). So check out the Great Outdoors & DIY Weekend….hope to see you there.

Paddles up until later then.

On Oct. 15th the Canadian Canoe Museum held its annual Beaver Club Gala. From all reports it was a success. There was even a dancing canoe (from the Winter Olympics) manned by Kevin Callan….now that would make for an interesting ‘canoe ballet’.

From the Peterborough Examiner, http://www.thepeterboroughexaminer.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=2802798#:

Shelagh Rogers hosts third annual Beaver Club Gala benefit for Canadian Canoe Museum

Patrons dress up as voyaguers, settlers

by Fiona Isaacson/Peterborough Examiner Staff Writer

CBC Radio personality Shelagh Rogers plays the canokulele next to Jeremy Ward, curator for the Canadian Canoe Museum, while performing during the Beaver Club Gala fundraiser for the Canadian Canoe Museum Friday night at the Peterborough Golf and Country Club that was attended by 155 people . (Photo by Clifford Skarstedt, Peterborough Examiner)

Shelagh Rogers believes in the power of the canoe to unite the country.

Wearing traditional voyageur clothing, the CBC radio personality was the host of the Canadian Canoe Museum’s third annual Beaver Club Gala on Friday night.

The canoe museum is the “unsung hero of museums,” Rogers told The Examiner.

It’s a “place of absolute joy when you walk in the door,” she said.

“The canoe is all about moving forward – a great symbol for the future.”

John Summers, the museum’s general manager, said the gala is a great event for the museum to attract new patrons.

He said he was pleased to see many new faces this year.

“If you like us one night there’s a museum down the road you can be involved with us all year long,” Summers said.

The original Beaver Club was founded in 1785 by Montreal-based members of the North West Company. In the early years, the club was a venue for seasoned fur traders to gather over fine food and “generous libations,” according to information from the museum.

Even before she spoke to The Examiner, Barbara Thornbrough could be heard chatting amongst friends about her love of canoeing and kayaking.

Earlier in the day she visited the museum for the first time. She grew up in Toronto but now lives in Florida.

“I went mad. I was so excited,” Thornbrough said.

“It just brought up all the old memories. Paddling is like yoga — Zen! There’s nothing better.”

Friday night’s gala was held at the Peterborough Golf and Country Club.

Everyone who attended was encouraged to dress in attire from 1785 to 1825, typically clothing worn by English, Irish, Scottish or French settlers, or clothing worn by aboriginal peoples.

Many patrons, including the evening’s servers, wore the colourful ceinture fléchée, a colourful sash typically worn by the French-Canadian voyageurs.

Last year’s gala grossed about $30,000 after expenses were paid, Summers said.

All money raised goes to the day-to-day expenses of running the museum.

Summers said this year’s gala sold out at 155 tickets.

Silent and live auctions were also held Friday night. A fundraising total wasn’t available Friday night.

Rogers is the great-great-great-great granddaughter of Sir George Simpson, who was the governor of the Hudson’s Bay Co. She told The Examiner she was donating Simpson’s “mourning ring” to the museum Friday night. It’s gold with a diamond set into black enamel.

Check out the link to the Peterborough Examiner for more photos, especially of the dancing canoe and Kevin Callan.

So the Beaver Club Gala was a success….a lot of fun….and another great opportunity for the Canadian Canoe Museum to show off what it can do and is made of….great culture….great heritage….great history….great canoes and kayaks….but more than anything great people.

Paddles up until later then.

As I’ve already stated in the past post I am playing with a new camera. So I thought I’d post some pictures of my paddling inspired headwear:

P2280026.jpg picture by ducksoup_photo 

From my new buddies at Rapid Media….so right as our “canoe roots” are in so many “canoe routes”.

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The Canadian Canoe Museum hat….I love that place.

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Can you tell I own a Peterborough canoe????

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My favourite tripping hat….makes me look like Indiana Jones LOL LOL.

Then I thought I should show off some of my canoe theme T-shirts:

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I bought this new ORCA T-shirt at the Toronto Outdoor Adventure Show….it’s the old design (missing the “K” in ORCKA)….but at least you’ll know “I Paddle”.

P3010077-1.jpg picture by ducksoup_photo

From the Chicagoland Canoe Base….I got this from Ralph Frese years ago….I love the horse and buggy with a canoe on it.

 P3010079-1.jpg picture by ducksoup_photo P3010076-2.jpg picture by ducksoup_photo P3010073-1.jpg picture by ducksoup_photo

More pictures of my Peterborough Canoe Co. wear….guess you can tell I own a Peterborough canoe for sure (sorry can’t show the underwear though LOL LOL)….and please excuse the photos….they were taken during the Olympic hockey game (more on that later)….but just so you know what these should have looked like check out these links from Ivy Lea Shirt Co. website:

http://www.ivyleashirtco.com/products/tshirts/ptbo_navy.html

http://www.ivyleashirtco.com/products/sweatshirts/ptbo_green.html

http://www.ivyleashirtco.com/products/vests/index.html

Well obviously I need to practise more with the new camera….but then that’s what this really was for….besides now if you run into me at an event, you might be able to recognize me….I’m the guy wearing all the Peterborough Canoe Co. apparel LOL LOL….and yes I do own a Peterborough.

All photos by yours truly….think anybody else would admit to that LOL LOL.

Now this was being written during the Olympic Closing Ceremonies….yes, the Vancouver Olympics are truly over….but there has been so many amazing things occur during these past 17 days….many of which I’ve already posted about like on speedskater Clara Hughes, ice dancers Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, and skater Joannie Rochette….well we won the most golds in any Winter Olympics with 14….and our men’s hockey team beat out the American team for our final gold in a real nail biter….but more than anything this really seemed to bring out a true feeling of patriotism in Canadians….it was our Games….if you saw the crowds out on the streets of downtown Toronto after our men’s hockey team won, you’ll know what I mean….I’m sorry to see them end….but all good things come to a close…..as for the Closing Ceremonies it was great to see Joannie Rochette bring in our flag….they even got the fourth arm of the Olympic indoor flame up (with the help of a mime engineer)…Neil Young performing….the closing speeches including a reference to the Georgian luger sadly killed just before the Olympics started….the Russians presenting their musical piece on hosting the next Winter Olympics complete with an orchestra in St. Petersburg Square, conducted from Vancouver….and the Canadian segment with William Shatner, Catherine O’Hara, Michael J. Fox, Michael Buble (dressed as a Mountie????), Nickelback, Avril Lavigne, Alanis Morisette, Simple Plan, Hedley, Marie-Mai, K-OS and a percussion group with break/hip hop dancers rounding it off….including all of the various Canadian stereotypes: dancing Mounties; huge hockey players; waltzing maple leafs; step dancing voyageurs in fur trade canoes to Quebecois music; giant beavers and moose; and an audience in moose antlers….hope nobody tuning in part way thought this was an accurate account of Canadian culture LOL LOL….I loved the I Am Canadian bit with Captain Kirk’s defintion of a Canadian being somebody who can make love in a canoe and to cover the cost of splinters is why we have Medicare (of course I’m talking about “Capt. Kirk” Bill Shatner….not Mr. Wipper LOL LOL)….for future events, I wonder if you could have athletes portage a canoe up the mogul run (kind of like the Golden Staircase into Dividing Lake….but not as bad as going up Maple Mountain in Temagami with a wanigan LOL LOL) or maybe even create kayak cross-country race…with double paddles instead of double poling LOL LOL.

 menincanoebigbeaver.jpg picture by ducksoup_photo

An inflatable giant beaver and men in a canoe are seen during the closing ceremonies of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics at B.C. Place stadium on Sunday, Feb 28, 2010. (MARTIN CHEVALIER/QMI Agency), from http://www.torontosun.com/sports/vancouver2010/photos/2010/02/28/13062546.html.

(Note: These guys are wearing canoes….now that’s the ultimate “canoe wear” LOL LOL.)

Paddles up until later.

“Wherever there is a channel for water, there is a road for the canoe.” - Thoreau

Since I’m on the road most of the next few days going first to the Toronto Outdoor Adventure Show on Friday and then the ORCKA Seminar on Saturday before returning to the Toronto Outdoor Adventure Show again on Sunday, I won’t have much time to post on here for a few days. Since I’ll be getting my “fix” on things paddling, I thought I’d post this quote. Guess you could also say to that “just add water and a canoe is your road to freedom”.

Oh yeah almost forgot the Olympics. Well Canada won another gold….in women’s hockey….now up to 8 (tied with USA and Germany for most golds I believe)….great to see such positive team chemistry and spirit….but what amazes me is the spin that’s now being put on….instead of owning the podium meaning the country with the greatest number of medals, now it seems to be the greatest number of golds….well I guess it gives something “tangible” for the money that’s been spent in pursuit of excellence….although I still like Clara Hughes’ thinking in excellence being the best possible performance an athlete can have….not necessarily winning a medal of any colour….just doing their very best….we may not have won the podium with the greatest number of medals….may not even pick up the most golds….but I believe when all is said and done, several of our athletes will have achieved personal bests….or come very very close….and that’s what it should be all about….but these are just some thoughts while watching tonight’s Olympic coverage.

And then to see Joannie Rochette skate….it really didn’t matter how she did tonight, just being able to skate at all made her a winner. But after a truly awesome skate by Yu Na Kim of South Korea with a flawless routine that earned her first place (and a new world record for overall marks in women’s figure skating), Joannie skated her own truly inspiring performance….literally skating her heart out….in spite of all she’s been through….and did Canada proud….and with her Dad in the audience, certainly her Mom’s memory proud too. Joannie may have won bronze while Mao Asada of Japan took silver. But she is truly a winner. And who has truly paved her own way into Olympic history by doing so.

Just as an aside I can’t help but keep thinking of what moves I would love to try in my canoe to some of the music that’s being used in the ladies’ free skate….not that I’d make any moves half as good LOL LOL….especially after seeing some of the freestyle canoeing routines on YouTube….or watching Karen Knight doing her fancy paddling in the video This Is Canoeing (that segment was shown at the Reel Paddling Film Festival in Toronto….can’t wait to see the rest of the DVD). But that’s a whole other road LOL LOL. And sometimes it might be about taking the road less travelled:

The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth.

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same.

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

“Canoeing gets you back close to nature, using a method of travel that does not even call for roads or paths. You are following nature’s roads; you are choosing the road less travelled, as Robert Frost once wrote in another context, and that makes all the difference. You discover a sort of simplifying of your values, a distinction between those artificially created and those that are necessary to your spiritual and human development.” Pierre Elliott Trudeau

Paddles up then until later….I’ll have news from the weekend paddling events.

Well the past few posts here had little or nothing to do with canoes, or even the outdoors. But despite Canada’s win over Russia in men’s hockey last night, the gold and silver in women’s 2 man bobsled (2 man is still an oxymoron phrase LOL LOL), even the silver in short track speedskating, or even the great 7th place finish in the 4 X 10 km. men’s relay by the cross-country skiers, there are a few things going on the next few days that rival the last few days of the Olympics….well at least if you’re a paddler or into the outdoors. I’ve mentioned these two events here before….there is more information on these events in those posts….details on them in their respective online links which I’ll post here again. But these are two events not to be missed if you’re a paddler….and a definite sign that spring is just around the corner (despite the weather forecast for snow over the next few days). So don’t miss out on these:

1) Toronto Outdoor Adventure Show Friday Feb. 26th to Sunday Feb. 28th at the International Centre at Airport Road and Derry Road. This show covers just about everything to do with the Great Outdoors….as the organizers say on their website:

Don’t miss Canada’s largest outdoor adventure & travel show! With over 300 exhibitors from a wide variety of recreational pursuits, this show has something for everyone. For those who like to get their feet wet there will be a variety of paddle sports and scuba diving options to explore. Or if you prefer to stand on solid ground visit our comprehensive camping showcase and travel destinations pavilion.

This well established event combines a retail shopping experience with simulated outdoor, interactive features and education. The end result – an awesome day out, the chance to expand your knowledge of outdoor adventure and travel pursuits, while upgrading your equipment to ensure you are well equipped for the 2010 season.

More info from the website on the Toronto Outdoor Adventure Show:

The International Centre
Hall 5
6900 Airport Rd,
Mississauga, ON

Friday, February 26, 2010, 12 Noon – 9pm
Saturday, February 27, 2010, 10am – 6pm
Sunday, February 28, 2010, 10am – 5pm

 

 Tickets can be purchased at the door for $12
Youths 12 – 17: $10
Seniors 60+: $10 Children 11 & under are free

 

There will be a very strong paddling section at the Canoe & Kayak Expo….complete with a demonstration pool….besides various manufacturers, outfitters and suppliers, there are several canoeing and kayaking based organizations there….the Canadian Canoe Museum will have a display….as will the Ontario Recreational Canoeing and Kayaking Association….the folks of Rapid Media (publishers of great magazines such as Rapid and Canoeroots, as well as the PalmerFest events and the Reel Paddling Film Festival) too. Drop by and say HI! There is also Kevin Callan (among others) talking about canoe trip routes….Kevin is worth the price of admission on his own LOL LOL.

More info at http://www.outdooradventureshow.ca/toronto/index.html.

2) ORCKA Seminar on Canoe and Kayak Routes at the Seneca King Campus in King City….here’s what their website, http://www.orca.on.ca/content/?page=seminar, says:

Ontario Canoeing and Kayaking Routes Seminar

Date: Saturday February  27th, 2010
Time: 9:00am to 4:30pm
Location: Seneca College King Campus, King City Ontario

Cost before January 30th:
$55 ORCKA Members, $65 Non-Members
Cost after January 30th:
$65 ORCKA Members, $75 Non-Members
(Tax included, Lunch Included)

Are you an experienced canoe or kayak tripper who is looking for some new or more challenging routes to try? Or are you a novice tripper who wants to know where to start?

This seminar is for canoeists and kayakers with a variety of levels of paddling experience.  Learn all the ins and outs of some of the great canoeing and kayaking routes from trippers who have first-hand knowledge and experience, and who love to share it!

This event is open to all ORCKA members and the general public.

There are many great speakers and sessions planned. Another not to miss paddling event.

So that is where I’ll be all weekend….we will likely win more Olympic medals….and there will be many more great stories coming out of Vancouver….but my focus is on paddling this weekend. Paddles up then!!!!

Clara Hughes, Canada’s flagbearer in the Opening Ceremonies, skated the 5,000 metre race in long track speedskating today. Clara won bronze in what was likely her last race in the Olympics. Clara has won medals in the Summer Games (1996) as well as medals in three separate Winter Olympics (2002, 2006, and now in 2010).

“I skated really well technically… I felt like I just had a good rhythm today,” Clara told CTV. Even though she usually doesn’t skate that well technically. Today it just seemed to come together. Clara added “not bad for an old lady” (as if 37 years old was old LOL LOL).

Clara was asked by the reporter if she could now be considered Canada’s greatest athlete for her total of 6 medals in all those Olympics. Clara simply replied that there were many great Canadians – not just in athletics, but also in fields such as medicine, education, science and technology. Clara also added that she was “just a Canadian” (proving once again that one of our traits as Canadians is humility….and a pretty great trait at that LOL LOL). Clara was asked about her performance. She said that to her it wasn’t about owning the podium or even winning medal….to her it was about excellence; that it was about peaking at the right time; but also about having the best possible performance you can.

She had skated a great race, at the finish posting a record time up to then for the Richmond speedskating oval. Eventually she was bettered by the Czech Republic’s Martina Sablikova who took the gold and Germany’s Stephanie Beckert who won silver.

Maybe Clara didn’t win gold. However she is a winner….especially after spending part of her teenage years being a wild child, sometimes living on the streets, even messing around with drugs. Clara turned her life around. And after all her athletic triumphs, instead of an ego, what I found so refreshing was her candor, humility and honesty. And Clara’s obvious joy of just competing. Performing as well as she could. That’s what makes a winner to me. A true winner at that.

It was good to see Canada win last night over Germany in men’s hockey, especially after Sunday’s disappointing loss to the USA….tonight they’re up against the Russians as they continue to pursue a medal. Canada is doing well in the women’s 2 man (that’s an oxymoron term LOL LOL) bobsled and we won a gold in the women’s ski cross….the winner Ashley McIvor was truly into her sport….she even wrote a paper while at UBC on why ski cross should be included in the Winter Olympics….which she sent to IOC President, Jacques Rogge.

But what caught my attention most watching last night’s Olympic coverage was Joannie Rochette. Joannie Rochette skated the short program last night mere days after the unfortunate death of her Mom, Therese. I can only imagine what she must be feeling but I know what it is like to lose someone you’re close to. I still miss my Dad who passed away last year; he was very much a part of me getting into paddling. Joannie’s Mom had been one of her biggest supporters, often attending her competitions. In fact her Mom passed away shortly after arriving in Vancouver for the Olympics. Joannie’s Dad was in attendance last night.

Watching Joannie skate was truly moving. Joannie skated an amazing short program, with 71.36 points (her season best had been 70 points). Joannie nailed key jumps in her routine, skating nearly flawlessly. But it was more than just the points or even being in third place going into the free skate. It was the courage she showed out on the ice, obviously skating for her Mom. When Joannie finished, she glided to center ice and tried not to cry. She put her hand over her heart. She may not get the gold or even a bronze, but she won the hearts of many who watched Joannie skate. She is a true winner despite all that life has thrown at her in the past few days; she honoured her mother’s memory. Her Mom would be proud. As is all of Canada.

On Sunday, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir won gold in the ice dance. It was an incredible skate by the Canadians who truly deserved to win gold….just an amazing free dance….now if I can just get my canoe to dance as good LOL LOL. These two young skaters did us all proud with their passion….and they obviously were having fun throughout, with Scott even “kidding” Tessa about where they’d finished….just plain good natured fun followed by such joy in skating. Then they were both singing the Canadian anthem while standing on the podium. Virtue and Moir won despite the huge pressure placed on them. With class and true pride. Something the Russians might have had in their choice of costumes….their Aboriginal number really didn’t work for me….in fact I thought it was insulting. But Scott and Tessa showed what these Olympics are about. Especially in their passion for their sport. And their country. 

We may not own the podium (as far as being the top nation in Vancouver) but its athletes like Joannie Rochette, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir who inspire us all….those who are the true winners.

Last night the 2010 Winter Olympics opened in Vancouver in front of a capacity crowd of 60,000 in B.C. Place, with millions more watching around the world. The Opening Ceremony lasted a little over 4 hours….and came just hours after the unfortunate death of Georgian luge slider Nodar Kumaritashvili during a training run. Festivities got off to a great start with a snowboarder jumping through the Olympic rings. This was followed by a greeting from the four First Nations whose territories are where the 2010 Games are being held in: Lil’wat, Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh. Next came Aboriginal youth dancers from across the country – Inuit, Metis, and the first nations of the Prairies, the North and the East. These brillantly costumed dancers met each nation as they marched in.

The various competing countries entered with first Greece through to finally the host country of Canada; 82 nations in all are competing at the Vancouver Olympics. Out of respect  for their lost countryman, Georgia entered with black arm bands and a black band on their flag. Apparently they were allowed to leave shortly after marching in. Several references to the death of  Nodar Kumaritashvili were made throughout the proceedings, especially in the addresses by IOC president Jacques Rogge and CEO of the Vancouver Olympics John Furlong. There was a minute of silence as well during the acknowledgement of the Olympic athletes and officials, just before the reading of the Olympic oaths.

For the most part, the Opening Ceremony was colourful and intended to tell the story of the Canadian identity.  There might be an argument by some about that. Especially the punk fiddle/step dance segment which featured Ashley MacIsaac. Mind you there was also a big bright blue canoe involved too, complete with a punk fiddler flying over the moon (well I had to mention a canoe LOL LOL). But the story was told with various scenes depicted: the coming together of the people in the North (complete with a huge Spirit Bear); the modern ballet among the tall trees; a young girl flying out of a wheat field to the Joni Mitchell song Both Sides Now; the aforementioned punk fiddle segment with 180 performers; the Northern Lights or a prairie thunderstorm or a blizzard; a mountain range rising up with skiers and snowboarders flipping around on its sides while skaters circled below (even being lit up for an amazing effect). There were several musical numbers throughout the Opening Ceremony, with the most memorable (to me) being Sarah McLachlin singing Odinary Miracle and K.D. Lang’s performance of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah (very appropriate considering the death of the Georgian luger). Maybe there wasn’t the glitz and glamour of previous Olympic Opening Cermonies….but that’s not necessarily very Canadian any way. The cost of last night’s Opening Ceremony was between $30 and $40 million. China’s 2008 ceremony cost 10 times more. The cast for Vancouver’s Opening Ceremony was about 1,800 compared to 15,000 in Beijing.

For me, the part of the Opening Ceremony that touched the true meaning of the Canadian identity was the presentation by poet Shane Koyczan of his poem We Are More. Shane spoke of Canada’s worth, trees, the letter “zed” and the concept of “thank you”. Some of the highlights of his poem were:

“Some say what defines us is as simple as please and thank you.”

“Canada is the ‘what’ in ‘what’s new?’”

“We are more than a nation of whale watchers and lumberjacks, more than backpacks and hiking trails, we are hammers and nails building bridges, towards those who are willing to walk across.”

“We are the true north, strong and free! What’s more, is we didn’t just say it … we made it be.”

For the full transcript of Shane’s poem We Are More see the Vancouver Sun website, http://www.vancouversun.com/More+Transcript+opening+ceremony+poem+Shane+Koyczan/2558526/story.html. Shane was born in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories of First Nation and French-Canadian ancestry and grew up in British Columbia. Now that’s Canada!!!!

After the Olympic oaths were read and the Olympic flag was raised (the flag was brought in by famous Canadians Betty Fox, Donald Sutherland, Jacques Villeneuve, Olympian Barbara-Ann Scott, Anne Murray, Donald Sutherland, General Romeo Dallare, Bobby Orr and astronaut Julie Payette), the Olympic flame finally arrived in B.C. Place. The Olympic flame was wheeled in by Rick Hansen (the Man in Motion) then passed off to Catriona Le May Doan, then to Steve Nash to Nancy Greene and finally to Wayne Gretzky. All five were to light the flame set up inside B.C. Place. However, there was a bit of a malfinction as the hydraulic of the fourth arm of the set didn’t work….the set was for the lighting of the inner cauldron for the sake of those in attendance at B.C. Place. The actual Olympic cauldron is outside by the water in downtown Vancouver. Wayne Gretzky took the torch (riding in the back of a truck) to the actual outside cauldron and lit the Olympic flame.

So this Opening Ceremony was largely inside….but then it did feature so much about the outdoors and nature….it had skiers, snowboarders and skaters….fall colours….wheat fields….mountains….snow and ice….Northern lights…thunderstorms….blizzards….an outside transport of the Olympic flame by truck through downtown Vancouver….not to forget the big blue canoe. So it fits into the sphere of this blog….besides it was a proud time to be Canadian. Now I wonder if that big blue flying canoe was a Chestnut or a Peterborough?!?!? LOL LOL. Paddles up!!!!

Some photos from last night’s Opening Ceremony:

dynamic_resize12.jpg picture by ducksoup_photo  slide_4894_67939_large.jpg picture by ducksoup_photo slide_4894_67941_large.jpg picture by ducksoup_photo dynamic_resize5.jpg picture by ducksoup_photo dynamic_resize9.jpg picture by ducksoup_photo dynamic_resize8.jpg picture by ducksoup_photo dynamic_resize6.jpg picture by ducksoup_photo NODAR-KUMARITASHVILI-OPENING-CER-2.jpg picture by ducksoup_photo NODAR-KUMARITASHVILI-OPENING-CER-1.jpg picture by ducksoup_photo NODAR-KUMARITASHVILI-OPENING-CEREMO.jpg picture by ducksoup_photo dynamic_resize3.jpg picture by ducksoup_photo dynamic_resize4.jpg picture by ducksoup_photo slide_4894_68014_large.jpg picture by ducksoup_photo slide_4894_67987_large.jpg picture by ducksoup_photo  slide_4894_68008_large.jpg picture by ducksoup_photo  slide_4894_67986_large.jpg picture by ducksoup_photo slide_4894_67981_large.jpg picture by ducksoup_photo  slide_4894_67993_large.jpg picture by ducksoup_photo slide_4894_68006_large.jpg picture by ducksoup_photo slide_4894_68007_large.jpg picture by ducksoup_photo slide_4894_68013_large.jpg picture by ducksoup_photo slide_4894_68019_large.jpg picture by ducksoup_photo slide_4894_68034_large.jpg picture by ducksoup_photo dynamic_resize11.jpg picture by ducksoup_photo  dynamic_resize17.jpg picture by ducksoup_photo  slide_4894_68031_large.jpg picture by ducksoup_photo slide_4894_68030_large.jpg picture by ducksoup_photo dynamic_resize20.jpg picture by ducksoup_photo dynamic_resize.jpg picture by ducksoup_photo dynamic_resize14.jpg picture by ducksoup_photo dynamic_resize13.jpg picture by ducksoup_photo  slide_4894_68036_large.jpg picture by ducksoup_photo slide_4894_68035_large.jpg picture by ducksoup_photo

Photos from the following online sources:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/02/12/vancouver-olympics-2010-o_n_461057.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/02/13/nodar-kumaritashvilis-ope_n_461161.html

http://www.torontosun.com/sports/vancouver2010/photos/2010/02/12/12863061.html

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