LONG HOUSE, SAINTE-MARIE AMONG THE HURONS: This attraction near Midland, Ontario, attempts to interpret and share the history of First Nations peoples and their early contact with Europeans– specifically the French Jesuits.
Virtually nothing of the original settlement here remains. Aside from artifacts on display and pieces of two hearths, everything one sees is a recent recreation or re-imagining of what the site was like in the mid 1600s.
There is a small guide given to visitors, who are then encouraged to speak with staff. They are everywhere! Unfortunately, they know very little beyond the obvious. On my visit, after a while I gave up as they were so poorly informed. Given the origin of Sainte-Marie among the Hurons, I was most shocked with the lack of knowledge about Catholic faith and practices.
Shot handheld and braced with a Nikon D300, 16-85 DX zoom lens at 48mm, ISO 1000, 1/4 sec., f4.5. Copyright photo by John Ecker | pantheon photography
NIAGARA FALLS SPRING TULIPS: They are not out yet, but by late April, the tulips will be in full bloom throughout the Niagara Falls parks system. It’s a favourite place to visit early in the spring when millions of tulips adorn the well-kept gardens, the daffodils carpet Queen Victoria Park and the magnolias bloom along the path near the Floral Showhouse. If you plan your visit for when the magnolias are in full flower (usually late April/early May, depending on the year), you’ll also see plenty of tulips and daffodils too.
These tulips were at the Floral Showhouse, just ¼ mile south of the Horseshoe Falls at 7541Niagara River Parkway. The outside gardens are free to visit. There’s a paid parking lot right there. You can even stay up to speed with the pace of your favourite flows signing up for the Niagara Parks Bloom Watch.
Shot handheld with a Nikon D3100, 18-200 DX VR lens at 200mm, f/32, 1/100 sec., ISO 800. Photo by John Ecker | pantheon photography
AGIRA, SICILY, ITALY: This long abandoned building is near Agira, Sicily. It’s now home to a sizeable pigeon population that calls the old building home. The building is not far from the Agira Canadian cemetery which is the only exclusively Canadian cemetery in Italy from the Second World War. Elsewhere in the country, Canadian war dead were often buried with other Commonwealth soldiers. Agira is the final resting place for all 490 Canadians killed during the Sicily campaign.
Operation Husky was the code name for the invasion of Sicily. On July 10, 1943,160,000 British, Canadian, and American troops landed in southern Sicily in advance of future Allied landings on mainland Italy. The terrain in southern and central Sicily is very hilly and was mostly barren in 1943. The German defenders put up great resistance and the Canadians had it tough in their advance toward Agira. Still, today, one can see the locations of the German defences and the route Canadian troops took in their attack on the town.
After the taking of Agira, most of the Canadian troops were merged with the British for the final advance toward Messina on the northern tip of Sicily. Sicily finally fell on August 17th, 1943, just five weeks after the landings. Shot handheld with a Nikon D300, ISO 250, f/20, 1/40 sec. 56mm on Nikon 18-200 lens, photo by John Ecker | pantheon photography
NARES LAKE NEAR CARCROSS, YUKON, CANADA: Carcross used to be called Caribou Crossing but over the years was contracted to Carcross. The town, just 45 minutes south of Whitehorse, Yukon and about 90 minutes from Skagway, Alaska.
Shot handheld with a Nikon D3100 with a Nikkor 18-200mm lens at 18mm, f16, 1/500 sec., ISO 400. Photo by John Ecker | pantheon photography
ON THE HIGHWAY TO ALASKA FROM THE YUKON: It is a beautiful drive from Carcross, Yukon to Skagway, Alaska. Originally, the route was called the Carcross Road and then became part of the Alaska Highway during the Second World War. That highway was developed at a frantic pace in wartime. It has also served the mining industry well, but today is largely used for tourist traffic during the busy summer months. Stop anywhere along the road and you are sure to take in a breathtaking vista.
Shot handheld with a Nikon D300 with a Nikkor 10-24mm lens at 12mm, f11 1/500 sec., ISO 500. Photo by John Ecker | pantheon photography
Orange truck, Yellowknife Mining Museum, Yellowknife, NWT, photo by John Ecker | pantheon photography
ORANGE TRUCK, YELLOWKNIFE MINING MUSEUM: For over 70 years, mining has been Yellowknife’s economic base. The industry provides over 50% of the Northwest Territory’s GDP. The town was established in the mid 1930s, became the territorial capital in 1967 and finally incorporated in1970. The Northwest Mining Heritage Society was formed in 2002 with plans to establish a mining museum and resource centre. Currently, much of its collection is found outside, at the Giant Mine Town Site, located 4 km north of Yellowknife on the Ingraham Trail. While the site appears just to be a hodgepodge of old relics, I was fascinated by the collection and what it represents. The area has been a rich source of gold, radium and now diamonds. The society is assembling a huge trove of artefacts to share the rich history of mining in the area.
More information: Northwest Mining Heritage Society
Shot handheld with a Nikon D3100 with a Nikkor 18-200mm lens at 18mm, f6.3, 1/125 sec., ISO 1600. Photo by John Ecker | pantheon photography
REMEMBRANCE DAY, NOVEMBER 11, 2012: Top photo: Canadian flag and Calgary Highlanders, Juno Beach Centre D-Day Commemoration, June 6th, 2010. Shot handheld with a Nikon D40X, Nikkor 70-300mm lens at 300mm, f20, 1/640 sec. ISO 800. Photo by John Ecker | pantheon photography.
Bottom two photos: Queen’s Own Rifles House, Juno Beach; D-Day and modern day photos. Click here for an account of the D-Day landing by the Queen’s Own Rifles: http://www.members.shaw.ca/junobeach/juno-4-1.htm
VIMY RIDGE MEMORIAL, FRANCE: April 9, 2012 is the 95th anniversary of the start of the battle of Vimy Ridge. It was the first time that Canadians would fight together under Canadian command. It is, for many, ‘when Canada became a country’. The Canadians were given an almost impossible task. French and British attempts to take the ridge had failed. In the course of the next six days, 3,598 Canadians would die and another 7,000 were injured. The highest point on the battlefield was Hill 145. That is where Canada’s Vimy Ridge Memorial now stands. In 1922, the French government gave the Hill and its surrounding to territory to Canada, in appreciation for defeating the Germans in one of the pivotal battles of World War One. Every Canadian should visit the Memorial at least once in their lives, in tribute to the terrible losses that day and in recognition of a defining moment in Canada’s history.
Photo by John Ecker | pantheon photography
BLUE CHAIRS, GREEN GRASS, SOYBEAN FIELD: This shot was taken in southern Ontario on the northern boundary of Durham Region. The field crop behind the chairs is soybeans– a large cash crop in the Province of Ontario where approximately 2 million acres are planted annually. The crop is increasingly grown elsewhere in Canada and enjoys a good export market. For exported beans, the biggest buyer (2006 data) is Japan, followed by Malaysia, the Netherlands and Iran. The beans have many uses. They are grown for specialty foods, oil production and livestock feed. Ever eat those artificial bacon bits? Yummy? Chances are they were made from soybeans. They have industrial uses as well. Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Motor Company, was an advocate for the use of soy for plastics, paints and fibres. Printing inks are often made from soy and it’s even used as an eco-friendly lubricant and in candles and crayons. Soybeans are also good in biodiesel. Makes me want to sit in one of those blue chairs and dream up another use for this magic bean!
Shot handheld with a Nikon D300, AFS 70-300 DX lens at 155mm, 1/320 sec, f18, ISO 1000
Photo by John Ecker | pantheon photography
RAGGED ASS ROAD: Yes, in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories there is a street by that name. I was there not long ago, enjoying my time in ‘Old Town’ the original town site. Ragged Ass Road is the official Yellowknife name for the short dirt road in this working-class neighbourhood. Apparently, the street got its name after Lou Rocher and his buddies were drinking one night at the end of a long prospecting season with little profit to show for it. ‘Ragged Ass’ meant dirt poor and they decided that night they should call their street ‘Ragged Ass Road’. They made a sign, the name stuck and eventually the city adopted the name officially. This 1949 Ford sits in the driveway of one of the homes on Ragged Ass Road.
Photo illustration by John Ecker | pantheon photography