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Sunday Newsletter 2001-15Su.
April 15, 2001.
Well we made it again. It is now Easter Sunday, April 15, 2001, and we have survived another Friday the 13th. This time, however, we referred to it as Good Friday. What a society -- we fear and celebrate the same day with equal zeal. I am not going to write much about Easter, and I have already covered the fears of the number 13 and of Friday the 13th in previous issues. Now I simply want to provide to you a little information on the word Easter and how it fits into the Canadian landscape. This is a bonus to my normal article on place names. According to my reliable government source (that being Natural Resources Canada) the name Easter is used quite a bit throughout this great land, but usually only to describe land formations or naturally occurring features like shoals, inlets, bays, channels, valleys, etc., rather than actual place names where humans reside. So, on with the Facts.
== TABLE OF CONTENTS ==
= Question of the week
= Biography -- Joseph-Armand "J.A." Bombardier
= Also born this week
= Notes from the notable -- Rick Moranis
= World of science
= More on science
= New Canadian honour
= Government warning
= Place names -- Royal Geographical Society Islands, Nunavut
= Escapes -- Gatineau Park, Quebec
= This week's joke
= Quote of the week
= Words of the week
= Answer to this week's question
= Links and resources
= Legal and subscription information
== QUESTION OF THE WEEK ==
Since it is Easter Sunday, how many Canadian place names can you think of that start with the word Easter? Answer at the end.
== BIOGRAPHY ==
Joseph-Armand "J.A." Bombardier
Although he died at a fairly young age, Joseph-Armand Bombardier turned his invention of the snowmobile into one of the world's largest corporations.
He was born in Valcourt, Quebec, on April 16, 1907, and died in Sherbrooke, Quebec, just short of his 57th birthday on February 18, 1964. Like many other inventors, Bombardier began experimenting as a teenager. As a teenager, he was fascinated with mechanics and quickly showed that he had a natural gift for working on machinery. His dream was to realise his idea of an all-terrain vehicle that would be equally reliable on soft ground (muskeg) or snow. The specific features that made his machine of 1937 a success were steerable skis in front of a tracked drive.
In 1942 Bombardier established a company (L'Auto-Niege Bombardier Limitée) to manufacture his tracked vehicles. Great strides were made in the technology during World War Two, and in 1947 Bombardier announced a new, 12-passenger, enclosed snow-going machine. Designed primarily for military use, it was quickly adopted for use by the Canadian police, as well as mining and oil exploration companies.
In 1959 Bombardier's firm offered the world the "Ski-Doo", simultaneously creating a new type of vehicle, a new sport and a new market. What was different about the Ski-Doo was its size (akin to that of a motorcycle rather than that of a car or truck), and an unique "single-track" propulsion system which incorporated the whole vehicle behind the steerable skis. Within a decade it transformed the social life of Inuit and arctic communities, creating a demand for gasoline, oil and spare parts.
After his death the family continued to operate the company, listing Bombardier stock on the Montreal and Toronto stock exchanges in January 1969. During the 1970s the company began acquiring many other companies (mostly European) and moved into the all-terrain vehicle, personal watercraft and boat markets. In 1974 they diversified again by contracting with the city of Montreal to be involved in the building of their subway system. Moving ahead another decade found Bombardier Inc. acquiring Canadair, the leading aircraft manufacturer in Canada, in December of 1986. In 1990 they acquired the bankrupt Lear Jet Corporation and then took over half of the De Havilland aircraft company in March 1992. The company even moved quickly and heavily into the rail car and bus manufacturing business, and was responsible for manufacturing the shuttle trains for the Euro Channel Tunnel.
Much more can be said of the world-famous company, based in Montreal, with 2001 assets exceeding $20 billion dollars, almost 60 000 employees worldwide (half in Canada) and production facilities in a dozen countries. I have promised this Friday Feature spot to Craig, who would love to write on this company. Therefore I leave you with the story of a man and his simple dream turning into one of the world's largest manufacturers and employers. Look forward to Craig's article sometime in the near future.
There are some pictures of J.A. Bombardier and his early snowmobiles on the FactsCanada.ca site at this link.
== ALSO BORN THIS WEEK ==
Bliss Carman, poet, journalist, born in Fredericton, New Brunswick, April 15, 1861.
Samuel Nathan Cohen, theatre critic, broadcaster, born in Sydney, Nova Scotia, April 16, 1923.
Robert "Bobby" Allen Curtola, singer, born in Port Arthur, Ontario, April 17, 1943.
Jane Austin Coop, pianist, teacher, born in Saint John, New Brunswick, April 18, 1950.
Douglas Shadbolt, architect and teacher, born in Victoria, British Columbia, April 18, 1925.
Josiah Wood, businessman and lieutenant-governor of New Brunswick (1912-1917), born in Sackville, New Brunswick, April 18, 1843.
Frank Davey, poet, critic and editor, born in Vancouver, British Columbia, April 19, 1940.
Daniel Roland Michener, governor general of Canada (1967-1974), born in Lacombe, Alberta, April 19, 1900.
Sharon Pollock, born Mary Sharon Chalmers, playwright, actor and director, born in Fredericton, New Brunswick, April 19, 1936.
Arthur Shilling, artist, born on the Rama Indian Reserve, Orillia, Ontario, April 19, 1941.
Toller Cranston, figure skater, author, born in Hamilton, Ontario, April 20, 1949.
Maurice Le Noblet Duplessis, prime minister (or premier [1936-1939 and 1944-1959]) and attorney-general of Quebec, born in Trois Rivieres, Quebec, April 20, 1890.
Michel Lambeth, film maker, writer, photojournalist, born in Toronto, Ontario, April 21, 1923.
Alex "Sasha" Baumann, swimmer, Olympic medalist, born in Prague, Czechoslovakia (moved to Canada at age 9), born on April 21, 1964.
Michel Goulet, former hockey player, Hall of Fame member, born in Peribonka, Quebec, on April 21, 1960.
== NOTES FROM THE NOTABLE ==
Name: Rick Moranis.
Date of birth: April 18, 1953. (Some sources say 1954.)
Vocation: Comedian and actor.
Got his big start: Graduate of Canada's Second City Comedy Troupe and founding member SCTV.
Important Movies: "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids", "Honey, I Blew up the Kid", "Strange Brew", "Little Shop of Horrors", "Spaceballs", "Ghostbusters", Ghostbusters II", "The Flintstones", and "Parenthood".
Trivia: Was a radio DJ for CHUM-FM in Toronto in the 1970s.
Marital status: Widowed with two children.
Claim to Fame: He and Dave Thomas played the roles of brothers Bob and Doug McKenzie. As an ironic twist of fate, they where both awarded the Order of Canada for their contribution to Canadian culture, and their record album won two Juno awards and was nominated for a Grammy.
== WORLD OF SCIENCE ==
Scientists have recently announced their disappointment in trying to find the organic ingredients believed necessary to initiate life, within fragments of a meteorite that fell into Tagish Lake late last year. The lake straddles both British Columbia and the Yukon Territory, but the research was conducted in Whitehorse, Yukon. Many scientists believe that life arose on Earth as a result of meteorites that crashed through the atmosphere more than four billion years ago. These meteorites are believed to have carried the necessary amino acids and other bacterial compounds needed for the elixir of life.
== MORE ON SCIENCE ==
A Waiver on Life in the Future
Guy Desrosiers, a New Democratic Party candidate in last month's Alberta election, recently revealed that he is a member of the Alcor Life Extension Foundation. This is a non-profit organization that cryogenically freezes its members at the time of their death in the hope that someday technology will be able to revive them and extend their lives. Although there is a large investment on the member's part (currently $50 000-$120 000), one would think that this is a "no risk" venture because members have to die anyway to become part of the "extended plan". Still, a legal waiver must be signed by each member before acceptance is considered. Here are some of the risks outlined on this waiver, along with my bracketed observations:
- Loss of privacy as a result of technology incidental to revival. (Yes indeed. Billions of future humanoids will line up to observe this quaint subject from the "Seinfeld" era.)
- Neurological deficits which may result in depersonalisation and/or emotional, physical, or social handicaps. (Talk about a serious Prozac-inducing syndrome. However, don't worry -- there will be a whole bunch of new drugs to fix almost anything.)
- Loss of personal freedom and/or indebtness, as a result of legal, social or political conditions. (Imagine the interest on that Visa bill!)
- Grief, loneliness, and social maladjustment as a result of separation from and/or permanent loss of loved ones, friends, and work or social position. (This is a big one. Your spouse is long gone, but what about marriage to a descendent who has great genes [and maybe even jeans]? I doubt the descendants of your friends will care, unless you can talk about those "Seinfeld" reruns. Don't worry about work -- in most work places they may not even notice you have been gone for a millennium!)
- Exposure to legal action... as a result of technology incidental to revival. (If lawyers are still going to be around in the future, why go there in the first place?)
== NEW CANADIAN HONOUR ==
Governor General Adrienne Clarkson recently announced the formation of the Order of Merit of the Police Forces. This announcement followed consent by Queen Elizabeth II given last fall. The structure of the new order is similar to the other four national orders (the Order of Canada, the Order of Military Merit, the Royal Victorian Order and the Order of St. John) in that there will be three levels of membership: commander, officer and member. There will be about 50 recipients each year, with the total amount not to exceed 0.1 percent of the average number of active police. The new order is "designed to honour dedication and devotion beyond the call of duty," recognizing "a career of exception, service or distinctive merit displayed by the men and women of the Canadian Police Forces."
I myself say it has been a long time coming and am glad we finally have one!
== GOVERNMENT WARNING ==
Recently the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) took out large advertisements in a number of Canadian publications trying to make us further aware of the notorious foot-and-mouth disease and how we can all help keep Canada free of this problem. Here is an extract from their plea:
A serious outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in European countries has led to the slaughter of thousands of animals. This viral disease is highly contagious, affecting cattle, swine, sheep, goats, deer and other animals. Although it is not a significant threat to human health, you could bring the virus into Canada on your footwear or clothing, your baggage, or in infected imported food products. Travellers arriving in Canada from affected countries are required to follow a simple but effective disinfectant procedure. Inspections of personal baggage and imported goods have become much more stringent.
There is a link to the CFIA Web site in today's resources, linked to at the bottom of the page.
== PLACE NAMES ==
Royal Geographical Society Islands, Nunavut
Located between Victoria and King William Islands, this group of islands was named in 1905 by the Norse explorer Roald Amundsen after the Royal Geographical Society of London, England (not to be confused with the National Geographic Society of the United States). It was during one of his expeditions that Amundsen became the first to conquer the Northwest Passage, although their ship froze in ice shortly afterwards and news of the conquest had to wait for the spring thaw. The link to the map in today's resources will refer you to this remote location. I wanted to provide you more information than this, but various Web searches along with trips to two libraries left me with what you see here and the islands' latitude and longitude: 68 degrees 56 minutes north and 100 degrees 15 minutes west. I hope to provide more detail in a future issue, especially considering the historical significance of the area.
== ESCAPES ==
Gatineau Park, Quebec
Being only about a 15-minute drive from the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa, Ontario, Gatineau Park offers just about everything for everyone, year round. As a matter of fact, it is said that one of the joys of visiting our nation's capital is that it is so easy to escape to Gatineau. This gem of wilderness has been a playground of Ottawa Valley residents for over 100 years.
The 356-square-kilometre region was once threatened by logging and other industries, but was established as a park in 1938 and is now a treasured feature for wildlife and enjoyed by hikers, skiers and sightseers alike. Gatineau is abruptly separated from the plains of the Ottawa Valley -- the park's western boundary is formed by the remarkable Eardley Escarpment, a 300-metre cliff stretching more than 30 kilometres from north to south. Looking westward from this escarpment you can see a fertile valley, now being encroached upon but not conquered by urban sprawl. To the east as far as the Gatineau River are the rolling hills, forests and lakes of the park. This landscape was once scoured by glacial action, as this is Canadian Shield country. In spring, masses of trillium bloom early, blanketing the forest area. Canoeing is an added feature on Fortune Lake at this time of the year, when the shoreline is bustling with birds, beavers and a myriad of other pond creatures (including the muskrat) busy feeding and raising their young.
Part of Canada's National Trail (the Trans Canada Trail, featured in Friday issue 2000-11Fr) goes through the park, passing some major highlights along the way, one of which is Pink Lake. This unique lake, where weekend visitors from the Ottawa Valley once went to swim, hike and dive from the cliffs, is now a protected environment. Because only the top layer of the water circulates, the bottom of Pink Lake is completely without oxygen, preserving rather than decomposing any vegetable matter and providing valuable information about the natural history of the area.
One of the best Web sites I have ever seen with regards to parks (or anything else for that matter) is the Gatineau Park site, which can be accessed from a link in today's resources.
== THIS WEEK'S JOKE ==
How does a Canadian civil servant wink?
By opening one eye!
== QUOTE OF THE WEEK ==
This is a dual quote this week or, to be more specific, a quote within a quote.
"I take on the responsibility of becoming Canada's 26th Governor General since Confederation, fully conscious of the deep roots of this office, stretching back to the Governors of New France and to the first of them, Samuel de Champlain. In our beloved Georgian Bay, which lies on the great water route he took from the French River to Huronia, there is a cairn, placed on a small island, between a tennis court and Champlain's Gas Bar and Marina, which commemorates his passage and quotes from his journal: 'As for me, I labour always to prepare a way for those willing to follow.'" --Governor General Adrienne Clarkson quoting Samuel de Champlain in her acceptance speech.
New France was one of Canada's former names.
== WORDS OF THE WEEK ==
There will be a hiatus for this section for the following three weeks as I am travelling... without my hard-cover, non-concise "Gage Canadian Dictionary". Sorry -- it was either that or the scuba gear that had to stay behind. I look forward to getting back to it. See you then.
== ANSWER TO THIS WEEK'S QUESTION ==
Since it is Easter Sunday, how many Canadian place names can you think of that start with the word Easter?
I won't go into great detail here, as this is my longest answer to any question of the week. Even this is a compressed version.
Alberta -- None found.
British Columbia -- Three names: Easter Creek in the Peace River District, Easter Lake in the Clayoquot District, and Easter Lakes in the Caribou.
Manitoba -- Two names: Easter Lake and the unincorporated area of Easterville that actually has a population of around 675 people!
New Brunswick -- Two names: Easter Lake and Easter Deadwater, the latter a river feature and both located in Albert County.
Newfoundland -- 12 names (province with the most): These include Easter Point, Easter Pond, Easter Steady Pond, Easter Tickle, Easter Beach, Easter Brook, Easter Brook Marshes, Easter Brook Ponds, Easter Cove, Easter Fork, Easter Gull Rock and Easter Head. All of these places are geographical features and, although people may inhabit areas in and around them, the are not communities. This list includes three lakes, two capes, a channel, a beach, a river, a river feature, a bay, a shoal and a "low vegetation area". This final designation is assigned to areas such as barrens, hay marshes, swamps and bogs. Five of the twelve feature types are found in the electoral district of St. Mary's The Capes. I found the channel named Easter Tickle to have the most interesting name, so there is a link to a map of the area in today's resources.
Northwest Territories -- Two names: Easter Creek (which is actually a river), and Easter Lake (which is actually an island), both found in the Franklin area.
Nova Scotia -- One name: Easter Stillwater, a river feature in Lunenburg County.
Nunavut -- Three names: Easter Cape, Easter Island and Easter Sound (which is a channel).
Ontario -- Four names: Easter Chicken Lake in Kenora County, Easter Island in Haliburton County and Easter Creek and Lake found in Cochrane County.
Prince Edward Island -- None found.
Quebec -- One name: Easter Lake, or Lac Easter if you prefer.
Saskatchewan -- Two names: Easter Head Cape and Easterby Lake.
Yukon Territory -- One name: Easter Glacier.
It looks like there are 31 place names in Canada starting with the word "Easter". Only one seems to have a population. How many did you find before checking the answer?
== PREVIEW ==
Next Sunday I will profile Arthur Crisp, tell you about 100 Mile House in British Columbia, escape to Red Point Provincial Park in Prince Edward Island, list the ten longest words in the English language, and answer the question, "Who were the Criddle family?"
Sorry, but I did not come through with the English language's longest words. There is always next week. Until then....
== LINKS AND RESOURCES ==
FactsCanada.ca -- http://www.factscanada.ca
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