Halifax and Vancouver the gateways to a nation

A comparison of east and west portals to the Canadian adventure, then and now

Halifax and Vancouver the gateways to a nationI spent most of a recent week in Halifax. It was my first real exposure to the Maritime’s major portal of immigration to North America. Its 400-year story from Mi’kmaq homeland to contemporary cosmopolitan city in some respects parallels Vancouver’s much shorter role as western portal to Canada (about 160 years). It’s hard to know…

Do intentional communities make retirement sense?

Picturing a idyllic rural setting with exercise, freedom, stimulation – and support as needed. All crafted to cater to seniors

Do intentional communities make retirement sense?My Mom is still teaching me life lessons in her 90s. Chief of these recently has been the creation of an intentional community in which to retire. After a year spent essentially nursing my father through his final days in a fashionable, for-profit Vancouver rest home, he died and she decided to move into an…

Coping with the uber angst of the modern world

Nothing in modern history has felt as tribal and reckless as what’s unfolding now

Coping with the uber angst of the modern worldCan you remember a time as crazy as this? If you’re 60-something like me, you can flash back to the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Martin Luther King Jr. and brothers John and Bobby Kennedy assassinations, the Age of Aquarius, the Vietnam War, the Summer of Love, Mikhail Gorbachev and the end of Russian communism. But…

Discovering the Basque roots of the American dream

Why visiting small museums can expand your knowledge of the broader world

Discovering the Basque roots of the American dreamThe Untzi Museoa is a modest naval museum in San Sebastian, an important Basque community on the eastern verge of Spain’s northern coast. San Sabastian’s relationship with the sea goes back to the early 1200s, when its prominent Mount Urgull was first fortified to ward off French attacks on its diverse community of traders, merchant…

Fear and loathing in the realm of Donald Trump

In the Trump world, money is the key metric and the truth is relative. Can the midterm elections change anything?

Fear and loathing in the realm of Donald TrumpNow that I’ve read A Higher Loyalty (James Comey, 2018), War on Peace (Ronan Farrow, 2018), Fire and Fury (Michael Wolff, 2018) and Fear (Bob Woodward, 2018), I feel like I really know the ultimate protagonist. The portrayals of U.S. President Donald Trump are remarkably consistent. He is: vain, compulsively in-the-moment, intellectually lazy, a misogynist…

Turning an inner-city wasteland into a thriving cultural hub

How the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, a bastion of contemporary art, resurrected a community and why others should follow its lead

Turning an inner-city wasteland into a thriving cultural hubIn 1997, the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao opened on the estuary of the Nervion River and immediately became the template for all new cultural institution architecture worldwide. Frank Gehry was the building’s visionary architect. His Spanish client was the Basque administration, along with new York’s Guggenheim Foundation. They sought to use architecture and contemporary art to…

On wings and dorsal fins: how fall arrives on the West Coast

As the local orca family hunts sea lions, the resident bald eagles leave for a pre-winter feast of salmon

On wings and dorsal fins: how fall arrives on the West CoastWhen you live in the coastal rainforest, you learn the natural indicators that presage seasonal change. The mornings are getting darker, the days are becoming shorter and the evenings are definitely cooler. We swam on Sept. 3 but the ocean was noticeably colder. And we spent less time out front going through our exercise routines…

Smoke gets in your eyes – and spoils your plans

The summer of 2018’s last trip into Desolation Sound ended abruptly, and not because the weather changed

Smoke gets in your eyes – and spoils your plansOn the morning of Sept. 2, we decided to take a last trip in our boat into Desolation Sound, the world-class boating destination that lies a mere half hour from our Westview Marina berth in Powell River. All summer we’ve been popping in and out of this destination, taking advantage of blue skies and 30C…

John McCain’s legacy of public service and sacrifice

In the selfish era of Donald Trump, McCain’s life offered a shining example of how to serve with distinction

John McCain’s legacy of public service and sacrificeIt’s hard for Canadian citizens to take the full measure of an American politician like John McCain, whose route to public service glory began in the combat of the Vietnam War. Our country doesn’t particularly valourize the military and those who serve, unless perhaps they do peacekeeping missions with the United Nations overseas. McCain’s career…

Connecting the dots in the summer of smoke

Right across Canada, dramatic signs of climate change are casting a pall on the landscape

Connecting the dots in the summer of smokeThe last five summers at Skelhp, on B.C.’s Sunshine Coast, have been progressively drier. We’ve had one significant wildfire nearby, in Sechelt Inlet, which wafted ash in a big brown plume over our regional air shed. The smoke from this fire three years ago caused us to close all the windows in the July heat…