Log #55g Saskatchewan and Alberta

November 20, 2012 in Log Series 50-59, Logs by Series, Series 55, The Logs

Rio Dulce, Guatemala

Nov. 20, 2012

Hi Folks,

Here is my next log of our travels out west last summer. We are lazing around at anchor here in the Rio Dulce, and I am getting free WiFi from Mar Marine where we will be going for the U.S. Thanksgiving dinner on the 22nd. Thanks Mar Marine.  Several odd jobs are in process, including replacement of one of our solar panels that was damaged by a shackle plummeting from the mast head. I am trying to sell my 2010 Mercury 9.9hp 4 stroke outboard to then buy a new Yamaha 15hp 2 stroke outboard (for about $2100). The Mercury engine is “crap”! (Hard starting, too sensitive a carburetor [we replaced one and have had this one cleaned twice in less than two years], the engine vibrates too much, is too heavy, the gear shift does not click into neutral easily, it is not powerful enough to get two of us in the dinghy up on a plane). The weather here is quite warm, 32 C (90 F) daytime, 22 C (70 F) night time. We may be around here for another week or so as the living is easy.

All the best,


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Log #55g Saskatchewan and Alberta

Rio Dulce, Guatemala

Nov. 11, 2012

After Canada Day in Swift Current we went north and west, following the Trails of 1885, of the North West Resistance,(which involved both Indian {First Nations} and Metis against the Canadian militia and NWMP ) through Saskatoon and up to Batoche (see attached picture) where there was a major battle between Canadian government forces and Louis Riel’s Metis, a valiant struggle which they lost, effectively ending the rebellion.


I still have mixed feelings about Riel. Granted the Metis were not well done by  by the new Canadian government as Canada expanded into the prairies. The livelihood of these hunters and trappers was destroyed by the disappearance of the buffalo as was that of the First Nations tribes in the area. To hold up Canadian expansion at this period of history was unacceptable. Canada needed immigration and settlement out west to counter American expansionism, not another French speaking enclave of dubious loyalty. Yes, there was prejudice and a form of racism. The hanging of Louis Riel was unfortunate in that it made him a martyr for the Politically Correct today who have resurrected the issue and want to consider him as a Father of Confederation. With old issues as this, 125 years ago, let the dead bury the dead. We should learn from history, but not rewrite it with today’s current values and concerns. If we do, where does it stop?

There was conflict with First Nations tribes in the area as well. In Fort Battleford we saw the fort to which over 500 settlers fled, (see attached picture) fearing Indian raids or reprisals, causing concerns in Ottawa. Chief Poundmaker of the Cree Nation was respected for his defence against the ill-considered attack by the Canadian Militia under Lt. Col. Otter in that he, Poundmaker, stopped his warriors from pursuing the retreating troops after the battle. We stopped at the cairn near Frog Lake, Alberta to see the grave sites of the nine settlers killed there. (see attached pictures)

Log_55g_Pallisade_around_Fort_Battleford       Log_55g_Chief_Poundmakers_gravesite         Log_55g_Cairn_and_graves_of_settlers_killed_at_Frog_Lake

There were many conflicts between the settlers and First Nations, but most of the Prairies were finally covered with treaties with the First Nations. Without going into the fairness or unfairness of them, and acknowledging that many terms of the treaties were not properly followed through; they paved the way for a more peaceful  settlement of the Prairie Provinces.

Log_55g_Graves_of_settlers_killed_at_frog_Lake                 Log_55g_Treaties_that_cover_the_prairies

We drove up to Cold Lake, Alberta to see the large Canadian airbase and enjoyed the museum housed in a former DEW line radar base. It was not only a good air museum, but one for the general development of that part of Alberta. Of particular interest for me was a tall totem pole, and its history. It was originally made by a grade eight class of Canadian children of the serving members at Canada’s military NATO base at Lahr in the then West Germany under the guidance of their teacher, Vince Dunn. Vince dedicated this totem pole as a memorial to his twin brother Bob Dunn, an RCAF pilot killed in a training exercise during the Cold War.

Log_55g_Plaque_beside_totem_pole            Log_55g_Totem_pole_history_posted

I taught at Lahr in the late 1970’s and the totem was between the two schools on the Kaserne. When our base in Lahr closed down, the totem pole was carefully removed and rededicated at the museum in Cold Lake. Another reason for the significance to me is that I knew both Vince and Bob Dunn, acquaintances in when I was a kid in my home town of Dundas, Ontario. Bob and Vince were lifeguards at our local Lions Club swimming pool. The museum also has a memorial section dedicated to the airmen who lost their lives during the Cold War. Vince and I reconnected earlier in the spring as Vince is also a sailor and had read some of my logs in GAM, an Ontario sailing magazine which carries some of my logs periodically. It had been about 60 years since last seeing Vince in my home town of Dundas. I felt saddened to learn of Bob’s death, but appreciate his dedication and sacrifice in our military. Thanks Bob.


On our way down to Edmonton we stopped at to see bison grazing in the large protected reserve at  Elk Island National Park.

Log_55g_Buffalo_grazing_in_Elk_Island_National_Park                     Log_55g_Buffalo_in_Elk_Island_National_Park

Another side trip while in Edmonton was to the Oil Museum near Leduc, site of the first Alberta oil well. (see attached picture)  It was interesting to see the different rigs, and understand better the drilling for, extraction and pipeline transportation of the oil industry, especially from the controversial oil sands deposits. It is not uncommon to see these “grasshopper rigs in the middle of wheat or canola fields.They are a valuable resource for Alberta and Canada, and I hope they can continue development on an environmentally acceptable basis.

Log_55g_Original_Leduc_1_Oil_Drilling_Platform               Log_55g_Common_oil_rig_pumping_stations


We had to go to the West Edmonton Mall, a monstrous venue of stores and entertainment. We watched the large wave pool wash across the hundreds of swimmers, many with mini surf boards and inflatable tubes. (see attached picture) High above the pool we saw a bungee jumper plunge down 100 feet to bob his head in the pool beneath, and spring up two thirds of the stretch, continuing to cycle up and down for several minutes, dangling from his stretching elastic line. In the same area was a 100 foot climbing wall and a gigantic curving water tube slide. (see attached picture) The mini submarine was not operational when we were there. The entire mall is a gigantic spectacle.

Log_55g_Wave_starting_in_Wave_pool            Log_55g_Bungee_jumper_plunging_towards_wave_pool

Log_55g_Seal_diving_in_Aquarium_show           Log_55g_Galleon_afloat_in_West_Edmonton_Mall

I spent an afternoon at the Navy Reserve base, HMCS Nonsuch, and at the University of Alberta, inquiring about the state of Navy Reserve officer training. There is a move afoot to get the military a presence back on university campuses in the form of Reserve Officer Training Programs, similar to the one I went through in the University Naval Training Divisions at McMaster in the late 1950’s. I understand that a pilot program may be initiated at the U of A in the next year or so. There is a great value of these programs, not only to prepare officers for the regular and reserve forces, but to provide many young men and women the leadership and organizational skills needed to work in a large structured environment, thus assisting them in their career development upon graduation.

Over the Rockies to Jasper and up to the Yukon in my next log.