Category Archives: Meanwhile in Canada …

Meanwhile in Canada … 28 Jul 2014

There’s a flurry of worth potential MWIC posts, but I must start with HitchBot. This is a hitchhiking robot that intends to travel across the entirety of Canada this summer. It’s more art project than robotics demonstration (only one arm can move), but it does talk, Tweet, and post to Instagram. Think Siri with a solar panel duct-taped to a plastic bucket wearing Wellies and rubber gloves. Okay, don’t do that – it can only lead to NSFW thoughts.

HitchBot started Sun, 27 Jul, in Halifax, NS and has already made it about 550 km (340 mi) to Dalhousie, NB. The ultimate goal is Victoria, BC, which is at least a 6,000 km (3,800 mi) trek. I wonder how HB will fare once it arrives in the Prairies and the initial media hype has faded. I’ll post updates if something interesting happens.

And I can’t let Allan Hawco’s birthday go by with out a link to his time in the Red Chair: How to speak like a Newfie. If none of that sentence makes sense to you, spend a couple years up north. Or maybe I’ll explain it in next year’s MWIC.

Meanwhile in Canada … 14 Jul 2014

Bowhead Whales by SarahOnTheRoad

Happy 15th Birthday, Nunavut! Unfortunately, the Great White North seems to be celebrating this auspicious occasion with fire.

The garbage dump in Iqaluit, Nunavut’s capital, has been on fire for the past two months or so. The fire chief has a plan to extinguish the fire for a mere $4.5 million. They hope to excavate all the garbage, dump it into a pit of sea water, and rebury the soggy mess in a new landfill. The article is a bit vague on what they’ll do with the water afterwards, but, hey, with a golden plan like this, what can go wrong?

About 2,200 km (1,400 mi) west, the Northwest Territories are just burning willy-nilly. According to, about 140 fires are currently burning across the territory. The smoke has flowed down through Saskatchewan, Manitoba, into the Great Plains of the US.

But, let’s focus on the beautiful bowhead whales instead. There are other “Nunagram” photos at Finding True North to celebrate their birthday in much prettier ways.

Meanwhile in Canada … 30 Jun 2014

Hockey vs. Church Tweets

In preparation for Canada Day, Macleans put together a clickbait page with 22 mostly useless maps about the Great White North. There are a couple possibly interesting ones on income inequality and gender imbalances, but mostly are cutesy things like common cliches, number of hockey players, and most F-bomb tweets. You can live without clicking the link, like the sucker I was, but silly links make the Internet hum.

Regardless, while you’re getting your morning fuel for the World Cup game tomorrow, boycott Belgian waffles, but pour some extra maple syrup on whatever artery-clogging American-style breakfast you choose in honour of ‘la fête du Canada.’

Meanwhile in Canada … 23 Jun 2014

Last week, the Canadian Parliament approved the Nordion and Theratronics Divestiture Authorization Act (the “Nordion Act ”). How’s that for an exciting lede? Well, this could have significant impacts on the world’s supply of medical isotopes, used for nuclear imaging procedures to diagnose cancer and heart disease.

The act itself merely allows the Crown corporation to be sold to a foreign entity (in this case, the US firm, Sterigenics). But, the issue with the isotopes is that Nordion’s Chalk River research reactor is scheduled to close in 2016. The CBC article quotes an Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development report:

The loss of Canada’s processing capacity in the second half of 2016 reduces current global processing capacity by approximately 25 per cent in that period.

I don’t pretend to have a solution for this or really understand all the implications. The Chalk River Lab is almost 70 years old and building a new facility would certainly take years, if not decades, to complete. The teeny, tiny, kernel of libertarian in me says that government interference in the private market leads to all sorts of distortions and skewed incentives. However, my bleeding-heart liberal side notes that governments need to serve the entire population and sometimes has to override the “free market.” Medical isotopes are necessary in modern medicine and seem to me to be worth the intervention.

Meanwhile in Canada … 16 Jun 2014

Petey the Puck
Recognize me? I’m Petey the Puck! 

The 2013-14 NHL season is over. Congratulations to the LA Kings (you rat bastards)! More importantly, last year was the 60th season of Hockey Night in Canada. Not that it will end anytime soon, but will CBC no longer own the exclusive rights to NHL broadcasts in Canada. In remembrance, here is the classic videos of Petey the Puck from the 1970s. I watched him growing up and even then thought he was a bit dorky. But, that’s nostalgia for you. Regardless, here’s looking forward to Sep and Oct!

Meanwhile in Canada … 9 Jun 2014

Bear rescues her cub
“You’re gonna be in so much trouble!”

Here’s a short video of a mama bear rescuing her cub that managed to get on the wrong side of a highway barrier. The clip is pretty short and actually repeats three times, so anyone can squeeze it into their busy day. It was taken near Kootenay, BC, which is at the far eastern edge of the province, near Banff and Calgary.

I especially like how the other cub is peeking over the barrier like maybe it tattled to mom. Of course, there’s a quick moment where the second cub climbs on top of the barrier like it’s going to jump over, too, so maybe he/she really can’t plead innocent. My alternate photo caption is, “Hey mom, can I try that?”

Meanwhile in Canada … 2 June 2014

Empress of Ireland
Last Thursday was the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Empress of Ireland in the St. Lawrence River. Over 1,000 souls perished when the liner collided with a Norwegian coal ship. The story reminds me of the Eastland Disaster where a passenger ship flipped over in the Chicago river in 1915. Both disasters have been overshadowed by the Titanic and World War I, but are worth remembering.

Meanwhile in Canada … 26 May 2014

Canada doesn’t celebrate Memorial Day like the US, but it is the 71st anniversary of the invasion campaigns in Sicily and Italy. The Italian campaigns have largely been over looked with the better known Normandy invasion in 1944. The Italian invasions were important in their own right (and led to Mussolini’s overthrow), but also were hard-fought opportunities to learn strategies and to battle-train troops. Canada had fewer troops in Sicily and Italy than other allies, but they frequently took on some of the most difficult assaults. The CBC Radio recently posted a live recording from the May 23rd battle to break the “Hitler” line, one of the last positions defending Rome. The 4:27-long audio clip is not overly gripping, but it is interesting to hear the nearby artillery fire and imagine the correspondent huddled in the half-damaged farmhouse to make the recording.

Meanwhile in Canada … 19 May 2014

Saturday marked the 50th anniversary of the opening of the first Tim Hortons in Hamilton, Ontario. If you’re interested, just about any Canadian news source or website will have plenty of stories, highlights, anecdotes, tall tales, outright lies, and much much more (e.g., CBC, Globe & MailToronto Sun). Instead of just linking to those, here’s a Curated Anthology of Tim Hortons. It was made a few months ago by Pilot Interactive as a self-promotional vanity site, but it still has some useful information. Foremost is the double-double:

Tim Horton's Double Double
The Double Double