Hopewell Rocks …. a.k.a. Flowerpot Rocks

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We planned our trip to the famous Bay of Fundy’s Hopewell Rocks with one specific goal in mind – to walk on the ocean floor during low tide and a few hours later at high tide to kayak around the same area.  However, Mother Nature had different plans for us.

The map below shows the Bay of Fundy in Canada’s Maritimes between Nova Scotia to the south and New Brunswick to the north.  Hopewell Rocks is situated toward Fundy’s most eastern point.

 

Let’s take a look at Hopewell Rocks to appreciate why it draws upwards of 250,000 visitors annually.  The tidal range – the vertical difference between low tide and high tide – is the largest in the Bay of Fundy compared to anywhere else in the world.  Twice each day 160 tonnes of Atlantic Ocean seawater flow in and out of the Bay, sometimes raising the ocean’s elevation as high as 16 meters (50 feet).

As the tidal waters filter through cracks in the cliffs above the water, most of the cliff wall eventually erodes and crumbles, while other parts of the wall are left standing but separated from the main cliff wall, forming unusually-shaped tall rocks.  Advancing and retreating tides have eroded the base of the rocks at a faster rate than the tops, resulting in their top-heavy flowerpot shapes. In one of the images notice the sea salt on the ocean floor that remained after the tide receded.

Dear Mother Nature referred to earlier brought us heavy cloud, high winds, and a thunderstorm prediction as the day wore on.  We were sad to forego our kayaking adventure.

Deep caverns in cliff walls copy

 

Unusual rock formations at Hopewell Rocks copyErosion of cliff wall, Hopewell Rocks copy

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A Touristy Tidbit …

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In 1980, after receiving a picture postcard of a house made from bottles, Edouard Arsenault developed an idea to build his own bottle house in Prince Edward Island, Canada.

Just nicely retired at age 66, Edouard began collecting bottles and spent winters in his basement washing and removing labels from bottles friends dropped off to help his cause.

Twenty-five thousand bottles of varying shapes and colours were amassed for this project.  By the end of 1984 Edouard’s painstaking work was rewarded in the completion of three buildings – main house, chapel, and tavern.  One of the images below shows a closeup of an interior wall in which bottles were carefully cemented into place.

Unfortunately the harsh winters in the Canadian Maritimes destroyed the railway ties used in the original foundations, and in 1992, several years after Edouard’s death, reconstruction to restore the integrity of the structures began.

I’m glad we took an hour to visit The Bottle Houses …. thank you Edouard!

 

Exterior view Bottle House, PEI Canada copy

Bottle House, PEI, Canada

Chapel interior, Bottle Houses, PEI Canada copy

Interior of Chapel, Bottle Houses, PEI, Canada

Closeup interior wall built from bottles copy

Closeup of interior wall, Bottle Houses, PEI, Canada

 

 

Let’s Take A Ride ….

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On a recent trip to Montreal, Canada I came across what looked like a nearly-assembled ferris wheel at the Old Port Harbor.  The large wheel had a few seats at the top but none around the sides or bottom.  I snapped a few photos and went on my merry way.

Then on researching Montreal Ferris Wheel for this blog I learned that when completed the wheel won’t be a standard ferris wheel, but an Observation Wheel.  At 60 meters tall, this wheel offers panoramic views of the St. Lawrence River, the harbor, Old Montreal, and the Laurentian Mountains.

Named La Grande Roue de Montreal, this new attraction will have enclosed compartments instead of the standard open-air ferris wheel seats.  The compartments will be air-conditioned in summer and heated in winter.  Each glass-enclosed gondola can seat up to eight people and take passengers on a magical 15-minute, three-turn rotation.

For added enjoyment, one can purchase a glass of wine or other beverage from the bistro at the base of the wheel and take it onto the gondola.

Scheduled to be finished in late summer of 2017, this structure is among the tallest of its kind in North America.  Looking forward to my next trip to Montreal!!

Old Port Observation Wheel, Old Montreal Canada copy

Montreal’s Observation Wheel

Side view Montreal's Observation Wheel copy

Tourists pedal boating in Montreal harbour near Old Port Observation Wheel copy

Out With The Old … In With The New

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An old brick and mortar church steeple juxtaposed against modern glass buildings is a scene one would not expect to happenstance upon.  Little did I realize as I gazed at this architectural oxymoron that I was looking at North America’s largest healthcare facility. Or it will be when it is finished in 2021.

But let’s get back to the steeple. Like many churches in Montreal Canada, Saint Sauveur has suffered from declining attendance in recent decades. Built in 1852, its Gothic facade and tin steeple were a testament to the architectural fashion of the era, and to the prominent position the church once held within the community. Empty and abandoned, the church was slated for demolition against protestors who wished to preserve the old building.

Land was needed for a new large hospital, and the land the church stood upon was chosen as the construction site. Incorporating the church’s beautiful facade and steeple into the new hospital was meant to appease those who protested the project.

CHUM (Centre Hospitalier de l’Universite de Montreal) occupies two full blocks in downtown Montreal.  With more than 3 million square feet, this facility combines teaching, research, and healthcare.  CHUM supports 772 single patient rooms designed to accommodate family members.

Entrance to old churchwith modern office towers built around it, Montreal Canada copy

CHUM Healthcare Facility, Montreal

Front part of old church remains while modern office buildings are built around it, Montreal, Canada copy

Confederation Bridge … The World’s Longest

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In 1873 a tiny island off the east coast of Canada became Canada’s newest province. At the time Prince Edward Island was promised a continuous link to New Brunswick, its nearest province neighbour some 13 km (8 miles) distant.

For more than 100 years ferry service and other water transportation carried Islanders across Northumberland Strait. However, harsh winters and stormy seas often made boat crossings dangerous and sometimes impossible. Ice would trap vessels, disrupting service for days.

Discussion of building a bridge, and the necessary funding for its construction began in Parliament in the 1960s. But cost estimates for this enormous project skyrocketed to such a price that the enterprise was put on hold for a few decades. Then in the late 1980s the “bridge” idea re-emerged.

In 1993 a private entity began construction of the bridge, taking four years to complete. Its official opening on May 31, 1997 deemed Canada’s Confederation Bridge the world’s longest bridge, an engineering feat, to be sure!


Julie at Confederation Bridge

Julie, my traveling companion at Confederation Bridge

Confederation Bridge spans Northumberland Strait, Canada

Confederation Bridge spans Northumberland Strait to Prince Edward Island, Canada

Victoria Park’s Boathouse … An Unusual Twist

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Named after England’s Queen Victoria, Kitchener Ontario Canada’s namesake park sprawls over some 59 acres in the downtown core.  Victoria Park has seen many changes over its more than a century history.

A man-made lake on the edge of the Park has a much different purpose today than in the past.  In the summers of the 1950s and ’60s, one could pay a nominal fee to rent a canoe and paddle around the small lake.  A rental of more than 1/2 hour would be wasteful because there are not many places to paddle on a little bitty lake. Canoes were stored in an old frame building after hours and off season.

In the winter the lake became a wonderful outdoor skating rink.  Children of all ages would skate and twirl on the ice, music blaring from outdoor speakers.  People could go into the old boat storage building to warm fingers and toes, and re-lace loosened skates.

The nostalgic days of skating and canoeing on Victoria Park Lake are long past.  The canoes are gone and there is no ice rink anymore.  But … one piece of history remains … the old boat house.

Today The Boathouse, with its same creaky old floorboards is a live music venue for blues bands.  The former canoe platform now serves diners lakeside.

Victoria Park Lake copy

Victoria Park Lake

Gravensteen Castle … Saved From Demolition

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In the 12th century a castle was built in Flanders, west Belgium in the city now known as Ghent. Gravensteen Castle (Castle of the Counts, Flemish translation), initially served as the seat of government for the Counts of Flanders.

The Counts abandoned their castle after a few hundred years and Gravensteen was turned over for use as a courthouse, a prison, and even a factory. Structures were built up against its walls and stones from the castle walls were used in their construction. The Castle itself fell into disrepair and it was scheduled for demolition by the end of the 19th century.

Fortunately for the hundreds of thousands of tourists who now visit annually, Gravensteen was saved from demolition by a major renovation project  The main floor is now a museum with some of the torture devices that were applied on prisoners.

But my favourite area of the Castle is the roof, where one can see the beautiful skyline of Ghent, with its medieval flavor.

Gravensteen Castle, Ghent Belgium

Skyline of beautiful Ghent, Belgium

Flowing Rivers

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Like most large European cities, a river flows through Brussels, Belgium. But the Zenne River in Brussels has a history that stands a little apart from other rivers.

In the early 19th century The Zenne was a major waterway, used for transporting goods, people and livestock to and from the City. But by the second half of the 19th century as Brussels was growing into a metropolis the Zenne became polluted and posed serious health hazards. Government officials decided the best remedy to the pollution problem was to cover over the river with a series of grand boulevards and public buildings.

Now fast forward to the 1930s. It was decided that the course of the Zenne should be changed, and the river was diverted to the City’s downtown periphery. It took many years and many attempts at water purification until the Zenne River once again became clean and safe.

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River View

 

 

 

Bruges, Belgium … Interesting Gables And Other Blurbs

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One develops an appreciation for the varied architectural styles by traveling to far-off lands.

It was in Bruges Belgium the first time I came into contact with the stepped gable at a building’s roof line. Also referred to as a crow-stepped gable, the step pattern gives easy access to the roof ridge when repairs are needed. During construction it is easier to fit a square or rectangular brick or stone into a perpendicular space rather than to cut each stone at an angle to match the roof’s pitch.

The City of Bruges (Brugge in Dutch)  was largely destroyed during World War II. After the war it was rebuilt to match the charming medieval style of its pre-war days. And the “rebuilders” did a beautiful job.

roofline-of-flemish-architecture-belgium-copy

Crow-Stepped Gable Roof Design

 

Residential District, Bruges Belgium

Residential District, Bruges Belgium

Weather … The Wet Kind

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After wintering in the sunny south for eight years, my husband and I decided to take a year off and catch up on a few home repair and renovation projects. Summer provides too many outdoor distractions, and interior work seems to get delayed another week or another month. How can one stay inside and work when the gorgeous outdoors beckons?

I shot the first image from my deck during our stay-at-home winter. A fresh snowfall followed by freezing rain crusted the trees with a beautiful white blanket. Not great driving conditions but pretty to look at.

The second image was taken four months earlier in August during a severe rainstorm. I used a tripod and slow shutter speed to capture the heavy streaks of rain and the force with which it pelted down.

It’s no wonder Canadians love to talk about the weather!

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Ice Crusted Trees

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Cloudburst