Saturday, August 29, 2009

Travelling, without being a tourist (Financial Post)

From The Financial Post via

Canada is full of unexpected places, a point highlighted in a new advertising campaign for the Canadian Tourism Commission, entitled "Locals Know."

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Tunnels of Moose Jaw

In the early 1900s, most of the larger buildings in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan were heated by steam. The engineers who maintained the coal-fired boilers in the basements arranged for the creation of an elaborate network of tunnels linking them so that they could move themselves and their equipment from building to building without facing the harsh winter weather.

At about the same time, numerous Chinese immigrants who arrived in Moose Jaw to work for what were, by Canadian standards, very low wages, adopted the tunnel system as living quarters and workplaces which were both inexpensive and sheltered from a sometimes hostile populace.

During Prohibition Moose Jaw became a center for distribution of bootleg liquor, both domestically and to the United States via the Soo Line Railroad to Chicago, earning the town the nickname “Little Chicago”. Illegal enterprises such as speakeasies, casinos, and brothels sprang up within the concealment and shelter of the tunnels. Moose Jaw folklore states that Al Capone himself was resident for some time, to oversee operations and/or to hide out from law enforcement.

Over time, the tunnels fell into disuse and many were filled in or blocked off by new construction. However, an elaborate tourist attraction featuring live actors and animatronics has been created within what remains of the system, featuring tours illustrating the stories of the Chinese immigrants and bootlegging, and attracting over 100,000 visitors per year.

We speak with Kelly Carty from Moose Jaw about the history of the tunnels and how they are njow helping spark a revival in town.


In Search of the Canadian Road

Suprisingly, it seems that little had ever been written about the Canadian road. That is, until Peter Unwin wrote his new book called Hard Surface (Key Porter; 2009).

In what is described as the first full-length examination of the Canadian road, Hard Surface takes the reader on a ride suggesting that the value of the Canadian road is not the transportation of goods and services, but rather the quest for one’s self, and the urge to spread ones stories across a “vast and complex land”.

Peter Unwin joins us for this “Journey into Canada”.

A video reading from Hard Surface by Peter Unwin may be found at:


Don Messer’s Jubilee

Don Messer would have been 100 this year.

To those not from Canada or too young to remember, Don Messer may not mean much. But in his time and place Don Messer was the real deal.

Across the country, tens of thousands sat by their radios three times a week, 1939-58, listening to ‘Don Messer and His Islanders’ broadcast from Charlottetown, PEI on CBC Radio. With the advent of television, Messer moved seamlessly across to the new medium, bringing his audience with him. Thousands more watched ‘Don Messer’s Jubilee’ weekly, 1956-69, produced by CBC Television in Halifax, NS. When the program was cancelled, there was a national uproar; thirty-five years later, some people miss it still.

We speak with Tony Bull from New Brunswick, where they are remembering Don Messer – the man and his legacy this Summer.


A Running of the Bulls in Alberta

I had seen the video from Spain and Mexico of Bulls running after folks. But a running of bulls in Canada ?

In fact, there is such an event annually in Strathmore, Alberta, which hosts Canada’s third largest rodeo. Strathmore is the first Canadian city to run the bulls.

For $20 (yes, you pay!), you can don a red shirt and run a track with a rampaging bull behind you.

Strathmore’s Heritage Days is also home of the finals for the “World Professional Chuckwagon Association” as well Canada’s third largest rodeo.

Carolyn Charles speaks with us about it all from Strathmore. I’m curious just how many bulls there are. Also does anyone ever get seriously hurt ? And finally, just who would pay to potentially be gorged by a bull ?