Sunday, January 15, 2017

winter fun

If it is going to snow in winter, then one must learn to enjoy it,
 preferably starting at a young age.
In 2008, Canada Post issued these Christmas stamps featuring children playing at making a snow angel (domestic rate of .52), learning to ski (US rate .96) and tobogganing (international rate 1.60)

"To bring this traditional subject to life, we turned to traditional methods," designer Susan Scott explains. "The illustration process began with drawings that were later transferred onto lino blocks. The images were then carved out of the blocks and printed onto textured paper. Finally, the prints were filled in by hand with coloured pencils."
Once you're past the snow angel stage and you've learned how to ski
you might be tempted to defy gravity and try freestyle aerial skiing.
 Aerial ramps as high as four metres allow for jumps at angles of up to 70 degrees, dropping from a height of 9 to 12 metres.
or stay indoors and gravitate to curling - a very popular sport in Canada. (not to brag, but both the men's and women's teams have won a medal in every Olympic Games since 1998)                           

There are four players on a team: the Lead, the Second, and the Third (Vice Skip). The Fourth (Skip), is the captain, who directs the game and calls the shots. Curling is played on a constantly groomed ice surface, and the object of the game is to accumulate points by finishing with your stone or stones closer to the button (or centre) than your opponents.
These stamps are from 2002 for the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.  Not sure why they don't have the Olympic logo, but they do show the official team uniforms. Personally, the fun colours of the children's clothing is more to my taste and I wish we saw more of it in winter. Those colours were "inspired by Christmas decorations and conventional greeting cards"
find some more fun in the snow at Sunday Stamps II

Sunday, January 1, 2017


Sometimes, a work of art just leaves you speechless, in awe.
Mary Pratt's paintings do that to me.
I've been trying to write a description of why this is a favourite stamp, but am almost at a loss for words. I would obviously make a dreadful art critic.
This was part of the Art Canada series and issued in 2007.
A couple of years ago there was an exhibition of her art at the McMichael Gallery and I went back several times just to gaze at her paintings of domestic scenes and especially food, and wonder at the luminous light and feel as if I could reach out and touch the actual jars and smell the jelly inside.

This description is from the Canada Post website:

To achieve the effect of her photorealism pieces, such as "Jelly Shelf" shown in this Canada Post stamp issue, Pratt carefully eliminates any traces of brushstrokes through a painstaking process that involves using small sable brushes and painting cross-hatched strokes with a mix of turpentine and Liquin. Like other New Realist artists, she often works from slides.
Her subject matter, however, remains uniquely hers and is heavily focused on things found in the kitchen of her home in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador. When asked by Canada Post whether she thought that she'd transformed the images of the domestic sphere into the subjects of serious art, Pratt replied: "They are serious art, the things women handle every day-the fruit, the jars, the jelly. [...] My role seems to have been to make people see things that are around them all the time that they never noticed before... to help them find the beauty of the simple things. I think that, in the past, people have not given enough weight to the images that women see. We have to eat. Food is important."
see other tiny pieces of art on stamps on this first Sunday Stamps of 2017

Saturday, December 31, 2016


People in Toronto are going through a period of
 nostalgia and mourning
for the end of an era
of a giant discount store.

the store lit up 5 years ago (above) and today (below)
By now, many of the lights have burnt out. No one quite knows what will become of the iconic sign that has been a part of this corner at Bathurst and Bloor since what feels like forever, but has really only been since the early 1980's - though the store itself has been there for 68 years. 
Long before the ubiquitous Dollarama and other dollar stores, Honest Ed's was the place to go for cheap deals. 

As you can no doubt guess, Ed Mirvish was larger than life with a personality and generosity unmatched by anyone else in the city. (he died in 2007)
He sold pretty much anything you could possibly need 
from the tacky...
 to the necessary

a bit of a backstory here is needed - Ed was also a theatre impresario and with his Royal Alex Theatre in an unlikely area of town near the railway tracks, he also opened up several restaurants in the area to attract people. One of them was Ed's Warehouse, and if you wanted to dine there, you (well, the men only) had to wear a jacket and tie. No worries if you were neglectful - a closetful of old ties and jackets was available for your choice to borrow!

The store had shrunk in size over the years, and the maze of aisles and corners and stairways to get out of the place is long gone as other businesses leased space in the massive building and as stock decreased over the three year closing. 

By the time I went for one last walk around, things had been well picked over and there was an empty, sad, it's-time-to-go feel to the place. The things left for sale weren't particularly memorable. Though you could buy a t-shirt (and yes, I did)

And then there are those signs.

Thousands upon thousands of hand painted signs for those unmemorable (and sometimes memorable) things for sale. Or, in the case of the Thanksgiving Turkeys that drew long lines of hopeful people happy to stand for hours to get their hands on a free bird...
It was the signs that people really wanted to have as a souvenir
Ed enjoyed a good pun, and the store - outside and inside - was full of them

and yes, the floor did have a definite slope to it!

But, now it is finally time to turn off the lights and say goodbye

a final stroll around Honest Ed's for Restless Jo
and signs for Lesley

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Three Wise Santas

In 1992 a series of International Santa Claus, or "Christmas Personages" was issued. These were all designed by Stephanie Power.
I couldn't find any explanation for why these particular countries were chosen, but we have the domestic rate stamp with Estonia, the US rate stamp with Italy, and the overseas rate stamp with Germany.
Estonia's "Jõuluvana" is clothed in a brown sheepskin coat and matching hat, hand-knitted mittens and a walking staff. Imported from German legend, he carries a bag of presents for good children and uses his stick on the naughty.
Based on an illustration by Anita Kunz

"La Belfana" of Italy, is a benevolent witch-like woman who rides a broomstick on the eve of Epiphany, January 5, carrying presents for the deserving and charcoal for the erring. After leaving small gifts and consuming snacks left for her, she sweeps the floors with her broom. Italy also enjoys a second gift-giver, Babbo Natale, a Santa figure similar to ours who brings larger or more expensive gifts on Christmas Eve.
Based on an illustration by Jamie Bennett

Germany's "Weihnachtsmann" is a thin, stooped, heavily laden, white-bearded old man who makes his rounds on Christmas Eve with his sack of presents and a Christmas tree. He is a secularized version of Saint Nicholas, who is still associated with December 6.
Based on an illustration by Simon Ng

fly on over to Sunday Stamps II for more Christmassy themed stamps

Sunday, December 11, 2016


The western part of Canada is where our majestic mountains lie.
And within those  mountain ranges are several National Parks.
This series of stamps from from 1979 to 1986.

  • Waterton Lakes National Park (issued June 18, 1982, based on a painting by Brent Laycockis in Alberta within the Rocky Mountains and has the deepest lakes in the Rockies
  • Glacier National Park (issued August 15, 1984, based on a painting by Brent Laycockis in British Columbia within the Columbia Mountains
  • Banff National Park (issued June 21, 1985, based on a painting by George Weberis in Alberta within the Rocky Mountains and includes Lake Louise and Moraine Lake (shown on stamp)
  • Kluane National Park (issued April 27, 1979, based on a painting by Alan Caswell Collier) is in Yukon and includes the within the North Coast Mountains which has the highest peak in Canada, Mt Logan (5,959 metres)

find more mountains for climbing up, skiing down or simply admiring from a safe distance, at Sunday Stamps II

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

street signs - Third St

Cobourg's Heritage District has these unique street signs featuring a sailboat with gulls and an image of the cupola from the Victoria Hall.

nearing the end of the alphabet with this 20th edition of the street signs series

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

the Garrick

While wandering the streets of Winnipeg, looking for signs and murals and interesting architecture, I came across a place selling the "coldest beer in Winnipeg". This may sound unappealing to anyone outside North America reading this. But really, depending on the beer, drinking it very cold may be the only way to get it down. As a general rule light body and low alcohol beer tastes better cold, while full body and high alcohol beers taste better when served warmer. What is being served here is probably something "lite" - Bud,  Miller, Coors, or Molson's ...
Had it been one of those unbearably hot southern Ontario summer days, I may have ventured inside for a look around and a quick one, but it wasn't. Anyway, I prefer my beer with more alcohol, and more flavour.

The Garrick Hotel was built in 1906, making it 110 years old this year. I'm sure it has a storied past, especially during Prohibition which started in 1916 and wasn't repealed until 1921, by which time the Wellington Hotel (the original name) had suffered one too many liquor violation fines and was sold by the bailiffs. The Garrick opened a year later after a makeover but while Prohibition was over there were still many alcohol restrictions and it was raided several times until finally being shut down in 1924. New owners re-opened it, but then the Depression hit which ruined many of the hotels and bars with owners simply walking away and abandoning their debts. Creditors were mostly the breweries who would often take over the premises.  Shea's Brewery were the lucky ones to inherit the Garrick. By 2008, it lost its vendor's licence and became the only historic hotel in downtown Winnipeg to not serve beer. Things improved so much by 2014 that it won an Achievement Award for "best business transformation in downtown Winnipeg".  It is now described as a downtown bar venue with vintage ambiance with state of the art sound, lights and special effects.
You can still see the faded sign for the original name Wellington Hotel.

some signs for Lesley's signs, signs and a not highly recommended hotel for Travel Tuesday

with thanks to this site for help with the history lesson

Sunday, November 13, 2016

war effort

This set of four stamps was issued in 1990 to celebrate Canada's contribution to the war effort during WWII showing realistic scenes and focusing on the effects of war on people
The whole series ran from 1989-1995. Pierre-Yves Pelletier designed these stamps with the help of illustrations by Jean-Pierre Armanville.

Clockwise from top left, the first stamp reflects the hardships endured by people who stayed on the Home Front followed by the Communal War Efforts where the "many communal activities, organizations and programs that were created boosted the morale and provided assistance to troops, prisoners of war and their families".

"Through research, inventions and innovations, scientists and medical doctors made significant technological developments, which helped to win the war" for Science and War. And finally, Canada's important contribution in Food Production helped feed the Allied nations.

The details are a bit hard to see unless you can enlarge the stamp, which I have done here for you with this one from the Canada Post Archives.
Mother may be knitting socks for the troops, while one child is hanging stockings which may or may not have an orange in the toe. Another child is perhaps wrapping a present in old newspaper after Grandfather has finished reading the latest updates.

see more stamps reflecting war or peace at Sunday Stamps II, the 100th edition

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

street signs - Saint(e)

It is a distinctive characteristic in Quebec that many streets are named for saints. These are not only for specific saints, but may also recall the names of community founders or leaders, missionaries or priests. 

In this case, the city of Saint-Hyacinthe (named for St Hyacinthe of Krakow)  features the street name of Saint-Simon, after the founder of the city –Jacques-Hyacinthe-Simon Delorme.  These signs downtown all very helpfully list who the street is named for. Although, the sign here gives his birthdate as 1722 whereas all other sources say 1720. 
Jacques-Simon – also known as Hyacinthe – Delorme was born in Quebec City and trained as a carpenter. By 1745 he was in the naval service of Louis XV building platforms, carriages and artillery works necessary for cannon installations. This was lucrative enough for him to buy the seigneury (manorial land tenure) which was to become Saint-Hyacinthe.

Monument à Jacques-Hyacinthe Simon dit Delorme 
erected in 1948
Photo : Francine Girard
There is also a Avenue Sainte-Anne, named for his daughter.

Here there is also a slight discrepancy, as it seems he had three children, a daughter Marie-Anne who was born and died in 1776 and another daughter Anne-Marie who was born in 1779 and lived until 1801. Since our Simon died in 1778... it is possible he never knew this daughter or, of course, the date could be wrong.

There was also a son, named Hyacinthe-Marie.

The H on the sign would be for Hyacinthe, with the squiggle in the middle of the H for the Yamaska River which bisects the city.

19th in this irregular series of interesting street signs for signs, signs

Monday, November 7, 2016

polar bears in a park

These polar bears are now more than 10 years old, and showing signs of their age.

They hang out on the grounds of the Manitoba Legislature and were enjoying the late evening sun when I stumbled upon them.

All of them were missing their name plates.

But, although faded, and a bit dirty, you could still get an idea of their design

At one time, they were part of a fundraising display for CancerCare.
62 of these 7 foot, 8,000 pound concrete bears were each sponsored by a corporation who was matched with an artist. They were then on display here and along the tree lined median of Broadway, thus the name Bears on Broadway (link where you can see pictures and names of all the bears)

The bears looked a little sad, I thought, in spite of their artistic, colourful coats.
 This one I could guess was called Loony Bear
and these two are known as Nanookshuk
combining two Inuit words - Nanook for polar bear and Inukshuk, a directional guide for a safe journey made of stacking stones.
The other bears have made a journey to various parks and gardens around Winnipeg.
I'm sharing this short journey with Jo for Monday Walks