Friday, May 30, 2014

the Forgotten Empress

The Empress of Ireland is often called ‘The Forgotten Empress’. The sinking of the Titanic two years earlier was given a great amount of attention and soon after the Empress of Ireland sank the headlines moved on to WWI which broke out a few weeks later in July, 1914
The 167-metre-long Empress, which left Quebec City for Liverpool on May 28, 1914, had dropped off a river pilot and turned northeast toward the Gulf of St. Lawrence.  The ship that collided with it, The Storstad, a 6,000-tonne Norwegian freighter loaded with 11,000 tonnes of coal, was headed for Montreal, cruising full speed toward shore to pick up a pilot.
Fog was to blame, as was the confusion of the fog horns and signals.
After the collier smashed into its hull, the Empress listed and sank in only 14 minutes.  
Only a few lifeboats could be launched and most of the people travelling below deck in third class were thought to have drowned in their bunks. Among the dead were approximately 150 members of The Salvation Army in Canada, including the entire leadership contingent and all but twelve of the Canadian Staff Band, who were headed to England for an international conference.  Every year, on the Sunday closest to the 29th of May, at the memorial to the Empress of Ireland in Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Toronto, there is a service of remembrance.

There is an excellent infographic chronology, with more photos here
There was a loss of 1,012 lives out of 1,477 on board the Empress. By comparison the Titanic, lost more people than the Empress but less passengers. The Empress lost 840 passengers compared to 807 from the Titanic.

and as a bonus, here are the two stamps (which stand very well with the 2012 Titanic stamps )

Thursday, May 29, 2014

my favourite maru

(a maru of a very different sort than the last one I posted, purely co-incidental)

Maru, the Japanese box loving cat, is 7! 
And still as adorable as ever.
If you've never seen his videos on youtube, here is a treat
with rare sound - most of the videos neither have, nor need, voices or music -  
but it is his birthday, after all.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Komagatu Maru

Many times, commemorative stamps celebrate glorious events. This stamp, newly released by Canada Post, commemorates a tragic part of our history. 

The stamp features the ship as well as an artistic rendition of images from a small collection of archive photos taken on board and during the voyage.

The Komagata Maru was a Japanese steamship chartered by a Sikh entrepreneur to bring 376 hopeful Punjabi immigrants to Canada only to be denied entry once it reached Vancouver.
The Komagata Maru's arrival challenged a 1908 regulation that denied entry to immigrants unless they had $200 and had made a "continuous journey" from their home country ‒ conditions that were nearly impossible for immigrants from India to meet. Under the policy, only 20 returning residents, and the ship's doctor and his family were allowed to enter. The remaining passengers were confined to the ship for two months, after which the ship was forced to sail back to India.  On arriving in India, many on board were viewed as political agitators by the government of the British Raj. Twenty passengers were shot after disembarking while many others were imprisoned(since, by then WWI had broken out, they were imprisoned for the duration). The restrictive immigration policies that the passengers challenged were not repealed for 33 years.
An official apology by PM Stephen Harper was made in 2008.

see more commemorative stamps here.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Art School

It is a sad day for lovers of architecture and design, but most especially for the people of Glasgow, and specifically for the students of the Glasgow School of Art as fire caused significant damage to the Category A listed building in the city centre this afternoon. It's believed the fire started in the basement and spread to the upper floors where flames were shown leaping from the windows and the roof. Thankfully there was no loss of life, but much of the interior of the building has been destroyed. Also destroyed were the works of students who were preparing for their end of year degree show.

these are my only two postcards of this art nouveau building built between 1897 and 1906, but I have several books and prints of CRM's work. My cousin (now retired) was Head of Graphic Design, Illustration and Photography for many years at the school. 
It's a devastating loss.
more information on the school and the designer along with photos here.


UPDATE On Saturday afternoon, Professor Tom Inns, director of the school of art, said he was in a much happier frame of mind than he had been the previous evening: "This morning we are much more optimistic that the building can be saved. The fire and rescue services have told us that 90% of the building remains viable and that a lot of the students' work and contents have been saved."
~ from The Guardian to read the rest of the article

Sunday, May 18, 2014


A Canadian FDC from 1990 - International Literacy Year
The United Nations General Assembly recognizes 1990 as International Literacy Year. Canada Post Corporation, a major carrier of the written word, also embraces this cause; in addition to issuing a commemorative stamp, it has introduced a major corporate program consisting of a number of initiatives to promote literacy and to encourage Canadians to support the cause of literacy. By issuing this stamp, and using its visual element as the basis of Canada's literacy symbol, the Corporation is supporting national and international action to combat illiteracy. Debbie Adams, a Toronto graphic artist, created a symbolic bird in flight comprised of symbols, numerals and letters from several different alphabets. It represents the sentiment that literacy leads to freedom.
~from Canada Post

An Australian FDC from1990 - International Literacy Year
For the estimated one million people in Australia who are unable to read telephone dialling instructions, newspaper advertisements and simple application forms, 1990 is a year of special significance. The United Nations has declared 1990 to be International Literacy Year, with the objective of massively reducing illiteracy by the year 2000. Pre-stamped envelope designer, Peter Viska symbolises both literacy and numeracy, a long thread spun out of darkness and confusion, becomes a key bearing the letters ABC and the numbers 123.
~from Australia Post


Friday, May 16, 2014

Queen Victoria

The MS Queen Victoria was launched in 2010. She's the smallest of the sister ships of the Queen Mary2 and the Queen Elizabeth and has a speed of 23.7 knots (43.9 km/h; 27.3 mph) with a capacity of 2,547 passengers

Below is the 1887 paddle steamer Queen Victoria that had a speed of 21 knots (38.9 km/h; 24.2 mph) and a capacity of 1,546 passengers. She was in service until 1915 and sold for scrap by 1920.

Something a little different on this Victoria Day Weekend for PostcardFriendshipFriday

Thursday, May 15, 2014


Every day this week 
it has been foggy

above is one of the four geese who have made 
family nests in the ravine
they like this rooftop
they also like to let the world know they are here 
and they talk to each other constantly

I'm not sure which is more annoying... the endless fog or the endless honking

Sunday, May 11, 2014


Roses from Algeria
rosa odorata designed by Sid Ahmed Bentounes

These rose trees, bushes or small climbers most often have a single flower at the end of a long stem.  The elegance of the flowers and the pointed buttons, as well as the large variety of colours and scents, have meant that the tea hybrids are mainly grown for the florist.
This rose is a cross between Rosa chinensis and Rosa gigantea, grown in China for a long, long time.  Its double flowers are white, pale pink or yellowish.  It is grown in Algeria in private gardens and in a few fields. Its flowering takes place from December to June and fills the environment with its intense tea scent.
(info from Algeria Philately)

and for the 100th Anniversary of the Rose Garden, Forst (Lausitz)
designed by Thomas Serres

The town has officially been known as the Rosenstadt since 2004, and the most beautiful location has been reserved for the flower-queen in the “East-German Rose-Garden”. Ten thousands of roses of well over 900 varieties have the honour of welcome you at the 17 hectares park area, and bordered with pieces of sculpture, amphora, pergola courts and romantic waterworks. The annual “Special Days at the Rose-Garden” with the “Cut-Roses-Show” and the “Night of the 1,000 Lights” as well as the romantic guided park-tours by night with a Rose-dinner are only a few highlights in front of the enchanting park scenery. In 2009 the historic park area became awarded “Germany’s most beautiful park”, in 2013 it will celebrate its 100th anniversary!
“100 years rose-dreams close to the river Neisse” 
(from the Forst (Lausitz) website - google translation kept intact for your amusement and because I'm too tired to re-write it)


Saturday, May 10, 2014

sitting in a tree, minding my own business

I went back to the park this morning, with the thought of looking for wildflowers, but really, I wanted to see those coyotes. Judging by the number of rabbits and squirrels roaming about, I figured the coyote family was still burrowed. Surely there would have been a lot of chittering going on if they were out and about?
In fact, it was strangely quiet. Except for a woodpecker I desperately followed with my binoculars, very few birds were making any sound. Then I heard a scritching noise, like nails on tree bark that raccoons make. 
When I looked up, I found this little guy.
He had found a nut.

and it was good.
at one point he answered a call to mama saying "I'm here" (or something along those lines; it was hard to tell what with his mouth full of walnut)
but mostly he just gnawed and sucked away and wasn't the least bit bothered by my presence
by this time, I had found the 'pets' setting on my camera and was able to really zoom in
aw, don't you love the bit of fur growing on his hand
and he can't wipe his mouth, or he'll drop his walnut

Friday, May 9, 2014

lost cat

This poor cat doesn't look so much grumpy as perhaps wary 
but he definitely needed to come in out of the cold. 

In late March I received an email from a frantic Postcrosser anxious about her card that she'd sent more than a month previous. I checked over my messy desk to make sure, but no. She wrote back, saying she'd send me another if I didn't get it. It was taking a long time, but with everything happening in Ukraine, I waited another week or so before writing back that, still, no card. Bless her heart, but she did send another and it arrived just 3 days before the final 60-day expiry date. I thanked her profusely, and then thought no more about it.

This card arrived in my mail on Tuesday and I immediately went from the mailbox to my computer to register. It had already been registered. How could that be?
I searched further and recognized the user name.....

You can clearly see the the cancellation from Ukraine that dates it 20 Feb 14 (200214) 
and the Canadian mark stating it's arrival on 1 May 14 (140501)
Where has this cat been hiding all this time? 
He looks the type who will probably never tell.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

wild danger?

I get to see some wildlife while working very early in the morning, though mostly it is raccoons, rabbits, skunks and the odd possum and fox.  Now, it seems we have coyotes in the area.
The first time I saw one, I thought it was a dog and wondered where his owner was. He was walking along the circular driveway of an apartment building at 3am.  A couple of nights later, in the same area, I saw him again and realized my mistake. That was almost two years ago.  Now I see more of them than foxes, though it is still an infrequent sighting.  Every time the coyote was alone.

But, now it is spring, and that means babies, so off I went to find the family that have made a den in Paletta Park. Signs have been posted and a barricade put up, though it is mostly as a warning. I read an article in the newspaper (from Toronto) that said 

Burlington putting up barricades after coyote sightings

“For your own sense of safety, we urge residents to be aware and to follow the safety tips we suggest."

The 'barricades' seemed to me to be perfectly reasonable - no-one was stopped from using the trail, it was somewhere to put the sign and make you consider. The snarky comments were a bit much - did they even read beyond the headline? - I've not heard anyone complaining or whining, and they are in a ravined park afterall. Really, sometimes, I think should not read the comments section.
Anyway, I wandered in not at dawn or dusk and without a small dog or child, and saw a few other people, some like myself, hoping to catch a glimpse from afar.

I thought at one point, I saw something almost reddish and bigger than a rabbit running, but it was too quick to tell if it was one of the five pups.  This part of the trail is left in a natural state and there are lots of downed branches, some have been there for years, some are from the recent storm in December. As you can see, there is only a smidgen of green showing, even at this late date. 

but there was one sign of spring... very soon. 
Patience, people. Lots of patience.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

ten kremlins

The word “kremlin” in Russian means any medieval citadel in the center of an ancient Russian city, although it has come to be used to describe the seat of government (much as 'the White House' has in for the US). These fortresses were used to promote a rural settlement to urban status, but by the 18th and 19th centuries, they lost their strategic importance and many were torn down. Most of the surviving fortresses have now been turned into museums. There is an interesting (and brief!) history of some of these kremlins here. Although there are twelve kremlins in the set, I have only ten of these definitives.
Russian stamps is the timely theme for Sunday Stamps this week.

from left to right, with one interesting fact about each.....
Source: Russia Beyond the Headlines -

Astrakhan Kremlin was built on an island in the Volga River
Zaraisk Kremlin is the smallest with only 6 towers

Kazan' Kremlin is in Tatarstan, built at the behest of Ivan the Terrible 
Kolomna Kremlin once had 17 towers and 3 gates (only 7 of the towers are still standing)
Rostov Kremlin seems to be the only reason to visit this city
Nizhniy Novgorod Kremlin is in the former city of Gorky
Novgorod Kremlin was originally a pagan burial site
Pskov Kremlin is located in one of the oldest cities in Russia, a mere 20km (12mi) from the Estonian border

Moscow Kremlin is built on a site that has been continuously inhabited since 2BC
Ryazan Kremlin is unwalled and may have been founded in 800

Friday, May 2, 2014

May Day

Lily of the Valley is a favourite flower (still awaiting for them to bloom...!) and is often used for the May 1 holiday (in France, especially), but apparently the Russians like it, too.

the second card has a scene that could be from today which, I have just read in the news, is exactly what happened. for the first time since the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1992, a parade was held in Red Square. Putin is trying to revive nostalgia for the former CCCP, though to many in Moscow, it was "just another spring day and a chance to celebrate" (according to a couple of people interviewed in the news source I read).