"Tales of pioneer hardship and deprivation have been told many times. Yet still we remember in wonder, that people accomplished so much with so little; that men and women with simple tools, their bare hands, and their own inventiveness cleared the land, drained the swamps, made their own clothing and provided their own food. Through all these difficulties God was with them and they wanted their children educated intellectually and spritually." from Norfolk Street United Church history

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Government of Canada Supports the Macaulay Church Museum in Prince Edward County

PICTON, Ontario, July 27, 2011 /Canada NewsWire/ - On behalf of the Honourable James Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages, Daryl Kramp, Member of Parliament (Prince Edward-Hastings), today congratulated Prince Edward County on the grand re-opening of the Macaulay Church Museum.

This historic building, established in 1825 as the Mary Magdalene Church, has served as a regional museum since the early 1970s. Government of Canada support for the museum has allowed for important upgrades to the site, such as new fire and electrical systems to protect the museum's collection. The museum's interior and exterior have both been substantially upgraded to improve the exhibition spaces, as well as to increase access to these spaces for members of the visiting public.

"Our Government received a strong mandate from Canadians to invest in local heritage facilities like the Macaulay Church Museum," said Minister Moore. "By supporting infrastructure projects that preserve historic facilities like this one, our Government is delivering on its commitment to strengthen our communities and support our arts, culture, and heritage."

"It is a great pleasure to be here today to see the tremendous results of our Government's investment in this important local heritage site," said Mr. Kramp. "Residents and visitors to Prince Edward County will benefit from these significant improvements to the Macaulay Church Museum for generations to come."

As part of Canada's Economic Action Plan, the Government of Canada previously announced funding of $825,000 in support for the museum through the Canada Cultural Spaces Fund of the Department of Canadian Heritage. This program seeks to improve physical conditions for artistic creativity and arts presentation or exhibition. It is also designed to increase access for Canadians to performing, visual, and media arts, and to museum collections and heritage displays.

Celebrate Emancipation Day at Uncle Tom's Cabin Historic Site on July 30

DRESDEN, Ontario, July 26, 2011 /Canada NewsWire/ - Join us at Uncle Tom's Cabin Historic Site from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, July 30, for Emancipation Day - an annual celebration of hope and freedom commemorating the end of slavery in the British Empire. This year, we also celebrate the United Nations International Year for People of African Descent, to promote greater respect and awareness among Ontario's Black community and all Ontarians, of the diverse heritage and culture of people of African descent.

Everyone is welcome for this fun and educational day featuring traditional African music, story-telling and lectures. Admission is free - thanks to the support of the RBC Foundation.

Schedule of activities:

Tales of Freedom - 10:35 a.m. and 1:35 p.m.
Canadian Blues icons Diana Braithwaite and Chris Whiteley share their talents through soulful Underground Railroad narratives.

A Year to Celebrate - 11 a.m.
Acclaimed best-selling author Dr. Afua Cooper celebrates the International Year for People of African Descent with a discussion on "Emancipating the Dream: Black Canadians after the First Decade of the 21st Century."

With Every Heartbeat - 11:30 a.m. and 2:20 p.m.
Muhtadi and The World Drummers captivate audiences with drums and rhythms from around the globe.

BBQ Lunch and African Fashion Show - 12 noon

Mass Melody - 12:30 p.m. and 2 p.m.
Members of the First Baptist Church of Toronto Choir entertain and inspire with Underground Railroad folktales and uplifting Negro spirituals.

A Tale of Two Cabins - 12:45 p.m.
Shirl Spicer, Museum Manager with the Montgomery County Department of Parks, speaks about the Josiah Henson Special Park in Rockville, Maryland, providing new insights into Henson's life.

I Have a Story to Tell - 1:15 p.m.
Maymette Dolberry engages young and old alike with fascinating tales drawn from her rich cultural background.

From Tollgate to Parkway - 2 p.m.
Adrienne Shadd speaks about her latest novel, The Journey from Tollgate to Parkway, chronicling the history of Blacks in the Ancaster-Burlington-Hamilton area, and their struggle for justice and equality.

This event is part of the Ontario Heritage Trust's program to commemorate the International Year for People of African Descent, made possible with funding from the Government of Ontario. The Trust is an agency of the Ministry of Tourism and Culture dedicated to identifying, preserving, protecting and promoting Ontario's heritage.

For more information on the Ontario Heritage Trust's activities commemorating the United Nations International Year for People of African Descent, visit www.heritagetrust.on.ca.

About Uncle Tom's Cabin Historic Site

Uncle Tom's Cabin Historic Site commemorates the life of Josiah Henson, a former slave, who escaped to Canada via the Underground Railroad. Henson rose to international fame after Harriet Beecher Stowe acknowledged his memoirs as a source for her novel, Uncle Tom's Cabin. Settling in southwestern Ontario, Henson worked to improve life for the Black community and helped to establish the Dawn Settlement. He would go on to become an internationally recognized abolitionist, preacher and conductor on the Underground Railroad.

Located in Dresden, approximately three hours west of Toronto, Uncle Tom's Cabin Historic Site has parking and is fully accessible. The site is owned and operated by the Ontario Heritage Trust.

Police locate downed aircraft in Lake Muskoka from 1940

Ted Bates died on a rescue mission over Lake Muskoka, Dec. 13, 1940.
photo credit: Toronto Star

BRACEBRIDGE, Ontario, July 26, 2011 /Canada NewsWire/ - The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), in conjunction with the Office of the Chief Coroner of Ontario, Ministry of Culture and Heritage Ontario, the Department of National Defence (DND), and the Lost Airmen of Muskoka Project (L.A.M.P.) are confirming the discovery of a Second World War aircraft that crashed and went missing over Lake Muskoka.

The initial discovery was made by members from the OPP Underwater Search and Recovery Unit (USRU) using side-scan sonar technology. A dive was conducted at the crash site on July 27, 2010, at which time a Remote Operated Vessel (ROV) was used. Evidence clearly identifies the aircraft as a Northrop Industries A-17 Nomad #3521 that was involved in a mid-air collision over the lake on December 13, 1940, while searching for another aircraft that went missing the day before.

Police divers have recovered personal effects belonging to the pilot, 24-year-old Flight Lieutenant Peter Campbell of the Royal Air Force and 27-year-old observer, Leading Aircraftsman Theodore (Ted) Bates from Guelph, Ontario, Royal Canadian Air Force.

The Coroner's Office and the OPP are satisfied that their missing persons case has been solved and that it is likely that remains are no longer recoverable.

The Coroner's Office has transferred the case over to DND which is conducting its own investigation. The airmen's personal belongings are currently being treated in Ottawa to assist with their preservation. Once completed, the items will be returned to the next-of-kin who have since been notified of the Nomad's discovery.

The exact location of the aircraft will remain confidential in the interest of protecting the site.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Lee Family Digital Archive

Lee Family Digital Archive http://leearchive.wlu.edu/

Housed at Washington and Lee University, the Lee Family Digital Archive (LFDA) was established to create a comprehensive annotated edition of all the known papers of the immigrant founder Richard Lee (who lived in the 17th century) and his offspring.

Support for the project comes from the Lee-Jackson Educational Foundation, the Society of the Lees of Virginia, and the Harlan R. Crow Library.

To most people, the best known "Lee" will be Robert E., and his papers are available here.

First-time visitors can dive in by clicking on the "Explore the Lees" link. Here they can look over letters, books, essays, and other writings as they see fit. There are some really great books here include the 1904 book "Recollections and Letters of General Robert E. Lee" and the 1871 volume "Journal of a Young Lady" by Lucinda Lee Orr.

In the "New and Noteworthy" area, visitors can view project updates and also read their blog. [KMG]

>From The Scout Report, Copyright Internet Scout 1994-2011.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

British Columbia Theatre Group Presents HOMECHILD by Joan MacLeod

COURTNEY, B.C. July 21, 2011 - One of BC's premier community theatre companies, Courtenay Little Theatre, is preparing a production of Homechild by Joan MacLeod.
This wonderful, humorous and moving play will be presented in the Sid Williams Theatre, Courtenay, Vancouver Island, 2011 September 30, October 1, 2 [matinee], 6, 7, & 8.

In the play Homechild, Alistair is a retired farmer who arrived in Ontario as a British home child in 1922. In his old age, with his farm no longer viable, Alistair is cared for by his sister-in-law Flora and his son Ewan.

He secretly longs for Katie, the younger sister he was forced to leave behind in Scotland. When Alistair suffers a stroke, his deeply buried knowledge of Katie's existence is released. His daughter Lorna determines to locate this long lost member of her family.

For members of the home child community and their next generation, this play will have the ring of truth. Joan MacLeod has thoroughly researched her story and writes with compassion, tears and laughter. Director Ross Stephanson is working with a talented and sympathetic cast who will do full justice to this important part of Canadian history.

Courtenay Little Theatre would be so pleased if people with connections to the home child programs could come to the presentation of this fine play.

To obtain tickets for this upcoming production, please contact Sid William Theatre, Courtenay, B.C. 250-338-2420, www.sidwilliamstheatre.com

Alana Gowdy
Courtenay Little Theatre

PS - For those far away, they may encourage other theatre groups to produce it.

According to the archives, this play was in Toronto Jan 2006
and Vancouver Mar 12-Apr 12 2009

Wellington County's Underground Railroad Music Festival returns this August to Drayton

ELORA, Ontario July 20, 2011 – Explore the soulful music at the Underground Railroad Music at Centennial Park in Drayton, Ontario. Join us as we celebrate the history of early Black Pioneers through world class folk, blues, jazz, blue grass and gospel music.

“The festival is held in the region of Ontario that was a main terminus on the Underground Railroad. It is the only one of its kind in North America,” stated Diana Braithwaite, Chair of the Underground Music Society.

This year’s line up of performers includes national and international well-known musicians:

...Pastor Tim Bailey - Guest Speaker from Mississippi – “The Long Road to Freedom”
...Harrison Kennedy – Award winning King of Acoustic Blues, www.harrisonkennedy.ca
...Curley Bridges – North Carolina’s Mr. Rockin Soul! www.electrofi.com/curleybio.htm
...Kevin Breit – Juno and Gemini Award winning folk singer and guitarist, www.kevinbreit.com
...Chris Whiteley and Jesse Whiteley’s Big 40’s Swing Band,
...Diana Braithwaite’s Gospel Revue and Underground Railroad Gospel Tribute
...The Mississippi Singers - gospel
...Miss Angel – Mississippi Delta Queen of the Blues, www.missangelbrown.com
...Donovan Locke – The Next Nat King Cole Crooner
...Doug Watson – King of the Chicago Blues Belters, www.douglaswatson.com

Don’t miss this fantastic live music event at Centennial Park in Drayton!

August 13 from 12 to 7 pm

Festival admission price is $30 Adult and $10 Youth (14 – 17 years).

Tickets can be purchased at the event or online at www.braithwaiteandwhiteley.com. For more information contact the UR Music Society at info@braithwaiteandwhiteley.com

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The War of 1812-1814 comes alive

This summer why not visit Fort George in Niagara-On-The-Lake, Ontario

The Battle of Fort George

from Parks Canada Multimedia Gallery - Video by Cainan Querido. South-Western Ontario Field Unit

Monday, July 18, 2011

Obsolete Telephone Booths Recycled as Libraries

Photo: B. Alter

from TreeHugger.com
by Bonnie Alter, London

We have already written about the recycling of the distinctive red telephone booths in England. With everyone using cell phones, the evocative boxes have become redundant and the phone company is selling them off to local communities.

Imagine our delight, whilst meandering through the pastoral roads of Hampshire, to come across this picture-perfect example at a crossroads of a small village.

Exquisitely located beside a thatched roof cottage and across the street from an old church and graveyard, it was like a calendar picture of olde England.

The sign on the wall explained that BT (British Telecom) no longer operates the kiosk and it is now owned and operated by the local authority. In this case it is Longstock Parish Council.

Photo: B. Alter

It has become a small lending library for the local community. Inside the booth was an assortment of books, reflecting the eclectic reading interests of the local villagers. There was Tom Clancy for the low-brows and Margaret Forster and Hanif Kureshi for the high-brows. The Girl with the Golden Tattoo for good summer reading and the Barbecue Bible for the cooks. Charmingly, or should that be naturally, some vines were growing through the wall, into the room.

In 2002, there were 92,000 payphones across the UK. Now there are still more than 12,500, however over half of them don't make a profit.

The first incarnation of the red phone box was designed by architect Sir Giles Gilbert Scott for a competition in 1924. This design, the K2, was introduced in 1926, predominately in London. Ten years later Scott refined his design and the famous K6 or 'Jubilee Kiosk' was introduced nationwide to celebrate George V's Silver Jubilee... read more story at TreeHugger.com

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Canada's Environment Minister Announces Smartphone Weather Technology

140 Years of our National Weather Service Celebrated

TORONTO, July 15, 2011 /Canada NewsWire/ - One of Canada's oldest institutions is celebrating its 140th anniversary of providing weather and meteorological services to Canadians. Since 1871, the Meteorological Service of Canada (MSC), which joined the new Department of the Environment in 1971, has provided this country with the essential service of informing the public about the past, present and future weather conditions for all regions of the country.

"I congratulate our Meteorological Service on a proud history over the past 140 years and a bright future to come," said the Honourable Peter Kent, Canada's Minister of the Environment. "The invaluable services they provide each and every day make it easier for all of us to thrive in our daily lives, in spite of what the weather may bring."

The MSC is Canada's official source of weather warnings and the authoritative source for weather, climate and water resource information in the country. From sending the first weather forecasts via telegraph in 1876, to providing weather services during our Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in Vancouver last year, the last 140 years have brought about remarkable change.

In keeping up with providing the best service, Minister Kent announced the latest weather service product, the smartphone-enabled mobile Weatheroffice website.

"This new mobile site will make our comprehensive weather forecasts and warnings even more accessible to Canadians wherever they find themselves," said Minister Kent. "We have been proud to serve Canadians for the past 140 years, and will only continue to build on this proud tradition of service and excellence for the next 140."

A major part of the MSC's 140-year history involves staying on top of the latest research, science and technologies available to better serve the needs of Canadians. Our strong research science led to the development of the ultraviolet Index and the Air Quality Health Index. We've also adopted technologies like Doppler weather radar in order to help better predict and detect severe weather, and provide Canadians with advanced warning.

For more information and to view a backgrounder on this announcement, please visit the website of Environment Canada at www.ec.gc.ca/ or the website of Environment Canada's Weatheroffice at www.weatheroffice.gc.ca/.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Royal Canadian Mint's newest collector coins open new windows on our history and natural heritage

Celebration of Canadian heritage continues with precious collectibles based on Canada's first silver dollar; the first historical account of Lacrosse; "The Maple Leaf Forever" the Bigleaf Maple; and the Black-Footed Ferret

OTTAWA, July 14, 2011 /Canada NewsWire/ - As it finds new and exciting ways to capture Canada's vast historical, cultural and natural heritage, the Royal Canadian Mint is pleased to launch a new selection of collector coins designed to attract buyers of precious, finely crafted keepsakes and spark the interest of collectors in Canada and abroad. This newest array of precious metal collectibles includes: a special-edition silver dollar and proof set commemorating the centennial of Canada's first silver dollar; a new one kilogram $250 pure silver coin marking the 375th anniversary of the first European observation of Lacrosse; a $10 "Maple Leaf Forever" pure silver coin; a new $20 pure silver crystal raindrop coin featuring the Bigleaf Maple; and a square $3 gold-plated silver Wildlife Conservation coin, featuring the Black-Footed Ferret.

"As our collector coin business and our customer base keep growing, the Mint is proud to offer new and long-time collectors an increasing choice of coins which captures meaningful themes and attractive designs," said Ian E. Bennett, President and CEO of the Royal Canadian Mint. "This newest product offering shows that the Mint is committed to advancing the artistry and science of coin-making while appealing to the needs of all our customers."

Below are descriptions of the featured products which will be available to the public as of July 21, 2011.


The Mint is paying tribute to a turning point in numismatic history by issuing a limited-edition silver dollar marking the centennial of Canada's first and very rare silver dollar.

While the Currency Act of 1910 authorized the striking of one-dollar silver pieces for Canada, the passing of King Edward VII in May 1910 and the crowning of King George V pressured the Royal Mint to produce new master tooling for all of Britain's colonies and Dominions. While a few trial pieces in silver and one in lead had been struck with the effigy of the new King, Canada's first silver dollar was abandoned in favour of producing existing denominations with the correct effigy of Canada's new Sovereign. Today, only one 1911 silver dollar remains in private hands, while its remaining lead and silver counterparts have been conserved by the Currency Museum of the Bank of Canada in Ottawa.

This change in Sovereign provoked another turn of events with the issue of Canada's "Godless" coinage of 1911". The Royal Mint had asked Canada's Department of Finance to choose between obverse designs (the "heads" side of a coin) in English or Latin. While the Latin version was chosen, the Minister Finance failed to notice the proposed inscription lacked the words "Dei Gratia" or "By the Grace of God" when approving the design. As stocks of 1910 circulation coins were rapidly depleting by the time the new production tooling arrived from England, Canada had no choice but to issue "Godless" versions of its circulation coins in 1911.

This unique series of circulation coins is faithfully reproduced in a special-edition, double-dated proof set of all of Canada's existing denominations of the era, including the short-lived one dollar coin. With exception of the pure copper penny, all these historic coins are crafted of sterling silver. The Proof Set is limited to 6,000 examples world-wide and retails for $179.95 CAD, while only 15,000 individual special-edition silver dollars are available at $64.95 CAD.


The rising popularity of its silver kilo coin category has allowed the Mint to use this bold format to strike a 99.99% pure silver kilo coin with an intricate new design imagining the scene, 375 years ago in New France, of the first European observation of the timeless sport of Lacrosse by French Jesuit priest Jean Brébeuf in 1636.

To First Nations people, including the Huron Nation among which Jean Brébeuf lived, as the sport originally named "baggataway" was revered as "The Creator's Game", thought to have been invented for his own amusement. It became a proving ground for young warriors and a non-warring way to settle tribal disputes, with matches covering vast expanses and sometimes lasting months at a time.

The name Lacrosse was coined Jean Brébeuf himself, who thought the curled players' sticks resembled a Bishop's staff; known as a crosier. Such are the roots of Canada's national game, which are elegantly illustrated on a more than 10-centimetre wide coin displaying brave Huron warriors of 375 years ago, fiercely competing for honour and glory on the playing field. This impressive coin was designed by British Columbia painter Steve Hepburn and is limited to a mintage of 600 world-wide. It retails for $2,195.95 CAD.


The maple leaf is the symbol which says "Canada" to the rest of the world. Its image has been celebrated in art, literature and even song, when Alexander Muir's "The Maple Leaf Forever" was published in 1867; the year of Confederation.

In June 2011, the Mint produced gold and silver kilo coins whose maple leaf design was inspired by the reverse of our iconic one-cent "penny" circulation coin. Designed by artist Debbie Adams, the trio of maple leaves honouring "The Maple Leaf Forever" can now be found on a half-ounce, 99.99% pure silver coin with a $10 face value.

100,000 of these coins are available world-wide and each retails for $34.95 CAD.


One of the Mint's most popular technologically-enhanced coins returns with the new "Bigleaf Maple" crystal raindrop coin. Made of 99.99% pure silver and designed by renowned botanical artist Celia Godkin, this coin features a painted leaf of this gigantic West Coast maple species from whose tip clings a drop of water representing by a brilliant Swarovski Element crystal.

The Mint is pleased to offer 10,000 of these coins at the retail price of $109.95 which, like its predecessors, is likely to sell out quickly.


The fourth instalment of the Mint's unique square-shaped, gold-plated silver collector coins honouring some of Canada's most vulnerable wildlife species features the Black-Footed Ferret. Displaced from its native Canadian Prairie habitat in the early 20th Century, the Black-Footed Ferret is gradually returning to the Prairie through the efforts of dedicated volunteers and conservationists who are re-establishing colonies through efforts such as the Grasslands National Park wild release program.

Composed of gold-plated sterling silver and designed by accomplished artist and coin designer Jason Bouwman, this coin is limited to a mintage of 15,000 coins world-wide and retails for $62.95 CAD.

All of the Mint's products are available directly from the Mint at 1-800-267-1871 in Canada, 1-800-268-6468 in the US, or on the Internet at www.mint.ca. The coins are also available at the Royal Canadian Mint's boutiques in Ottawa, Winnipeg and Vancouver, as well as through Toronto's CN Tower gift shop, and via our global network of dealers and distributors, including participating Canada Post outlets.

About the Royal Canadian Mint

The Royal Canadian Mint is the Crown Corporation responsible for the minting and distribution of Canada's circulation coins. An ISO 9001-2008 certified company, the Mint is recognized as one of the largest and most versatile mints in the world, offering a wide range of specialized, high quality coinage products and related services on an international scale. For more information on the Mint, its products and services, visit www.mint.ca

Provincial plaque commemorates Ball's Bridge in Ontario

AUBURN, Ontario, July 14, 2011 /Canada NewsWire/ - Today, the Ontario Heritage Trust, the Township of Ashfield-Colborne-Wawanosh, the Municipality of Central Huron and the Friends of Ball's Bridge unveiled a provincial plaque commemorating Ball's Bridge, near Goderich.

"There are few surviving two-span bridges in Ontario today with the design features of Ball's Bridge," said Dr. Thomas H.B. Symons, Chairman of the Ontario Heritage Trust. "Thanks to the efforts of the community, it has been restored and will now be marked with a provincial plaque, sharing the story of its unique design and historic significance."

The plaque reads as follows:

Ball's Bridge

Ball's Bridge was erected in 1885 to connect Goderich, the county seat, with outlying areas to the east. The structure is an excellent - and now rare - example of a two-span Pratt design through truss, pin-connected wrought iron bridge. Its construction shows attention to detail through the 'v-lacing' located at various points on the bridge. Built during the horse-and-carriage age, it continued to serve as a major crossing point on the Maitland River until 1989, when the bridge was deemed unable to support the weight of modern vehicles. In 2006, it was closed to all traffic and faced a bleak future. Due to the dedicated efforts of the Friends of Ball's Bridge, it was fully restored and upgraded, and reopened to light traffic in 2007.

"The unique design and structure of Ball's Bridge not only speak to engineering history, but also make it an attractive feature in the local landscape," said Minister of Tourism and Culture Michael Chan. "I'm delighted that it is being commemorated today, showcasing another fascinating part of Ontario's heritage."

Today's unveiling ceremony took place at Ball's Bridge, where the provincial plaque will be permanently installed.

"The Township of Ashfield-Colborne-Wawanosh is very proud of our heritage. We honour our roots and celebrate our heritage and are delighted that this provincial plaque will highlight the significance of this site in our history," said Ben Van Diepenbeek, Reeve of the Township of Ashfield-Colborne-Wawanosh. "We are grateful for the support of the Friend's of Ball's Bridge and the Municipality of Central Huron, who also appreciate the importance of this landmark."

The Ontario Heritage Trust's Provincial Plaque Program commemorates significant people, places and events in Ontario's history. The Trust is an agency of the Government of Ontario, dedicated to identifying, preserving, protecting and promoting Ontario's heritage.

Quick facts:

Since 1953, over 1,200 provincial plaques have been unveiled.
298 provincial plaques commemorate significant buildings and structures in Ontario's history.

Learn more:

For more information on the Provincial Plaque Program, visit www.heritagetrust.on.ca.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Murdoch Mysteries Gets Political with Cameo Appearance by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, July 20 on Citytv

...on location in Guelph, Ontario last summer

Prime Ministers of past and present collide with a special episode of Murdoch Mysteries, involving Sir John A. Macdonald and Sir Wilfrid Laurier and a murder that risks national security

TORONTO, July 13, 2011 /Canada NewsWire/ - Murdoch Mysteries fan and long-time viewer, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, makes a cameo appearance on the Citytv original series Murdoch Mysteries, premiering Wednesday, July 20 at 10pm ET/PT (8pm MT, 9pm CT) on Citytv. Prime Minister Harper plays hockey fan, Desk Sergeant Armstrong, a seemingly imperceptive man who ironically doesn't recognize Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier when he walks into Station 4.

The Prime Minister's scene was shot on October 15, 2010, and directed by actor Yannick Bisson, who plays Detective William Murdoch in the popular series.

"Murdoch Mysteries is my favourite program…It's wonderful to meet these people who can take characters of over 100 years ago, make them three dimensional and bring them to life. It's a lot of fun to see them work and try to work with them a little as an amateur," said Prime Minister Stephen Harper on the set of Murdoch Mysteries.

Set in late 1890s Toronto and based on Canadian author Maureen Jennings' popular series of novels, Murdoch Mysteries explores the intriguing world of William Murdoch (Bisson), a handsome young detective using radical forensic techniques, for the time, to solve some of the city's most gruesome murders.

In episode 407 "Confederate Treasure," premiering July 20, the discovery of a map and a letter signed by Canada's first Prime Minister, Sir John A. MacDonald, is found on the corpse of a murder victim, sending Murdoch on an investigation that risks national security. When the victim is identified as a former Minister of Defence, Canadian spy Terence Meyers (Peter Keleghan) - Murdoch's nemesis - warns Murdoch off the case. With the help of Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier, Murdoch learns the map is thought to indicate a spot in Lake Ontario where a small fortune in gold was sunk - gold intended to influence the outcome of the American Civil War. In a race against time to avoid a major diplomatic dispute, Murdoch and his team set sail under cover of darkness in a desperate attempt to locate the gold before the Americans do.

With a passionate following of loyal audiences in Canada and around the world including the UK, France and, most recently, China, Murdoch Mysteries has been sold to broadcasters in 100 countries and is one of the most successful international co-productions in Canadian television history.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is the latest in an elite list of prominent guest stars to the series including Victor Garber, Lisa Ray, Simon Williams, Nicholas Campbell and Lally Cadeau.

Murdoch Mysteries is developed and produced by Shaftesbury in association with Citytv, a division of Rogers Media Inc., ITV STUDIOS Global Entertainment and UKTV, and with the assistance of the Canadian Film or Video Production Tax Credit, the Ontario Film and Television Tax Credit, the Canada Media Fund, the Bell New Media Fund and the Cogeco Production Development Fund. ITV STUDIOS Global Entertainment holds worldwide distribution rights for the series (excluding Canada and the UK). Season four of Murdoch Mysteries premiered in Canada on June 7, 2011 on Citytv. Season five is currently in production in and around Toronto, Ontario.

Full episodes of Murdoch Mysteries are available after broadcast, exclusively on citytv.com.
Can't get enough of Murdoch Mysteries? Watch Murdoch Mysteries: The Curse of the Lost Pharaohs, an exclusive 13-part original online series on Citytv.com. Created as an extension of the fourth season of Murdoch Mysteries, the web series features the stars of the series and brings to life Constable George Crabtree's first novel, "The Curse of the Lost Pharaohs."

Check out Citytv.com for full episodes and exciting extras from some of your favourite Citytv programming, available 24 - 48 hours post broadcast. You can now also catch up on your iPad by downloading the free Citytv video app on iTunes.

Citytv™ television stations in Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and Winnipeg offer viewers intensely-local, urban-oriented, culturally-diverse television programming. A distinct alternative to other conventional television stations, Citytv engages its viewers with dynamic on-air personalities and delivers an entertaining mix of news, local-interactive formats such as: Breakfast Television and CityLine; as well as local Canadian and US acquired prime time entertainment programming. Citytv is a part of Rogers Broadcasting Limited, a division of Rogers Communications Inc. (TSX: RCI and NYSE: RCI) which is a diversified Canadian communications and media company. For more information on Citytv stations and programming, visit www.Citytv.com

Sunday, July 10, 2011

What Thomas Jefferson grew in his own Vegetable Garden at Monticello

Thomas Jefferson's vegetable garden at Monticello. Photo Credit: Moofpocket, Creative Commons Attribution License.

from TreeHugger.com
by Colleen Vanderlinden

In honor of Independence Day, I thought it would be fun to look into what Thomas Jefferson grew in his own vegetable garden at Monticello. Happily, the official Monticello website has a great essay by the director of the Monticello Gardens and Grounds which takes a look at which veggies the Founding Father was most fond of growing.

We learn, for instance, that Jefferson was especially fond of English (shelling) peas, and that he and other local gardeners had a friendly competition each spring to see who could harvest the earliest pea from his garden. The winner hosted a dinner for the rest of the contestants.

Jefferson was also a trailblazer when it came to growing tomatoes. In the early 1800s, he started planting tomatoes at Monticello. Just a century earlier, it was believed that tomatoes were poisonous, and would either kill those who ate them, or, at the very least, cause them to go insane.

What else did Jefferson grow? Lettuce, okra, artichokes, asparagus, beans, and many other edibles. He was fond of figs, and looked into pressing his own olive oil. If you want to read more about Jefferson's vegetable garden at Monticello, here is the essay in full.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Enter the World of Timeless Tales this Summer at Black Creek Pioneer Village

Cinderella, Peter Rabbit, Peter Pan, Pinnocchio and more come to life and bring adventure for the whole family

TORONTO, July 8, 2011 /Canada NewsWire/ - New this summer, families will see their favourite 19th century stories come to life during Timeless Tales at Black Creek Pioneer Village. Black Creek is Toronto's largest outdoor history museum where visitors can step back in time into a recreated 1860s Village.

Enjoy special activities, performances, character meet- and- greets, and adventures all based around the stories of Cinderella, Peter Rabbit, Peter Pan, Pinocchio, Alice in Wonderland, and Anne of Green Gables.

"We're extremely excited to bring these wonderful children's stories to Black Creek Pioneer Village," said Wendy Rowney, Supervisor of Historic Programs at Black Creek Pioneer Village. "Timeless Tales is about sharing an experience with our families through classic stories that have been around for generations. Times are changing but these simple stories still bring a world of magic to anyone who reads them. If you want your children to be excited about reading these stories, or curious about our past, then this is the place to be this summer."

For a complete list of special performances, family workshops, crafts, activities and activities throughout the Village, visit www.blackcreek.ca

Location: Black Creek Pioneer Village 1000 Murray Ross Parkway, Toronto, Ontario, www.blackcreek.ca; 416-736-1733; bcpvinfo@trca.on.ca

Visitor Information:

Members Price: Free
Non-members Price: $15 adults; $11 children (ages 5-15); $14 seniors and students; children 4 years an under are free. Parking is $7. Taxes not included.

About Black Creek Pioneer Village

Black Creek Pioneer Village is Toronto's premier outdoor living history museum. Visitors can explore 40 heritage homes, shops and buildings restored to re-create an 1860s Ontario village. Historic interpreters in period dress demonstrate how villagers lived, worked and played. The Village hosts learning programs and special events that highlight local heritage and culture. The tranquil setting, rural landscapes, heritage gardens and period farm animal breeds make Black Creek Pioneer Village the perfect place to break out of the modern world and journey into the past. Located in north Toronto, Black Creek Pioneer Village is owned and operated by Toronto and Region Conservation (TRCA). For more information please visit www.blackcreek.ca.

Friday, July 8, 2011

How an Elm Tree Helped Win America's Independence

Photo: Boston Public Library

from TreeHugger.com
by Stephen Messenger, Porto Alegre, Brazil

The story of America's struggle for independence tells tale of heroic men and women united in their noble quest for freedom -- but one of the most enduring figures at the center of that revolution was not a person at all. Years before the Founding Fathers gathered in stately halls and meetinghouses to shape what would become the Declaration of Independence, the seeds of liberty had been planted and nurtured in a far more humble setting -- beneath the branches of an elm tree.

Just a few short years after the arrival of Puritans to the New World, when the land was yet untamed, an elm tree sapling took root. In the decades which followed, the city of Boston would rise up around that elm tree -- but their humble beginnings could hardly predict the important role both town and tree would have in shaping history.

By the mid-18th century, many prominent colonists in Boston had grown weary of living under British rule, made worse by the passage of a Stamp Act which effectively taxed and censored written correspondences. In 1765, a secretive group of American patriots known as the Sons of Liberty organized a very public demonstration to protest the law, and they chose that elm tree as their meeting spot -- earning it the name 'Liberty Tree'.

Photo: Wikipedia Commons

In the months that followed, as pre-revolution angst grew, the Liberty Tree continued to be used as a gathering point for dissenters in Boston, until the tree itself became symbolic of their struggle.

Inspired by that humble tree which had become emblematic of freedom, new Liberty Trees came to be designated across the original colonies as places for early advocates of independence to meet. Indeed, the revolutionary ideals of those in attendance at such gatherings, like Samuel Adams, Paul Revere, John Hancock and Patrick Henry, were very likely born in the shade of an elm.

So potent was that original Liberty Tree as symbol of independence, it was targeted by the opposition in the opening battles of the Revolutionary War. In 1775, a group of Loyalists chopped down the old tree and used it for firewood. This only served to stoke the passions of early patriots who soon adorned their flags with an image of that tree.

American revolutionary Thomas Paine even immortalized the beloved elm in his song Liberty Tree:

But hear, O ye swains, 'tis a tale most profane,
How all the tyrannical powers,
Kings, Commons and Lords, are uniting amain,
To cut down this guardian of ours;

From the east to the west blow the trumpet to arms,
Through the land let the sound of it flee,
Let the far and the near, all unite with a cheer,
In defense of our Liberty Tree.

Nowadays, in a nation made free with the help of an elm, the Liberty Tree continues to be an emblem of patriotism, even if the story of the original specimen has been somewhat lost in metaphor. On a street in Boston, a simple bronze plaque marks the spot where the Liberty Tree grew as the stage for revolution, though its roots still hold firm, even if unseen, in the American psyche.

In light of history and the ideals laid out in the Declaration of Independence, trees in particular just may be a more fitting monument to tennets of democracy than the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, or any such site -- for they are as stoic and timeless as our inalienable rights. It's a wonder then that shooting fireworks, not planting trees, became Independence Day tradition. After all, bombs bursting in air may have won us our liberty once, but freedom can still be found in the shade of an elm.

... read more story at TreeHugger.com

Thursday, July 7, 2011

FamilySearch Adds Free Records for 10 Countries

July 7, 2011 FamilySearch Press Release - Twenty-two (22) collections for 10 countries were updated recently at FamilySearch.org. The Germany and Mexico church records were the two largest collections added.

Collections were also added for Brazil, Canada, Guatemala, Italy, Norway, Sweden, and the United State.

See the records online now at FamilySearch.org.

from Olive Tree Genealogy Blog

Saturday, July 2, 2011

A 1955 British Cycling Film Shows the Joys of Countryside Touring

Image via YouTube screengrab

from TreeHugger.com
by Alex Davies, Paris, France

TreeHugger does a lot of work to promote urban cycling, a major step towards developing sustainable cities. But lest we forget how great a day in the countryside on two wheels can be, this short film from 1955 is the perfect reminder. Produced by British Transport Films, "Cyclists Special" follows a group bicycle tour as members of the Cyclist Touring Club take the train out of London and spend what looks like the nicest day ever. And it's worth watching for the 1950s English slang alone.

Check out the full 1955 film

The train the tour uses to get out of the city is equipped with special comparments, outfitted with rubber covered hooks to hang the bikes safely: "the way to carry bicycles by train." They head to Rugby, split into groups (so no one gets "the hump" from being at the back of a large group) follow their tour guides through Warwickshire, Leicestershire and Northamptonshire, and visit Kenilworth Castle, Stratford-upon-Avon and the site of the Battle of Naseby.

When one person gets a flat tire, the whole group stops to help him fix it, though he may "get a ragging." They stop for a communal lunch to avoid the "bonk" (hunger-caused fatigue). With no cars in sight, everyone goes at their own pace, and no one "splits their britches trying to keep up."

The narrator tells us that the trip brings together "people of all ages, ranks and stations, who rediscover their common humanity in finding countryside, exercise and companionship, all in one." It's a big claim but not an outrageous one: cycling tours are a great way to bring people together, and that's as true today as it was in 1955.