Monday, 24 June 2013

HAS AMERICA'S MR PEANUT TAKEN A BITE OF CANADA'S BIG APPLE?

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HAS THERE BEEN A COUP IN COLBORNE? 
A PUTSCH IN THE APPLE PATCH?
HAS AMERICA'S MR PEANUT TAKEN A BITE OF CANADA'S BIG APPLE?

(popular Facebook posting by Stephen Weir - June 2013)

 
Peanut Allegeries? No worries. Mr. Peanut is dead and under glass - cell photo by M. Nenadovich 


On our way to Prescott, Ontario on the mighty 401 highway, we stopped off at the Big Apple, near Colborne.  The Big Apple is the world's tallest observation tower (overlooking a freeway) that is shaped like a bright red MacIntosh apple.  The attraction also makes and sells apple pies, has a petting zoo and a miniature golf game.  At one time the concrete apple housed the Peter Puck Collection! (a cheesey hockey museum).
The  35ft tall structure is a monument to the local apple industry and was built by Colborne booster George Boycott. But has there been a coup in Eastern Ontario's backyard orchard? 
My Northern Spie eye went into full alert mode when we peeled off the highway and entered the apple pie bakery beside the Big Apple.  First thing we saw inside the door was a statue of Mr Peanut under glass. Reminded me of Chairman Mao's embalmed remains in the Forbidden City.  Beside Mr. Peanut was an iron Planter's Peanut and Chocolate blender made in the 19th century.
The check-out person told us they haven't had time to put a sign up in Mr Peanut's glass coffin. "But," she said, "I can tell you he was made in 1926 and is the only such statue of Mr Peanut in Canada!" 

"Why a peanut mausoleum  in an apple cathedral?" They weren't saying.  Out back at the loading dock, a compact car, covered in Mr Peanut logos was surreptitiously parked behind a privacy wall.  
Has the US based Kraft food company (the owner's of the Mr Peanut trademark) taken a bite of Canada's Forbidden Fruit? Has this Canadian roadside icon started to crumble?
Has the founder of the Big Apple, George Boycott, sold his business and true to his name is now boycotting the apple yard that he built back in the 80s?  I sense a business that is now rotten to the core! 
This calls for an undercover investigation! Mr Peanut, you butter be on guard --  you are now in the apple of my (private) eye.
BTW - we bought the 3,800,000th pie ( or there abouts)  sold at the Big Apple (they keep a running count on their huge highway sign).  


AUGUST FOLLOW-UP

August 14th. Back on the highway. Back at the Big Apple! Bought 4,000,255 pie ( or there abouts) and checked out the Planter's take-over of this Highway 401 icon.
Peanut sized car has Mr. Peanut face on door

The restaurant is still selling apple pies, but, many of their non-apple pie lines are no longer being made. Goodbye Peach, Rhubbarb and Pecan pies! There is now a rack of Planter's Peanut products beside the apple pies.

card beside Mr Peanut under glass

Mr Peanut under glass has been moved near the cash registers and there is a card explaining why the peanut man is in a glass coffin! 

The Peanut mini-car has been moved out from behind the cafe and is proudly parked on the front lawn, in front of a grove of (apple?) trees. 

UPDATE  - A reader has posted a correction to the information that is posted in the Big Apple about Mr. Peanut.  On November 22, 2015 Wilf Runge wrote to say: "the Mr. Peanut is older than the 40's. is made of paper mache, not fibreglass and is not the only one in Canada as I own one two."
Also - today we bought a pie at the Big Apple. Supposedly the 5 millionth, but somehow, like Mr Runge, I am doubtful of the Big Apple's info/data.

Friday, 21 June 2013

Hawk Eye of Photographer Catches Hunter in Flight

Hawking Meghan Rennie's photographs at Harbourfront's new six-artist year-long outdoor Nine Rivers art installation/exhibition

Photographer Meghan Rennie says it took a long-long time to get the perfect picture. Beautiful sky. Calm Lake Ontario waters. A hawk just taking off to hunt overtop of the shores of the Leslie Spit. It took patience. A practised eye and quick finger on the trigger of her old-style analog film camera.
Rennie and five other Toronto photographers are featured in a new year-long free outdoor photography show at Harbourfront Centre. The show Nine Rivers City: Toronto's Extraordinary Waterways had its media preview/launch this evening -Thursday June 20th - in the city's newest outdoor park!
Photographer Meghan Rennie in front of one of her photographs at Harbourfron
The exhibition features 72 large-scale fully winterized photographs that explore the nine rivers that wend their way through the city and down to Lake Ontario. Rennie's work looks at the land, the wildlife and the people who populate the watershed area of the Don River.
The work of the six photographers have been installed in a new park just east of the Power Plant Art Gallery, at the edge of Toronto Harbour. The grassy park was, until only recently, a parking lot! It will be offically opened by the Premier in a few days.
 
According to the Harbourfront Centre, the new park's exhibition is the largest outdoor photographic exhibition in Canada. Nine Rivers City: Toronto’s Extraordinary Waterways is being presented in partnership with Toronto and Region Conservation (TRCA) and Harbourfront. The yearlong exhibition is the first installment of a two-year series in partnership with the TRCA. The oversized photo show is an exploration of Toronto’s nine rivers that feature 72 images from six of Canada’s "most exciting artists". 
The six artists featured in the exhibition are: Aaron Vincent Elkaim, Vanessa Hussey, Surendra Lawoti, Christopher Manson, Meghan Rennie and Jade Lee Portelli.

Pictured at left is the work of photographer Surendra Lawoti, and at the bottom is show curator Patrick Macaulay at the mike opening the exhibition while Harbourfront CEO Bill Boyle watches on.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

First Annual Walk of Excellence to York University. Three Jane/Finch high schools.

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IT WASN'T TOO HOT, THE PARADE ROUTE WASN'T TOO LONG AND THE STUDENTS' SPIRITS WERE SOOO HIGH!

Students party at York University following the parade (middle)

Organizer Itah Sadu (Educational Attainment West) presents awards!



On Friday morning 300 grade 12 students, with the help of the Educational Attainment West group and a number of other associations and institutes, ended their high school "careers" by walking up the road to York University to begin the next stage of their lives. Graduating students from three Jane/Finch Toronto high schools took part in the first annual Walk of Excellence, with parents and community groups watching on!

Teens graduating from C. W. Jeffreys, Westview Centennial and Downsview Secondary Schools took part in a gymnasium ceremony at the C.W. Jeffreys school and then paraded 1km up 
Sentinel Road to York. Once at the University, the students were introduced to some of the professors and staff of the university and then had a 90 minute on-campus party and award ceremony.

Sponsored by Toronto's Educational Attainment West, PEACH (Promoting Education and Community Help), The York Centre For Education and Community, York University and the Toronto District School Board, this first annual parade celebrated the rite of passage from high school to post secondary education for local youth. 

 
The Caribbean Carnival volunteer marshals pictured in the Jeffreys parking lot

A group of Caribbean Carnival Parade Marshals volunteered their help and worked with Toronto to police to guide the 300 students along this road march to higher education!

Read Toronto Star's Royson James column about the Walk Of Excellence.

http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2013/06/14/walk_with_excellence_redefines_graduation_at_janefinch_james.html

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Danek Mozdzenski gets a million dollar commission to create a statue of Sir Issac Brock

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Sketch of Danek Mozdezenski's proposed Brock sculpture

Every winter, when the temperature dips below zero, and the snow swirls across the campus of the University of Alberta, someone trudges out into the cold and puts a toque and scarf around Danek Mozdzenski's life-sized statue of Martin Luther.  And on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, new Canadians, fresh from citizenship ceremonies get their pictures taken around Mozdzenski's famous seated statue of Prime Minister  Lester B. Pearson.

" Children are often placed on Pearson's raised foot for the picture," said the Edmonton, Alberta sculptor. "So much so that Pearson's shoe is much shinier than the rest (of the statue)."

 In a year's time, students at St Catharine's Brock University are going to have a Mozdzenski of their own.  On Tuesday it was announced that the 61-year old artist has won a million dollar commission to create a twice-life sized  bronze statue of Sir Issac Brock -  the fallen hero of the War of 1812 and the namesake of the small Ontario school.

"Because of him we actually have a Canada.  The man was incredibly bright, he took initiatives, he was very energetic, he was able to comprehend conflict realities and do something about them. He recognised there would be a war between Great Britain, Canada and the United States. He prepared Canada for that war, and because of that (Canada continues to be separate from the US)."

Mozdzenski unveiled his sketches of the Brock statue at a press conference held at the university. The rendering shows Brock in his uniform,  one foot on a trunk and a book in his hand.  His hat and his sword are on top of the case.
 Mozdezenski speaks to the media after his win was announced

The uniform, the military hat and even the sword hilt are based upon the war hero's  artifacts that the artist has tracked down in museums and collections in Canada and abroad.  " I stopped by the Bata Shoe Museum, yesterday and spoke to one of their curators.  I am trying to find out what his shoes should look like," said Mozdezenski.  "Yes, I have had to become a Brock expert."

" It (the drawings) shows him as a thinking man, a soldier, a man of action, dynamic, insightful," explained the artist. "As I said, he was a thinking man. I try to relate that aspect of him in this work to what a university does, what professors do,  and what future students will do."
The artist. Photo by George Socka


"This is an opportunity to make something extraordinary for the world," he continued. " Not just for the present, but, for the next thousand years!!!!"

A million dollar commission for a public sculpture in Canada is a rare event - something to celebrate.  The University, eager to commemorate its  own 50th anniversary in 2014, wanted to honour Sir Issac Brock with a statue on their grounds. "The idea became a real possibility," says the university in a statement issued at the press conference,  "when businessman and philanthropist David S. Howes agreed to contribute to the financial cost."

With funding in hand the school worked with Toronto based Cultural Asset Management to create a competition for the million dollar assignment.  Mozdenski was eventually chosen by an eight-member committee (which included donor Howes).  He won out over 26 other finalists, reduced from a longlist of 72 well-known sculptors.


Brock University, St Catharines, Ontario
Given the hands-on reception that many of Mozdenski's works already get in public spaces across the country, there is no way that this Brock statue is going to rub people the wrong way.

Video interview of Danek Mozdzenski by George Socka. June 2013

http://youtu.be/dlm7dW02F9Q

Radio interview of Danek Mozdzenski by Mary Ito, CBC radio. June 2013. 

http://www.cbc.ca/hereandnowtoronto/episodes/2013/06/03/brock-universitys-million-dollar-secret/



POST SCRIPT:  On the island of Guernsey (one of England's Channel Islands), Sir Isaac Brock is known as the Hero of Upper Canada.  He was born in St Peter Port, Guernsey on the 6th of October 1769 and died in the Battle of Queenston Heights at the age of 43.  He died a week after his birthday in 1812.

Guernsey has never forgotten her favourite son, and, according to the British press have commissioned their own Canadian sculptor to create another Sir Isaac Brock statue! The Brock Memorial Foundation has commissioned sculptor Adrienne Alison to produce a 2.3 metre tall bronze of the late general.  Apparently the Royal Bank of Canada's Wealth Management division has offered to pay part of the estimated £80,000 cost to erect the statue in the town square.

The Brock Memorial Foundation, which include direct descendants of General Brock  was set up last year to arrange the Guernsey commemorations of the 200th anniversary of Brock's death.  The Foundation has said it wants to also provide funds "for the restoration of desecrated and neglected Native American grave markers at Walpole Island in western Ontario."

Get Attacked by a shark? Easier than falling off a log.


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SHARKS HAVE BEEN GETTING A BAD RAP SINCE THE 1800s!
(popular Stephen Weir Facebook posting)

The Coral Island: A Tale of the Pacific Ocean is a super popular British boy's books that, while written over 150 years ago (1858), is still in print today. The novel written by Scottish author R. M. Ballantyne tells the story of how three boys marooned on a South Pacific island, are able to survive off the land, battle sharks, kill wild animals, overcome savage natives and make it back to civilization.
This is the book that inspired William Golding's Lord of the Flies. It also inspired generations of fiction readers to keep out of the water for fear being eaten by Mr. Jaws. Ballantyne never traveled to the South Pacific and most likely never  ever saw a Great White Shark, but, it didn't stop him from putting the fear of sharks into young fiction readers around the world.
Pictured in an 1890 edition of the book (below), the three boys are fishing from a log, just a short distance from shore, when suddenly a giant shark - its head bigger than the three boys - comes at them! 
They threw a freshly caught fish into the water and " in another second we saw its white breast rising; for sharks always turn over on their sides when about to seize prey," writes Ballantyne. " In another moment his snout rose above the water; his wide jaws, armed with a terrific double row of teeth, appeared. The dead fish was engulfed and the shark sank out of sight ... in a very few minutes it returned to us,and its quick motions led us to fear that it would attack us at once."
The shark does attack again, but, the boys stick a paddle in his throat and make their escape to shore!
 
Photo: SHARKS HAVE BEEN GETTING A BAD RAP SINCE THE 1800s!

The Coral Island: A Tale of the Pacific Ocean is a super popular British boy's books that, while written over 150 years ago (1858), is still in print today. The novel written by Scottish author R. M. Ballantyne tells the story of how three boys marooned on a South Pacific island, are able to survive off the land, battle sharks, wild animals and savage natives and make it back to civilization.
The book inspired William Golding's Lord of the Flies. It inspired generations to keep out of the water for fear being eaten. Ballantyne never traveled to the South Pacific and most likely never saw a Great White Shark, but, it didn't stop him from putting the fear of sharks into young fiction readers around the world.
Pictured in the book, the three boys are fishing from a log, just a short distance from shore, when suddenly a giant shark - its head bigger than the three boys - came at them! They threw a freshly caught fish into the water and " in another second we saw its white breast rising; for sharks always turn over on their sides when about to seize prey," writes Ballantyne. " In another moment his snout rose above the water; his wide jaws, armed with a terrific double row of teeth, appeared. The dead fish was engulfed and the shark sank out of sight ... in a very few minutes it returned to us,and its quick motions led us to fear that it would attack us at once."
The shark does attack, but, the boys stick a paddle in his throat and make their escape to shore!.
illustration from the 1890  Collins' edition of The Coral Island: A Tale of the Pacific Ocean by Scottish author R. M. Ballantyne
 COMMENTS AND REPLIES ON FACEBOOK
AH -  And I thought Jaws inspired the fear of sharks. Weren't the first documented shark attacks sometime in the 1800's? Maybe they were his "inspiration"...

JH -  Just bring the Bake... (referencing the Trinidadian dish call Bake and Shark)


JM -  I thought a Tiburon was a semi-sporty Hyundai. A terrible death indeed!

Stephen Weir Replies:

Stephen Weir I checked the website SharkAttack.com. They say the first reference in English,to a shark attack dates back to 1580 when a naval officer related an attack he had witnessed during a voyage between Portugal and India. 
According to the website a man "fell overboard during a storm, and it was impossible for us to reach him or go to his assistance in any way. So we threw him a block of wood attached to a rope, specially provided for this purpose. Our crew began to bring in the man, who had managed to catch the block, but, when he was no more than half the range of a musket away, there appeared from beneath the surface a big monster known as tiburon; it rushed at the man and cut him to pieces right before our eyes. It was certainly a terrible death."