Weekly Photo Challenge: Life Imitates Art

Mural of Quebecers

Old Quebec City has many murals however the first created, known as the mural of Quebecers is very special. It depicts life through the history of Quebec and its citizens. I could have looked at it for hours and still find something new. Cleverly disguised as part of the artwork on the building are:

  • Key historical figures
  • Architectural building and monuments
  • Coat of Arms
  • Physical attributes of the city — the wall and staircase
  • Cultural communities
  • Sports

If you ever get the chance to go to Old Quebec City seek out the Mural of Quebecers–its definitely worth a look.


Mallard Cottage

It is 12 months ago today that my husband and I accidentally discovered Mallard Cottage, Quidi Vidi, Newfoundland, Canada. We were walking in the snow enjoying the picturesque scenery as the city turned from green to white, when we arrived at our destination—Quidi Vidi Village—a small fishing hamlet just outside St John’s. We arrived mid afternoon and hungry from all the walking decided to stop at Mallard Cottage for some coffee and cake, before continuing on our journey. Boy were we surprised. Coffee and cake were $10 from memory for—all you can eat homemade old-fashioned cakes. There were about 10-12 to choose from. They were amazing. We sat and relaxed for over an hour between us tasting at least a small amount of every cake—okay I admit it some thing more than once—because we could. Unfortunately we were too busy eating to take any photos, sorry.

While we were eating our cakes the friendly wait staff began telling us of the properties history. Mallard Cottage is one of the oldest wooden buildings in North America. Originally built-in the early 1700’s it is older than our country—Australia. This felt weird to think about given the beauty of the restoration and how perfectly it blended old and new. It also turns out that our accidental find has developed a reputation as one of the best restaurants in St John’s area. No wonder we want to go back. If your ever in the area, it is well worth the visit.

CN Tower’s Glass Floor

For 36 years between 1976 – 2010, CN Tower was the tallest tower in the world at 553 metres in height. So last year when my husband and I visited Toronto, I was excited to reach the top and cross off one of the original things on my bucket list.

From the moment I entered the elevator I was amazed. It takes 58 seconds, yes less than a minute to travel 132 floors. There is also a glass panel in the wall and the floor so you can look out— if you dare.  From the main viewing platform, the views were spectacular as we had chosen a clear winters day.

My favourite part of the CN Tower however is its glass floor. Built in 1994, it was the world’s first glass floor. I had set myself a goal I was going to walk into the middle and look down. Initially, although I knew it was safe—I was petrified. I started with taking a few steps out, sitting and looking down. Determined to not let it beat me, I kept persevering until I could walk across the glass floor. My mindfulness training paid off and I was able to enjoy this unique experience even though our photos don’t show the distance below well.

If ever you visit Toronto, Canada take the time and experience the the joy and challenges of CN Tower.   In 2013, we visited Canton Tower in Ghangzhou, China which in 2010 became the tallest tower in the world however this honour is now changes regularly.

Q – Quebec City #A – Z Challenge

Christmas Day last year my husband and I spent in  Quebec City. According to Google—it was the 2nd most guaranteed place in the world for snow to fall on Christmas Day as well as be on the ground. We were excited. After more than half a century we were going to have our first white Christmas. Great in theory however the weather didn’t want to co-operate. For the first time in over 20 years Quebec City didn’t have a white Christmas. We had a great day wandering around exploring the Plains of Abraham, Chateau Frontenac and Old Quebec City. We were even lucky enough to experience a light dusting of snow as we were walking home from Christmas dinner—I was in my element.

#A -Z Challenge

I – Inukshuk #A – Z Challenge

An inukshuk is a human-shaped man-made stone landmark built by the Inuit people of the Artic region. Traditionally they are built to assure the newcomer to the area that they are on the right path and point to good local hunting places or other food sources.

Inukshuks are made by using whatever rocks or stones are around and balancing them on top of each other in the traditional shape of a human with one arm longer and pointing in the direction  needed.

All inukshuks are unique.

Last month my husband and I were surprised to find an inukshuk made in the creek at Minyon Falls. He was special and brought a smile to our faces as we remembered our recent trip to Canada.


#A-Z Challenge


Quebec’s Holy Door

On our recent trip to Canada I passed through Quebec’s Holy Door at the Bascillica of Notre-Dame de Quebec. The Holy Door was granted  to the people of Quebec by the Pope to celebrate the 350th anniversary of the first Catholic parish in Northern America (Canada and USA)—at one time the largest Catholic parish in the world.  The Holy Door opened on the 8th December 2013 and closed on the 28th December 2014.

It is one of only seven Holy Doors  and the first Holy Door opened outside of Europe—four in the Vatican, one in France and one in Spain. The door itself is made of bronze and weighs about half a tonne. The external side of the door has Christ on the front and the internal door has Mary sculptured into it. Upon entering should you choose you place your hand in the hands of Christ and pause mindfully for a moment.

The Holy Door must be entered from the outside in and leads into the small chapel at the side of the Bascillica. After its closure on the 28th December 2104 the Holy Door was sealed to be opened again in 2025 when the next Holy Year was expected. However on 17th March 2015, Pope Francis announced that a Holy Year of Mercy will begin on 8th December 2015 that will close on the 20th November 2016. During this Jubilee all seven Holy Doors around the world will be opened.

The brochure stated “this door is open to all persons of good will. For Catholics it is a pilgrimage, a sign, a passage, a kind of spiritual preparation.”

Despite not being Catholic I found passing through Quebec’s Holy Door quite a spiritual experience. Although it was not the purpose of my trip to Quebec City—it was one of my highlights. The fact that I entered on Boxing Day—the day after Christmas Day made it more special for me. If you are traveling in an area next year that has a Holy Door consider adding it to your travel plans. Once closed the Holy Doors will all be sealed again until the next Jubilee Year possibly 2025 as originally expected.


Dog Sledding

Yesterday, although Quebec has a lack of snow, my husband and I had an amazing experience. We went dog sledding. Despite it being in jeopardy initially, luck was on our side.  A light snow fall overnight allowed it to happen. Without the snow, the track would have been to icy for us inexperienced sledders to manage.

Our venue was the spectacular Pourvoirie Du-Lac Beaufort only 20 minutes out of Quebec City.  For about 10 minutes in the shop, there were twice as many Australians as Canadians because the other couple booked to dog sled to our surprise were fellow Aussies.

Our first stop was to feed the Huskie puppies. They were so cute and ate from our hands.

2014-12-27 08.48.01

Now we were off to complete our training to be able to drive a dog sled.  Manu, our musher explained that because of the ice they had only given us 4 dogs in our teams. Any more dogs would be too hard for the drivers to control. Then it dawn on us. This wasn’t going to be as easy as we first thought.

2014-12-27 09.18.25

Manu was a very experienced musher and his team lead the expedition.  Our dog sled was the first for the day so the dogs were full of energy. We were given several instructions; the main one being to keep the dog teams apart as they will fight. Soon we got to experience stopping wasn’t as easy as any of us thought and the dogs kept running into each other. When this happened the front team started attacking the team from behind. Manu sorted it quickly and we were off again.

2014-12-27 09.59.36

In the dog sled team, all dogs are trained to a specific position depending on their abilities. The smartest dogs are the lead dogs and there are two of them. They are the ones that sense danger and stop the team if things aren’t right. They also listen to the orders of the sled driver. The middle dog  was the point dog. He is a strong dog to pull the sled. The last dog is the wheel dog and he is the strongest dog giving extra help when needed.

2014-12-27 09.44.01

Initially I sat in the sled and my husband was the driver. It took me 5 minutes to realise I didn’t want to drive as stopping was too tricky. At times we went close to ponds and I was very grateful I  wasn’t driving and that i didn’t end up in the water. When it came to change overtime Manu was very pleased neither of us ladies wanted to drive. His opinion was that the conditions were too hard for us to manage, which made it dangerous. It definitely was a psychical workout for the boys as they were sweating. I agreed, driving yesterday was a boy job and I was not offended. My job was photography and as we were moving quickly this wasn’t easy.  Fortunately we both succeeded at our tasks and we had a great morning.

If you ever get the chance connect with nature and go for a dog sled. It’s amazing.

The Ocean Train


Last weekend we traveled from Moncton, New Brunswick to Montreal, Quebec by VIA’s The Ocean  Train.  It is Canada’s longest continuously running train and it’s full journey goes from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Montreal. The Ocean Train links Atlantic Canada to Central and Western Canada and has done so using the same name since July 3, 1904. It follows a route established by the Intercolonial Railway in the mid 1800’s.

Our journey took 18 hours so we choose  sleeper car. And we were pleased we did. No only did this give us a private space, bunk beds, a shower and toilet, it also gave us access to the viewing carriage. This is the last carriage of the train and is higher than the others with a glass ceiling. It was a relaxing way to watch the picturesque scenery speed by.

Traveling on this train during winter had other advantages. The sight of beautiful Christmas lights in the towns we traveled through. Unfortunately, because of the speed we were traveling, we were unable to take photos as the lights went streaky.  They were however, beautiful against the crisp, white snow.

I loved waking up during the night and looking out the window. I imagined what life was like for the people living in these  towns in remote Canada.

This was a great experience. I loved every minute of the 1 042 kilometre journey through the snow.


Honorary Newfies

Prior to becoming part of the 10th province of Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador in 1949, Newfoundland was an independent Dominion. For this reason, Newfies, (the common name for people from Newfoundland) identify being Newfoundlanders first and then Canadian. Rum has played a major role in their history and today, they use it to  extended a welcome to its visitors.

The story goes that years ago Newfoundlanders traded salted cod with the Jamaicans for their rum barrel ends. They would then add water to them, creating their own rum. This brew was rough and remained nameless for years. Then one day an American naval officer was offered some after diner. He noticed that the other officer drank his shot quickly in one go. So he did too. Then, he let out an almighty screech that brought his captain running. Asking the question,

“What’s the screech about.” asked the Captain?

The officer replied stating “tis the rum.”

And that is how Newfoundland’s rum was named. Today, the name is the same, although now good quality Jamaican rum is used. It is this rum that is basis of the Screeching-In ceremony.  This ceremony helps tourists feel welcome  and makes them an honorary Newfy after participation.

The Screeching-In Ceremony takes four parts.

1. Drinking something from Newfoundland – Screech Rum

2. Eating something from Newfoundland – Bolonge

3. Saying something from Newfoundland – Too weird to remember.

4. Kissing something from Newfoundland – a frozen cod. Yeah.

009 Michelle post ceremony 1

To join with tradition, my husband and I were Screeched-In recently. It was fun. We have now joined nearly 200,000 visitors who can now call themselves, Newfies. Screeched-In at Trapper Johns, St Jon’s Newfoundland. If you ever go to Newfoundland join the fun.

004 -  Schreeching Certificate