Getting to Know John Cabot

hello-john-cabotDave waves from behind a statue of John Cabot in Bonavista Newfoundland where the Italian explorer is said to have landed in 1497 and claimed North America for the British King Henry VII who had given Cabot money to seek out new lands for England. up-to-john-cabot

The plaque at the statue gave us some more information about John Cabot. He was born in Genoa in 1450 and named Giovanni Caboto by his father who was a spice merchant. John grew up in Venice, married a woman named Mattea and had three sons. One of them Sebastian followed in his explorer father’s footsteps. John thought he was on his way to Asia when he landed in Newfoundland with his crew of 18 men on a fast and able 50 ton ship named The Matthew. (There is some discussion about whether the ship was actually named The Mattea after John Cabot’s wife.)

Dave looks out over the spot where Cabot is thought to have landed.

Dave looks out over the spot where Cabot is thought to have landed.

Some historians say Cabot may have explored the eastern Canadian coast, and that a priest accompanying Cabot might have established a settlement in Newfoundland. John Cabot claimed North America for England, setting the course for England’s rise to power in the 1500s and 1600s. 

john-cabotWhen Cabot returned to England the king gave him a reward and support for another voyage. To celebrate the 500th anniversary of Cabot’s voyage in 1997 a replica was built of his ship and sailed from Bristol England to Bonavista, Newfoundland. 

Other posts……..

Discovering Sakagawea

Blown Away in South Dakota

A Bone Rattling Introduction


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Love My Job

highschool-group-of-seven-4Had a great day at the Winnipeg Art Gallery last week with a grade nine class from the high school in Steinbach where I used to teach. I had a group of interested and thoughtful young women on my tour of the galleries. None of them had every been to an art gallery before and they loved it! “Could we come back?” they wondered. highschool-group-of-seven-3 They were very impressed by the Group of Seven paintings. They were intrigued by one of Esther Warkov’s whimsical landscapes. They came up with some really original ideas when I asked them to use our trays of manipulatives to create a personal Inuit wall hanging in the Our Land exhibit.highschool-group-of-seven-2They had definite preferences about what they had enjoyed in the galleries and told me which of the works they’d seen they would like to take home and hang in their bedroom and why.
highschool-group-of-seven-5In the afternoon I guided a different group from the same school as they created their own landscapes in the style of the Group of Seven. highschool-group-of-seven-6They were attentive and engaged. highschool-group-of-seven-1Their work illustrates this blog post.
I had such a good time with this group it almost made me sorry I’m not still teaching.

I Love Art

Olympus Inspired Art

The Exquiste Corpse

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Spacious Places in Hong Kong

During October a set of seven reflections I wrote were featured in Rejoice magazine. The theme of the issue was Faith in the City.  Here is one of my reflections.

rejoiceO God you have tested us. . . . Yet you have brought us out to a spacious place.

Psalm 66: 10-12

Read: Psalm 66: 1-12

Reflect: We moved to Hong Kong when the city was still reeling from the SARS epidemic. People had become virtual prisoners in their homes. Medical professionals who had risked their lives caring for SARS patients remained isolated from their own families. Businesses were recording millions in losses. Real estate prices had plummeted. Tourism had ground to a halt.

Students at teachers at our school during SARS

Students and teachers at our school during SARS

Schools, places of worship, restaurants, and concert halls had shut their doors. People in our Hong Kong church said SARS was a time when the faith of many was severely tested.   

Hong Kong street sweeper

Hong Kong street sweeper

Yet during the six years we lived in Hong Kong, we watched the city make a remarkable recovery. Expanded sanitation and security departments quickly restored its reputation as a clean, safe place. Slowly the tourism industry blossomed and the economy improved.


Chestnut vendors in Hong Kong

Schools, temples, churches and cultural venues reopened and people confidently returned to the routines of daily life.  

Verses 10-12 of Psalm 66 describe a time of severe testing for the community of God’s people. They have been through fire and water. They have been forced to bear heavy burdens. They have felt trapped. the many faces of hong kongPsalm 66 is a prayer of thanksgiving because God has delivered the people from their time of testing and led them to a place of spaciousness and calm.  

Cities, like the community of God’s people in Psalm 66, often go through times of testing. It may be a natural disaster, political unrest, or a medical emergency. The psalmist encourages people to remember to draw close to God as they go through hard times. God can lead them to a more peaceful place.

Other posts…….

Hong Kong Inspiration

Chestnuts Roasting in Hong Kong


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A Story Told in Different Ways

wso-daphnis-and-chloeI went to see the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra perform Daphnis and Chloe with the Canadian Mennonite University choir last night. They were presenting a ballet score composed by Ravel. The ballet tells a story written by a Greek novelist named Longus in the second century. Longus spins the tale of two young people whose path to finding love with one another follows a twisted course. Daphnis and Chloe was also the title of an exhibit of prints by Chagall that ran all summer at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. I had learned to tell the Daphnis and Chloe story so I could share it with my tour groups.

Daphnes trudging through deep snow to the home of his love Chloé takes refugee under a tree filled with birds

As I listened to the music last night I thought of the various Chagall prints that could have accompanied each movement of the Ravel score. It made the concert a richer experience for me.

One of Daphnis' rivals tramples his flower garden and kidnaps Chloé

I kept wishing the Winnipeg Symphony could have arranged to have the Chagall prints flashing on the screen as they played. 
Other posts………

An Legendary Love Story Told By An Artistic Legend

A Musical Walk in a Bamboo Forest

A Musical Evening in Toronto

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Mars Survival Lessons in Newfoundland

dave-checking-out-tablelandsLast night the CBC program Ideas began a series called Generation Mars about the possibility of exploring and colonizing the red planet.  Last Tuesday President Obama said we will be sending people to Mars by  2030. On our trip to Newfoundland we went for a hike in a place that is helping scientists figure out just how people might survive on Mars. tableland-marylouWe hiked the Tablelands in Gros Morne National Park. dave-tablelandThe rocks which make up this desolate place originated in the earth’s mantle. They were forced up during a plate collision several hundred million years ago. boulder-tablelandsThere is methane in these rocks from deep in the earth and since methane is also produced on Mars, there’s the possibility that deep down in the crust of Mars, there could also be life. dave-rod-tablelandsThat makes the Tablelands a great place to test technology and equipment that will be needed for space missions to Mars. stream-tablelandScientists have discovered that the water flowing through The Tableland rocks while low in oxygen and high in pH is actually teeming with life. That gives them hope that there may also be life on Mars.  plant-on-tablelandI think its pretty cool that the Tablelands of Newfoundland are helping us discover how we might explore and even live on Mars in the future.

Other posts about Newfoundland


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Queen of Katwe and A Tour in Delhi

Dave and I saw Queen of Katwe this week.  The movie tells the true story of a girl from the slums of Kampala who becomes a chess champion.  The film connected with us because it was directed by Mira Nair. Although Queen of Katwe takes places in Uganda where Ms. Nair has lived for decades, her first movies were set in India where the accomplished film maker was born and educated in the city of Delhi. After her initial movie successes in the 1980s Mira Nair established the Salaam Baalak Trust a charitable organization that now provides food, clothing, education and health care to more than 8,500 street children a year at 25 centers throughout the city of  Delhi. canadian visitor with children at salaam barakk trust dehliWhen we visited Delhi we were able to take a tour of one of the centres and be guided through its neighbourhood by a graduate of the Salaam Baalak Trust to learn what life is like for the 50,000 children who call the streets and train stations of Delhi home. 

At the movie theatre on Tuesday night the film Queen of Katwe gave us a glimpse into life for children on the streets of Kampala,Uganda. On our trip to India we were given a glimpse into life for children on the streets of Delhi, both courtesy of Mira Nair. She has used her profession to raise people’s awareness about the needs of children living in poverty around the world, and to strike a note of hope that they can have a better future. 

Other posts……..

Children on the Streets of Delhi

India Inspiration

Love in a Lunchbox




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Finding An Old Friend

home-to-bragg-island“I know that painting,” I said in surprise as I walked down the stairs at The Rooms museum in St. John’s Newfoundland.  “It’s Home From Bragg’s Island,”  I said to my husband.  

In 2013 the Winnipeg Art Gallery celebrated its 100 birthday by hosting an exhibit called  100 Masters.  As a guide in the education department of the gallery I gave countless tours of that exhibit and got to know the pieces in it very well.  One of them was Newfoundland artist David Blackwood’s painting Home From Bragg’s Island. Seeing it again in St. John’s was like seeing an old friend. 

black-well-home-to-bragg-islandThis isn’t the first time this has happened to me. Since the art for 100 Masters was drawn from galleries all over Canada and some in the United States, it isn’t surprising that if you visit art galleries in other North American cities you have a chance of seeing some paintings from the 100 Masters. 

I look forward to finding more old friends on my future travels. 

Finding an Old Friend in Quebec City

Kirchner at the Minneapolis Institute of Art

The Rooms

Thanks to the 100 Masters


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