Friday, November 30, 2007

Celtic Overlooking Grosse Ile

This cross stands on the top of the hill called Cape Dauphin, on Grosse Isle North. It has many ropes attaching it to the hill because the winds must be fierce this time of the year high up above Grosse Isle. I put it in PhotoShop and removed the ropes because I really like the picture. The background is Grosse Isle Point Bridge, the cove and the salt mine in the distance. I'll put more information in here like the history of the cross and why it was built as a Celtic cross at a later date. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the picture as much as I do.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Common Sand Dollar (Echinarachnius parma)

The beaches of the Magdalen Islands are littered with shell of all types. One of the most treasured shells found is the sand dollar. The fragile disk is the skeleton or "test" of a marine animal. By the time the test washes up on the beach, it is missing its velvety covering of minute spines and appears somewhat bleached from the sun.

Sand dollars are from the class of marine animals known as Echinoids, spiny skinned creatures. Their relations include the sea lily, the sea cucumber, the star fish and the sea urchin. When alive, the sand dollar is outfitted in a maroon-colored suit of movable spines that encompass the entire shell. Like its close relative the sea urchin, the sand dollar has five sets of pores arranged petal pattern. The pores are used to move sea water into its internal water-vascular system which allows for movement.

Sand dollars live beyond mean low water on top of or just beneath the surface of sandy or muddy areas. The spines on the somewhat flattened underside of the animal allow it to burrow or to slowly creep through the sand. Fine, hair-like cilia cover the tiny spines. These cilia, in combination with a mucous coating, move food to the mouth opening which is in the center of the star shaped grooves on the underside of the animal. Its food consists of plankters and organic particles that end up in the sandy bottom.

Because of their small size and relatively hard skeleton, few animals bother sand dollars. One animal found to enjoy them on occasion is the thick-lipped, eel-like ocean pout, snails, sea stars (starfish) and skates (rays).

On the ocean floor, sand dollars are frequently found together. This is due in part to their preference of soft bottom areas, as well as convenience for reproduction. The sexes are separate and gametes are released into the water column as in most echinoids. The free-swimming larvae metamorphose through several stages before the test begins to form and they become bottom dwellers.

Since the sand dollar lives in sandy locations, anyone who would like to collect their shells should comb beaches as the tide recedes. The very best time for collecting is after a heavy storm, as many of the shells that have died are dredged up by the increased wave action. Some say that sand dollars are pressed sand that has been dried or even the money of mermaids washed-up from the deep.

The Sand Dollar

About the life of Jesus and the wondrous tale of old.
The center marking plainly shows,
The well known guiding star
That led to tiny "Bethlehem"
The wise men from afar.

The Christmas flower poinsettia,
For his nativity, the resurrection
Too is marked, The Easter Lily, see.

Five wounds were suffered by our Lord,
From nails and roman spears
When he died for us upon the cross,
The wounds show plainly here.

Within the shell should it be broke,
Five doves of peace are found
To emphasize this legend
So may peace and love abound.

Map of the Magdalen Islands - 1765

The drawing of this map was ordered by Samuel Johannes Holland, and officer, surveyor and a politician who had been born in the Lower Country in 1728 and had immigrated to England in 1754. In 1756, Holland went to America where he rapidly learned his engineering talents under General Wolfe, during the attacks on Fort Louisbourg on Cape Breton Island and then again on the Plains of Abraham while in battle.

He would later be named general surveyor for the colonies. A while after that, he was given charge of the affairs of British possessions in the district of the Northern America, starting with the island of Saint-Jean (PEI), Magdalen Islands and Cape Breton, because of the importance of the fishing industries within the regions. Holland died at Quebec, in 1801.

The map of the islands was used in 1798, to established the contract of concession between the King George III represented by Lord Dorchester and Isaac Coffin. The map was clearly drawn by Frederic Haldimand in 1765, for Holland. This map was elsewhere annexed under the original contract accorded to Coffin and may be consulted at the Quebec National Archives.

Atlantic Snow Crab (Chionoecetes opilio)

Atlantic Snow crabs are crustaceans and belong to the family of spider crabs, so-called because of their long, slender legs. Magdalen Islands fishermen originally marketed this species under the name queen crab.

The Islands fishery for these shellfish began slowly in 1967 after exploratory fishing efforts found abundant stocks in the Gulf of St Lawrence. Since that time, the fishery has developed rapidly and snow crabs rank with lobster and salmon among Atlantic Canada's top taste treats in fish products. It is economically valued second only to lobster on the Magdalen Islands and it's flavour value is gaining popularity amongst islanders.

Snow crabs have a flattened, almost circular body and five pairs of long spider-like legs, one pair of which is equipped with strong claws. The upper surface of the shell is orangery tan and the underneath is creamy white. When fully mature, males are twice as large as the females and average about 13 cm across the body shell. Average weight of these crabs in the commercial catch is .7 kg. In Canadian waters they are commonly found on the muddy or sandy sea floor at 75-450 meters deep.

In the Gulf, snow crabs are landed from May through September. Fishermen harvest snow crabs from 16-18 meters boats which have been converted from gill-netting, seining or dragging for groundfish. Each boat works about 35-80 square steel framed traps. These traps are baited, set singly and hauled daily by ropes which lead to surface buoys. The crabs are stored alive on ice in the boats hold.

A gourmet food item, snow crab meat is marketed in Canada, the United States and Europe as cooked frozen and canned meat.

"Golden Rules For Magdalen Islands Visitors"

In 1971, the Groupe CTMA ship Manic became the first 'roll-on-roll-off' car ferry to the Magdalen Islands, replacing the fondly remembered Lovat. It only took five hours to sail from Souris, PEI to Grindstone, Magdalen Islands, instead of the Lovat's two day sail from Pictou, Nova Scotia. With the Manic, there came an influx of visitors to the islands, at a time the islands was ill prepared to handle tourists. There were very little accommodations here and as the tourists were mostly the hippie backpacking who would spend as little as possible to have a nature holiday, there was little reason to put the expense into building accommodations.

Throughout the '70's, the visitors continued coming to the islands in greater numbers each summer. After only a couple of years, Groupe CTMA realized that the Manic was not going to be capable of transporting the inflated number of people wanting to come to the islands, so they purchased the larger drive-on - drive-off car ferry, the Lucy Maud Montgomery, from the Northumberland Strait Crossing to Prince Edward Island. It was during the late seventies, when the tourists far outnumbered the islanders.

The visitors tended to camp wherever they thought was a good place to put a tent. Sometimes it was on the beach where they neglected to take into account the August high tides or on top of the capes without account for the high southerly winds that took place. They would often end up stranded without shelter in the middle of the night in a raging rain storm or worse, a hurricane.

These people had no choice, they had to burden themselves on the nearest home for shelter, sometimes asking for room in the stable for the night. This was never the case, as Islanders are well know for their hospitality and their sheltered lives. They would take these people, complete strangers, into their homes, give them a hot meal and a warm bed, sometimes for days on end, because all the visitors belongings had blown away.

About this time, the Tourist Development Commission was created.

It was found that these hippie visitors would come without money, expecting to live off the land.... When they found that this was not that easy, they would swindle fishermen out of their days catches or housewives out of their pantry's. They would destroy entire wild berry patches, which were the only fruit available to islanders or dig up the clamming grounds indiscriminately, destroying much of the harvest and leaving the grounds worthless for many years. All of these foodstuffs were basic necessities to preserve for winter for the islanders existence.

Islanders were never used to people taking advantage of them. They never knew of people who could kill, murder at a thought. Islanders had been isolated from the world, until the Manic, entered their lives.

The Tourist Commission created a set of rules which they had printed out and given to tourists as they came to the island. The first day the 'Rules' were issued was March 12th, 1979. At the time, these rules made sense..., now they just seem hilarious.

Below is the translated version of the "Golden Rules for Visitors" as it was only wrote up in the French language. Below the translated version is the original French version of the rules.
Golden Rules for Visitors of the Magdalen Islands

Good day visitor friends, you are here on the planet of “small princes” that are Magdalen Islanders on their Archipelago. You are staying in a place of people with great hearts, who have spent three centuries making the islands a place where they can spend their lives.

You certainly desired to come here and have an agreeable stay, if not, you would not have imposed on yourself, the fatigue of sailing and all the expense to come to our place.

You came to be welcomed, then it will be necessary to respect the “Gold Rules for Visitors” that we bring to your attention:

- go and stay only on property where someone of authority has given permission. All the wave terrains of the islands are the private property, except the dunes, which are public property. Take note, cependant that the automobile circulation is forbidden on the beaches and that beach fires must be authorized by the municipalities;

- fraternize with islanders which you will quickly discover likeableness and generosity. Cultivate these natural qualities of your hosts, don’t abuse it too much. The strawberries and clams don’t jump by themselves into bottles;

-you have reason to believe that the fish are abundant, but they don’t jump into the boats, just the same. A man must rise very early in the morning to make his living, by going fishing. Pay him a reasonable price, he is not Santa Claus!;

- you can observe the life habits of Magdalen Islanders, which seem particular, they are the heritage of three centuries of struggle, countering the natural elements impitoyables and countering the isolation; try to understand with reproach;

- you want to amuse yourself by staying in the large natural garden that are on the islands; enjoy yourself but, remember that everything that is here in place in nature has put many years to establish itself. If you intervene on the extremely fragile lands, it will take many generations to repair the damage that you will leave. A tree cut down for to warm yourself or to place your tent on will be an invitation to the wind to cut a furrow of destruction in the neighbouring forest;

- you find that the people here are slow to furnish you with services that you’re waiting for. Remember that the people here know still to wait for the tides. Cast anchor, calm your nerves, profit from the delays and contemplate what it is that you came to see.

With these conditions, and these conditions only, you are welcome to the islands, and your stay will be most agreeable.

If not, you will quickly be identified as a troubled holiday-maker, an importune and you will be treated with consequence. “You will be better then to take the next ferry or the next plane and return to where you came from. We don’t want that, but then truly not, that some days of abuse and of in conscience: pirates three centuries of heritage.

You are ready to play the game!... Welcome then and good stay...

Tourist Development Commission
of the Magdalen Islands
G. Carbonneau

Régles d’or du visiteur aux Iles~de~la~Madeleine

Bonjour ami visiteur, tu es ici sur la planète des “petits princes” que sont les Madelinots sur leur archipel. Tu es en séjour chez des gens au grand coeur qui ont mis trois siècles a faire des Iles un milieu de vie qui leur convient.

Tu désires certainement vivre ice un séjour des plus AGREABLES, sinon tu ne te serais pas imposé toute cette fatigue et toutes ces dépenses pour venir chez nous.

Tu tiens à être le BIENVENU, alors il te faudra respecter les “REGLES D’OR DU VISITEUR” que nous portons à ton attention:

- tu passes et séjournees seulement sur les propriétées où on aura eu la gentillesse de t’autoriser à le faire. Tous les terrains vagues des Iles sont des propriétés privées sauf les dunes qui sont des propriétés publiques. Prends note cependant que la circulation automobile est interdite sur les plages et que les feux de plage doivent être autorisés par the municipalitiés;

- tu fraterniseras avec des Madinots don’t tu découvriras rapidement l’affabilité et la générosité. Cultive ces qualités naturelles de tes hôtes, n’en abuse pas trop. Les fraises et les palourdes ne sautent pas toutes seules dans les pots;

- tu as raison de croire que le poisson est abondant mais il ne saute pas dans les barques de lui-même. Un homme s’est levé tôt au petit matin pour gagner sa vie en allant le pêcher. Payer’le lui un prix raisonnable, il n’est pas le Père Noel!;

- tu pourras observer chez les Madelinots des habitudes de vie qui leur sont particulières, elles sont l’héritage de trois siècles de lutte contre des éléments naturels implitoyables et contre l’isolement; essaie de les comprends sons les leur reprocher;

- Tu veux t’amuser a vivre dans l’immense jardin nature que sont les Iles; régale- toi mais, rappelle-toi que tout ce qui est ici en place dans la nature a mis plusieurs années à s’établir. Si tu interviens sur ce milieu extrêmement fragile, il faudra plusieurs générations pour réparer la plaie que tu y auras laissée. Un abre coupé pour te réchauffer ou faire place a ta tente sera une invitation au vent à tracer un sillon de destruction dans la forêt voisine;

- tu trouves que les gens d’ici son lents a te fournir le services que tu attends. Rappelle-toi que les gens d’ici savent encore attendre la marée. Jette l’ancre, calme te nerfs, profite des délais pour contempler ce qui t’entoure et que tu es venu voir.

A ces conditions, et à ces conditions seulement, tu es te BIENVENU aux Iles, et to séjour sera des plus agréables.

Sinon tu seras vite identifié conne un trouble-fête, un importun et tu seras traité en consequence. Tu ferais meiux alors de reprendre le prochain traversier ou le prochain avion et retourner d’où tu viens. On ne veut pas, bas alors vraiment pas, qu’en quelques jours d’abus et d’inconscience : pirates trois siècles d’héritage.

Tu es prêt a jouer le jeu!... BIENVENUE alors, et bon séjour...

Commission de Développement Touristique
Des Iles-de-la-Madeleine
G. Charbonneau


Friday, November 23, 2007

The American Lobster (Homarus americanus)

The American lobster is widely acclaimed for it's delicious meat and is the mainstay of the fishing industry on the Magdalen Islands. Their shell-armoured body is divided into two main sections, the combined head and thorax, and the six-jointed abdomen commonly called the "tail". There are two pairs of antennae, a complicated set of mouth parts, and two black eyes mounted on short movable stalks set on either side of a stout, spiny horn.

The body rests on four pairs of spindly, jointed walking legs, the first two pairs of which have small claws. Two large front legs provide the lobster with formidable tools for capturing food. The are well-armed with strong claws generously equipped with teeth and sharp spines. Usually, on claw is considerably heavier and is known as the "crusher" in contrast to the other, more slender "pincer". There is a series of small paddles or swimmerets on the underside of the abdomen, which ends in a wide, flattened tail fan.

The shell is often speckled with dark spots and varies in colour from greenish blue to reddish brown. Lobster are great scavengers and live chiefly on fish (dead or alive) and immobile or slow moving invertebrates such as mussels, sea urchins, crabs and worms which inhabit the sea bottom. Lobsters in the commercial catch are larger on the islands than elsewhere in North America because of the conservation methods implemented by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Quebec.

The annual commercial catch for the Magdalen Islands exceeds $50 million.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Joshua Clarke (1992-2000)

Heaven Was Needing A Hero - Like You

This is a tribute to 15-year-old Joshua Clarke, who tragically died in a car accident a couple of weeks before Hallowe'en, 2007, at the turn in Old Harry. The car in which he was a passenger, rolled over in in the field. Neither he nor the driver, young Brandon Clarke were wearing seat belts. Both were thrown from the car. Joshua was under the overturned car when the dust settled. He never regained consciousness.

At the time of his death, he was holding his baby sip cup in his hand. Earlier that day, he had said that it was the first cup he ever drank from and it would be the last cup he drank from. The handle of the cup was found in his hand, when the rescue team pull the car off him.

Paramedics managed to get his heart beating, but he was pronounced DOA at the hospital. Perhaps the saddest day of our community's generation was the day they put Josh into the ground.

His peer group will forever miss him. Joshua Clarke was the treasure of his mum and dad, Tracy and Simeon. May they find what little peace they can, in knowing that their son will be remembered by so many Magdalen Islanders.

"He was the life of the party!" some of his peer said.
These videos were created by Joy31977.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Christmas Craft Fund-Raiser

The Anglican Church in Grosse Isle, The Holy Trinity, is having their annual Christmas fund raiser.It will be held on December 1st, at the Family Church Hall in Grosse Isle. I have been honoured in supplying some of my islands photography for crafts to put up for sale. Ninety-two scenic photos were sent.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Record Drug Bust On The Islands

In Fatima last Saturday, October 27th, 2007 at 7:30 pm, the police arrested one man in possession of a sizeable quantity of illegal drugs. Tipped off by the public, the Surêté du Quebec (Quebec Police Force) from two municipalities seized 42lbs or 21.3kg of marijuana and one kilogram of pure cocaine, with a street value of more than $639,000. They also took advantage of the opportunity to seize the vehicle, a 2007 dark grey Honda Ridgeline valued at $40,000 and $5000 in cash as well as illegal weapons.

Thirty-five year old Yancy Gleeton from Montreal was arrested when 10 police officers, five from the islands and another five from Pabos, Quebec, stormed the vehicle in question while it was parked in the parking lot of the Co-op L’Eveil of Fatima. The suspect, Gleeton was arraigned in the courthouse in Amherst, on drug possession charges, Monday October 29th. He will face her Honor Judge Mrs. Louise Gallant at 3:00 pm, where he will be charged with two different files. First will be the charge of carrying illegal weapons and the second will be the possession of drugs.

This operation and investigation were several weeks in progress when the arrest occurred. The Municipalities Police Force wishes to thank the public for their information leading to this arrest.