Friday, August 18, 2006

Day 5...Our Cross Canada Tour.... East to West

Day 5

The morning was bright and warm and we had a full day planned. Our first stop was in the Town of Cochrane, population 5,400 to see the Cochrane Polar Bear Conservation & Education Habitat & Heritage Village.

The Polar Bear Habitat is a rescue/rehabilitation facility. They rescue bears from substandard living environments in circuses, zoos, private ownership, and the wild. After a period of rehabilitation, new high standard homes are found.

There was a very informative interpreter there at poolside. There were great photo opportunities as well. One bear that was swimming back and forth on her back was a silver gray color. The interpreter said that a polar bear’s skin is black and the reason she was gray was because she had lost so much hair from swimming too much and it was her black skin showing from under what little hair she had left. The interpreter said that the bear was not well and her behavior represented a nervous disorder.

After the children got finished with swimming in a pool with the bears, of coarse the two pools were separated by thick glass, they gathered round to hear more about the bears. The interpreter said that polar bears are meat eaters, and in the wild if they see you, they will hunt you down and eat you. That got quite a reaction from the kids.

Next we visited the Hunta Museum Heritage Village. This entire center was built two years ago and in 2005 they were winners of the Innovation Award, it was hard to figure out why. The displays of old machinery and new buildings built to represent the by-gone era were so well put together and explained by such knowledgeable interpreters.

Richard and I were sorry we were going to miss Pioneer Days when the town’s people pull out the old machines to show what they can do. If you would like to learn more about this wonderful center visit their web site at

We had our lunch at the picnic area supplied by the center, and then went to tour the rest of the Town of Cochrane. We had obtain a brochure from the towns well stocked and well run Information Center about an art gallery. It wasn’t hard to find, but the side road to it was rough. We went over one bump and the dishes came crashing out of the cupboard. What a mess! It was plain to see we needed something to keep the doors secure. Necessity is the mother of invention, and we had no store bought gagets, so we tore strips off some clean rags I had brought along. Not- so- fancy ties now secured all cupboard doors.

The name of the art gallery was Jerkwater Art Gallery, the largest Native art gallery in Northern Ontario. Once inside the artist’s husband, Lawrence Ehjwateh, who also was the mayor of the Town of Cochrane, greeted us. We were invited to browse and enjoy the many beautiful paintings done by his wife Betty.

We had just a wonderful time talking to Lawrence, and he was very much involved with his wife’s work. First, the building that housed the paintings had been an old abandon Legion. The workmanship in restoring the building was of the highest quality done by Lawrence himself. Next he showed us his back workshop where he made reprints, matted, shrink wrapped and framed his wife’s paintings.

We were so fortunate, for Betty arrived and gave us a personal tour of her work explaining her inspiration of her works. I shared with Betty what The Artistic Sphere Group is doing in our area and she was genuinely interested. She said that once we got our own gallery up and running she would love to come and do an exhibit, fair and workshop in Petitcodiac.

On another note, Lawrence, as well as being Mayor and helping Betty, he is very much into music. A few years ago he won a Juno Award, and that he soon will have a new CD ready for release. We are going to keep in touch.

Our next stop was go into the Town of Iroquois Falls, population 6,500 and take in a rock concert, starring Alannah Myles. This was an event that was part of Iroquois Falls Summer Paperfest. Neither Richard nor I had ever been to a rock concert, complete with a beer garden, but we about to experience one.

Of course there were two local groups that played two hours before Alannah Myles came out to reform. With fingers stuck in our ears we persevered, for I so much wanted to hear her Grammy Award Winning song “Black Velvet.” The two local groups gave it their all, but we couldn’t understand a word they were singing.

Finally Alannah Myles came on stage. The crowd swarmed to stand in front of the stage, while Richard and I ran to the bleachers for more comfortable seats and hoping the plexie glass would stop some of the sound. It didn’t. We couldn’t understand anything Alannah was saying or singing, but it had to be us for the crowd below was screaming “We Love You Alannah!” and we did hear her tell them she loved them too. Yeah!

Well, by now our heads were beginning to pound with the noise, oh I mean music, she hadn’t sung Black Velvet yet, but we couldn’t bear any more. We went back to our campsite where they were just finishing up doing Karaoke tunes such as Crazy, I Love You because, and more. Richard and I just looked at one another, shrugged our shoulders, and went to bed.


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