Thursday 25 April 2013

A Normal Day in Pictures

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Neatly Stacked Traps About to me Moved
The phone rings at, honestly I don't know when. My father, Captain Cyril Fraser, calls to tell me we have to get the traps down to the wharf early because the weather has changed. I walk to work and we start on the traps.

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In 1996 Oprah started her book club. She's off the air, but our truck is still running.

Captain Cyril Fraser (my father), Cheryl (my sister), and I work hard repairing the lobster traps and stacking them aboard the old 1996 Chevrolet Silveardo.  Each trap weighs around 60 pounds, is made of wire, coated and lasts a long time. Some of our wire traps are over twenty years old and still fishing.

After a bit of work, we managed to get some traps tiered on the wharf. You can't see Cheryl because she is doing a great job working away and taking all the pictures.

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Ray (me) and the traps
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I've had that red/black sweater since the formation of the nWo.

oshan whale watch, lobster trap, cape breton, nova scotia, cabot trail, canada, northern cape breton

For the complete gallery of getting the traps ready in beautiful Bay St. Lawrence, please visit our flickr photo set found here:
Spring Time Trap Stacking

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Five High, Four Wide.

I had to stop stacking at lunch because this guy needed to get an infection checked on at the vet:

Check out Rupert on the right hand side of the following page, he is a favourite aboard Oshan Whale Watch 
Sure, it is around three hours one way to the vet, but the views along the way are nice.

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This picture is taken just before Cape Breton's Cabot Landing: a scenic, sandy Provincial Park marking the landing site for the world famous explorer John Cabot.
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Smokey Mountain (above) is a great cycle to try after you've cycled from Bay St. Lawrence to Meat Cove

Rupert got a good report from the vet. His infection hasn't gotten worse, but he needs some more antibiotics.  The folks at the Baddeck Veterinary Clinic have always been nice to our pets such as our dogs Rupert and Jake (asleep by the rock above my parents' house), plus Johnny: Northern Cape Breton's Most Famous Horse. After Rupert was settled in the car, I decided to venture south to Yankee Line Road where I discovered this:

big spruce brewing,  big, spruce, brewing, cape breton, nova scotia, cabot trail, canada, nyanza, organic beer, organic, eat local, local
Beer? In Nyanza? Organic Beer in Nyanza? Organic Beer with their own garden? Talk about eating local. My, my, my, what a delight.

In fact, "Big Spruce Brewing is Nova Scotia's First, on-farm craft brewery and hop yard." And that my friend comes straight from the back of their bottle. Well, I quickly sampled their wares and liked it so much that on the spot I gave them ten free Oshan Whale Watch passes to give out to their customers.

Good thing I follow road signs.

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I forgot, this is supposed to be a pictorial blog. For information on Jeremy White and his wonderful business check out  Big Spruce Brewing's facebook and twitter pages.

I went home with two growlers of delicious Cereal Killer Oatmeal Stout. I took special care to secure them in a cooler-bag behind the back seat. The drive home was nice. I've always liked the valley on Bay St. Lawrence Road, pictured below on the left. The valley is a great place to walk and cycle.

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The Road to Bay St. Lawrence
oshan whale watch, lobster trap, cape breton, nova scotia, cabot trail, canada, northern cape breton
Nicer still to see that Cheryl and Dad worked hard while I was gone.

There are more traps to stack tomorrow and there will be more fishing related work after that. The rope and buoys need to come down. The boat needs to be launched. And everything, absolutely everything needs to be tripled checked. Good thing I brought some stuff back from Big Spruce to help relax the muscles after a hard day's work and fun day's drive.

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Best Lobster Trap Ever

Monday 22 April 2013

A Poem on Earth Day by Ray Alexander Fraser

The Coywolf Lopes at Night


Ray Alexander Fraser

The coywolf lopes at night:
Looking through your windows,
Looking through your dreams.
She eats your moon
And wipes her face with its beams

You think you can encroach?
Taking rivers from her land,
Giving her power to the south,
While starving her pack:
You can’t starve her at the mouth,

For she is howling strong.
And her call is returned,
Joined by coyotes, wolves and dogs.
We drown you out:
Irrelevanting your drove of hogs.

Hear us, call us, return us from glen to shore.
We stand proud, together, idle no more.

Friday 19 April 2013

My Daughter and I: Winter Skiing

I never went cross country (Nordic) skiing in my life until the winter of 2012. Growing up I had an obsessive personality. I fell in love with hockey at a young age and I didn't let go. I spent virtually every day of my youth playing either ice or floor hockey: it was wonderful. In a way it was a shame I was obsessed with hockey because Northern Cape Breton has world class cross country skiing at North Highlands Nordic on the Cabot Trail.

When my wife found out about a Bunny Rabbit Ski program (3-5 years old) from a co-worker, I was intrigued. Naturally, my obsessive personality kicked it so I signed on to be a coach and I jumped on the skis. Now, I have had a history of injuries and knee problems, damn ligaments, so I was a tad bit nervous when I started off. Well, in a matter of seconds I was skiing classic style and strutting up the hill. I had no problem lagging behind the group of experienced skiers because I felt no pain. And I had no problem taking my time snow plowing, turning on the spot, getting up and falling down because, once again, I felt no pain. Not only that, I felt a certain sense of freedom as I glided along, gently cradled by the wind, across the smooth, white, natural snow; a certain sense of freedom that I haven't felt since the time before I suffered several injuries many years ago.

When I took my daughter skiing, I saw that feeling of freedom in her eyes as she bounded up the hill in a jumbled line with her bunny rabbit friends. Then I saw something else. On the way down, when I'd scoot ahead of her, so I could watch her pumping her little arms to zoom down the hill, I saw that other thing that we as adults tend to forget. When she screamed "Aren't I fast Daddy! Aren't I fast!" I could see that feeling of empowerment children get when they think they can conquer the world through their imagination alone.

You know what, we can.

It delights me to say that I have finally tried Nordic skiing and that I loved it! It delights me even more that my daughter seems to love it as much as I loved hockey. I look forward to next year when she, and hopefully her sister, can head to North Highlands Nordic on the weekends.

This morning, as she looked out the window to the dwindling drift of snow in the back yard she said, "I can't wait to go skiing Daddy."

I told her that "skiing won't be until next year, next winter sweetie."

"Then I can't wait for next winter Daddy," she replied.

Thank you North Highlands Nordic, do you know where I can buy a good pair of roller skis for a soon-to-be 4 year old?

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Honora (big smile, far left) and Her Bunny Rabbit Friends

Tuesday 16 April 2013

A Poem by Ray Alexander Fraser

The Highlands of Cape Breton are Whispering the Spring Thaw


Ray Alexander Fraser

The Highlands of Cape Breton are whispering the spring thaw: 
The seagulls squeak, the eagles screech and the crows start to caw. 
The wind shifts, the birch lean and the spruce stand their best, 
The Highlands of Cape Breton begin their slow chant of West. 

It rises up to Cape St. Lawrence across the melting seas; 
It spins with the tides, circles around and bends back to the trees; 
It carries through the flat harbour of St. Lawrence's Bay, 
Stopping at the Crosses, wailing West as it makes way. 

West. West. West. 
The Highlands continue their wail, continue their lament. 
West. West. West. 
The northern ocean rumbles, filled with discontent. 
West. West. West. 
The mighty whales thrash about the shore crashing to the sand. 
West. West. West.
The chant will not stop until you bring your clan to this fabled land.

Tuesday 9 April 2013

The Star Streaking Sky of Northern Cape Breton

Did you know that Northern Cape Breton has the least amount of light pollution in all of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia? You can barely see our region from space even when it isn't Earth Hour! The Park, Meat Cove, the hill behind my house, and many other areas are naturally unlit: making Northern Cape Breton a great location for star gazing and watching meteor showers streak through the sky.

I spent  plenty of nights on my front step lounging with my good friend Michael MacKinnon star gazing, meteor gazing and dream gazing; we have looked to the night sky as children, teenagers, young men and now with our children who are just as amazed by the diamond, twinkling sky as we are. The beauty of a falling star on a cold winter's night streaking above the drift ice; the explosion of shooting star during an outdoor music festival at the Bay St. Lawrence Community Centre bringing a round of applause from the raucous revelers, and the argument over whether that is a big pot or big bear with my Belgium friend, are all fond memories of my amateur star gazing adventures.

In fact, one of the highlights of my Philadelphia family's summer vacation was enjoying the famous Perseids shower in August. Sitting on their deck at night, at the end of Money Point Road in Bay St. Lawrence, at the foot of the Highlands, on a cliff, above a rocky cove filled with pristine water and wandering whales, we'd chance the spotting of a Lynx, but were guaranteed a brilliant display of star-shooting majesty across an unending, unpolluted Cape Breton skyline.

I am excited. April showers bring nighttime photo opportunities: a spring meteor shower is coming this month on the weekend of April 21nd, the Lyrids Meteor Shower. The best part about the Lyrdis meteor shower, is that even if it is cloudy or raining a little, there is nothing more peaceful than sitting by the edge of a cliff, in the dark, staring out over the ocean, while gazing at the sky. There are many starry showers throughout the year. The only way to truly experience these showers is under the brilliance of the naturally lit sky, in the crisp clean, starlit air of Northern Cape Breton. I implore you to stay up late or get up early to enjoy the star-filled night-sky of Northern Cape Breton, especially when those stars are shooting, falling and dancing in the dark. 

Here is good website for Meteor Shower Guides for 2013:

Star Showers of the World

Saturday 6 August 2011

Northern Cape Breton On Film

Whales with Northern Cape Breton Nova Scotia'Highlands as the Backdrop

We purchased a video camera for Oshan Whale Watch and the First Mate Cheryl Fraser, has been taking some lovely videos and I have been uploading them to YouTube (above). You know how it goes, you buy a Volkswagen  so all you see on the road is Vokswagons; naturally, I have been watching more videos than I have been uploading. Here are some the treats I found when I was supposed to be working.

Above is a video of setting Lobster Traps in Neil's Harbour.

 I like this video a lot because, well, I'm a fishermen and because they use similar lobster traps to us, so it easy for me to be biased.  Further, I went to high school with the gentleman who uploaded the video.  We haven't talked in a while, but if I saw him on the wharf we'd lean against the traps and have a nice chat about hockey, fishing, and the weather - which is not idle conversation when you work on the sea.  It would be just like it was fifteen years ago, except back then it was hockey, girls, and the weather.

The next video I liked is one by Eagle North Kayak 

I am extremely biased towards Eagle North Kayak because their owner, capebretonmike on youtube, and I were both in the Drama Club together at Cabot Jr/Sr High (I was the junior at the time), and capebretonmike was a founding member of the Cabot Jr/Sr High Environmental Club; I joined shortly after it was created.

When I planned to write this blog, I figured I would just showcase videos by people that I know, because, well, I am biased.  But, the following video was too cute for me to pass up.

Did John Cabot get that reaction when he landed?

Now, how do you get to the Aspy Bay Dive Bomber's location? How the heck should I know? I am a whale watching fisherman with no time for hikes in the summer, but guess what? A friend of mine, Dennis Doyon, runs a guided adventures business, Sea Spray Outdoor Adventures, and he would gladly take you to places like this. Since I mentioned Dennis, he would be upset if I didn't include some winter videos, which is his favourite time of year.

It's Spring-time in Northern Cape Breton, which to us is still Winter!

Lastly, I will post the two most biased videos without commenting on them, because even I have to admit these videos are added because they are personal to me. One is of my mother's home village of Meat Cove, the other is of a sunset filmed above my house.

Well, I thoroughly enjoyed looking through some videos of Northern Cape Breton, I really should be working and I shouldn't be looking forward to winter, but I love winter and all its frigid glory.

I know, this is a blog which ended up being more biased than I planned. But what can I say, when you live at the Top of Nova Scotia you might be biased, but you are also blessed.

Saturday 16 July 2011

Bay Saint Lawrence Fishing Derby and Crab Fest 20th Anniversary

Tomorrow—17 July 2011—is the annual Bay Saint Lawrence Fishing Derby and Crab FestThe Bay Saint Lawrence Fire Department organizes this unique event, which is embraced by the residents’ of Bay Saint Lawrence and the surrounding communities of Northern Cape Breton. For twenty years, locals who have moved away to work and travellers from away plan their vacation around this date.

Twenty years ago I was twelve years old and was an eager participant in the Derby. Tomorrow, I will be responsible for tabulating the results of the fish with my good friend Amy.  Twenty years ago I was so excited to use the jig and pull in fish, after fish, after fish in our old wooden boat the Nancy and Sherry. Tomorrow, I will be on shore with my volunteer fire fighter pager. Times have changed, but the fun in the fishing remains the same: the best part of the Derby is watching the kids win.

 Nearly every local business donates a prize, so the Derby is a wonderful fundraiser for the Fire Hall. However, though the Derby is a local treasure, what most people travel to Bay Saint Lawrence for tomorrow is the Snow Crab Fest. All of the snow crab for the Festival is donated by local fishermen. The fishermen take pride in both catching and donating the crab. Volunteers at the Fire Hall take pride in preparing and serving the crab.

The Bay Saint Lawrence Fishing Derby and Crab Fest offers you a unique home-cooked experience:

Home-caught fish for a home-run Derby.

Home-caught crab. Home-cooked crab.

Home-served cab. Homemade volunteers.

It is a great day and I hope to see you with some fish and eating some snow crab.