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Why Does History Matter? — June 20, 2017

Why Does History Matter?

This is based off a speech I presented at a Pro-D Workshop, with ideas from <https://www.historians.org/about-aha-and-membership/aha-history-and-archives/archives/why-study-history-(1998)&gt;.

M6467 Public Lectures Michael Wood plasma_tcm44-81344

We learn about history in schools and countless books are written about it. But historians can’t save lives like doctors, create more effective technology like engineers, or fill our pleasure time like singers and actors. While people can be attracted to history purely because of the information, most people live in the present and prepare for the future. Where does the past fit into this?

The past teaches us about people; it is a pattern of humanity’s actions and reactions. History offers us explanations and evidence for how people behave as a society. How can we understand war as a peaceful country, technological advancements, and the function of family in a community without history? We draw on the past to understand change, its factors, and how we respond to it. Only with this information are we able to deal with its effects and move forward.

In trying to reconstruct the past, we stumble across art, music, and stories of people who once lived. These sources of information can paint for us a different society and people. It also offers us new perspectives on religion, ethics, and politics.

History also gives people an identity; the feeling of being part of a larger story. Without memories, a person would lose their very identity, likewise, without history, we would lose their place in the world. The history of a country or race can bring people together. This information is very powerful in bringing about a sense of loyalty to one’s country and people, but can also lead to nationalism and racial prejudice.

Also, many courageous and intelligent men and women of history are examples for people today. These historical figures, often romanticized, give us an ideal to look up to. Sacagawea, Joan of Arc, Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi; the list goes on of people who have shaken the world

So why does history matter? History is a powerful tool is bringing people together and analyzing our past and its patterns can help us make our decision for a better future. The past influences the present, and the present influences the future, so history also helps us understand the factors that lead to our world today, and how we can manipulate that to create a brighter future.



Ottawa — June 1, 2017


Ottawa is a beautiful city rich with history, heritage, and culture, all of which I was fortunate enough to experience and discover a month ago. In Ottawa I participated in a youth program called Encounters with Canada, which is a government-sponsored weeklong program open to Canadian high school students. Each week has a theme that focuses on different real-world occupations and opportunities, and participants sign up for a theme week based on their interests. The program presents the participants with the opportunity to learn about their chosen topic in a fun, interactive way, while also experiencing the city of Ottawa.

Encounters with Canada changed me and changed my life, and to date, possibly might have been the best week of my life. For a year I had been looking forward to this trip, then all of a sudden, it was happening. I remember that I was full of nervous and excited energy before departing the Vancouver International Airport. It was my first trip alone and I was going to a city on the other side of the country without my family and I didn’t really know what to expect, but I knew that it would be an incredible experience. It definitely was.

The theme week that I chose was Science and Ecology and the activities we did as a part of our week were quite fun and interesting. We spent a day at the St Lawrence River Institute catching fish and invertebrates, and then learning how to tag the fish and looking at the invertebrates under microscopes. We also tested water samples for acidity and temperature among other things and discovered some Ontario trees. The next day we travelled to Montebello, Quebec, for a wildlife safari at Parc Omega. I’ve never seen most of those animals in real life before and it was really cool to be so close to them. Speakers were also brought into the Terry Fox Canadian Youth Centre where we were staying and we learned about conservation, the environment, and wildlife.

One of the best things of the whole experience was meeting new people from all over the country and becoming friends with many of them. After one week I now have friends in New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, Quebec, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, more places in British Columbia, and the Yukon Territory. One thing I love to do is make friends with people who live in other places. Some of our lifestyles are so different and I found it very interesting to learn about them, it gives me a new outlook on my own life. For example, I always considered my school to be small at around six hundred students, and it is for the North Shore, but when I met people who lived in towns of two hundred it really gave me a new perspective on what small actually can be. The biggest difference I found to be was that of my North Vancouver coastal life compared to that of my friends in the prairies, many of whom live on ranches on the outskirts of small towns. A month later I am still discovering new things about my country from friends in other provinces, and even different regions of British Columbia.

Encounters with Canada is a bilingual program and this enables students to be exposed to both of the country’s official languages. It provides an opportunity to learn and improve one’s French or English communication skills. In my case it helped to improve my French, which I am proud to say because I love the French language and I want to become fluent in it. I made some new friends from Quebec and New Brunswick and spoke with them a bit in French, and now we keep in contact by texting in French.

One of the biggest sponsors of the program is Historica Canada, so on the last day we did activities involving Canadian Heritage Minutes, watching existing ones and coming up with ideas for new ones. We visited museums, monuments, and other important buildings. The first day we toured the Parliament Building and learned about its history and the history of our government. Another historical aspect of Encounters was Wednesday’s Peace Module, when we listened to Canadian veteran Major Wayne McCulloch speak about his peacekeeping career and then after we went to Beechwood Cemetery for a candle-lighting ceremony. Being there amongst many of the fallen soldiers who sacrificed their lives fighting for Canada in World War made me feel something I can’t explain, a sense of sadness and regret, but also thankfulness and patriotism. It is a deeper feeling, a more meaningful awareness that can’t come from learning about the wars from a textbook.

Travelling to different places and meeting people from other regions of Canada is a great way to learn about the country. Ottawa has so much historical and current importance to the development of our country. I certainly learned more about Canada, especially in regards to politics and culture, by visiting and touring the city in person. I am very thankful that I had an opportunity to participate in such a valuable program like Encounters with Canada because it helped me gain appreciation for our large and wonderfully diverse country and its heritage. The best advice that I can give to someone who would like to learn more about our country, or really any country, is to get out and meet new people and see new places. The experience is life changing and eye opening, and one that you will remember forever. It also helped me feel more connected to my fellow Canadians and to my country for having had this incredible experience



By Siobhan

Vaisakhi — May 13, 2017



This past April 22 400,000 people from many places attended the annual 2017 Vaisakhi Day Parade. Vaisakhi is a celebration of the birth of Khalsa. This event is open to everyone, and is a day where people come together as a community. The parade features cultural floats, community performers, live music and free food.

Many of us might attend the parade for the experience and that’s totally fine but I believe that when you go to the celebration you should be educated about what Vaisakhi means and what it did for Sikhs.

Vaisakhi is the festival that celebrates the founding of the Sikh community known as the Khalsa. It is celebrated on April 13 each year, however both the Vancouver and Surrey event takes place on different days. On April 13 1699 Guru (god) Gobind Singh asked Sikhs (any human who faithfully believes in one Immortal being) from all over India to come to the city of Anandpur Sahib. At the gathering Guru Gobind Singh asked Sikhs to support their faith and preserve the Sikh religion. Guru Gobind Singh then lifted his sword and asked that anyone prepared to give his life for his faith to come forward. After his command there was big silence, but Guru Gobind Singh didn’t stop repeating his demand. Then one brave Sikh step out of the crowd and followed the Guru into a tent. Then shortly after, the Guru came out of the tent alone with his sword covered with blood, and asked for another volunteer. Another brave soul came forward again followed the Guru into the tent. Guru Gobind Singh came out of the tent alone with his sword again covered in blood. This was repeated until five Sikhs had stepped forward to offer their heads to the Guru and Sikh religion. Finally, the Guru came out of the tent with the five men dressed in royal blue. Guru Gobind Singh called these five Sikhs the Panj Pyare; this means the Five Beloved Ones. The Guru and his wife baptized the Panj Pyare. Then the Guru knelt before the Panj Pyare and asked them to baptize him as well. The Panj Pyare were the first members of Khalsa, and the new Sikh community. Then the Guru gave all members of Khalsa five symbols of purity and courage. These were the five K’s. Guru Gobind Singh gave all Khalsa men the surname Singh, which means lion; this was to represent their bravery. All women of Khalsa were given the surname Kaur which means princess; this was to emphasize dignity. Guru Gobind Singh gave all Sikhs the opportunity to live their lives with courage, sacrifice, and equality. These Sikhs were to live their lives to the service of others. This is how Khalsa came to be.

The act of giving out free food is called seva, seva the act of selfless service. Guru Nanak Dev Ji was the first Guru to promoted seva in gurdwaras (temples). Langar is a term used in the Sikh religion for the open kitchen where food is served in a gurdwara to all the visitors, without distinction of faith, religion or background, for free. Langar was an idea Guru Nanak adopted, and it upholds the principle of equality between everyone regardless of colour, age, caste, religion, age, gender or social status. Langer is not only served in gurdwaras but can be serviced anywhere. At the Vaisakhi parade local business and other residents open up their own kitchens to people in attendance. They make langar and do seva. They idea langer was ultimately an act that make everyone equal, if you were wealth you ate langer, if you were struggling to make ends meet you ate langer. Everyone was served the same food.

I personally think that in our day and age some people abuse the power of having langer. Some go the Vaisakhi parade just to eat but don’t realize what it means. But then again Guru Nanak wanted to open up kitchens to everyone regardless of their intentions. When you to Vaisakhi parade I encourage you to eat the food but be thankful of the langar being serviced and the seva being done.

Ultimately Vaisakhi is a day where people celebrate the birth of Khalsa.

I encourage everyone to go the next Vaisakhi parade because it is a great experience. I also encourage everyone to do there own seva. It doesn’t have to be at the parade or at a gurdwara; it can be anywhere.


My Visit to Vimy Ridge for the 100th Anniversary — May 8, 2017

My Visit to Vimy Ridge for the 100th Anniversary

For those that do not know me, I have just returned from France. I lived there for three months, went to school, and experienced their culture. Of course, since I lived right near the memorial, it was an obligation to go. This blog post will concentrate more so on my travels around Vimy Ridge as well as what I learned there.

The ceremony of April 9th; the 100th anniversary, was a popular topic around Canada, and unfortunately, I did not get to go (I was travelling somewhere else that weekend). Instead, I went the weekend before.

The day started off with a visit to Arras. Arras was a bigger city that had been taken over by the Germans, and it was there where the British Army launched their attack.



Near Arras is the much smaller city of Farbus, and it was there where I attended a ceremony honouring Canadians. They were thrilled that I was going to be in attendance, and in a sense, I was made the guest of honour.

There were a few French people who had volunteered to dress up as soldiers and nurses, and they stood in line as the mayor introduced me to the crowd. I even got a poster from the event (signed by the mayor) to thank me on behalf of all Canadians for freeing them and their town.

The band played O Canada, and I (draped in my Canadian flag) sang (or, I tried to sing).

It’s hard to describe the emotions that go through you, but I don’t think I have ever been more proud to be Canadian than I was on that day. To see these people, from a whole other continent, taking their time to honour us was incredible. There were Canadian flags everywhere. Walking around town, they were on every house. I loved wearing our flag that day.

They had tents set up full of different artifacts, and the people who had dressed up as soldiers were actually professionals on these said artifacts. There were a variety of different guns laid out. I clearly remember a sort of binocular tool as well. You looked at the approaching soldier and based off how much of his body you could see (and I believe the angle had something to do with it as well) you could tell how far away he was (which helped with choosing which gun to shoot and how to aim it).

They then offered a walking tour of their town to demonstrate which parts came into play throughout the war. This tour started off in the forest. 100 years since the war, and the ground is incredibly uneven due to the trenches. At the Vimy Ridge memorial, the trenches are maintained to show the history, but in this little town, no effort has been made and they’re still there. There were even small concrete structures that sheltered canons. The Germans used the security of the forest to shoot on Arras, the bigger city.


Much of the land is now farmland and farmers find objects daily. Depending on what they find, they may have to call people to come verify that the mines are not still active. Though it’s becoming rarer, farmers still find skeletons as they work their fields.

Next, we headed down to another tented area. This new tented area was to teach more so about medicine throughout the war. Further back (on the lines), there were better equipped, hospital type tents, but what they taught us about was the front line medicine (more of an infirmary). It was a tent with very few items as the infirmary moved with the line; when the soldiers advanced, so did they, and when they retreated, so did the infirmary.

Therefore, they did not have the top quality medicine. They did their best with the wounded. All patients had pieces of cloth covering their eyes, not because their eyes were ruined, but because the flies would come eat their eyes (since they were ill, they weren’t moving around). Nurses filled out little pieces of paper so that when the doctor came, he would know immediately what had to be done, and was therefore able to save time. Every soldier had a sort of metal plaque bearing their information, and originally, when a soldier died, they would break that plaque in two. The first half would be placed under the soldier’s tongue and the second half was sent to the family. However, they quickly discovered that the plaques rusted in the soldiers’ mouths and became unidentifiable. The new solution was to write the information on a piece of paper and put that paper in a bottle. The bottle was tucked into the soldier’s arm, and this way they would be able to identify the soldier without disturbing the body too much.

Another utility in the war were the dogs. Dogs typically had two owners; one on the front line, and one further back. Also, if one of the owners died, then the dog still had someone. The dogs were one way of sending messages (and they estimate that about two million messages were sent from the front line to the back and vice versa daily). All the soldiers on the front line always wanted to ensure they were sending words to their family while they could.

Dogs could also be used to send medicine or get other necessities, but some soldiers used them at night. One man recounted his grandfather’s story. The man had a dog, and at night, he would rely on the dog to get around. The dog could sense whenever an enemy was coming, and would immediately crouch down, followed by the man. This way, when the enemy arrived, shining their flashlight ahead, they would see no one. As soon as they were gone, the dog would get up and carry on. That man and his dog were never caught.

They also said how the Germans were particularly looking for dogs during the war. They even had advertisements amongst the French people; they were offering to buy dogs, they would pick up dogs if they found them, etc. In short, dogs were incredibly useful.


Next, we headed to the real Canadian memorial. This was the last stop of the day, and it was incredibly moving. The memorial is even more beautiful in person, for those who have not gone. The names are all carved into it. When I remember that day, I also remember all the trees. They planted one tree for every Canadian soldier that died. There were so many trees. And of course, you couldn’t go anywhere near the trees as there is the risk of active land mines still being in the area.

I made sure to take out my Canadian flag to take a picture on the memorial, and even strangers walking by took pictures of me. I believe that more people at that memorial are Canadian than they are French; most people you walk by are speaking in English.


We also visited a beautiful Commonwealth cemetery and took pictures of the sheep that they have in the area. They use the sheep to “mow” the lawn, since lawnmowers couldn’t put up with all the hills from the trenches.



That memorial was strangely comforting for me. Canada “owns” a few kilometers of land where the memorial stands, so after being in France for so many months, so far away from home, I was happy to be at the memorial. It brought me that much closer to home; after all, I technically made a day trip to Canada.

Sources: my memory (all pictures taken by me)

Author: Julia

The Great Bear Rainforest — May 2, 2017

The Great Bear Rainforest


For almost two decades, environmentalist and First Nations have gone through conflicts after conflicts with the government in order to protect the Great Bear Rainforest. The Great Bear Rainforest is the largest coastal temperate rainforest in the world, spanning 21 million acres. It’s home to many ancient cedar trees, grizzly bears, cougar, salmon, wolves, and the rare white kermode, or more commonly known as the ‘spirit’ bear. In February 2016, an agreement was reached to protect 85% of the rainforest from industrial logging. But what lead to this agreement and why is the rainforest so important?

For centuries, First Nations have lived on the lands of the Great Bear Rainforest. Today, the region still remains home to First Nations people whose histories, identities and spirituality are linked to the lands and waters of the rainforest. They continue to protect and assert their rights and title throughout the Great Bear Rainforest. After all, it is unceded territory of the Coastal First Nations.


During the mid-1990s, the rainforest was highly threatened by industrial logging and mining. Habitat for bears, eagles, and salmon was being destroyed in the unceded traditional territories of many First Nations, as their leadership and governments had no say over decisions impacting their communities and their territories. Environmentalist and First Nations combined forces and did everything they could to stop the logging operations. The environmental protests had reached their fullest as activists tried to block timber operations in remote logging camps, board ships carrying Canadian pulp overseas, hang from banners draped over corporate headquarters, and bought ad space in publications, such as The New York Times. By 1999, logging companies and environmental activists had agreed to a ceasefire in the Great Bear Rainforest, which meant no more international markets campaigns in exchange for a logging standstill in 100 of the intact rainforest valleys.

Despite the anti-logging protests of environmental activists, it was never as simple as ‘pack up and leave’ for timber companies in the Great Bear Rainforest. Loggers have been in the region for more than 100 years. By the 1990s, most of the timber harvesting rights in the Great Bear Rainforest were held by three major logging companies: International Forest Products, MacMillan Bloedel and Western Forest Products. TimberWest (logging company) had a license to log in the southernmost 2% of the Great Bear Rainforest, located on and around northern Vancouver Island. In 2000, when the CFCI (Coast Forest Conservation Initiative) partnered up with three environmental groups to design land use solutions for the Great Bear Rainforest, TimberWest stayed out of the mix.


After many hard years of negotiation, landmark conservation announcements were secured in 2006 and 2009. Stakeholders rejoiced in a new plan of ecosystem-based management that would not only preserve 70% of the rainforest natural variation, but strengthen and enhance the livelihoods of First Nations communities as well. On February 1, 2016, Premier Christy Clark announced an agreement that had been reached between the province of British Columbia, First Nations, environmentalists and the forestry industry to protect 85% of the 6.4 million hectare Great Bear Rainforest from industrial logging. Reaching the goal to protect the rainforest.  Today, only 15% of the Great Bear Rainforest remains open to commercial logging, but the timber industry now has assurances that as long as they abide by the rules, no one will come after them with torches and pitchforks.

When First Nations, government officials and stakeholders celebrated victory on the Great Bear Rainforest Agreement this week, they celebrated not only the protection of an enormous amount of old-growth forest in one of North America’s greatest natural treasures, but also the resolution of conflict between parties that 20 years ago, that refused to look each other in the eye.


Technology, War and Humanity — April 24, 2017

Technology, War and Humanity

One may wonder at what points do these three things, technology, war and humanity, coincide as one.  My path to this discovery is as follows.

Across Canada, April 9th marked the 100th anniversary of an identifying moment in Canadian history, the Battle of Vimy Ridge.  Since learning about this historical event, it has been my favourite moment along Canada’s journey to reach the present day, as it was one of the greatest battles led by Canada during World War I.  Beginning on April 19, 1997, the Battle of Vimy Ridge lasted three days of heavy combat before the Canadian troops were the only ones to emerge victorious.  Though many people had been lost over the course of the previous three days, this battle left such a great impact on the Canada as a whole.  In the end, while Canadians from across the country together delivered an unprecedented victory, they also proved to themselves and everyone else that they were their own united people, spreading feelings of nationalism across the country.  Today, the Vimy Memorial, located at the sight of the battle, stands to honour all Canadians who served in the Great War of 1914 – 1918.


While I spent much of April 9th reflecting on all things Vimy Ridge, it also happened to get me thinking about greater aspects of war and tactics.  Thus I came up with my first topic of research:

“How did the nature of warfare and technology contribute to World War I?”

The Great War commenced on the 28th day of July 1914, and though many believed that the fighting would cease by Christmas of that year, the war continued to be a reality for people across the globe well into 1918.  The types of warfare used in World War I can often be identified by the military strategies that developed around the technological advances of that time.

For the first three years of the World War I, the military generals involved their troops in a war of attrition; a military strategy based on exhausting the enemy’s manpower and resources before their own were depleted.  This strategy proved to result in heavy casualties on both sides as a result of the new war technologies that were being developed.  These advancements in war technologies could be found on land, in the air and at sea.

Technology such as machine guns, artillery, war tanks and poisonous gases was developed for use on land.  Rifles that required soldiers to manually insert gunpowder were replaced by machine guns and artillery that were crafted to fire 400 to 500 rounds per minute, or send explosive shells 130 kilometres away.  This resulted in casualties followed by a stalemate that fostered the war of attrition as men were ordered “over the top,” only to be immediately mowed down by snipers or blown up by shells.  War tanks were finally able to withstand the force of machine guns, artillery and barbed wire, which allowed soldiers to advance in no man’s land and declare the trench warfare system obsolete.  On the battlefield, the Germans were the first to use chlorine gas, originally outlawed by international agreement, to suffocate soldiers to death.

In the air, technology such as dirigibles and biplanes were essentials of warfare.  Though they were not invented during the course of the war, they were originally used in reconnaissance missions (i.e., to scout the position of enemy troops).  Later on, they were enhanced to be equipped with top-mounted guns and grenades, which lead to aerial dogfights.  During World War I, life as a pilot was treacherous; thousands were killed in training and the length of the average career of a pilot could be measured in weeks.  Thus, where a pilot could prove he had shot down five enemy aircraft, he was named an air ace.

At sea, technology such as heavily armoured battleships and U-boats (i.e., submarines) were employed, distinctive of the British and Germans.  While the British HMS Dreadnought was respected as one of the largest and fastest battleships in the world, German U-boats could travel underwater without detection, carrying torpedoes that were used to attack merchant marine ships and freighters.  These merchant marine ships were transporting civilians, food, weapons and munitions, and were attacked by the Germans as an attempt to starve the British into submission.  In fact, in 1917, Germany announced that its U-boats would sink any ship within the British war zone, such as the Lusitania that was sunk along with 1200 Americans and Canadians on board, hoping to put pressure on Britain and help end the war.  However, the only thing that came of this threat was the entry of the United States into the war in 1917 on the side of the Allies, after American ships had become targets of the Germans.  Further, to combat the deadly repercussions of the German U-boats, eventually the convoy system was developed to provide merchant marine ships with armed destroyers as defense, and with underwater listening devices to locate German U-boats early.

Overall, the new types of warfare that had developed as a result of the advancements in war technologies could not prevent stubborn military generals from engaging in a war of attrition, and thus only served to contribute to the millions of deaths in the Great War.

Now, after having done research on the technology of World War I, I became curious about technology’s influence on humanity in drastic ways.  Thus I came up with my second topic of research:

“What is a significant technological development that has changed humanity?”

The first time I learned of the devastation at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, on August 6th and 9th, 1945, I was led to firmly believe that no method of destruction could be more morally wrong than the technological development of the nuclear weapon that had been derived in Japan.  However, I can now fathom that humanity would be left in a far worse scenario, had nuclear weapons never been developed in the first place.  While this may seem contradictory, I believe that the technological development of nuclear weaponry has changed humanity for the better because the world today may coincidentally be a much more violent place had nuclear arsenal never existed.  Firstly, it was nuclear weaponry that brought an end to the Second World War, forcing Japan to surrender to the Allies.  Had the atomic bombs not been dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the World War would have only continued to play out, costing many more lives in the detrimental process.  Secondly, despite nuclear arsenals being tools of mass destruction, they have also purposefully served as peacekeepers on various occasions since the Second World War.  Thus, nuclear deterrents can be attributed as a reason that we do not currently find ourselves in the midst of Word War Three.  Finally, nuclear weapons served to prevent the proliferation of other chemically and biologically hazardous materials that today are restricted by stronger regulations for their safety perils.  At the same time, the technological development of nuclear arsenal has allowed for a greater understanding of the atom itself and nuclear pulse propulsion, which in turn has allowed for further technological developments of spacecraft and space travel.  To these extents, though nuclear weapons have inflicted their fair share of damage on our world, I resolutely believe that the technological development of nuclear weaponry has, and continues to, change the course of humanity in our favour by providing civilization with a safer place to exist.




One may wonder at what points do these three things, technology, war and humanity, coincide as one.  In my research, I came to discover that one, simply put, cannot exist without the other.


  1. http://www.warmuseum.ca/firstworldwar/history/after-the-war/remembrance/vimy-memorial/
  2. http://www.atomicheritage.org/history/attack-pearl-harbor-1941


Glenn Gould: The Story of a Canadian Genius — April 16, 2017

Glenn Gould: The Story of a Canadian Genius

“Occasionally irritated, often enthralled, usually impressed, and constantly fascinated.” -Critic

Born in 1932 and dead 50 years later, the Canadian classical pianist Glenn Gould is the most enthralling and enigmatic character classical music has ever seen.


Gould was born in Toronto on September 25, 1932 to Florence and Bert Gould. Ever since he was born, he displayed a natural aptitude for piano, and started playing at just three years old. He demonstrated perfect pitch, as well as an uncanny ability to memorize music quickly. Despite clear gifts and skills, Gould never did well in school, and never earned his high-school diploma. He studied with the Chilean pianist Alberto Guerrero, and became a world-renowned pianist at just 21 with his recording of The Goldberg Variations by Johann Sebastian Bach.

Gould started to tour around North America, and in May 1957, embarked on his biggest journey yet: a month-long series of concerts in Russia. Almost no Westerners had performed in the Soviet Union since the end of World War II, and Gould performed to sold-out crowds in Moscow and Leningrad. His influence to the musical students who were at his concerts still remain to this day. The tour could be considered to be the high point of Gould’s performing career. He contracted several illnesses in a subsequent tour around Europe the next year, and one particular incident greatly damaged his image of concerts. During a collaboration with the American conductor Leonard Bernstein for a concert in New York, they found themselves having different interpretations of the work they were to perform. The composition was ultimately played Gould’s way, but Bernstein gave an impromptu speech before the concert declaring that he did not agree with the interpretation. Gould loved the speech, but was consequently destroyed in newspaper reviews. In 1964, due to the New York performance, and a multitude of other reasons (he once said of concerts: “I think they’re a force of evil”), Gould decided to quit giving concerts in 1964 and focused on exclusively recording music.


Gould with Bernstein.

Switching to recording was the most controversial decision he ever made, as no classical musician had ever done so before (and no one has since either). Gould hated the multitude of variables that came with performing: different pianos, temperature of the halls and audience distractions. The recording studio offered him a shelter, where only a handful of people were in attendance at once and he could edit the works to perfection. He thrived out of the public eye, and kept a steady pace of recordings through the 1960’s and 70’s. In 1982, Gould died of a stroke in Toronto General Hospital. He had celebrated his 50th birthday just a week before, and had already planned to move to conducting and composing in his later years.

This decision wasn’t the only part of Gould’s personality that set him apart from others. The way he played his pieces – often completely disobeying the tempo and dynamic markings written out by the composer – infuriated critics and contemporaries. But his playing style was fresh and new, and that meant that there would always be people who loved the music and people who hated his playing.




But, as with most geniuses, Gould had his eccentricities as well. He was a creature of habit, wearing a scarf, hat and mittens in all temperatures, playing on the same chair for 30 years, and only eating one meal a day (it was always the same order at the same restaurant at the same time – scrambled eggs at a 24-hour diner around 4 A.M). Gould was also an extreme hypochondriac, once eating 2,000 pills in nine months, and recording his blood pressure every 30 minutes near the end of his life. These quirks naturally decreased his social life – Gould was never married. Gould was said to have been a lonely person, although those who were close to him remembered him as a warm, kind, and funny man. He loved nature, and often retreated by himself to Northern Ontario.


Gould wearing his infamous cap, gloves, and coat.

Glenn Gould: reluctant performer, recording aficionado, television and radio extraordinaire, reclusive eccentric, autistic savant, and a man that left a long-lasting legacy. He was different than any musician who had come before or after him in every single respect. But it’s also important to remember that he was the modern Renaissance-man – he also composed, made radio and television documentaries, and wrote about music. And even though he died nearly 35 years ago, thanks to dozens of books, documentaries and commemorations, we will never forget the 50 years when Glenn Gould captivated the musical world.


Gould, with the author.

By Lucas


British Columbia’s National Parks — April 5, 2017

British Columbia’s National Parks


From the stunning west coast of the Pacific Rim National Park, to the vast rocky backdrop of Glacier National Park, British Columbia has some of the oldest and well known parks in Canada. Since the creation of Canada’s first national park in 1885 at Banff, national parks have come to be defined as areas that are set aside as a public heritage or trust to preserve outstanding examples of scenery, wilderness, geology, natural phenomena or native flora and fauna. The parks are dedicated to public use and enjoyment by all citizens. Trekking, beachcombing, kayaking/canoeing, surfing and camping are just some of the activities available when one visits these parks. In addition to outdoor activities, the parks preserve the natural history and cultural heritage of Canada.

Before venturing to some of British Columbia’s most popular national parks, let’s look back at how the first national park came to be. In 1885, the Canadian Pacific Railway fulfilled its goal of linking eastern Canada with the west coast by a transcontinental railway. During the exploration and building of the railway over the Rocky Mountains, the discovery of several mineral hot springs in Banff, prompted applications for private ownership of the springs. The federal government rejected the application and instead created a reserve around the hot springs. In November 1885 the first national park, the Banff National Park was created. Throughout its history, national parks were not always protected, logging, mining and development were still allowed. Between 1960-1985 saw policies for preservation and protection of national parks. In 2001, the Canada National Parks Act passed requiring a cap on commercial development in parks and required the legal designation of wilderness areas in national parks. In 2002, Parliament passed the Canada National Marine Conservation areas Act that further provided protections to marine areas.

Today, there are more than 40 national parks and national park reserves in Canada.

Yoho National Park and The Burgess Shale


Yoho National Park is the second oldest National Park in Canada. It was declared as a National Park in 1886 after a visit by Prime Minister John A. Macdonald who arrived on the Transcontinental Railway. The Group of Seven founder, Lawren Harris’ painting, “Mountain Forms” inspired by the spiralling mountain backdrop of Yoho National Park recently sold for a record $11.21M at auction. Within the park, the Burgess Shale was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981. The Burgess Shale is one of the world’s most significant fossil sites preserving soft bodied animals from over half a billion years ago.


To learn more about Yoho National Park:



To explore the history and science of the Burgess Shale go to:



Glacier National Park


Glacier National Park lies within the Columbia Mountains between Golden and Revelstoke. It was established in 1886 and drew visitors to take the railroad to view the scenery of steep mountainous terrain, valleys, glaciers and waterfalls. Glacier National Parks has one of Canada’s most extensive cave systems, the Nakimu Caves. This park is closely tied to two historical Canadian transportation routes, the Canadian Pacific Railway and the Trans – Canada Railway. The famous Roger’s Pass, located in the heart of the park, was used as a shortcut for both the Trans – Canada and Canadian Pacific Railways, and is also considered a National Historic Site of Canada.


To learn more about Glacier National Park go to:




Pacific Rim National Park Reserve


Canada’s oldest national park reserve, the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, is located on the South west coast of Vancouver Island. It includes Long Beach, the Broken Group Islands and the West Coast Trail. The park was established in 1970 as the first national park reserve. The Pacific Rim National Park has a rich history of First Nations peoples settlement from thousands of years ago. The northern area of Long Beach is the most popular. It is easily accessible by road. Long Beach has 11 kilometres of beach providing an opportunity to explore the different areas of the marine park including the ocean, intertidal, beach and forest. The Broken Group Islands consists of more than 100 islands. This part of the coastline is known as Graveyard of the Pacific because storms, fog and strong currents have sunk many ships. The West Coast Trail is a world-class 75-kilometre hiking trail, which traverses through some of the most pristine west coast old growth forests to the rugged waves of the open Pacific. Access to the trail is through reservation.


If you would like to learn more about this challenging hike go to:



National parks not only preserve natural history but cultural history. The parks such as Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and Haida Heritage site also give us a glimpse into the environment and homes of First Nations peoples, their culture and their art. Our nation’s spectacular national parks inspire our young and old to preserve and protect our natural wilderness. It reminds us of the importance of co-existence with our natural environment. Let’s ensure future generations enjoy and protect our nation’s natural heritage.

National parks are such a great place to explore and learn. Now more than ever, you should visit BC’s national parks because through Canada 150, you can get a free pass to visit our National Parks, Historical Sites and Marine Conservation areas all year! So go out and learn about Canada’s natural history!

Get your free pass:




Kraus, J.A. and McNamee, Kevin. The National Parks of Canada. Key Porter Books Limited, 2004.

Lothian, W.F. A Brief History of Canada’s National Parks. Minister of the Environment, 1987.

Maybank, Blake and Mertz, Peter. The National Parks and Other Wild Places of Canada. Barron’s Educational Series, Inc., 2001.

Photo Credits

Passenger Train – Yoho National Park Archives.


Burgess Shale – Niddrie, John, Parks Canada.









How to Push Through Procrastination — March 7, 2017

How to Push Through Procrastination

Before you roll your eyes at this title and go back to creating a to-do list of all things that you hope to accomplish in the next fifty years, take a moment to read through this article. Then… maybe roll your eyes.

It is that time of year again, when students are stuck between the hype of the beginning of the first semester of school, and the promise of another great summer break. Students lack the motivation they did at the beginning of the year to complete school assignments on time, and to the best of their abilities. School takes the backseat, as social life, and activities that are enjoyed partaking in seem much more relevant. (Where am I going to need quadratics in real life anyways? You only live once, so why waste time doing something so irrelevant like homework?) At this time, you are one of three people: the procrastinator, the non-procrastinator, or the undecided. If you fall into any of the first two categories, you have come to the right place. If you are in the third category, choose one of the first two. In this article, I will educate you on the issue of procrastination, how this habit impacts our lives, as well as measures you can take to becoming as close to a master non-procrastinator as possible.

What is procrastination? Procrastination is the action of putting off tasks, or delaying accomplishing them. For now, you may be able to get away with this “due tomorrow, do tomorrow” mentality, and if so, congratulations. As a master procrastinator, you are like approximately 26% of the population. In fact, according to studies, nearly 95% of college students attest to being procrastinators. One day, the clock’s going to run out of time, and if you’ve been the dedicated Netflix-lete that you know you have, then your assignment just won’t make the hand-in bin on time. If this habit escalates, the next thing you know, you’ve put off writing college admissions, or paying taxes, or rent. Hey, but don’t worry. An estimated 40% of the population have experienced financial loss due to procrastination. Doesn’t that make you feel special?

P brain

We’ve established that procrastination is an international issue that is only going to keep escalating as the years go on, and it becomes increasingly easier for people to disconnect, and not have to take responsibility for their actions.

What if we didn’t have the ability, or rather, the legroom to procrastinate? Would we be able to complete tasks punctually? Would our minds be physically capable of such a transition? Probably not. If not, then what will we do the day we must not procrastinate? What about the day that someone’s life depends on us?

Just like the overuse of smartphones mummifies our brains in alive corpses, and just like constantly validating yourself through social media creates low self-esteem and social interaction issues, procrastination gradually turns into a destructive habit that is hard to recover from.

Procrastination is a current, first-world issue.

While this all sounds very drastic, and dramatic, it doesn’t have to sentence human existence into this set-in-stone definition. There are fortunately ways to overcome procrastination, so that this rising issue can be curbed before it engulfs our race. From my research, I have narrowed many solutions into three key points:

  1. Create detailed, and specific task lists instead of general to-do lists. Prioritize the tasks based on factors such as time constraints, difficulty level, and importance to you.
  2. Each time you think you shouldn’t do a task based on the available time, remember this: 2 minutes wasted each day amounts to an hour wasted each month, and half a day wasted in an entire year. Do it now, it’s ok if you can’t finish it. After all, igniting the fire is the hardest part.
  3. Don’t forget to celebrate! Treat yourself on a job well done, but don’t overdo it. (Who am I kidding, there’s no such thing as too much chocolate ;p)

In conclusion, procrastination is a rapidly escalating issue that must be immediately addressed, and let the change begin with you by, well, getting started! (No. Don’t say “I’ll do it later” because you know you won’t.)

As much as I hope I have inspired you to become an Olympic-level anti-procrastinator, there are many more qualified experts who have put their efforts into creating amazing resources, and great content. Be sure to check out the following links:

TED Talk by Tim Urban: https://www.ted.com/talks/tim_urban_inside_the_mind_of_a_master_procrastinator
How to Stop Procrastinating by watchwellcast: https://youtu.be/Qvcx7Y4caQE


Cadets — February 26, 2017


Chances are, you probably know someone who is in the Cadet program, whether Air, Army, or Navy. Ask them and they’ll probably love or hate the program. Most can agree Cadets comes with opportunities galore, and those able to adjust to the system also benefit from it. This program is rewarding, especially for the top senior Cadets who are selected to participate in summer camps and represent not only their home squadron, but their region on a national, or even global scale. However, for some, Cadets is tiring, with strict rules of discipline and huge amounts of pressure.

I have been in Air Cadets for three years, feeling both the pressures and joys of the program. I went to Vernon in the summer to participate in a three week Basic Drill and Ceremonial Course, met amazing people, but also had to forego almost half my summer. I also just came back from a field training exercise, or FTX, sleeping overnight in Chilliwack on snow that came halfway up to my knees and got sick. Fun.

Why am I telling you all this? Well, I thought it would be interesting just to look at how the Canadian government wants to develop the next generation. In fact, it is one of the largest federally sponsored youth programs, with a $250 million dollar budget. As Cadets, we earn money to go to summer camps, though not a lot. During FTXs, the meals we eat, MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) are chock full of preservatives, rather gross, and cost more than normal food. Likewise, going gliding and fam flying as Air Cadets cost a significant amount of money.

The most interesting idea I found is that the government chose a military-based program to develop for youth. Canada is known for being a peace-loving country, and it is an image I’m sure the government will work to maintain. The relation between Cadets and the military is an interesting question brought up as the government sees the program as “an important investment in our youth today and a means of safeguarding our future tomorrow.”

The Cadets page on the Canadian government’s website states Cadets are not in the military, but the program is very similar to the military.  Like the military, Cadets address ranks, learn skills such as shooting a rifle, and participate in similar activities. Both the Cadet program and military value a highly-structured, well-organized system, with strict rules and regulations.

The program now focuses less on developing future soldiers and more on building strong citizens, stating that “while they are introduced to Sea, Army and/or Air activities of the Canadian Armed Forces and certain traditions, they are also introduced to many other respectable career choices that are available to them.” However, the program started out as way to develop soldiers, and the system clearly reflects military values like cooperation and discipline.

Veronica Xia

Flight Corporal

Tiger Flight

655 Richmond RCACS

(That’s how to close an email in Cadets!)