Pondering 100 Years


This ponder is dedicated to my dear friend and co-worker Tony. A true gentleman, salt of the earth and kind soul whose thoughtful tribute to the 100th anniversary of SS Princess Sophia’s tragic demise touched my heart.

 

The SS Princess Sophia, before her tragic end. (Alaska State Library, Sadlier-Olsen Family Collection)

http://princesssophia.org/

On the 100th anniversary of armistice take a moment to ponder the 100th anniversary of Princess Sophia, a maritime disaster worth remembering. Below, Tony’s letter to his Princess line shipmates….

One hundred years ago today, in the early morning hours of October 24th 1918 the CPR’s Princess Sophia ran aground on Vanderbilt Reef in Lynn Canal,  about 60 miles south of Skagway, Alaska, bound for Juneau and points south   The ship had left Skagway with a full load of ‘end of season’ passengers at 10 pm, three hours late.   It was one of the last two sailings southbound before winter set in; Princess Alice was on her way north and would be just about the last chance to travel south.  About 400 people were waiting in Skagway, many of them seasonal workers and crews from the paddle wheelers on the interior lakes.   There was excitement building over rumours of an end to the Great War but a number of the passengers and crew members were already sick with the ‘flu, the influenza epidemic which would kill at least 20 million people worldwide, 30 to 50,000 Canadians.

The weather deteriorated soon after departure and at the time of the grounding the Sophia was travelling at 12 – 14 knots through a snowstorm with a 50 mph tailwind.  Navigation was conducted by sounding the ship’s whistle and calculating the distance from the steep cliff sides of the channel which was about 8 miles wide at that point.  The vessel veered off course,  too far to the west and struck the reef with so much force that it was driven almost its entire length high onto the reef but settled level.  There was a radio on board and Captain Locke managed to alert both Skagway and Juneau.

The ship seemed securely wedged and not too much damage was visible to the hull. There seemed to be no immediate danger.  A decision was made wait for moderation in the weather before allowing rescue attempts from the several small vessels which had arrived to help.  At low tide it was not possible to launch the lifeboats because of the surrounding rocks and even at high tide it was thought that they would be dashed against the rocks before they could clear away.  For forty hours the ship remained on the reef awaiting the forecast improvement in the weather.   An all out rescue effort was planned for high tide on the 26th but towards the evening of the 25th fresh high winds and pounding seas moved the stern of the vessel completely around and it began to slide into deeper water.   Princess Sophia sank late on October 25th, with the loss of all the passengers and crew, about 340 souls in all.  Many bodies were found trapped inside the vessel and others were still being found in the water up to eight miles away for weeks after.  Princess Alice carried many of the bodies back to Vancouver and arrived on November 11th,  Armistice Day.  The ship anchored off shore and did not enter the port until the next day.   The arrival almost went unnoticed amid the great celebrations surrounding Armistice Day and its announcement only appeared on an inside page of the newspaper.  Despite being the biggest maritime disaster in Alaska’s history the event was quickly almost forgotten.  Unlike the great Titanic disaster, there were no survivors of the Princess Sophia sinking to tell their stories.

The attached photo is of Princess Sophia arriving in Vancouver sometime between 1914 / 1918.  The resolution is high enough that if you zoom in you can clearly see some stewards on the foredeck …..   white shirts and bow ties!  Perhaps they were looking out for wives and girlfriends on the dock.  Many soldiers are visible and there seem to be officers waiting dockside as well as a band playing just above the foredeck.    Also attached a picture of some crew members,  stewards again I think, on board before the disaster.  I wonder what the tips were like in those days.    The route the ships took back then was the same as the Princess Patricia in the 1970s,   the same ports in a different order.    It is a sobering thought to think that all of us passed that same reef many, many times,  northbound and southbound and always in darkness.   Luckily we had the benefit of radar,  depth sounders  …..   and Angus Twatt often at the helm,  a fine seaman from the Orkney Islands!

This afternoon at Mountain View Cemetery in Vancouver the B.C. Maritime Museum installed a plaque commemorating seven O’Brien family members lost on Princess Sophia.

https://www.vicnews.com/news/museum-marks-100th-anniversary-of-the-unknown-titanic-of-the-west-coast/

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Road Trip Gallery


It wouldn’t be summer without a road trip to the Okanagan Valley, forty one years gone but forever home. Wildfire smoke smothered the road home. Falling ash sang red sun blues, an eerily apocalyptic symphony oblivious to suffocating cinder rain. Ponder a road trip gallery –

Enlarge, explore, see more of my husband’s road trip photos at the link below.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/15574096@N00/

Petunia and The Vipers


Ponder Petunia & The Vipers –

Image result for petunia & the vipers

From Petunia & The Vipers Facebook page –

Louis Armstrong was once asked what his favorite kind of music was, and his response was simple; “Good music”. Petunia & the Vipers’ sound may not sit comfortably in one certain genre, but “Good Music” describes it well. Hank Williams on acid… Tom Waits meets Elvis at Woody Guthrie’s Hobo junction… Avant-Country night club scene music… One of the best bands in the world today, of any kind… hillbilly-flavoured-swing inflected-ragtime-goodtime-thunderously rolling-one-of-a-kind-you-don’t-want-to-miss-this-sort-of-a-show… A new music that springboards off of music of the past and jumps into the present day, left with only echoes of the past… Something in between 1920’s and steam punk. It’s good for your mind… These are just a few of the words uttered by folks around the globe trying to pin down a description of all that is Petunia & The Vipers.”

Petunia & The Vipers make me smile. Enjoy –

http://petuniaandthevipers.com/

 

 

76.2 Centimetre Elbow Room


Since completion in 1937, the four lane Pattullo Bridge has moved traffic across the Fraser River from Surrey to New Westminster and onward to downtown Vancouver. A particularly dangerous bridge without centre barriers despite a disconcerting bend at the south end. Years past its prime, a 2014 meeting of the Metro Vancouver Mayors’ Council determined it would be demolished and replaced at a cost of $1.3 billion.

Enter NDP Premier John Horgans’ announcement this week – Pattullo will be built by union workers in accordance with “community benefits agreement”. Those three words added $100 million tax dollars to costs. In a nutshell – all workers must join a union within 30 days. In exchange for “fair market wages” ( “The wage provisions mean, for example, a journeyman industrial mechanic would earn $43.65 per hour this year in wages, plus $8.56 in benefits. That would rise to $49.16 by 2024, plus $9.64 in benefits. A journeyman electrician would start at $39.31 an hour this year, plus $8.07 in benefits, and rise to $44.27 by 2024 with $9.08 in benefits. ” ) workers agree not to slow down progress or go on strike. 25% of workers must be apprentices and priority hiring is given to aboriginal and women tradespeople.

“The government will also pay into special union-controlled funds directly under the agreement. As much as 32 cents an hour for each employee will go directly from government into special funds controlled by the unions with such titles as “the B.C. Construction Industry Rehabilitation Fund” and the “Council Administration Fund.”

NDP rules could boost Pattullo Bridge replacement by $100 million

Government created B.C. Benefits Infrastructure Inc., a new Crown corporation dedicated to human resources and payroll. Unions will collect mandatory dues and administer the health benefits packages and pension plans. Buried deep in the 336 page agreement, a truly staggering  benefit –

Meal requirements for job site camps specify “camp occupants are entitled to eat all the food they want,” elbow room “shall not be less than 76.2 cm per person,” dinner plates must be kept warm and the dessert table must always have at least one pie and variety of Jell-O or pudding available daily. WTF! Wedding guests seated 8 to a round table don’t get 72.6 cm ( 28 inches ) elbow room. Eat all they want? Are they nuts? Dinner plates always kept warm? That’s ridiculous! Bottomless pie and pudding? Stop, I can’t take it!  In addition, the type of salads allowed, dressings, meat quality, starches, acceptable condiments and strict regulations not to repeat the main course of chicken, beef or seafood more than once every five days. From https://engage.gov.bc.ca/app/uploads/sites/331/2018/07/Community-Benefits-Agreement.pdf

BC Construction Camp Rules & Regulations
Lunch and dinner meals. Salad table will be
refrigerated or ice provided. Minimum requirements:
a. An assortment of salads, coleslaw , green salad (tossed), potato salad and two other
prepared salads, (Caesar / Greek / Pasta / Bean Salad /protein etc)
b. Pickles (dill and sweet), olives, pickled beets etc.,
c. Fresh vegetables, (4 varieties per meal) tomato wedges, cucumber, green onions, celery
and carrot or turnip sticks, radishes
, zucchini, chilled canned tomatoes
d. Protein and Meats: Two choices, varied from
meal to meal of, Cold Meats: ham, roast
beef, pork, chicken pieces, head cheese,
assorted cold cuts, pickled or deviled eggs,
cheese, humus or chick peas .
e. Salad dressing: (assorted including low calorie choices) vinegar and oil
f. Assorted garnishes,crackers,bread sticks
Image result for pattullo bridge

Uncle Fester


In 2016 the Vancouver Parks Board acquired a botanical oddity native to Sumatra, Indonesia. On June 21, 2018 horticulturalists at Vancouver’s Bloedel Conservatory spotted a 28 centimetre bud on titan arum, the world’s largest and rarest flowering plant. commonly known as corpse or carrion flower. Over a 40 year lifespan this prehistoric behemoth might bloom 3 times for 24-48 hours. Bloom characterized by the stench of rotting meat, mother nature’s ruse to trick carrion eating beetle and insect pollinators. Gardeners at Bloedel dubbed their prize Uncle Fester.

Barely 6 years old, Uncle Fester wasn’t supposed to bloom for several years. Fester’s petals started to open Sunday, for 2 days public frenzy to catch a whiff of Fester meant waiting in line for several hours. A five minute walk from home, I considered joining the queue last night. A co-worker’s text – “waited an hour and fifteen, petals closed, no smell” – kept me home. All the same, putrid or not, Fester is a natural wonder.

The lineup to see (and smell) the flower, which is expected to emit its stench for up to 48 hours, stretched out front of the Bloedel Conservatory on Monday morning. (Margaret Gallagher/CBC)

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/corpse-flower-begins-emitting-putrid-smell-1.4748375

Night And Day


“Night and day” is an expression of vast differences, a term used to punctuate opposites and vocalize obvious chasms of separation. Every so often I use the term to illustrate radical improvement or to qualify observations of change. It never occurred to me night and day inhabited a realm between robotic utterance and practical reference to light in the sky.

After work this afternoon, night and day revealed another dimension. Not so much another dimension as a shared reality emanating from a handful of my husband’s photographs .Opposite as night and day may be, both are exquisite, textured and revealing. Ponder night and day with fresh eyes –

https://www.flickr.com/photos/15574096@N00/with/42259365585/