Sunday, 4 October 2009

On bits and pieces of thoughts

DCT Chambers trucks
For a couple of days after leaving Kelowna, I was passed by any number of trucks bearing the logo written in hard to read Gothic script D. C. T. Chambers. I was curious about what they were carrying so busily. They were double trailer rigs, and the trailers appeared to have cargo holds below normal floor level. This lead me to conclude that whatever it was, it wasn't very heavy. I eventually decided on wood chips as being the likely cargo. Having come to that conclusion, I then began to wonder what D.C.T. stood for. I noticed from one of the trucks that they had a website which I only looked up today. Apparently they have a Department of Redundancy Department, the name of the company is DCT Chambers Trucking Ltd, where DCT stand for Dan Chambers Trucking! ;-)

Phoenix, B.C.
In a previous post I mentioned the ghost town of Phoenix. In that post I mentioned how tough the climb was up to the town. Well, when I was in Cranbrook, I picked up a copy of "McCulloch's Wonder : the story of the Kettle Valley Railway" by Barrie Sanford. In it, I was flabbergasted to learn that not one, but two railway lines went up to Phoenix. Obviously, it was worth the money for the railway companies to build those lines, but better them than me.

Western Canadian history
When I was in Hope, B.C., I watched part of a documentary on the near-war that occurred between the First Nations peoples and the American gold-rush miners during the Frazer river gold-rush in 1858 or so. A few days earlier, I had been in Fort Langley, where the colony of British Columbia had been declared more or less in response to those tensions. When I put these events together with my experience at Fort MacLoed and in the San Juan Islands, I came up with a very interesting perspective on a theme of Western Canadian history.

One of the things that was mentioned was that the British had more or less lost the Oregon Territory to the United States through a failure to exert enough control over the region. The narrative seems to be that Americans came in and took over the area by what amounts to a declaration of squatter's rights. Incidentally, that is how Mexico lost what is now Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California!

Evidently, in the late 1850's, the British were much more determined to keep what was officially theirs, actually theirs. This British determination is part of the background to the Pig War and the declaration of the Colony of British Columbia.

However, all this was relatively expensive and when Canada was formed, part of the British plan was always to consolidate their holdings on this continent into one entity. After all, the founding document for Canada was the British North America Act, not the Canada Act. In almost too short a time, London handed Canada Rupert's Land, a.k.a. the Northwest Territories (which are now Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Northern Ontario, Northern Quebec, the Yukon, Nunavut and the current Northwest Territories). That was a huge amount of land for the relatively small and financially troubled population of Canada to manage. One consequence of this was that American whiskey traders moved in from the South for a number of years before the arrival of the North West Mounted Police.

The potential for trouble was there. I see this in the fact that in their march across the Prairies in 1874, the NWMP brought along two cannons, presumably to convince the Americans in Fort Whoop-Up to respect their eviction notice. That the Yanks skedaddled before the NWMP arrived doesn't hide the fact that there could have been serious trouble. This could have been another bloody eviction of illegal immigrants like the Alamo. It must be noted, however, that "Remember Fort Whoop-Up" would have made a lousy battle cry in the atmosphere of increasing temperance in the Eastern United States of the late 19th century. There would have had to have been some serious bowdlerizing for it to work! ;-)

Geology and mountains
One of the joys of cycle-touring is that you have the time and vistas to really appreciate the structures of the land. To see and try to make sense of the landscape. To see if there is a pattern or logic to it all.

(At least, that is what I do, but then my father is a geologist so a certain amount of it rubbed off on me. I have noticed that my uncle Chris is much more fascinated by the flowers by the side of the road than I am. This is attributed to his mother's interest in flowers.)

In my musings about the landscape, I sometimes wondered if mountains, especially spectacularly naked ones like the Canadian Rockies, contribute to one's desire to become a geologist. I also wondered if my father had been out West before he started to study geology.
"Naked" mountains

Among the non-mountain bits of geology that fascinated me during the trip were the alkali lakes in Alberta such as this one.Post-Post-Scriptum
It turns out my Father did not visit the Canadian Rockies prior to becoming a geologist. Apparently, he became a geologist as it was an intellectual job that would get him out of doors and wasn't forestry which wasn't that interesting a pursuit in the early 60's.

Also, I don't know if alkali lakes truly count as geology.

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