Trick-or-Treat: Reflection of a COVID-19 Halloween

Halloween was a little extra spooky this year, with more time and effort dedicated to health and safety precautions. The government suggested trick-or-treaters wear a mask with their costume and candy givers to invent a “candy chute” in order to maintain social distancing. This year, Halloween was set up to be a perfect night. The weather was very mild, and it was also a full moon; very spooky!

“Children started earlier this year” said Helene Nicole, a local resident of Lac-Brome. “They arrived at around 6 p.m. as opposed to 6:30 p.m. like last year.”

But Nicole said the largest difference would have to be the number of trick-or-treaters.

“I got maybe half the kids. I think I got 150 kids last year and this year I got maybe 80,” Nicole said.

As for the candy giving, health and safety was the main priority.

“I bought two boxes of candy bars and then I used a glove to hand them out. I only used the glove to touch the candy, so I know it was clean. I also wore a mask!” Nicole said.

Contrary to what the government suggested, Nicole said most kids were not wearing medical masks.

“They walked Halloween as families or as small groups which were probably their bubble,” said Nicole. As a substitute teacher in the Townships, Nicole mentioned that this behaviour is modeled from the protocols at school; no masks for the children, but a mask is mandatory for the adults.

“Seeing no masks on the kids did not surprise me,” Nicole said. “They are outside, and this is what they do at school.”

Although singing is not suggested in public places, as it has been proven to spread the virus further, kids were still yelling “trick-or-treat” as opposed to just knocking.

“And parents reminded them to say ‘thank-you,’” added Nicole, laughing.

To make Halloween even spookier, at around 8 p.m. there was a large bang followed by a very wide spread power outage in the town.

“It was hilarious because I was getting close to running out of candy when a kid came to my door dressed as an alien and when they knocked on the door the power went out. So, I opened the door and the mother explained that they heard a big bang and all the power was gone,” said Nicole. “It ended Halloween in Knowlton by a huge power failure.”

Winter wonderland: First snow storm of the season for the Eastern Townships

Residents in most parts of the Eastern Townships woke up to the first snow storm of the year. Arriving as a shock, some residents were caught off guard. The past weeks forecasts have brought everything from warm and sunny days with highs of twenty degrees to frosty nights dropping below the freezing point. However, this funny weather pattern began last night with regions in the townships receiving a bout of hail, which is extremely uncommon. To add to this weather pattern later in the week residents are told to expect temperatures reaching sixteen degrees.

With an unexpected snowstorm many people were not prepared with their winter tires.

“I actually had my winter tires on early this season…but I was actually expecting warm weather today,” stated Kelsey Renault.

The province of Quebec allows snow tires to be installed on cars from Oct. 15 to the end of March. But they are only mandatory from Dec. 1 to March 15. In addition, studded tires are very popular among residents residing in the countryside but are not legal until Nov. Today was the first official day all tires are legal on the roads, and just happens to also be the first official snow storm of the season.

“My commute was about an hour instead of the usual thirty minutes, but at least everyone was being cautious and careful,” said Monsieur Renault.

Today will likely cause an overload on garage phonelines scheduling tire changing appointments with some lucky residents picking a date when they can both get their winter tires installed and wear shorts.

Discovering the Past: Theatre Lac Brome Receives Heritage Canada Grant

Being an iconic landmark in the Town of Knowlton, Theatre Lac Brome announced the news of receiving a large grant from Heritage Canada. “I am very happy to finally say that we received about $57,000” publicized Olivia “we got the news a couple of months ago after spending weeks and months before in the backroom writing the grant proposal.” The theatre is unable to fully disclose exactly what the project entails, however, it will be a heritage project. As a little hint to bring excitement to the town the slogan will be, “honour the past, build the future”, so use your imagination as to what that holds. “So, what we are trying to do is basically acknowledge all the people, all the institutions, all the groups who have helped build TLB, Theatre Lac Brome, into what it is today, so that we can basically acknowledge the past because it hasn’t been done before in an effective way” explained Olivia.

The theatre receives government grants, but mostly relies on donations in order to keep operations going, so, the approval of this large grant is outstanding especially during these unprecedented times. Not only does this grant bring money to the theatre, it also creates plenty more volunteer opportunities and potentially more job positions. “There is going to be many components to this project. There is going to be research, archiving, our website is going to be revamped in order to pay tribute to everybody that has built and sustained the theatre over the last many years” elaborated Olivia.

As for when there will be tangible results, “there will be an official unveiling at some point in 2021 when we can actually have people come physically to the theatre” stated Olivia. In the coming weeks there will be an official call for volunteers who would like to be involved. “We will need people to do anything from researching to archiving to interviewing people to taking pictures or finding pictures” explained Olivia “this is going to be a really big project that is completely dependent on volunteers.” “Although the public has to wait until 2021 for the project to see the light of day it will be worth it” assured Olivia.

Trick-or-Treat: The Fate of Halloween amid the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Amid all the chaos in the world right now citizens have been stuck in the dark about the fate of Halloween. With restrictions affecting schools and all extracurricular activities children are need of some sort of activity to look forward too. That activity being Halloween. Premier Legault (Quebec) announced Halloween is permitted in the province, but local officials are able to adjust the rules and regulations to best fit their municipalities. “Last year Halloween was cancelled due to a historic rain storm, so we don’t want to upset the children again this year” stated Premier Legault, “Halloween is outside so the risk is a lot lower than an inside activity.”

Located in the Eastern Townships most town and village citizens gather at the local community centre or fire hall to hand out candy to the people in costumes, however, due to the COVID-19 restrictions this would be impossible. People are unable to social distance. On the other hand, in most cases the more conventional sense of trick-or-treating is also difficult because we live in a farming community consisting of acreages. With all these difficulties on the table each town determined their own fate for Halloween night.

The towns of Bedford and Farnham are hosting Halloween Decoration Competitions. Members of the community are invited to decorate their houses to the best of their abilities for a chance to not only win a prize but to increase the morale of the citizens in town. The towns of Bromont, Cowansville, Freighsburg, Sutton, and Lac Brome are permitting regular trick-or-treating at your own risk. However, a newsletter has been distributed to all mail boxes describing how to go about this activity safely. “We recommend going trick-or-treating only with people from your household and also only visiting the homes on your street or at least the ones the closest to your location” suggested Mayor Burcombe. Lac Brome is also hosting a pumpkin carving competition. Citizens have been invited to the local feed store to collect a pumpkin. The only rule is that once the pumpkin is carved you must return it back to the location for judging and again the chance to win a local prize. “We are adapting the best we can to allow Halloween to be fun for the kids but also safe” said Mayor Burcombe.

Halloween parties are strictly prohibited. The Eastern Townships are currently in zone orange (third highest level of the COVID alert), so it is recommended to only be six people per household and if gathering there can only a maximum of six people coming from two addresses. Citizens have been advised that there will be a police presence monitoring the situation.

Unfortunately, the Town of Waterloo decided to fully cancel Halloween and all activities pertaining to October 31st. “We would rather be super safe then sorry. Low numbers now mean a greater chance we can gather at Christmas” stated Mayor Lachapelle.

Halloween is a fun holiday, but enjoyment cannot sacrifice safety. “We will have to have some restrictions, but my hope is that we can see our friends and family at Christmas” expressed Premier Legault.

Don’t cancel, put it online: Walk to Fight Women’s Cancers goes virtual

One of the many themes of 2020 has come knocking at the door of the Yamaska Valley Optimist Club (YVOC): Adaptation. YVOC is a non-profit organization fulfilling the mission to give back to the community. One method YVOC uses to give back to the community is group events but, due to the current unprecedented times, large in-person events are impossible.

The event goes virtual

The Walk to Fight Women’s Cancers is an annual milestone event that raises thousands of dollars to give back to the community. Usually this event manifests as hundreds of people walking a five-kilometre route together all dressed in pink. Not only does a giant pink mob turn heads but rather it attracts attention to the cause — Fight against women’s cancer.

Unfortunately, YVOC was forced to cancel the large in-person communal walk this year. However, event organizers were quick on their toes to re-organize a virtual walk — The virtual Walk to Fight Women’s Cancers.

“This year, because of the corona virus, we had no choice but to make it a virtual walk,” said organizer Lucy Davis. “We still thought it was very important to raise funds for the hospital to purchase equipment for the prevention and treatments of women’s cancers.”

The importance of not only this event but what it stands for could not be over looked during this year of chaos.

“I’m a positive person” added Davis, stating that the event will go on.

Having the annual pink parade virtually actually brings lots of benefits to the table. First, the event is able to happen. Second, the walk is an entire month long. From Oct. 4, all the way to Nov. 4, people are able to complete a five-kilometre trail on their own schedule. Thirdly, participants can choose to complete the walk alone or with a group of their desire.

“If walking with people outside of your bubble, please wear a mask” emphasized Madame Davis. “There was a small group of us socially distanced walking last Sunday wearing pink and well spread out for every one’s health.”

This year, unlike other years, you do not have to walk. You are able to run, bike, ride your horse, or any other form of exercise as long as you wear pink to show you are doing it for this event.

“We want people to get out and walk because part of the prevention of cancers is exercise and it is just a good idea to get outside,” Davis said.

The event organizers do ask that all participants still register online at www.yvoc.ca and give what you can but there is a minimum donation amount of twenty-five dollars. The goal this year is to raise $50,000, but that goal has been surpassed already.

“We are hoping to get over one million dollars this year because it is our nineteenth walk. We are hoping to get over that point this year” explained Madame Davis.

“You can donate without walking we just like people to go out and get some exercise. The walk is open to all ages, male, female, kids, everybody,” added Davis.

All the money raised is being used to fund new women’s cancer equipment at the Brome-Missisquoi Perkins Hospital (BMP) in Cowansville, specifically “a laparoscopy tower for the operating room” mentioned Davis.

“100 per cent of the money goes to the BMP. We feel when possible it is really important to be treated in your community. Less stress, less travel, it is just more comfortable” said Davis.

To ensure this years Walk for the Cure is as successful as the past years, the YVOC recruited co-presidents: Louise Penny, a best-selling author in the Townships, and Dr. Christine Cadrin, a gynecologist at the BMP hospital.

“They have agreed to mobilize this important event for all the women of Brome-Missisquoi” the YVOC website stated. Davis also said “both are amazing ladies, and both are very behind the walk.”

Show it off

In addition to wearing pink while walking to show your support, use the hashtags #yamaskavalleyoptimistclub or #cancerwalk on social media. As for the future plans for the YVOC, normal fundraising activities are prohibited during the pandemic.

“But they will be having events to support the community like silent auctions of purses to help the local schools and group homes and the Christmas Angels Project,” said Davis.

“We have done well over the years and we are counting on the community again and we know this year is difficult, but it is good for your mental health to go for a walk and get some fresh air,” Davis said. “I want to thank-you for your support and I hope people are getting out there and walking. It is just a nice thing to do.”

Looking Forward to 2021 and Beyond: New Fundraising Campaign at Theatre Lac Brome.

At the recent annual board meeting Theatre Lac Brome officially announced a new fundraising campaign: Looking Forward to 2021… and Beyond. The goal of this campaign is to hopefully raise $500,000 over the period of two years. “Jean-Claude, the president, has been thinking about how we are going to financially be sustainable” said Olivia Enns, “it’s been a couple of months if not years the board has been thinking how do we think forward? So, this has been awhile in coming, but I am very excited that it has come to fruition.”

The Donations.  

As for the donations they are for “a plethora of things; that’s why we want to make every donation count” mentioned Madame Enns. Anyone from the community or the country, in fact, is able to donate. However, the fun part is that when donating the donor is able to choose where exactly their money goes. “Every donation can be made with a specific goal in mind, so, for instance if you want to give money to costumes for a play that’s definitely an option.” Not only is it money well spent, but you know where your money is being spent. “The idea is that people can give a $20 donation that counts as much as a $200,000 donation. The point is that every donation counts.” said Madame Enns contently.

Campaign Promoters.

This fundraising campaign will include a set of co-presidents: Susan Pepler and Yves Desjardins Siciliano. A very popular name in town, Madame Pepler, is a visual artist and Monsieur Desjardins Siciliano, a new resident of town, is a prominent businessman being the CEO of Siemens Mobility. Among other things the main role of the co-presidents “is to help make the donate page even more accessible and user friendly” added Madame Enns. “Susan is fantastic for her marketing. She is a people person. She is good at getting peoples interest and she is approachable” mentioned Madame Enns. On the other hand, “Yves is a forward thinker; a visionary. He is actually responsible for modernizing Via Rail. He is good at thinking how we can turn this company around and make it into something people are proud of” noted Madame Enns. It is safe to say the theatre is in good hands and is being set up for nothing but success. Madame Enns concluded in saying “the pandemic has thrown many curve balls and we are dodging them as best we can, and we cross our fingers for 2021 that we can have a full season and get back on our feet.”

Destroying History or Improving the Future: Demolishing Historic Building Downtown

The Eastern Townships are some of the oldest settlements in Canada. The several towns are composed of historic landmarks and buildings often with a plaque out front describing who lived there and when. These historic buildings are some of the greatest treasures we have, so when it comes time for one to be demolished it causes an uproar. This is the case for the historic blue building downtown Knowlton. The “historic blue building” was a bustling retail centre until the final store closed launching downtown Knowlton into a bad position over the last year. Since then the building has sat empty only being used for the occasional holiday market and more recently a façade for a Lifetime Christmas movie.

The project.

A few months ago, The Town of Brome Lake released a proposal for the rejuvenation of the park downtown that is situated adjacent to the “historic blue building”. The proposal, called “The Public Square Project”, states that the “current pond will be upgraded not only for esthetics but also to fix the integrity of the pond. This project is to improve the health and safety of the space to combat against the effects of global warming” stated the towns General Manager Gilbert Arel. The pond, which is the centre piece of the park, was in impeccable condition “until 2011/2012 when it was fragilized by a storm forcing the town to lower its water level” recounted Monsieur Arel, “now it is full of vegetation and needs to be dredged to remove all the built up sediments because it is a direct filter to the lake and we do not want that material going into our lake”. Before work begins on the space everything needs to be approved and authorized by the government to ensure everything is completed correctly. As of now the Town of Brome Lake has not gotten the “okay” from the government, so in the mean time they are crossing their fingers the government allows them to do what they wish. “We just want the pond to be as it was before. We want the iconic reflection of the church in the pond because Knowlton is famous for that image” reminisced Monsieur Arel. “Do not worry every ecosystem is going to be well treated and every single fish will be watched during construction” confirmed Monsieur Arel.

Currently the pond suffers from an unwanted algae bloom and other microbial infestations that need to be removed because they are invasive and not natural to the environment of Brome Lake. However, specialists are being consulted to keep the area as natural as possible with trees and green spaces. This project is known as: From the brook to the book, because the future park will connect the falls to the library. It is important to mention that “there will be three pines planted in the park for Louise Penny” happily added Monsieur Arel.

Although costly, and a huge investment, this project will bring space for picnic areas, a gazebo for concerts, a future permanent home for the farmers market, repair the dam, expand the library, and a beautiful view for people to enjoy. It is also a project to promote tourism in the town centre.

Just the beginning.

Ground was broken last week to commence the beginning of the rejuvenation project. First steps being to demolish the “historic blue building” that sits on the land in question. The demolition was completed by a local company to keep the employment and money spent within the community it is affecting, however, with the first swing of the shovel some citizens became enraged. There is a struggle to understand the need for the park to be rejuvenated and why it was at the cost of a historic building. Following the uproar on the local towns Facebook page comments were posted saying “the building was in perfect condition and it was a waste of money to tear it down”, “it is such a shame to see parts of the towns history flattened”, “this town doesn’t need a new park”, just to highlight a few. However, from the perspective of the town, “the blue building was torn down because it did not fit the theme of the town. Every other building is of loyalist architecture and the blue building was just thrown up in the 70’s or 80’s to create more commercial space” stated Monsieur Arel.

Trying to help the town.

Citizens have the freedom of speech to say whatever they wish on this social platform, but it is important to note that all decisions regarding town projects are discussed, voted on, and passed by both councillors and citizens. “The Town of Brome Lake wants to appropriate the downtown to promote tourism and also help the merchants to get more business” said Monsieur Arel.

From the viewpoint of the citizens the project may just appear as a flattened square of rubble in the centre of town, but according to Monsieur Arel “it is going to be beautiful and a great asset to both the Townships and the citizens. Citizens will have a space in town that they can be proud of. A strong Knowlton is important for all of Brome Lake”.

Something to wine about: Event cancellations due to rise in COVID-19 cases

The impacts of the virus continue to impact life in the Eastern Townships.

Currently, The Eastern Townships are labelled as “zone orange,” which for non-Quebecer’s means that the region is in the third stage of a four stage COVID-19 alert system. Gatherings are permitted but only with a limited number of people and restaurants/bars can be open with limitations. Unfortunately, neighbouring regions to the north (Montreal, Quebec City, and the Chaudière-Appalaches region) moved into “zone red,” the highest level of the four stage alerts. Zone red prohibits restaurants and bars to be open, no private gatherings are allowed, and people are asked to limit contact with others for twenty-eight days.

While the Eastern Townships are still in zone orange, which allows for more freedom, Montreal is only just over an hour away. Many of the city’s residents are seasonal residents of the many towns that create the townships. During the first wave of the pandemic most, if not all, of the city folk flocked to their more comfortable country cottages. This migration of city dwellers brought a greater potential for viral spread to a vulnerable population known as the oldest (age wise) postal code in Canada.

Townships see event cancellations 

With new regulations being implemented once again, many events that were scheduled are having to cancel. This includes Soirées Musicales au Vignoble Val Caudalies (winery located in Dunham, Quebec) organized by Kiki.co. Kiki.co, founded by Kristine Mansuy, is a local business in Bromont, Quebec that offers wine consulting, tastings, and events. The Eastern Townships host a historic wine route (The Brome-Missisquoi Wine Route) traversing 140 km and twenty wineries. These twenty wineries are not only some of the oldest in Quebec, but they produce 60 per cent of the provinces local wine. Part of Kiki.co’s mission is to promote local wine businesses by inviting people to come to a tasting while experiencing the culture and supporting local performers. Due to the effects of the global pandemic, Mansuy has cancelled the remaining events celebrating the harvest.

“Our events were being hosted safely by suggesting patrons wear masks and our location being outside, but since our clientele is older they were nervous to come,” explained Mansuy.

The first of two events hosted at Vignoble Val Caudalies was on Sept. 26, 2020 which happened to be the day the Quebec Government re-announced new stricter restrictions.

“In total we sold 50+ tickets for that night and only 30 people attended,” Mansuy mentioned.

Due to the low turnout the remaining events were cancelled.

“It is for the best interest of everyone involved. It would have been a fun and safe event, but people are just scared to come,” said Mansuy. “It was a time to celebrate the local harvest, encourage people to support local producers and businesses, indulge in local food, and listen to local musicians.”

Although very disappointed, she completely understood the need to cancel.

“I will be hosting some online events and tastings because there is lots of demand for those, so keep checking my website for more information,”  said Mansuy.

2020 harvest

In related news, the grape harvest was very successful this year and is still not finished. Farmers were able to cultivate several tons of grapes to be used in the creation of wine that will be ready for consummation in February 2021. It was a very warm summer season for the Eastern Townships region, however, it was cut short by a snap of overnight frost a few weeks ago. For now restrict social gatherings, stay safe, and wear a mask.

For more information about Kiki.co, please visit: https://kikico.ca/en/.

The grand re-opening of Theatre Lac Brome

Just six months ago the coronavirus pandemic arrived and began threatening The Eastern Townships of Quebec. All businesses were mandated to close their doors by the government by the morning of March 13. This closure included Theatre Lac Brome (TLB) in the village of Knowlton, forcing them to cancel their jam-packed calendar of107 shows, with various performers.

Olivia Enns, communications coordinator at TLB, said that, “the idea of closing for an undetermined period of time was very daunting considering the theatre is a business that heavily relies on donations to keep operations going.” Fortunately, the community answered their call for help and provided enough financial aid to keep the theatre afloat for another season.

The grand reopening

For the first time ever, TLB re-opened their doors on Sept.12 with an outdoor concert. The event consisted of a harpist accompanied by a cellist with approximately 100 people in attendance. The entire show was made possible with support from the government. Enns said one of the largest difficulties of re-opening was around “keeping peoples trust.”

“We are responsible. [The] hardest thing is making sure our clients know that we are a safe space. We do 110 per cent to make sure it is safe for everyone, especially since our clientele is older” noted Enns.

On a more positive note, COVID-19 allowed the theatre and all its employees to rethink their values; it has been a year of reflection.

“We learned more about what we stand for. We are more than just an arts institution, I hope,” said Enns.

Efforts to be responsible

In an effort to abide by government safety regulations, the theatre is implementing many new rules.

The most significant change is having to reduce the number of people allowed in the theatre. Capacity is “normally” 161 seats but now, with the new COVID-19 protocols, it is only a functioning with a third of the space, leaving just over 50 seats available in the theatre.

“Our number one priority is to keep everyone safe,” said Enns.

Patrons will be seated with their bubble and one to two seats will be left empty between bubbles to allow for adequate social distancing. The front row will also be completely empty and the performers are being asked to only use the back half of the stage. Mask wearing is also gently enforced when walking around the facility but masks may be removed once seated for the duration of the show.

Future plans?  

Although the 2020 theatre season was cut short, the 2021 season is “looking bright” Enns said. Unfortunately, none of the cancelled performances of the 2020 season were rescheduled because the logistics were too hectic. There are three shows remaining this year, followed by the 2021 season that is scheduled to begin in either March or April. There are already over 100 performances tentatively scheduled.

To learn more about Theatre Lac Brome, or to buy tickets to an upcoming show, visit https://theatrelacbrome.ca.

100 Years of Radio Broadcasting in Canada: That’s a Century!

This year, 2020, marks the 100th, yes that’s a century, of radio broadcasting in Canada. Let’s think back to the year 1920, the roaring 20’s if you will, a period of economic prosperity, social movements, and overall change. Unknown to popular belief the 20’s also birthed the first radio cone speaker. This speaker, also known as a loud speaker, was used in conjunction with a receiver which allowed it to play music! Believe it or not the first radio cone speaker was constructed with cardboard and a little bit of metal. 

Not everyone was able to afford this fancy new thing called a radio cone speaker, but they still wanted to be able to listen to music. So, of course there is another option, later in the year 1920 the crystal radio was invented. This was a more accessible method to listen to music because you were able to plug headphones into it. Wow, so innovative! But that’s not even the best part. The best part is that these radios were extremely cheap and could be built at home. 

Still in the year of 1920 a more popular and well-known invention was created, the Morse Code Recorder. It was used to record telegraph messages, which we know became very useful during the first world war. The first Morse Code Recorder was made from wood and brass. 

There is now an abundance of equipment for radio but one of the most important things is missing: the radio waves. Rewind 34 years all the way back to 1886. Specifically, on November 13th German scientist Henrich Hertz created the first radio link between a transmitter and a receiver. This link led to the proof of the existence of electromagnetic waves! Very important!

Then fast forward a little bit, but not too far, to 1894. Still 26 years prior to the declared first radio broadcast in Canada a man named Marconi successfully completed the first wireless transmission in Bologna, Italy. The first wireless transmission basically means that he was able to send electromagnetic waves from one device to be received from another. Marconi was a funny guy. After his discovery of the electromagnetic waves and wireless transmission he wanted to do even bigger and better things. So, to allow his transmissions to go further he attached an antenna to the top of his kite and then would fly it to allow the furthest and best transmission possible. With this technique he was able to establish two-way telegraphic communication between Grace Bay, Newfoundland and England. Very cool!

Well since we are celebrating “100 years of broadcasting in Canada” lets focus on only events that occurred in this country even though there were incredible things happening in both America and Europe as well. The year 1903 saw the creation of Marconi Wireless Telegraph Co. of Canada which was established in Montreal at the exact location of 211 rue Saint-Sacrement, which is now a very lavish apartment building. Fast forward ten years, to 1913, and the Canadian Government began authorizing eighteen experimental wireless telegraph stations to be built across Quebec. Amazing moves forward were being made until the beginning of the first world war in 1914. Due to the war the Canadian Government prohibited the use of these towers and telegraphy in general by the civilians. However, the one exception was that only the Marconi telegraph Co. was allowed to continue research. Finally, the war ended in 1918 and the towers were reopened for civilian traffic. 

It was May 20th, 1920 when the very first Canadian broadcast occurred. This was a broadcast between Montreal and Ottawa. The broadcast was a concert showcasing the voice of a woman and that is all we know. Two years following was the beginning of commercial radio meaning the Canadian Government issued the very first commercial broadcasting licenses, which we know are extremely important today. It was in the same year that Canadian radio began being mass produced. The mass production lead to the creation of “Radio Week” in Montreal to present this new medium of entertainment and communication to the public. It was a big deal! People could now go to the movie theatres to listen to the radio. WOW! 

Why not upgrade the radio so people don’t have to go to the movie theatres to listen? Well, that’s just what the scientists did. All aboard! Radio on Board! Radio was introduced to all the first-class train cars, which could be listened to in the main cities along the railroad. By 1930, this grew to the point that the Canadian Pacific Railroad (CPR) had 11 radio stations of its own to provide entertainment to its passengers onboard its trains, but for some unknown reason this feature was discontinued in 1935. Fear not this was not the end to the CPR radio stations. At this time the federal government created the Canadian Radio Broadcasting Commission which relied on these towers constructed by the railroad. The cool thing was with this new federal government initiative the content being broadcasted would alternate between French and English to accommodate everyone in the area since these towers were located in Quebec. 

Now with the working radio towers and government backed programs civilians were able to begin creating. The first radio show that rose to fame was called “Fémina” produced by women’s rights activist Thérèse Casgrain. The show was played on CKAC which was a popular radio station located in Montreal, however, this program was so good it was snatched up by Radio-Canada to be played on air for the next 30 years. Next, just a few years later in 1935 came the first Quebec Radio drama, “Le curé du Village” by Robert Choquette on CKAC. Yes, exactly what you are thinking, it is the radio version of “The Young and The Restless”.   

In 1936, the CBC was created. Within the CBC two separate networks were produced: one French and one English. Five years later, 1941, CBC opened its new service to be able to broadcast news stories over the radio. This was a huge leap in the world of radio. 

December 8th, 1945 CJAD went on the air. Founded by Joseph Arthur Dupont CJAD is a popular news station today on the AM band. It is actually the oldest English-speaking radio in Montreal and it the fun part is that it is still in operation today. One year later the FM band of radio was established in Canada. 

Let’s fast forward quite a few years, but over the years we are skipping CBC had its first TV broadcast, the transistor (pocket) radio was invented, Bluetooth was brought to the market, the first cell phone with SMS was built, and finally in 1992 software defined radio was invented by John Mitola. Software Defined Radio means that radio is now available on the internet! In 2012, Radio-Canada International actually stopped broadcasting via satellite and is now only distributed on the internet. 

All that history of radio finally brings us to today, 2020, where we are celebrating an entire century of broadcasting in Canada! Currently, there are 111 active radio stations in the country that are regulated by various organizations, such as: the NCRA and the CRTC. This historic event is also being celebrated with postage stamps. Canada Post has dedicated a new range of stamps to illustrate various historic radios and inventions throughout the last century. Not only is the national event being recognized on stamps but also in a museum exhibit at Musée des Ondes Emile Berliner in Montreal. However, with the current situation the exhibition has been moved online and can be viewed virtually. Pretty cool!

Check it out here: 

https://moeb.ca/musee-des-ondes-emile-berliner

Splish, Splash, wow the beach is packed!

In response to the large crowds flocking to Douglas Beach over the past weekends to beat the summer heat the Town of Brome Lake is mandating some new safety measures. Before you head to the public beach please review the press release from the town below. Also note that all new measures being put in place are for the health and safety of our community. Thank-you for respecting the guidelines!

Say Cheese!

Club Passion Photo in Cowansville is hosting not only 1 but 3 virtual photo exhibitions. The online exhibitions begin on July 12th, 19th, and 26th. They will be available until mid-September. Please see the press release below for more information. Enjoy!

Hey Dude, that’s my bike: Canada is running out of bikes!

Warm weather equals going outside. Going outside equals taking more walks. Taking too many walks equals finding a new way to adventure. Finding a new way to adventure equals bike rides. Bike rides equals “uh oh” I need a new bike.

The problem of needing a new bike at this very moment is seeming to be a popular trend. However, this new popular trend is creating an unprecedented problem. We are running out of bikes!!! Canada is currently experiencing a shortage of bike supply due to the unusually high demand in the middle of May.

Bike shops all around the country are experiencing this same issue with one in Saskatoon stating their sales, in comparison to last year at the same time, have increased 60%! The bike shop is attributing this spike in demand to the fact that people are unable to go on holidays, so they are having staycations and you can’t have a staycation without bike rides.

According to the bike manufacturing company “Live to Play Sports”, who distributes bikes to over 30 countries, this phenomenon is “off the charts” and bikes are running out around the world. In the beginning companies were scaling down on bike stock because they were concerned no one would be buying a bike at this time but were they ever wrong. Most bike sales are actually being done online too which is even better for the local bike shops.

This is a good problem to have but unfortunately it is most likely short lived. The shortage will only be temporary until full production is up and going once again. Amidst all of the world shenanigans a temporary bike shortage is a pretty good problem to have. Let’s go on a bike ride!

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Goodie Two Shoes to Clear the Blues: Good News Stories.

  1. Beavers are returning to Britain.

Having been hunted to extinction around 400 years ago, because of their valuable fur, beavers are being reintroduced in specific regions across England. Some people may think why do we need beavers? Well, a group of British researchers have suggested that the rodents habit of constructing dams could help prevent the flooding of rivers. A beaver damming the river causes the flow of water to be drastically slowed down as well as purifying the water at the same time. So, where are the beavers coming from? A matter of fact the beavers are being sourced from their wild population in Scotland. Beavers have been hailed as “ecosystem engineers” because of their ability to turn dead and struggling environments into abundant ones that wildlife can recolonize. Yay for Beavers!

2. Sniff sniff bones? Sniff sniff

Dogs are widely known for their super smelling capabilities, but did you know that their skill of scent tracking can help archaeologists? Recently in Croatia dogs were able to pick up a scent leading an archaeologist to discover 3000 year old Iron Age tombs. The exact dogs used are Belgian Malinois’ and German Shepard’s that were previously trained to sniff out graves during criminal investigations. Archaeologists even say “dogs noses don’t make mistakes, I think they can solve our problems.”

3. Real fur is so last year!

Her Majesty the Queen is removing all real fur from her wardrobe at the ripe old age of 94. If the Queen is to attend an event in cold weather, she will be sporting fake fur instead to keep her warm. However, she will be keeping all her historic outfits with fur intact for the sake of historical preservation. Queen Elizabeth II of Britain is hoping that her new fashion statement will send a powerful message to the public that “fur is firmly out of fashion.”

4. The bears are back in town

Bears are making a return to the mountains of Northwest Spain. The Cantabrian brown bear was faced with deforestation, manmade infrastructure, trapping, and hunting forcing them to a point close to extinction. At the lowest point there were around only 65 bears left in the wild, however, following a campaign lead by a conservation group the population has been able to grow steadily with numbers reaching 350. The recovery is being linked to a mix of environmental protection and education. On top of this, bear watching is now one of the region’s top tourist attractions.

5. What kind of animal is that?

A new type of feline species has been found wandering the forests of Northern Corsica. It is a striped coated animal that at first glance looks like a regular house cat. It is known by the locals as a “cat-fox”. Officials believe this new found creature is a “wild natural species – an extremely inconspicuous animal with nocturnal habits.” Upon further research it was found that the cat-fox has actually been part of Corsican Shepard’s mythology for a long time. Hmm maybe these creatures aren’t a mystery after all!

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Mother’s Day: Sunday May 10th, 2020

The one specific day of the year dedicated to all superhero’s, I mean mothers. It is a celebration to honour all the hard work, time, and sacrifices mothers have made for their families even though, in my opinion, they should be celebrated every day of the year! In most countries Mother’s Day is celebrated in the months of March or May to align with International Women’s Day (March 8th), but in some others, it is celebrated in October.

The history of Mother’s Day began in the United States in the early 20th century with a lady named Anna Jarvis. Mrs. Jarvis was best known for her social activism during the Civil War era. Her mother frequently brought to her attention the idea of having a day dedicated to celebrating motherhood. Following her mother’s death Jarvis led the movement to make a national holiday for mothers, however, she was disappointed seeing the day being commercialized and even tried to rescind it.  

The modern holiday of Mother’s Day was first celebrated in 1908. However, in this same year the U.S. congress rejected the proposal to make it a national holiday. The reasoning for the rejection being that if there was a Mother’s Day they would then have to dedicate another day to be Mother-in-laws day! All jokes aside, by 1911 all the states were observing the holiday. A few years later in 1914 Woodrow Wilson designated Mother’s Day to always be held on the second Sunday in May as a national holiday to honour mothers.

Six years later Hallmark started creating and selling Mother’s Day cards doing exactly what Anna Jarvis hated the most about the day she created, commercialism. She blamed companies like Hallmark for exploiting and misinterpreting the holiday because it was meant to be a day of sentiment and not a day of profit. Jarvis preferred the route to honour mothers through hand written letters expressing love and gratitude.

Now a days for Mother’s Day celebrations carnations are a popular flower choice. Actually, Mother’s Day is the third highest selling holiday for flowers and plants following Christmas and Hanukkah. Approximately one quarter of all flowers bought during the year are purchased for Mother’s Day.

“Second Sunday in May, Mother’s Day”

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Did you feel it?: Earthquake May 6th, 2020

Did you feel that rumble, around 11:03 am, while sitting at your kitchen table and quickly get up to check if a rather large truck was driving passed? Then it clicked that it usually does not take thirty seconds for a truck to pass your home. So, indeed like every rational human you turned to the internet and the powers of google and hey maybe facebook too. After a few seconds of internet surfing the light bulb flickered on and “Ah ha” it was an earthquake. To be exact, it was a magnitude 3.7 earthquake with an epicentre 6 km outside of Bedford, which is a town very close to the Vermont border.

Now that you know all the primary information you might be wondering, “what does magnitude 3.7 even mean?”. Well let’s begin with the Richter Scale. The Richter Scale is used to measure seismic activity of the earth or earthquakes. It is a logarithmic scale of numbers that represents the power or magnitude. Magnitude is measured using base 10 meaning that every number greater on the Richter Scale is 10 times more intense than the previous number. For example, magnitude 2 is 10 times stronger than a magnitude 1, but a magnitude 3 is 100 times stronger than a 1. The Richter Scale is universal and used all over the world to measure the earths activity. With this knowledge of the Richter Scale we can assess the severity of our 3.7 quake. So, we know a measure of 0 would mean nothing has happened to move the needle on the seismograph. Magnitude 2.5 and less would be recorded by the needle but most likely will not be felt by people on earth’s surface. Magnitude 2.5 – 5.4 are more likely to be felt by people but rarely cause any damage at all. Anything greater, 5.5 – 8.8+, will for sure be felt significantly on earth’s surface and cause damage to buildings. The earthquake we felt today, 3.7, was able to be felt by people on the surface but was not strong enough to cause any damage. On the Richter Scale they consider a magnitude 3.7 a minor earthquake.

With all this in mind, there is nothing to worry about with a quake this size. There will be no aftershocks or tsunamis due to this earthquake in the Eastern Townships of Quebec. It might have shaken your coffee cup, but it did not rock your socks off!

In other news one curiosity leads to another, meaning more earthquake research. This time I focused my research to Canada in general to find out if earthquakes are “normal” here. The answer is yes, earthquakes happen quite regularly in Eastern Canada. They might not be huge strong earthquakes shaking everything up, but they do occur and are recorded. Approximately there are 450 earthquakes in Eastern Canada each year. Of these 450 quakes approximately 4 will be above a magnitude 4, maybe 30 will be over a magnitude 3, and approximately only 25 earthquakes will be felt by people. Earthquakes are caused by the earths shifting tectonic plates, but Eastern Canada is not located on top two meeting plates so what causes the earthquakes here? This is a very good question and is still not fully understood. Canada is part of the stable interior of the North American Plate making seismic activity in the area a little strange. However, it is thought that earthquakes occurring in areas like these are caused by regional stress fields where the earth’s crust is a little weaker.

Don’t worry there is no need to fear! Earthquakes are a very natural occurrence. Just think of it like the earth is readjusting!

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21 Outdoor Activities: Social Distancing Edition

  1. Go for a hike on a less popular trail
  2. Do some yoga in nature
  3. Collect pinecones, acorns, or wild flowers
  4. Go for a run
  5. Walk your dog
  6. Draw with sidewalk chalk
  7. Make nature art with sticks and leaves
  8. Go on a nature scavenger hunt
  9. Create an outdoor obstacle course
  10. Go for a bike ride
  11. Work on your garden
  12. Watch the wildlife in your backyard
  13. Do some stargazing
  14. Go camping in your backyard minus the campfire unfortunately
  15. Fly a kite
  16. Make a bird feeder
  17. Watch the clouds and spot what animals they form
  18. Climb a tree
  19. Have a picnic
  20. Play lawn games
  21. Roll down a hill
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Why did the Easter egg hide? He was a little chicken (Easter 2020)

Here comes Peter Cottontail coming down the bunny trail, hippity, hoppin’, Easter’s on its way! Well, now that the Easter Bunny was deemed an essential worker we can be assured that chocolate eggs are being prepared and will be hidden all over our homes on the morning of April 12th. Yay! The Bunny is still working!

Peter Cottontail is a popular Easter themed song that was written in 1949 by Steve Nelson and Jack Rollin. This dynamic duo also composed the holiday classic, “Frosty the Snowman” in 1950. The song “Here comes Peter Cottontail” tells the story of an Easter bunny that overslept on Easter morning scrambling to get all the chocolate eggs delivered. This fictional rabbit was first called Peter Rabbit rising to fame as the main character of many children’s stories including the most famous “The Adventures of Peter Cottontail”. In this tail Peter Rabbit was unhappy and sad with his very plain sounding name, so he temporarily changed it to Peter Cottontail which made him feel much more important. After a certain period of time Peter changed his name back to Peter Rabbit because “there’s nothing like the old name” and being the star of 15,000 newspaper stories later, the rest is history. However, legally the Easter bunny goes by the name Peter Cottontail, just like the song.  

The Easter Bunny we all know today was born in Germany into the German Lutheran community to play the role of a judge and evaluating whether children were good or bad. The rabbit was thought to be the sacred beast of Eastre, a Saxon (Germanic) Goddess of Spring and of the Dawn. Eastre is also credited with giving the holiday its name.

Aside from the Bunny, the chocolates, and the eggs Easter is considered by some to be a religious holiday. In the Christian religion Easter is also known as Resurrection Sunday and is a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. As described in the New Testament (bible) the resurrection of Jesus occurred three days after his crucifixion (Good Friday) where he was sacrificed and nailed to the cross. Easter Sunday also marks the end of the period of Lent, which is a 40 day period of fasting, prayer, and penance. Easter is also linked, both by time of year and the symbolism, to the Jewish Holiday of Passover.

On Easter Sunday morning many people wake up, put on their best new outfit, and head out the door for Easter mass, whereas others wake up at the crack of dawn and search the house high and low for the little treats the bunny has left them over night. Did you know Easter eggs used to have a medieval twist? Hard boiled eggs, just like the ones we dye fancy colours, were part of a medieval children’s game. To play this game the priest would give one of the kids a hardboiled egg and they would have to continually pass it around to all the other kids until midnight. At midnight whoever was left holding the egg got to eat it. Yum!!!

So, if the eggs came from a Medieval game why do we paint and dye them fancy colours? There are many theories as to why painting Easter eggs became such a popular tradition, but for Christians the Easter egg is a symbol of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Back in the day people would paint the eggs red to represent Jesus’ blood that he shed on the cross and somehow that tradition translated to what it is today which is transforming hardboiled eggs into works of art and cute animals!  

Easter outfits are a big deal! Many people buy a brand new fancy dress or suit or whatever it may be to wear on Easter Sunday. The idea behind this tradition is to not only look your best and be all fancy, but rather it is good luck! Wearing a brand new fancy outfit on Easter brought you good luck for the rest of the year.

For some people the Easter holiday is a BIG DEAL, but interestingly it is only considered a public holiday by 12 American states. In Canada, Good Friday is considered a federal holiday by most provinces.

As stated earlier we know that the Easter bunny was born in Germany in the 16th century. However, in the 1700’s Dutch settlers brought the bunny to Pennsylvania marking his first appearance in the United States.

Have you ever wondered if the Easter egg roll was actually true? Well I am here to tell you that yes, it is most definitely true! In 1878 President Rutherford B. Hayes found children in the park rolling Easter eggs around and fell in love with the game. From that day forward, the Easter egg roll has been a yearly event.

Okay, okay, okay, it is time for what you have all been reading for, THE FOOD!!! Easter is famous for the chocolate eggs and bunnies and marshmallow shaped everything, but really how many of these things do people actually eat. Approximately in the US alone, 90 million chocolate bunnies are sold every year for Easter. This religious celebration is to blame for people spending $2.6 billion on candy alone!!! But the true question is: do you eat the ears or the tail first? Well, the answer is 59% of people eat the ears first, only a handful start by chomping on the tail, and the rest just close their eyes and bite where ever their taste buds desire.

If the bunny can get his little paws on a Cadbury crème egg he can forever be considered a golden bunny! More than 1.5 million crème eggs are made EVERY DAY!! That’s right I said every day. The crème egg factory in the UK actually makes 500 million of them every year. If you pile all those little eggs one on top of the other they would stretch higher than Mount Everest! Now that’s a lot of little eggs. How can the Easter bunny possibly carry them all?

It can’t possibly be Easter without Peeps. The little chick shaped marshmallows loved by all are extremely popular during the Easter season. They are so popular Americans eat approximately 1.5 billion of them during this short period of time. This sky high number ranks Peeps as the most popular non-chocolate Easter candy. The factory in Bethlehem, yes that’s the name of the Peeps town, Pennsylvania makes a whooping 5.5 million a day. Fun fact, in 1953 it took about 27 hours to make one single peep by hand with a pastry tube. Now, no longer made by hand, Peeps are made in six minutes or less thanks to a hefty machine called the Depositor.

Aside from chocolates and Peeps Americans consume more than 16 million jelly beans during the Easter holiday! These funky little beans were only introduced as an Easter treat in the 1930’s. Putting that number into context that is enough jelly beans to circle the earth three whole times or fill a giant plastic Easter egg the size of a nine story building!!!

Finally, my last crazy Easter fact! Did you know that pretzels used to be associated with Easter? Pretzels were considered a popular Easter treat because the twists of the salty treat were thought to resemble the arms crossing in prayer. Who would have thought!

Oh here comes Peter Cottontail, hoppin’ down the bunny trail, hippity, hoppity,

Happy Easter Day!!!

In Non-Corona Related news: Huge Feral Hogs Invading Canada Building “Pigloos” as they go!

Long, long ago, well actually not that long ago, more like the 80’s/90’s wild boars began making the journey across the ocean from Europe to live on Canadian farms. They may have appeared to be just happy little piggy’s, but they actually were smart little escape artists! So, yup, you guessed it the wild boars began digging under fences or even just running through them to get out. Others were patient and waited for the meat markets to close so they could be set free to roam the Canadian lands.

What harm could a few free roaming boars cause, right? Well, many thought they would never survive the freezing Canadian winters, but these boars proved to be hardier and smarter than they first looked. Now, they are acting like their cheeky little selves causing mischief wherever they go!

Somewhere on the path of destruction feral swine were born, which are a mixed breed of a wild boar and a domestic pig. These feral swine can now be found roaming from British Columbia to Manitoba and even a little further if they are adventurous. But how much damage can a cute pig cause? The answer is A LOT!!!! They plow through crops both trampling them and snacking on everything they see, cause grassland damage and stream beds to erode, displace wildlife with their presence as well as harass livestock still living on farms. So, to say the least they are not the most pleasant guests.

Once only known to roam the prairies these hogs somehow multiplied drastically populating much of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and even the east coast of Quebec. They must have hired some sort of help to get there! You would know if you saw one because they grow to be approximately 600 pounds. Of course, their size and amount of fat reserve help them survive the winter and it also plays in their favour when coming across a predator. Feral swine have large sharp tusks on either side of their nose and are coated in a thick, warm bristle coat. These creatures have wonderfully been dubbed “Super Pigs”.

Just wait there is more! Not only are they considered to be “Super Pigs” they also are known to build above ground shelters named, pause for dramatic effect, Pigloos!!! I don’t know about you, but I am on the search to see a pigloo in person, however, they are apparently really hard to track down. The wild hogs cut down cattails with their teeth and use them to line the insides of their pigloos as well as make beds. Although they are very large and not considered dainty wild swine are shy and don’t like to be seen. People who have spotted these funny creatures say their paths resemble that of a backhoe going through a pasture.

Keep your eyes peeled for these smart, tough, tremendously huge piggy’s cuddling in their pigloos next time you are in the great Canadian wild!!!

100 Things to do at Home: Self-Isolation Boredom Busters

  1. Build a puzzle
  2. Make a craft
  3. Spring clean everything!
  4. Bake something that you have never tried before
  5. Disinfect all commonly used surfaces
  6. Call a friend/family member
  7. Virtually visit some museums online
  8. Go outside for a walk (only if it is safe for you to do so, of course)
  9. Play a board game
  10. Read a book
  11. Create a new game
  12. Try a new hairstyle or just experiment with your hair
  13. Doodle, colour, or draw on some paper
  14. Do yoga
  15. Exercise
  16. Write in a journal
  17. Take a nap
  18. Listen to music
  19. Watch a movie or have a movie marathon
  20. Look through old photos or home movies
  21. Write a letter to your future self
  22. Play with your pet
  23. Create a list of all the things you love about yourself
  24. Start writing a blog
  25. Listen to a podcast
  26. Rearrange your furniture or redecorate your rooms
  27. Try to learn something new
  28. Watch newly released Broadway shows on the internet
  29. Learn a new language
  30. Stage a photoshoot in your living room
  31. Go for a drive
  32. Clean your closet
  33. Cook some meals to freeze for the week
  34. Clean your make up brushes or your tool box
  35. Research your dream careers
  36. Sign up for online courses
  37. Clean up your email inbox
  38. Write a list of personal goals
  39. Start some DIY projects
  40. Read the news
  41. Do schoolwork or work work
  42. Scroll through Pinterest for some inspiration
  43. Treat yourself to some online shopping
  44. Make a bucket list
  45. Plan a fancy vacation (just for fun!)
  46. Build a pillow fort
  47. Have a dance party
  48. Learn a new dance
  49. Play video games
  50. Make a custom photo album
  51. Wash your windows
  52. Create a vision board
  53. Watch a TED Talk
  54. Update your resume
  55. Write a letter of gratitude
  56. Stretch
  57. Take a bubble bath
  58. Watch a movie that was released 20 years before you were born
  59. Learn a new skill
  60. Make a bird feeder to install outside
  61. Photograph nature in your backyard
  62. Star gaze
  63. Meditate
  64. Do a random act of kindness
  65. Go on a backyard picnic
  66. Start an herb garden in your kitchen
  67. Google yourself
  68. Take online Buzzfeed quizzes
  69. Declutter your social media
  70. Trace your ancestry
  71. Clean up your computer storage
  72. Create an indoor obstacle course
  73. Have a tea party
  74. Make a time capsule
  75. Play hide-and-seek
  76. Make a mindfulness jar
  77. Have a scavenger hunt
  78. Collect rocks and paint them
  79. Play sports outside
  80. Create a toothpick tower
  81. Make origami
  82. Do a paint by number
  83. Write and send some letters
  84. Knit something
  85. Paint a self portrait
  86. Make homemade popsicles
  87. Design new outfits
  88. Make a short film
  89. Teach your pet a new trick
  90. Memorize all the words to your favourite song
  91. Do a crossword/word search/Sudoku
  92. Try some karaoke
  93. Explore a new place on google maps
  94. Master one of your hobbies
  95. Research a new topic
  96. Create a photo collage
  97. Watch funny YouTube videos
  98. Give yourself a manicure
  99. Improve your qualifications for work
  100. DO NOTHING!

Novel Corona Virus (COVID-19): What we do and don’t know

People are smart. We are lucky to live in a world with such brilliant scientists, but sometimes animals still manage to outsmart us. To refrain from repeating all the facts that you probably already know I would like to highlight some of the interesting, more science nerd, findings that are being discovered.

It is known that corona viruses come from animals. They most commonly evolve in animals such as: bats, pigs, chickens, birds, and even camels. In saying this, these are only the more common sources of corona viruses, but they are really able to develop from any non-human thing. Seasonal flu is an influenza virus, which also is thought to be derived from a bird, with two subtypes. So, what’s the difference? Well, influenza is caused by several different types and strains of viruses, whereas, corona viruses are caused by one single virus. Knowing that a corona virus is only caused by one type of virus you would think that it would be easier to treat because there is only one “thing” to target. This is not the case. Human corona viruses are known around the world, but COVID-19 is new. It has a new cell shape, new cell receptors, new methods of transmission, and the list goes on making it just as new to scientist around the world as it is to me and you. We are all learning together.

Corona viruses are a form of acute respiratory illnesses, meaning they attack the lungs and respiratory pathways in the body.

Although we know corona viruses come from animals and can affect both animals and humans there is no data proving dogs are able to be infected or even transmit the virus between humans. WHO (World Health Organization) let the dogs out!

For all my fellow nerds out there, this next discovery had my sciencey senses tingling! Please note the following information is hypothesis based meaning it has not gone through enough trials to be a 100% solid fact. Scientists around the world have noticed that Ibuprofen, the active drug in Advil, aggravates the COVID-19 virus when in the human body. There is also research showing that Ibuprofen promotes the expression of ACE2 receptors on human cells, which is the receptor of choice for COVID-19. It is advised to take Paracetamol, the active drug in Tylenol, to alleviate any symptoms you may be experiencing.

If you are more of a visual person, you can think of the pandemic as a graph. Usually, epidemics follow the trend of exponential growth. Exponential growth is a specific way a quantity increases over time where the rate of change is constantly increasing.

However, at a certain point, the inflection point, the rate of change cannot increase anymore and must become constant. Following a moment of being constant there is no way to go but down. The slope and rate of change must start decreasing slowly beginning to flatten the curve. Yes, I said “flatten the curve”. The rate of change should decrease until it has a value of zero, meaning the epidemic has been eradicated. This is called a logistic curve. We are seeing this phenomenon in real time right now. If you graph the data of people infected in China, the epicentre of the pandemic, you will see a logistic curve! It eases the mind a little when you leave the fate of the world to the hands of mathematics.

I just read an extremely interesting research article coming out of Georgetown University titled: 7 science-based strategies to cope with coronavirus anxiety. It is written by a psychologist who says it is okay, and perfectly human, to feel anxiety in response to a threat. I believe it is valuable to share some of the suggestions mentioned to help everyone cope with corona virus anxiety:

  1. Practice tolerating uncertainty: intolerance to uncertainty is constantly on the rise in America making people more vulnerable to anxiety. A suggested solution to this issue is to gradually learn to face uncertainty in daily life. This could be done by stopping certainty-seeking behaviours. For example: next time you need an answer don’t just immediately text your friend, try to find the answer yourself or, this one is super risky, go for a hike without checking the weather beforehand. By building up your tolerance to uncertainty you will find yourself checking the internet less each day for updates about the outbreak.
  2. Tackle the anxiety paradox: constantly struggling with anxiety can take many forms, such as: using distractions like drinking, eating, or watching TV more than usual. People struggling with anxiety might also constantly demand for reassurance from others or they might partake in obsessively checking the news to calm their fears. It is true that these actions help in the short term, but in the long run they are quite damaging. Instead of doing all these actions allow the anxiety to pass by you because accepting anxiety is an integral part of the human experience. This could be done by recognizing your anxiety the moment it hits and then physically talking about it.
  3. Transcend existential anxiety: when constantly faced with reminders people often become consumed with health anxiety and hyperfocused on any signs of illness. To overcome this try connecting to your life’s purpose and meaning. Try focusing on and doing an activity you have been putting off for a while.
  4. Don’t underestimate human resiliency: human minds are good at predicting the worst. Research has shown that people overestimate how badly they will be affected by negative events in their life and on the other side of things they underestimate how well they will be able to cope with difficult situations. Keeping in mind how resilient you are can help ease your anxiety.
  5. Don’t get sucked into overestimating the threat: the corona virus can be dangerous, but there are precautions you can take to be prepared. People are also known to exaggerate the danger of unfamiliar threats in comparison to the ones they already know. Constant media coverage just helps perpetuate the sense of danger of the unknown. To reduce anxiety, it is suggested to limit your exposure: like only watch the news for 30 minutes per day. Anxiety always makes things seem more dire.
  6. Strengthen self care: during times of high anxiety it is important to get adequate sleep, exercise regularly, practice mindfulness, spend time in nature, and employ relaxation techniques. Prioritizing yourself and these behaviours during this time will go a long way towards increasing your psychological well being and even improving your immune system.
  7. Seek professional help if you need it: if you are feeling extremely overwhelmed to the point your anxiety is hindering your work, close relationships, socializing, or taking care of yourself then it is important to seek professional help. Cognitive behavioural therapy and certain medications can successfully treat anxiety problems.

During this time the radio station would like to offer its services to the public. We will be doing first come first served interviews with business owners and workers to share the services that they will be providing at this time for the public. If this is of interest to you, please contact the station directly. Stay safe and healthy.

The Whole World is Irish on the Seventeenth O’March!

March 17th: St. Patrick’s Day

The parades and the parties might be cancelled, but that does not mean the fun has to end. St. Patrick’s Day is more than just a day of consuming copious amounts of Guinness and carrying around a box of Lucky Charms. It is a day with a vibrant history. A story that has been, in a way, lost and over shadowed by the sparkle and flair of the parties dedicated to a man most don’t even know.

Let’s begin at the very beginning. Patrick was born in the 4th century, meaning year 301 AD to 400 AD, in Roman Britain, not Ireland. In saying Roman Britain, I mean the area of the island, yes Great Britain is an island, of Britain that was ruled by the Roman Empire. Patrick was born into a wealthy Romano-British Christian family, but early in his life things took a drastic turn. When he was only 16 years old he was kidnapped by Irish raiders and taken back to Gaelic, Ireland to be a slave – this is where the whole Irish shenanigans begins. Patrick apparently spent six years working as a poor slave, but also as a Shepard. During his time working as a Shepard Patrick “found God”. God told him, “Flee to the coast Patrick. There will be a ship waiting to take you home”. Patrick listened to this message and immediately fled to the coast, it was his chance to return home!

Patrick arrived back home to Britain, around year 432 AD, where he became a priest and a missionary. According to tradition, at this point Patrick began to convert the Pagan Irish to Christianity. He managed to evangelise the entire Northern half of Ireland converting thousands of people. He established monasteries, churches, and schools in Ireland.

Legend has it Patrick died on March 17th, 461 AD. He was 76 years old (385 AD – 461 AD) and was buried in Downpatrick, Ireland.

Now that we are all following the same story, here come the tall tales! So most, if not all, the information we have about St. Patrick comes from The Declaration. Well, it’s a declaration what’s not to believe? The twist to the story is that this declaration was thought to be written by St. Patrick himself – yes, he wrote his own story!

One of the more popular tales of St. Patrick states that he “chased the snakes out of Ireland”. But, what does this mean? Snakes were not known to be native to this area, so that leads to the assumption that this is an allegory. Patrick’s efforts against the Druids (members of the high-ranking class in ancient Celtic cultures) by forcing them to leave were turned into the allegory that he drove the “snakes” (the Druids) out of Ireland.

Let’s get into the fun facts! St. Patrick’s Day also known as Feast day of Saint Patrick Patron Saint of Ireland was made an official Christian “Feast Day” in the early 17th century. This holiday was observed by The Catholic Church, The Anglican Communion (Church of Ireland), Eastern Orthodox Church, and Lutheran Church. For the religious establishments March 17th is a day that commemorates not only St. Patrick but the arrival of Christianity in Ireland. In general, it also celebrates the heritage and culture of the Irish. People are meant to attend church services on this day and historically, Lenten (period of lent, which stretches from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday) restrictions on eating and drinking are lifted for the day – hence the drinking habits people exhibit on this day!

St. Patrick’s Day is a public holiday in Ireland, Newfoundland and Labrador, and The British Overseas Territory of Montserrat, but is also widely celebrated in the UK, Canada, USA, Brazil, Argentina, Australia, and New Zealand. St. Patrick’s Day is actually, surprisingly, celebrated in more countries than any other national festivities. Some March 17th festivities include events such as: parades, wearing green, shamrocks, festivals, and ceilis (traditional Irish or Scottish social gatherings with dancing and folk music).

Parades started in North America in the 18th century, but the idea never spread across the ocean to Ireland until the 20th century. Actually, in Ireland the week of St. Patrick’s is considered “Irish Language Week”! Flocks of Irish dancers, beautiful floats, bag pipe players, and any Irish for the day march the streets shouting St. Patrick’s Day cheer. Both the parade in Montreal and Dublin are world renowned for the size and quality of show they put on, but unfortunately this year both are cancelled! Boooo!

Did you know the worlds shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade was in an Irish village lasting only 100 yards? Yes, this is the truth! The parade was only 100 yards long stretching from the door of one pub, you guessed it, all the way to the door of the other village pub!

Another fun fact, a little closer to home, is that the Montreal St. Patrick’s Day parade started in 1759 when Tadhg Cornelius O’Brennan arrived in Montreal in a wave of Irish Catholics escaping the war and poor harvests.

Why must we wear green on St. Patrick’s Day? Because if you don’t you might get pinched and grow an inch!!! It is customary to wear green on St. Patrick’s Day. It could be because in the 1640’s the green harp flag was used by the Irish Catholic Confederation further associating green with Ireland. Or it could be the fact that green ribbons have been worn on March 17th since at least 1680. In a matter of fact green became the national colour of Ireland in 1790 because of the United Irishmen, who were a political organization inspired by the American Revolution. Aside from wearing green until about the early 20th century it was a popular custom in Ireland to wear a “St. Patrick’s Day Cross”. This was a Celtic Christian cross made from paper that was then covered in silk or ribbon of different colours and a rosette of green silk resting in the centre.

Shamrocks, shamrocks, shamrocks! What is St. Patty’s day without a shamrock? St. Patrick actually used the shamrock to explain the trinity to help convert the Irish to Christianity. Each leaf of the shamrock (three-leafed clover) has a different meaning: hope, faith, and love. Luck gets involved when a forth leaf is added to the equation explaining why four-leafed clovers are considered so lucky.

It is a tradition that every March 17th the Irish Government ministers travel abroad on official visits to various countries around the world to promote Ireland. However, the most important visit, started in 1952, is that of the Irish President (Taoisearch) with the President of the United States of America. During this visit the Irish President offers the US President a Waterford crystal bowl filled with shamrocks. How fun!!!

A little less professional is another tradition we like to call “Drowning the Shamrock”. At the end of a St. Patrick’s Day celebration a shamrock is put at the bottom of a cup and is filled with Irish Whiskey, beer, or cider. This concoction is then drunk as a toast to St. Patrick, Ireland, and all those present. The shamrock at the bottom of the cup is either swallowed with the drink or it is taken out and tossed over your shoulder for good luck!

Did you know that the flag of Montreal includes a four-leafed clover?

Fast Fun Facts:

  1. On Feast Day of St. Patrick the Patron of Ireland you are supposed to eat corned beef and cabbage. Yummy!
  2. Patron saints are chosen to protect the interests of a country, place, group, trade, activity, or profession and to intercede for them in heaven
  3. St. Patrick was born in Britain and is in fact not Irish at all!
  4. Following a vision St. Patrick returned to Ireland to Christianize the Irish people
  5. The first St. Patrick’s Day celebration in the USA was in Boston in 1737
  6. On March 17th, 1762 New York City had the first official parade
  7. Shamrocks are the national flower/emblem of Ireland
  8. The colour of St. Patrick’s Day was originally blue
  9. 1962 was the first time Chicago dyed their river green for St. Patrick’s Day
  10. There are 34.7 million US residents with Irish ancestry. This is more than 7X the population of Ireland
  11. Odds of finding a 4-leafed clover are 1 in 10,000
  12. St. Patrick never got canonized by a pope making his saintly status somewhat questionable
  13. There is no such thing as a female leprechaun! In Irish traditional folk tales leprechauns are nattily attired little guys who mend shoes.
  14. Guinness beer sales soar on March 17th!

Éirinn go Brách = Ireland Forever

Final Touches … Camera Ready … Quiet on set … Roll Sound … Scene X Take Y … Action!

New American Movie Filming in Knowlton!

And… Action! Our wonderful town of Knowlton is yet again starring in an American cinematic production. This is one more for the list which already includes: Nine Lives (2016) starring Kevin Spacey and Jennifer Garner, I’m Not There (2007) starring Cate Blanchett and Christian Bale, The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane (1976) starring Jodie Foster, My Side of the Mountain (1969), Summer (2002), The Slavers (1984), and of course many more within the Eastern Townships.

It is hard to say what draws movie producers and story plots to this tiny Quebec town many call home. Could it be the picturesque lake? The quaint downtown? The beautiful historic houses? The friendly people? Who truly knows, but in my opinion it is a wonderful opportunity to share our piece of paradise with the rest of the world! Maybe if you are lucky you could even spot a movie star!

Now, let’s dive into the towns hottest topic over the past week: What movie is it? With devoted and timely research, we can speculate that Knowlton will be the backdrop for a new American T.V. movie titled “The Republic of Sarah”.

“The Republic of Sarah” is a CW drama pilot by the director Marc Webb and produced by CBS Studios and Fulwell 73. Director Marc Webb is known in Hollywood to be a producer, director, and a writer. He has been involved in the making of many movies and TV shows including an episode of a personal favourite: The Office. He has also directed blockbusters such as: 500 Days of Summer (2009), The Amazing Spider-man 1 & 2 (2012 & 2014), and Gifted (2017) as well as produced the TV series Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (2015 – 2019) just to name a few.  

This new T.V. movie is written by Jeffrey Paul King. King has also written and produced several episodes of the T.V. series “Elementary”.

“The Republic of Sarah” takes place in a small town in the state of New Hampshire. It follows a high school history teacher (Sarah) on her adventure of finding an “obscure cartographical loophole” to save her town after the discovery of a valuable resource within its limits. Through this loophole Sarah is trying to create an independent country, hence the name of the movie. She is quickly tossed on the world stage to save her town from being turned to ruins by a “greedy mining company”.

Okay, here comes the excitement: Who is coming to town? It is hard to say exactly which characters are going to be present because this is only the pilot episode, but here are a few names and faces to be on the lookout for. “The Republic of Sarah” will be starring:

Sarah Drew as Sarah Cooper. Drew is also known for her roles as: Dr. April Kepner in Grey’s Anatomy (2009 – 2018), Allyson in Moms’ Night Out (2014), Suzy Pepper in Glee, and Kitty Romano in Mad Men (2008 – 2009) just to name a few.

Daniel Ings as Danny. Ings is also known for his roles as: Andy in Instinct (2018 – 2019), David Gilkes in Black Mirror (2019), Dan in Sex Education (2019), Luke in Lovesick (2014 – 2018), Mike Parker in The Crown (2016 – 2017), Matt Taverner in W1A (2014 – 2017), Zach in Eddie the Eagle (2015), and lots more.

Kirsten Nelson as Francine. Nelson is also known for her roles as: Dr. Green in This Is Us (2019), Karen Vick in Psych (2006 – 2014), Jeanie in Malcolm in the Middle (2005), and many more.

Annie Funke as Corrine Dearborn. Funke is also known for her roles as: Sister Franciene in Lucifer (2020), Kendra in Grey’s Anatomy (2020), Amanda in Chicago Fire (2018), Mae Jarvis in Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders (2016 – 2017), and the list continues.

Karin Konoval as Judge Paula Judge. Konoval is also known for her roles as: Nurse Deena Petringa (2018 – 2019), Maurice in War for the Planet of the Apes (2017), Maurice in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014), Mrs. Irvine in Diary of a Whimpy Kid, Aggie Wilkins is Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed (2004), and plenty more blockbusters.

Jack Moore as Josh. Moore is also known for his roles as: William Clayton in Arrow (2015 – 2020), and a few more.

Ian Duff known for his roles as: Michael Duke in New Amsterdam (2019 – 2020), and a few others.

Forrest Goodluck known for his roles as: Hawk in The Revenant (2015), and more.

To all the aspiring actors and actresses in the Knowlton area there has been a casting call for film extras from March 18th – March 22nd. Find more information here:

Rumor has it that Le Relais has been requested for some filming! And who knows where else…

And…. Cut! That’s a wrap!

What farm animal keeps the best time? A watch dog!

Daylight Savings Time: All your questions answered – kind of.

Daylight savings time always causes a love/hate relationship. Some people love it because it brings more hours of daylight and others hate it because in the fall the world graciously grants the earthlings one extra hour of sleep and then in the spring greedily takes it away – boo! But like everything, in theory, there is good reason.  

Spring forward, fall back – get it because in the spring our clocks loose an hour and in the fall they gain an hour, but why? We all seem to follow this practice, but few people know exactly why. The easy answer would be to make better use of natural daylight to better align our working days with the rising and setting of the sun. The ideas of Daylight Savings Time (DST) started in 1895 by New Zealand scientist George Vernon Hudson and British builder William Willett. The two men proposed a two hour time change to occur in October (shift forward) and another two hour time change in March (shift back). People were very intrigued by this idea, but unfortunately there was no follow through. So, in 1905 Willett ditched Hudson and proposed the more logical, not, idea to move the clocks ahead by twenty minutes on every Sunday in April and then do the same to switch them back on every Sunday in September totalling eight different time changes a year – talk about high maintenance clocks!

I don’t know whose side of the clock you are taking but believe it or not Willett’s crazy idea of having eight small time changes a year caught the attention of Robert Pearce (British Member of Parliament). The bill of time change was sent to the House of Commons and was drafted as an official bill in 1909. But, there is always a but, the bill was presented numerous times and opposed by many, especially farmers, so it never made the cut! Bye bye bill!

Years flew past without the implementation of changing clocks until 1916 when the UK changed its first clock to follow DST, which unfortunately happened to be the year after Willett passed away. Aww, as sad as it is that the government never allowed Willett to see his idea become a reality, DST had already become a reality seven years ago. Sorry Willett!

Ontario has beat him to the DST party! In 1908, specifically July 1st, Port Arthur (present day Thunder Bay) residents were flip flopping their clocks back and forth to chase the sunlight. Not long after that Regina (Saskatchewan), Winnipeg, and Brandon (both Manitoba) were doing the same. Just thinking critically, what do these three cities have in common? Hmmm farmers!

Just when you thought things were ironing themselves out and the who did it first debate was being settled, there is more to the story! The world didn’t know Canada was already practicing DST, so Germany decided to join the timely party and popularize the idea with the rest of the world. During the first world war the German Empire and Austria were changing their clocks to minimize the use of artificial light to save fuel for the war efforts – Very logical there! The smarty pants idea was quickly followed by France, the UK, and many more countries. DST was popular during the war but as soon as armistice was signed DST was forgotten.

We still have not reached an agreement about this debacle, so, let’s add some more theories and get to the bottom of this before the end of time. Benjamin Franklin, our good friend that we always call up when we don’t know who to blame. Of course, we give credit to Franklin because in 1784 he described the exact fundamentals of DST in a letter he wrote the editor of the Journal of Paris but forgot the whole actually physically changing your clocks part. He titled his letter “An Economical Project for Diminishing the Cost of Light”. Wow, that sounds promising! Why would we not believe he is the creator? Well because he was talking about economizing candle usage by forcing people out of bed earlier in the morning. Good joke Mr. Franklin!

What do we have today in our modern world that we don’t owe credit to the Ancient Romans for? It is important to always remember the romans. It is thought that ancient civilizations have been using the practices of DST for centuries, but never even realized it. Roman water clocks follow solar time and self-adjust monthly to account for different daily schedules.  

It is obvious that DST has lots of rich history and is the epitome of the “who did it first debate”. We could say that DST was implemented to save energy, help farmers during harvest season, chase the daylight, or just better the well-being of the earth’s citizens, but to just pick one is wrong because we do not truly know the reasoning behind this grand scheme to force us to run around our houses tediously changing every clock to come back to the first clock and wonder “hmm did I already change this one?”. However, there is scientific evidence to prove the benefits of changing the clocks forward and back to follow the rising and setting pattern of the sun. It makes me wonder, maybe this is all just a big brain game. Who knows? Maybe Father Time.

Remember there is only 24 hours each day and that changing our clocks doesn’t actually make anything longer. DST is also only practiced by 40% of the world’s countries. So, if we quickly do the math: there are 195 sovereign countries recognized by the UN multiplied by 0.40 equals 78 countries who will be changing their clocks back and forward (195 x 0.40 = 78). Countries that are close to the equator do not practice DST because their days length don’t really fluctuate a large degree throughout the year. This is also the case for the countries further up north. Some days are completely dark and others are completely light providing really no reason to change their clocks.

Don’t forget to change your clocks or you will be running an hour late Monday morning! Woohoo!