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4 entries from July 2018

Canada’s UFO Trail: Road Trip Trio Part 3

UFO in the sky

In my last two posts, I shared some of Canada’s quirky museums and some lesser-known natural wonders – perfect for day trips. For my last post in this series, I want to talk about something that is longer than a day trip – though you wouldn’t have to necessarily do it all at once. It’s what I call Canada’s UFO Trail!

The clever folks over at Library and Archives Canada have put together a great collection of information about Canada’s UFO sightings history. Starting in the late 1940s, various government agencies (over the years, the Departments of Transport and National Defence, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the National Research Council all dealt with investigations of UFOs) documented and investigated UFO sightings. LAC has mapped the six most significant and created a fascinating resource guide, including links to original documents.

Map of UFO sightings in Canada

The sightings occurred mainly in the 1960s and remain unsolved by the Department of National Defence. The sightings range across Canada with one of the most mysterious and easily visitable being in Shag Harbour in Nova Scotia.

UFO road sign

From the Archives:

Witnesses reported seeing an object 60 feet in length moving in an easterly direction before it descended rapidly into the water, making a bright splash on impact. A single white light appeared on the surface of the water for a short period of time. The RCMP, with help from local fishermen and their boats, endeavoured to reach the object before it sank completely.

Local fishermen remember travelling through thick, glittery, yellow foam to get to where they saw the object. Bubbles from underneath the surface of the water appeared around the boats. The crews attempted to search the area for evidence of survivors, but found no one.

I think that taking a road trip (or series of trips) to visit Canada’s UFO landing sites would be pretty cool. And then afterwards, you could head to Drumheller, AB for a visit to the Trekcetera Museum, Canada’s only museum dedicated to original costumes, props and set pieces used on the various Star Trek TV series and movies.

What do you think? Is Canada’s UFO Trail a fun road trip idea? What is the theme of your ideal road trip? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!

- Rose R.


Canada’s Lesser-Known Natural Wonders: Road Trip Trio Part 2

Last week I shared a short list of some of Canada’s quirkier museums – great for day trips if you live in the area. This week, I’m focusing on some of Canada’s lesser-known natural wonders – lovely places for a day trip and a picnic lunch.

Let’s begin on our eastern shores with Percé Rock, located on the tip of the Gaspé Peninsula in Quebec. Percé Rock is an extremely large, sheer limestone rock formation in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. For a few hours a day during the summer, Percé Rock is accessible by foot where you can see fossils and well-populated bird colonies. Boat tours are also available.

Perce Rock, Quebec

Speaking of fossils, Joggins Fossil Cliffs in Nova Scotia are a must see for any paleontology enthusiast. The extreme tidal action of the Bay of Fundy acts on the Fossil Cliffs, regularly exposing plant and animal fossils from the Pennsylvanian "Coal Age" during the early Carboniferous Period. Scientists have discovered some of the most important fossil records here, including the earliest known sauropsid (reptile) in the history of life. This UNESCO World Heritage site offers a number of different guided tours as well as an educational centre.

Joggins Fossil Cliffs, Nova Scotia

In Ontario, near the top of the Bruce Peninsula, is The Grotto – a limestone cave on the Georgian Bay shoreline that is known for its crystal clear blue waters. You can hike to the cave and then descend into the Grotto either through a chimney rock formation or an open cliff face. Make sure you’re wearing proper footwear.

The Grotto, Ontario

Now, to be honest, climbing up and down 40ft open cliff faces isn’t really my jam. Rather the Crooked Bush near Hafford, Saskatchewan is more my speed. Here, a stand of Aspen trees and their DNA has gone rogue; instead of growing in straight, tall stands, the Crooked Bush is a mass of twisted and curled trunks. The “Friends of Crooked Bush” have built a boardwalk through the trees where you can stroll and observe the results of mutant DNA. And it’s extra creepy at night.

Crooked Bush, Saskatchewan

A few years ago, I visited this last lesser-known natural wonder, the Sooke Potholes in Sooke, BC. Located near the southwestern tip of Vancouver Island, the Sooke Potholes are deep, polished rock pools and potholes carved naturally into the bedrock of the Sooke River. The water is clean and clear, and as such, the potholes are a popular swimming destination in the summer.

Sooke Potholes, BC

And that wraps my short list of lesser-known natural wonders in Canada. Did I miss your favourite? Share it in the comments! And next week, get ready for something really different!

- Rose R.

Read: Road Trip Trio Part III - Canada's UFO Trail


Quirky Canadian Museums: Road Trip Trio Part 1

“Royal

For our summer vacation this year, we've decided to forgo one big, long, far-away trip and, instead, stay a little closer to home and do shorter day or overnight trips. We've treated some out-of-town guests to the usual things you do in Vancouver and area (Stanley Park, winery tour in the Okanagan, Vancouver Art Gallery). But what if you want to do something out of the ordinary? Luckily, Canada has a lot of unusual places to visit. I thought I'd highlight a few of them in a three-part Road Trip Trio. First up: Quirky Canadian Museums!

First off, right here in Vancouver we have the Vancouver Police Museum. Golly, this place is cool and creepy. I attended a ‘20’s themed dine-around in Vancouver a few years ago and the cocktails and appetizers were served at the museum. In the morgue. WEIRD but awesome. The VPM has great exhibits, tours and educational programs. If you have an interest in crime or forensics, it's definitely worth a visit. And if you can't make it out to the West Coast, check out their Instagram!

Next up, another museum that features bones ... this time dinosaur bones! The Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology in Drumheller, Alberta is the next best thing to visiting Jurassic World. The Royal Tyrrell hosts several educational programs as well a number of incredible exhibits, including the "Grounds for Discovery" exhibit where the Borealopelta markmitchelli, a new genus and species of armoured dinosaur that was discovered in Suncor's Millennium Mine, is housed.

“Borealopelta 

If you have some time on your hands, check out the Canadian Clock Museum in Deep River, Ontario. Canada has a rich history in clock manufacturing. From Wood Gear clocks manufactured in the 1820s and 30s, to Kitchen Clocks manufactured by GE in the mid-20th century, to hand tools and benches for watch repair - the Canadian Clock Museum has a little something for everyone. My faves are the animated alarm clocks - I'm pretty sure my brother had the one with a Mountie on it! The Canadian Clock Museum has seasonal hours; make sure you check their website if you plan on visiting.

As someone who came of age during the Cold War, one of my favourite quirky museums in Canada is the Diefenbunker outside of Ottawa in Carp, ON. Commissioned by Prime Minister John Diefenbaker in 1959, the Diefenbunker was part of the government’s reaction to escalating tensions in the Cold War. It was meant to house key members of the government and military in the event of a nuclear attack on Canada. Today, it preserves the history of the Cold War in an immersive and interactive environment. The Diefenbunker has rotating exhibits (like a recreation of a military canteen from the 1970s), educational workshops, an escape room experience and an annual zombie invasion. Check out this video for more info.

As our final quirky museum, something more lighthearted - the Accordion Museum in Montmagny, Quebec! This museum traces the musical importance of the accordion (aka the Squeeze Box) in Quebecois culture. They have on hand dozens of instruments and hundreds of hours of recorded archives for the public to listen to. This video describes the various exhibits and other interesting things at the museum.

Have you been to any of these cool museums? Are there any other quirky Canadian museums we should know about? What do you hope to discover this summer? Stay tuned for the second part of our Road Trip Trio - next week I’m sharing my favourite under-rated Canadian natural wonders: Niagara Falls, I’m not talkin' about you!

Read: Road Trip Trio Part II - Canada's Lesser-Known Natural Wonders

Read: Road Trip Trio Part III - Canada's UFO Trail

- Rose R.


Stop Seeing Red: Smart Traffic Lights that Reduce Congestion and Emissions

Traffic lights

One of the things I do to keep my sanity when I commute is to celebrate the little victories: someone unexpectedly letting me merge, the line at the drive-thru coffee place not having a 10-car wait and not hitting every single red light on my way from my house to the highway. This last one is really the unicorn of commuting events - it almost never happens. And, like a lot of you, I think to myself as I'm sitting at the umpteenth red light in a row, "We can put a man on the moon; why can't they just sync these lights up?"

Well, it turns out they CAN sync them up. The City of Toronto is piloting two traffic light systems that use different implementations of artificial intelligence to adjust traffic signals in real-time, ideally reducing congestion, idling and ultimately, emissions, during peak use hours.

One of Toronto's pilot systems uses video cameras to measure car queue lengths at the approach to an intersection and then makes decisions about traffic light timing. The other system uses radar detection that measures traffic flow upstream and downstream of the intersection to make similar decisions. Toronto's pilot program started in November 2017 and is expected to run through 2018.

The City has not made results available yet, but the systems being tested are similar to a smart traffic light system that was implemented in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 2012. Since the initial implementation, Pittsburg has been increasing their smart intersections over the last few years to a total of 50 intersections, with another 150 planned by 2020. So far, Pittsburgh has seen intersection wait times fall by 40%, journey time fall by 25% and emissions from idling cars on these commutes reduced by 20%.

This video features an interview with Stephen Smith, Director of the Intelligent Coordination and Logistics Laboratory at Carnegie Mellon University, where the smart traffic light system in Pittsburgh was first developed.

What do you think? If you're in Toronto, have you driven the route where these traffic lights are in place? Have you noticed an improvement in your commute? Would these work in your city? Let us know in the comments!

- Rose R.