May 232017

Wow!  It has  been a year since Melissa and I were married!  Seems like only yesterday I saw my beautiful bride walking up the aisle.  Time seems to fly by faster and faster as one gets older.

We celebrated our first anniversary in Victorian era town of Niagara-On-The- Lake, Ontario and toured local wineries.  Thanks to a generous gift card from Melissa’s brother, John and his wife Kelly, we enjoyed an evening at the posh Queen’s Landing Hotel and treated ourselves to a gourmet dinner and an excellent bottle of vintage Amarone.   

We came back home with a nice cachet of Ontario wines and a dozens of photos.  I also took a several videos with a GoPro and my Panasonic LX-100 that I will probably publish in another post. 

It was definitely a great weekend out of town.  I’d love to return to the area by motorcycle and spend more time taking photos.  

Rob’s Photos taken the Panasonic Lumix LX-100.  


Melissa’s Photos taken with the Panasonic Lumix G3.

Jul 172016

After Melissa and I were married last May, we took a brief trip to Montreal as part of our honeymoon.   It was her visit to this city I once called home.   As for myself, I always enjoy returning to my old stomping grounds, whether on business or pleasure.  It has an old world feel and a sense of history that is sorely lacking in Toronto.  Other than Quebec City, it is as close as one can to a European style experience in North America.

I wanted to find a hotel right in the heart of the city, however, this time of the year choices are limited unless one is prepared to pay top dollar.  I wanted to find a hotel that would come under $200 a night and avoid any bland and uninspired corporate accommodations such as Motel 6.  After a bit of online research, I found the reasonably well reviewed Hotel Quartier des Spectacles on St. Catherine St.  The price was right and there was only one room left, so I booked it. Before we arrived, Melissa did some research and discovered the hotel is situated right over a sex shop!  As you can see, the plywood is far seedier than the actual merchandise.  The sign says their business is growing (insert joke here).

The Sex Shop below our Hotel

The Sex Shop below Hotel Quartier des Spectacles

One could easily ignore the sex shop, however, one could not ignore the unseasonably cold weather or soul crushing gridlock and omnipresent road construction.  The weather felt more like March than the end of May.  No matter where you went, there were road closures, lane restrictions, no access to street parking and traffic congestion.  I am accustomed to a certain degree of traffic in Montreal, but this was out of the ordinary.  I soon learned there was a general strike of construction workers and engineers.  58 job sites were abandoned and the city was left in a state of disrepair.  Driving my car was an exercise in futility and frustration, so we relied on taxi cabs.

Our first night was spent in Old Montreal.  After a decadent steak dinner, we took a few hours to walk the cobblestone streets.  Melissa was smitten by the beauty and European flair of this old French settlement.  No matter how many times I return to Montreal, I cannot tear myself away from the original city to explore its narrow streets, restaurants, bars and shops.

Sunset in Old Montreal

Sunset in Old Montreal

The following day, I wanted to take Melissa to see some of Montreal’s most famous landmarks, such as Notre Dame Cathedral, St. Joseph’s Oratory, Jarry Park, Schwartz’s Deli, Olympic Stadium as well as my Grandparent’s apartment in what used to be Little Italy.  Gridlock made it difficult to get around, so we settled for Notre Dame Cathedral, the old Faucher homestead and Shwartz’s Deli.

My Grandparents home in what used to be Little Italy

9189 Esplanade Ave. – My Grandparent’s home in what used to be Little Italy

Back in the 1960’s and 70’s Esplanade Ave. was predominantly Italian.  I can still recall the pungent aroma of garlic when visiting Grandma Faucher.  There were old men playing Bocce ball in the park, women gossiping on their porches and the street was full of Italian kids at play.  Those days are long gone.  Now it is tapestry of different ethnic groups, namely Indian, Arabic, Portuguese and Chinese.  The Bocce ball courts are crumbling away and life is eerily more silent as people remain indoors.  What was one a tightly knit community bound by an old world heritage is now a loosely knit multicultural patchwork.

No visit to Montreal is complete without trying the best smoked meat in the world from Schwartz’s deli.  I forewarned Melissa that one must be prepared to stand in line for at least 20 minutes, but patience will be rewarded.  As luck would have it, we waited all but one minute and were promptly seated at the lunch counter.  Melissa is now a convert and agrees it’s the best smoked meat anywhere.

If there is anything Catholicism has given to the world, it is spectacular cathedrals and breathtaking religious artwork.  Perhaps the best representation of this tradition in North American is the Montreal’s Notre Dame Basilica which is modelled on the larger and more fabled Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris.   However, the beauty of Montreal’s version speaks for itself.

Notre Dame Cathedral

Notre Dame Cathedral

After Notre Dame, went back to our hotel, rested a bit and then it was back to Old Montreal for dinner and another promenade.  What a nice way to end the day.

We would love to visit Montreal again, but I am reticent to return until the city’s streets are repaired.   I am hoping by summer 2017, the streets will be in much better condition.


Jul 232014

Over the weekend of July 5th I booked a day off on Monday so I could do three fun things:

  1. Ride my Harley out to London, Ontario
  2. Visit my brother and his family
  3. Venture out with my brother to Long Point, Ontario and take photos.

Although I have done my fair share of motorcycle riding around the shores of Lake Erie, this was my first visit out to Long Point Provincial Park.  It is a sand spit and medium size hamlet on the north shore of lake Erie in Norfolk County and it is also one of the southern most points in Canada.

Long Point is about 40 kilometres long and is about a kilometre across at its widest point. Lake Erie lies to the south of Long Point, and Long Point Bay lies on the north side comprise. The bay is subdivided into the Inner Bay and Outer Bay by a line that runs between Turkey Point to the north and Pottahawk Point to the south.

In addition to many sandy beaches, Long Point also features a number of protected marshlands and a bird sanctuary.  For my brother and I, it was the nature and birds that drew us there.  We packed up his van with a bunch of photo gear and ventured out for the day.

The Beaches of Long Point.

The Beaches of Long Point.

The sand spit requires a day pass and it caters to beach goers and campers.  As such, all we could expect to see are long stretches of beaches, campers and sunbathers.  Rather than wasting our time there, we decided to eschew the sand spits in favour of the conservation areas.

Marshland at Long Point

Marshland at Long Point

Being mid-summer and mid-day, the prospects for seeing animals and indigenous birds was quite limited.  However, that did not detract from a good walk and seeing the lay of the land.  After hiking through the marshlands, we went to the bird conservatory and saw only a limited number of birds.  Most were hiding in the trees and those we saw in the open were mainly common sparrows, grackles, seagulls, ducks and turkey vultures.  No doubt, a morning or sunset visit would have resulted in a much better birding session.  Despite the absence of wildlife, the walk around the area was quite pleasant, the terrain peaceful and bereft of crowds.

The real surprise of the day was an impromptu visit to Port Burwell, where unbeknownst to us we found the HMCS Ojibwa (S72) on display.  The Ojibwa entered service with the Canadian Forces Maritime Command in 1965 and was decommissioned in 1998.  In 2010, the Ojibwa was awaiting disposal, however, the Elgin Military Museum planned to preserve her as a museum vessel.

HMCS Ojibwa (S72)

HMCS Ojibwa (S72)

From Wikipedia: On May 26, 2012, the Ojibwa started her trip from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Hamilton, Ontario by way of the St. Lawrence Seaway.  She stayed in Hamilton the at Heddle Marine Dockyards being repainted and fitted with specialized transport cradles that would allow her to be moved across land.  In November 2012, Ojibwa made the final leg of her journey by way of the Welland Canal and then Lake Erie from Hamilton to Port Burwell, Ontario, where she is now open for visitors.

When my brother and I arrived, the last tour of the Ojibwa was already underway.  I think another visit to Port Burwell is in order, it would be quite the day to tour inside this retired cold war warrior.

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Dec 012013

Time to take a break from memories of the desert and reveal the snow that now surrounds my world.

Each year, CP rail operates a special holiday train that stops at various points across Canada.  On November 28th, it stopped in Oshawa and Elaine, Mike Aniol and I drove out to see this beautifully lit train.  They also put on a live music show for all ages with the obligatory holiday songs.  The band’s lead singer is Jim Cuddy from Blue Rodeo.

CP Holiday Train 2013

CP Holiday Train 2013

I Am

I Am

I tried to get a few good photos, but the crowds, limited line of sight and darkness made it tough even to get a few marginally acceptable shots.   After the concert concluded we warmed up with some hearty Vietnamese soup.





Feb 162013

Since Nov 2012, we have added more pets to the house.  Namely two Devon Rex cats, a male called Charlie and a female named Leela.

Charlie’s skills include lying under the couch for most of his life and then producing bioweapons grade smells when he defecates.   Sudden bursts of his rare energy are used only when I enter the room and he retreats back to his condo under the couch.  He is the darker of the two new cats.

Leela is a combination of a monkey and a dog with some cat thrown in for good measure.  She is perpetually exploring the house and getting into everything.   Last night she did a perfect impersonation of Peter Seller’s famous scene in “The Party” when he unraveled an entire roll of toilet paper.   She has also become a willing accomplice to Charlie’s bioweapons.

My 17 year Amazon Parrot, Lucinda is the undisputed master of us all.

Jun 272012

Elaine and I ventured out to see a  re-enactment of the  battle that took place at Fenchman’s Creek north of Old Fort Erie in November of 1812 between invading American soldiers and the British and Canadian defenders.  A nice day to venture on the Harley to see this event as well as spend some time with my brother and his family.  We also met a visitor from Australia, Kim, who is the sister of my brother’s wife Dani Faucher.

I’m also a sucker to see fake muskets and cannons being fired.  The event offered up some decent eye and ear candy.

All shots taken with the Pentax K5.  Once again, overcast skies meant I had my face buried in Adobe Lightroom fixing dull, low contrast images.

Feb 112012

My Brother, Jean-Pierre Faucher, is also a shutterbug.  Yesterday he sent me some very good images he did at home with the simplest of materials and lots of imagination.  He made these photos by cutting out pictures from magazines and then he created a mini-diorama inside a shoe box.  A peep hole was cut out of the camera and the lighting came from an opening on top of the box.

From my brother:

“…photos (taken with my 5mp Pana Lumix) aimed through the peep hole that I made in the shoe box. You can see in each photo the depth of view and that I angled the camera slightly to capture more of the leopard. When you move the box side to side you got to see what was hiding in the bushes. To give the illustion of floating things like birds or butterflies, I cut them out and got clear tape and stuck them and hung them from the lid.

Files P1120607 and 608 (the last two in the series) you see the focus is way on the background and you can see the two white birds on the water buffalo and the leemurs are out of focus in the foreground.

These projects are very fun to create, and kinda fidly to setup, cut and tape or glue in a box. Choosing the right size to get perspective can be a challenge too.

The joy is that a viewer has no idea what is inside. The are handed a shoe box with translucent lid (or side windows sometimes) and are told to look through a hole  the size of a loonie in the end of the shoe box. It is only when they look inside do they see what you have made.”