Sunday, 25 January 2009

January in the Pass

Well January is acting up again turning things here into a deep freeze. The previous couple of weeks though (because of a little wind) saw gorgeous weather. Chinooks make Crowsnest Pass the best place in Alberta to live. We invariably get warm breezy breaks from winter. The best way to take advantage of those welcome respites from frost bite is to get out with fly rods in hand to exercise some of the local trout and get out we did. It is an incredible feeling breaking trail through virgin snow, knowing you are going to be the first person to fish the water this year.
Even Susan was able to escape her Crowsnest Cafe and Fly Shop, in Coleman, a couple times to beat the winter doldrums with some well caught rainbows. Sunny days and co-operative trout can't be beat. Susan got a much bigger one this day, a real lunker, but unfortunately I was a ways away and didn't get a pic. Here she is though playing with a nice 17" rainbow.
Kirby and I got out quite a bit while the weather held. We picked up a few nice bulls and some good rainbows including one I caught that was bigger than any rainbow (with one uninspiring exception) I got all last season. Kirby (being a dryfly purist and all) doesn't get too many big bulls a year but this year he is hammering them constantly. No, not on dries! Here he is fighting a good one. He is so happy fishing sub-surface now that he can not help but give his award winning smile for the camera while showing off one of his good bulls.
No matter how long one fishes an area he can still be surprised by what is pulled out of the water. This fish was not just a surprise it was a bit of a shock.
It is not very often one catches a lake trout in Southern Alberta on a fly in flowing water. Matter of fact this one is my first.

Great weather in January. Another super reason to live here in Crowsnest Pass!

Tuesday, 20 January 2009


The times being what they are I think it is good time to post this little story that Canada's greatest orator, Tommy Douglas, used to describe a capitalist economy.

I used to visit in farm homes, particularly around meal time, and if I got in around dinner time of course, everybody in the family was busy. They were unhitching the horses. They were pumping the water. They were milking the cows. They were pitching down the hay and the oat sheaves. Somebody else was out gathering the eggs. Somebody else was feeding the pigs and the chickens. Everybody had something to do. Even the youngsters were given a job doing something, for instance gathering the eggs or feeding the chickens.

And here I was, right off the city streets. I didn't know what to do, and I said "give me something to do." Well, nobody was going to trust this city boy with milking a good cow. They gave me the one job that anybody could do. They gave me the job of turning the handle of the cream separator.

Any of you ever turned the handle on the cream separator? Well it's quite an experience. I got to be quite good at it. I got to the place where I could tell you how many verses of "Onward Christian Soldiers" it takes to put a pan of milk through this thing. And as I was turning the handle and they were pouring in the milk, and I could see the cream come out the one spout and the skim milk coming out of the other spout, one day it finally penetrated my thick Scotch head that this cream separator is exactly like our economic system.

Here are the primary producers, the farmers and the fishermen and the loggers. They are pouring in the milk. And here are the workers, whether they work on the railroad or go down to the mines or sail ships or work in a store or a bank, or teach school, clerk in the store, work in a hospital. They are the people whose services make the economy go round, and they're turning the handle. So here you have it: primary producer puts in the milk; people who work with hand and brain turn the handle. And then I thought, but there's another fellow here somewhere. There's a fellow who owns this cream separator. And he's sitting on a stool with the cream spout in his mouth. And the primary producer and the worker take turns on the skim milk spout. And they don't like skim milk. Nobody likes skim milk. And they blame it on each other And the worker says, "If those farmers and fishermen, you know, would work a little harder, well I wouldn't be drinking this skim milk." And the fishermen and the farmers say, "If those workers didn't demand a forty hour week, didn't want such high wages, I wouldn't have to live on this blue milk." But you know, they're both wrong.

The farmers and the fishermen have produced so much we don't know what to do with it _ we've got surpluses of foodstuffs. And the workers, they've produced so well that today nearly a million of them are unemployed. The fault is not with the worker. It is not with the primary producer. The fault is with this machine. This machine was built to give skim milk to the worker and the primary producer, and to give cream to the corporate elite.

As a matter of fact, it doesn't always do that because every once in a while this little fellow sitting on the stool with the cream spout in his mouth gets indigestion. And he says, "Boys, stop this machine. We got a recession!" He says to the worker, "You're laid off, you can go on unemployment insurance. and after that on welfare." And he says to the farmers and the fishermen, "You know, we don't need your stuff. Take it back home." And then he sits for a while,indigestion gets better, burps a couple of times, says, " Alright, boys, start the machine. Happy days are here again. Cream for me and skim milk for both of you."

Now what the, what the democratic socialist party has been saying to Canadians for a long time is that the time has come in this land of ours for the worker and the primary producer to get their hands on the regulator of the machine so that it begins to produce homogenized milk in which everybody'll get a little cream.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Forest Growth in Crowsnest Pass and area

My last post on the proposed logging along Allison Creek generated quite a few excellent and well thought out responses. Obviously the impact of logging near the Pass is deserving of a broader based debate. The anonymous poster talking of the burned forests is exactly right when he talks of why the trees along the east slopes of the Rockies are all the same age class. I have heard that by the 30's 80% of the east slopes were deforested mainly by fire. Most of which were started by men. Here are a few pictures showing how the Pass and South Castle looked. A couple of them are before and after shots taken from the same location 8 or so decades apart.

The picture above is looking from the ridge above the golf course south. The newer picture had to be taken from a higher position than the first in order to get above the trees that had grown since the first picture was taken.

This picture was taken from Bellevue looking close to area of the current Hillcrest intersection. It looks quite a bit different now.

This picture is taken from Mt. Choulthard looking north to Crowsnest Mountain, Coleman, and north. The final picture below is a before and after of the South Castle.The pictures clearly show why our forests are mainly 80 to 90 years old. They also show how forests recover. Any people that spend time in the Pass can also see the area looks better now (even with the burn of the lost Creek fire) than it did back in the 30's.

The issue here regarding logging is simply, what does the Crowsnest Pass get out of it? How does it benefit our economy? What does it do for our quality of life?

Quite truthfully Spray Lakes"rights" (as anonymous states it),I prefer the word privilege, to log the area are not at the top of my priority list. They have shown how much they care about the aesthetic appeal of the Pass. A quick drive up the Kananaskis outside of Coleman will show you how much they care. What benefit did we get out of that mess?

Spray Lakes, SRD, local land owners, local stakeholder groups (mainly cross country skiers) got together a couple of years ago looking at fire smarting our northern boundary, keeping in mind impact on the trails and other aesthetic concerns of the local landowners. Surprisingly the process went quite well with all sides compromising their positions in order to accomodate the greater good. The compromises were a bit of a hard pill to swallow for the local stake holders but they agreed. All sides agreeing on cut block size (the height of one tree) 60 to 80 feet depending on the area. Where the small blocks would likely be etc. Then a couple of months later the logging company comes back to the stakeholders demanding more. Demanding bigger blocks. Fortunately the locals held their ground.

Back to Allison. Alberta SRD has listened to the concerns brought to them and have limited what could be taken on Crowsnest Mountain, and created a bigger buffer along some trails. They have also increased the buffer size along Allison Creek to 60 metres but have not created a buffer along the road. Is this good? Well, its better than what Spray Lakes wanted to do. Should they be allowed to log though, who will be there holding their feet to the fire? Once its cut it is too late.