All articles tagged with ‘history’

Titanic exhibit to make stop in Richmond for 2018

The legendary liner RMS Titanic sails into Richmond’s Lipont Place this summer, through an exhibit showcasing artifacts of the ship’s ill-fated voyage.

Titanic: The Artifact Exhibit brings objects salvaged from the ocean floor, including china and pieces of the ship itself. There are also recreations of on board staterooms and berths, and an iceberg where touching is encouraged.

On April 10th, 1912, the RMS Titanic set off on her maiden voyage, departing Southampton, England for New York by way of Cherbourg, France and Queenstown (Cobh), Ireland. Shortly before midnight, the vessel had her fatal encounter with an iceberg in the North Atlantic Ocean. Some two and half hours later, approximately 1,500 people would perish as the ship slipped under the frigid waters in the early hours of April 15th, 1912.

Titanic: The Artifact Exhibit opens on June 23rd, 2018 and runs thru January 11th, 2019. Tickets for this event are available for purchase online. Lipont Place is located at 4211 No. 3 Road in Richmond.

Spanish Governor’s Palace

Main courtyard of the Spanish Governor's Palace.

Main courtyard of the Spanish Governor’s Palace.

Tucked away behind San Antonio City Hall is the Spanish Governor’s Palace. While this single-storey white adobe building hardly invokes the idea of a palace, it may have felt that way when Texas was still part of the Spanish Empire.

Finding it, for me at least, was a little confusing as I thought the location was named the Presidio San Antonio de Bexar (the “palace” was part of the presidio, which was a much larger fort). After wandering around the San Fernando Cathedral, we were able to get directions to the actual site. Later on, I discovered that the Spanish Governor’s Palace is listed on the directional signs throughout the downtown.

The name Spanish Governor’s Palace is a misnomer as no-one who held the title of governor ever resided in the structure; instead housing the captains of the presidio. Famed Texan historian and preservationist Adina De Zavala came up with the name during her quest to save the house.

Plates and jars adorn the table in the late 1700's dining room.

Plates and jars adorn the table in the late 1700’s dining room.

Built in early 1700s, the Spanish Governor’s Palace is all that remains of the fort. Constructed of adobe bricks and timber, the building has expanded to ten rooms over the centuries as it changed ownership. Each room is furnished with replica and antique fixtures to emulate what life was like back in the 18th century. Behind the house is a massive enclosed courtyard filled with lush plants and trees to offer relief from the intense Texas heat. Over the course of time, the house has served as a residence, pawn shop, grocery store, school, saloon, tire store and clothing store before being purchased by the city for transformation into a museum.

When we visited, the palace was relatively quite and we took our time admiring the history, architecture and courtyard garden. It was neat going back in time and learning a bit about San Antonio’s Spanish colonial history. Photos of the Spanish Governor’s Palace from my tour can be viewed on Gallery.

The Spanish Governor’s Palace is located at 105 Plaza De Armas, San Antonio, Texas, west of City Hall on West Commerce Street. Admission to the museum is $5.00 USD.

Quick facts about Vancouver

Here’s a sampling of some quick data on the city of Vancouver, its history, its buildings, and some of its people. There’s plenty of unique, odd and neat things that makes this west coast city so awesome!


Although Vancouver is named after English captain George Vancouver, it was the Spanish that were the first Europeans to explore the area. Spanish Lieutenant Jose Maria Narvaez arrived in July 1791, followed by Captain Vancouver in June 1792. Of course, the many tribes of the Coast Salish had settled the shores long before the Caucasians — the Squamish, Musqueam, and Tsleil-Waututh each call the area home.

Gassy Jack Deighton

Gassy Jack Deighton, after whom Gastown is named for.


Expanding from shantytown settlement on the south shore of Burrard Inlet, then known as Granville, grew in size and was eventually incorporated as Vancouver in April 1886. A few months later, fire would devastate the growing community, but paved the way for more orderly streets and buildings. Gastown, the original townsite, is home to the city’s oldest structures.

Vancouver’s Nicknames

Hollywood North probably comes to mind first, considering Vancouver’s position as a stand-in for other world cities and its large film and television production base. Vancouver is also named the Terminal City after being chosen by the Canadian Pacific Railway for the western terminus of the company’s cross-country tracks. Locomotive 374 pulled the first train into the west coast city in 1887 and is on display in Yaletown’s Roundhouse Community Centre. Don’t forget the 604 (Vancouver’s first area code) and YVR (the IATA code for the city’s airport)

Mayor Peanut?

The iconic snack mascot did indeed run for mayor of Vancouver in 1974. Vincent Trasov donned the salty shell, complete with top hat, cane and spats to take on Art Phillips, who was running for re-election. Unfortunately, Mr. Peanut never got to take office as he only received 2,685 votes, where as Phillips collected 37,220. Nuts.

Vancouver hoists a Stanley Cup

It’s true! During the 1914-15 season, the Vancouver Millionaires of the Pacific Coast Hockey Association sweeped the visiting Ottawa Senators in a best-of-five series 3-0. It would be the first and only time a Vancouver hockey team would win the Stanley Cup. The current Vancouver Canucks in the National Hockey League have come close in 1982, 1994, and 2011.

Stanley Park vs Central Park

At 404 hectares (1,001 acres) in size, Stanley Park easily dwarf’s the 341 hectare (843 acres) Central Park in New York. And like its American cousin, Stanley Park is crisscrossed with trails, including the Seawall and studded with monuments, gardens, playgrounds, pools, an aquarium and cannon. Interestingly enough, New York City bestowed a gift of eight pairs of grey squirrels to the park in 1909.

Where’s the snow?

Snow does fall in Vancouver, but not very often; it can be found mostly on the mountains surrounding the city. Vancouver’s location makes for mild winters and warm summers due to tropical winds which blow up from the central Pacific Ocean. And that means liquid sunshine — rain.

Lighting the way

Through the 1950s, 60s and 70s, Vancouver was aglow with countless neon signs. Since then, most of them have been taken down, although, the Museum of Vancouver has saved a few of them in their Neon Vancouver | Ugly Vancouver exhibit. Now there’s a bright idea!

Hotel Vancouver

Hotel Vancouver

Hotel Vancouver

While the Hotel Vancouver looks pretty old, it’s not. Two other hotels with the same name proceeded it; the first and second Hotel Vancouver were a block east of the current location, which is now occupied by the massive white box that was formerly Eaton’s and Sears. The present iconic structure was completed in May 1939.

A visit to the Texas State Capitol

Texas State Capitol

The Texas State Capitol as seen from West 11th Street

I’ve driven through a handful of American state capitals, but never have I stopped to visit any of the actual capitol buildings. That changed when a friend and I drove up to Austin during the day to check out the Texas State Capitol.

We parked next to the Governor’s Mansion on 11th Street, which runs in front of the building. The sheer size of the structure amazed me as we walked towards the gates that grant entrance to the tree and monument filled grounds. I had to stop and take as many pictures as I could from different angles – it was difficult trying to fit the enormous building into the frame.

Before entering, we decided to peruse the grounds and examine some of the monuments that line the walkway leading towards the capitol. The first were memorials to the fallen soldiers of the Confederacy and to volunteer firefighters who gave their lives to save others. Further up stood statues of Terry’s Texas Rangers and the defenders of the Alamo.

The pink granite clad exterior has a skin-like tinge to it, making it seem almost human. Above the entrance, the towering dome was encased in a web of scaffolding as repairs were in progress. Topped by the flags of the United States and Texas, emblems of the six flags of Texas embraced the facade.

Being a government facility, we were subject to screening before entering. Stupidly, I forgot to remove all of the change in my pockets, and thus set off the metal detector when going through it. After being waved over with a wand and checked for not carrying any prohibited weapon, the culprit turned out to be a single dime clinging to the inside of my pockets. Remember, when they ask you to take everything out of your pockets, that includes rogue coins!

Texas State Capitol rotunda

Standing in the rotunda and looking up at the dome

After that embarrassing moment, it was time to continue on with the visit. Past the security checkpoint, the cavernous rotunda greeted us. Up on the distant ceiling of the dome, a painted star with “Texas” spelled around it was partially obscured by safety netting suspended as part of the renovations. However, the rest of the interior was spectacular. The details on the sculpted panels were intricate and delicate. Columns seemed as if we were in a Roman temple. Balustrades encircled rows of portraits of former governors and other political figures in the history of the state on the upper levels.

On the second floor, we found ourselves in the senate chamber. Although empty of people (excluding us tourists), it was populated with many chairs and desks. Massive paintings of more historical figures, and the battles at the Alamo and of San Jacinto graced the walls. Giant windows let the warm afternoon sun fill up the room making it seem as if we were outside. Looking up, a set of star-shaped lights dangled from the recessed ceiling with frosted glass opening up to the sky.

Outside the senate chamber, we paused for a bit in the room where televised speeches are recorded. Up against a navy curtain, the six flags of Texas stood and we took turns taking poses. Unfortunately, I wasn’t as creative as my friend – looking silly standing with a blank expression between the banners.

Looking down at the rotunda, the Seal of Texas staring back. Centred in the middle of a star and ringed with the five of the six flags of Texas, the seal is almost everywhere in the capitol. From the elevators to the brass knobs on the doors, we found it. Even on the glass of the skylights in the senate chamber. Texas is a proud state and it shows.

Exploring more, we made our way downstairs and into the new wing of the capitol. According to the historical plaques mounted on the walls, a massive fire almost destroyed the building in 1983. To help alleviate crowding, during the reconstruction, the grounds to the north were dug up and a modern structure planted firmly in the space. This allowed the capitol to expand its area while retaining the familiar skyline without some ugly edifice interfering. A central atrium helps to bring in sunlight to make it feel like you were above ground. In this extension, we found the gift shop and some unique Texas treasures to take home.

If you can, stop by the Texas State Capitol and take a look around. There are guided tours of the building, or you can just wander around (like we did). You don’t have to be a fan of politics to absorb the superb architecture and history. Future photos are available on Gallery.

The Alamo

The Alamo

The Alamo

Texas isn’t Texas without a visit to the Alamo. The last of the five historic missions lining the San Antonio River, the Alamo — formerly the Mission San Antonio de Valero, is best remembered for the climactic battle between the Texians and Mexicans in 1836. Today, the chapel not only serves to remember the fight for Texan independence, but also to acknowledge the history of the natives when the Spaniards colonized the region. Read the rest of this article…

The San Antonio Missions

While the Alamo is the most well known mission in the state of Texas, four other missions provide a glimpse into Spanish colonization back in the 18th century. These four outposts are all conveniently located within proximity to the San Antonio River, a vital resource for survival in the often unforgiving landscape. The missions are active churches and part of the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park which is operated by the United States National Park Service.

Mission EspadaMission Espada

The furthest south, the Mission Espada, was founded in 1731. The grounds are mostly in ruins, save for the church itself and a portion of the south-eastern corner which holds the visitor’s centre and offices. A path follows the original walls where footprints of the original residences and storerooms stood.


Mission San JuanMission San Juan Capistrano

A short distance north of the Mission Espada is the Mission San Juan Capistrano, which was first settled in 1731. The church is intact with the remains of another chapel that was under construction across the plaza. The convento, or dormitories for the priests, and Indian residences are in ruins with only the walls left standing.


Mission San JoséMission San José

One of the larger outposts, the Mission San José was founded in 1720 with the main church constructed in 1768. The expansive grounds feature many residences built into the outer wall, storerooms and a functional mill powered by water from a local acequia (an irrigation ditch). The National Park Service maintains a gift shop and theatre inside the visitor centre.


Mission ConcepciónMission Concepción

All that remains of the Mission Concepción is the church and some adjacent supporting structures. The mission, from 1731, is well preserved, with some of the side rooms furnished with statues of saints and other religious icons. It was hear that an early skirmish between the Texians and Mexican Army faced off leading to the start of the Texas Revolution. Mission Concepción is one of the better preserved churches.

The missions don’t attract as much attention as the Alamo does, but are full of displays and exhibits that delve into life of the priests and Indians. Start early and take some time to stroll the many paths that wind through each location for the full experience. Don’t forget to bring a bottle of water, especially during the warmer months. Can’t make it? Browse through the photos from all four missions on Gallery.

Common Misconceptions About Canada

I have quite a few friends in the United States and a few days ago, one of them asked me if Canadians used different electrical outlets than Americans. Not sure why he asked this since I’ve brought my laptop over to his place a few times before, but it’s about time for me to clear up a few misconceptions on the “great white north.”

Read the rest of this article…

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