Tag Archives: folk

The storm that came through North Rustico (pictured below) finally blew away, and I got the clear. I’m surprised I didn’t see any windsurfers out there.


Twas’ a hilly ride to Charlottetown. Thank god this checkpoint was only 1/3 of a regular days distance. Scenery was nothing special as I got closer to C-town, but there were some cool towns along the way.


In no time I was within the city limits and cycling along the coastline. I was out of deodorant so I hunted down the Shopper’s Drugmart and made my big expenditure for the day (so I thought). Now smelling fairly decent, I embarked on a small unintentional tour of the city trying to locate my hosts’ location.



The boardwalk was really beautiful. The whole city was just so pleasant and cute… And I never say things are cute. On top of the cuteness, it looked and felt like one of the safest towns/cities I’ve ever been.  I had no problem leaving my bike and trailer unlocked outside the store. Kind on felt like a smaller Ottawa, ON. It’s the whole “clean” thing. Traditional houses painted nicely and in all sorts of colors. Everything was well kept. You could almost eat off the sidewalks.

I noticed quite a large student population, and what looked to be a trouble free group. Everyone was well dressed. The majority gave off a bit of a trendy but classy vibe, maybe even a little snooty. Met some really interesting people on the streets, including one guy walking around with a huge snake.


My deodorant stop caused me to be a bit late for our meet up. I connected with Andrea, who is a very talented singer/songwriter, through days before I arrived in town. We met at the Malpeque Folk Festival where we watched some awesome local talent, many of whom Andrea has played shows with in the past.



Yet again, another awesome host and now a new friend.

She knew that I was a beer fanatic and after having a few east coast beers at the folk festival, I sort of insisted we go to the Gahan House Brewery in town. It is the only craft brewery in the town. In my sole opinion, they had one or two excellent beers but the rest were just, meh, OK. Yes, I tried all 7 of them (2 were samples and a sip of Andrea’s), $40 later…A real nice hangout all in all, and their food looked great. There went a huge chunk of money I made from working with Blaine at the logging yard. I hope Andrea enjoyed her Beer 101 tutorial that night.

We ended up going to some other bar I can’t remember the name of, and then to a  very well known pizza shop: Famous Pepper’s.

The town ate a weeks worth of my food money in a night. Your welcome Charlottetown.

On the walk home there was a cat that would not leave us alone. I felt bad for this little guy. I could not convince Andrea to bring it home.



Slightly hungover, I packed up my trailer over a coffee (thanks Andrea) the next morning and hit the road toward Wood Island, PEI on a full stomach. Wood Island runs a ferry service to New Glasgow, Nova Scotia. Just an hour across the Atlantic Ocean.

Saturday was homework- catch-up- day for me, as is everyday in University. I had planned on staying in the night and getting a few things out of the way before the week rolled in.

As I was getting into the groove of things, I received a call from a cyclist and friend named Phil. He asked if I’d like to come to a Sugar Shack with him and a bunch of his family… I jokingly said, “what the hell is that!?” he sort of laughed and replied “You’ve been living in Quebec for almost 4 years now, and you don’t know what a sugar shack is!?”.. I thought to myself for a split second, connected some dots, and replied.. “actually, of course I do,  how could I not know! WHEN ARE WE LEAVING?!”

And then my veins started zapping with the anticipated high doses of maple syrup to come. I was only a kid but I still have memories of my frost bitten-sticky fingers.

I was 12 years old and I was on a school trip to Quebec City and then to the famed Sugar Shack in Tadoussac, QC

The memories started to come back vague and positive. We had a lot of fun there.

At least for me, living in the city, with no car, and a non-Quebecois doesn’t allow me to have such easy access to traditional outings like a “Sugar Shacks” in the country. For those of you who don’t know what a Sugar Shack is, here you go.

It is a very special part of the Quebec Folkloric Tradition and I was very happy to be a part of that.

Starts getting a bit hilly around here!

Whoever carved this sure is humorous!

I could tell that Phil was brought back to his Quebecois roots and that he was really taking in the whole ordeal, I think everyone was!  The place was jammed with Quebecois families and also a few M’ikmaq families, who would have shared some of the same music and facilities in the 17-1800’s. Everyone seemed to be reconnected.

Phil Lovin' Every Minute!

I liked the traditional folk music although a little cheesy at sometimes. It was nice to see all the families there and little kids enjoying themselves. It was definitely a reminder of how beautiful the country is, and how people don’t really need anything but some good food, shelter, and each-other. I think this is a commonality in most traditions. It’s too bad we as a common society have gone the way we have.

A cute M'ikmaq baby going for jacket

Enjoying a Syrup filled coffee

The meal started off with a fresh pea soup and some home made bread. Followed with sausages, mashed potatoes, beats, “pig ear”, some sort of shepherds pie and an omelet. Pancakes were served for the first dessert and then we went outside by the fire to make maple syrup Popsicle type things on a stick as the second dessert. Keep in mind that you add maple syrup to absolutely everything, including your coffee. All of the maple syrup is harvested on the property.


Hope you enjoyed my blurb about a personal quebec experience.



Surprisingly I was using a point and shoot here!

Now, I don’t know if you guys follow any railroad moniker’s or streaks but let me tell you, this is one you’ll see all the time.

They call this guy “rail owl” and you will see him on at least one boxcar, tanker, gondola, or hopper given any line in North America. He started doing these things around 2006. I know this because he usually leaves a date below his marking and various quotes such as “I miss her” or “The Bowl”

Check out this link on flickr and you will see what pops up when you type “Owl Moniker”

These are photos that people have taken of his markings all over North America.

If you pay close attention you’ll see that not one of these markings is on anything but a train (Maybe one or two recently)

But what I have found helped pinpoint his location. I found one of his markings on something other than a train! People were pretty ecstatic in the community. I was very shocked too. I said to myself.. “This freakin’ bugger is everywhere”.. For the longest time, more so before he got popular, I swore that he followed me around everywhere rail spot I went..

He has been putting hard work in to this for several years now… and some friends and I have come to the conclusion that he works for Canadian Pacific Rail in South Central, Ontario (Where I grew up). It makes sense as the railroad supplies the Markal Oil Paint Sticks he uses in White and Black and he also works in the yard which allows him legal access to all the train cars. We can conclude this, among other things, because of the types of cars he chooses to right on.

There are 1000’s of artists all over North America putting up small monikers on trains. Although it is illegal, the rail companies sort of turn a blind eye to it. I mean as long as there getting goods A and B to points C and D as fast and as cheap as possible (among some other things) they are happy.

It’s all about maximizing shareholders wealth. So a small marking on the side of  a train does not effect their goals.

Year’s and years of watching and photographing trains has helped me to build a database in my head of all these artists and in many cases have actually led me to meeting some of the artists. It is always cool feeling to meet the face behind the work. I know over 35 railroad artists in Canada and the US.  The people I’ve met “by the tracks” and some of the things i’ve found beside the tracks always surprise me and keep me coming back for more.


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