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Adventure Canada, an expedition cruise line that’s been bringing passengers to Newfoundland and Labrador for two decades, has perfected many aspects of the cruise experience. One is the wake-up call.

No, it’s not a monotone voice on the other end of the phone gently nudging you from your cabin. At least on the morning this Downhome editor was aboard the Sea Adventurer, it’s the booming voice of the captain over the PA, announcing to passengers that the ship is sailing past a pod of orcas. I’ve never witnessed so many people (myself included) so eager to rise from slumber at 6 a.m. Sure enough, reaching the top deck I could just make out the black dorsal fins in the distance.

Downhome, as well as other media and tourism industry staff, was invited aboard the Sea Adventurer in late June for a special one-night sailing from St. John’s, Newfoundland to St. Pierre, France, in celebration of the company’s 20th year bringing cruise tourists to the province.

Others along for the ride include Newfoundland author Kevin Major, local storyteller Dave Paddon and a host of other famous faces from home. But this isn’t their first (and won’t be their last) Adventure Canada cruise. They are members of the company’s stellar resource team – typically locals with some area of expertise – who sail with cruise passengers to add that extra ounce of local knowledge and charm.

“For our guests it makes it very real. It’s not just the tour guide spiel,” Adventure Canada vice president Cedar Swan, a B.C. native now living in Ontario, tells me as we sail. “They’re actually getting the perspective of somebody that lives there, the pros and cons and the real-life situations, and I think that’s what people have come to know us for is for providing that type of insight.”

Food & fun
Throughout the journey I keep thinking that as we all filed onto the ship we must have looked like hungry souls, for they keep feeding us – and feeding us and feeding us. From hors d’oeuvres aplenty and a gigantic barbecue buffet on deck to a gourmet meal in the dining room, it’s a wonder the ship didn’t sink like a stone with all of us on it. (Still, I would have made off with the entire dessert buffet if I thought I could have done so without creating a scene.)

Canada’s literary queen, Margaret Atwood (another fixture on Adventure Canada’s resource team), is also on this trip. Shortly after we’re out to sea, the three wordsmiths – Paddon, Major and Atwood – go head to head in a game of “Nautical Bluff” in the ship’s lounge, which leaves everyone in stitches.

Late into the evening we’re treated to musical performances from talented members of the ship’s crew (which includes a saxophone-playing horse – seriously, I couldn’t make this up if I tried) as well as Juno-nominated Tom Barlow.

In the morning, as if on cue, humpbacks greet the ship upon our entrance into St. Pierre Harbour (perhaps the 6 a.m. orcas notified them of our impending arrival).

Canada, and especially our little corner of it, is indeed an adventure – one that’s best appreciated from the water. Next time I’m planning a cruise vacation, I might just consider sticking a little closer to home. – Ashley Colombe

Click here to view a slideshow of photos from the cruise.
There’s an interesting symmetry to Gerry Farrell’s life. In his first career, as x-ray technician, he spent his days studying images and looking at the human body in a different way than most of us do. His work inspired a new hobby, photography, which allowed him to capture images of other areas of life, often with a new perspective. And not surprisingly, he preferred to shoot in black and white.

Gerry’s photography passion continued as he transitioned from black and white to colour, and, fairly recently, from film to digital equipment. He also changed careers, graduating from Memorial University with a degree in medicine in 1974. After placements in Grand Bank, N.L. (not far from his hometown of Marystown) and Pictou, N.S., he’s currently a palliative care physician in New Glasgow, N.S.

As a photographer, Gerry says, “I am early morning person and like to take advantage of the ‘golden hour’ of sunlight, either at sunrise or sunset.” The tools he relies on to capture the best images include his Canon 5D Mark 3. “I use a variety of lenses, but my most frequently used is a Canon 24-105 f4 series. I enjoy wide angle shots and use a 17-40 lens for same,” he says.

Something more significant than good equipment that Gerry credits for his quality of photography was a special experience he had a few years ago.

“About five years ago, I spent a week with world-renowned photographer Freeman Patterson, and his inspiration made me a much improved photographer,” he says.

Gerry most enjoys shooting landscapes and, particularly, water features.

“Waterfalls have been an enduring subject for me, and I have visited many of the ones in Nova Scotia, and just returned from a photography adventure in Iceland, where there are waterfalls around every bend,” he says.

He and his wife (also a Newfoundlander, from Brig Bay on the Northern Peninsula) return to the island on a regular basis, where Gerry finds inspiration along the seashore. One of his favourite images was taken during one of those trips home.

“One image of sea urchin shells on the rocks along with seaweed at the Arches on the Northern Peninsula was made in the pouring rain two years ago. I wanted to make an image as a wedding gift for a friend. It included two shells and I titled it ‘Nestled,’” says Gerry.

“I always enjoy going to Newfoundland and Labrador, and walking along the seashore and photographing things I find there. Also, the fog in the early morning light creates a wonderful mood and makes one appreciate all the beauty around us.”

Click here to view a slideshow of photos taken by Gerry.
When we associate texting with our health, the topic is usually bad news: texting while walking/driving causes accidents; constant texting causes carpal tunnel syndrome; texting too much damages personal relationships etc. etc. However, as the following studies show, texting has also proven to have distinct health benefits. In fact, mobile phones have found a place in the modern delivery of health care. It’s called Mobile Health, or mHealth, which covers any use of laptops, cellphones, tablets etc. in collecting patient data, monitoring patient health and delivering services.

Here are four ways that sending and receiving text messages can improve our health:

• An emergency room doctor at Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Rhode Island led a study that offered a violence prevention and intervention program via text messages to young female patients who’d experienced peer violence. The teens overwhelmingly agreed to the follow-up service, believing the supportive messages could help them avoid violent situations in the future, and they indicated they would recommend the service to other young girls at risk. The results of the study were released this past March, and the positive outcome has the hospital looking at ways to expand the service to reach out to at-risk male youths and non-English speaking teens.

• A University of Connecticut study observed positive results in HIV/AIDS patients who connected with their health care providers via text messages. Earlier this year, The Center for Health, Intervention and Prevention (a division of the university) released the results of a study in which patients who received text message “intervention” were found to be more likely to stay on track with their drug regimen and have better health than those who just saw their physicians for follow-ups every few months.

• Persons at risk for type 2 diabetes could benefit from text message reminders about their health, according to a University of Michigan study. Persons who signed up for and received regular messages about eating healthier, drinking more water, exercising etc. were more likely to lose some extra weight and live a healthier lifestyle, according to the study results released in 2013.

• Receiving a simple “how r u” on their phone from a loved one can be a much needed lift to someone who is isolated or feels alone, according to a University of California Berkley study that began in 2010. The project, led by a clinical psychologist, involved sending mental health participants regular messages asking about their moods, suggesting they think about positive things that happened to them and reminding them to take their medications. When the program ended after a number of weeks, several patients reported missing the regular connection. To someone who’s depressed or under stress, a concerned text message is a welcome connection and immediately makes them feel cared for – proving that through texting you really can “reach out and touch someone.”

Feel Good Messages

Downhome asked our facebook friends, “What’s the BEST news you ever received via text message?” Here’s what some said:

“I got asked to be a godmother for the first time.” – Chantal Oake

“Friend’s baby’s arrival.” – Fousty Touton

“‘I’m coming to get you’ – when I was stranded.” – Tracy Perry Stepanuk

“Pics of my grandbaby-to-be.” – Wendy Roenigk-Crane

“I am home safe.” – Deanna Dwyer
There are two main reasons to visit the Little, Big Bear Safari, located about 90 minutes from Moncton in Acadieville, New Brunswick. One, of course, is to safely view black bears as they roam onto the wilderness site. Another is to meet Richard Goguen, a.k.a. “the bear whisperer.”

“My husband has a gift with animals,” says Vivianne Goguen, who co-owns the attraction with her partner. The couple built an observation tower in 1998 with the intention of inviting the public to safely view and photograph black bears in their natural environment. But one bear had a slightly different plan. During construction, an orphaned cub wandered into the area and, as Vivianne puts it, “adopted” Richard. They aptly named the cub, which Vivianne says followed Richard around like a dog, “Pooch.”

“After a few years she had babies and we said, ‘Oh great, she’s going to become wild and that’s ok – but after a few weeks she brought her babies out and literally introduced them to grand-daddy,” says Vivianne. “She pushed them towards Richard.” Now 16 years later, the Goguens believe Pooch has passed on, but three generations of her descendants still visit the site very frequently and maintain the unusual bond with Richard.

Check out this shocking footage taken at the Little, Big Bear Safari. Richard enters the scene at 1:20.

While they do not guarantee sightings, Vivianne says their tour groups have missed out on seeing black bears only twice since opening to the public in 1998. Once visitors are safely inside the 26-foot-high tower, Richard lures the animals to the site with food. “We have the same permit as hunters – we have the right to leave little treats,” says Vivianne, adding, “but we shoot with cameras only.”

Local biologists have openly criticized the business, saying Richard’s close relationship with the bears is extremely risky – not only putting himself in harm’s way, but also anyone who may encounter one of these bears in the wild, outside the safety of the Safari. Vivianne maintains they have never had any complaints of that nature and believes the bears prefer Richard only. However, she warns, “We don’t suggest that people do that in their backyard. Don’t try to do this.”

To find out about other wild encounters available right here in Atlantic Canada, see the July issue of Downhome.

Editor's Note: Richard's interaction with black bears is extremely risky. Never, ever approach a black bear if you encounter one in the wild. To find out what to do if you do encounter a black bear, click here.

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From the Archives
In many areas of Newfoundland and Labrador, moose-hunting season is in full swing this time of year. To help make sure you don't return home empty-handed this season, we've gone to an expert to learn the secrets to success in moose hunting. A licensed guide and outfitter with more than 40 years of experience hunting moose in Newfoundland, Art Ryan of Doyles shares his own tried and true techniques.

Call them to you. Hunters can purchase pre-recorded moose calls at a wide range of prices; however, Art says you need nothing more than your own hands curled around your mouth to deliver a moose call. Making the sound through a rolled up piece of birch bark works just as effectively, he adds. The most successful sound to call a bull moose is the cow call, "the long bellow," says Art. But, he cautions, some hunters are foiled by their own impatience, calling too often and making moose suspicious. "A lot of times, just call once and that will take care of it. It might be a couple of hours before a moose shows up, but you shouldn't call any sooner than another 20 minutes to a half hour."

Silence isn't always golden. You might think it's pertinent to sit still and remain silent while waiting for moose, however, this isn't always the case. If you make the right noises, you may actually mimic another moose and act as a lure. If you hear a moose calling, crack tree limbs or make other sounds a moose might make while moving through the woods.

Location, location, location. Select an area that includes several different types of woods because moose will likely be in a place that has a wide variety of vegetation. Being near a large source of fresh water like a pond is not necessary in Newfoundland, adds Art, who says he's never seen a moose feeding at a pond in all his years of hunting. Our climate is so damp that moose in Newfoundland don’t need to tie themselves to a pond.

Wait for wet weather. "The perfect scenario for hunting in the woods if you're walking would be a very wet, damp day, with misty rain and a good low pressure - where the smoke comes out of the chimney and goes right straight to the ground," says Art. This weather impedes a moose's ability to catch your scent, and it allows for quieter travel. And to further disguise your scent, try your best to be downwind of a moose.

Make the first shot count. One of the most common mistakes Art sees in new hunters is their tendency to get overexcited when they sight a moose. Such individuals may shoot too soon, which may result in a miss - or worse - shooting at the wrong part of the moose, which may inflict a long period of suffering on the animal. "Avoid a head-on shot at all costs," warns Art. "The perfect shot is right behind the shoulder - not on the shoulder - behind the shoulder. You've got a big area there where the moose is going to die quick. (The bullet) is going to go through the lungs and a lot of times they don't even know they're dying." Art adds that the area behind the shoulder is the easiest place to aim for and shoot successfully. For an individual with experience hunting moose with a rifle, shooting at a moose within 200 yards is adequate, says Art. Hunting with a bow is enticing for experienced hunters looking for a challenge. But, he says, "With a bow everything got to be so perfect. You got to be within 40 yards, but 20 to 30 is ideal."

Don't approach too soon. "If you shoot and a moose drops right away, expect him to get up and run," warns Art. "A moose got a very touchy nervous system. I've seen a moose drop just by cutting the hyde...but once they get over that initial shock - and you haven't hit him in a vital area - he's going a long ways after he gets up." So, if you've got to lose sight of your downed moose in order to reach it, Art advises staying put for about 10 minutes to keep an eye on the animal. "Give him some time to lay down and get relaxed and stiffen up so it's hard for him to stand back up again. If you go running off after him right away, he'll just jump up and he's gone - and he probably won't lay down again for a long time."

Click on "Food and Leisure" for a delicious recipe for Moose Pate.

This column originally appeared in the August 1996 edition of Downhome, and was rediscovered recently when Janice and Ashley were researching back issues. Even though there is a cod moratorium in effect - 17 years and counting - there are still many hard-working fishing families in this province who continue to face the perils of the job. So we thought this column was worth a second read.

A Way to Live, A Way to Die
Since 1497, when John Cabot got his first basketful of fish off Bonavista, the sea has played a major role in the lifestyle of Newfoundland and Labrador. Most have made their living from her, and many have died by her. The souls lost in the many shipwrecks around our rugged coastline over the years would make a formidable list. Most of these losses are recorded, and many have been honoured in stories, poems, songs and even movies.

Passing with much less mention is a group of men who also lived and died by the sea, the inshore fishermen. I'm sure the men who died while fishing from dories, punts, motorboats, skiffs and, in more recent years, speedboats, since the settling of Newfoundland, would comprise a greater list than those lost on larger offshore vessels. I'm talking about the lone fishermen, the brothers who work side-by-side and the father-and-son teams who go out and never return.

E.J. Pratt, Canada's unofficial poet laureate and a native of Newfoundland, speaks of these men in a short poem called "Erosion":

It took the sea a thousand years
A thousand years to trace
The granite features of this cliff,
In crag and scarp and base.

It took the sea an hour one night,
An hour of storm to place
The sculpture of these granite seams
Upon a woman's face.

Twelve years ago, on August 22, 1984, two brothers and the son of one of them from the community of Merritt's Harbour, near Herring Neck, Notre Dame Bay, went out as usual to haul their fishing gear. A storm came up and the three did not return. The bodies of one brother and his son were found close to shore the next day. The two were wearing lifejackets, and their hands and fingers were torn from trying to climb the slippery rocks. The other brother was never found. His wife lived for a year or so in the house he had built for her, but the memories got to be too hard to live with and she moved away. The wife and mother of the other two has also moved away.

Merritt's Harbour is a community of about 65 residents. Three people dying in a large city would not be considered a great loss, considering the total population, but three people represented a loss of five per cent of the population of Merritt's Harbour. It was a major catastrophe that is still felt in the village today. People continue to talk about the accident and try to speculate on the cause. The answers, however, are buried in the North Atlantic.

I learned this story when I went looking for a cottage on or near Twillingate Island. The widow of the man who was never found put their house on the market and I bought it. I would probably still own it if Downhome hadn't come along and consumed my spare time. I wrote the following poem to the memory of the three around that time:

The Ghosts of Merritt's Harbour

Three fishermen went out one day
From the calm of Merritt's Harbour
Went out to make their daily pay
The weather in their favour

Who would know, or who could say
To the happy three that left the shore
That all three would be lost that day
And one of them be seen no more

Fair weather later turned to foul
The time for hauling gear was gone
And little boats with half a haul
Went back to shelter, one by one

But three in one boat never came
Did they stay for pay, or show
Or to beat the devil at his game
We'll never, ever know

Was her engine fouled somehow
Or was she swamped astern
As gear was hauled? We won't know now
Nor will we ever learn

All night long the storm howled 'round
By morning it began to lift
And two in life preservers found
On the sea that took their life, adrift

Two found with hands cut to the bone
Evidence of a struggle frantic
The fate of the third is only known
To the never yielding North Atlantic

Two made the rocky shore that night
Tried climbing up, but no one saw
Two poor souls losing life's last fight
With fingers cold and numb and raw

Two bodies in the church may be
To be view by friend and neighbour
But three souls are still at sea
Not far from Merritt's Harbour

Sad folks in their sad abodes
Their loved ones' loss belabour
While children play upon the roads
In solemn Merritt's Harbour

It's been years since the three passed on
From the village by the sea
Yet it seems somehow they are not gone
And somehow can never be

But the ones who loved them most
No longer are around
They've left the outport and its ghosts
Where memories abound

But three ghosts will not leave this shore
The place of their last harbour
They will be here for evermore
In tiny Merritt's Harbour

By Anne Wareham

September brings a plethora of thoughts into the average parental mind - school supplies, homework, rushed mornings, new clothes, packed lunches, sports and activities, money and more. But is anyone thinking about the importance of a healthy lifestyle?

To lead well-balanced, healthy lives, we need to make time for nutrition, activity and mental health. In order for our children to live healthy lives, we must show them how by modeling it. This is an excellent time of year to change old habits or create new routines. This year, try the following tips to help get your family on the right track to eating well, being active and feeling good.

Remember that small changes matter. It will not only add years to your lives, but life to your years!


• Be mindful of the amount of processed food you eat. Processed food is usually high in sodium and preservatives and low in nutritional value. Also, be aware of how often you eat fast food. Even the "healthy" options are higher in saturated fat and sodium than what you would prepare at home. Instead of eating out, make your own "fast food" - low fat burgers with whole-wheat buns, spaghetti sauce and whole-grain spaghetti, or even French toast.

• Research shows that more than 80 per cent of children don't eat enough fruits and vegetables, so include one with each meal and snack. We should all try to eat at least six servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Eating enough fruit during the day may eliminate the craving for sweets at night.

• Eat family meals together at least three times per week (with the TV turned off). There are so many reasons why this is important. For example, we tend to eat slower, healthier and in smaller portions when we are relaxed and together at mealtime. This is also a time to laugh, connect with family members and get kids involved in meal choices and preparation.


• Choose one to two activities for each family member that they enjoy doing and do it. Activities need to be based on the interests of the child (not what other children are doing). Over-programming children makes them irritable and stressed. Similarly, choose an activity for yourself that is based on what you enjoy, not on how many calories it burns. If you enjoy an activity, you will do it...and keep doing it. Otherwise, it becomes a passing fad.

• Reduce your screen time. Computer, video and TV time shouldn't total more than two hours per day, excluding work-related activities. This is true for all family members. Long hours of TV viewing are particularly bad for your health as you are cued by commercials to eat unhealthy snacks. You are also less receptive to internal cues that tell you when you are full. As a result, you tend to overeat on nutrition-poor food.

• "Wiggle" more. As a society, we wiggle less on a minute-to-minute basis. Try to build in daily habits that increase your wiggle factor. Sit on an exercise ball while you watch TV, stretch every hour, take the stairs, park farther from the door. Some of these things can also reduce your stress level.

Feel Good

• Have fun with your family members on a regular basis. This builds good relationships. Liking your children as well as loving them is very important to your child's self-esteem and to your enjoyment of your child. Try to do things together for enjoyment value (not to discuss problems).

• Schedule down time. "...unstructured child's play - the kind with no rules, few gizmos and a little or no adult direction - packs a powerful developmental wallop." (MacPherson, 2002). Playtime helps kids develop imagination, problem-solving skills, social skills and more. It is often undervalued in today's society, which favours structured physical activities and directed learning. However, both structured and unscripted play are important to children's development and need to be balanced. Consider allowing your child to choose just two to three extracurricular activities, so there will be time for free play.

• Find peace or joy in the mundane moments. We all have them - the first sip of coffee in the morning, a cool breeze on a hot day or an unexpected hug from your child. Some people find this through meditation, spirituality or activity. Begin writing these moments down and notice how they increase in frequency.

Anne Wareham is a Clinical Psychologist and Coordinator of the Janeway Lifestyle Program in St. John's. She is also co-chair of the Body Image Network (NL). The Janeway Lifestyle Program is committed to helping all children in the province eat well, be active and feel good about themselves.

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